How popular is the baby name Deborah 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 Deborah.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Deborah


Posts that Mention the Name Deborah

The Descendants of Tristram Coffyn

“Dresser in Tristram Coffin House, Newburyport, Massachusetts.”

Earlier this week we talked about the original Tristram Coffyn of Nantucket, who is known to have a massive number of descendants.

He and his wife Dionis* had five children in England, then four more after relocating to the New World. Here are the names of not only all nine of their children, but also their 76 grandchildren:

  1. Peter (b. 1631) and his wife Abigail had 11 kids:
    • Parnel, Eliphalet, Abigail, Peter, Jethro**, Tristram, Robert, Edward, Judith, Parnell, Elizabeth
  2. Tristram (b. 1632) and his wife Judith had 10 kids:
    • Judith, Deborah, Mary, James, John, Lydia, Enoch, Stephen, Peter, Nathaniel
  3. Elizabeth (b. 1634) and her husband Stephen Greenleaf had 10 kids:
    • Stephen, Sarah, Daniel, Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Tristram, Edmund, Judith, Mary
  4. Stephen (b. 1637)
  5. James (b. 1640) and his wife Mary had 14 kids:
    • Experience, James, Mary, Abigail, Nathaniel, John, Dinah, Elizabeth, Deborah, Ebenezer, Joseph, Benjamin, Ruth, Jonathan
  6. Deborah (b. 1642)
  7. Mary (b. 1645) and her husband Nathaniel Starbuck had 10 kids:
    • Mary, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Jethro, Barnabas, Eunice, Priscilla, Hephzibah, Ann, Paul
  8. John (b. 1647) and his wife Deborah had 11 kids:
    • Lydia, Peter, John, Love, Enoch, Samuel, Hannah, Benjamin, Tristram, Deborah, Elizabeth
  9. Stephen (b. 1652) and his wife Mary had 10 kids:
    • Daniel, Dionis, Peter, Stephen, Judith, Susanna, Anna, Mehitable, Hepzibah, Paul

Which of the above names do you like best? Are there any you don’t like at all?

*Dionis’s name is evidently a truncated form of Dionysia, which derives from Dionysius, which originally referred to a devotee of the Greek god Dionysos. The names Dennis and Denise are also derivatives of Dionysius.

**Nantucket’s Oldest House, also called the Jethro Coffin House, was built in 1686 as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin.

Sources: Tristram Coffin, Sr. (1608-1681) – WikiTree, My Father’s Shoes – Our Coffin Story
Image from Early Settlers of Nantucket by Lydia S. Hinchman

More Top Baby Name Drops

A couple of weeks a go we checked out the list of top raw-number rises in the U.S. baby name data, so today let’s balance things out with the list of top raw-number drops.

Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.

Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.

  • 1881: Mary, -146; William, -1,008
  • 1882: Lulu, -34; Garfield, -78
  • 1883: Mary, -136; William, -911
  • 1884: Mina, -33; Albert, -61
  • 1885: Sarah, -94; William, -853
  • 1886: Nancy, -35; Grover, -361
  • 1887: Minnie, -157; John, -916
  • 1888: Dorothea, -24; Rudolph, -17
  • 1889: Emma, -203; William, -933
  • 1890: Mollie, -53; William, -278
  • 1891: Mary, -375; John, -821
  • 1892: Jennie, -26; Enoch & Irving, -16 each (tie)
  • 1893: Mary, -390; John, -990
  • 1894: Ruth, -286; Grover, -171
  • 1895: Laura, -87; Charles, -155
  • 1896: Jessie, -197; John, -182
  • 1897: Anna, -431; John, -589
  • 1898: Sophie, -49; Hobart, -63
  • 1899: Mary, -1,234; William, -1,314
  • 1900: Manila, -24; Dewey, -154
  • 1901: Mary, -3,572; John, -2,931
  • 1902: Sophie, -45; Manuel, -32
  • 1903: Mary, -211; William, -305
  • 1904: Lillie, -121; Leo, -83
  • 1905: Florence, -94; Alton, -138
  • 1906: Minnie, -173; Theodore, -146
  • 1907: Bessie & Alice, -85 each (tie); Austin, -27
  • 1908: Evelyn, -178; Theodore, -69
  • 1909: Mae, -154; Ernest, -115
  • 1910: Allie, -35; Delmar & Bruce, -24 each (tie)
  • 1911: Annie, -220; Willie, -405
  • 1912: Dessie, -20; Lawyer & Blas, -12 each (tie)
  • 1913: Carrie, -62; Emerson, -28
  • 1914: Tomasa, -27; Woodrow, -547
  • 1915: Juana, -32; Kermit, -79
  • 1916: Mollie, -88; Willard, -476
  • 1917: Edna, -204; Woodrow, -239
  • 1918: Rose, -215; Frederick, -103
  • 1919: Helen, -2,447; John, -3,029
  • 1920: Sophie, -234; Woodrow, -1,033
  • 1921: Gertrude, -449; Willie, -391
  • 1922: Helen, -2,314; Warren, -3,315
  • 1923: Helen, -1,017; George, -321
  • 1924: Elizabeth, -512; Warren, -1,231
  • 1925: Mary, -2,910; John, -1,878
  • 1926: Mary, -2,773; William, -1,358
  • 1927: Helen, -1,582; William, -479
  • 1928: Mary, -3,756; William, -2,360
  • 1929: Mary, -3,361; John, -1,652
  • 1930: Ruth, -1,079; Herbert, -2,187
  • 1931: Dorothy, -3,884; John, -4,026
  • 1932: Betty, -1,688; Robert, -1,255
  • 1933: Mary, -4,381; Robert, -5,052
  • 1934: Dorothy, -761; Franklin, -1,209
  • 1935: Betty, -2,408; Franklin, -1,543
  • 1936: Shirley, -7,202; Donald, -1,025

