About A (Not-So-Bad) Name: Ryker

January 9, 2013 § 6 Comments

Star Trek: TNG's Commander Riker is one of few modern references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Star Trek: TNG‘s Commander Riker is one of few pop culture references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Following my last post regarding name negativity, I’ve decided to take things a step further by going out of my way to highlight the positives in the names singled out in the aforementioned Deadspin article as evidence that American baby names are “getting even worse.”

The Not-So-Bad series of posts will no doubt feature names you’ve probably balked at before, but let’s keep one thing in mind, here. These aren’t hypothetical names, names from books, or lists of interesting choices – these are names that people out there actually wear. Real people. With feelings.

The first one I’ll cover is a name that’s actually been gaining massively in popularity, and isn’t just a unique selection by one adventurous parent. Ryker is, as far as I’m concerned, a true name of the future with a long Low Country heritage. It’s already nearly inside the US Top 300, after beginning it’s climb from 1000 in just 2003. The name Ryan is commonplace and has been for decades. Tucker, Parker, etc. had their biggest moments in the late-90s and early 2000s, and from those trends modern usage of Ryker was born.

Names (which are merely proper nouns if you want to get technical), are allowed to be invented. Some might think Ryker is a made-up name combining Ryan and those -ker names, but it isn’t even that. Have a Richard in your family tree (and a lot of people do, since it was a Top 5 name in the 1930s and ’40s) that you want to honour with something more modern? Richard forerunner Ricard spread through Europe from Germany and France to The Netherlands, Denmark and beyond, and means “strong power,” from ric (power) + hard (strong, hardy). It derived the Danish surname Ryker/Riker, which means “son of Ricard.”

The base word ric has been interpreted as an early form of rike, a Dutch surname meaning “to be rich” (and arguably, money is power). It, too, has been noted as another possible surname origin of Ryker (though most anglicized to the surname Rich when they arrived in North America). It was the case with Abraham Rycken, an early Dutch settler to New Amsterdam (now New York), whose descendants owned like-named Rikers Island in the East River between Queens and the Bronx until 1884. That year, the family sold the island to the city for $180,000, and it has been used as the metropolis’ main jail complex ever since. But unless you watch shows like Law & Order or CSI: NY, the reference probably goes right by you. And even if you do, there’s no evidence the name is somehow prophetic of a life behind bars.

Trekkers (they hate being called Trekkies – it’s apparently offensive, and offending with names isn’t my style) probably remember Commander Riker, portrayed by Jonathan Frakes, on 1987-94 show Star Trek: The Next Generation (I don’t). But Ryker with a Y, like Ryder with a Y, is far more in use today. You’ve probably met or heard of a little boy named Ryker by now. I have – Ryan Kesler, a forward with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, welcomed son Ryker in December 2010. The name seems like a clear play on his own moniker, since his daughter, born in 2008, was named Makayla Rylan.

I just don’t see it, what makes Ryker so “bad.” It’s a legitimate surname as a first name, bang on trend, and to my ears pulls off being cool without being in any way obnoxious or trying “too hard.” Plus, it’s got a decent history that many could connect to on a personal level.

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§ 6 Responses to About A (Not-So-Bad) Name: Ryker

  • I’m surprised that Ryker would make a list of “bad names”. As you say, it’s so on trend, so much Ryan + Parker or Ryder with a K that surely it’s easy to explain even to the doubters.

    I quite like it, see it fairly often, and had no idea it was considered “bad”. I’ve never heard anything to that effect myself.

    I can see this becoming a lower-level new Jayden – also a variant of a legitimate surname that fit in well with current name trends at the time.

    What are Deadspin writing about baby names anyway? I thought they were a sports news website???? Hardly experts in the field.

    • The guy writing the article says he found one of his wife’s parenting mags in the bathroom, and read an article on baby names that inspired him to write about the downfall of humanity based on said names. I never really visit Deadspin, save for the odd fabulous article such as NFLer Chris Klugh’s open-letter to the homophobic Governor of Maryland, but a pregnant friend of mine found the article and shared it on Facebook a few months ago. Right away it bothered me, because his commentary was so…rude, but it took a while to gather my thoughts!

      If I had to guess what really bothers him, the list had a number of names that could be considered hybrids of multiple names, and this one fits that trend. He really seemed bothered by hybrids, obviously missing the point that they can often go the distance honoring two or more loved ones while obtaining a sense of originality.

  • I agree, Ryker isn’t that bad and although I wouldn’t use it as I don’t like how it sounds there is no need it to be classified as a “bad” name. Sure its trendy but it isn’t the end of the world. I think that guy from Deadspin only wanted attention.

    Nice post though!

  • Federico Render says:

    This site is super. I’ve been looking for information on name Ryker. Your site will be bookmarked for future reference.

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