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 Inception of Sway

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Name Quotes 83: Bek, Frankie, Monarch

monarch, bear, california, flag,

From article in which musician Beck talks about his first name:

He was born on July 8, 1970, as Bek David Campbell. He and his brother later took their mother’s maiden name, Hansen, and Beck added the “c” to his first name, with the hope that it might help people pronounce it properly. “I still got Brock, Breck, Beak,” he said. “I remember leaving a meeting with some record executives, and one said, ‘Very nice to meet you, Bic.'”

From Orlando Bloom’s Instagram post about fixing the Morse Code spelling of his son’s name (Flynn) in his forearm tattoo:

••-••-••-•—•-• finally dot it right! How do you make a mistake like that?

From an article about the naming of lesbian and bisexual characters:

The nice thing about having an internal database of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary television characters is that you can get really, truly obsessive about various patterns in the data. Like, for example, what queer characters are often named.

[According to the article, some of the top names for queer female TV characters are Nicole/Nikki/Nico, Franky/Frankie, Alex, and Susan. “Some minor abundances: Debs, Deborahs and Debbies. Quite a few more-than-expected Ginas, Naomis and, most oddly, Ruby.” “We are, however, suspiciously low on Marys.”]

Speaking of Frankie…from an article about the popularity of the name Frankie in Australia:

Obviously, there’s a lot of love for Frankie right now. But the interesting thing is that Australian parents love Frankie a lot more than anyone else. Frankie has been among the top 50 girls’ names in Australia for the past couple of years, while not even making the top 100 in either the UK or the US.

From a video in which Emma Thompson talks about “posh” English slang [vid]:

“Pip pip” is “bye-bye.” […] Like, for instance, when I was born, yonks ago, on the BBC, on the world service, there would be the pip, pip, pip. So that’s the “pips.” And you say pip, pip. And I was known as “pip Emma” because I was born as the pips were sounding.

[The pips were used to mark the start of each hour. “Pip Emma” is also the way to say “p.m.” in RFC WWI signalese. I’m not sure if Emma Thompson was likewise born in the afternoon/evening, though.]

From an article about the bear on the California state flag:

[William Randolph] Hearst put the bear on display [in 1889] in Golden Gate Park and named him Monarch. At more than 1,200 pounds, Monarch was the largest bear ever held captive.

[…]

Taking a cue from the Sonoma revolt in 1846 [after which a flag featuring a bear was created to represent the captured region], the state again decided to make the California Grizzly the flag’s focal point. Only this time they wanted a bear that actually looked like a bear.

Illustrators used the recently deceased Monarch as the model for the bear on our state flag.

[Newspaper magnate Hearst took the name “Monarch” from the tagline of the San Francisco Examiner, the “Monarch of the Dailies.”]

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Baby Names from Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues, baby names, 1980s, television,

The police drama Hill Street Blues, which aired on NBC from 1981 to 1987, revolutionized the “cop show” TV genre. The series was the first of its kind to feature sequential storylines (vs. stand-alone episodes), an ensemble cast (vs. a single star), overlapping dialogue, hand-held camerawork, and more.

In fact, CNN went ahead and labelled Hill Street Blues “the most influential TV show ever.”

But it wasn’t just influential in the world of television. It also left its mark on American baby names. Hundreds of babies born in the ’80s got a Hill Street Blues-inspired baby name, such as…

Travanti

Actor Daniel J. Travanti, who played main character Capt. Frank Furillo, was nominated for the “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” Emmy five times in a row (1981 to 1985), winning twice (in ’81 and ’82). Also in 1982, the name Travanti debuted in the baby name data:

  • 1985: 14 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1984: 12 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1983: 8 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1982: 15 baby boys named Travanti [debut]
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted

Taurean

Actor Taurean Blacque (born Herbert Middleton), who played Det. Neal Washington, was nominated for the “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series” Emmy in 1982. (In fact, all five nominees for the award that year were HSB actors.) The name Taurean debuted in the data for both genders in 1981:

  • 1985: 143 baby boys named Taurean [rank: 745th]
  • 1984: 172 baby boys [rank: 659th] and 10 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1983: 231 baby boys [rank: 554th] and 17 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1982: 210 baby boys [rank: 593rd] and 7 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1981: 91 baby boys [rank: 944th] and 6 baby girls named Taurean [dual-debut]
  • 1980: unlisted

Taurean was the top boy-name debut of 1981, and the variants Taurian, Tauren, and Taureon all popped up in the data as well that year.

(And how did Herbert come up with the stage name “Taurean Blacque”? It’s “a combination of astrology and race with some fancy spelling thrown in.” He wanted a name he “could identify with and one that would stand out on a billboard.”)

Kiel

Actor Kiel Martin played Officer John “J.D.” LaRue. While the show was on the air, the baby name Kiel rose to peak usage among baby boys:

  • 1985: 221 baby boys [rank: 591st] and 5 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1984: 260 baby boys [rank: 534th] and 5 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1983: 277 baby boys [rank: 505th] and 8 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1982: 194 baby boys named Kiel [rank: 623rd]
  • 1981: 68 baby boys named Kiel
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Kiel

Darylann

Actress Deborah Richter played recurring character Daryl Ann from 1982 to 1987 (but primarily during the last three years). In response, not only did the usage of the name Daryl for baby girls increase, but the name Darylann appeared for the first time:

  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 7 baby girls named Darylann
  • 1987: 5 baby girls named Darylann [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted

Shirret

Actress Van Nessa L. Clarke played minor character Shirret Anders in a pair of back-to-back 1981 episodes. The same year, the baby name Shirret debuted in the data:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 5 baby girls named Shirret [one-hit wonder]
  • 1980: unlisted

Have you ever met someone with a Hill Street Blues-inspired baby name?

Sources:

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