What's the Meaning Behind Sarah Palin's Children's Names?

Sarah Palin
Getty Images / Win McNamee

Many jokes have been made about the Palin children's unusual names. They weren't randomly chosen. In fact, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin selected names that reflect the family's personal history and shared passions.

The Meaning of Sarah Palin's Children's Names

1.  Track, the first-born and oldest 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 Palin made the news in January 2016 when he was arrested and charged in a domestic violence case in which his girlfriend said he punched her in the head and threatened to fire a rifle, according to an article in the New York Times. His girlfriend indicated she was worried that Track would shoot himself. Palin was charged with three misdemeanors: assault, interfering with reporting of a domestic violence crime, and a weapons charge. He entered a plea of not guilty.

2.  Bristol, the 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.

The Palins have not 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.

3.  Willow is the name of a small community in Alaska relatively close to Wasilla.

4.  Piper may have come from the name of the popular bush plane the Piper Cub, which is commonly used in Alaska. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Todd was quoted as saying "there's just not too many Pipers out there and it's a cool name."

5.  Trig Paxson Van Palin is the couple's youngest child and second son. According to the governor's spokesperson Sharon Leighow in a statement made shortly after the baby's birth, Trig is Norse and means "true" and "brave victory." Paxson is a region in Alaska the couple favors. 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 name of the band Van Halen.

Trig's birth has long been a source of controversy and blogosphere rumors. Palin, according to her own account in her book Going Rogue, did not tell anyone about her pregnancy with their fifth child except her husband Todd. She didn't reveal the news to her parents, children or staff. In addition, she didn't reveal that the child was diagnosed with Down syndrome. 


Shapiro, Rich. "What's in the Palin's children's names? Fish, for one." nydailynews.com, 31 August 2008.
Sutton, Anne. "Palin welcomes 
fifth child, a son named Trig Paxson Van Palin." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 18 April 2008.
Westfall, Sandra Sobieraj. "John McCain & Sarah Palin on Shattering the Glass Ceiling" people.com, 29 August 2008.