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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Betty

Number of Babies Named Betty

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Betty

Name Quotes #57: Gage, Ciku, Abigail Fortitude

George Clooney explaining why he and his wife Amal named their twins Alexander and Ella (People):

“[We] didn’t want to give them one of those ridiculous Hollywood names that don’t mean anything,” George told Paris Match in an interview published Saturday. “They’ll already have enough difficulty bearing the weight of their celebrity.”

Summary of a recent study on the practice of naming winter storms (WBIR):

The researchers presented their subjects with three mock tweets about an upcoming winter storm — either using names like “Bill,” “Zelus,” or no name at all — then asked them about their perceptions of the storm’s potential severity.

It turned out that the survey participants were equally likely to show concern for the storm regardless of whether common names such as Bill were used, rather than uncommon names, such as Zelus. This was a surprise to Rainear, who thought that more “Americanized” names might make people more wary.

On the origin of the name of the Slinky (New York Times):

[N]ext month the Toy Manufacturers of America will induct Betty James, 82, the retired toy maker who gave the Slinky its name, into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

Mrs. James came up with the name after deciding that Slinky best described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing. Slinky, of course, meaning sort of stealthily quiet. Mrs. James did not have sexy evening wear in mind; it was 1943, after all, and there was a war.

On changing name trends in Kenya (SDE Kenya):

It is so 1980 for modern Kenyan parents to name their children after biblical figures. Ati names like Grace, Hannah, Sarah, Magdalene or Jane for their daughters is now a no-no. For sons, naming them Abednego or Adonijah sounds like a bad Sunday school dream.

[…]

Names like Peter and Paul, Esther and Lois were fashionable in their grandparents’ time and today, girls are named Tasha, Tanya or Tiffany, while boys go by cooler ones like Cy, Kyle, Declan and Sherwin.

…The article also mentioned that many traditional names now have modernized forms:

  • Wangui -> Kui
  • Waithiageni -> Sheni
  • Wanjiku -> Ciku
  • Wanjiru -> Ciru
  • Wambui -> Foi
  • Wacera -> Cera

“Modern parents have no qualms having them appear like that in official documents. Welcome to baby names in 21st century Kenya.”

Onomastician Cleveland Kent Evans vs. the baby name Gage (Washington Post):

But right now, Evans is pondering the sudden, explosive rise of the male first name Gage. From out of nowhere. There’s no record of this name, nothing in the texts, nothing anywhere. And yet just in the last couple of years, it’s been popping up all around the country.

[…]

Finally, he asked his students at Bellevue College near Omaha. One student got the reference immediately: “Emergency!” he said. Meaning the short-lived 1970s TV series, of course. Turns out there was a character named John Gage on that show, and he was generally addressed as Gage.

[…]

Incredibly, “Emergency!,” which aired opposite “60 Minutes” for four years, was exceedingly popular among elementary-school children.

One mom’s positive experience with revealing her son’s name during pregnancy (Popsugar)

One reason why people don’t reveal the baby’s name is to ward off other people’s opinions. I could tell there were a couple of my friends who didn’t like the name, but just like I didn’t get pregnant to please them, I’m wasn’t going to change his name for them either. Most people that I talked to had enough common sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

My son’s name […] is special to me. I didn’t stop feeling that way once I told it to people — if anything, it made the pregnancy a whole lot easier.

From the script for Mother Is a Freshman (1949), about a 35-year-old widow, Abigail, who starts attending the college that her daughter Susan goes to:

Abigail: I mean about the Abigail Fortitude Memorial Scholarship.
Susan: The one they give to any girl whose first two names are Abigail Fortitude?
Abigail: Yes.
Susan: Clara Fettle says no one’s applied for it since 1907, and there’s zillions piling up.
Abigail: And you never told me!
Susan: Of course not.
Abigail: It never occurred to you that my first names are Abigail Fortitude–that I’ve had to put up with them all my life!
Susan: I know, Mom. It must have been awful.
Abigail [struck by thought]: Maybe that’s why my mother gave me those names. Maybe she know about the scholarship.

