Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Clinton

Clinton is an English surname with Anglo-Norman roots derived from a place name: Glympton, Oxfordshire (south-central England). The village of Glympton was settled in the middle of the 11th century and so-named due to its location on the River Glyme. Glyme comes from an old Celtic word from the Brythonic language branch (rather than the Gaelic) and means “bright stream”. About 20 years after William, Duke of Normandy’s conquest of England (1066) which resulted in his ascension to the English throne as King William I of England, the land was stripped from its original Anglo-Saxon lord and given to one of the king’s Norman cronies. By the early 12th century the manor was given to Geoffrey de Clinton by King Henry I (King William’s son); Geoffrey was Henry’s chamberlain and treasurer. Geoffrey de Clinton was the first bearer of the surname “Clinton” which was recorded in 1130 and taken directly from the lands of Glympton (surnames were first assigned to members of the aristocracy as a means of identification for the purposes of taxation – locations, occupations and nicknames were among the most common identifiers). Due to the high rate of illiteracy in medieval England, compounded by the drastically different dialects spoken from region to region, the spellings and sounds of surnames evolved radically over time. This is how Glympton eventually morphed in Clinton (in the English alphabet, both C and G come from the same source letter, so the change from G to C was not uncommon). As a masculine given name, Clinton has enjoyed usage in America since at least the 1800s. Famous name bearers are iconic Hollywood actor and filmmaker, Clinton “Clint” Eastwood, country music star Clinton "Clint" Black, and Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States.

All About the Baby Name – Clinton



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The name Clinton has not only had a long history of usage, but it has had a very successful one, too. The name dates back on the charts to 1880 (which is as far back as we have available data). For most of the 20th century, Clinton was a Top 200 favorite which is impressively high on a relative basis. The funny thing, though, is when you look at the performance chart below you’ll see something (maybe not so?) surprising. Clinton’s usage as an American baby boy’s name started to nose dive in the year 1993. This is the same year as William Jefferson Clinton took office as President. Not only that, but throughout his eight-year term (1993-2001), parents across America were collectively recoiling from using the name Clinton on their baby boys. This after 100+ years of consistently respectable usage. Coincidence? We think not. Why, we’re not exactly sure (but we have some ideas). The name Clinton is now a bottom-dweller on the charts despite its historic popularity among African-Americans, its connection with Clint Eastwood and Clint Black, or its charm-appeal exuded by Clinton Kelly from TLC’s popular show “What Not to Wear”. When it comes to surname-turned-first-names, you could do a whole lot worse than Clinton. Did we mention Nixon just appeared on the naming charts? Go figure.

Quick Facts













Settlement on the River Glyme










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Clinton

Literary Characters


We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Clinton

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Clinton

Famous People


Clinton "Clint" Eastwood (film actor and director)
Clinton "Clint" Black (country musician)
Clinton Kelly (TV personality)
Clinton Portis (football player)
Clinton "Clint" Benedict (hockey player)
Clinton Davisson (Nobel Prize winner, physics)
Clinton Smith (basketball player)
Clinton Hart (football player)
Clinton Sparks (Grammy nominated musician and TV personality)
Clinton Wheeler (basketball player)
Clinton Richard Dawkins (biologist and evolutionist)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Clinton

Historic Figures


Bill Clinton was our nation's saxophone-playing, good-humored, rock-n-roll president who served between 1993 and 2001. He came onto the scene breathing a new and youthful energy into a country of frustrated Americans (he was also only 46 years old). From modest beginnings, Billy Jeff had grand ambitions, and with his intelligence (he was a Rhodes Scholar) and charismatic personality, it seemed destined to be. It didn't hurt that Clinton was the quintessential natural politician. His presidency is marked by one of the longest periods of economic prosperity and peace in American history. It is also marked by the many scandals of his making (or those gleefully spread by his enemies): Jennifer Flowers, Travelgate, Whitewater, Paula Jones and, everyone's favorite, Monica Lewinsky (for which he was impeached). Still, it seemed that nothing could touch his approval ratings. Everyone pretty much loved Bill Clinton, except of course, his many Republican enemies. His wife Hillary was the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing.

Bill Clinton is one of only four former United States presidents living, he being the 42nd in succession. Overcoming a troubled and underprivileged childhood, Clinton rose through academic and political ranks to achieve the highest office in the land. Admittedly personally charming and charismatic, engaging and intellectual (he was a Rhodes scholar), William “Bill” Clinton’s eight year reign was indelibly marred by the specter of impeachment. He presided over a period of domestic financial growth, fostered relations between Israel and the Arab nations, worked for health care and welfare reform, instituted NAFTA, tried to address the issues of gays in the military and, well, had a few little flings, one of which almost got him impeached. Upon leaving office, he worked on his own wife’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and has become a kind of elder statesman and humanitarian over the last decade. And he’s still married to Hillary. That may be his biggest coup of all.