How popular is the baby name Cordelia 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 Cordelia.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name Cordelia


Posts that Mention the Name Cordelia

The Debut of Dewilla

The unusual baby name Dewilla debuted in the baby name data in 1935:

  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 6 baby girls named Dewilla
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 8 baby girls named Dewilla [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted

What put it there initially?

A murder that began as a mystery.

On November 24, 1934, the bodies of three slain girls were discovered in the woods near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The case was dubbed the “babes in the woods” mystery by the press.

After about a week, the police were able to identify the bodies as belonging to sisters Dewilla Noakes (age 10) and Cordelia Noakes (age 8), and their older half-sister Norma Sedgwick (age 12).

They were originally from Roseville, California, and had recently traveled east with their father, Elmo, and his teenage niece, Winifred — both of whom were later found shot to death over 100 miles away in Altoona. Contemporary sources guessed that Elmo and Winifred were on the run because they were in an illicit relationship.

That doesn’t explain how or why the three girls ended up dead in Pennsylvania, though. The assumption is that Elmo suffocated them, but his motive isn’t known for sure. (Perhaps the family was out of money and Elmo didn’t want the girls to starve.)

This sensationalized, Depression-era crime happened around the same time that Charles Lindbergh‘s baby boy was kidnapped (1932) and the boy’s murderer was captured and put on trial (1934 to 1936).

Do you like the name Dewilla? (How about the names Cordelia and Norma?)

Sources:

Image: New York Daily News 2 Dec. 1934: 92.

Character Names in King Lear

king leir, king lear, daughters, names

When we think of King Lear, we think of the famous William Shakespeare play, which was written in the very early 1600s.

But the story of the legendary king of Britain predates Shakespeare by centuries. The first written account we know of comes from The History of the Kings of Britain (circa 1136 A.D.) by British cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth.

In Will’s version, the king is named Lear and the three daughters are named Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. But in Geoff’s version, the king is Leir and the daughters are Gonorilla, Regau and Cordeilla. And in the dozens of versions of the story published in between, the names are rendered all sorts of ways:

  • Lear: Leare, Leier, Leir, Leire, Leïr, Leyr, Leyre, Leyrius, Leyrus, Leÿr, Lhyr, Lier, Leirius, Llur, Llyr, Lur, Lyer, Lyr
  • Goneril: Agornille, Condril, Conorel, Corneill, Garonilla, Genoril, Genorilla, Geronilla, Gonerell, Gonerill, Gonerilla, Gonoreille, Gonorell, Gonorelle, Gonorild, Gonorilde, Gonoril, Gonorill, Gonorilla, Gonorille, Gonoryll, Gonorylla Gonorylle, Gordonilla, Gorgonilla, Gornoille, Gornoylle, Gornorilla, Gornorille, Gornylle, Goriorilla, Goronilla
  • Regan: Ragaie, Ragan, Ragana, Ragau, Ragaw, Regau, Regault, Regina, Regnault, Rigan, Rogan, Rugau, Rygan
  • Cordelia: Chordaila, Chordalia, Chordeila, Chordeylla, Cordaila, Cordeila, Cordeilla, Cordeil, Cordeile, Cordeill, Cordeilla, Cordeille, Cordela, Cordell, Cordella, Cordelle, Cordeyl, Cordeyll, Cordeylla, Cordeylle, Cordiel, Cordil, Cordila, Cordile, Cordilla, Cordille, Cordoil, Cordoilla, Cordoille, Cordoylla, Cordyla, Cordylle, Coredil, Gordaila, Gordalia, Gordeil, Gordeila, Gordeilla, Gordeille, Gordeylla, Gordille, Gordoille, Gordoylle, Gordylle

Interesting how Shakespeare’s “Goneril” and “Cordelia” are easy to differentiate, but certain earlier versions of the two names were quite similar. Modern academics associate them with the Latin words gonos, meaning “genitals,” and cordis, meaning “heart.”

Sources:

  • Charlton, H. B. Shakespearian Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948.
  • Perrett, Wilfrid. The Story of King Lear from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Shakespeare. Berlin: Mayer & Müller, 1904.

Image: King Lear and Daughters

Names in the Willey Family – Alzada, Octavia, Idawalley

I wrote about Idawalley Zoradia Lewis a few years ago, but didn’t talk about the source of her unusual name.

She was named for her mother, Idawalley Zoradia Willey (1815-1879), who was born and raised in Rhode Island along with eight unusually named siblings and half-siblings — nearly all girls.

While I don’t know the names of all nine Willey children, I have tracked down these six:

  • Alzada Roslyn (her daughter was also named “Alzada Roslyn”)
  • Erasmus Darwin (apparently named for Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin)
  • Cordelia Joanna
  • Octavia Lodiska
  • Idawalley Zoradia
  • Laura E. (probably Effigenia, as her daughter was named “Laura Effigenia”)

Given the names above, what do you think the other three daughters in the Willey family might have been called?

List of Female Names from 1888

female names, 1888

A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Source: A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names by George J. Howson