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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bob

Number of Babies Named Bob

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bob

Do We Need to Talk About Kevin?

kevin, home aloneHave you heard of “Kevinism”? It’s Europe’s bias against people who have first names that are “culturally devalued” like Kevin, Chantal, Mandy and Justin — names that were popularized by American pop culture, typically.

In the case of Kevin, actors like Kevin Costner and Kevin Bacon — not to mention the very successful 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone, in which the lead character was a young Kevin — made the name very trendy overseas in the early 1990s. In fact, it hit #1 in several European countries, including France and Switzerland.

But after the trend cooled off, the backlash began. And it’s so bad now that, just a few years ago, a German schoolteacher told researchers that Kevin is “not a name, but a diagnosis.”

Which makes this recent observation by Andrew Gruttadaro of The Ringer all the more interesting: “Of the scripted shows on the four major [U.S.] networks that currently include a first name in the title–Kevin Can Wait, Young Sheldon, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Bob’s Burgers, Will & Grace, and Marlon–33 percent of them feature a Kevin.”

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition. Kevin has apparently hit some sort of nostalgic sweet-spot for American TV audiences, and, at the same time, it’s so disliked overseas that an entirely new word has been coined to describe the prejudice.

I wonder if those American shows are being seen in Europe and, if so, whether they’ll affect Kevinism. Will they exacerbate it? Eradicate it? Hm…

Where do you live, and how do you feel about the name Kevin?

Sources: Kevin, Chantal among worst names for online dating, We need to talk about Kévin: Why France fell in (and out of) love with a name, Why Are There So Many Kevins on TV?


The Many Names in Dobie Gillis

The baby name Dobie debuted in the US baby name data in 1960.

Girl-crazy teenager Dobie Gillis was a character created by writer Max Shulman in the 1940s. He was first brought to life in the movie The Affairs of Dobie Gillis in 1953, but the most memorable portrayal of Dobie was by Dwayne Hickman in the four-season TV sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which premiered in September of 1959.

Dobie Gillis is notable for being “the first prime-time series to consistently privilege teenage characters, activities, and spaces over those associated with family shows.”

It was also known for the unusual character names. Dobie (pronounced doh-bee, rhymes with Toby) had friends with names like:

  • Maynard (a beatnik played by Bob Denver, who later portrayed Gilligan)
  • Zelda (a brainiac played by Sheila James Kuehl, sister of Jeri Lou)
  • Thalia Menninger (a rich girl played by Tuesday Weld)

These “uncommon first names [were] evidently meant to seem vaguely silly in their failure to conform with ’50s norms.”

The show ended up influencing the usage of several baby names. First of all, it was behind the debut of the name Dobie in 1960:

  • 1964: 9 baby boys named Dobie
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby boys named Dobie
  • 1961: 8 baby boys named Dobie
  • 1960: 9 baby boys named Dobie [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

The name Thalia also saw a spike in usage in 1960, which makes sense because all but two of the episodes featuring Thalia Menninger were first-season (1959-1960) episodes. Dobie pronounced Thalia’s name thale-ya.

  • 1964: 46 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1963: 42 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1962: 42 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1961: 46 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1960: 90 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1959: 30 baby girls named Thalia
  • 1958: 24 baby girls named Thalia

Finally, the name Zelda saw elevated usage in the early ’60s:

  • 1964: 133 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1963: 171 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1962: 178 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1961: 168 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1960: 136 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1959: 142 baby girls named Zelda
  • 1958: 131 baby girls named Zelda

Fun fact: Zelda — who pursued Dobie as ardently as Dobie pursued all other females — once convinced a girl named Phyllis to break it off with Dobie by warning her that her married name would be “Phyllis Gillis.”

Many of the secondary and single-episode characters had unusual names as well. Here are some examples:

Aphrodite
Arabella
Aristede
Blossom
Bruno
Bubbles
Chatsworth
Clothilde
Clydene
Drusilla
Esmond
Glynis
Imogene
Jethro
Kermit
Laurabelle
Leander
Maribelle
Mignonne
Poppy
Riff

Do you like any of the above Dobie Gillis names? How about the name “Dobie” itself?

