How popular is the baby name Billy 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 Billy.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Billy


Posts that Mention the Name Billy

The Debut of Desnee

Desnee and Billy

The rare name Desnee was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1950s:

  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Desnee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

What was the influence?

A 15-month-old London girl named Desnee Sampson, who was featured in a pair of photos that ran in various U.S. newspapers in late 1950 and early 1951.

In the first photo, she was sitting on the floor, watching her cat Billy drink milk from a saucer. In the second, she was bent over the saucer herself and trying to lap up milk in the same way (with Billy looking on).

I don’t know the origin of the name. In fact, my initial guess was that “Desnee” was a typo for Desiree. (I could imagine the middle letters being transposed and then mistaken for an “n.”)

As it turns out, Desnee Sampson’s birth (1949) and marriage (1970) records both confirm that her real name was indeed “Desnee.” Besides, the name Desiree didn’t become trendy until a few years later, thanks to the 1954 Marlon Brando movie Désirée (which I mentioned in the Deserie post).

What do you think of the name Desnee? Would you pronounce the second syllable like that of Desiree (ay-sound) or Deedee (ee-sound)?

More Top Baby Name Drops

A couple of weeks a go we checked out the list of top raw-number rises in the U.S. baby name data, so today let’s balance things out with the list of top raw-number drops.

Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.

Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.

  • 1881: Mary, -146; William, -1,008
  • 1882: Lulu, -34; Garfield, -78
  • 1883: Mary, -136; William, -911
  • 1884: Mina, -33; Albert, -61
  • 1885: Sarah, -94; William, -853
  • 1886: Nancy, -35; Grover, -361
  • 1887: Minnie, -157; John, -916
  • 1888: Dorothea, -24; Rudolph, -17
  • 1889: Emma, -203; William, -933
  • 1890: Mollie, -53; William, -278
  • 1891: Mary, -375; John, -821
  • 1892: Jennie, -26; Enoch & Irving, -16 each (tie)
  • 1893: Mary, -390; John, -990
  • 1894: Ruth, -286; Grover, -171
  • 1895: Laura, -87; Charles, -155
  • 1896: Jessie, -197; John, -182
  • 1897: Anna, -431; John, -589
  • 1898: Sophie, -49; Hobart, -63
  • 1899: Mary, -1,234; William, -1,314
  • 1900: Manila, -24; Dewey, -154
  • 1901: Mary, -3,572; John, -2,931
  • 1902: Sophie, -45; Manuel, -32
  • 1903: Mary, -211; William, -305
  • 1904: Lillie, -121; Leo, -83
  • 1905: Florence, -94; Alton, -138
  • 1906: Minnie, -173; Theodore, -146
  • 1907: Bessie & Alice, -85 each (tie); Austin, -27
  • 1908: Evelyn, -178; Theodore, -69
  • 1909: Mae, -154; Ernest, -115
  • 1910: Allie, -35; Delmar & Bruce, -24 each (tie)
  • 1911: Annie, -220; Willie, -405
  • 1912: Dessie, -20; Lawyer & Blas, -12 each (tie)
  • 1913: Carrie, -62; Emerson, -28
  • 1914: Tomasa, -27; Woodrow, -547
  • 1915: Juana, -32; Kermit, -79
  • 1916: Mollie, -88; Willard, -476
  • 1917: Edna, -204; Woodrow, -239
  • 1918: Rose, -215; Frederick, -103
  • 1919: Helen, -2,447; John, -3,029
  • 1920: Sophie, -234; Woodrow, -1,033
  • 1921: Gertrude, -449; Willie, -391
  • 1922: Helen, -2,314; Warren, -3,315
  • 1923: Helen, -1,017; George, -321
  • 1924: Elizabeth, -512; Warren, -1,231
  • 1925: Mary, -2,910; John, -1,878
  • 1926: Mary, -2,773; William, -1,358
  • 1927: Helen, -1,582; William, -479
  • 1928: Mary, -3,756; William, -2,360
  • 1929: Mary, -3,361; John, -1,652
  • 1930: Ruth, -1,079; Herbert, -2,187
  • 1931: Dorothy, -3,884; John, -4,026
  • 1932: Betty, -1,688; Robert, -1,255
  • 1933: Mary, -4,381; Robert, -5,052
  • 1934: Dorothy, -761; Franklin, -1,209
  • 1935: Betty, -2,408; Franklin, -1,543
  • 1936: Shirley, -7,202; Donald, -1,025

