The statuette awarded for excellence in film acting, directing, etc., given annually since 1928 was first so called in 1936. The common explanation of the name is that it sprang from a 1931 remark by Margaret Herrick, secretary at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on seeing the statuette: "He reminds me of my Uncle Oscar." Thus the award would be named for Oscar Pierce, U.S. wheat farmer and fruit grower. The popularity of the name seems to trace to columnist Sidney Skolsky, and there are other stories of its origin.
family name attested from early 12c., an Anglo-French form of the place name Grantham (Lincolnshire). In reference to crackers, bread, etc., made from unsifted whole-wheat flour, 1834, American English, from Sylvester Graham, U.S. dietetic reformer and temperance advocate. Related: Grahamism. Graham's law in physics (1845) is a reference to Scottish chemist Thomas Graham. Graham Land in Antarctica was named 1832 by English explorer John Biscoe in honor of Sir James Graham, first lord of the Admiralty; the U.S. name for it was Palmer Peninsula in honor of American explorer Nathaniel Palmer, who had led an expedition there in 1820. The rival names persisted until 1964.
Lister (attested from 1286, an Anglian surname) is contracted from litster, from Middle English liten "to dye, color" (from Old Norse; see lit (n.1)) + fem. agent suffix -ster; hence, "a dyer." Unless it is from lister (late 14c.) "clerk whose duty is to read and expound Scriptures; one who reads books, a reader" (from a variant of French litres).