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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Brendan

Number of Babies Named Brendan

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Brendan

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!


How Do You Like Your Name, Barry?

Today’s name interview is with Barry Brake, a 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas.

What’s the story behind his name?

They were going to name me Brandon (or was it Brendan?) — one of the really trendy names of the late 60s. But a few months into it, a kid down the street was born and they named *him* Brendan, so my parents didn’t want 2 on the same block.

It appeared to everyone that the name Barry came out of the blue. It’s not a family name or anything. But when I was an adult my mom told me something she’d never told me or anyone before, except my dad: that she thought I’d be a performer with my name in lights, and she really liked the stagey sound of “Barry Brake.” Indeed I ended up with musical talent and a showoff personality, and became a performer (though my name isn’t in lights!) I have to say my name works quite well and is a memorable name for a performer to have. Nice premonition!

(He’s right about the ’60s: the baby name Barry was most popular back in 1962.)

What does he like most about his name?

It’s catchy and memorable, and easy to spell for bank tellers and other people behind desks. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours of my life would have been wasted in spelling out Kryzstoffre or something. Whew! And Barry works well with my last name, too, which I think matters a lot.

What does he like least about his name?

As a kid it’s pretty easy to make fun of. It rhymes with stuff, so you get everything from the relatively irritating “Barry Cherry” to the slightly more irritating “Barry Fairy.” Also, there were several years there when people could not help but mention Barry Manilow when they met me.

Added to that is that my last name is rather unusual, leading to my now rule that a kid should only have one unusual name, so if your last name is Sauvage you should stick to naming your kids Mike and Ann, and if your last name is Smith you can name them Thaddeus and Guinevere, but you don’t want a super-plain-jane name or a plaid-on-stripes name.

That said, mine wasn’t *too* plaid-on-stripes, and all the current research shows that people with unusual names who get made fun of as kids generally grow as a result of it. So I’m glad I had a mildly character-building name, though I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my name wasn’t Schenectady Picklebottom.

Later on in life, you get rid of the schoolyard games and move on to other concerns. Mine is that Barry seems to always be the name of the fiancé in the *beginning* of the movie: the bland guy who’s “nice” but all wrong for the girl, and who gets summarily dumped. Either that or the loser boyfriend who … also gets summarily dumped. What is it with screenwriters and the name Barry?

Finally, would Barry recommend that his name be given to babies today?

Sure. If we’d had a son, Barry was at least a consideration, probably for a middle name. It’s sturdy and solid, and not trendy. But on the other hand it *is* more a Gen-X name than you’d probably get today: with Jennifer and Amy and Scott, it just seems to belong to people my age and not to the Noahs and Calebs our kids’ age. My prediction is that for at least a couple of generations, the Barrys around you will be named for someone in the family.

Thanks so much, Barry!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

Baby Names for the End of the World?

Bolon Yokte KuhYou guys know the world is ending in two weeks, right?

At least, that’s how popular culture has misinterpreted the ending of the 13th b’ak’tun of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar on December 21, 2012.

If your due date is December 21, why not commemorate the date with an end of the world-inspired baby name?

No, I’m not suggesting you go with something ridiculous like Armageddon or Apocalypse. (Though I have seen both used as names. Examples: Rev. Armageddon James Margerum, born in England in 1833, and Ulysses Apocalypse Johnson, born in California in 1992.)

Instead, try a name with a less obvious EotW connection. Perhaps one of these:

  • Maya – the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is most commonly associated with the Maya
  • Jeremiah – ending sounds like Maya
  • Nehemiah – ending sounds like Maya
  • Deedee – short for doomsday
  • Ann – short for annihilation
  • Catherine – inspired by cataclysm
  • Arma – short for armageddon
  • Armand – inspired by armageddon
  • Armando – inspired by armageddon
  • Gideon – inspired by armageddon
  • Don – inspired by armageddon

Or try one of the dozens of names that happen to contain the word end (short for end of the world, of course).

