The Latest on ABCDE

In late November, the baby name Abcde (pronounced AB-sih-dee) made national headlines after a 5-year-old El Paso girl named Abcde Redford was name-shamed by a Southwest Airlines gate agent at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

My original post on Abcde was written way back in 2010, so now that the name is being highlighted in the news (and on social media), it’s time for an update!

Here’s a graph of what the usage looks like so far:

usage of the baby name Abcde, graph, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, texas, hawaii, usa

And here are the grand totals (1990-2017):

  • Usage in the U.S.: at least 373 baby girls
    • Usage in Texas specifically: at least 225 baby girls
    • Usage in Hawaii specifically: at least 5 baby girls

(The state-specific SSA data, just like the national SSA data, has a five-baby threshold. So if a name is given to four (or fewer) babies in a certain state in a given year, that usage won’t be reported. The total counts, therefore, should be seen as minimums.)

Strangely, several sources (Vocativ, WaPo) keep repeating the claim that the name Abcde is “a primarily Hawaiian phenomenon.” While Hawaii was clearly an early adopter, Texas is where about 60% of all Abcdes have been born.

Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention the phonetic variant, Absidy:

usage of the baby name Absidy, graph, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, texas, usa

It’s interesting to note that Abcde is not a purely modern invention. Here’s a 19th-century woman named Abcde, for instance (discovered by It’s an Urban Legend). Abcde is also not the only letter-string personal name we have evidence of. And, going beyond names, there’s the letter-based Latin word abecedarius, “alphabetical,” and derived terms like abecedary and abecedarian (thank you to Frank for reminding me of this).

So now here’s the big question: Abcde’s usage has been petering out over the last few years…but will all this recent exposure, despite the mocking tone, end up giving the name a boost in 2018/2019?

Sources: SSA, OC Southwest gate agent mocks 5-year-old girl’s name, posts boarding pass on social media


One thought on “The Latest on ABCDE

  1. I’ve seen Abbsidy on a local honor roll — a straight A student. I don’t care for the name, but it’s unkind to mock a child for a name she can’t help. The airline employee was out of line to post it on social media. My guess is that a few more girls will get the name due to the exposure in the media.

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