Before it was a popular name for baby boys, Carter was an Irish surname back when people's last names often referred to what they did for a living. If you were a Carter, it meant you transported goods with a cart or wagon – and in Irish tradition, it was often McCarter, meaning "son of Carter." But there's more to the name than just being a cart-pusher.
If you're looking for a more romantic meaning, the word "carter" is related to the Gaelic word "cairtear," which loosely translates to "tourist" or "sojourner" in English.
Carter was for a long time (and still is) a popular last name. Famous holders of the last name include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, celebrity couple and musicians Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z) and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and siblings and musicians Aaron Carter and Nick Carter – just to name a few.
Carter is pronounced "KAR-tur" and is most often spelled with a "C," though the alternate Karter has gained some popularity in recent years. And it's usually given to boys, though quite a few girls share the name – especially spelled Karter.
According to the Social Security Administration, Carter has been among the top 1,000 most popular baby names almost every year since 1900. It broke into the top 100 for the first time in 2004 and has only gotten more popular since – peaking at number 24 in 2018.
Carter's alternate spelling Karter is on the rise. In 2005, this spelling variation first appeared on the Social Security Administration's list of the 1,000 most popular boy names and has slowly moved up the ranks since.
With its humble origins and wide recognition, Carter is a strong, classic name that's sure to suit both boys and girls for decades to come.
Carter Bays : Co-creator and executive producer of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother
Carter Beauford : Musician and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band
Carter Blackburn : American sportscaster
Carter Braxton : American signer of the Declaration of Independence
Carter Burwell : American composer of film soundtracks
Carter Harrison, Sr. : Former mayor of Chicago
Carter Harrison, Jr. : Former mayor of Chicago; son of Carter Harrison, Sr.
Carter Rubin : American musician and winner of singing competition The Voice
Carter Stanley : American bluegrass musician and member of The Stanley Brothers
Carter G. Woodson : American historian, author, journalist, and founder of Black History Month
Carter Beauford : musician
Carter Elliott : baseball player