How popular is the baby name Bill 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 Bill.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bill


Posts that Mention the Name Bill

Name Quotes 89: Shelley, Kelly, Bill

Dram EP

From an Uproxx article about DRAM’s most recent EP:

Virginian rap crooner DRAM returned last night with the release of his new, three-song EP, That’s A Girl’s Name. Produced and co-written by Josh Abraham and Oligee, the EP’s title refers to DRAM’S real name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith, which means “that’s a girl’s name” is probably a phrase he heard quite a bit growing up.

(“DRAM” is an acronym for “Does Real Ass Music.” DRAM’s goldendoodle also has an interesting name: Idnit [vid] — “as in, idnit so cute.”)

DRAM with his dog, Idnit

From an Us Magazine article about Matthew McConaughey’s new book Greenlights:

The Texas native also revealed that when he was born his father wasn’t there. Instead, he explained that James “called my mom and said, ‘Only thing I have to say is if it’s a boy, don’t name him Kelly.’”

From a New York Times article about the marriage of Sugar Good, a Dunkin’ Donuts manager, to one of her drive-through customers:

A year would go by before she gathered the courage to pass him her sprinkle-bedecked business card with his breakfast in September 2018. But when she did, it came as a relief to both. The man, John Thompson, a recently retired Marine working as a car salesman in Oklahoma City, had been wondering how he was going to figure out what her real name was.

“When I started going through the drive-through, I noticed she would smile with her eyes, and I thought, maybe if I read the receipt I can see what her name is,” he said. “But it said ‘Sugar No. 7.'” He figured Sugar must have been a reference to how he likes his coffee. With the card, which listed her cellphone number at the bottom, she cleared up the mystery — as well as her own case of the blues.

(I discovered this one via Nancy Friedman — thank you!)

From a Harper’s Bazaar article about genderless beauty brands:

“As a culture, we are realizing that gender is no longer a fixed concept,” says Sam Cheow, senior vice president of corporate innovation and product development at the Estée Lauder Companies, which owns brands like M.A.C, Tom Ford Beauty, Le Labo, and Frédéric Malle . . . Cheow points to evidence that the needle is moving forward: the growing backlash surrounding gender-reveal parties; a rise in gender-neutral baby names (for example, in 2018, 51 percent of “Charlies” were female); and the arrival of Q, the world’s first genderless voice assistant.

From a Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources blog post entitled “The Tiffany Problem“:

Wait, what? No way there’s a Tiffany in this book! Not when there are other women running around with convincing names like Blanchefleur, Isolde, and Ermentrude.

[…]

[T]he Tiffany Problem describes the tension between historical fact and the average, everyday person’s idea of history. So even though authors may research carefully and want to include historically accurate information in their book—like a medieval character named Tiffany—a popular audience likely won’t buy it.

From a piece in Blue Ridge Outdoors about not wanting a trail name:

I remember a guy named Bill. His view on trail names mirrored mine. He didn’t have one, didn’t want one. He was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, not seeking a new identity. As he walked the white-blazed path, he simply introduced himself as “Bill”.

The most-often stated reply to him was, “What’s your trail name?”

His standard answer, “I don’t have a trail name. My name is just Bill.”

He became “Just Bill.”

From a Pitchfork interview with The Good Place actress D’Arcy Carden:

I put an apostrophe in my name that wasn’t there before, like Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky, because of how influential this band was to me. D’Arcy was just the epitome of cool to me. In 1993, I was really into alternative and grunge music, and whereas the Nirvanas and the Pearl Jams felt so masculine, there was something sweeter and lighter about Smashing Pumpkins. The fact that they had a girl in their band was huge for me and my friends. I learned the guitar part to “Today,” and it made me feel like such a badass. It was like, “Wow, I can play guitar!” But, of course, anybody can play the beginning of “Today.”

(Name Quotes #73 mentioned another Good Place actress…)

From an amNewYork article about Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh (born Terri Sue Feldshuh in 1952):

What ever happened to Terri Sue Feldshuh?

“I fell in love with a Christian boy, Michael Fairchild, who didn’t want to kiss a Terri Sue. He said: ‘Terri Sue doesn’t fit you at all. What’s that other name of yours? Tovah? Now that’s a name!'”

(Her stage name was initially “Terri Fairchild,” according to Wikipedia.)

Name Quotes #71: Floy, Zyler, Tane Mahuta

Rami Malek, after winning the Oscar for Best Actor in early 2019 [vid]:

I grew up in a world where I never thought I was gonna play the lead on Mr. Robot because I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me. I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury until I realized his name was Farrokh Bulsara. […] That was the motivation that allowed me to say, “Oh, I can do this.”

Winnie Harlow, born Chantelle Brown-Young, upon being asked where the name “Winnie Harlow” came from:

It’s literally just from Winnie the Pooh! I was a big fan growing up, and it was actually from a joke with some friends. We were on the phone with some boys, I grabbed the phone from one of my girls, and was like, “Don’t give my friends attitude!” And the boys asked, “Who is this?” I looked over, my friend was wearing a Winnie the Pooh T-shirt, so I said my name was Winnie. When I started working, it felt kind of natural to just continue with it. Harlow comes from Jean Harlow; I’m a really big Marilyn Monroe fan, but I didn’t want to use Monroe, because that felt cheesy. But Jean Harlow was one of Marilyn’s really big career inspirations, so I took the name Harlow. I do love my actual name a lot. At the beginning, I tried to go by Chantelle Winnie, but then decided to keep Winnie Harlow and Chantelle separate. My family calls me Chantelle.

Monica Lewinsky, on “the Monica Lewinsky scandal” of early 1998:

“The scandal was named after me,” she said. “Any time that this has been referenced, every single day, every single day in the past 20 years — so it may not be a direct reference to me, but because the investigation and the scandal have my name, I’m then, therefore, attached to it.”

[…]

“Bill Clinton didn’t have to change his name,” Lewinsky said, when Oliver asked if she considered changing hers. “Nobody’s ever asked him, did he think he should change his name.”

From an article about an 11-year-old golf player who happens to have been named for the Ryder cup:

With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young [age] is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.

From an article about Southern names (via Abby):

[W]hen Southerners make up new names, it’s usually a more meaningful exercise than simply slapping a K where it does not belong, like when people name their girls after their daddies. This results in the likes of Raylene, Bobette, Earline, Georgette (one of George Jones’s daughters), Georgine, and my personal favorite, Floy (feminine for Floyd). As it happens, I almost got a masculine name (unfeminized) myself. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Julia Evans Clements Brooks, and my mother was dead set on calling me Evans until my father put his foot down on the grounds that that was the kind of stuff that Yankees did. Maybe, but we do plenty of the last name/family name business for girls down here, too. Off the top of my head I can think of three Southern women I love a lot: Keith, Cameron, Egan.

From an article comparing the relative popularity of twin professional hockey players Daniel and Henrik Sedin by looking at the B.C. baby name data:

[T]he name Henrik magically first started appearing on B.C. baby announcements in 2007, which, maybe not so coincidentally, was also the year following the Sedins’ breakout season.

[…]

Interestingly, the largest spike — a total of 13 baby Henriks — came in 2011, which coincides with the Canucks’ march to the Stanley Cup Final.

From an article about “theybies” — kids being brought up without gender designations:

Three-year-old twins Zyler and Kadyn Sharpe scurried around the boys and girls clothing racks of a narrow consignment store filled with toys. Zyler, wearing rainbow leggings, scrutinized a pair of hot-pink-and-purple sneakers. Kadyn, in a T-Rex shirt, fixated on a musical cube that flashed colorful lights. At a glance, the only discernible difference between these fraternal twins is their hair — Zyler’s is brown and Kadyn’s is blond.

Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide.

How did presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke acquire the nickname Beto?

He was named after his grandfathers. His mother Melissa O’Rourke said on the campaign trail during his U.S. Senate run that “Robert” — her father’s name — didn’t seem to fit when he was a baby.

The family has deep roots in El Paso, Texas, and “Beto” is a common shortening of the name “Roberto,” or “Robert.” If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced BEH-toe and O’Rourke is oh-RORK.

From an article about America’s first exascale supercomputer:

The supercomputer, dubbed Aurora — which [Secretary of Energy Rick] Perry joked was named after his three-legged black lab Aurora Pancake — is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2021, as the DOE attempts to keep pace with China in a supercomputing arms race.

(Turns out the dog’s nickname is “Rory.” I posted a quote about another named computer, the Lisa, last year.)

From an article about the divorce of Lady Davina Windsor, 30th in line to the British throne, from husband Gary “Gazza” Lewis, a Maori sheep shearer:

Lady Davina gave birth to a daughter, Senna Kowhai, who is now aged eight, and a son, Tane Mahuta, six. He was named after the giant Tane Mahuta kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, in New Zealand.

