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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bette

Number of Babies Named Bette

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bette

The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Final Round

80s name-song tournament, final round

We’re down to the final 2 songs!

You can vote in the ultimate round of the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament from now until Saturday, but you can only pick one song this time, so choose wisely!

I’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 6th.

Early ’80s Finalist: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

  • “Come on Eileen” reached #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 in April, 1982.
  • In this tournament, “Come on Eileen” beat “Gloria,” “Jack and Diane,” “Rosanna” and “Valerie” in Round 1a and semi-finalists “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Billie Jean” and “Oh Sherrie” in Round 2.

Late ’80s Finalist: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

  • “Rock Me Amadeus” reached #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 in March, 1986.
  • In this tournament, “Rock Me Amadeus” beat “Sara,” “Oh Sheila,” “Nikita” and “Suzanne” in Round 1b and semi-finalists “You Can Call Me Al,” “Luka” and “Veronica” in Round 2.

Which of these songs should be crowned the Ultimate '80s Name-Song?

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (60%, 12 Votes)
  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (40%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Round 2

80s name-song tournament, round 2

We’ve advanced to Round 2 in the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament!

In this round, we’ll narrow the pool down from 8 semifinalists to 2 finalists: one from the early ’80s, one from the late ’80s.

As usual, the round begins early Monday and ends early Saturday (so you have exactly 5 days to vote) and you can select up to 2 answers per poll.

Let the Round 2 battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 1

WINNER: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

This battle will determine the name-song finalist representing the early ’80s (Round 1a). The contestants:

  • Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes
    • ‘Bette Davis’ refers to actress Bette Davis (1908-1989).
  • Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners
    • ‘Eileen’ refers to the first girlfriend of vocalist Kevin Rowland.
  • Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson
    • ‘Billie Jean’ refers to a real person, but in the song it’s symbolic of groupies in general.*
  • Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry
    • ‘Sherrie’ refers to Sherrie Swafford, former girlfriend of Steve Perry.

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (56%, 14 Votes)
  • "Billie Jean" (1983) by Michael Jackson (48%, 12 Votes)
  • "Bette Davis Eyes" (1981) by Kim Carnes (40%, 10 Votes)
  • "Oh Sherrie" (1984) by Steve Perry (12%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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Battle 2

WINNER: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

This battle will determine the name-song finalist representing the late ’80s (Round 1b). The contestants:

  • Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco
    • ‘Amadeus’ refers to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
  • You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon
    • ‘Al’ and ‘Betty’ are based on ‘Paul’ (Simon) and ‘Peggy’ (Simon’s first wife).
  • Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega
    • ‘Luka’ refers to a real person, but in the song it refers to a victim of child abuse.**
  • Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello
    • ‘Veronica’ refers to Costello’s grandmother (not sure if it’s her real name).

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (63%, 15 Votes)
  • "You Can Call Me Al" (1986) by Paul Simon (33%, 8 Votes)
  • "Luka" (1987) by Suzanne Vega (29%, 7 Votes)
  • "Veronica" (1989) by Elvis Costello (29%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Anyone care to guess which of the name-songs above will be crowned the winner in a couple of weeks?

*”Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. […] They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there.” -MJ, via MTV

**”Where did you get the name from?” “A 9-year-old boy who lives in my building. Who is not abused, by the way. I like the name Luka, it’s universal. It could be a girl or boy and it could be any nationality.” -SV, via NYT

The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Round 1a

80s name-song tournament, round 1a

Ready for a March Madness-inspired tournament that involves both names and ’80s music?

We’ll start with 40 songs from the ’80s that prominently feature given names — songs like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Oh Sherrie,” “Who’s Johnny” and “Dirty Diana” — and, over the next few weeks, we’ll whittle them down until we determine which song earns the title of Ultimate ’80s Name-Song.

