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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Cheryl

Number of Babies Named Cheryl

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cheryl

Name Quotes #51: Fox, Bear, Sarah, Michael

quote, name, blake lively, stage name, real name

From a 2006 interview with Blake Lively:

Q: I’ve got to say, “Blake Lively” sounds almost too cool to not be a stage name…

A: People are always like, “Blake Lively! Okay, what’s your real name?” It’s kind of embarrassing to tell people, because it sounds like a really cheesy stage name.

Q: Is there a story behind the first part?

A: Actually, my grandma’s brother’s name was Blake, and my sister wrote it down when she was reading a family tree. And they said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Blake, and if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Blakely.” And everybody thought I was going to be a boy, and then I came out and I was a girl. And they had already been calling me Blake for months because they were positive I was going to be a boy. And they had been calling me Blake for so long, they just [kept it].

[The surname “Lively” came from Blake’s mother’s first husband. Blake’s mother kept it after the divorce, and Blake’s father — her mother’s second husband — liked it enough to take as his own when they married.]

[I mentioned Blake Lively in this year’s Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity post. Speaking of the latest batch of baby names…]

From “From Alessia to Zayn, Popular Baby Names on the Rise!” on the Social Security Matters blog:

Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category include Benicio and Fox for boys. […] As for Fox, did anyone ever figure out what the fox said?

[I love that the SSA made a reference to “What Does the Fox Say?” in a baby name post.]

From Baby Kylo: ‘Star Wars’ Names Raced Up the Charts in 2016 at Live Science:

“What dad wants to name his son after a son who kills his dad?” said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg, who analyzed the latest data on Babynamewizard.com. “It doesn’t seem like the most auspicious choice.”

From an E! News article about Liam Payne:

The One Direction singer-turned-solo artist explained the origin of son Bear Payne’s name during a Total Access radio interview, which he said was decided upon by mom Cheryl Cole.

“It was an internal battle,” Liam reflected. “I wanted a more traditional name and she wanted a name that was more unusual. “The reason she chose Bear was because Bear is a name that when you leave a room, you won’t forget.”

“And I like that,” the U.K. native decided eventually.

From The psychological effects of growing up with an extremely common name by Sarah Todd at Quartz:

If the purpose of a name is to signify an object, a very common first name seems like a pretty ineffective signifier. When people on the street say my name, I often don’t bother to turn around, knowing that there are probably other Sarah’s in close proximity. And so I think of “Sarah” less as a name that’s specific to me and more as a general descriptor—another word for “woman” or “girl,” or something else that applies both to me and to a lot of other people, too.

[Found via Appellation Mountain.]

From Why Coke Is Adding Last Names to ‘Share a Coke’ in Ad Age:

As for first names, Michael is No. 1, according to Coke.

[Found via Name Nerds.]

From Why Your Name May Be Ruining Your Life

Two University of Colorado economists found compelling evidence that the first letter of your last name does matter quite a bit—especially when you’re young.

Professor Jeffrey Zax and graduate student Alexander Cauley analyzed data on the lives of more than 3,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools 2 in 1957. They found that those with surnames further back in the alphabet did worse in high school, in college, and in the job market early in their careers. […] While correlation isn’t necessarily causation, the researchers firmly believe there’s a connection.

[Found via Nameberry.]

[I’m slightly surprised we haven’t seen Zax in the data yet. Zaxton is a regular these days, though.]

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


The Baby Name Cherrelle

cherrelle - fragileThe baby name Cherrelle became trendy in the ’80s thanks to R&B vocalist Cherrelle, born Cheryl Anne Norton.

She had a string of successful songs during the mid-to-late ’80s following the release of her debut album in 1984. This explains why the name re-appeared on the SSA’s list in 1984 (after popping up once in ’70s) and usage spiked in 1986 and 1989:

  • 1990: 70 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1989: 138 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1988: 91 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1987: 81 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1986: 188 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1985: 45 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1984: 37 baby girls named Cherrelle
  • 1983: unlisted

Nothing too earth-shattering about this one, really, but Cherrill and Cheryl have their own posts, so I thought Cherrelle ought to get a post as well.

Source: Cherrelle – Wikipedia

The Baby Name Charmaine

Dolores del Rio, Charmaine, What Price Glory (1926)
Dolores del Rio as Charmaine
in What Price Glory? (1926)
Charmaine reminds me of Cheryl — both are relatively recent inventions with hazy origins, both saw increased usage thanks to popular culture, and both sound a bit dated these days.