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Shirley, -8,337; Donald, -771
  • 1938: Shirley, -3,048; Donald, -1,207
  • 1939: Shirley, -3,320; Robert, -2,630
  • 1940: Shirley, -2,573; Donald, -962
  • 1941: Betty, -1,172; Wendell, -533
  • 1942: Deanna, -408; Billy, -352
  • 1943: Carole, -1,900; Douglas, -3,001
  • 1944: Barbara, -4,242; Robert, -4,008
  • 1945: Mary, -3,184; James, -2,497
  • 1946: Victoria, -280; Victor, -492
    • Top 5 boy-name drops of ’46, in order: Victor, Truman, Franklin, Delano, Roosevelt/Homer (tie)
  • 1947: Carole, -793; Richard, -369
  • 1948: Patricia, -5,144; Richard, -7,570
  • 1949: Linda, -5,192; Ronald, -2,026
  • 1950: Linda, -10,549; John, -1,642
  • 1951: Linda, -6,553; Larry, -1,016
  • 1952: Linda, -6,808; Larry, -2,224
  • 1953: Linda, -5,819; Larry, -3,081
  • 1954: Linda, -5,884; Dennis, -2,860
  • 1955: Mary, -4,830; Gary, -3,499
  • 1956: Deborah, -4,476; David, -4,588
  • 1957: Deborah, -7,778; Gary, -2,286
  • 1958: Cynthia, -8,311; James, -5,502
  • 1959: Debra, -4,166; Michael, -5,209
  • 1960: Debra, -4,626; Richard, -3,619
  • 1961: Donna, -5,468; Richard, -2,432
  • 1962: Mary, -4,163; Mark, -4,234
  • 1963: Linda, -3,754; Mark, -4,150
  • 1964: Lori, -5,280; Mark, -4,073
  • 1965: Mary, -6,709; John, -10,972
  • 1966: Karen, -7,431; John, -6,519
  • 1967: Lisa, -4,483; James, -3,495
  • 1968: Mary, -3,592; David, -3,058
  • 1969: Lisa, -4,494; Timothy, -3,153
  • 1970: Lisa, -6,077; David, -1,953
  • 1971: Lisa, -6,053; David, -8,650
  • 1972: Lisa, -5,357; John, -8,340
  • 1973: Lisa, -4,883; David, -5,267
  • 1974: Lisa, -2,889; Robert, -1,681
  • 1975: Jennifer, -4,926; Brian, -3,864
  • 1976: Michelle, -3,116; Scott, -1,571
  • 1977: Amy, -4,613; Scott, -1,541
  • 1978: Amy, -3,509; Jason, -4,027
  • 1979: Kelly, -1,686; Kevin, -1,373
  • 1980: Melissa, -2,420; Jason, -2,203
  • 1981: Melissa, -3,623; Jason, -6,268
  • 1982: Brooke, -2,183; Jeremy, -2,643
  • 1983: Jennifer, -2,767; Jason, -5,512
  • 1984: Jennifer, -3,784; Jason, -5,167
  • 1985: Jennifer, -7,903; Jason, -3,905
  • 1986: Jennifer, -6,474; Joshua, -4,655
  • 1987: Jennifer, -3,483; Jason, -3,054
  • 1988: Ashley, -4,873; Jason, -3,441
  • 1989: Jennifer, -3,888; Jason, -3,292
  • 1990: Tiffany, -2,555; Adam, -2,216
  • 1991: Brittany, -7,446; Christopher, -5,219
  • 1992: Jessica, -5,047; Michael -6,409
  • 1993: Chelsea, -4,885; Michael, -4,821
  • 1994: Ashley, -4,571; Michael, -5,089
  • 1995: Jessica, -4,175; Michael, -3,060
  • 1996: Jessica, -3,752; Michael, -3,043
  • 1997: Jessica, -3,142; Cody, -2,660
  • 1998: Jessica, -2,816; Christopher, -2,104
  • 1999: Brittany, -1,903; Austin, -2,710
  • 2000: Brittany, -2,760; Austin, -4,824
  • 2001: Hannah, -2,366; Brandon, -2,445
  • 2002: Taylor, -2,220; Jacob, -1,968
  • 2003: Ashanti, -1,983; Austin, -2,850
  • 2004: Hannah, -2,034; Zachary, -1,832
  • 2005: Alexis, -1,503; Jacob, -2,059
  • 2006: Emily, -2,540; Ryan, -1,557
  • 2007: Emily, -2,050; Joshua, -1,664
  • 2008: Hannah, -3,738; Christopher, -2070
  • 2009: Emily, -2,084; Anthony, -2,099
  • 2010: Madison, -2,059; Joshua, -2,219
  • 2011: Isabella, -3,032; Jacob, -1,783
  • 2012: Chloe, -1,361; Jacob, -1,370
  • 2013: Isabella, -1,536; Ethan, -1,494
  • 2014: Sophia, -2,657; Jayden, -1,834
  • 2015: Isabella, -1,523; Jase, -1,459
  • 2016: Sophia, -1,311; Logan, -1,697
  • 2017: Sophia, -1,281; Mason, -1,728
  • 2018: Emily, -1,125; Matthew, -1,747

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.