Here’s the tournament schedule:

  • March 9-14: Round 1a. Starts with 20 songs. Ends with 4 winners.
  • March 16-21: Round 1b. Starts with 20 songs. Ends with 4 winners.
  • March 23-28: Round 2. Starts with 8 songs. Ends with 2 winners.
  • March 30-April 4: Final round.
  • April 6: Winner announcement.

Round 1 is so big that I had to split it up over two weeks. This week (1a) covers the first half of the ’80s. Next week (1b) covers the second half.

Each round begins early Monday and ends early Saturday, so you have exactly 5 days to submit your answers.

Ready? Let the battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 1

WINNER: “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes

The contestants:

  • Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes
    • She got Greta Garbo standoff sighs, she’s got Bette Davis eyes
  • Charlotte Sometimes” (1981) by The Cure
    • All the sounds of Charlotte sometimes, into the night with Charlotte sometimes
  • 867-5309/Jenny” (1981) by Tommy Tutone
    • Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to? You give me somethin’ I can hold on to
  • Jessie’s Girl” (1981) by Rick Springfield
    • I wish that I had Jessie’s girl, where can I find a woman like that
  • Mickey” (1982) by Toni Basil
    • Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Bette Davis Eyes" (1981) by Kim Carnes (43%, 23 Votes)
  • "Jessie's Girl" (1981) by Rick Springfield (36%, 19 Votes)
  • "867-5309/Jenny" (1981) by Tommy Tutone (30%, 16 Votes)
  • "Mickey" (1982) by Toni Basil (23%, 12 Votes)
  • "Charlotte Sometimes" (1981) by The Cure (11%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Battle 2

WINNER: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

The contestants:

  • Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners
    • Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means, at this moment, you mean everything
  • Gloria” (1982) by Laura Branigan
    • Gloria, I think they got your number, I think they got the alias, that you’ve been living under
  • Jack and Diane” (1982) by John Cougar Mellencamp
    • Little ditty ’bout Jack and Diane, two American kids growin’ up in the heartland
  • Rosanna” (1982) by Toto
    • All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes, Rosanna, Rosanna
  • Valerie” (1982) by Steve Winwood
    • Valerie, call on me, call on me, Valerie, come and see me, I’m the same boy I used to be

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (54%, 27 Votes)
  • "Jack and Diane" (1982) by John Cougar Mellencamp (42%, 21 Votes)
  • "Rosanna" (1982) by Toto (30%, 15 Votes)
  • "Gloria" (1982) by Laura Branigan (22%, 11 Votes)
  • "Valerie" (1982) by Steve Winwood (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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Battle 3

WINNER: “Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson

The contestants:

  • Rio” (1983) by Duran Duran
    • Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
  • Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson
    • Billie Jean is not my lover, she’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
  • Oh Diane” (1983) by Fleetwood Mac
    • Love is like a grain of sand, slowly slippin’ through your hand, oh oh Diane
  • Joanna” (1983) by Kool and the Gang
    • Joanna, I love you, you’re the one, the one for me
  • Think of Laura” (1983) by Christopher Cross
    • Think of Laura but laugh don’t cry, I know she’d want it that way

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Billie Jean" (1983) by Michael Jackson (67%, 31 Votes)
  • "Rio" (1983) by Duran Duran (35%, 16 Votes)
  • "Joanna" (1983) by Kool and the Gang (22%, 10 Votes)
  • "Think of Laura" (1983) by Christopher Cross (15%, 7 Votes)
  • "Oh Diane" (1983) by Fleetwood Mac (13%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 46

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Battle 4

WINNER: “Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry

The contestants:

  • Sister Christian” (1984) by Night Ranger
    • Sister Christian oh the time has come, and you know that you’re the only one
  • Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry
    • Oh, Sherrie, our love, holds on, holds on
  • William, It Was Really Nothing” (1984) by The Smiths
    • William, William, it was really nothing, it was your life
  • Frankie” (1985) by Sister Sledge
    • Hey Frankie, do you remember me? Frankie, do you remember?
  • Kayleigh” (1985) by Marillion
    • Kayleigh, is it too late to say I’m sorry?