…Turns out the scholarship had been set up by Abigail’s grandmother, also named Abigail Fortitude.

*

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.


Poll: Which “Sporty Girl” Name Do You Like Best?

The ship Endurance sinking in Antarctica in 1915, Ernest Shackleton
The Endurance sinking in Antarctica, 1915
I’m in the middle of Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book Endurance, which tells the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917).

One intriguing detail Lansing mentions early on is that, of the 5,000+ people who applied to be part of the expedition, three were women: Peggy Pegrine, Valerie Davey, and Betty Webster.

They applied together in a single letter dated January 11, 1914. In the letter, they referred to themselves as “three sporty girls” who were “willing to undergo any hardships that you yourselves undergo.”

The names of these “sporty girls” aren’t particularly sporty, but which of the three — Peggy, Valerie, or Betty — do you like best?

I like...

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P.S. Which of Shackleton’s actual shipmates had the best name, do you think?

Source: A letter of application to join Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition – Scott Polar Research Institute

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letters X & Y

yola d'avril, starlet, actress, y-name
Yola d’Avril (1907-1984)
Here’s the next installment of rare feminine names collected from very old films (1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s).

Xandra
Xandra was a character played by actress Joan Bennett in the film Scotland Yard (1930).

Yancey
Yancey was a character played by actress Betty Furness in the film A Wicked Woman (1934).

Yannaia
Yannaia was a character played by actress Pola Negri in the film Sumurun (1920).

Yansci
Yansci “Jenny” Dolly was a Hungarian-born character played by actress Betty Grable in the film The Dolly Sisters (1945).

Yasmani
Yasmani was a character played by actress Myrna Loy in the film The Black Watch (1929).

Yasmini
Yasmini was a character played by actress Gertrude Messinger in the film Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1917).

Yester
Yester was a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film The Hidden Menace (1938).

Yetiva
Princess Yetiva was a character played by actress Adrienne Kroell in the short film Cinderella (1912).

Yetive
Princess Yetive was a character played by actress Beverly Bayne in the film Graustark (1915) and by actress Norma Talmadge in the remake Graustark (1925).

Yetta
Yetta was a character name in multiple films such as One Clear Call (1922) and Caught in the Draft (1941).

Ynez
Ynez de Torreno was a character played by actress Vivian Rich in the short film The Navy Aviator (1914).

Yola
Yola d’Avril was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in France in 1907. Yola was also a character played by actress Sari Maritza in the film Monte Carlo Madness (1932).

Yolande
Yolande was a character name in multiple films such as The Love of Princess Yolande (short, 1914) and Lights of New York (1916).

Yoli
Yoli Haydn was a character played by actress Constance Bennett in the film Ladies in Love (1936).

Yona
Yona Landowska was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s.

Yonna
Yonna was a character played by actress Carmel Myers in the film The Devil’s Circus (1926).

Ysail
Ysail was a character played by actress Pauline Curley in the film Bound in Morocco (1918).

Ysidora
Donna Ysidora Sepulveda was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film An American Invasion (1912).

Ysobel
Ysobel was a character name in multiple films, including The Yaqui (1916) and Men of Tomorrow (1932).

Yve
Princess Yve was a character played by actress Gladys Brockwell in the film The Mother of His Children (1920).

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letter Z

zaza, movie, gloria swanson
Gloria Swanson as Zaza (1923)
Looking for an under-the-radar girl name with a retro feel?

A few years ago I combed though a bunch of IMDb pages looking for interesting female names associated with old films (1910s-1940s).

Most of the names I spotted — names like Mabel, Maisie, Hazel, Hattie, Elsie, Selma, Bessie, and Betty — were ones I expected to see. But I did manage to collect thousands of rarities, many of which have never appeared in the SSA data before.

