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

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...

View Results

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Round-up of Multiples from 1944

The Badgett Quadruplets in 1944
Jeraldine, Joan, Jean, and Janet Badgett © LIFE

Oodles of multiples — eight sets of twins, one set of triplets, six sets of quadruplets, and one set of quintuplets — were featured in an early 1944 issue of LIFE magazine. Most of these multiples had been born in the 1920s and 1930s.

Curious about the names? I knew you would be! Here they are, along with ages and other details.

Twins:

  • Marjorie and Mary Vaughan, 19.
  • Lois and Lucille Barnes, 21.
  • Betty and Lenore Wade, early 20s.
  • Robert “Bobby” and William “Billy” Mauch, 22.
    • They had starred in the 1937 movie The Prince and the Pauper.
  • Blaine and Wayne Rideout, 27.
    • They had been track stars at the University of North Texas in the late 1930s along with another set of twins, Elmer and Delmer Brown.
  • Charles and Horace Hildreth, 41.
    • Horace was elected Governor of Maine later the same year.
  • Ivan and Malvin Albright, 47.
  • Auguste and Jean Piccard, 60.
    • “Honors as the world’s most distinguished pair of twins must go to Jean and Auguste Piccard, stratosphere balloonists, who are so identical that not everyone realizes there are two of them.”

Triplets:

  • Diane Carol, Elizabeth Ann, and Karen Lynn Quist, 11 months.

Quadruplets:

  • Claire (boy), Cleo (boy), Clayton (boy), and Connie (girl) Brown, 3.
  • Janet, Jean, Jeraldine, and Joan Badgett, 5.
    • “The customary alliteration in multiple names accounts for the “J” in Jeraldine.”
  • Felix (boy), Ferdinand (boy), Frances (girl), and Frank (boy) Kasper, 7.
  • James (boy), Jay (boy), Jean (girl), and Joan (girl) Schense, 13.
  • Edna, Wilma, Sarah, and Helen Morlok — the Morlok Quads — 13.
  • Anthony, Bernard, Carl, and Donald Perricone, 14.
    • “Their Beaumont neighbors call them “A,” “B,” “C” and “D” for short.”

Quintuplets:

  • Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne Dionne — the Dionne Quints — 9.

Which of these sets of names do you like best? Why?

Source: “Twins: Accident of Their Birth Sets Them Apart from Other People.” LIFE 6 Mar. 1944: 91-99.

Some Kenyans Eschewing Tribal Baby Names

Ongoing ethnic conflict in Kenya has started to influenced the way Kenyan parents name their babies.

Late last year, several mothers in a maternity hospital in Kisumu, Kenya, talked about choosing non-tribal baby names as a way to evade tribal discrimination.

The mother of baby boy named Santa Roby Aaron Sam said:

“I have been a victim of ethnic profiling and would not wish to have my children face the same. We have decided as an extended family that we want to avoid tribal names.”

The mother of baby boy named Fidel Daniels said:

“It is common these days for people to have all Christian names and for us, it is not a fashion but a way of just avoiding the stereotypes that come with the tribal names.”

The mother of baby girl named Rhiab Emmanuela said:

“People have gone overboard with tribal names and it is time we use neutral names, which do not stir any stereotypes at first sight.”

But other Kenyans worry that abandoning tribal names will contribute to the erosion of tribal culture. Opiyo Otondi, former chair of the Luo Council of Elders, said, “No amount of frustration should make our people abandon their culture.”

And Betty Okero, a Kisumu human rights activist, noted that non-tribal names can only offer a limited amount of protection against discrimination, as people’s home villages are recorded on their national identity cards.

Source: Mothers shun ‘tribal names’ for newborns by Kevine Omollo (found via Appellation Mountain)

Most Common Names of D.C. Voters, by Party

capitol building DC

A couple of weeks ago, reader Becca sent me a link to a Washington Post graphic showing the 10 most common names of registered voters within each of Washington D.C.’s four main political parties — Statehood Green, Democratic, Republican and Libertarian.