  • Brenda
  • Brendan
  • Enda (a masculine Irish name, e.g., Enda Kenny)
  • Glenda
  • Gwendolen/Gwendolyn
  • Henderson
  • Hendrik
  • Kendall
  • Kendra
  • Mendel
  • Nagendra
  • Rajendra
  • Rosenda
  • Rosendo
  • Surendra
  • Vendela
  • Wendell
  • Wendy

What other end of the world baby names can you think of?

Halley, the Periodic Baby Name

Halley's Comet 1910In 1705, English astronomer Edmond Halley theorized that three historic comets (which had appeared in 1531, 1607, and 1682) were actually a single periodic comet that would return again in 1758.

He was correct–the comet returned in 1758, just as Halley had predicted. So it was named Comet Halley in his honor in 1759.

Since then, Halley’s Comet has flown through the inner Milky Way three times: in 1835, 1910 and 1986. How did these appearances affect the usage of the baby name Halley? Let’s take a look…

Halley’s Comet in 1835

It seems that people were well aware of the comet in 1835. Its appearance was even commemorated with a new type of jewelry — the comet brooch, which had a distinct head and a tail, just like the comet. Here’s an example:

Halley's Comet Brooch

But the SSA didn’t start collecting baby name data until 1880, and I haven’t had much luck with the census and other historical data, so I don’t know how many babies (if any) were named after Halley’s Comet this year.

Halley’s Comet in 1910

Halley appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time, both for boys and for girls, in 1910. In fact, it was the top debut name for boys.

  • 1913: 5 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
  • 1912: 6 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
  • 1911: 5 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
  • 1910: 11 baby girls and 12 baby boys named Halley [debut x2]
  • 1909: unlisted for both genders
  • 1908: unlisted for both genders

But the SSA data didn’t start reflecting real numbers until the ’30s. So I checked the SSDI, which indicated that the total number of babies with the first name Halley were actually much higher:

  • 1913: 6 babies named Halley
  • 1912: 15 babies named Halley
  • 1911: 8 babies named Halley
  • 1910: 119 babies named Halley
  • 1909: 14 people named Halley born
  • 1908: 3 people named Halley born

Some of the Halleys named specifically for the comet include:

  • Halley Reed Palmer, boy, born on May 10, 1910, to Mr. and Mrs. John Palmer of Milton, Oregon.
  • Halley Comett Johnston, boy, born on April 13, 1910, to Jessie Johnston and Addie Webb of North Carolina.

Parents also used different spellings and placements of Halley. Here’s what happened to the first name Hallie in 1910, for instance, according to the SSDI:

  • 1913: 280 babies named Hallie born
  • 1912: 328 babies named Hallie born
  • 1911: 385 babies named Hallie born
  • 1910: 520 babies named Hallie born
  • 1909: 392 babies named Hallie born
  • 1908: 353 babies named Hallie born

I also found 1910 babies named Halie Comet Wood (boy), Estyr Halley Abrams (girl), Comet Halley Briggs (boy), and Aerial Comet Roath (boy).

Speaking of Comet…the SSDI tells me at least 10 people were named Comet in 1910, and that one of these 10 happened to have the surname Halley. Also born in 1910: a Comette, a Cometniss, a Cometa, and two Comettas.

Halley’s Comet in 1986

Halley was given another big boost by the comet in 1986:

  • 1989: 56 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1988: 71 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1987: 69 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1986: 332 baby girls and 21 baby boys named Halley
  • 1985: 147 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Halley
  • 1984: 25 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys

The surge in usage bumped Halley into the girls’ top 1,000 for the first (and only) time in 1986:

  • 1987: Halley ranked 1,737th
  • 1986: Halley ranked 581st
  • 1985: Halley ranked 1,025th

The only Halley-baby I noticed in the newspapers this year was from Canada: Halley Marie Mullen, a baby girl born to Susan and Brendan Mullen of Ottawa on 4 January 1986.

And, again, there were plenty of alternative spellings. Here’s what happened to Hallie in 1986:

  • 1989: 237 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1988: 232 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1987: 210 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1986: 267 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
  • 1985: 195 baby girls and 7 baby boys named Hallie
  • 1984: 164 baby girls baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys

Among the SSA debut names for 1986 we find Hayleigh (9 babies), Hailley (6) and Haylea (6).

