How popular is the baby name Agnes in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Agnes and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Agnes.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Agnes

Number of Babies Named Agnes

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Agnes

Rapunzel, the Long-Haired One-Hit Wonder

rapunzel, 1958, shirley temple, television, carol lynley
Carol Lynley as Rapunzel, 1958
Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled failed to influence the U.S. baby name charts in 2010, but a televised depiction of Rapunzel from decades earlier boosted the baby name Rapunzel onto the charts for the first and only time in 1959:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 9 baby girls named Rapunzel
  • 1958: unlisted

Rapunzel was one of the top one-hit wonder names of 1959, in fact.

So what exactly caused this sudden interest in Rapunzel?

The “Rapunzel” episode of Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1958-1961). The German folktale first aired in October of 1958 on NBC. It aired again in 1959 when ABC reran the entire first season of the series.

The role of Rapunzel was played by 16-year-old Carol Lynley. The witch was played by Agnes Moorehead, best remembered today as an entirely different witch: red-headed Endora from Bewitched. And Shirley Temple, who was in her early 30’s by this time, served as narrator.

…And how did the long-haired folktale character come to have the name “Rapunzel” in the first place?

It was a pregnancy craving, believe it or not.

The original story began with a pregnant woman who had a craving for rapunzel, which is a leafy green vegetable. Her husband started stealing rapunzel from a nearby garden that belonged to either a fairy (in the Grimm brothers’ original 1812 version of the story) or a sorceress (in their revised 1857 version). The husband got caught and was forced to make a deal: he could take all the rapunzel he wanted, but in exchange he had to give the baby to the fairy/sorceress. And he did. The baby girl was named “Rapunzel” and taken away.

Have you ever met a person named Rapunzel?

Source: Rapunzel – a comparison of the versions of 1812 and 1857 – D. L. Ashliman


Scotland’s “Senga Syndrome”

Leslie Hills worked as a teacher in Scotland for several decades starting in the 1960s. Writing about her experiences in the 1990s, she mentioned Senga Syndrome:

Years later I heard my experience summed up by a very senior official in Lothian Region. The Senga Syndrome he called it and when pressed for an explanation by his male east-coast audience, explained that Senga, a name found only among the working classes in the West, was Agnes backwards and Senga was the typical Glasgow working class girl from a state school, who goes to Glasgow University, does an Ordinary degree, goes to Jordanhill College and returns, if she has ever left, to live near and teach in her old school or very close to it. Unfortunately this cruel description was largely accurate.

Senga Syndrome reminds me of Germany’s Kevinismus and of Sweden’s y-name syndrome. In all three cases, a certain name or type of name emerged to symbolize (in a derogatory way) a particular group or class.

Senga, FWIW, might be Agnes backwards, or it might be based on the Scottish Gaelic word seang, meaning “slender, lanky.”

Sources:

  • Hills, Leslie. “The Senga Syndrome: Reflections on Twenty-One Years in Scottish Education.” Identity and Diversity: Gender and the Experience of Education, edited by Maud Blair, Janet Holland, and Sue Sheldon, The Open University, 1995, 51-60.
  • Senga – Behind the Name

Name Quotes #43 – Agnieszka, Shaniqua, Fire

"I love the Q. It's the most distinctive thing about me." Quote from stem cell scientist George Q. Daley.

From “I Love the Q,” a Harvard Medical School interview with stem-cell scientist George Q. Daley:

HMS: So you have five brothers and sisters?

DALEY: Yes. I was born fifth, and my middle name, Quentin, means “fifth-born.”

HMS: I was going to ask why you use the Q.

DALEY: I love the Q. It’s the most distinctive thing about me. Everybody asks, “What’s the Q stand for?”

From “Michael Caine’s Name Is Now Officially Michael Caine” by Jackson McHenry at Vulture:

Maurice Micklewhite is dead; long live Michael Caine. The legendary British actor has officially adopted the name you know and impersonate him by after getting fed up with increased airport security checks. “I changed my name when all the stuff started with ISIS and all that,” Caine told The Sun, going on to describe his experiences with security guards thusly: “He would say, ‘Hi Michael Caine,’ and suddenly I’d be giving him a passport with a different name on it. I could stand there for an hour. So I changed my name.”

From “Frond this way: Lady Gaga’s ferns” by Ben Guarino of Scienceline:

In a 2006 letter to Nature, Australian geneticist Ken Maclean highlights the pitfalls of fanciful names: “The quirky sense of humour that researchers display in choosing a gene name often loses much in translation when people facing serious illness or disability are told that they or their child have a mutation in a gene such as Sonic hedgehog, Slug or Pokemon.”

From “Translating Names” by Dariusz Galasiński

Translating names mostly goes one way. Somehow ‘we’ must translate our names into English, and ‘you’ don’t have to translate yours into Polish, Estonian, Romanian or Slovak. And that makes the translation much more political than linguistic. And if it is political, I go against!

[…]

And here is the main point of this post – it’s not linguistic, I’m afraid. Names are political. And I think it’s important to keep them. Michał, Agnieszka, Małgorzata, Paweł, Justyna…these are your names, don’t change them to Michael, Agnes, Margaret, Paul or Justine. If they care, they will learn, if they don’t — it’s their loss.

(Found via “What’s in a name? Introducing yourself in academia” by Marta Natalia Wróblewska, via Clare’s Name News.)