Sources:

  • Kearney, Mary C. “Teenagers and Television in the United States.” Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television, ed. by Horace Newcomb, 2nd ed., New York: Routledge, 2013, pp. 2276-2281.
  • Sterritt, David. Mad to be Saved: The Beats, the ’50s, and Film. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998.
  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (TV Series 1959–1963) – IMDb

The Baby Name Tinker

Tinker the Toymaker
The curious baby name “Tinker” debuted on the SSA’s list in the mid-1950s:

  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 5 baby girls named Tinker
  • 1954: 5 baby boys named Tinker [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Well, the girls would have been named Tinker with the Peter Pan character Tinker Bell in mind. (Disney’s film version of Peter Pan came out in ’53, and the Broadway musical came out in ’54.)

But for boys, the inspiration would have been the children’s TV program Tinker’s Workshop, which was on the air from 1954 to 1958. The sole human character was gray-haired, Geppetto-like “Tinker the Toymaker” played by Bob Keeshan (who also produced the show). Keeshan wrote in the ’80s that:

[Tinker] was warm and welcoming, a grandfather who finds joy in talking to young people, passing on his wisdom, exploring the world with them.

The show was a success, but Keeshan left less than a year after it premiered to become “Captain Kangaroo” — a role he played for the next three decades.

Tinker’s Workshop continued until mid-1958, with the role of Tinker being taken up by several other actors, the last of whom was a young Dom DeLuise.

Do you like Tinker as a baby name? Do you think it works better for boys or for girls?

Source: Keeshan, Bob. Growing Up Happy: Captain Kangaroo Tells Yesterday’s Children How to Nurture Their Own. New York: Doubleday, 1989

Cryptography Names – Alice, Bob, Eve

protocolSince the late 1970s, cryptographers have been using personal names (instead of labels like “person A” and “person B”) to describe various communications scenarios. Many of these scenarios involve two communicating parties named Alice and Bob and an eavesdropper named Eve.

Extra parties are assigned names alphabetically (e.g., Carol, Dave) unless they play a specific role within the scenario. For instance, a password cracker is named Craig, a malicious attacker is named Mallory, an intruder is named Trudy, and a whistle-blower is named Wendy.

In zero-knowledge protocols, the “prover” and “verifier” of a message are typically named Peggy and Victor…but Pat and Vanna (after Wheel of Fortune presenters Pat Sajak and Vanna White) are sometimes used instead.

Here’s more about Alice and Bob from American cryptographer Bruce Schneier:

And you’d see paper after paper, and [in] the opening few paragraphs, the authors would explain what they’re doing in terms of Alice and Bob. So Alice and Bob have a storied history. They send each other secrets, they get locked in jail, they get married, they get divorced, they’re trying to date each other. Anything two people might want to do securely, Alice and Bob have done it somewhere in the cryptographic literature.

Question of the day: If you were tasked with updating the names of “person A” (female) and “person B” (male), what new names would you choose?

Sources: Alice and Bob – Wikipedia, ‘Replace crypto-couple Alice and Bob with Sita and Rama’, Bruce Schneier – Who are Alice & Bob? [vid]
Image: Protocol by Randall Munroe under CC BY-NC 2.5.

First Antarctic Iceberg with a Name: “Melting Bob”

floating iceIn 2008, the Scott Polar Research Institute (part of the University of Cambridge) organized a competition to give a proper name to Antarctic iceberg C‑19A.

The enormous iceberg was initially code-named C‑19, as it was the 19th iceberg observed by the U.S. National Ice Center to calve from the “C” quadrant of the continent. In 2003, C‑19 split into two pieces: C‑19A (the bigger piece) and C‑19B (the smaller piece).

The competition was open to kids between the ages of 3 and 12. It attracted about 500 entrants. The winning name came from 6-year-old Max Dolan, who suggested that C-19A be called Melting Bob.

Max coined the name Melting Bob with The Simpsons character Sideshow Bob in mind, but the name is also a clever play on words. Here’s how he explained it:

“Because of global warming, ice melts. And it goes up and down in the sea, so it bobs.”

Among the other suggestions were Kangaroo Desert, White Fright, Vast Tip and Antarc‑Ticker.

If you could name an iceberg, what name would you pick?

Sources: And the winner is…Melting Bob, Iceberg C-19, Max names iceberg Melting Bob, NOAA News Online