Want to check out all these unusual names? I thought so! To make things interesting I’ll post the Z-names first and go backwards, letter by letter.

Enjoy!

Zabette
Zabette de Chavalons was a character played by actress Bebe Daniels in the film Volcano! (1926).

Zabie
Zabie Elliot was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Broken Butterfly (1919).

Zada
Zada L’Etoile was a character played by actress Sylvia Breamer in the Cecil B. DeMille-directed film We Can’t Have Everything (1918).

Zadee
Zadee Burbank was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1867 with the name Sarah Pyle Watt.

Zahanna
Zahanna was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film The Girl and the Tiger (1913).

Zahrah
Zahrah was a character played by actress Gene Gauntier in the short film The Fighting Dervishes of the Desert (1912).

Zahrat
Zahrat was a character played by actress Betty Blythe in the film Chu-Chin-Chow (1923) and by Anna May Wong in Chu-Chin-Chow (1934).

Zalata
Zalata was a character played by actress Ruth Stonehouse in the short film Ashes of Hope (1914).

Zalea
Zalea was a character played by mononymous actress Armida in the film Congo Bill (1948).

Zalia
Zalia Graem was a character played by actress Virginia Bruce in the film The Garden Murder Case (1936).

Zalla
Zalla Zarana was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s. She was born in Slovenia in 1897 with the name Rozalija Sršen.

Zamina
Zamina was a character played by actress Edna Eichor in the film The Roughneck (1924).

Zana
Zana was a character name used in multiple films, including Tonight Is Ours (1933) and Call Out the Marines (1942).

Zanda
Zanda was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Shipwrecked (1926).

Zandra
Zandra was a character name used in multiple films, including Carnival Lady (1933) and Good Dame (1934).

Zarika
Countess Zarika Rafay was a character played by actress Rosalind Russell in the film The Night is Young (1935).

Zarita
Zarita was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the film King’s Mate (1928).

Zarmi
Zarmi was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the three short films The Queen of Hearts (1923), The Man with the Limp (1923), and The Golden Pomegranates (1924).

Zarrah
Zarrah was a character played by actress Violet Horner in the film A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

ZaSu
ZaSu Pitts was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Kansas in 1894.

Zavia
Princess Zavia was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Theft of the Crown Jewels (1914).

Zaza
Zaza was a character played by Pauline Frederick in the film Zaza (1915), Gloria Swanson in Zaza (1923), and Claudette Colbert in Zaza (1938).

Zedorah
Zedorah was a character played by actress Mayo Methot in the film Counsellor at Law (1933).

Zee
Zee was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1939) and Man from Texas (1948).

  • Usage of the baby name Zee (which debuted in the data the year Jesse James came out).

Zeetah
Zeetah was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Totem Mark (1911).

Zeffie
Zeffie Tilbury was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1863.

Zeleekha
Zeleekha was a character played by actress Mary Duncan in the film Kismet (1930).

Zelia
Zelia de Chaumont was a character played by actress Ruth Chatterton in the film The Rat (1937).

Zelie
Zélie was a character name in multiple films, including The Rat (1925) and The White Black Sheep (1926).

Zell
Zell was a character played by actress Mollie King in the film Fate’s Boomerang (1916).

Zelle
Zelle was a character played by actress Anne Cornwall in the short film The Roughneck (1924).

Zelma
Zelma was a character name in multiple films, including Charity Castle (1917) and Turkish Delight (1927).

Zema
Zema was a character played by actress Louise Vale in the short film The Debt (1912).

Zena
Zena Dare was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in England in 1887. Zena Keefe was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in California in 1898. Zena was also a character name in multiple films, including The Code of Honor (short, 1916) and The New York Peacock (1917).

Zenia
Zenia was a character name in multiple films such as His Friend’s Wife (short, 1911) and Centennial Summer (1946).

Zenobia
Zenobia was a character name in multiple films such as Secrets of Chinatown (1935) and The Crystal Ball (1943).

