Spotlight On: Roscoe

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Roscoe Then & Now

Roscoe has that sound of the moment. It has the o-ending without the o-suffix. Long popular on pets, but obscure on people, Roscoe is one of those names I believe will eventually shed its pet-name baggage.

Look at Max. While Max has become somewhat commonplace on boys, believe it or not, for years Max was seen as a dog’s name. Now Max is in the top 100 at #96, and at its highest rank ever. When you consider Max is also a nickname for several other names (Maxwell #134, Maximus #212, Maximilian #433, and others), Max is heard more often than a #96 ranking suggests.

Or look at Felix, which is still seen as a cat’s name by some people. Celebrity parents Gillian Anderson (from The X-Files) and Elizabeth Banks (from Hunger Games) disagree. Both felt Felix was the perfect moniker for their sons. The public may soon follow suit. Felix ranked at #311 in  2011, and appears to be on the rise.

Max and Felix have that letter X thing going for them. For that reason, names like Max and Felix have suddenly become not just acceptable, but revered on boys. When it comes to stylish members of the alphabet, the O is right up there with the X. Leo has become a go-to brother name for Max. Christmas cards suddenly resemble tic-tac-toe boards.

And while Roscoe ends in an E, it has that o-ending sound. This is why, despite the small number of babies named Roscoe in recent years (there were 47 in 2011), I believe we will see that number rise.

It’s not just a double dose of this popular vowel that gives Roscoe style. Roscoe also makes a great fashionably old-fashioned candidate.

The name peaked at #117 in both 1881 and 1888 (there are no name statistics available before 1880). It had been close to the top 200 until the very early 20th century, and had never left the top 1000 until 1975. Since 1979, it has been absent from the top 1000. This historic usage makes Roscoe a prime revival name. Roscoe fits in with other quirky revival boy names like Amos, Ferdinand, Linus, and Otto.

Vowel-enders can have surprising origins to anyone who feels names that end in a vowel sound Italian or Greek. In actuality many o-enders (or o-ender  sound-alikes) are English or German. Roscoe happens to be English. It is derived from an English surname and place-name, meaning “doe wood” or “deer forest”.

The name’s image was tarnished a bit by silent film star, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, but he’s hardly a household name to newer generations. The name was also hurt by a redneck image resulting from the fictional Sheriff Roscoe Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard. While some may find this image unappealing, I believe this image gives Roscoe an 80s-pop-culture edge.

As a place-name, Roscoe is well represented across America. Towns bearing this name are found in nine states: California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas.

And another notable fact: The R in Edward R Murrow stands for Roscoe. He was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow. Remember that for your next game of trivia.

Perhaps I’m alone, but despite the less than sexy image of prominent namesakes, Roscoe has a sexy vibe to me. I can easily picture the name on a handsome actor or musician. However, most parents don’t want their children to have names that are too sexy. I don’t feel that’s a problem with Roscoe. Roscoe can still be serious when needed. Roscoe doesn’t seem out-of-place on a CFO or Insurance Agent.

Roscoe’s ability to be quirky, rugged, and authoritative is a big selling point with me. While there are many girl names that make me almost wish I could have another baby so I could use them, there aren’t many boys names like that. Roscoe is like that. If it wasn’t completely impractical, I would love to have another boy just so I could have a son named Roscoe. (Shh. Don’t tell Rob or he’ll start hyperventilating.)

Since Roscoe is one of those names, I feel this name is wasted on pets. I love dogs, and just happen to have a doggie nephew named Roscoe, but I was somewhat disappointed when searching Flickr for this post’s photo using the keyword, “Roscoe”. I had to weed through a bunch of photos of people’s dogs. I would love to see keyword “Roscoe” result in an adorable picture of someone’s baby.

Readers: What do you think of Roscoe?

Photo credit: Roscoe Then / Roscoe Now

Comments

  1. It’s not a bad name per se, but out here I think of Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. Good food, but I also wouldn’t name my kid Duncan (Donut) or Wendy, either.

    • When I was looking for photos I saw a few Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles signs. I wasn’t familiar with the restaurant since I live in Massachusetts. I googled the restaurant and it looks like most locations are in California. But I can see how someone living in or around California would be hesitant to embrace Roscoe. You’ll really like the post I have scheduled for next week. 🙂

  2. My grandmother had a first cousin named Roscoe. He was a traveler; he spent most of his life roaming the country, never married, never had children. He’d come back home every now and then to tell everyone about his travels, stay a week or two, and leave again. Sort of an intriguing character that I associate with the name.

    I love Roscoe, and I’d use it.

  3. Thanks for a great blog! I realise this post is nearly a month old now, but I wanted to comment because Roscoe is our son’s name (he’s nearly 5) and we love it! Never had a moment’s regret using it and have always had positive feedback about it with only one or two ‘dukes of hazard’ references and then only in passing. We’re in Australia, and I think it’s even more of the radar here. Our Roscoe is sweet, energetic, cheeky and fun.

    • That’s great that you have had positive experiences with the name in Australia. I feel it’s only a matter of time before more Americans begin to love Roscoe.

  4. Im currently pregnant with my second daughter and even though Roscoe is a boys name me and my partner love it!!

  5. When I was pregnant with my son my partner really wanted roscoe and I was not keen. I though he would be called Ross but I think this name sounds nice to say it all. Maybe if I have another son!! It’s grown on me.

  6. I had my son in November 2013 and I named him Roscoe! Everyone asks me if it is a family name, and I just tell them that it is now!

  7. We named our son Roscoe in May 2013! It was the name of my grandfather’s grandfather which I felt gave us a bit more gravity and an excuse to use it. Many people did not “get” it at first (of course) but now it really suits my little 18 month old rascal. I think quirky, rugged, and authoritative is the perfect description! Glad to find someone else on the same page. Came across this article searching for potential sibling names. 😉

  8. I have a Rosco he will be 9 in a few months and I have had the question asked a few times if that is his real name or a nickname. I just laugh and tell them it is his real name and I have to say it suits his personality there isn’t anyone else quite like our boy and with his unique self he has a name that he will probably never have to share while growing up.

  9. David Roscoe says:

    It would be nice if Roscoe was adopted as a first name in the UK. At the moment it is used in the main as a family name (surname). I may be a little bias . Roscoe is our family name of past, present and future generations!

Trackbacks

  1. […] easy-wear name with a funky style along the lines of other masculine R-names such as Rafferty, Roscoe, Rufus, and Rupert. The letter R on boys is beginning to take on an artsy, boyish appeal—at least […]

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