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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Chris


Posts that Mention the Name Chris

Name quotes #106: Amitabh, Chapel, Kit

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Ready for another batch of name quotes? Here we go!

From a 2012 interview with Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington, who didn’t learn that his real name was Christopher until he was 11:

It was very strange, I went to school, and I remember that you had to do these tests to find out what set you’re in — how clever you are. I put down “Kit Harington,” and they looked at me like I was completely stupid, and they said, “No, you’re Christopher Harington, I’m afraid.” It was only then I learnt my actual name. That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have, but in the end I always stuck with Kit, because I felt that’s who I was. I’m not really a “Chris.”

From the article “What your name says about your age” (2016) in The Hindu:

Movie stars seem to have an impact on naming conventions too. The median [age of women named] Raveena, Karishma, Twinkle and Kajol are between 20 and 23 today, which, given the two movie stars’ debuts in the early 90s, makes sense. The median Aishwarya is 21, which is roughly how many years ago Ms. Rai Bachchan won the Miss World title.

Among men, there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of Shahrukh and Sachin, both peaks coinciding with their debuts on film screens and the cricket field respectively. Amitabh is declining in popularity after hitting a peak among those who were born in the mid 70s.

From the RTÉ article “What Irish children’s names reveal about us” (2022) by Dr. Dylan Connor :

In a recent study, we turned name analytics toward one of Ireland’s big historical questions: why were the Irish so reluctant to follow couples elsewhere in reducing the size of their families?

[…]

We found something surprising. Many of our prior expectations were confirmed: professionals had fewer children than laborers, families were smaller in cities, and Catholics had more children than Protestants. The single strongest indicator that a couple had a large family, however, was whether or not they picked traditional and common names for their children. When parents chose names like Patrick, Mary and John, they typically had more children. Parents with fewer children relied more on uncommon names like Eric, Sam, Hazel and Irene. Irrespective of religion, naming was linked to family size and the pattern even held for the Irish in America.

Irish couples were particularly likely to buck trends as they were exposed to cities. Urban couples were not only the first to sharply curtail childbearing, but were also more likely to experiment with new and unusual names. This was a sharp departure from large rural Irish families, where successive generations were named after parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Actor Josh Brolin’s explanation of his daughter’s name, Chapel Grace (b. 2020):

Everywhere we have traveled the one place Kathryn and I always found a great solace in were chapels. Not being particularly religious, but a God feeling heavily inundating our lives, chapels have always been the sanctuaries where we felt most connectedly free to give thanks. Chapel Grace is, to us, a manifestation of that celestial feeling that was always felt as we meandered and knelt.

Finally, two unrelated quotes from a 2008 Mental Floss article about undesirable names. Here’s the first:

In June 2001, a total solar eclipse was about to cross southern Africa. To prepare, the Zimbabwean and Zambian media began a massive astronomy education campaign focused on warning people not to stare at the Sun. Apparently, the campaign worked. The locals took a real liking to the vocabulary, and today, the birth registries are filled with names like Eclipse Glasses Banda, Totality Zhou, and Annular Mchombo.

And here’s the second:

When Napoleon seized the Netherlands in 1810, he demanded that all Dutchmen take last names, just as the French had done decades prior. Problem was, the Dutch had lived full and happy lives with single names, so they took absurd surnames in a show of spirited defiance. These included Naaktgeboren (born naked), Spring int Veld (jump in the field), and Piest (pisses). Sadly for their descendants, Napoleon’s last-name trend stuck, and all of these remain perfectly normal Dutch names today.

Baby name story: ChamberMaster

Baby ChamberMaster Mead
ChamberMaster Mead

On March 10, 2006, a baby boy was born to Chris Mead (the vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives) and his wife Laura.

The baby was named ChamberMaster Mead “after a software company that won the naming rights in a charitable auction mounted by his father.” (Chris hoped the auction would raise money for the ACCE’s scholarship fund.)

The highest-bidding company, ChamberMaster, “bought naming rights for two weeks, paying $375.”

After the two weeks were up, the baby’s name would be changed to John Douglass Mead.

Source: Zaslow, Jeffrey. “Meet John ‘Your Ad Here’ Smith.” Wall Street Journal 16 Mar. 2006.

[Here are more for-profit baby names.]

Where did the baby name Rissa come from in 1947?

The character Rissa Fortune from the movie "Time Out of Mind" (1947).
Rissa from “Time Out of Mind

Rissa has always been a logical nickname for Clarissa and other -rissa names. But it first appeared as an independent name in the U.S. baby name data in 1947:

  • 1949: 5 baby girls named Rissa
  • 1948: unlisted
  • 1947: 5 baby girls named Rissa [debut]
  • 1946: unlisted
  • 1945: unlisted

This was the year the movie Time Out of Mind came out. One of the central characters was Clarissa “Rissa” Fortune, played by actress Ella Raines.

The protagonist was her brother, Chris, an aspiring composer/pianist who had to battle various things — his stern father, his spoiled wife, his own alcoholism — while trying to find his footing as an artist.

Do you like Rissa as a stand-alone name, or do you prefer it as a nickname for a -rissa name (like Clarissa, Nerissa, Marissa, or Larissa)?

P.S. I also mentioned Rissa in the Risë post.

Where did the baby name Ellesse come from?

Ellesse sunglasses advertisement featuring tennis player Chris Evert, 1985.
Ellesse ad featuring Chris Evert (1985)

The name Ellesse started popping up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1980s:

  • 1988: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 6 born in California
  • 1987: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 8 born in California
  • 1986: 10 baby girls named Ellesse [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The Italian sportswear brand Ellesse (pronounced el-ES), the name of which was derived from the initials of the founder, Leonardo Servadio (“L. S.”).

