A mere seven boys were named Donald last year in Scotland – the lowest number since records began and a 200 per cent drop since 2014, the year before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency.
While the use of traditional names has waned, the slump in Donald’s popularity is especially pronounced. It is a trend bound up with the “Trump effect”, according to experts in onomatology, the study of the history and use of proper names. They said the divisive politics of the US president had probably consigned the forename to irrelevance for a generation.
It promises to be an inglorious period for a name given to not one but three Scottish kings, the most notable being the 9th-century Donald II, fondly known as “Donald the Madman”.
As recently as 1977, some 127 boys were named Donald, National Records of Scotland figures show. Since 2000, however, numbers have hovered around 20 before plummeting to joint 442nd place in 2016 alongside curiosities such as Che, Eden and Lomond.
Carole Hough, professor of onomastics at the University of Glasgow, said although traditional names were not in vogue, the collapse in Donald’s use was acute.
“Back in 1980, there were 104 Donalds and 103 Patricks, but while there were seven Donalds in 2016, there were 49 Patricks,” she said. “Similarly, there were 109 Charles in 1980, and 43 in 2016. It’s a similar trend, but nothing like as extreme. It seems Trump has accelerated the decline.”
Dr Cleveland Evans, an onomastics specialist at Bellevue University in Nebraska, agreed: “Donald was a very common name in the US in the early 20th century – it was in the top ten – but it’s gone out of fashion. I’m sure Trump is further suppressing it.”
Trump was named after Donald Smith, his mother’s grandfather, a Lewis fisherman who was killed when a squall overturned his boat off Vatisker.
“The name obviously means something to Trump and seems to symbolise his mother’s ancestry,” suggested Richard Coates, professor in linguistics at the University of the West of England.
Having named his own son after him, Trump evidently holds the forename in high regard, to the extent that he has attempted to monetise it. US Patent and Trademark Office records show that in 1999 he applied unsuccessfully to trademark the term “The Donald” for alcoholic cocktail products.
For well-kent Donalds in Scotland, the sullying of a proud name has been a bitter blow. “I suspect Donald will be a lot less popular in years to come because of Trump,” said Donald Anderson, former leader of the City of Edinburgh Council. “We need a character called Donald on Game Of Thrones to make it popular again.”
Some Donalds, however, believe they will overcome their political namesake. “I was actually born David and renamed Donald after being adopted. I’ve always loved its Scottishness,” enthused Donald Smith, director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
“As for the Trump fella, we’ll outlive him. Donalds of the world should unite. There’s still a lot more of us about.”