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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Colby

Number of Babies Named Colby

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Colby

The Baby Name Trilby

the baby name trilbyThe gothic melodrama Trilby by British author George du Maurier was first published serially in Harper’s Monthly from January to August, 1894. It was released as a book in September.

The story is set in Paris in the early 1850s. The titular character, Trilby O’Ferrall, is a naïve, tone-deaf artist’s model who goes on to become a world-famous singer, thanks to the hypnotic powers of the sinister Svengali. When Svengali suddenly dies, Trilby loses her ability to sing and and ends up wasting away.

Trilby wasn’t just a bestseller — the entire country was gripped by Trilby-mania for several years straight. (Not unlike the Twilight-mania that emerged more than 100 years later.)

Many things, from fashion to food, were influenced/inspired by Trilby during this time. Here’s a partial list:

  • Language:
    • Trilbies became slang for “(women’s) feet,” as Trilby had particularly beautiful feet
    • Svengali became slang for “a person who exercises a controlling or mesmeric influence on another, especially for a sinister purpose”
  • Music:
  • Products:
    • Trilby hat
    • Trilby dolls
    • Trilby ice cream (it was molded into the shape of a foot)
    • Trilby board game
    • Trilby high-heeled shoes
    • Trilby jewelry
    • Trilby belts
    • Trilby bathing suits
    • Trilby cigars/cigarettes
    • Trilby hearth brush
    • Trilby tea
    • Trilby cocktail
    • Trilby pie
    • Trilby sausage
    • Trilby ham
  • Non-human namesakes:
    • Trilby, Florida
    • USS Trilby
  • Adaptations:
    • Trilby, stage play
    • Trilby (1915), movie
    • Trilby (1923), movie
    • Svengali (1931), movie
  • Influence on other literary works:
    • Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
    • Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1909) by Gaston Leroux

Trilby and its glamorization of the bohemian lifestyle even “excited a vogue for nude modeling among the many young women who wished to follow the Trilby life.” (And this, of course, “alarmed the clergy and other guardians of morality.”)

So where does the name Trilby come from?

For a long time I’d assumed that George du Maurier had based it on the musical term trill, which refers to rapid alternation between two adjacent musical notes. Turns out this isn’t the case.

He borrowed the name from an earlier work of literature, the story “Trilby, ou le Lutin d’Argail” (“Trilby, or the Fairy of Argyle”) (1822) by French writer Charles Nodier. In Nodier’s story, which is set in Scotland, Trilby is a male sprite who seduces a mortal woman.

In 1895 a New York Times writer guessed that the name of Nodier’s Trilby might be “an endearing diminutive of “trall,” a member of the brownie clan,” but I can’t find any outside confirmation that the word “trall” even exists. (Perhaps it’s a Scottish variant of the word “troll”…?)

How many people in the U.S. have been named Trilby?

According to the SSA data, Trilby was the 978th most popular girl name in the U.S. in 1895, the year after the book was published. This was the only time Trilby managed to rank within the U.S. top 1,000.

  • 1897: unlisted
  • 1896: 6 baby girls named Trilby
  • 1895: 12 baby girls named Trilby [debut] (rank: 978th)
  • 1894: unlisted

But the SSA data from that period is incomplete, so here are the SSDI numbers for the same years:

  • 1897: 10 people named Trilby
  • 1896: 22 people named Trilby
  • 1895: 34 people named Trilby
  • 1894: 5 people named Trilby

These days, Trilby rarely appears on the SSA’s list:

  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted
  • 2012: unlisted
  • 2011: unlisted
  • 2010: 6 baby girls named Trilby
  • 2009: unlisted
  • 2008: 7 baby girls named Trilby
  • 2007: unlisted
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: unlisted
  • 2002: unlisted
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: unlisted

Trilby may be an unfashionable name right now, but for the parents-to-be who want something a bit retro-sounding, this could be a good thing.

The name is also an intriguing option for lovers of trivia and/or quirky history, as it’s tied to a fascinating pop culture craze from over a century ago. (We might be saying the same thing about Renesmee 100 years from now!)

Plus, Trilby is one of a small number of names with that distinctive “-by” ending, such as Ruby, Shelby, Darby, Colby, Kirby and Rigby.

One possible drawback to the name is the not-so-subtle anti-Semitism in the book itself. Svengali is not merely the “greasily, mattedly unkempt” antagonist of the story, but he’s also Jewish — with “bold, black, beady Jew’s eyes” no less. Then again…similar things could be said about other historical pieces of literature that have inspired baby names.

If you’re considering the naming your baby girl Trilby, I highly encourage you to head over to Project Gutenberg and read (or at least skim) the text of Trilby.

What are your thoughts on the name Trilby?


The “Most Regional” Baby Names in the U.S.

FlowingData recently used SSA data to determine the most regional baby names in the U.S. and create some very cool maps.

The analysis reveals the 10 “most regional” girl names and boy names for each decade-year since 1950, and also for 2012. Here are the lists for 2010 and 2012:

Girl Names, 2010 Boy Names, 2010 Girl Names, 2012 Boy Names, 2012
1. Daisy
2. Alexandra
3. Annabelle
4. Julia
5. Presley
6. Paige
7. Mya
8. Cadence
9. Charlotte
10. Lexi
1. Santiago
2. Theodore
3. Josiah
4. Ryker
5. Connor
6. Colby
7. Justin
8. Ryan
9. Jaxon
10. Jake
1. Ayla
2. Delilah
3. Sydney
4. Aubree
5. Stephanie
6. Juliana
7. Aria
8. Tessa
9. Natalie
10. Abigail
1. Santiago (again)
2. Nicolas
3. Josiah (again)
4. Aidan
5. Lane
6. Elias
7. Braylon
8. Gabriel
9. Dalton
10. Jose

Ryker, 4th on the 2010 boys’ list, is one I’ve been wondering about ever since I noticed it was the 12th most popular boy name in Utah last year.