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Shirley, -8,337; Donald, -771
  • 1938: Shirley, -3,048; Donald, -1,207
  • 1939: Shirley, -3,320; Robert, -2,630
  • 1940: Shirley, -2,573; Donald, -962
  • 1941: Betty, -1,172; Wendell, -533
  • 1942: Deanna, -408; Billy, -352
  • 1943: Carole, -1,900; Douglas, -3,001
  • 1944: Barbara, -4,242; Robert, -4,008
  • 1945: Mary, -3,184; James, -2,497
  • 1946: Victoria, -280; Victor, -492
    • Top 5 boy-name drops of ’46, in order: Victor, Truman, Franklin, Delano, Roosevelt/Homer (tie)
  • 1947: Carole, -793; Richard, -369
  • 1948: Patricia, -5,144; Richard, -7,570
  • 1949: Linda, -5,192; Ronald, -2,026
  • 1950: Linda, -10,549; John, -1,642
  • 1951: Linda, -6,553; Larry, -1,016
  • 1952: Linda, -6,808; Larry, -2,224
  • 1953: Linda, -5,819; Larry, -3,081
  • 1954: Linda, -5,884; Dennis, -2,860
  • 1955: Mary, -4,830; Gary, -3,499
  • 1956: Deborah, -4,476; David, -4,588
  • 1957: Deborah, -7,778; Gary, -2,286
  • 1958: Cynthia, -8,311; James, -5,502
  • 1959: Debra, -4,166; Michael, -5,209
  • 1960: Debra, -4,626; Richard, -3,619
  • 1961: Donna, -5,468; Richard, -2,432
  • 1962: Mary, -4,163; Mark, -4,234
  • 1963: Linda, -3,754; Mark, -4,150
  • 1964: Lori, -5,280; Mark, -4,073
  • 1965: Mary, -6,709; John, -10,972
  • 1966: Karen, -7,431; John, -6,519
  • 1967: Lisa, -4,483; James, -3,495
  • 1968: Mary, -3,592; David, -3,058
  • 1969: Lisa, -4,494; Timothy, -3,153
  • 1970: Lisa, -6,077; David, -1,953
  • 1971: Lisa, -6,053; David, -8,650
  • 1972: Lisa, -5,357; John, -8,340
  • 1973: Lisa, -4,883; David, -5,267
  • 1974: Lisa, -2,889; Robert, -1,681
  • 1975: Jennifer, -4,926; Brian, -3,864
  • 1976: Michelle, -3,116; Scott, -1,571
  • 1977: Amy, -4,613; Scott, -1,541
  • 1978: Amy, -3,509; Jason, -4,027
  • 1979: Kelly, -1,686; Kevin, -1,373
  • 1980: Melissa, -2,420; Jason, -2,203
  • 1981: Melissa, -3,623; Jason, -6,268
  • 1982: Brooke, -2,183; Jeremy, -2,643
  • 1983: Jennifer, -2,767; Jason, -5,512
  • 1984: Jennifer, -3,784; Jason, -5,167
  • 1985: Jennifer, -7,903; Jason, -3,905
  • 1986: Jennifer, -6,474; Joshua, -4,655
  • 1987: Jennifer, -3,483; Jason, -3,054
  • 1988: Ashley, -4,873; Jason, -3,441
  • 1989: Jennifer, -3,888; Jason, -3,292
  • 1990: Tiffany, -2,555; Adam, -2,216
  • 1991: Brittany, -7,446; Christopher, -5,219
  • 1992: Jessica, -5,047; Michael -6,409
  • 1993: Chelsea, -4,885; Michael, -4,821
  • 1994: Ashley, -4,571; Michael, -5,089
  • 1995: Jessica, -4,175; Michael, -3,060
  • 1996: Jessica, -3,752; Michael, -3,043
  • 1997: Jessica, -3,142; Cody, -2,660
  • 1998: Jessica, -2,816; Christopher, -2,104
  • 1999: Brittany, -1,903; Austin, -2,710
  • 2000: Brittany, -2,760; Austin, -4,824
  • 2001: Hannah, -2,366; Brandon, -2,445
  • 2002: Taylor, -2,220; Jacob, -1,968
  • 2003: Ashanti, -1,983; Austin, -2,850
  • 2004: Hannah, -2,034; Zachary, -1,832
  • 2005: Alexis, -1,503; Jacob, -2,059
  • 2006: Emily, -2,540; Ryan, -1,557
  • 2007: Emily, -2,050; Joshua, -1,664
  • 2008: Hannah, -3,738; Christopher, -2070
  • 2009: Emily, -2,084; Anthony, -2,099
  • 2010: Madison, -2,059; Joshua, -2,219
  • 2011: Isabella, -3,032; Jacob, -1,783
  • 2012: Chloe, -1,361; Jacob, -1,370
  • 2013: Isabella, -1,536; Ethan, -1,494
  • 2014: Sophia, -2,657; Jayden, -1,834
  • 2015: Isabella, -1,523; Jase, -1,459
  • 2016: Sophia, -1,311; Logan, -1,697
  • 2017: Sophia, -1,281; Mason, -1,728
  • 2018: Emily, -1,125; Matthew, -1,747

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.

Mystery Monday: Quovadis

Here’s an eye-catching baby name: Quovadis. It’s appeared in U.S. baby name data a total of three times so far:

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 5 baby girls named Quovadis
  • …unlisted…
  • 1975: 6 baby girls named Quovadis (all 6 born in Georgia)
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby girls named Quovadis [debut]
  • 1972: unlisted

This one is a semi-mystery. I know the ultimate origin, but not what (if anything) caused the name to surface in the ’70s specifically.

The Polish novel Quo Vadis (1896) by Henryk Sienkiewicz told the story of a romance between a Roman patrician and a Christian woman during ancient times. The title means “where are you going?” in Latin and alludes to the New Testament verse John 13:36.

The English translation of the book became the bestselling novel in the U.S. in 1897. Since then, the book has been adapted for the big screen multiple times (1901, 1912, 1924, 1951*, etc.) and also adapted for television.

But nothing new happened in the ’70s to draw attention to the phrase, beyond the 1973 Broadway play Status Quo Vadis and a 1975 M*A*S*H episode called “Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?”

Do you have any thoughts on this one?

P.S. Though the name only appears in the SSA data in the ’70s and ’80s, records reveal that dozens of people (male and female) have been named Quovadis since the late 1890s. Here’s one on the 1930 U.S. Census:

Quovadis Dukes, female, born in Ohio in 1929

Source: Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1890s – Wikipedia

*The 1951 movie starred Deborah Kerr and was nominated for eight Oscars.

More Top Baby Name Rises

Having déjà vu?

A couple of months ago, we looked at a long, year-by-year list of the top baby name rises. A month after that, we saw the corresponding list of top drops.

On that second post, Frank B. left a comment in which he asked about absolute rises and drops — because the lists only covered relative movement within the data. So I thought two more posts were in order: top raw-number rises, and top raw-number drops.

We’ll start with the rises again. Just keep in mind that the SSA numbers don’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t quite reflect reality.

Here’s the format: Girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the numbers represent single-year rises in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, the usage of the girl name Ethel increased by 155 babies and the usage of the boy name Chester increased by 106 babies.

  • 1881: Ethel, +155; Chester, +106
  • 1882: Mary, +1,229; John, +788
  • 1883: Bertha, +173; Grover, +71
  • 1884: Mary, +1,205; Grover, +675
  • 1885: Helen, +148; Willie, +36
  • 1886: Mary, +762; John, +270
  • 1887: Ethel, +208; Harold, +55
  • 1888: Mary, +1,866; William, +1,235
  • 1889: Ruth, +223; Russell, +52
  • 1890: Mary, +430; Charlie, +112
  • 1891: Ruth, +662; Theodore & Herbert, +34 (tie)
  • 1892: Mary, +1,471; John, +1,358
  • 1893: Esther, +558; Claude, +41
  • 1894: Marie, +437; John, +189
  • 1895: Anna, +385; James, +225
  • 1896: Helen, +369; William, +470
  • 1897: Thelma, +159; Dewey, +95
  • 1898: Mary, +994; Dewey, +957
  • 1899: Mildred, +188; Kenneth, +24
  • 1900: Mary, +3536; John, +2,840
  • 1901: Retha, +25; Theodore, +21
  • 1902: Mary, +1,350; John, +1,009
  • 1903: Dorothy, +371; Jack, +88
  • 1904: Mary, +687; John, +499
  • 1905: Mary, +1,105; Charles, +201
  • 1906: Alice, +581; Robert, +225
  • 1907: Mary, +1,211; James, +799
  • 1908: Mary, +1,085; William, +622
  • 1909: Helen, +813; James, +582
  • 1910: Mary, +3,589; John, +1,860
  • 1911: Dorothy, +1,551; John, +1,995
  • 1912: Mary, +7,910; John, +11,140
  • 1913: Mary, +4,342; John, +4,738
  • 1914: Mary, +8,705; John, +8,621
  • 1915: Mary, +12,842; John, +9,634
  • 1916: Mary, +3,246; Robert, +3,004
  • 1917: Mary, +2,847; Robert, +3,474
  • 1918: Dorothy, +3,179; Robert, +5,409
  • 1919: Betty, +1,304; Willie, +409
  • 1920: Mary, +5,141; Robert, +7,656
  • 1921: Betty, +3,618; Robert, +4,096
  • 1922: Betty, +3,259; Richard, +1,165
  • 1923: Betty, +5,097; Robert, +2,300
  • 1924: Betty, +4,605; Robert, +4,685
  • 1925: Gloria, +2,835; Richard, +2,034
  • 1926: Barbara, +1,917; Richard, +1,864
  • 1927: Mary, +2,787; Donald, +2,935
  • 1928: Dolores, +2,843; Herbert, +3,049
  • 1929: Joan, +3,806; Donald, +1,456
  • 1930: Joan, +3,812; Richard, +2,602
  • 1931: Joan, +3,633; Ronald, +1,086
  • 1932: Barbara, +4,514; Ronald, +4,411
  • 1933: Carol, +1,650; Franklin, +2,603
  • 1934: Shirley, +8,523; James, +3,124
  • 1935: Shirley, +19,514; David, +1,664
  • 1936: Carol, +2,785; Robert, +1,968

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Barbara, +3,230; David, +3,493
  • 1938: Judith, +4,729; James, +2,526
  • 1939: Judith, +5,748; David, +2,366
  • 1940: Linda, +7,657; John, +3,739
  • 1941: Linda, +5,355; James, +4,262
  • 1942: Linda, +7,882; James, +10,450
  • 1943: Linda, +6,831; James, +3,072
  • 1944: Cheryl, +5,092; Gary, +2,192
  • 1945: Linda, +3,065; Michael, +3,179
  • 1946: Linda, +11,239; Robert, +14,194
  • 1947: Linda, +46,978; David, +11,381
  • 1948: Deborah, +5,409; Mark, +2,503
  • 1949: Deborah, +7,953; Michael, +7,417
  • 1950: Deborah, +9,877; Michael, +5,220
  • 1951: Deborah, +12,954; Michael, +7,531
  • 1952: Debra, +9,782; David, +7,043
  • 1953: Debra, +10,015; Michael, +5,172
  • 1954: Debra, +9,029; Mark, +6,899
  • 1955: Debra, +4,653; David, +6,653
  • 1956: Karen, +6,843; Mark, +6,596
  • 1957: Cindy, +10,268; Mark, +4,020
  • 1958: Tammy, +5,618; Timothy, +4,011
  • 1959: Donna, +9,517; Mark, +4,260
  • 1960: Lisa, +8,013; Jeffrey, +2,564
  • 1961: Lisa, +8,983; Todd, +4,005
  • 1962: Lisa, +3,394; Scott, +6,790
  • 1963: Lisa, +9,951; Paul, +2,884
  • 1964: Dawn, +4,196; John, +3,900
  • 1965: Lisa, +5,990; Rodney, +5,013
  • 1966: Michelle, +10,937; Christopher, +3,228
  • 1967: Melissa, +4,114; Matthew, +2,778
  • 1968: Jennifer, +8,612; Matthew, +2,253
  • 1969: Jennifer, +6,858; Jason, +9,346
  • 1970: Jennifer, +12,455; Jason, +10,788
  • 1971: Jennifer, +10,626; Jason, +6,897
  • 1972: Jennifer, +6,820; Christopher, +3,954
  • 1973: Heather, +3,032; Jason, +9,236
  • 1974: Heather, +3,836; Jason, +8,082
  • 1975: Amanda, +5,177; Joshua, +2,968
  • 1976: Jamie, +8,306; Jeremy, +4,940
  • 1977: Jessica, +6,467; Joshua, +5,205
  • 1978: Crystal, +2,865; Nicholas, +10,274
  • 1979: Amanda, +11,406; Joshua, +5,921
  • 1980: Tiffany, +6,614; Justin, +9,355
  • 1981: Jessica, +8,602; Brandon, +6,048
  • 1982: Ashley, +5,971; Christopher, +8,995
  • 1983: Ashley, +18,435; Kyle, +4,161
  • 1984: Ashley, +5,478; Joshua, +3,551
  • 1985: Ashley, +8,242; Andrew, +4,252
  • 1986: Whitney, +5,699; Andrew, +3,682
  • 1987: Kayla, +5,917; Justin, +4,874
  • 1988: Brittany, +4,594; Justin, +3,545
  • 1989: Brittany, +10,969; Ethan, +3,162
  • 1990: Taylor, +3,188; Jordan, +5,257
  • 1991: Shelby, +6,703; Dylan, +5,349
  • 1992: Taylor, +4,696; Dylan, +5,298
  • 1993: Taylor, +6,318; Austin, +6,125
  • 1994: Alexis, +2,208; Austin, +5,616
  • 1995: Madison, +3,516; Austin, +2,714
  • 1996: Madison, +3,632; Noah, +3,360
  • 1997: Hannah, +1,993; Jacob, +2,237
  • 1998: Emma, +2,700; Noah, +4,137
  • 1999: Grace, +3,460; Seth, +1,718
  • 2000: Trinity, +2,803; Ethan, +3,783
  • 2001: Isabella, +2,587; Logan, +2,973
  • 2002: Isabella, +3,334; Ethan, +4,143
  • 2003: Emma, +6,170; Aidan, +3,108
  • 2004: Ava, +2,364; Aiden, +1,472
  • 2005: Ava, +4,959; Landon, +2,070
  • 2006: Addison, +4,595; Aiden, +2,492
  • 2007: Addison, +4,328; Jayden, +5,596
  • 2008: Peyton, +1,954; Aiden, +2,472
  • 2009: Isabella, +3,667; Liam, +2,582
  • 2010: Sophia, +3,680; Mason, +4,139
  • 2011: Harper, +2,032; Mason, +4,650
  • 2012: Harper, +2,496; Liam, +3,286
  • 2013: Sadie, +2,031; Jase, +3,410
  • 2014: Olivia, +1,308; Oliver, +2,116
  • 2015: Alexa, +1,786; Oliver, +2,181
  • 2016: Adeline, +1,700; Mateo, +1,516
  • 2017: Luna, +1,657; Logan, +2,748
  • 2018: Mila, +2,162; Theodore, +1,070

Some of these names I’ve written about already, and others I plan to write about in the future. If you can give explanations for any of those others right now, though, feel free! Just leave a comment…

What Turned Shalimar into a Baby Name?

shalimar, debra paget, princess of the nileThe name Shalimar first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1954:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 6 baby girls named Shalimar
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 5 baby girls named Shalimar
  • 1953: unlisted

The inspiration here was not the famous perfume created by Guerlain in the 1920s, but a movie called Princess of the Nile released in mid-1954. It starred Debra Paget as an Egyptian Princess named Shalimar (who sometimes went incognito as a dancing girl known as Taura).

This was a few years after the Debra Paget movie Broken Arrow boosted Sonseeahray into the data, and a few years before Debra started outranking Deborah on the popularity charts.

But the word Shalimar is not Egyptian. It comes from the famous Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan. The gardens were created in the mid-1600s by Shah Jahan (who also built the Taj Mahal). “Shalamar” was derived from the Arabic phrase shah al-‘imarat, meaning “master of buildings.”

Source: Princess of the Nile (1954) – TCM, The meaning of ‘Shalimar’