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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ben


Posts that Mention the Name Ben

Name Quotes #98: Judith, Xochitl, Rajaonina

From an article about famous people reclaiming their names in The Guardian:

Earlier this year, the BBC presenter formerly known as Ben Bland changed his surname to Boulos to celebrate his maternal Sudanese-Egyptian heritage.

[…]

The Bland name had masked important aspects of his identity that he had downplayed as a child, not wanting to be seen as in any way “different”, including his Coptic faith, Boulos said. “Every name tells a story – and I want mine to give a more complete picture of who I am.”

Boulos’s grandparents, who came to Britain in the 1920s, had chosen the surname Bland because they feared using the Jewish-Germanic family name “Blumenthal”. “They decided on the blandest name possible — literally — to ensure their survival,” he wrote.

(Two more quotes on name-reclaiming were in last month’s quote post.)

Actress Camila Mendes [vid] talking about her name on The Late Late Show With James Corden in 2017:

So my name is Camila Mendes, and there’s a singer called Camila Cabello, and a singer called Shawn Mendes. And people seem to think my Twitter is a fan account for that relationship.

From the book I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (2015) by Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo:

Babies were baptized with new and strange names, particularly in the 1920s, names taken from the titles of various socialist experiments (for instance, in Tabasco with Garrido Canaval, who established socialist baptisms), and as a result of the emergence of the radio and the indigenist turn of the city’s language. Masiosare became a boy’s name (derived from a stanza of the national anthem: “Mas si osare un extraño enemigo…”), but also Alcazelser (after the popularity of Alka-Seltzer), Xochitl, Tenoch, Cuauhtémoc, Tonatihu (the biblically named Lázaro Cárdenas named his son Cuauhtémoc).

From a Good Morning America article about ’90s sitcom Saved by the Bell:

The names of characters came from people [executive producer Peter] Engel knew growing up.

“I knew a guy named Screech Washington. He was a producer. I said I’m not going to hire him, but I’m going to steal your name,” he said. “Slater was a kid who was in my son’s kindergarten class, Zack was named after my dear, dear friend, John DeLorean. […] His son’s name was Zack. Lisa Turtle was a girl I knew and Mr. Belding, Richard Belding, had been my cranky editor when I worked at Universal.”

From the book Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood (2004) by Robert S. Birchard:

DeMille interviewed Gloria Stuart for the part of the high school girl [in This Day and Age], Gay Merrick, and said she was “extremely enthusiastic,” and he also considered Paramount contract player Grace Bradley, but ultimately he selected a former model who called herself Mari Colman. In April 1933 Colman won a Paramount screen test in a New York beauty competition, and DeMille was apparently delighted by the innocent image she projected.

In a comic sequence in David O. Selznick’s 1937 production of A Star Is Born, the studio’s latest discovery, Esther Blodgett, is given a new name more in keeping with her status as a movie starlet. As This Day and Age was getting ready to roll, Mari Colman was subjected to the same treatment as DeMille and Paramount tested long lists of potential screen names. Among the suggestions were Betty Barnes, Doris Bruce, Alice Harper, Grace Gardner, Chloris Deane, and Marie Blaire. Colman herself suggested Pamela Drake or Erin Drake. On May 15, Jack Cooper wrote DeMille that he had tried several names on seventeen people. Eleven voted for the name Doris Manning; the other six held out for Doris Drake. Somehow, the name ultimately bestowed upon her was Judith Allen. DeMille and Paramount had high hopes for Allen, and she was even seen around town in the company of Gary Cooper, one of the studio’s biggest stars.

From an academic paper by Denis Regnier called “Naming and name changing in postcolonial Madagascar” (2016):

Nowadays, most names borne by individuals in Madagascar are a particular mix of foreign names (mainly Christian, French, or British but sometimes Muslim) and Malagasy names. This is because the spread of the Christian faith in the nineteenth century resulted in people increasingly giving names from the Bible to their children. These biblical names were often modified to follow the phonological and morphological rules of the Malagasy language (e.g., John becomes Jaonina or Jaona), and often the honorific particle Ra-, the word andriana (lord), or both were added to them (e.g., Rajaonina and Randrianarijaona). While at the beginning of Christian evangelization most people still had, in traditional Malagasy fashion, only one name, progressively the most common structure of names became “binomial,” as Gueunier calls it (Gueunier 2012, 197). In this case, a Christian name (or other foreign name) is often juxtaposed to a Malagasy name, although sometimes both names are of Malagasy origin or, more rarely, both names are foreign.

