Where did the baby name Heder come from in 2004?

Actor Jon Heder as the title character in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite" (2004).
Jon Heder in “Napoleon Dynamite

The unusual name Heder has appeared in the U.S. baby name data just once so far:

  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: 8 baby boys named Heder [debut]
  • 2003: unlisted
  • 2002: unlisted

What put it there?

My guess is actor Jon Heder (pronounced HEE-der), who played the title character in the unexpectedly successful independent film Napoleon Dynamite (2004) — a quirky comedy about a socially awkward teenager in rural Idaho.

Jon was asked about his surname during an interview a few years after Napoleon Dynamite came out. Here’s part of his response:

It doesn’t mean anything. My grandparents changed it when they arrived in America. They were Swedish. My last name used to be Olafsen. Close to oaf. I guess, I don’t know. I was the son of Olaf, the town idiot. They just thought Heder sounded cool. And I agree. It’s easy. And it’s cooler.

And it actually does have a definition: the Swedish word heder means “honor, dignity.”

What do you think of Heder as a baby name?

Sources: Napoleon Dynamite – Wikipedia, Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder Compete for Waves in Surf’s Up, Heder – Wiktionary

P.S. Usage of the baby name Pedro — as in “Vote for Pedro” — saw an uptick in 2004 as well, but it’s hard to say if this was caused by the movie.

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