Zephne
Zephne Lamont was a character played by actress Edna Murphy in the film The Man Between (1923).

Zephyer
Zephyer Redlynch was a character played by actress “Miss DuPont” (born Patricia Hannon) in the film One Night in Rome (1924).

Zephyrine
Zephyrine was a character name in multiple films, including The Suicide Club (1914) and Women Everywhere (1930).

Zerelda
Zerelda was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1927) and Jesse James (1939).

Zerilda
Zerilda James was a character played by actress Dorothy Sebastian in the film Days of Jesse James (1939).

Zerlina
Zerlina was a character played by actress Lucile Browne in the film The Devil’s Brother (1933).

Zetta
Zetta was a character played by actress Zalla Zarana in the film The Lady Who Lied (1925).

Zilah
Zilah was a character played by actress Ruth Miller in the film The Sheik (1921).

Zilla
Zilla Riesling was a character played by Cissy Fitzgerald in the film Babbitt (1924) and Minna Gombell in Babbitt (1934).

Zillah
Zillah was a character played by actress Eulalie Jensen in the film Fighting Love (1927).

Zinida
Zinida was a character played by actress Paulette Duval in the film He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

Zira
Zira was a character name in multiple films, including Heart of Flame (short, 1915) and The Fortieth Door (1924).

Zita
Zita was a character name in multiple films, including The Master Mystery (1919) and The Great Flirtation (1934).

Zixi
Queen Zixi was a character played by actress Juanita Hansen in the short film The Magic Cloak (1914).

Zizi
Zizi was a character played by actress Maudie Dunham in the film Circus Jim (1921).

Zohra
Princess Zohra was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film serial Under the Crescent (1915).

Zoila
Zoila Conan was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s. She was born in Mexico in 1903.

Zoldene
Zoldene was a character played by actress Gretchen Lederer in the film Black Friday (1916).

Zonia
Zonia was a character played by actress Eugenie Forde in the film The Light (1916).

Zoradi
Zoradi was a character played by actress Myrtle Gonzalez in the short film The Thief of the Desert (1916).

Zorah
Zorah was a character name in multiple films, such as The Cry of the Captive (short, 1914) and Samson (1914).

Zorina
Vera Zorina, often credited simply as Zorina, was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Germany in 1917 with the name Eva Brigitta Hartwig.

Zudora
Zudora was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film serial Zudora (1914).

Zuleika
Zuleika was a character played by actress Maria Montez in the film Raiders of the Desert (1941).

Zuletta
Zuletta was a character played by actress Lucille Young in the film The Spell of the Poppy (1915).

Zulika
Zulika was a character name used in multiple films, including The Greed of Osman Bey (short, 1913) and How the Earth Was Carpeted (short, 1914).

Zulima
Zulima was a character played by actress Blanche Cornwall in the film Fra Diavolo (1912).

*

Which of the above names do you like best?

Poll: Pick a Pair of Toni Twin Names

joan and jean mcmillan, twins, 1949While looking at multiples from 1944 last month, I found sources claiming that both Mary & Marjorie Vaughan and Lois & Lucille Barnes were the “original” twins in the ads for Toni Home Permanents (tagline: “Which twin has the Toni?”).

Many sets of twins were involved in the Toni ad campaigns of the ’40s, though, so I’m not sure if any single set of twins can be called the “original” twins. For example, a November 1949 issue of LIFE included a full-page Toni ad with six sets of twins:

  • Eleanor and Jeanne Fulstone of Nevada
  • Betty and Barbara Land of Virginia
  • Barbara and Beverly Lounsbury of New Jersey
  • Joan and Jean McMillan of Texas (pictured)
  • Marjorie and Mary Vaughan of Indiana
  • Charlotte and Antoinette Winkelmann of New York

Let’s pretend you’re about to have twin girls, and you have to give them one of the name-pairs above. Which pair do you choose?

Pick a pair...

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