Hunter is the transferred use of an English surname derived from an occupation. In medieval England, men who were occupied as “hunters” pursued large game such as wild boar; a trade restricted to people of fairly high stature (lending some nobility to the name). However, the trade-surname could have also described one of lesser rank who hunted for birds or poached game for food in general. The word “hunter” is derived from the Olde English “hentan” which aptly meant “to seize, capture”. Hunter is a common surname within all English-speaking nations today; however, as a forename, Hunter is pretty distinct to North American (the U.S. and Canada) and Australia. Hunter follows a naming trend of other masculine-sounding English surnames derived from occupations like Archer, Cannon, Fisher, Gunner or Tanner.
We were surprised to see that Hunter even ranked in the Top 1000 names for boys in America 100 years ago. The name feels so distinctly modern. Still, Hunter didn’t do much on the charts but linger in the lowlands until the late 1970s, perhaps influenced by the American journalist and author, Hunter S. Thompson (who wrote “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in 1971). The book’s importance in American literature underscores its accurate representation of the 1960s, or as Thompson describes, a decade of “hysteria, insolence, insult and rot.” The name Hunter eventually achieved a position on America’s Top 100 list in 1993, and reached its peak at position #35 in the year 2000. The name is occasionally used for girls, but not enough to manage a spot in the Top 1000. Plus, it’ll be one of the harder “unisex” names for the baby girls of America to hijack as their own (as they have been known to do with many other androgynous names). Hunter feels way too masculine and is much more fitting for the boys.