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Ray Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Ray including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Ray Overview

  • Meaning: Ray means “protection.” It’s a shortened version of the name Raymond, which means “wise protector” or “counsel hand” when translated from Old German.
  • Gender: Ray is traditionally a masculine name.
  • Origin: The name Ray comes from the name Raymond, an Anglification of the French Raimund.
  • Pronunciation: “r-AY”
  • Popularity: This name is most popular in the United States, ranking within the top 500 most popular boy’s names. It is less prevalent in England and Europe.
  • Nicknames: Ray-Ray, Ramie, Raymundo
  • Variations: Rae, Raymond, Ré, Rey
  • Namesakes: Ray Romano, actor. Ray Bradbury, author.

What Does Ray Mean?

The name Ray has several possible meanings. But the most prevalent meaning is ‘protector.’ That said, this name could also mean counselor, grace, radiance, might, and royal power.

Precise meanings vary depending on culture and whether the name is Raymond or its shortened form Ray.

What is the Origin of the Name Ray?

The name Ray is traditionally the shortened version of the name Raymond (1). This older name originally stemmed from Germanic tribes, particularly the name Raginmund.

Raginmund originally translates to counsel (ragin) and hand (mund), though it can also translate to advise and protector. The difference depends on the period of Old German you’re studying, as many terms experienced changed meanings over time.

This name transformed after its adoption by the French, becoming Raimund. Its spelling changed again when it was adopted by the English, becoming Raymond (the English phonetic version of the French spelling).

How Popular is the Name Ray?

The name Ray, and its longer version Raymond, were somewhat popular throughout the late 1700s and much of the 1800s, particularly in England, France, and the United States.

However, it reached its peak popularity in the United States in 1919, breaking the top 20 boy’s names given that year.

Ray (Raymond) began to decline in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, it’s still a fairly popular choice, although its popularity has steadily declined since 2000 (2).

This name is also fairly popular in England and Europe, typically ranking within the top 1,000 baby names.

How Do I Pronounce Ray?

The name Ray is pronounced “r-AY,” making it a phonetic name that’s generally easy for English-speaking populations to pronounce.

Is Ray a Boy or Girl Name?

The name Ray is primarily a boy’s name. More than 99% of people with this name are male. However, a small percentage of females also have this name (approximately 0.5%).

This name’s association’s tendency toward male usage stems from the fact that Ray is the shortened form of Raymond, a traditionally masculine name. However, some spelling variations (Rae, Rey) are more feminine, making them a more popular choice for girls.

Variations of Ray

There are several variations of the name Ray. The popularity of these variations varies from country to country, and some are more feminine than the more common iteration, Ray.

  • Rae (Hebrew)
  • Raymond (English, French, Scottish)
  • Ré (Irish)
  • Rey (Spanish)

Nicknames for Ray

The name Ray is often used as a nickname for the name Raymond. Due to its shortness, few nicknames are used for those with the name Ray.

That said, some may use nicknames associated with the name Raymond when applying a nickname to someone named Ray. Nicknames for Ray may include:

  • Ray-Ray
  • Ramie
  • Raymundo

Similar Names to Ray

Many names are similar to Ray and Raymond. Some of these names have a similar meaning (protection), while others have similar origins. A few of the best examples include:

  • Aldan
  • Ansel
  • Eamon
  • Hakim
  • Hassan
  • Jay
  • Manu
  • Norman
  • Osmond
  • Richmond
  • Sigmund

Middle Names for Ray

If you’ve been looking for the perfect middle name to complement the first name Ray, any of the below options could be a good fit:

Sibling Names for Ray

Several sibling names pair well with the name Ray. The best choice depends on the gender of the sibling, as well as your personal preferences. Still, some top options include:

For a Brother:

For a Sister:

Famous People Named Ray

There have been an astounding number of famous people called Ray (or Raymond). Some of the most notable include:

  • Ray Bradbury: American author.
  • Ray Davies: English songwriter, musician, and vocalist.
  • Ray J: American actor and vocalist.
  • Raymond Kurzweil: American inventor.
  • Ray Lewis: American athlete.
  • Ray Liotta: American actor.
  • Ray Porter: American actor.
  • Ray Romano: American actor.

Ray in Popular Culture

In addition to famous people, there have been several characters named Ray in popular culture. For example:

  • Ray Bronson: Character in the 1998 film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
  • Ray Donovan: Title character of the 2013 television show “Ray Donovan.”
  • Ray Gillette: Animated character from the television show “Archer.”
  • Ray Kinsella: Character from the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.”
  • Ray Nicolette: Character from the 1997 film “Jackie Brown.”
  • Ray Peyton Sr.: Character from the 2005 film “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”
  • Raymond Stantz: Character from the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.”

Ray FAQs

Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the name Ray.

What Does the Name Ray Mean in the Bible?

Ray is occasionally used as a nickname for the Hebrew name Rachel (רָחֵל). This name stems from the Biblical Rachel, an Old Testament figure and one of the wives of Jacob (3).

What Name Is Ray a Nickname For?

The name Ray is typically a nickname for Raymond. However, it also functions as a complete given name (first name).

Does Ray Mean Grace?

In Scotland, the name Ray most readily translates to “grace.” However, meanings and associations vary from country to country.

How Rare Is the Name Ray?

The name Ray is pretty popular, though it’s far less popular now than it was during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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