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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dana

Number of Babies Named Dana

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Dana

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA


What Popularized the Baby Name Deneen?

mystery name deneen

Deneen is the million-dollar baby name mystery. It saw a massive spike in usage in 1964, and I had no idea why for years. Only recently have I stumbled upon a plausible explanation.

But first let’s check out the numbers. Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Deneen (or a variant) from 1963 to 1966, sorted by 1964 levels of usage:

Name 1963 1964 1965 1966
Deneen 22 1,604 421 223
Denine 17 133 101 71
Daneen 29 132 85 70
Dineen 10 68 43 35
Denene 7 66 38 31
Denean 7 58 61 40
Danine 7 29 23 31
Danene 12 24 18 11
Deneane 24* 11 9
Deneene 24* 13 14
Danean 14* 14 6
Deeneen 12**
Doneen 7 11 9
Dennine 10* 7 7
Deneena 7**
Deniene 7*
Dennen 7**
Donene 7
Deaneen 5**
Deneem 5**
Dinene 7**
TOTALS 118 2,247 842 557

*Debut, **One-hit wonder

According to the state-by-state data, Deneen usage tended to be highest in the most populous states. This isn’t much of a clue, but it does tell us that the influence was national (e.g., movie, music) and not regional (e.g., college sports, local politician).

For a long time my only guess on Deneen was the same guess Hilary Parker made in her poisoned baby names post: musical duo August & Deneen. But their hit single “We Go Together” came out in 1968 — long after the 1964 baby name spike. So August & Deneen clearly isn’t the answer.

About a month ago I tried another Deneen search. This time around I found a recent thread on Deneen at the Baby Name Wizard forum. According to intel gathered by forum members, Deneen could have been popularized by a ’60s commercial for Ivory dishwashing liquid.

At first I wasn’t so sure. The only vintage Ivory commercials I could find online were for Ivory Snow laundry detergent and, while many of these did feature names (e.g., Allison, Betsy, Bonnie, Debbie, Esther, Joy, Kerry, Kimberly, Michelle, Terry) the names were never on-screen. You don’t get a spelling-specific name spike if the influence is audio-only.

Then I noticed, lower down in the thread, that someone included a link to a single Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial from 1962. The spot featured a mother-daughter pair, “Mrs. Bernard Pugar and Dana,” and their names were indeed shown on-screen for several seconds. Now this looked promising.

I’ve since tracked down a similar Ivory commercial featuring “Mrs. Blake Clark” and her daughter Nicky, though Nicky’s name was never shown on-screen. No luck finding a Deneen version yet.

So I’ll just sit tight and hope that, one day, someone uploads the commercial in question and puts this whole Deneen baby name mystery to rest. :)

In the meanwhile, some questions:

  • If you were watching TV in the ’60s, do you happen recall an Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial featuring the name Deneen? (Long shot, I know.)
  • What do you think of the name Deneen? Which spelling do you like best?

P.S. Djuna popped up on the baby name charts in 1964 as well. I’m declaring 1964 the year of the mysteriously trendy D-names.

35 Most Unisex Baby Names in the U.S.

Last month, FlowingData crunched some numbers to come up with the 35 most unisex baby names in the U.S. since 1930. Here’s their list:

  1. Jessie
  2. Marion
  3. Jackie
  4. Alva
  5. Ollie
  6. Jody
  7. Cleo
  8. Kerry
  9. Frankie
  10. Guadalupe
  11. Carey
  12. Tommie
  13. Angel
  14. Hollis
  15. Sammie
  16. Jamie
  17. Kris
  18. Robbie
  19. Tracy
  20. Merrill
  21. Noel
  22. Rene
  23. Johnnie
  24. Ariel
  25. Jan
  26. Devon
  27. Cruz
  28. Michel
  29. Gale
  30. Robin
  31. Dorian
  32. Casey
  33. Dana
  34. Kim**
  35. Shannon

I’m not sure exactly what criteria were used to create the rankings, but it looks like the top unisex names on this list were the top-1,000 names that “stuck around that 50-50 split” the longest from 1930 to 2012.

