What Are the Meanings of Sarah Palin's Children's Names?

Their names reflect family history and shared passions

Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Many questions have been raised about the unusual names of Sarah Palin's children . They weren't randomly chosen. In fact, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate and her husband, Todd Palin, selected names that reflect the family's personal history and shared passions.

Track Palin

Track, the family's first-born son, was given that name because of the family's longstanding interest in sports. Sarah's parents were coaches, Todd was a high school athlete, and Sarah is an avid runner. Their first child was born during the track season.

Track made news in January 2016 when he was charged in a domestic violence case in which his girlfriend said he punched her and threatened suicide. Palin was charged with three misdemeanors and pleaded guilty on a weapons charge. The other charges were dismissed. Sarah said her son’s arrest stemmed from post-traumatic stress disorder after a military deployment in Iraq.

In December 2017 Track was charged with felony burglary, fourth degree assault against his father, and criminal mischief for causing property damage at his parents' home. According to court documents, the dispute was over a truck that Track wanted to borrow; his father declined because Track allegedly had been drinking and taking pain medicine.

He was ordered to spend a year in custody in October 2018 after a third alleged assault when a judge ruled the allegation disqualified him from a therapeutic veterans program following a previous assault case.

Bristol Palin

The couple's oldest daughter is named after Bristol Bay, an area where Todd grew up. Bristol Bay is also the site of the family's commercial fishing interests.

Willow and Piper Palin

The Palins haven't identified the significance of their other two daughters' names, but the meaning is likely rooted in aspects of the region's culture and way of life.

Willow is the name of a small Alaskan community near the family home in Wasilla. Piper may have come from the name of the popular bush plane the Piper Cub, which is commonly used in Alaska. In a People magazine interview, Todd was quoted as saying, "There's just not too many Pipers out there, and it's a cool name."

Trig Paxson Van Palin

Trig Paxson Van Palin is the couple's youngest child. According to governor's spokeswoman Sharon Leighow in a statement shortly after his birth, Trig is Norse and means "true" and "brave victory." Paxson is a region in Alaska the couple favors, while Van is a nod to the rock group Van Halen. Before Trig's birth, his mother had joked about naming her son Van Palin, a play on the band's name.

Trig's birth was a source of controversy and blogosphere rumors. Palin, according to her book "Going Rogue," didn't tell anyone about her pregnancy with their fifth child except her husband. There were rumors that Bristol, not Sarah, was Trig's mother, but the allegations were largely disproved.

Sources:

Shapiro, Rich. "What's in the Palin's children's names? Fish, for one." nydailynews.com.
Sutton, Anne. "Palin welcomes fifth child, a son named Trig Paxson Van Palin." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Westfall, Sandra Sobieraj. "John McCain & Sarah Palin on Shattering the Glass Ceiling" people.com