In 1896, people were thinking politics. We can see it in the baby names that saw the biggest relative increases in usage from 1895 to 1896: Hobart (744%), Hobert (488%), Bryan (481%), Jennings (344%), Bryant (271%), and Mckinley (256%).
I think most of us will recognize William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan as two of the influences here. But where did “Hobart” and “Hobert” come from?
Before I get to the answer, here’s some data on the usage of Hobart and Hobert for baby boys in America during the 1890s:
# Hobarts, SSA
# Hoberts, SSA
42 (rank: 281st)
42 (rank: 282nd)
105 (rank: 148th)
60 (rank: 216th)
135 (rank: 128th)
47 (rank: 263rd)
16 (rank: 515th)
8 (rank: 829th)
7 (rank: 907th)
5 (not in top 1,000)
And here’s some (more reliable) data from the Social Security Death Index showing the same overall trend:
# Hobarts, SSDI
# Hoberts, SSDI
So where did Hobart (and Hobert) come from?
Garret Hobart, the corporate lawyer who became the Republican nominee for vice president in June of 1896. He and running mate McKinley were strong advocates of the Gold Standard, whereas Bryan was as supporter of Free Silver.
McKinley and Hobart won the election and were sworn into their respective offices in March of 1897. Unlike most vice presidents up to that point, Hobart “enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the president and was often consulted on major policy issues.”
But his term was cut short. He became ill in early 1899, his health declined as the year wore on, and he died of heart disease in November at age 55.
During his last summer, though, he and his wife Jennie had some fun with names while staying at their seaside New Jersey home, which featured an outdoor fountain:
This fountain we stocked with gold fish that grew so tame they followed us as we walked round it. One fish, with a huge gold spot on his back, we named McKinley; one with a big silver mark we named Bryan. The most gorgeous one of all whose coat, shot with crimson, white and gold looked like a uniform, we named General Miles.
What are your thoughts on Hobart as a first name? Is it usable these days?
Horseflies are fierce. Like mosquitoes, they require a blood meal before they can reproduce. But even for a horsefly, this one was special. Bryan Lessard first spotted her in the Australian National Insect Collection. As soon as he laid his eyes on her round, golden abdomen, draped in two translucent, honey-colored wings, he knew: “I figured, if I’m ever going to name a species after Beyoncé, this is it.”
Until then, it had been known to locals as the “golden bum fly” but had not been described scientifically. No longer. In 2011, the artist-formerly-known-as-golden-bum-fly officially got her new taxonomic name: Scaptia beyonceae. With this moniker, Lessard hoped, she “would become an ambassador for bootylicious biodiversity.”
Her crusade to include men’s names when meteorologists differentiated hurricanes placed her at the eye of an international storm.
Following a long naval tradition of giving storms women’s names, just as ships are referred to by female pronouns, government forecasters adopted the practice in 1953 and applied it alphabetically.
Soon, weathermen — and they were mostly men — were applying sexist clichés to the storms, like suggesting that they were unpredictable or “temperamental” and were “flirting” with barrier islands or coastlines.
But a generation after Ms. Bolton began her campaign, the weathermen finally capitulated.
My sister’s name is September, and today is her 32nd birthday. Yes, that’s right. My parents named my sister September even though she was born in January, and she has consequently suffered years of obvious questions. Of course, these are the same people who named their only son Ranger.
Gal’s first name is pretty much pronounced how it’s written (think “gal pal”). You’ve also probably found yourself pronouncing her last name as “Guh-dough” or “Gah-dot” thinking you’ve got it all down, but sorry to disappoint you: both of those are wrong. … During her interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Gal explained that the correct way to pronounce her last name is “Gah-dote.” Say it with me: “Gah-dote.” Gadot means river bank, while Gal means wave in Israeli.
From Nina Sankovitch’s memoir Tolstoy and the Purple Chair (2011):
For my father, the consequences of war brought him far from home, and eventually across an ocean, to start over in a new world. My parents tell me I was named after the members of the corps de ballet of the Bolshoi, most of whom were named Nina. They went to see a performance of the Bolshoi just days before I was born. But I also know that my name is another ripple effect of the war, coming from my father’s sister Antonina, who was murdered that night in 1943.
(Three of her father’s siblings — Sergei, Antonina, and Boris — were all killed one night during WWII.)
Adelman and his colleagues came up with a new naming convention that incorporates the mom’s first name. Instead of Babygirl Hobson, my daughter would instead be tagged as Katherinesgirl Hobson. Twins would be called 1Katherinesgirl and 2Katherinesgirl, rather than the conventional BabygirlA and BabygirlB. (Another system using temporary names like CutiePie and BuggyBear was rejected, says Adelman.)
Mark begins her classes by telling the story behind her name. “For just a few moments after I was born, [my parents] thought that Marsha Mark was a really nice name. But a couple of hours passed and then they said, ‘No wait, it’s a terrible name!’ and they went to try and change it, but the folks at the hospital said, ‘No, sorry, you signed the papers, so that’s the name,'” Mark recounted. “To my mind, the name Marsha either belongs to a sister in The Brady Bunch or to someone who wears, maybe, pink ruffles. And neither of those applies to me. So, I’ve been called M my whole life, and I’m happy with it.”
Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles lately? Let me know!
Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? And which ones decreased the most?
