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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bear

Number of Babies Named Bear

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bear

What’s Wrong with U? (7 Usable U-Names)

u names, ursa, upton, upson, umber, ukiah, unity, union

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”?

Hm…

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

*

Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia


Rawr! Here Come the Bears…

bear, baby name, boy name

The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).

Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:

  • 2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
  • 2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
  • 2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
  • 2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
  • 2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice

In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:

  • 2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
  • 2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
  • 2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
  • 2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
  • 2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
  • 2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]

The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:

  • 2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
  • 2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
  • 2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
  • 2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
  • 2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]

But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.

Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?

*I assigned rankings to the E/W names the same way the SSA assigns rankings — breaking ties by assigning rank in alphabetical order.

Name Quotes #51: Fox, Bear, Sarah, Michael

quote, name, blake lively, stage name, real name

From a 2006 interview with Blake Lively:

Q: I’ve got to say, “Blake Lively” sounds almost too cool to not be a stage name…

A: People are always like, “Blake Lively! Okay, what’s your real name?” It’s kind of embarrassing to tell people, because it sounds like a really cheesy stage name.

Q: Is there a story behind the first part?

A: Actually, my grandma’s brother’s name was Blake, and my sister wrote it down when she was reading a family tree. And they said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Blake, and if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Blakely.” And everybody thought I was going to be a boy, and then I came out and I was a girl. And they had already been calling me Blake for months because they were positive I was going to be a boy. And they had been calling me Blake for so long, they just [kept it].

[The surname “Lively” came from Blake’s mother’s first husband. Blake’s mother kept it after the divorce, and Blake’s father — her mother’s second husband — liked it enough to take as his own when they married.]

[I mentioned Blake Lively in this year’s Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity post. Speaking of the latest batch of baby names…]

From “From Alessia to Zayn, Popular Baby Names on the Rise!” on the Social Security Matters blog:

Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category include Benicio and Fox for boys. […] As for Fox, did anyone ever figure out what the fox said?

[I love that the SSA made a reference to “What Does the Fox Say?” in a baby name post.]

From Baby Kylo: ‘Star Wars’ Names Raced Up the Charts in 2016 at Live Science:

“What dad wants to name his son after a son who kills his dad?” said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg, who analyzed the latest data on Babynamewizard.com. “It doesn’t seem like the most auspicious choice.”

From an E! News article about Liam Payne:

The One Direction singer-turned-solo artist explained the origin of son Bear Payne’s name during a Total Access radio interview, which he said was decided upon by mom Cheryl Cole.

“It was an internal battle,” Liam reflected. “I wanted a more traditional name and she wanted a name that was more unusual. “The reason she chose Bear was because Bear is a name that when you leave a room, you won’t forget.”

“And I like that,” the U.K. native decided eventually.

From The psychological effects of growing up with an extremely common name by Sarah Todd at Quartz:

If the purpose of a name is to signify an object, a very common first name seems like a pretty ineffective signifier. When people on the street say my name, I often don’t bother to turn around, knowing that there are probably other Sarah’s in close proximity. And so I think of “Sarah” less as a name that’s specific to me and more as a general descriptor—another word for “woman” or “girl,” or something else that applies both to me and to a lot of other people, too.

[Found via Appellation Mountain.]

From Why Coke Is Adding Last Names to ‘Share a Coke’ in Ad Age:

As for first names, Michael is No. 1, according to Coke.

[Found via Name Nerds.]

From Why Your Name May Be Ruining Your Life

Two University of Colorado economists found compelling evidence that the first letter of your last name does matter quite a bit—especially when you’re young.

Professor Jeffrey Zax and graduate student Alexander Cauley analyzed data on the lives of more than 3,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools 2 in 1957. They found that those with surnames further back in the alphabet did worse in high school, in college, and in the job market early in their careers. […] While correlation isn’t necessarily causation, the researchers firmly believe there’s a connection.

[Found via Nameberry.]

[I’m slightly surprised we haven’t seen Zax in the data yet. Zaxton is a regular these days, though.]

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Could “Unicorn” Become a Baby Name?

could unicorn become a baby name?

The baby name Unicorn: Ridiculous? Inevitable? Both?

I’m not asking because I think Unicorn should become a baby name. I’m asking because I think there’s an outside chance that it could see some usage this year, thanks to the sudden trendiness of unicorns.

The word “unicorn” is being used to market all manner of colorful, sparkly products at the moment. In fact, Google searches for “unicorn” hit an all-time high last month.

The word has also acquired some positive associations over the last few years. According to Elizabeth Segran of Fast Company, “unicorn” is now being used to denote uniqueness (e.g., unicorn startup, unicorn boyfriend) and also to signify anything “happy, fun-loving, and cute.”

So if this unicorn fad lasts long enough, and if American parents are daring enough, do you think we could see a Unicorn or two in the birth announcements this year?

For the record, Unicorn has been used as a name in the U.S. before, but only a handful of times. The youngest I found was a male born in the ’90s with the middle name Unicorn.

Mythical creature names (like Phoenix, Griffin, and Dragon) — not to mention real-life creature names (like Bear, Fox, Wolf, and Wren) — are on the rise right now. So what are the odds that we’ll see some some baby Unicorns in 2017?

Source: The Unicorn Craze, Explained

Uncommon Baby Names in Oregon, 2012

Oregon’s Open Data website includes several tables of baby name data from 2012.

The most interesting thing about this data? It goes all the way down to names given to just three babies per year. (All the SSA baby name lists, on the other hand, have a five-baby cutoff.)

So here are some of the baby names that were bestowed in Oregon just three or four times in 2012:

Girl Names Boy Names
Amberly
Andromeda
Arianny
Damaris
Diem
Ellingon
Fern
Gaia
Io
Isela
Jubilee
Kahlan
Linnea
Lois
Lumen
Magali
Rue
Sahasra
Sanvi
Sayuri
Seven
Sinai
Siri
Sonora
Sparrow
Timber
Twyla
Van
Yara
Achilles
Alvin
Atlas
Atreyu
Bear
Briar
Calder
Carver
Clive
Dutch
Forest
Huck
Hyrum
Isley
Kainoa
Kincaid
Koa
Larry
Loki
Montgomery
Riot
Rogue
Summit
Tavish
Tiberius
Tor
Trapper
Van
Zephyr

The name Diem has been in the SSA data since the ’80s, but a lot of the recent usage was probably inspired by Danielle Michelle “Diem” Brown, who appeared on various MTV reality TV shows from 2006 to 2015. (She passed away in 2014 from ovarian cancer.) In her case, “Diem” was a nickname based on the initials “D.M.,” making this yet another girl name that can be spelled with the names of letters.

Sources: 2012 Boy Baby Names | Oregon transparency, 2012 Girl Baby Names | Oregon transparency