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This article is about the given name. For other uses, see Elmer (disambiguation).

Elmer is an American and Canadian given name that originated as a surname, a medieval variant of the given name Aylmer, derived from Old English æþel (noble) and mær (famous). It was adopted as a given name in the United States, "in honor of the popularity of the brothers Ebenezer and Jonathan Elmer, leading supporters of the American Revolution."[1] The name has fallen out of popular use in the last few decades and it is uncommon to find Elmers born after World War II.

Given name[edit]

  • Elmer L. Andersen (1909–2004), American businessman, philanthropist, and the 30th Governor of Minnesota
  • Elmer Bernstein (1922–2004), American composer
  • Elmer Bischoff (1916–1991), American painter
  • W. Elmer Brandon (1906-1956), Canadian politician, known by his middle name
  • Elmer Davis (1890–1958), news reporter, author, Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II, and Peabody Award recipient
  • Elmer Dessens (born 1971), Major League Baseball relief pitcher
  • Elmer Diktonius (1896–1961), Finnish writer and composer
  • Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837–1861), lawyer and soldier, and the first conspicuous casualty of the American Civil War
  • Elmer Flick (1876–1971), American Hall-of-Fame baseball player
  • Elmer Grey (1872–1963), American architect and artist
  • Elmer Keith (1899–1984), firearms cartridge designer and author
  • Elmer Kelton (1926–2009), American journalist and writer, particularly of Western novels
  • Elmer Lach (1918-2015), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Elmer Layden (1903–1973), Commissioner of the National Football League and head football coach at the University of Notre Dame
  • Elmer MacKay (born 1936), Canadian politician
  • Elmer McCurdy (1880–1911), American outlaw whose corpse was exhibited
  • Elmer Drew Merrill (1876–1956), American botanist
  • Elmer Rice (1892–1967), American playwright
  • Elmer Riddle (1914–1984), professional baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds
  • Elmer Snowden (1900–1973), American jazz musician
  • Elmer Ambrose Sperry (1860–1930), prolific American inventor and entrepreneur
  • Elmer Valo (1921–1998), Major League Baseball player, coach, and scout


In fiction and entertainment[edit]

Other uses[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of First Names (Oxford UP, 1990), p. 101.
  2. ^ The term first appeared in the March, 1971 issue of QST magazine's "How's DX" column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB). Newkirk called them "the unsung fathers of Amateur Radio." While he probably was not trying to coin a term at the time, here's how Newkirk introduced "Elmer" in his column and, as it turned out, to the rest of the amateur radio world: "Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: 'Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'" Newkirk went on to say, "We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh."