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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Beth

Number of Babies Named Beth

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Beth

Which Baby Names Can Be Split in Two?

baby names split in two

In 1916, the London Globe mentioned twins named Jere and Miah:

There lived for many years in the village of Twerton, Bath, one named Miah. He was born a twin, and his parents thriftily divided the predestined name of Jeremiah between them, the other babe being christened Jere.

What other names could we divide into two usable mini-names like this?

Here are a few ideas to kick things off…

Abigail, Abi + Gail
Anastasia, Ana + Stasia
Calista, Cal + Ista
Drusilla, Dru + Silla
Elizabeth, Eliza + Beth
Mozelle, Mo + Zelle
Valentina, Valen + Tina
Alexander, Alex + Ander
Christopher, Chris + Topher
Denzel, Den + Zel
Donovan, Dono + Van
Joseph, Jo + Seph
Rexford, Rex + Ford
William, Wil + Liam

…what others can you think of?

Source: “Some Odd Christian Names.” Bee [Earlington, KY] 8 Dec. 1916: 8.


The Sad Story of Roni Sue

Yesterday’s post was a happy story about a toddler named Roni Marie, but today’s is a sad one about a premie named Roni Sue.

On the morning of November 26, 1966, a set of quintuplets was born to Patti and Michael Aranson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The quints, all girls, were born 2.5 months premature. None of them weighed more than 2 pounds.

Even the very first articles about the quints noted that “there was only a 10 per cent chance all five would survive.” They “were born with lungs no sufficiently developed to perform the vital function of breathing.”

Their names, in order, were Roni Sue, Amy Beth, Susan, Kimberly Ann and Marci Jill.

About 24 hours after birth, middle quint Susan was the first to give up. Amy Beth followed 12 hours later, and Kimberly Ann a few hours after that. Marci Jill, the weakest of the five, was able to hang on overnight but died the next day on November 28.

All eyes were now on Roni Sue, the last quint still alive. She was the oldest, the heaviest, and the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, Dr. Lee Bass, said she “look[ed] reasonably good and there [was] some chance she might live.”

On November 29, one hopeful article reported that Roni Sue had passed the critical 72-hour mark:

Kicking and active, tiny Roni Sue Aranson passed the first crisis in her struggle for survival today, bolstering the hopes to her parents and doctors that at least one of Pittsburgh’s quintuplets would live.

But breathing soon became an issue for her, as it had been for her sisters.

At first Dr. Bass was positive, saying that there was “a possibility she may withstand all of this.”

But her situation steadily worsened, and on December 2 he stated that her “outlook for life [was] almost hopeless.”

On December 3, after being front-page news across the nation for several days straight, Roni Sue passed away. TIME magazine made note of her death about a week later, calling her “the strongest of [the] quintuplets.”

Though Roni Sue didn’t live long, she did end up having an influence on U.S. baby names. Most notably, the baby name Ronisue became a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1967:

  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: 13 baby girls named Ronisue [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

And the baby name Roni was boosted into the top 1,000 for three years straight, peaking in 1967:

  • 1969: 93 baby girls named Roni
  • 1968: 124 baby girls named Roni (ranked 932nd)
  • 1967: 210 baby girls named Roni (ranked 665th)
  • 1966: 109 baby girls named Roni (ranked 984th)
  • 1965: 68 baby girls named Roni

Records show that a number of these babies named Roni were indeed given “Sue” as a middle name.

(It looks like Roni Sue’s sister Marci Jill may have also had an influence on the charts, as the name Marci spiked in 1967, though it’s a bit hard to see as the name was already on the rise.)

Sources (chronologically):

  • “Quintuplets Born to 22-Year-Old Woman.” Ellensburg Daily Record 26 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Three of Aranson Quints Die.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “One Aranson Quintuplet Continues Battle for Life.” Southeast Missourian 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Surviving Quint Passes First Crisis.” Park City Daily News 29 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Quint’s Chances in Sharp Plunge.” Fort Scott Tribune 30 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Furnish Blood to Last Quint.” Daily Illini 1 Dec. 1966: 4.
  • “Last Quint Near Death.” Miami News 2 Dec. 1966: 8-A.
  • “Quint Dies After Fight to Survive.” Milwaukee Journal 3 Dec. 1966: 2.

Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Growing Up with the Name Bich

What was it like to grow up in the U.S. in the ’70s and ’80s with a Vietnamese name like Bich?

Here’s an excerpt from Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen, who moved to Michigan with her family as a 1-year-old in 1975.

In Vietnamese [Bich] meant jade, which was all well and fine in Vietnam but meant nothing in Michigan. It was pronounced with an accent tilting up, the tone leading almost toward a question, with a silent h. Bic! I hated the sound–too harsh, too hard, and the c so slight that it evaporated in the air. I preferred to hear it as Bit. The sound seemed tidier, quieter. So that’s what I made my name over to be, and it was fine until my classmates learned to read and swear. By second grade I was being regularly informed that I was a bitch. I started fantasizing then about being Beth, or maybe Vanessa or Polly. I longed to be Jenny Adams with the perfect simple name to match her perfect honeyed curls. […] I felt I could judge the nature and compassion of teachers, especially substitutes, by the way they read my name. The good ones hesitated and gently spelled it, avoiding a phonetic pronunciation. The evil ones simply called out, Bitch? Bitch Nu-guy-in?

Bich wasn’t allowed to use an American name, but other kids she knew were allowed to:

Their parents were anxious for them to fit into Grant Rapids and found the three quickest avenues: food, money, and names. Food meant American burgers and fries. Money meant Jordache jeans and Izod shirts. Names meant a whole new self. Overnight, Thanh’s children, Truoc and Doan, became Tiffany and David, and other families followed. Huong to Heather, Quoc to Kevin, Lien to Lynette. Most of the kids chose their own names and I listened while they debated the merits of Jennifer versus Michelle, Stephanie versus Crystal. They created two lives for themselves: the American one and the Vietnamese one–Oriental, as we all said back then. Out in the world they were Tiffany and David; at home they were Truoc and Doan. They mothers cooked two meals–pho and sautes for the elders, Campbell’s soup and Chef Boyardee for the kids.

In primary school, Bich knew one other Vietnamese girl, Loan, who also continued to use her original name. They became friends.

Bitch and Loan, some of the kids said on the playground. Hey, bitch, can you loan me some money?

Nowadays, Bich Minh Nguyen tends to go by the name Beth.

I wonder what proportion of the Vietnamese-American kids in Bich’s generation went by an “American” name outside the home. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any data on this, have any of you guys?

Source: Nguyen, Bich Minh. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir. New York, Penguin: 2008.

Related: Hebrew Names Lost In Translation

Name Quotes for the Weekend #9

From a Chicago Parent article about name pronunciation:

Here’s the story behind my daughter’s name – the name no one can pronounce: When it came to naming our daughter, her father insisted on naming her Amalasunta, after the ancient Queen of the Visigoths. “No, nope, that won’t work,” I said, standing firm, “No one will ever be able to pronounce that!” And so we settled on Chiara. It means light and fair; the perfect name for our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter.

Well, as it turns out, no one seems to be able to pronounce that, either.

From a Clutch article about things non-black people should know about black women:

Look, all Black folk don’t have multi-hypenate names. We have Janes, Marys and Beths too. And somehow our single syllabic sisters learn how to pronounce names like La’Taquisha, Marquaysa, Taiwanas, etc. You know what our secret is? Lean closer.

WE ASK.

I’m a four syllable girl with an uncommon name (in the States.) I know it’s a challenge to pronounce and I am never offended by anyone asking, “how do I pronounce your name?” However, I am offended when you, a stranger, butchers it without care or tries to nickname me like we’re friends. Take the time to learn my name and maybe, I’ll offer my nickname to help you out.

From a Kashmir Life article about baby naming practices:

While some Muslims follow the astrological concept adopted by Sharif and Khan, others rubbish the concept as superstitious and faulty. Fatima Wani, a 66 year old woman says, “I was named Fatima by my father following two of my elder sisters with the same name who died soon after their birth. But my father rubbished any superstitious belief of a doomed name and preferred to give me the same name, Fatima, as of my two late sisters. And look, I am alive and talking to you now.”

From a Deadline Hollywood article about Quvenshané Wallis:

In a way, however, both of Quvenzhané’s parents are with her every time someone speaks her unusual first name (pronounced Kwe-VAWN-zhan-ay). The first part combines elements of her teacher mother’s first name, Qulyndreia, and her truck driver father’s first name, Venjie. Her mother says that Zhané is the Swahili word for “fairy,” although no direct translation can be found on an Internet search. Qulyndreia Wallis says her own name means “to you with love.” The rest of the kids include Venjie Jr., 15; brother Vejon, 13; and sister Qunyquekya, 19.

According to several sources, the Swahili word for “fairy” is jini — reasonably close to Zhané, actually.

From a Slate article about the papal conclave:

From early on, many popes changed their names to honor Christian saints or earlier popes, and to show their Christian faith by abandoning pagan names (such as Gerbert). Starting around 1000, the practice became formalized, but the choice of a new name was somewhat political, and popes were often influenced by other church officials. In the 13th century, popes started to choose their names independently. The use of numbers began in the 6th century, when the second Pelagius took the suffix “junior.” (He’s now referred to as Pelagius II.)

From a Stir post about the pros and cons sharing baby names pre-birth:

The pros of the share-nothing route is that you can blithely stick to your guns and not be dissuaded by friends’ grimaces, underwhelmed shrugs, or regrettable “sounds-like-a-stripper-to-me”-type comments. The bad part is … the same. You get no feedback! And making arguably one of the most important decisions of your life in a vacuum can be tough. Would you want to pick your wedding dress without your friends around to tell you that a mermaid silhouette is really not for you?

[…]

By telling other people you get to hear how it sounds when you say it and see if you’re still committed to it even if — and especially if — you have to defend it. No doubt some comments will be ridiculous, have nothing to do with you (ex. “I went to day camp with a girl called X and she threw up on the bus every day”), and/or possibly freak you out (ex. “That was my ex’s name. He was a cutter.”). Still, if you love the name despite the insults, isn’t that a great way to tell if it’s The One?

From a(nother) Stir post about “Teen Mom” Leah Messer and her new baby Adalynn:

[S]he is spending the whole week correcting every media report out there on how to spell the baby’s name. Whoops!

The problem started when US Weekly spelled the little girl’s name with two “d”s instead of one, and just spiraled from there. Leah has had to turn to social media to make the correction.

Sounds like the Teen Mom just got a taste of what happens when you decide you need your baby’s name to be insanely “unique.”

From a Baby Names in the News post about using a win-win approach for baby naming:

Shared Goals to Consider:

  • Would you both like to wind up with a name that reflects well on your child?
  • Would you both like to find a name your child will enjoy and want to keep?
  • Would you both be willing to screen a name under consideration for “user-friendliness” to make sure that it won’t be too hard to spell or pronounce, will be versatile, won’t create uncomfortable gender confusion, will make a positive impression, and won’t come across as dated, archaic, weird or embarrassing?
  • Would you both be willing to pick a middle name that provides a reasonable “fallback” in case the first name doesn’t work out for some reason?
  • Would you both agree that the selected name must be one that both parents like a lot and look forward to using?
  • Finally, would you both promise not to argue on behalf of (or worse, insist on) any names your partner doesn’t like?

By agreeing that the most important goals of the name search are to find a name that both parents and the child will enjoy using and to not argue about names one partner doesn’t like, you can happily start looking for a name that will be chosen based on collaboration and consensus.

From Summer Pierre’s blog post about her name:

I grew up in what I have learned since then, is considered an ALTERNATIVE environment. I went to a hippie school, and my classmates had names that included Andromeda, Boreas, Vitali, Oak, and Rolly (pronounced Role-e) (hi guys!). Considering the roll call, I was kind of the “Jane Smith” of the group. However, regardless of the pillows on the floor, and meetings where we had to discuss our feelings, I still got teased on the playground and called names. None of them were season-based. They were things that rhymed with my name–names that STILL make me cringe and feel bad. Names like “Bummer” and “Dumber.”

[…]

Then, I moved to the East Coast. East coast people find it a very funny name. This morning, as it would happen, two co-workers discussed my name in front of me, and one said, “I didn’t think it was your real name.” I get that a lot. Maybe it’s because there aren’t any hippies left here. I know the cultural consciousness happened on the east coast, because I’ve met people that had hippies for parents, but it seems that east coast hippies have moved on to academic postings or documentary filmmakers, and they seem to name their kids Amos or Noah, and not after seasons or other natural occurrences.

From a Multiple Mayhem Mamma post on the ridiculousness of “stolen” baby names:

The reality of the situation is that none of us has “dibs” on a name. As with any other intangible objects, names exist within the confines of our minds and, while a particular name can indeed evoke certain emotions (we all have a visceral reaction to the name of the childhood bully who taunted us, or similar), it does not belong to a particular person or family. To that end, it cannot be “stolen” or otherwise pilfered, despite protestations to the contrary.

From a Daily Mail article about a new species of dinosaur that’s been named after a little girl:

Palaeontologists announced this week that fossilised remains found on a stretch of Isle of Wight beach in 2008 had been finally identified as a new species of flying dinosaur.

The remains were discovered by Daisy Morris, who, now aged nine, has amassed a collection of fossils and animal remains so extensive it led one expert to describe her bedroom as ‘resembling a natural history museum.’

[…]

And when it came to naming the creature, the experts looked to its young finder for inspiration, officially dubbing it Vectidraco Daisymorrisae.

The Latin elements in Vectidraco translate to “Wight” (vectis) and “dragon” (draco).

Baby Names No Longer Needed – Elise, Dexter, Phoebe

We helped five readers brainstorm for baby names in December of last year and January of this year.

So far, I’ve heard back from three of those five. Beth decided on Elise, Abbie chose Phoebe and Dexter, and Kathleen hasn’t made a decision yet (she’s due next month).

I have yet to hear from Julie and Shana.

Baby Name Needed – Girl Name for Lydia’s Little Sister

A reader named Beth is expecting her second daughter in a few weeks. She writes:

My first is named Lydia and we have a very Polish last name. After what has been an excruciating process, my husband and I have come up with three names we can agree on. He loves Sylvia, as do I, but I wondered if it was too sing-song-y with big sister Lydia. I would probably want to nickname her Sylvie for that reason. We also like Stella, but I think the name is fast becoming the new Ava, Sophia or Ella. Francesca is the wild card-we like it, just not sure if it would fit well enough. What are your thoughts, and if you have any suggestions, they would be welcome!

One thing I noted was Beth’s use of the verbs like and love. She and her husband “like” Stella and Francesca, but they “love” Sylvia. I think that difference is key.

Over and over again I see people return to the name they loved after putting it aside to consider the dozens of names they liked. (As if all the lesser names had to be ruled out before a decision could finally be made.) If Sylvia is the one name Beth and her husband both love, perhaps that fact is more important than anything else…?

But let’s put diction aside for now and look at each name individually.

Is Sylvia too close to Lydia? It has the same length, the same rhythm, the same ending. I think I’d be against the pairing if not for the nickname Sylvie. That knocks off a syllable, alters the rhythm, changes the ending. If Sylvia will be known as Sylvie, well, that might just solve the problem.

I think it’s smart to be wary of Stella. I’m not sure that it has the momentum to become as popular as Sophia or Ava, but you never know.

Ah, Francesca! I’m a big fan of the Fran- names, so I get excited when I learn that someone might be using one. I think Lydia and Francesca fit together quite well. Even better than Lydia and Stella, actually. If this were a beauty contest, I’d probably give Sylvia/Sylvie the tiara, but I’d make Francesca the first runner-up.

I’d hate to make the naming process any more excruciating than it’s already been, but a few name suggestions did come to mind as I was typing:

Callista
Celeste
Isadora
Sabrina
Theresa
Vivienne

Do you have an opinion or suggestion you’d like to share with Beth? Please comment below and/or cast a vote in the poll (sidebar).

Update – The baby has arrived! To see the name Beth chose, either scroll down through the comments or just click here.