From “The Jody Grind” by Jody Rosen in Slate:

Could it be that we are best served by imperfect, not perfect, names? When a baby is saddled with a name, he is taught a first lesson about pitiless fate and life’s limitations–that there are aspects of the self that can never be self-determined, circumstances that must be stoically endured, and, hopefully, someday, made peace with. There are a goodly number of us who wear our names not like a precious spell but like a humbler workaday garment. Whatever you’re called–Jody or Sue or Moon Unit or Jermajesty or maybe even Anus–you can, if you’re lucky, reach that state of grace where you hardly notice your name is there at all. You wake up in the morning and slide right into it, like a well–broken-in pair of pantaloons.

From “What’s in a Name? Exhibit explores identity, prejudice” (about a pop-up art exhibition by Donna Woodley) in The Tennessean:

“The idea for this project came as I was typing names one day. I realized that the Microsoft Word program would indicate that some names were spelled incorrectly — a red wavy line would appear under them — but not others. I’d type a name like Elizabeth or Judy and there’d be no red line, which implied it was spelled correctly. Then I’d type a name like Shaniqua, LaQuisha, or other black women’s names I knew, and they would get a red line under them, like it was spelled wrong.”

[…]

“It made me wonder, does Microsoft have a diversity department?” said Woodley.

(Found via the ANS post Names exhibit in Nashville, TN explores identity and prejudice.)

From “Church won’t let me call my son ‘Jesus’” by Cate Mukei at Standard Digital Entertainment (Kenya):

The rights activist [Nderitu Njoka] said he just wanted to prove his deeply rooted Christian faith by naming his son ‘Jesus’.

‘After all, the name is common in Portugal, Spain, and Mexico which are God fearing. My call is to Christians to start naming their sons Jesus since by doing this they will be preaching gospel of Jesus Christ to the world without hypocrisy,” the letter says.

From Politics, Religion and…Baby Names by Tim Bradley:

Our oldest son Jay (who was almost two at the time) insisted on calling our baby-to-be “Baby Fire” while my wife was pregnant. It caught on and throughout my wife’s pregnancy, our families would ask, “How’s Baby Fire doing?” Although it seemed like a fitting name, we just dismissed it thinking “Fire” was too “out there” for anyone to be on board. But on the way to the hospital during the wee hours of the morning on July 4th, my wife and I decided that “Fire” as a middle name seemed appropriate. It will forever link our sons since it was Jay’s idea, and it captures the memories and emotions we felt throughout the pregnancy. There’s the July 4th fireworks tie-in as well. And let’s face it “Fire” as a middle name is only one step away from “Danger” as the coolest name ever.

From H. L. Mencken’s The American Language (1921):

The religious obsession of the New England colonists is also kept in mind by the persistence of Biblical names: Ezra, Hiram, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Elijah, Elihu, and so on. These names excite the derision of the English; an American comic character, in an English play or novel, always bears one of them.

For more quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Catholic Names to Watch – Teresa and Fatima

children of fatima, lucia, francisco, jacinta, 1917The baby names Teresa and Fatima might see higher usage in 2016 and 2017, respectively, thanks to Catholic influence.

Teresa

On September 4, 2016, Mother Teresa will officially be declared a saint of the Catholic Church.

Mother Teresa’s religious name honors St. Thérèse de Lisieux, but she opted for the Spanish spelling “Teresa” when she took her religious vows (back in 1931) because another nun in the convent was already using the name “Thérèse.”

Her birth name was Anjezë, an Albanian form of Agnes, which can be traced back to the ancient Greek word hagnos, meaning “pure, chaste.”

Fatima

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions seen by three shepherd children (Lúcia, Francisco, and Jacinta) near the town of Fátima, Portugal.

The place name Fátima is based on the Arabic personal name Fatimah, meaning “to wean.”

If the usage of Fatima does rise in the U.S. in 2017, I’ll be curious to see how much of that increase comes from states with large Portuguese populations (like Massachusetts, California, and Rhode Island).

Which of the two do you prefer?

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Update, 5/18/2017: The name Teresa did rise in usage, but only slightly, in 2016.

Popular Baby Names in Sweden, 2015

According to data from Statistics Sweden, the most popular baby names in Sweden in 2015 were Elsa and William.

Here are Sweden’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Elsa, 872 baby girls
2. Alice, 847
3. Maja, 674
4. Saga, 671
5. Ella, 627
6. Lilly, 613
7. Olivia, 583
8. Ebba, 576
9. Wilma, 757
10. Julia, 574
1. William, 977 baby boys
2. Lucas, 802
3. Liam, 752
4. Oscar, 737
5. Elias, 732
6. Hugo, 711
7. Oliver, 709
8. Charlie, 664
9. Axel, 627
10. Vincent, 602

In the boys’ top 10, Axel replaces Alexander.

In the girls’ top 10, Saga, Ella and Wilma replace Agnes, Molly and Linnea.

The names in the top 100 that rose the fastest were:

  • Lo, Saga, Hedvig, Julie, and Ronja for girls, and
  • Kian, Henry, Love, Algot and Sam for boys.

The names in the top 100 that fell the fastest were:

  • Hilda, Cornelia, Elvira, Felicia and Linn for girls, and
  • Linus, Elvin, Rasmus, Felix and Jack for boys.

The sudden rise of Saga (from 21st to 4th) could be due to the popular Scandinavian TV show “The Bridge,” which features a character named Saga. But, as Maybe it is Daijirō (aka Maks) notes, the show has been around since 2011. Saga’s usage stayed relatively flat until 2014.

Also in 2015, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PVR) received 1,942 applications for adult name changes — a new national record. Znövit (Snow White), Lejontass (Lion paw) and Grön (green) were three of the new names requested last year. Sweden may be strict about names for babies, but name changes for adults are approved around 99% of the time.

Sources: Name statistics – Statistics Sweden, Swedes rush to ditch classic Nordic names