Bristol is a place name, a populous urban city located in southwestern England (near Bath and Gloucester). The name is derived from the Olde English Brycgstow meaning “place at the bridge” in reference to the original bridge built over the River Avon where the settlement was established circa 1000 A.D. Bristol became one of the most important medieval cities in England (after London and York). Ironically, the usage of Bristol as a female given name did not originate from Bristol, England; rather, American’s have Vice Presidential hopeful turned political pundit Sarah Palin to thank for Bristol’s uprising as a girl’s name. Palin named her second child and first daughter Bristol for three disparate reasons. One, Bristol Inn was where Palin worked at the time; two, Bristol, Connecticut houses the headquarters for ESPN (Sarah had dreams of being a sportscaster); and, three, Bristol Bay is located in Alaska where Bristol’s father Todd grew up. So apparently, Sarah Palin saw Bristol as a good omen and naturally bestowed the moniker upon her daughter. Bristol Palin herself became a celebrity of sorts when her teen pregnancy was announced during her mother’s out-spoken, right-wing, morally-righteous run for the Vice Presidency. With her unusual name suddenly splashed all over the news, Bristol came straight onto the American radar. In another ironic twist, Sarah Palin was harshly criticized for her support of Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” (an example of pork barrel spending at its worst) while her daughter’s name means “the place at the bridge”. The female given name Bristol is really only used in America. Thanks Sarah!
Bristol first crossed the “bridge” on to the American female charts in 2009, the year following Sarah Palin’s rising political celebrity. But Bristol Palin has also carved out a name for herself as a spokesperson for teen pregnancies. She gave birth to her son Tripp at the age of 18 and also had high-profile problems with the baby-daddy Levi. Seems the name Bristol stayed in the news, reminding future parents of her pretty, quaint and unusual name. Now she’s a reality TV star in her own right. Like the ever-present Kardashians, the Palins are also moving the needle on name choices in America. Strange but true. Tripp (Bristol’s son) is also seeing moderate success on the charts. We’re guessing this one is a fleeting fad. Its origins are just a little too random to maintain prominence in a time-tested manner. A lot of Americans do “bristle” at the name Bristol given its association with turning celebrity out of irresponsibility (the teen pregnancy thing). Bristol also sounds like a variation of Crystal. We have to agree that Bristol is a pretty sounding name, but the connections are too controversial. People either love it or they hate it.