The U.S. SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I prefer to answer it by looking at raw number differences, and to take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kylo, +2,368 spots — up from 3,269th to 901st
2. Creed, +370 spots — up from 1,352nd to 982nd
3. Benicio, +356 spots — up from 1,331st to 975th
4. Adonis, +307 spots — up from 701st to 394th
5. Fox, +288 spots — up from 1034th to 746th
6. Kye, +281 spots — up from 984th to 703rd
7. Hakeem, +256 spots — up from 1,161st to 905th
8. Shepherd, +242 spots — up from 1,105th to 863rd
9. Wilder, +238 spots — up from 961st to 723rd
10. Zayn, +222 spots — up from 643rd to 421st
Kylo was influenced by the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Creed and Adonis were influenced by the movie Creed (2015).
Hakeem was influenced by the TV show Empire (2015-). So was Bryshere, which debuted last year.
Wilder could have been influenced by either Gene Wilder or by boxer Deontay Wilder, or both. (Or neither.)
Zayn was influenced by British singer/songwriter Zain “Zayn” Malik.
1. Mateo, +1,516 baby boys — up from 5,010 to 6,526
2. Oliver, +1,340 baby boys — up from 11,635 to 12,975
3. Bryson, +1,239 baby boys — up from 3,094 to 4,333
4. Lincoln, +1,094 baby boys — up from 5,982 to 7,076
5. Benjamin, +899 baby boys — up from 13,670 to 14,569
6. Grayson, +735 baby boys — up from 7,887 to 8,622
7. Theodore, +723 baby boys — up from 4,136 to 4,859
8. Greyson, +704 baby boys — up from 3,591 to 4,295
9. Leo, +678 baby boys — up from 4,582 to 5,260
10. Maverick, +675 baby boys — up from 2,265 to 2,940
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Owen, Sebastian, Ezekiel, Lucas, Ezra, Leonardo, Santiago, Conor, Gael, Everett, Rhett, Jameson, Killian, Tobias, Arlo, Easton, Finn, Rowan, Elias, Asher, Calvin, Thiago, Bodhi, Legend, Lukas, River, Elliot, Harrison, Roman, Adriel, Paxton, Julian, Ace, Josiah, Waylon, Messiah, Nash, Ellis, Matias, George, Barrett, Connor, Wade, Kyrie, Milo, Amir, Bennett, Elliott, Silas, Matteo, and Axel.
Rowan is rising quickly for both boys and girls right now.
Kyrie, which was once given primarily to girls, is now being given primarily for boys thanks to basketball player Kyrie Irving.
Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Jonael, -475 spots — down from 921st to 1,396th
2. Aaden, -239 spots — down from 784th to 1,023rd
3. Triston, -230 spots — down from 957th to 1,187th
4. Freddy, -222 spots — down from 993rd to 1,215th
5. Yaakov, -213 spots — down from 992nd to 1,205th
6. Braeden, -203 spots — down from 792nd to 995th
7. Chace, -202 spots — down from 935th to 1,137th
8. Brantlee, -176 spots — down from 777th to 953rd
9. Gannon, -173 spots — down from 533rd to 706th
10. Robin, -171 spots — down from 969th to 1,140th
The name Jonael got a lot of exposure in 2015 thanks to 11-year-old Puerto Rican singer Jonael Santiago, who won the 3rd season of La Voz Kids, which aired from March to June. It didn’t get as much exposure in 2016, which accounts for the drop in usage.
1. Logan, -1,697 baby boys (12,897 to 11,200)
2. Jacob, -1,498 baby boys (15,914 to 14,416)
3. Jayden, -1,455 baby boys (11,518 to 10,063)
4. Mason, -1,399 baby boys (16,591 to 15,192)
5. Ethan, -1,291 baby boys — down from 15,049 to 13,758
6. Aiden, -1,271 baby boys (13,429 to 12,158)
7. Alexander, -1,186 baby boys (14,507 to 13,321)
8. Jackson, -1,032 baby boys (12,242 to 11,210)
9. Brandon, -1,024 baby boys (5,100 to 4,076)
10. Blake, -951 baby boys (4,220 to 3,269)
Unlike Rowan, Blake is falling on the boys’ list, but rising on the girls’ list. In fact, the graph (right) makes a gender switch look inevitable. This is not something I would have anticipated a decade ago, before the emergence of Blake Lively.
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Jase, Hunter, Brody, Brantley, Gabriel, Jonathan, Jordan, Tyler, Kevin, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Christian, Noah, Angel, Brayden, Iker, Chase, Nicholas, Austin, Dominic, Camden, John, Ayden, Michael, Colin, Bryan, Riley, Kyle, Hayden, Bradley, Nathaniel, Jake, Samuel, Luke, Cayden, Evan, Zachary, Steven, Kaden, Cooper, Marcus, Ryan, Tristan, Bryce, Ryder, Micah, Brady, Bentley, Kaleb, Levi, Alex, Conner, Jeremy, Isaac, Ian, Gage, Brian, Kayden, Jaden, Carlos, Sean, Jeremiah, Abel, Devin, Adrian, Giovanni, Garrett, and Adam.
Jase has seen a dramatic rise and fall over the last few years: big gains in 2012 and 2013, followed by big losses in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
Similarly, Iker was on the rise for a while, with partcularly big leaps in 2011 and 2012, but usage is now on the wane.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please leave a comment.
(In 2015, the big winners were Oliver and Riaan, and the big losers were Jase and Arnav.)