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

Sindee: Boosted by C-Section Baby?

Sindee Roberta Neilson, 1957, news
Baby Sindee Neilson, early 1957
In yesterday’s post on Cindylou, we talked about how the name Cindy was at peak trendiness in 1957.

But even that trendiness can’t quite explain the magnitude of the 1957 debut of Sindee, which tied with Maverick in terms of usage:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 9 baby girls named Sindee
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Sindee
  • 1957: 32 baby girls named Sindee [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

On-trend Sindee might have debuted that year anyway, but it wouldn’t have hit as high without the national news coverage of Sindee Roberta Neilson, born in January to Suzanne and Robert Neilson of Hartsdale, New York. Her birth was notable because it was Mrs. Neilson’s eighth caesarean section delivery — not technically a record at the time, but still a “very rare” occurrence.

Mrs. Neilson had a ninth C-section in 1959. Six of her nine babies lived past birth, but the only other names I could track down were Sherry and Suzanne (who is holding the camera in that photo).

What are your thoughts on the name Sindee? Do you like that spelling?


  • Baby Makes History; Child Is Woman’s 8th Delivered by Caesarean Section.” New York Times 11 Jan. 1957: 13.
  • “After Her Eighth Caesarian.” Daily Banner [Greencastle, Indiana] 21 Jan. 1957: 3.
  • “Ninth Caesarean.” Daily Review [Decatur, Illinois] 17 Apr. 1959: 5.

Did Cindy-Lou Who Inspire a Debut?

seuss, grinch
Cindy-Lou Who
The compound first name Cindylou (probably written “Cindy Lou” by most people) first appeared in the Social Security Administration’s baby name data in 1957:

  • 1959: 10 baby girls named Cindylou
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Cindylou
  • 1957: 7 baby girls named Cindylou [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted

In a sense, this debut isn’t too surprising. The name Cindy, already trendy, saw a massive jump in usage the same year:

  • 1959: 16,967 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 25th]
  • 1958: 16,582 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 25th]
  • 1957: 20,258 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 19th]
  • 1956: 9,989 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 37th]
  • 1955: 5,589 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 79th]

The spellings Cindie, Cindee, and Cindye also saw peak usage in 1957, as did the name Cynthia.

The cause was the catchy song “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” two versions of which reached the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1956 and early 1957. The one by Vince Martin and The Tarriers peaked at 12th, while the one by Eddie Fisher* peaked at 10th. Television audiences also heard the song: Perry Como sang it on his own show in November 1956, and Vince Martin sang it on The Steve Allen Show a month later.

Getting back to Cindylou, though…there are some possible outside influences for the debut of Cindylou specifically. The most intriguing is Cindy-Lou Who (“who was no more than two”) from the beloved Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was published simultaneously in Redbook magazine and as a standalone book in December of 1957.

Now, Cindy-Lou was a minor character, and the story appeared late in the year — these are strikes against the theory. But, looking at vital records, there do seem to be a few extra people with the first-middle combo “Cindy Lou” born in December of 1957 as opposed to earlier in the year.

It’s likely that Dr. Seuss (or one of his editors) was influenced by the trendiness of the name Cindy that year…but did Cindy-Lou Who in turn give a bump to the name Cindylou? What are your thoughts on this?

*Later in 1957, Eddie Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds, scored an even bigger hit with “Tammy.” Around the same time, their daughter, Carrie — who went on to play Princess Leia in Star Wars — had her first birthday.

P.S. The Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” (1957) was originally called “Cindy Lou,” incidentally.

The Baby Name Peggysue

Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly, 1958
In September of 1957, the classic rock and roll song “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly came out. (This was just a few months after the doo wop song “Deserie” was released.)

“Peggy Sue” was on the Billboard Top 100 for 22 weeks in late 1957 and early 1958, reaching as high as the #3 spot.

Right on cue, the compound baby name Peggysue debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1958:

  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1961: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1959: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
  • 1958: 7 baby girls named Peggysue [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

The name Peggy by itself also saw a significant increase in usage that year:

  • 1961: 6,434 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 69th]
  • 1959: 7,408 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 57th]
  • 1958: 10,072 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 42nd]
  • 1957: 7,379 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 62nd]
  • 1956: 7,487 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 63rd]

No doubt many of these Peggys had the middle name Sue.

So how did Buddy Holly chose the name “Peggy Sue” for the song? He didn’t — he wrote a song called “Cindy Lou,” taking the names from his newborn baby niece, Cindy Carol, and Cindy’s mom (Buddy’s sister) Patricia Lou.

But the original song wasn’t working out, so the band experimented with it in the summer of ’57. One of the changes they made was to the name. The rhythmically identical “Peggy Sue” was suggested by drummer Jerry Allison, who was dating a girl named Peggy Sue at the time.

At the end of 1958, Buddy Holly started working on “Peggy Sue Got Married,” one of rock and roll’s first sequel songs. Sadly he didn’t finish the song before February 3, 1959 — the day that he, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.


If you were having a baby girl, and you had to name her either Peggy Sue or Cindy Lou, which combination would you choose?

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Sources: ‘Peggy Sue’: NPR, Who Was Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue”?, Patricia Lou Holley-Kaiter (Obit) – Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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

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