Charmaine never became as popular as Cheryl did, but, interestingly, the two main pop culture boosts that it got — in 1928 and in 1952 — were caused by the very same thing.

What Price Glory? (1926) was a silent, black-and-white movie set in France during World War I. It followed two U.S. Marine sergeants as they fought for the affections of Charmaine, an innkeeper’s daughter.

The movie’s theme song, “Charmaine,” was used as a leitmotif throughout the film. It went on to become a huge hit in the late 1920s. The best-selling recording, by Guy Lombardo and his orchestra, spent seven weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1927.

In response to the popular song, hundreds of American baby girls were named Charmaine:

  • 1930: 124 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 622nd]
  • 1929: 114 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 653rd]
  • 1928: 264 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 419th]
  • 1927: 74 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 856th]
  • 1926: 8 baby girls named Charmaine

A generation later, the film was remade — this time with sound and color.

The song “Charmaine” was used again for this 1952 version of the film, and again it became a hit. Multiple versions landed on the U.S. Billboard charts, including an instrumental version by the Mantovani Orchestra that peaked at #10 in 1951 and a version by the Billy May Orchestra that reached #17 in 1952.

This time around, usage of the baby name Charmaine more than tripled:

  • 1954: 351 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 475th]
  • 1953: 428 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 417th]
  • 1952: 620 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 331st]
  • 1951: 192 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 621st]

Usage has been decreasing ever since, though. In 2014, just 18 baby girls were named Charmaine.

So where does the name Charmaine come from?

Sources suggest that it’s based on either the English word “charm” or the name Charmian. Charmian is a variant of Charmion, based on the ancient Greek word kharma, meaning “delight.” (One of Cleopatra’s servants was named Charmion.) The second syllable may have been influenced by the name Lorraine, which was fashionable in the early 1900s.

Which name do you like more, Charmaine or Cheryl?

Sources:

  • Charmaine (song) – Wikipedia
  • Melnick, Ross. American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

The Rise of the Baby Name Cheryl

Cheryl Walker, Stage Door Canteen (1943)
© LIFE

It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the name Cheryl (Cherie + Beryl? Cherry + Beryl?) but it’s clear that the name saw a drastic rise in popularity during the first half of 20th century. Cheryl went from a rarity in the early 1900s to one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. by the mid-1950s.

I doubt Cheryl could have achieved this kind of popularity without a series of pop culture boosts — two caused by the same person, interestingly.

The first (and smallest) boost happened in 1938:

  • 1940: 285 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 408th] – 42 in CA
  • 1939: 289 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 390th] – 49 in CA
  • 1938: 397 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 312th] – 76 in CA
  • 1937: 145 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 563rd] – 16 in CA
  • 1936: 94 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 688th] – 10 in CA

Many of these babies were born in California specifically.

The cause?

A 19-year-old from Pasadena named Cheryl Walker. In late 1937, she was selected as the 1938 Queen of the Tournament of Roses. Local newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times) talked about Cheryl quite a bit during the last month of 1937 and the first few months of 1938.

She signed a film contract with Paramount around that time, but didn’t have much success in the entertainment industry until five years later.

That’s when she played the romantic lead in the wartime hit Stage Door Canteen, released in the middle of 1943. Dozens of major celebrities — including Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, George Jessel, Gertrude Lawrence, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Mary Pickford, and Johnny Weissmuller — had cameos in the film, which was one of the highest-grossing of the year.

(Notably, several months before Stage Door Canteen came out, LIFE magazine published a series of photos of the actress along with a short article subtitled “Cheryl Walker rises from stand-in for Veronica Lake to stardom.”)

In both 1943 and 1944, the number of babies named Cheryl increased significantly:

  • 1945: 8,150 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 32nd]
  • 1944: 7,970 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 36th]
  • 1943: 2,878 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 102nd]
  • 1942: 590 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 280th]
  • 1941: 439 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 311th]