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Oh Sherrie" (1984) by Steve Perry (48%, 25 Votes)
  • "Sister Christian" (1984) by Night Ranger (38%, 20 Votes)
  • "William, It Was Really Nothing" (1984) by The Smiths (19%, 10 Votes)
  • "Frankie" (1985) by Sister Sledge (13%, 7 Votes)
  • "Kayleigh" (1985) by Marillion (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 52

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Finally, please help me share this tournament post on social media! I’d love to get a lot of people participating. Thank you!

The Deirdre Spike – Caused by a Movie?

old acquaintance - had character named deirdreThe name Deatra appeared on the Social Security Administration’s baby name list for the first time in 1944:

  • 1947: 7 baby girls named Deatra
  • 1946: 12 baby girls named Deatra
  • 1945: 19 baby girls named Deatra
  • 1944: 29 baby girls named Deatra [debut]
  • 1943: unlisted

It was a top debut name that year, in fact.

“Deatra” confused me at first. I could’t figure out where it came from. Then I discovered a whole bunch of similar names that also debuted in 1944…

Name 1943 1944 1945 1946
Deatra 29 19 12
Dietra 25 16 17
Deitra 23 16 16
Detra 20 6 11
Diedra 19 27 16
Dedra 18 16 19
Deadra 15 12 12
Deedra 11 14 9
Deirdra 11 7 8
Diedre 11 14 22
Deardra 10 6 6
Dierdra 5 5 5
Dieatra 5
Deetra 5

…and these pointed me to Deirdre as the likely source.

So what happened to the Irish name Deirdre that year?

  • 1947: 149 baby girls named Deirdre (rank: 689th)
  • 1946: 121 baby girls named Deirdre (rank: 742nd)
  • 1945: 78 baby girls named Deirdre (rank: 852nd)
  • 1944: 67 baby girls named Deirdre (rank: 948th)
  • 1943: 29 baby girls named Deirdre

From 1943 to 1944, usage more than doubled, pushing Deirdre into the top 1,000 for the very first time.

Other variants (e.g. Dierdre, Deidra) also saw increased usage in 1944. One of them, Deidre, even achieved top-1,000 status in 1945.

So what caused the great Deirdre-spike of 1944?

Perhaps the Bette Davis film Old Acquaintance, which was released in November of 1943. It featured a character named Deirdre Drake (played by actress Dolores Moran).

I’m not 100% sure the movie was the cause, but the name of Bette Davis’s character, Kit, also seemed to get a boost in 1944…

  • 1946: 24 baby girls named Kit
  • 1945: 27 baby girls named Kit
  • 1944: 25 baby girls named Kit
  • 1943: 14 baby girls named Kit
  • 1942: 12 baby girls named Kit

…so I think it’s a decent guess.

Do you have any other ideas?

Baby Name Complaints from the Church of England

I’ve seen Catholics and Jews — an Italian bishop, some Israeli rabbis, the Pope — complain about baby names.

Where does the Church of England stand?

In a 1960s pamphlet called Baptism and Confirmation, the Church of England warned:

There are some names which have a vogue because of some stage or film celebrity. But it is best to be cautious in imitating them.

It is not a good idea to give children names that may seem inappropriate with the passage of years.

Church of England spokesman Rev. Henry Cooper elaborated:

Many clergymen performing baptisms want to see parents steer away from film star names like Bette, Elvis or Shirley. Perhaps they think it’s a happy choice to name their children after Bette Davis, Elvis Presley or Shirley Temple. But parents seem to forget that Bette is, at best, a contraction for Elizabeth, and Elvis and Shirley are really just meaningless–names for names’ sake.

Cooper especially disliked nickname-names. “Why give your daughter a meaningless handle like Tina or Nina, when the proper name should be Christina?” he asked.

Source: “Don’t Use ‘Elvis’ for Name.” Blade [Toledo] 16 May 1963: 28.