Here’s the info from the graphic:

Statehood Green Democratic Republican Libertarian
1. Jon
2. Jesse
3. Barry
4. Darnell
5. Ian
6. Juan
7. Jordan
8. Jerry
9. Corey
10. Tyrone
1. Lillie
2. Laverne
3. Ella
4. Bernice
5. Mildred
6. Peggy
7. Betty
8. Ethel
9. Toni
10. Geraldine
1. Tyler
2. Bradley
3. Kelsey
4. Lindsey
5. Kristina
6. Meredith
7. Caroline
8. Kyle
9. Kelly
10. Taylor
1. Jared
2. Jon
3. Brendan
4. Derek
5. Joy
6. Kyle
7. Brooke
8. Julian
9. Nicholas
10. Chelsea

The graphic didn’t mention the disparity between the sizes of these groups, though, so let’s throw that in too. The lists were based on data from mid-June, 2015, so here are the D.C. voter registration statistics from June 30th:

  • Statehood Green: 3,820 registered voters (0.82% of all registered voters in D.C.)
  • Democrats: 350,684 (75.58%)
  • Republicans: 28,560 (6.16%)
  • Libertarians: 779 (0.17%)

The Democrats outnumber the Libertarians by more than 450 to 1, in other words.

Here are the lists individually. After each name is the gender it’s most closely associated with and the year of peak usage as a baby name (in terms of percentage of births) since 1900.

Statehood Green (0.82% of registered voters):

  1. Jon, male, peak usage in 1968
  2. Jesse, male, 1981
  3. Barry, male, 1962
  4. Darnell, male, 1984
  5. Ian, male, 2003
  6. Juan, male, 1999
  7. Jordan, male, 1997
  8. Jerry, male, 1941
  9. Corey, male, 1977
  10. Tyrone, male, 1970

The top Statehood Green names are 100% male, and most saw peak usage during the last four decades of the 20th century.

Democrat (75.58% of registered voters):

  1. Lillie, female, peak usage in 1900
  2. Laverne, female, 1928
  3. Ella, female, 2012
  4. Bernice, female, 1921
  5. Mildred, female, 1920
  6. Peggy, female, 1937
  7. Betty, female, 1934
  8. Ethel, female, 1900
  9. Toni, female, 1968
  10. Geraldine, female, 1931

The top Democrat names are 100% female, and most saw peak usage in the first half of the 20th century, especially the ’20s and ’30s.

Republican (6.16% of registered voters):

  1. Tyler, male, peak usage in 1994
  2. Bradley, male, 1979
  3. Kelsey, female, 1992
  4. Lindsey, female, 1984
  5. Kristina, female, 1985
  6. Meredith, female, 1981
  7. Caroline, female, 2014
  8. Kyle, male, 1990
  9. Kelly, female, 1977
  10. Taylor, female, 1996

The top Republican names are 70% female and 30% male, and most saw peak usage during the last three decades of the 20th century, especially the ’90s.

Libertarian (0.17% of registered voters):

  1. Jared, male, peak usage in 1998
  2. Jon, male, 1968
  3. Brendan, male, 1999
  4. Derek, male, 1982
  5. Joy, female, 1974
  6. Kyle, male, 1990
  7. Brooke, female, 2003
  8. Julian, male, 2014
  9. Nicholas, male, 1999
  10. Chelsea, female, 1992

The top Libertarian names are 70% male and 30% female, and most saw peak usage during the last few decades of the 20th century, especially the ’90s.

*

It was interesting to see just how feminine and old-fashioned the top Democrat names are. But the thing that most surprised was that the Green party’s list included zero female names. I would have guessed that, if any list here was going to be 100% male, it’d be the Libertarian party — definitely not the Green party.

What are your thoughts on these lists?

Sources: Identity Politics, Washington Post, December 2015; Voter Registration Statistics – DC Board of Elections; Popular Baby Names – SSA
Image: NPS

P.S. Thank you, Becca!

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?

Names of the Boston Duck Boats

I’m in Boston right now visiting family, and earlier this week some of us went on a Duck Tour for the first time. The tour was pretty good — I’m on the fence about whether or not I’d recommend it to others — but one thing I did like was finding this list of duck boat names in the pamphlet they gave us:

Boston duck boats
Names of the Boston duck boats
  • Annie Aquarium
  • Arborway Alex
  • Back Bay Bertha
  • Beacon Hilda
  • Beantown Betty
  • Charlie River
  • Commonwealth Curley
  • Copley Squire
  • Dorchester Dottie
  • Espla Nadia
  • Faneuil Holly
  • Fenway Fanny
  • Frog Pond Lily
  • Haymarket Hannah
  • Kenmore Karla
  • Liberty Teresa
  • Longfellow Bridget
  • Miss Emma Science
  • Molly Molasses
  • North End Norma
  • Old Gloria
  • Olga Ironsides
  • Penelope Pru
  • Red Sox Nathan
  • South End Sara
  • Symphony Hal
  • Tub of the Hub
  • Waterfront Wanda

I especially like Espla Nadia and Molly Molasses — the first for the wordplay (a take on “Esplanade”) the second for the historical reference (the Great Molasses Flood).

Which of the above do you like best?