Halley’s Comet in 2061

Halley’s Comet is due back in mid-2061. Do you think we’ll see a spike in the number of babies named Halley that year? Why or why not?

Sources:

  • “Names Baby After the Comet.” Spokesman-Review 22 May 1910: 1.
  • “Parents hope Halley sees comet’s return.” Ottawa Citizen 7 Jan. 1986: B2.
  • “Semi-Weekly News.” Deseret Evening News 20 May 1910: 12.
  • “Squints Slip on the ‘Scope.” Los Angeles Times 20 May 1910: I2.
  • U.S. SSDI (current as of February 28, 2014)

Baby Names No Longer Needed – Brendan, Colson

We helped nine people brainstorm for names in March. So far, I’ve heard back from six of those nine. Diane picked Brendan, Tamela opted for Maxwell, Liz went with Francesca, Whitney decided on Stanley, Baccara stuck with Charlotte and Bethany chose Colson.

I have yet to hear from Dana, Nita and Kate.

Celebrities Who Have Chosen Great Baby Names

Do you think celebrities bestow strange baby names in order to give their careers a boost? That’s the impression I get sometimes. I’d never heard of soap star Ingo Rademacher before he named his son Peanut. I knew very little about M.I.A. before she came up with the name Ikhyd. And I hadn’t thought about Lisa Bonet in ages until she popped up with Nakoa-Wolf. Certainly these baby names helped introduce these celebs to a wider audience–if only for a short time.

I think it’s unfortunate that unusual celebrity baby names receive so much attention. Segments on Entertainment Tonight, pages in People Magazine, entire VH1 specials…not to mention all the blog buzz. (Yup, I’m guilty.) It’s a ridiculous amount of positive reinforcement for a practice that probably shouldn’t be encouraged.

So I thought I’d put together a list of celebrities who have given their children normal names, like Samuel and Christina–names you’ve heard before, names that would never make the headlines for being peculiar. So far, the list stretches back nearly 80 years and features more than 80 celebrities:

  • Mark Wahlberg named his children Ella, Michael, Brendan and Margaret.
  • Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson named their daughters Pearl and Lucille.
  • Colin Farrell named his sons James and Henry.
  • Julie Delpy named her son Leo.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick named their children James, Marion and Tabitha.
  • Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber named their sons Alexander and Samuel.
  • Salma Hayek named her daughter Valentina.
  • Amanda Peet named her daughter Frances.
  • Steve Zahn named his children Henry and Audrey.
  • Ricky Martin named his twin sons Matteo and Valentino.
  • Jack Black named his sons Samuel and Thomas.
  • Ewan McGregor named his biological daughters Clara and Esther.
  • Kate Winslet named her children Mia and Joe.
  • Julia Ormond named her daughter Sophie.
  • Natalie Merchant named her daughter Lucia.
  • Celine Dion named her son René-Charles.
  • Rachel Weisz named her son Henry.
  • Kellie Martin named her daughter Margaret.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard named their daughter Ramona.
  • Christian Bale named his daughter Emmeline.
  • Tina Fey named her daughter Alice.
  • Bill Paxton named his children James and Lydia.
  • Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy named their daughters Sofia and Georgia.
  • Chris O’Donnell named his children Lily, Christopher, Charles, Finley and Maeve.
  • Jodie Foster named her sons Charles and Christopher.
  • Dennis Quaid named his children Jack, Thomas and Zoe.
  • Warren Beatty and Annette Bening named their children Kathlyn, Benjamin, Isabel and Ella.
  • Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora named their daughter Ava.
  • Ed Harris named his daughter Lily.
  • Kenny G named his sons Max and Noah.
  • Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins named their sons Jack and Miles.
  • Phil Collins named his children Simon, Lily, Nicholas and Matthew.
  • Meryl Streep named her children Henry, Mary, Grace and Louisa.
  • Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love named their daughter Frances.
  • Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson named their sons Micheál and Daniel.
  • Kiefer Sutherland named his daughter Sarah.
  • Mel Gibson named his children Hannah, Edward, Christian, William, Louis, Milo, Thomas and Lucia.
  • Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates named their children Owen and Greta.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer named her biological son John.
  • Diane Lane named her daughter Eleanor.
  • Denzel Washington named his children John, Katia, Olivia and Malcolm.
  • Bette Midler named her daughter Sophie.
  • Michael Keaton named his son Sean.
  • Sigourney Weaver named her daughter Charlotte.
  • Tim Allen named his daughters Katherine and Elizabeth.
  • Harrison Ford named his children Benjamin, Willard, Malcolm and Georgia.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver named their children Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher.
  • Robert DeNiro named his sons Raphael, Elliott, Julian and Aaron.
  • Sophia Loren named her sons Carlo and Edoardo.
  • John Lennon named his sons John and Sean.
  • Bruce Lee named his children Brandon and Shannon.
  • Telly Savalas named his children Christina, Penelope, Candace, Nicholas, Christian and Ariana.
  • Paul McCartney named his children Mary, Stella, James and Beatrice.
  • Bing Crosby named his children Gary, Dennis, Phillip, Lindsay, Harry, Mary and Nathaniel.
  • Joan Rivers named her daughter Melissa.
  • Sean Connery named his son Jason.
  • Jack Lemmon named his children Christopher and Courtney.
  • Robert Redford named his children Scott, James, Shauna and Amy.
  • Bob Dylan named his biological children Jesse, Anna, Samuel, Jakob and Desiree.
  • Paul Newman named his children Scott, Susan, Stephanie, Elinor, Melissa and Claire.
  • John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy named their children Arabella, Caroline, John and Patrick.
  • Grace Kelly named her children Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.
  • William Holden named his sons Peter and Scott.
  • Robert Mitchum named his children James, Christopher and Petrina.
  • Kirk Douglas named his sons Michael, Joel, Peter and Eric.
  • Judy Garland named her children Liza, Lorna and Joseph.
  • James Stewart named his twin daughters Judy and Kelly.
  • James Cagney named his children James and Cathleen.
  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall named their children Stephen and Leslie.
  • Gregory Peck named his children Jonathan, Stephen, Carey, Anthony and Cecilia.
  • Elizabeth Taylor named her biological children Michael, Christopher and Elizabeth.
  • Alec Guinness named his son Matthew.
  • Deborah Kerr named her daughters Melanie and Francesca.
  • Betty Grable named her daughters Victoria and Jessica.
  • Henry Fonda named his biological children Jane and Peter.
  • Pablo Picasso named his children Paul, Maria, Claude and Paloma.
  • Vivien Leigh named her daughter Suzanne.
  • Marlene Dietrich named her daughter Maria.
  • Gary Cooper named his daughter Maria.

I know I’ve missed dozens of other famous people with well-named children. Who else can you come up with?

Baby Name Needed – Boy Name for Cian’s Little Brother

A reader named Jamie writes:

Cian Joseph is two years old, and will be welcoming a little brother in May. My husband is Irish, and so we’re sticking with names from that region. We know the middle name will be James, but we’re hitting a road block on first names. So far the only name we both like is Declan, but our super-Irish last name includes 2 K-sounds and ends in -lin. They sound a little funny together.

My first thoughts were Desmond and Diarmaid (Dermot), which are both similar to Declan. There’s also a saint named Donnan. Speaking of saints, how about:

Brendan
Brogan
Eoghan
Ernan
Faolan
Fergus
Fintan
Flannan
Finnian
Garbhan
Grellan
Loman
Manchan
Mel
Murtagh
Odhran
Ronan
Ruadhan
Senan
Ultan

Most of the above are spelled other ways as well, which is convenient (as some versions are easier to pronounce in English, while others are closer to the original Irish).

Historical Irish kings had names like Niall (Neil), Domnall (Donald) and Ruaidri (Rory).

Looking to surnames, there are options like Brady, Grady, Murphy and Nolan.

Do you think any of the above sound particularly good with James? What other names would you suggest?

Update, 6/07: Scroll down to the last comment to find out which name Jamie chose…