The brand grew popular during the 1970s and 1980s thanks to close associations with the sports of skiing and tennis. Tennis stars Guillermo Vilas, Chris Evert, and Boris Becker were all sponsored by Ellesse. In fact, Becker was wearing Ellesse outfits when he won Wimbledon in both 1985 and 1986.

Advertisements and tennis sponsorships may have been enough to boost “Ellesse” into the baby name data in 1986, but two more things that might have helped as well include:

  • Ellesse’s sponsorship of the New York City Marathon from 1984 to 1986, and/or
  • Ellesse’s partnership with Philadelphia 76ers player Maurice “Mo” Cheeks — at that time, a recent NBA champion and recent All-Star — to create Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes in 1985.
Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes
Ellesse Cheeks

All that said…I can’t account for the particularly high usage of Ellesse in California. Any ideas? (Is there a telenovela I’m missing here?)

What do you think of “Ellesse” as a baby name?

Sources:

P.S. Brittania and Generra are two other sportswear brands that became baby names…

Name quotes #103: Doug, Armand, Galusha

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Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s kick things off with some name quotes…

From a 2009 article about Microsoft executive J Allard in Boston University’s alumni magazine Bostonia:

Allard still loves video games (his all-time favorite is “Robotron”). And even his name (legally changed from James) is an homage to computers. In the late 1980s, he explains, “it was my log-in on all of the computer systems at school, and it stuck.”

From a BBC article about Doug Bowser becoming president of Nintendo of America in 2019:

In what is surely one of the most charming cases of nominative determinism ever, it has been announced the new head of Nintendo of America will be a man named Doug Bowser.

Bowser, as Nintendo fans will know all too well, has long been Super Mario’s main nemesis — a foe who, for more than three decades now, routinely kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend, Princess Peach.

Mr. Bowser will take over in April from retiring Reggie Fils-Aime, a highly popular figure among Nintendo fans.

“With a name like Bowser, who better to hold the keys to the Nintendo castle?” Mr. Fils-Aime said about his successor in a video message posted on Twitter on Thursday.

From an AP news story about the origin of Armand Hammer’s name:

Industrialist Armand Hammer often said he was named after Armand Duval, the hero in Alexandre Dumas’ play “Camille.”

But he conceded later that his father, a socialist, also had in mind the arm-and-hammer symbol of the Socialist Labor Party.

For years, people erroneously thought Hammer was connected to the company that makes Arm & Hammer baking soda.

From an essay about Island Cemetery (on Block Island, in Rhode Island) by Martha Ball:

The cemetery, our own City on a Hill, has always been a place of enchantment, holding stones lacking uniformity even within the same lot, bearing names alien to our time; Philamon Galusha, Icivilli, Darius. It is enhanced by an awareness of the sheer physical accomplishment it embodies, a steep slope terraced long before we had today’s array of earth moving equipment.

[Neither Darius Rucker nor I would agree that the name Darius is “alien to our time.” Looking over the other names at Island Cemetery, I saw all the expected Biblical entries (Peleg, Obed, Barzilla; Zilpah, Huldah, Hepzebah), plenty of fanciful feminines (Lucretia, Cordelia, Sophronia), and a few references to current events: a Martin VanBuren born in 1839, a Cassius Clay born in 1854, an Elsworth (middle name) born in 1861, an Ambrose Everett born in 1862, and a Ulysses born in 1868.]

From an article about early Soviet film director Dziga Vertov at Russia Beyond:

Vertov’s real name was David Kaufman, which unambiguously points to his Jewish origin. But the desire of the talented youth from Bialystok (at the time part of the Russian Empire, today Poland) to change his surname upon arrival in Moscow was unlikely to have been due to anti-Semitism — in the 1920s it was not as developed as in the 1950s. Vertov, like many avant-garde artists, probably just chose a new name to herald “a new life.”

In Ukrainian dziga means whirligig, spinning top, while vertov comes from the verb vertet (to spin). The two form something like “the spinning whirligig,” a name that was entirely fitting for the man who bore it.

From a recent interview with Chrishell Stause of the reality TV show Selling Sunset at Vulture.com:

I was not born in a Shell station. I hate to disappoint people that think I was. My mom was getting car work done, and an attendant at the station was helping her and keeping her calm. Obviously she couldn’t drive to the hospital then, so the ambulance came. I made it to the hospital, but she wanted to name me after him. He worked at the Shell station, so she just thought “Chris, shell” — let’s stick them together. And you know, Chrishell was born, quite literally.

From a short article called “Americana: Zany Zach” published in Time magazine in 1979:

Move over, Zeke Zzzypt of Chicago and Vladimir Zzzyd of Miami. Few have proved more zealous in trying to be the last personal name in a local telephone book than Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra, who has brought up the rear of San Francisco’s directory for eight of the past 15 years. Several years ago, when he was just plain Zachary Zzzra, Zzzzzzzzzra discovered to his sorrow that he had been zapped from last place by Zelda Zzzwramp, and so he added another z to his name. Last year, as Zzzzra, he was infuriated when he lost put to Vladimir Zzzzzzabakov. This year, tie outztripped all rivals by becoming Zzzzzzzzzra and once again won the last word.

“Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra” was actually a painting contractor named Bill Holland. He used “his telephone name as an advertising gimmick, telling potential customers to look him up in the back of the book in stead of handing out business cards.”