And let’s end with a related quote about Madagascar’s very long names:

Names were reduced in length when French colonization began in 1896 — the shortest names today include Rakotoarisoa, Rakotonirina, Andrianjafy or Andrianirina, and tend to have around 12 characters minimum.

Name Quotes #92: Jock, Emmeline, Unity

Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac.

About the inclusion of the name Emmeline in the Fleetwood Mac song “Seven Wonders” [vid], from the book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours (2014) by Zoë Howe:

After hearing [songwriter Sandy] Stewart sing the song first, Stevie misunderstood some of the words, hence the line ‘All the way down to Emmeline’, which has mystified fans for years. The original line was ‘All the way down you held the line’, but the use of a name like ‘Emmeline’ is typical for Stevie, so accustomed are we to hearing her throw in women’s names — ‘Sara’, ‘Lily’ — and thus we look for the clues she scatters in her songs.

[The line sounds more like “on the way down to Emmeline” to me, but it’s hard to tell. It’s also hard to tell if the song, which saw peak popularity in mid-1987, gave a boost to the baby name Emmeline that year — what do you think?]

Speaking of Fleetwood Mac…a quote from an interview with Christine McVie, née Perfect, in The Guardian:

Hi, Christine. What was it like growing up with the surname Perfect?

It was difficult. Teachers would say: “I hope you live up to your name, Christine.” So, yes, it was tough. I used to joke that I was perfect until I married John.

From an article about names in Iceland:

After the settlers had arrived [in Iceland] new names started popping up. Those were often simply made up from those pre-existing, with slight alterations such as Álfheiður (meaning bright like an elf) or Ásdís (a divine fairy).

[…]

Then there were other inspirational factors such as the landscape. The name Snælaug (snow-pool) didn’t appear until about 1155. Her mother’s name was Geirlaug so it is obvious where the extension came from and the pre-fix. Well, that’s also quite overt. There is no shortage of snow or hot pools in Iceland. And, actually, they go together perfectly!

Speaking of names in Iceland…an excerpt from a 2019 article about Icelandic names no longer being gendered:

Icelandic given names will no longer be differentiated as being “male” or “female” in the national naming registry, RÚV reports. This means that anyone will be able to take any name in the registry, irrespective of gender, and marks a major change in Icelandic naming conventions.

About the various marmalade cats named “Jock” at Winston Churchill’s country estate (Chartwell), from a 2008 article about Churchill’s feline menagerie:

For Sir Winston’s 88th birthday in November 1962, Sir John Colville gave him a ginger cat with a white chest and paws. Named “Jock,” the cat became a favorite, often found on Churchill’s knee. Churchill took Jock to his London home at Hyde Park Gate when he traveled there from Chartwell.

[…]

“After Sir Winston’s death Jock lived on at Chartwell, where he had the run of the house,” a National Trust spokesman said after the cat died at the age of 13 in January 1975. “He would spread out in front of the fire, just as he did when Sir Winston was alive. The public loved him.”

In accord with the family’s wish, a new marmalade cat, Jock II, replaced the original, and the National Trust has ensured that the tradition continues. The incumbent today is Jock IV.

[Actually, as of July 2020, it’s Jock VII.]

From a review of the book The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters (2007) by Ben Macintyre:

The collected letters (superbly edited by Diana’s daughter-in-law, Charlotte Mosley) are pure gold. In place of the caricatures – Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur – they provide the warp and weft of daily life as only letters can.

Babies Named for Sailing Ships (B)

The people below were born aboard — and named after! — ships with B-names…

  • Baltic:
    • Annie Baltic Jones, born in 1880
  • Bard of Avon:
    • William Avon Clifford, born in 1864
  • Baron Blantyre:
    • Mary Blantyre Philbrook, born in 1887
  • Batavia:
    • Batavia Svensen, born in 1877
  • Beemah:
    • Miriam Beemah Pickerwell, born in 1856
    • Catharine Mary Beemah Dooney, born in 1879
  • Belair:
    • Mary Louise Belair Wright, born in 1882
  • Belle Alliance:
    • Dora Belle Howat, born in 1876
  • Belle Wood:
    • Joseph Bellewood Richards, born in 1864
  • Ben Nevis:
    • Ben Nevis Amoorthum, born in 1878
  • Benan:
    • Edward Benan Davies, born in 1877
  • Berar:
    • Berar Oceana Cunningham Firth, born in 1873
    • Berar Clark, born in 1885
  • Berlin:
    • Elizabeth Berlina Glaser, born in 1881
  • Blair Athole:
    • Athole Taylor Bartley Butler, born in 1878
  • Blue Jacket:
    • William Blue Jacket Afflech, born in 1864
    • Julia Blue Jacket Shaw, born in 1864
  • Bolivia:
    • Bolivia Alexandra Anderson, born in 1884
  • Bombay:
    • Mary Bombay Wareing, born in 1883
  • Boyne:
    • William Boyne Brooks, born in 1874
    • Mabel Boyne Roberts, born in 1878
    • Whiteoak Boyne Stokes, born in 1878
  • Brittania:
    • Annie Britannia Johnson, born in 1873
    • Columbia Britannia Rosenberg, born in 1881
    • Britannia Hafner, born in 1883
  • Britannic:
    • Brita Annica Hellgren, born in 1876
    • Robert Britannic Bowen, born in 1877
    • Bernard Britannic Traynor, born in 1882
    • Margaret Britannic McCracken, born in 1886
  • British King:
    • British King Frank, born in 1886
    • British King Johann, born in 1886, who made the news:
British King Johann
  • British Prince:
    • Patrick Prince McShane, born in 1887
  • Brooklyn:
    • Marina Brooklyn Neilstather, born in 1882
  • Broughton:
    • Annie Broughton Hutchinson, born in 1877
    • Margaret Broughton Edkin, born in 1878
  • Bula:
    • David Bula Newman Watson, born in 1878
  • Bulimba:
    • Moses Bulimba Williams, born in 1883
    • Annie Bulimba Burstow, born in 1883
    • Bulimba Skow, born in 1886
    • William Bulimba Elgar, born in 1886
    • Alice Bulimba Bevis, born in 1887
    • Bulimba Elizabeth Ufer, born in 1887
    • John Bulimba Nott, born in 1887

Do you think any of the ship-names above work particularly well as human names?

Sources:

Popular Baby Names in Switzerland, 2019

According to data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the most popular baby names in Switzerland in 2019 were Mia and Liam.

Here are the country’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Mia, 434 baby girls
  2. Emma, 401
  3. Sofia, 341
  4. Lara, 312
  5. Emilia, 310
  6. Mila, 298
  7. Lina, 294
  8. Lia, 292
  9. Lena, 280
  10. Anna, 276

Boy Names

  1. Liam, 443 baby boys
  2. Noah, 437
  3. Matteo, 360
  4. Gabriel, 340
  5. Luca, 336
  6. Leon, 318
  7. Elias, 314
  8. Louis, 312
  9. David, 264
  10. Samuel, 252

In the girls’ top 10, Lara, Lina and Lia replaced Lea, Elena and Laura.

In the boys’ top 10, Samuel replaced Ben.

Here are the top baby names within each of Switzerland’s main language groups:

  • German speakers (63% of the population): Mia and Noah
  • French speakers (23%): Emma and Liam
  • Italian speakers (8%): Sofia and Leonardo
  • Romansh speakers (under 1%): Lina and Elia/Finn/Luca (3-way tie)

In 2018, the top names in the country overall were Emma and Liam.

Sources: Vornamen der Neugeborenen, Revealed: Switzerland’s most popular baby names, Mia, Emma, Liam, Noah: the most popular baby names of 2019

Can We Separate Jemima from “Aunt Jemima”?

Last Wednesday, the Quaker Oats Company announced that it would be terminating the Aunt Jemima brand as we know it. Here’s part of the company’s statement:

Aunt Jemima brand is removing its image from packaging and changing the brand name. This step is in line with PepsiCo’s journey toward racial equality, and the evolution will help carry the 130-year-old brand into the future.

Thursday and Friday, the companies behind Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Cream of Wheat, and Eskimo Pie followed suit with similar announcements.

I’m very happy about all of this, but I’m particularly interested in the end of Aunt Jemima, because that brand is inextricably linked with a distinctive first name. In fact, I’d guess that, for the vast majority of Americans, the first thing they think of when they hear or see the name “Jemima” is Aunt Jemima syrup.

So now I have some questions for you…

Do you think the name’s strong association with the brand — which was established in 1889 and well-known by the mid-1910s — dissuaded parents from using Jemima as a baby name during the 20th century? (And, if so, do you think the usage of Jemima could possibly be seen as a gauge of racism in the U.S.?)

baby name jemima popularity graph

Once the brand name changes, how long before the name’s association with a racial stereotype finally fades away?

Could the Biblical name Jemima (Hebrew for “dove”) ever become a trendy American baby name (à la Gemma, Delilah)?

Sources: Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Cream of Wheat review branding after Aunt Jemima announces name change, Aunt Jemima – Wikipedia, Dreyer’s to drop “derogatory” Eskimo Pie name after 99 years