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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Chester

Number of Babies Named Chester

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Chester

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

Babies Named for Black WWII Hero Dorie Miller

Doris (Dorie) Miller, 1942
Doris “Dorie” Miller, 1942
Here’s a special name (and some little-known black history!) in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dorie has been on the SSA’s baby name list since the 1910s as a girl name, but it suddenly popped up as a boy name in 1942:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 5 baby boys named Dorie
  • 1943: 9 baby boys named Dorie
  • 1942: 12 baby boys named Dorie [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

Why?

This was the year Doris Miller — later known as “Dorie Miller” — was recognized as the first African-American hero of World War II.

Doris Miller was born in 1919 in Texas to parents Connery and Henrietta Miller. “The third of four sons, Doris Miller was named by the midwife who assisted with his birth; she was positive before the birth that the baby would be a girl.”

He enlisted in the Navy in 1939. Over the next couple of years, he worked his way up to ship’s cook, third class.

“You have to understand that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president in 1932, he opened up the Navy again to blacks, but in one area only; they were called mess attendants, stewards, and cooks,” says Clark Simmons, who was a mess attendant on the U.S.S. Utah during the Pearl Harbor attack. “The Navy was so structured that if you were black, this was what they had you do in the Navy–you only could be a servant.”

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Doris Miller was in the middle of collecting laundry aboard the USS West Virginia when the first torpedo hit his ship at around 8 am.

He immediately headed to his combat station, but it had been destroyed by the blast.

He then rushed to the main deck, to help transport the mortally wounded captain to a more sheltered section of the bridge.

Finally, he “raced to an unattended deck [machine] gun and fired at the attacking planes until forced to abandon ship.”

It was Miller’s first experience firing such a weapon because black sailors serving in the segregated steward’s branch of the navy were not given the gunnery training received by white sailors.

Dorie Miller, Navy recruiting poster
Navy recruiting poster featuring Dorie Miller

During the first months of 1942, U.S. newspapers and radio stations shared the story of Doris and his bravery. It was during this period that the press started referring to him as “Dorie” (a nickname that apparently began as a typo).

Miller’s acts were heavily publicized in the black press, making him the iconic emblem of the war for blacks—their “Number One Hero”—thereby energizing black support for the war effort against a colored Japanese enemy.

On May 27, 1942, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz conferred the Navy Cross upon Miller, who was the very first African-American to receive the award.

Sadly, Miller never got a chance to meet any of his namesakes across the country (such as fellow veterans Dorie Miller Fells and Dorie Miller Harris). He was aboard the USS Liscome Bay in late 1943 when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.

But many things beyond babies — roads, buildings, parks, and even a navy ship (the USS Miller) — have been named in his honor ever since.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the baby name Doris did not see a corresponding uptick in usage as a boy name in the early ’40s, as the media and the Navy almost always referred to Miller as “Dorie” during this period.

Sources:

Name Quotes for the Weekend #16

paloma picasso quote: "proud that name means peace"

From “A Fashionable Life: Paloma Picasso” in Harper’s Bazaar:

She produces two major [jewelry] collections a year [for Tiffany’s New York]. This year, to celebrate her 30th anniversary, she has already launched three new collections: Marrakesh (including the openwork bracelets), Hammered Circles, and Paloma’s Dove, which features, most appropriately, a dove pendant.

Having been named by her father in honor of the dove he drew that became the symbol of the World Peace Conference in 1949, Paloma went through a process for designing the latter that wasn’t easy. She did about 200 drawings. “I didn’t want it to look like a Pablo Picasso dove,” she explains. “One looked like a Braque, and I thought, ‘No! Can’t have that!'” She did finally settle on a perfect version. “One looked like an angel. I’ve always been proud that my name stands for peace, and I thought, The angel of peace; that’s my combination,” she says. “A dove that will protect you.”

From an ESPN article about NFL kicker Ryan Succop:

One of the very last entries under Ryan Succop’s biography in the Kansas City Chiefs’ media guide, under the section marked “Personal,” is the pronunciation of his last name.

“Full name: Ryan Barrow Succop (pronounced SUCK-UP)”

It’s a name that could lend itself to snickers, punchy headlines or flat-out ridicule, assuming he ever missed a kick. But the truth is that Succop is banging the football through the uprights with record-setting dependability.

From a review of the French film What’s in a Name? by Inkoo Kang of The Village Voice:

The premise of parents attacking each other for their taste in baby names sounds yawningly self-indulgent, even downright stupid. Yet the French chamber dramedy What’s in a Name is frequently delightful, full of ribald humor and compelling, intelligent debate. (One joke about fetal alcohol syndrome is a standout, while another comparing coming out as gay to confessing to dog murder somehow avoids offensiveness.)

Last sentence of Inkoo Kang’s twitter bio: “What you really need/want to know: it’s pronounced in-goo.”

From an NPR article about McSweeney’s:

[The new anthology] begins with McSweeney’s’ mock letters section, easily its goofiest offering. Typical to the section is a letter from one Tom O’Donnell:

Dear McSweeney’s,

I have a common name. According to some estimates, nearly 40 percent of men are named “Tom O’Donnell.” … In the time it took me to write this sentence, chances are you named at least one of your children “Tom O’Donnell.”

This would all be fine if it were still Bible times, but today it’s a problem. Why? Because it’s basically impossible to Google myself.

Tom O’Donnell hopes, in his increasingly demented letter, that McSweeney’s will hold a contest, or a poll, or perhaps a tournament to find him a new name.

I’ve narrowed down my list of potential replacements to the following … :

Vladislav Fukuyama-Gomez: I love names that combine several different ethnicities, because they’re used in movies to tell you it’s the future.

Dennis Pulley: I can think of no better way to honor my great-grandfather’s memory than by taking the name of the man he killed.

QUIZNOS Presents Todd DeMoss: Sure, it’s a mouthful — but so is the delicious Chipotle Prime Rib sandwich, only available at QUIZNOS.

From an essay on Dennis, the “most menacing baby name,” in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Normally, I’m not big on the idea that a baby’s name has any bearing whatsoever on his/her personality later in life — though I have noticed that anybody named Jack or Willie seems to have been born cool.

But the evidence suggests that Dennis is dangerous.

Dennis is charismatic, but he’s a rebel. He’s never a meek conformist who goes along to get along. He is often a big jerk, but not always. He can be a weirdo, a cynic, a lacerating wit, an obsessive nut job. But chances are, he’ll be what we say in polite company, “a strong personality.” Dennis can’t be characterized as any one thing, and that’s exactly the point. He’s doesn’t just march to a different drummer. He is the different drummer.

From a blog post by Celeste of The Reluctant Mom’s Blog:

I have always disliked my name – Celeste – I still really dislike it.

The main reason that it is probably a less than ideal name for me is that I have a lisp. Do you know how hard it is to say Celeste when you have a lisp?

It comes out “Tha-leth-t” and pretty much as spit on the listeners top lip. My spit on their lip.

This would usually require people to say “sorry, what was your name again?”

I would get more nervous and my lisp would be more pronounced. To make matters all the more tragic, I could not pronounce “r” or “s” until I was in Sub B/Grade 2.

Eventually I would be too defeated to repeat my name, just started going “yes, close enough…” and then let them call me Nancy or what ever.

[…]

On one occasion the person misheard me and called me “Chester” – so far that has been my favourite incorrect name.

I didn’t correct them – I wanted to be their ‘Chester.”

From “Racism And Meritocracy” by Eric Ries at Techcrunch:

I previously described on my blog one simple change I made to the hiring process at my last company. I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates — even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. If you’re screening resumes, or evaluating applicants to a startup school, I challenge you to adopt this procedure immediately, and report on the results.

From a Telegraph article about skier Bode Miller:

The legal saga of America’s most successful downhill male skier, two glamorous blondes and a bicoastal custody battle over a baby boy with two names has taken a fresh turn in a New York courtroom.

Bode Miller, the Olympic gold medallist, arrived for the hearing holding his nine-month-old son. But there he was required to hand the boy back — for now at least — to his ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna, a former Marine.

[…]

It was little wonder that the infant seemed confused as he was passed between parents who cannot even agree on his name: Ms McKenna calls him Samuel and Mr Miller prefers Nathaniel.

From a Metro interview with Benedict Cumberbatch:

What’s the story behind your fantastic name? There’s a sort of debate about that. Cumberbatch could be Welsh for a small valley dweller. The ‘cum’ in Cumberbatch is hill. I need to look into it. Benedict means blessed. My parents liked the sound of the name and felt slightly blessed because they’d been trying for a child for a very long time. I’m not Catholic, so it’s not that. They liked the idea of Benedict and Ben, the fact that it can be contracted. I think Toby was their second choice.

From a post about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad at Having a Word:

Nyad sounds like naiad – naiads in Greek mythology were water nymphs or spirits. That’s cute, I thought. Then I noticed that naiad is an anagram of her first name – Diana. *Cue dramatic chords* So, could this just be coincidence or is something else in play?

There is a notion – called nominative determinism – that a person’s name can somehow influence the type of work or activities they do, and maybe even their character.

The idea is an ancient one but the term nominative determinism was coined in the 1990s in the Feedback column of the popular science magazine New Scientist (one of the examples cited was an article on incontinence that had been published in the British Journal of Urology by J W Splatt & D Weedon.)

Related to nominative determinism: The Name Letter Effect.

For previous quote posts, check out the name quotes category.

Chester Arthur Namesake Disinherited

This story involves politics, the law, and a whole lot of Hamburgers.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Hamburger lived in New York during the mid-to-late 1800s. They had five children: Frank, Minnie, Emilie, Josephine and Otto.

Now, Charles was a life-long Democrat. So was his son Frank. But the woman Frank married was a Republican and, in 1880, she was able to convince Frank to name their newborn son Arthur Chester Hamburger after vice presidential candidate Chester Arthur.

This name did not please Grandpa Hamburger, who “was worth about $300,000.” So, in 1882, he wrote a will that left thousands to everyone…except for little Arthur Chester. “[T]he old gentleman, still outraged at the name given to Frank’s child by its mother, left it $50 for the purpose of showing that it was not left out of the will by accident.”

By 1887, Grandpa Hamburger had passed away, Frank had passed away, and Frank’s widow was in court trying to squeeze money out of the Hamburger estate for her disinherited child. As far as I can tell, she was unsuccessful.

Source: “Disinherited for his name.” New York Times 24 June 1887: 3.

P.S. How do you like the name “Minnie Hamburger”?

Baby Names that Won’t Make a Comeback?

About.com guide Robin Elise Weiss recently published a list of 10 Baby Names That Won’t Make a Comeback. These were her picks:

  • Girl names – Mildred, Eula, Deloris, Gladys, Norma
  • Boy names – Herman, Chester, Elbert, Norman, Ralph

Hm. I can’t quite agree with Robin here. The only thing holding most of these back is style, and style is always in flux.

Even Ralph, which became a slang term for “vomit” several decades ago, isn’t necessarily doomed. Slang meanings stick for a while, but not forever. (Just look at Roger.)

Do you think there are any names out there that will never make a comeback? Which ones, and why?