(Here’s more on the famous Tane Mahuta tree. The name Kowhai was also inspired by New Zealand tree.)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes #70: Silas, Mabel, Ilima

It’s April Fools’ Day! I don’t have any pun names (like April Fool or Seymour Butts) for you today, but here are some name quotes…

From the book Jazz And Its Discontents by Francis Davis, a passage about jazz singer Abbey Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge) :

When the singer Abbey Lincoln gives her autograph, she appends the name Aminata Moseka. During her pilgrimage to Africa in 1975, the president of Guinea christened her “Aminata” in recognition of her inner strength and determination, and Zaire’s minister of education likened her to “Moseka,” the god of love in female form. “I love Aminata Moseka. I’ve added her to myself. But I can’t say that’s my one and only name,” says Lincoln […] “It’s more like a title–something to live up to. That’s why I recorded Stevie Wonder’s ‘Golden Lady.’ It gave me the opportunity to sing to a female god. But I’m still Abbey Lincoln–I still like to wear makeup and glittering dresses and look attractive for an audience. And in many ways, I’m still Anna Marie.”

From an interview with Skid Row bass player Rachel Bolan (born James Richard Southworth):

DC9 at Night: How did you get the name Rachel?

Bolan: It’s not my real first name. When I was first getting into bands, I wanted a cool stage name. I wanted to be like Alice Cooper. Eventually, when I was old enough, I legally changed my name to Rachel. It’s always raised a few eyebrows. It’s funny to hear people pronounce it when I give them a credit card or something. It’s funny to this day. They ask me if I gave them the wrong ID or if I gave them some chic’s credit card.

(According to Wikipedia, he created “Rachel” by combining the names of his brother Richard and his grandfather Manuel.)

From an article about the top baby names across Ontario:

As for Maverick — the number one boy name in Sault Ste. Marie — Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker said it’s an interesting choice, quipping: “It’s better than Goose” — referring to the main characters from the movie Top Gun.

From an ESPN article about MMA fighter Ilima-Lei Macfarlane:

She was named after the official island flower of Oahu — the ilima — recognizable for its delicate yellow petals.

“It was considered a flower for royalty,” Macfarlane said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday, “because it would take hundreds of flowers to make a lei, they’re so paper thin.”

From an article about baby naming trends being linked to the stock market:

Alan [Hall] compared seven decades of stock market records to baby naming data from the same period and found that parents tend to give their children unique and unusual names during and right after rallies in the market. On the flip side, when the market is down, parents revert to safer, more traditional names.

In contrast with the above…from an article called “It’s Not the Economy: Why Unique Baby Names Are Trending Up“:

The researchers also examined the naming trends against the background of the economy. Some theorists had speculated that increased economic hardship might make people more focused on the community, and thus cause a decline in individualism. One study, published in 2013 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found increases of communal behavior like charitable activity among high-schoolers during the 2008 recession. But baby names didn’t follow that pattern, [psychologist Jean] Twenge said.

[…]

“There’s just a longer-scale trend toward uniqueness and individualism that isn’t necessarily rooted in these economic cycles,” Twenge said.

From an article about Justin Timberlake’s latest album:

Timberlake’s interview comes weeks before the release of his new album Man of the Woods, which is set to hit stores on February 2. He said his son inspired the name of the record and its title track.

“I literally just went on Google like, ‘meaning of the name Silas,’ and it sent me to this to this site and it said, ‘of Latin origin, meaning ‘Man of the woods,'” he said. “I was like, ‘How serendipitous that my last is Timberlake, like what does that mean?'”

From a collection of baby name stories contributed by Long Island moms:

My grandfather hated tattoos. He used to tell his standard stories and would say only people who had tattoos in ‘his day’ were sailors. He said their tattoos always said either ‘death before dishonor’ or ‘true love Mabel.’ He always used Mabel as the example name. I’m not sure why. He died in 2013. We named our daughter Mabel as a nod to him.

Want to see more blog posts like this one? Check out the name quotes category.

What Would You Name the Catfish-Riding Boy?

little boy, large catfish, old photo, texas, 1940s

This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.

The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.

The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.

So let’s turn this into a name game!

First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:

  • What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
  • What would you have named him?

Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:

Albert
Arthur
Carl/Charles
Clarence
Daniel
David
Don/Donald
Edward/Eddie
Ernest
Frank
Fred
Gary
Gene/Eugene
George
Gerald
Harold
Henry
Jack
James
Jerry
Jesse
Jesus
Jimmie/Jimmy
Joe/Joseph
John/Johnny
Jose
Juan
Kenneth
Larry
Louis
Manuel
Melvin
Paul
Raymond
Richard
Robert/Bobby
Ronald
Roy
Thomas/Tommy
Walter

For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)

(If you like this game, here’s a similar one from years ago: What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?)

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?