(In contrast, my unisex baby names page lists any name on the full list to fall within the 25-75 to 75-25 range, but only in the most recent year on record.)

The FlowingData post also mentions that, though the data is pretty noisy, there might be “a mild upward trend” over the years in the number of babies with a unisex name.

**In 1957, Johnny Carson’s 5-year-old son Kim had his name changed to Richard because he’d been having “a little trouble over his name being mistaken for a girl’s.”

Source: The most unisex names in US history

[Update: Changed Michael to Michel, 11/7]

Baby Names that Became Less Popular in 2011

The SSA has re-ordered the top 500 (or so) most popular baby names by rank change. According to these lists, the boy and girl names that decreased the most in terms of rank from 2010 to 2011 were these:

Girl names:

  1. Brisa, -343 (464th to 807th)
  2. Dana, -147 (463rd to 610th)
  3. Desiree, -121 (473rd to 594th)
  4. Denise, -114 (489th to 603rd)
  5. Kimora, -109 (498th to 607th)
  6. Brenda, -104 (426th to 530th)
  7. Erika, -103 (429th to 532nd)
  8. Miley, -99 (217th to 316th)
  9. Danna, -98 (267th to 365th)
  10. Janiya, -91 (448th to 539th)

Boy names:

  1. Brett, -119 (389th to 508th)
  2. Jamarion, -112 (475th to 587th)
  3. Shaun, -105 (483rd to 588th)
  4. Jaydon, -100 (492nd to 592nd)
  5. Nickolas, -86 (465th to 551st)
  6. Brenden, -81 (382nd to 463rd)
  7. Davion, -76 (474th to 550th)
  8. Braiden, -76 (468th to 544th)
  9. Salvador, -75 (457th to 532nd)
  10. Braeden, -67 (409th to 476th)

To know which names fell the most overall, check out my follow-up posts Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2011 and Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity, 2011.

Why Aren’t Turkish Babies Named Natasha?

American writer Meg Nesterov is chronicling her experience of being pregnant in Turkey over at travel blog Gadling. Her latest post has to do with choosing a baby name:

“Whatever you do, if it’s a girl, don’t call her Natasha,” was the first bit of advice a Turkish friend gave me about having a baby in Istanbul. While a common and inoffensive name in the US and Russia, in Turkey and many other European countries, Natasha doesn’t have the best connotation. It tends to be slang for, well, a certain kind of professional woman from Eastern Europe, or just a gold-digger; not things with which you want your baby to be associated.

She also mentioned several English names that don’t sound quite right in Turkey, such as Erik (which means “plum” in Turkish) and Dana (which means “veal” or “calf”).

So go check out Meg’s “knocked up abroad” series. (And leave her a comment with your favorite Russian girl names while you’re there.)

Qatari Baby Named Fifa Ahead of 2022 World Cup

This recent (& very short) news article seemed to me like a mash-up of older news:

A Qatari couple have shown their approval at their country being awarded the 2022 World Cup, by naming their baby ‘Fifa’.

Nayef Al Shimmari and his wife were planning to call their daughter Dana, until the decision last week.

“We saw that Qataris were truly overjoyed with the historic award and we wanted to contribute to the celebrations in our own way”, the mother told Arab newspaper Al Raya.

We saw babies named Fifa in South Africa (and elsewhere) during the 2010 World Cup, and babies named in anticipation of an upcoming sporting event in China in when babies were named Aoyun (short for Olympic Games) long before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Source: Couple from Qatar name newborn daughter ‘Fifa’

Baby Names No Longer Needed – Brendan, Colson

We helped nine people brainstorm for names in March. So far, I’ve heard back from six of those nine. Diane picked Brendan, Tamela opted for Maxwell, Liz went with Francesca, Whitney decided on Stanley, Baccara stuck with Charlotte and Bethany chose Colson.

I have yet to hear from Dana, Nita and Kate.