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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Darby

Number of Babies Named Darby

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Darby

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?


Darby – Boy Name or Girl Name?

darby boy name or girl name

Darby, originally a surname, first appeared on the SSA’s baby name list as a boy name. This was during the 1910s.

Two decades later, in the 1930s, it started popping up on the list as a girl name.

Usage was roughly equal between the genders for the next few decades. Not even the male Darby in the Disney movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) moved the needle much.

Since the late 1970s, though, usage has been consistently higher for baby girls than for baby boys.

And in the mid-1990s, usage spiked for girls thanks to the movie The Pelican Brief, which starred Julia Roberts as law student Darby Shaw.

Here’s what the usage of Darby has looked like for the last 5 years:

  • 2012: 117 girls and 39 boys named Darby
  • 2011: 135 girls and 37 boys named Darby
  • 2010: 151 girls and 46 boys named Darby
  • 2009: 136 girls and 23 boys named Darby
  • 2008: 160 girls and 37 boys named Darby

What are your thoughts on Darby? Do you think it works better as a girl name or as a boy name?

Baby Names from Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Here’s something I’ve never seen before.

Last month, Canadian singer Bryan Adams and his girlfriend welcomed their second baby girl, Lula RosyLea. Lula’s middle name is a reference to her time of birth, as per this tweet by Adams:

Lula Rosylea arrived @ teatime this wk. a cup of ‘rosie lee’ = ‘cup of tea’ in cockney. Lula comes from Gene Vincent’s song Be-Bop-A-Lula

This is the first baby I know of to be named via Cockney rhyming slang.

What’s Cockney rhyming slang? It involves word substitution based on rhyme. Typically, a word in a sentence is replaced with a rhyming phrase, and then the rhyming part of the phrase is dropped. This makes the resulting sentence hard for those not in-the-know to understand.

Here’s an example: “Use your loaf.” It’s really “use your head,” but the phrase loaf of bread was used instead of head, and then loaf of bread was shortened to just loaf. Hence, “use your loaf.” Get it?

Speaking of bread, if you’ve ever heard people use the slang word bread to mean money, that’s CRS too. Money rhymes with the old expression bread and honey, which shortens to bread.

So that’s how Bryan Adams turned tea into Rosie Lee, which is a common CRS rhyme for tea. (And now, if you’re ever in London and someone asks you if you want a cup of Rosie, you’ll know what they’re talking about!) “Rosie Lee” refers to American burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-1970).

I thought this was a rather cool way to come up with a baby name, so I’ve collected a few dozen other well-known CRS rhymes that involve names. On the left you’ll find the original word, in the middle is the name/phrase substitution, and on the right is the shortened version.

  • back – rhymes with Cilla Black – shortens to Cilla
  • ball – rhymes with Albert Hall – shortens to Albert
  • belly – rhymes with Darby Kelly – shortens to Darby
  • brake – rhymes with Veronica Lake – shortens to Veronica
  • cake – rhymes with Sexton Blake – shortens to Sexton
  • coat – rhymes with Billy goat – shortens to Billy
  • curry – rhymes with Ruby Murray – shortens to Ruby (if these parents had had a girl instead of a boy, Ruby would have been a great option)
  • door – rhymes with Rory O’Moore – shortens to Rory
  • fairy – rhymes with Julian Clairy – shortens to Julian
  • fish – rhymes with Lillian Gish – shortens to Lillian
  • gin – rhymes with Anne Boleyn – shortens to Ann
  • gin – rhymes with Vera Lynn – shortens to Vera
  • ice – rhymes with Vincent Price – shortens to Vincent
  • kettle – rhymes with Hansel and Gretel – shortens to Hansel
  • lisp – rhymes with Quentin Crisp – shortens to Quentin
  • mess – rhymes with Elliot Ness – shortens to Elliot
  • neck – rhymes with Gregory Peck – shortens to Gregory
  • old man (father) – rhymes with Peter Pan – shortens to Peter
  • rail – rhymes with Toby Ale – shortens to Toby
  • Stella (brand of beer) – rhymes with Yuri Geller – shortens to Yuri
  • Stella – rhymes with Nelson Mandela – shortens to Nelson
  • table – rhymes with Betty Grable – shortens to Betty
  • tea – rhymes with Bruce Lee – shortens to Bruce
  • tea – rhymes with Kiki Dee – shortens to Kiki
  • tea – rhymes with Rosie Lee – shortens to Rosie
  • telly – rhymes with Liza Minnelli – shortens to Liza (e.g., “What’s on the Liza?”)
  • trouble – rhymes with Barney Rubble – shortens to Barney
  • 2:2 (lower second-class honors) – rhymes with Desmond Tutu – shortens to Desmond
  • undies – rhymes with Eddie Grundies – shortens to Eddie
  • wedding – rhymes with Otis Redding – shortens to Otis

I think Darby (for “belly”) might be an especially tempting one baby namers, no? :)

Bryan’s first baby girl, Mirabella Bunny, was born last Easter.