Unusual Baby Names in Harris County, TX

snobia, real name, baby name, texas, 1930s
Snobia, born in Texas in 1931

We recently looked at the top baby names in Houston, so today let’s check out some of the unusual baby names that were bestowed in Harris County (where Houston is located) from 1926 to 1934.

Why 1926 to 1934? Because the USGenWeb Archives website for Texas happens to host complete, digitized sets of Harris County birth records for those particular years. :)

For onomastic context: The top five girl names in Texas in 1930 were Mary, Betty, Dorothy, Maria, and Billie; the top five boy names were James, Billy, Robert, John, and Charles.

And now, here are some of the unusual-but-real baby names that were being used in Harris County in the late ’20s and early ’30s…

1926:

  • Girl names: Autra, Clemmine, Faylese, Inry, Jimize, Martimana, Ruberly, Symova, Ventruda, Zenola
  • Boy names: Clavy, Fayne, Galvino, Jallus, Komello, Ludwell, Nonis, Stayden, Thadid, Wiltz

1927:

  • Girl names: Crespina, Davalene, Glissie, Haldora, Isiola, Maxteen, Orea, Ruvellee, Versa, Willia & Nillia (twins)
  • Boy names: Alzie, Donley, Gasdan, Iron, Kinnie, Mynatt, Narmon, Osby, Risco, Tollie

1928:

  • Girl names: Ayda, Clydine, Flavilla, Inola, Juvene, Mattilene, Sinella, Thaylia, Willoise, Zolita
  • Boy names: Asriah, Calby, Delery, Elivorio, Galo, Hartsell, Kissel, Lassiter, Monteith, Plymton

1929:

  • Girl names: Dinazar, Evima, Ferenita, Glennella, Jaquamina, Lunetta, Mildra, Seropia, Treassa, Ysrosa
  • Boy names: Boysen, Exalton, Hulan, Jolari, Kezakiah, Monsie, Renick, Schley, Tawsen, Vesome

1930:

  • Girl names: Azo, Binji, Chavara, Faydell, Junetenth*, Nezzell, Olgria, Pura, Trellis, Wiltessa
  • Boy names: Boza, Charna, Donniehue, Kirkland, Landrum, Marvis, Neilo, Oliner, Sunary, Trossie

*In other records, she’s listed as “Juneteena.” Which makes me happy, because Junetenth wasn’t born on June 10th, but on June 26th!

1931:

  • Girl names: Auba, Docsha, Gladia, Jettie, Lorinza, Orfa, Phadalia, Ria, Snobia*, Tala
  • Boy names: Duffie, Elry, Galen, Jerah, Khleber, Orlo, Roswald, Sebie, Thano, Velton

*Snobby-looking Snobia is probably just an altered form of Zenobia.

1932:

  • Girl names: Elydia, Hannora, Josener, Liligene, Minta, Ninfa, Ouida, Rosarine, Velosa, Zol
  • Boy names: Brozy, Cullis, Esker, Ferris, Latham, Odis, Ramia, Shedrick, Wayaland, Zeff

1933:

  • Girl names: Annarene, Clista, Exenia, Genoria, Jemanne, Leska, Mercidee, Rocksie, Trudell, Velta
  • Boy names: Artis, Cromwell, Deckman, Envon, Linlou, Millus, Ninary, Pelton, Rianaldo, Thurlo

1934:

  • Girl names: Athydell, Cova, Dazerine, Enla, Lemabel, Marzie, Roxelyn, Sedonia, Thala, Zeolia
  • Boy names: Boyce, Foy, Jock, Kernin, Lorvell, Numa, Rhomey, Treldon, Ulmer, Venard

If you want to see more, check out my post on unusual Harris baby names over on Patreon.

The Coming of Clu

The baby name Clu debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1962.

The curious name Clu first surfaced in the U.S. baby name data in 1962:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby boys named Clu [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

After that it never came back, making it a one-hit wonder.

Where did it come from?

William Martin “Clu” Gulager, an actor who appeared primarily on television during the early ’60s. Most notably, he co-starred in the NBC series The Tall Man (1960-1962) as a very fictionalized version of Billy the Kid. He could also be seen on shows like Wagon Train and The Virginian around that time.

Clu Gulager was born in Oklahoma in 1928, and was a member of the Cherokee Nation. “Clu” wasn’t a stage name — it was an inherited childhood nickname. He was named directly after his father’s older brother, William Martin “Clu Clu” Gulager, who served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1922 to 1930.

The nickname “Clu Clu” came from the Cherokee word clu-clu or tlu-tlu, which referred to the purple martin (a type of bird).

What do you think of the baby name Clu?

Sources:

P.S. One of Clu’s distanct relatives was fellow entertainer Will Rogers.