The Baby Name Maeve

my son my son, 1940, movie, posterMaeve is an Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic name Medb, meaning “intoxicating.” It wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until it got three distinct boosts from popular culture.

The movie My Son My Son! (1940), which featured a character named Maeve O’Riorden (played by Laraine Day), put the name on the map:

  • 1943: 6 babies named Maeve
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: 10 babies named Maeve
  • 1940: 8 babies named Maeve [debut]
  • 1939: unlisted

It didn’t really pick up steam, though, until the soap opera Ryan’s Hope (1975-1989) gave it exposure via the character Maeve Ryan (played by Helen Gallagher):

  • 1989: 52 babies named Maeve
  • 1988: 56 babies named Maeve
  • 1987: 41 babies named Maeve
  • 1986: 45 babies named Maeve
  • 1985: 32 babies named Maeve
  • 1984: 30 babies named Maeve
  • 1983: 23 babies named Maeve
  • 1982: 19 babies named Maeve

In the ’90s, Maeve entered the top 1,000 for the first time. Irish writer Maeve Binchy may have had something to do with this — her book Circle of Friends (1990) was made into a popular movie of the same name in 1995 — but more likely the inspiration was the character Maeve on the action/adventure TV show The Adventures of Sinbad (1996–1998).

  • 1999: 343 babies named Maeve (ranked 669th)
  • 1998: 240 babies named Maeve (ranked 881st)
  • 1997: 207 babies named Maeve (ranked 955th)
  • 1996: 141 babies named Maeve
  • 1995: 133 babies named Maeve
  • 1994: 102 babies named Maeve

In 2010, 546 baby girls were named Maeve (ranking: 536th). How high do you think the name will climb?

Update: Five years on, in 2015, Maeve ranks 450th. Still climbing!


One thought on “The Baby Name Maeve

  1. I don’t have any prediction on how high it will climb, but this is one of my favorite names! I hope it doesn’t get too popular.

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