The name of Cheryl’s character, Eileen, also saw increased usage, as did many variants of Cheryl (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
Cheryl 590 2,878 7,970 8,150 11,525
Sheryl 324 588 949 1,055 1,632
Sherrill 202 207 263 206 250
Cheryle 27 80 176 184 238
Sherryl 49 71 104 140 203
Cheryll 11 41 69 98 120
Sheryle 12 19 26 31 52
Cherryl 9 19 59 58 104
Sharelle** 28* 10
Charyl 24* 27 17 21
Scheryl 11* 11 7 5
Cherril 6 6 7
Sherral 6 6 8
Sherelle 6*
Sheril 5 11 6 9
Chyrl 5* 8 7 10
Cheril 6* 7
Cherl 6* 5 8
Sherryll 5 6 5
Cherill 5*
Cheyrl 5* 5 9
Chyrel 7* 10
Cheryal 6* 5
Cherryle 5*
Sherell 5*
Sherrille 5*
Chryl 9*
Sherryle 7*
Cherel 5*
Cherle 5*
Cherryll 5*
Chyral 5*
Shyrel 5*

**Sharelle was the top debut name of the year in 1943.

Usage of the name Cheryl plateaued in the late ’40s and early ’50s, then began to rise again in 1954:

  • 1956: 21,280 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 18th]
  • 1955: 19,100 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 19th]
  • 1954: 15,000 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 22nd]
  • 1953: 12,271 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 28th]
  • 1952: 12,197 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 31st]

Why?

It wasn’t Cheryl Walker — she’d retired from acting by this time.

Instead it was a short-lived TV show called Waterfront (1954-1956). The central character, John Herrick, was the captain of a San Pedro Harbor tugboat called the “Cheryl Ann.”

The show also gave a boost to the compound names Cherylann, Cherylanne and Sherylann.

[EDIT, 6/10 – Diana reminded me about Mouseketeer Cheryl, who was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1956 to 1958. No doubt she contributed to the name’s popularity as well in the mid-to-late ’50s!]

Cheryl became one of the top 20 baby names in the country in 1955, and it remained in the top 20 until 1961, peaking at 13th in 1958.

After that, usage began to decline. Cheryl fell out of the top 50 in 1972, then out of the top 100 in 1980. (This despite a late-1970s uptick inspired by actress Cheryl Ladd, singer Cheryl Lynn, and/or model Cheryl Tiegs.)

[EDIT, 7/7 – Cheryl M. reminded me to include Cheryl Ladd.]

And in 1998, exactly 40 years after nearly reaching the top 10, Cheryl fell out of the top 1,000 entirely.

What are your thoughts on the name Cheryl?

Do you like it more or less than Cherrill?

Sources:

P.S. Other WWII-era names: Dorie, Jesse Roper, Sea Bee, MacArthur, Swoosie, Roger, Adolf Hitler.

The Rom-Com Baby Name Cherrill

Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights (1931)
Charlie Chaplin & Virginia Cherrill, City Lights (1931)

I had to follow yesterday’s post about Nydia with a post about Cherrill. Why? Because both names were inspired by fictional blind girls selling flowers. How random is that?

While Nydia came from a 19th-century book, Cherrill comes from a 20th-century film. But not just any film — one of the best romantic comedies of all time, according to those in the know.

The baby name Cherrill popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time in 1931. (This was more than a decade before the similar-sounding name Cheryl started becoming popular.)

  • 1935: 10 baby girls named Cherrill
  • 1934: 6 baby girls named Cherrill
  • 1933: 8 baby girls named Cherrill
  • 1932: 6 baby girls named Cherrill
  • 1931: 9 baby girls named Cherrill [debut]
  • 1930: unlisted

The reason? Charlie Chaplin’s silent film City Lights, which was released in early 1931 and featured Hollywood newcomer Virginia Cherrill as a blind flower-seller (the romantic interest of Chaplin’s famous “Little Tramp” character).

Chaplin had auditioned many young actresses before he noticed twenty-year-old Virginia Cherrill when they both sat ringside at a boxing match at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. Although a beautiful blonde, it was the manner in which she coped with her near-sightedness that earned her the role.

Despite the fact that talkies had largely replaced silent films by 1931, City Lights did extremely well at the box office.

And the film has stood the test of time. In 1991, the Library of Congress inducted City Lights into the National Film Registry. In 2008, the American Film Institute ranked City Lights the #1 romantic comedy of all time.

Virginia Cherrill, who was born in Illinois in 1908, never aspired to be a film star. (She was only visiting California when she was spotted by Chaplin.) She appeared in several more films after City Lights, but stopped acting after marrying actor Cary Grant in 1934. (They divorced the next year. Grant went on to marry Barbara Hutton and become a father figure to Barbara’s son Lance.)

What do you think of the baby name Cherrill?

Sources: