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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Cindy

Number of Babies Named Cindy

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cindy

Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.


Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2015

Which girl names increased and decreased the most in popularity from 2014 to 2015?

Here are two ways to look at it. The SSA’s way looks at ranking differences and covers the top 1,000 girl names (roughly). My way looks at raw number differences and takes all girl names on the SSA’s list into account.

Biggest Increases

Raw Numbers (all girl names) Rankings (top 1,000 girl names)
  1. Alexa, +1,786 babies (4,243 to 6,029)
  2. Hazel, +1,373 babies (2,897 to 4,270)
  3. Mia, +1,336 babies (13,484 to 14,820)
  4. Charlotte, +1,238 babies (10,094 to 11,332)
  5. Scarlett, +1,106 babies (5,994 to 7,100)
  6. Amelia, +1,025 babies (8,770 to 9,795)
  7. Riley, +925 babies (4,782 to 5,707)
  8. Aurora, +882 babies (2,731 to 3,613)
  9. Adeline, +862 babies (1,529 to 2,391)
  10. Penelope, +843 babies (5,078 to 5,921)
  1. Alaia, +2,012 spots (2,676th to 664th)
  2. Meilani, +1,836 spots (2,786th to 950th)
  3. Aitana, +1,721 spots (2,638th to 917th)
  4. Aislinn, +1,385 spots (2,345th to 960th)
  5. Taya, +1,107 spots (2,089th to 982nd)
  6. Adaline, +1,029 spots (1,393rd to 364th)
  7. Briar, +597 spots (1,441st to 844th)
  8. Zelda, +512 spots (1,159th to 647th)
  9. Adley, +495 spots (1,322nd to 827th)
  10. Lennox, +416 spots (1,156th to 740th)

Hazel, Taya and Adeline were influenced by films: Hazel by The Fault in Our Stars (2014), Taya by American Sniper (2014), and Adaline by The Age of Adaline (2015).

Meilani and Aitana were boosted by celebrity babies. Meilani is the daughter of Jenni “JWoww” Farley, originally of “Jersey Shore” fame, and Aitana is the daughter of Mexican actors Alessandra Rosaldo and Eugenio Derbez. (Both babies were born in 2014.)

Adley was popularized by county singer Adley Stump.

Biggest Decreases

Raw Numbers (all girl names) Rankings (top 1,000 girl names)
  1. Isabella, -1,523 babies (17,027 to 15,504)
  2. Sophia, -1,236 babies (18,563 to 17,327)
  3. Annabelle, -1,093 babies (4,343 to 3,250)
  4. Emily, -895 babies (12,622 to 11,727)
  5. Alexis, -813 babies (4,208 to 3,395)
  6. Arianna, -757 babies (5,255 to 4,498)
  7. Ella, -673 babies (8,525 to 7,852)
  8. Aubree, -649 babies (4,266 to 3,617)
  9. Chloe, -623 babies (8,507 to 7,884)
  10. Natalie, -623 babies (7,089 to 6,466)
  1. Isis, -1,065 spots (705th to 1,770th)
  2. Annabell, -500 spots (935th to 1,435th)
  3. Anabel, -500 spots (908th to 1,408th)
  4. Cindy, -343 spots (712th to 1,055th)
  5. Anabella, -333 spots (531st to 864th)
  6. Aranza, -324 spots (607th to 931st)
  7. Anabelle, -272 spots (464th to 736th)
  8. Sherlyn, -250 spots (891st to 1,141st)
  9. Kiley, -235 spots (661st to 896th)
  10. Danika, -225 spots (785th to 1,010th)

Isis was brought down by the association with the Jihadist militant group, and nearly every single variant of Annabelle was negatively affected by the horror film Annabelle, released in late 2014.

In 2014, the big winners were Olivia and Aranza, and the big losers were Sophia and Miley.

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2014 to 2015, Emma and Noah Once Again Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2015

U.S. Baby Names 2015: Most Popular Baby Names, Top Debuts: Girl Names, Top Debuts: Boy Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Girl Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Boy Names, First Letter Popularity, Name Length Popularity

Taiwanese Family with Unique Baby Name Tradition

A couple of months ago, Cindy Chang wrote about her family’s interesting baby name tradition in the LA Times. Her Taiwanese family (now in the U.S.) has been naming all baby boys using the words in a special couplet, “probably part of a larger poem lost during the Cultural Revolution,” for at least 6 generations now.

Here’s the couplet (and the translation):

Hu guang xuan bei dou
Light from the lake reflects the north dipper (big dipper)

Shi dai le yong xi
Generations delight at the golden age

And here are the names in Cindy’s family that correspond to each word:

  1. Hu, “lake”
    Her great-great-grandfather was named Hu-zao, “fertile lake.”
  2. Guang, “light”
    Her great-grandfather was named Guang-xin, “shining prosperity.”
  3. Xuan, “reflects, announces”
    Her grandfather was named Xuan-yao, “announcing brilliance.”
  4. Bei, “north”
    Her father is named Bei-dwo, “northern bell,” and her uncle is named Bei-jiann, “northern key.”
  5. Dou, “dipper,” changed by her grandfather to Tian, “sky, heavens”
    Her brother is named Tian-shu, “heavenly axis,” and her male cousins are named Tian-chuan, “heavenly authority,” and Tian-dong, “heavenly pillar.”
  6. Shi, “world”
    Her nephews are named Christian Shi-jun, “world #1 talented, smart, handsome man,” and Julian Shi-xia, “world knight.”

But, like I said, this tradition only pertains to male names. So what’s Cindy’s Chinese name?

It’s Shin-tzer [pron. sheen-dzuh]. Shin means “heart,” and tzer means “swamp,” literally, though by extension it also means “glossy, radiant, enriching.” She says:

My name isn’t full of flowers, fragrance or delicacy like most Chinese girls’ names. My grandfather wanted me to have strength of character, not mere physical beauty.

Source: Chinese names blend traditions, drama (via Nancy Friedman – thanks!)

Biggest Popularity Jumps of All Time – Girl Names

biggest jumps - girl names

Yesterday we looked at the biggest boy name jumps of all time, so today let’s look at the biggest girl name jumps.

Here are all the girl names that increased in popularity by more than 10,000 babies in a single year:

  1. Linda, +46,978 baby girls from 1946 to 1947
  2. Shirley, +19,514 baby girls from 1934 to 1935
  3. Ashley, +18,435 baby girls from 1982 to 1983
  4. Deborah, +12,954 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  5. Mary, +12,842 baby girls from 1914 to 1915
  6. Jennifer, +12,455 baby girls from 1969 to 1970
  7. Amanda, +11,406 baby girls from 1978 to 1979
  8. Linda, +11,239 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  9. Brittany, +10,969 baby girls from 1988 to 1989
  10. Michelle, +10,937 baby girls from 1965 to 1966
  11. Debra, +10,866 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  12. Jennifer, +10,626 baby girls from 1970 to 1971
  13. Patricia, +10,452 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  14. Cindy, +10,268 baby girls from 1956 to 1957
  15. Debra, +10,015 baby girls from 1952 to 1953

Linda is clearly the winner here. Linda’s spike in 1947 is like the perfect storm of spikes — the name was already on the rise, and then the song “Linda” became a huge hit right at the beginning of the post–WWII baby boom.

(If the song had been released just one year earlier — which is theoretically possible, as it was written in 1942 — the Linda spike might have been even bigger, as the largest one-year increase in births in U.S. history happened between 1945 and 1946.)

The song “Linda” was created by songwriter Jack Lawrence at the request of his attorney, Lee Eastman, who wanted a song written for his 5-year-old daughter.

Being a good friend, I obliged and wrote a song for five-year-old Linda. When I made the rounds of publishers I met with frustration. Most of them like everything about the song but the name Linda. “Why Linda?” they would ask. “That’s not a popular name”. One guy said: “Call it Ida — after my mother-in-law and I’ll publish it”. I had to remind him there already was an “Ida — Sweet as Apple Cider!” Another maven suggested the name Mandy. He felt that had a more musical ring than Linda.

But Jack stuck with Linda, and the song made musical (and baby name) history.

And 5-year-old Linda Eastman also made musical history, in a sense, by marrying Beatle Paul McCartney in the late 1960s.

Trivia question of the day: Only one girl name ever decreased in popularity by more than 10,000 baby girls over a one-year period. Can you guess the name?

Source: Jack Lawrence, Songwriter : Linda

Japanese Names Getting Harder to Read

Yesterday I read an informative article about Japanese name trends called What to call baby? by Tomoko Otake. The part I found most interesting was…

[A] further headache awaiting many babies as they grow up is that an increasing number of parents are exploiting a loophole in the law that fails to dictate how kanji in names are to be read and pronounced using kana.

Since most kanji can convey numerous meanings, and so be read in numerous ways, parents trying to make their offspring stand out are opting for unconventional ways in kana to read the kanji used for their name. Consequently, they are often anointing them with a name that, when read in kanji, others can only guess at.

In other words, a single name (written down) can morph into multiple names (when said aloud). One popular boy name, for example, can be read as Hiroto, Haruto, Yamato, Daito, Taiga, Sora, Taito, Daito or Masato. Last year’s most popular girl name can be read as Hina, Haruna, Hinata, Yua, Yuua, Yuina or Yume.

Because Japan does not have a custom of putting kana alongside people’s kanji names in many official records, including the family register, this has caused untold confusion and has led to mistakes being made in identifying people by government officials, teachers and so on.

Yet some parents have taken the quest for uniqueness even further by assigning names whose kana pronunciation cannot even be guessed by anyone not told what it is.

This rarely happens with English names, but I do know of one case: a nurse friend of mine told me about a newborn baby girl named Cindy whose mother insisted the name was pronounced “Sidney.” Or perhaps it was Sidney pronounced “Cindy” — I can’t remember. Regardless, the written and spoken forms didn’t match up. I wonder how that worked out…

One more tidbit from the article:

Another consideration for the Toriis, as for many other parents in Japan, was to use kanji that would not involve too many strokes, because if they chose ones that were too heavy-looking, or congested, it would be time-consuming to write in school exams, which would leave less time for the child to tackle the questions.

I bet some English-speaking parents have bestowed short names for the same reason — potential academic edge, however slight.

What Would You Name the Hurricanes?

hurricaneThe six-month Atlantic hurricane season begins today. Here are this year’s hurricane names: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.

Gawker’s Brian Moylan “decided to take a stab at replacing this year’s list of stormy monikers with some that feel a bit more current.” Here’s what he came up with: Aiden, Belle, Cassidy, Diabolique, Egg McMuffin, Franco, Gaga, Hailey, IMDb, Jose (we’re keeping that for multicultural purposes), Kal-El, LV Louis Vuitton, Moroccan, Neruda, Oprah, Palin, Real Housewife, Snooki, Twitpic, Victory and Wintour.

If you could choose this year’s hurricane names, which names would be on the list?

(If you want to follow the NHC’s pattern properly, remember to alternate between female and male names. Otherwise, choose whatever names you like.)

Sources: National Hurricane Center, HuffPo

Spelling Tip for Creative Baby Names – Hard C vs. Soft C

Google tells me that there are women out there named Cimberly. Cimberly is meant to be a variant of Kimberly, but when I see it, I can’t force myself to say anything but Simberly.

That’s because the pronunciation of the letter C depends upon the letter that follows. When C is followed by E, I or Y, it’s typically soft (cell, city, cyst). Otherwise, it’s hard (cat, cot, cut).

Same with names. Carson, Cordelia and Curtis have hard C’s; Cecilia, Cindy and Cyrus have soft C’s. (The only exceptions I can come up with are Irish names like Cillian and Ciara.)

If you want to personalize a name that features the letter C, be careful. You don’t want to turn Caleb in Celeb, or Cassie into Cissie. (Caleb might like the change, but I don’t think Cassie would appreciate it.)

And if you substitute a C for a K or an S without considering what letter comes next, you run the risk of turning Kent into Cent, or Sage into Cage. Or Kimberly into Cimberly.