Sources: @bryanadams, February 14, 2013, Cockney Rhyming Slang

Baby Name Needed – Libertarian Boy Name for First Baby

Last week, a reader named Julie sent me a fascinating e-mail:

My husband and I are trying to figure out what we want to name our first child. We have a girl’s name (Darby) but a boy would be a real problem.

The name he really really wants is Hayek (after 18th century economist – Friedrich Augustus Hayek – surely you’ve heard of him…no? really?).

He also likes “T”. Just the letter. Perfect because it works for a boy OR a girl.

His third option is Atlas from Atlas Shrugged.

I am not a fan of any of these. I am looking for a name that’s not super-traditional, but also isn’t on the Top 100 names list. I also think it’s unfair to give the child a name they constantly have to spell/pronounce/explain.

Our last name starts with an “M” and ends in a “ee” sound, so names that also end in the “ee” sound sing-songy.

Julie tried giving her husband the following list of names: Archer, Barrett, Campbell, Dexter, Dixon, Duncan, Everett, Felix, Fletcher, Flint, Ford, Gardner, Garrett, Gibson, Grady, Griffin, Holt, Langston, Leo, Lincoln, Marshall, Parker, Powell, Quentin, Tate, Weston, Zane. He didn’t care for any of them.

This is a tricky situation, but I think there’s a bright side. Julie and her husband seem to be looking at baby names from two different angles. Julie’s husband is focusing on significance, while Julie is more concerned about style. This is a good thing; I’m sure there are names out there that could satisfy both of them.

I think best way to tackle this would be to start with the more constrictive angle–significance. I’d say collect as many meaningful names as possible, then look for stylish names among them. That way, both parents get something they like.

I don’t know Julie’s husband, so I can’t say for certain what names he’d find meaningful. But I can make inferences based on his current top three. Here are some ideas:

1. Hayek

  • How about variants of Hayek’s first or middle name? Friedrich could be Frederick, Fred or Fritz. August could be Augustine, Gus or Austin.
  • Hayek chose the name Laurence Joseph Heinrich for his own son. Would any of those work?
  • I think many people will assume that Hayek was inspired by actress Salma Hayek. Is Julie’s husband okay with that association?
  • What other economists does Julie’s husband admire? Would any of their names work as a baby name?

2. T

  • I can’t say much about this one, but I wonder: Does it stand for anything? If there’s a story behind it, what other (more traditional) names could be teased out of that story?

3. Atlas

  • I think several characters in Atlas Shrugged would be good symbols of the book itself. (Even better than “Atlas,” which is more likely to make people think of myths or maps.)
    • John Galt. The name John probably won’t appeal to Julie, but what about Galt? (Galt isn’t far from Holt, which is on Julie’s list.)
    • Hank Rearden. Henry, like John, could be too popular/traditional for Julie’s tastes. But Rearden might work.
    • Dagny Taggart, the female protagonist. Taggart could be a cool name. Nickname could be Tag. (Or even T!)
    • Ellis Wyatt, Quentin Daniels and Hugh Akston are minor characters with good names. In fact, Quentin is already on Julie’s list. (Maybe Julie’s husband would like it more if he were reminded about the Rand reference?)
  • How about an author-inspired name? Randall, Randolph or even Rand itself.
  • What other writers and philosophers does Julie’s husband admire? Would any of their names (or character names) work as a baby name? What about other book titles?

Finally, if Julie and her husband can’t come to an agreement on the first name, I’d suggest a compromise using the middle name. Perhaps one of Julie’s names could come first, then Hayek or T or Atlas could come second.

What other ideas would you offer Julie?

Huge List of Anagram Baby Names

anagram baby names

Looking for baby names with something in common? Perhaps for a set of twins or triplets? I’ve collected hundreds of anagram baby names for you.

2-Letter Anagram Baby Names

3-Letter Anagram Baby Names

4-Letter Anagram Baby Names

5-Letter Anagram Baby Names

6-Letter Anagram Baby Names

7-Letter Anagram Baby Names

8-Letter Anagram Baby Names

9-Letter Anagram Baby Names

10-Letter Anagram Baby Names

If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”

(Here are some palindromic names from last month.)