Baby Name Ryker, Regional Popularity, 2010
© FlowingData
Here’s more detail on Ryker’s popularity in Utah:

  • 2012: 168 baby boys named Ryker in Utah (ranked 12th)
  • 2011: 154 baby boys named Ryker in Utah (ranked 19th)
  • 2010: 136 baby boys named Ryker in Utah (ranked 26th)
  • 2009: 151 baby boys named Ryker in Utah (ranked 24th)
  • 2008: 129 baby boys named Ryker in Utah (ranked 37th)

And here are the numbers for Idaho:

  • 2012: 51 baby boys named Ryker in Idaho (ranked 32nd)
  • 2011: 49 baby boys named Ryker in Idaho (ranked 41st)
  • 2010: 53 baby boys named Ryker in Idaho (ranked 33rd)
  • 2009: 53 baby boys named Ryker in Idaho (ranked 36th)
  • 2008: 34 baby boys named Ryker in Idaho (ranked 84th)

So far I don’t have a good theory about what made Ryker so popular in Utah/Idaho. Blogger Jessie Jensen tells me Ryker fits well with the region’s mix-n-match name trend, but I still wonder if some initiating event (sports? religion?) didn’t jump-start things for Ryker say in the 2003-2008 range. Anyone have a guess?

P.S. While we’re talking Utah mysteries, Claire is another name I’ve been wondering about. It ranked 10th there last year. (Also 12th in D.C. and 20th in MN.) Any ideas on Claire?

Baby Boy Name Needed – Original, But Not Weird

Becca of the blog The Life of a Young Expat wrote to me a few weeks ago. She’d like some help brainstorming for a boy name. She says:

We are a mixed family (North American/Ecuadorian). We live in Ecuador and have a 2.5yo daughter named Kesha Lee who has a traditional Ecuadorian combined last name (Garate Adams, the first part of our last name is pronounced Gah-ra-teh).

I am currently 25 weeks pregnant with a boy and we can’t come up with names that both my husband and I agree upon. We both have very typical names (I am Rebecca Lee, he is Christian Arturo but goes by Arturo), but we would like something original, yet not totally weird for our son. Something like Kesha. You can pronounce it in both English and Spanish. It’s not too long, and it’s not one of those names that teachers will have a pre-existing bias about her when she steps foot in the classroom! (Basically, she can create her own personality!)

The only name my husband and I can agree on is London, but I’m not convinced and don’t think that naming a boy London, considering the current feminine trend for this name, is a good choice.

We own an international immersion program company here in Ecuador ( and are avid travelers. So something related to that would ring true with our family. We don’t have family names that we like (I like my dad’s middle name for a middle name, Holmes, but my husband says it sounds like a real estate agency haha).

Lots to consider here! This will be fun.

I’d like to start with the topic of travel first. I think it would be extremely cool to work that into the baby’s name somehow. Here are a few ideas:

  • Damon, which originally comes from Greek myth and means “to tame, subdue.” It also happens to be nomad spelled backwards.
  • Miles, of uncertain derivation, but because it’s a homonym of the English word miles there are strong associations with distance/movement.
  • Nando, inspired by Fernando/Hernando. The entire name-family is connected to travel in two ways: famous explorers (Ferdinand Magellan, Hernando de Soto, Hernan Cortes) and etymology (the first element is said to come from the Germanic word farð, meaning “journey”).
  • Doran, from the Irish surname Doran, anglicized from Ó Deoradháin, “descendent of Deoradhán.” Deoradhán is a diminutive of deòradh, one of the meanings of which is “pilgrim.” Other meanings are “stranger” and “outlaw.”
  • Hudson, from the English surname meaning “son of Hudde.” It was the surname of English explorer Henry Hudson. It’s also fairly similar to London.
  • Palmer, from the English surname that originally signified a pilgrim, i.e., someone coming back from the Holy Land with a palm frond.

I did find some other travel-related names (e.g., Peregrine/Perry, Nestor) but they seemed too old-fashioned to pair with Kesha.

And here are some random ideas based on style alone:


I’m not entirely sure how well all of the above names would work in Ecuador, so I apologize in advance if I’ve included any not-so-great suggestions.

What baby boy names would you suggest to Becca?

Baby Name Needed – Masculine Name for Baby #3

A reader named Courteney is expecting her third baby and needs help with a name:

I love male names–really surnames for both male and female. I don’t like traditional but then again I don’t want it to SCREAM like we are trying to be different. Our other two girls are named Cadien and Killian. The middle name will be Wade no matter the sex.

This is a tricky one. Courteney’s daughters have very similar names…so should she stick to the pattern, or go with something entirely different?

I don’t know the answer, so I came up with two groups of suggestions. Names in the first group resemble Cadien and Killian:


Names in the second group are similar to Cadien and Killian in terms of style, but not (as much) in terms of sound:


Any of the above sound particularly good next to Cadien and Killian (and in front of Wade)? What other names can you think of?

*I heard from Courteney not long after I posted this…turns out Kennedy is already in use as Cadien’s middle name.