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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Debra

Number of Babies Named Debra

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Debra

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?


The Trendiest Baby Names of All Time?

I’m no stats whiz, but Nathan Yau of FlowingData and David Taylor of Prooffreader are, and each has taken a stab at determining/ranking the trendiest baby names of all time in the U.S.

The FlowingData list of trendiest baby names was published last year. Nathan analyzed girl names and boy names separately. Here are his top 5 for each gender:

Trendiest Girl Names Trendiest Boy Names
1. Catina
2. Deneen
3. Aaliyah
4. Allisson
5. Katina
1. Jalen
2. Tevin
3. Elian
4. Demond
5. Mcarthur

The Prooffreader list of trendiest baby names was published earlier this month. David analyzed all the names together (his overall top 100 was 80% girl names, 20% boy names). Here are his top 5 for each gender (with placement on the original list in parentheses):

Trendiest Girl Names Trendiest Boy Names
1. Linda (#1)
2. Brittany (#3)
3. Debra (#4)
4. Shirley (#5)
5. Ashley (#6)
1. Dewey (#2)
2. Jason (#11)
3. Grover (#15)
4. Mark (#20)
5. Woodrow (#30)

Click through and check out their full lists. Then come back and tell me which list/methodology you prefer, and why.

Interesting Baby Name Analysis

I only recently noticed that Behind the Name, one of my favorite websites for baby name definitions, has a page called United States Popularity Analysis — a “computer-created analysis of the United States top 1000 names for the period 1880 to 2012.”

The page has some interesting top ten lists. Here are three of them:

Most Volatile

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Elvis
2. Brooks
3. Santiago
4. Lincoln
5. Ernie
6. Wyatt
7. Quincy
8. Rogers
9. Alec
10. Dexter
1. Juliet
2. Lea
3. Justine
4. Martina
5. Felicia
6. Delilah
7. Selina
8. Lonnie
9. Magdalena
10. Katy

Biggest Recoveries

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Silas
2. Isaiah
3. Caleb
4. Emmett
5. Jordan
6. Josiah
7. Harrison
8. Ezra
9. Jason
10. Jesus
1. Ella
2. Stella
3. Sadie
4. Sophie
5. Isabella
6. Lily
7. Hannah
8. Isabelle
9. Sophia
10. Lilly

Biggest Flash-in-the-Pans

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Dewey
2. Woodrow
3. Dale
4. Barry
5. Rick
6. Greg
7. Roosevelt
8. Shannon
9. Kim
10. Darrin
1. Debra
2. Lori
3. Tammy
4. Pamela
5. Tracy
6. Cheryl
7. Beverly
8. Dawn
9. Diane
10. Kathy

I wonder what the formulas were. I’d love to try the same analysis on the SSA’s full list, using raw numbers instead of rankings. Wonder how much overlap there’d be…

Female Names in Texas, 1860

Vicki Betts, a librarian at the University of Texas, put together a neat list of female names using the 1860 census records for Smith County, Texas.

Here’s some background information, per Vicki:

Ninety per cent of the people had emigrated to the county within the preceding ten years, 95.8% born in the states of the future Confederacy, 1.8% in the border states, 1.6% in northern states, and 0.8% in foreign countries. Therefore, these name should be fairly representative of Southern female names in general, with the exception of Alamo, Texas, Texana, etc.

And now the names! Here are the names that appeared most frequently on the 1860 Smith County census:

Mary, 501
Sarah, 271
Martha, 247
Elizabeth, 218
Jane, 199
Ann, 198
Nancy, 176
Margaret, 98
Susan, 95
Frances, 94
Eliza, 74
Amanda, 65
Louisa, 61
Laura, 52
Lucinda, 50
Rebecca, 50
Emily, 49
Catherine, 48
Caroline, 41
Julia, 39
Anna, 31
Isabella, 28
Ellen, 26
Josephine, 25
Harriet, 24
Emmer, 22
Lucy, 22
Rachel, 22
Melissa, 18
Adeline, 17
Malinda, 17
Matilda, 16
Allice, 15
Mariah, 15
Virginia, 15
Minerva, 14
Ella, 13
Eveline, 13
Charlotte, 12
Cynthia, 10
Evaline, 10
Victoria, 10
Emeline, 9
Hannah, 9
Hellen, 9
Theodosia, 9
Angeline, 8
Eudora, 8
Eugenia, 8
Mahala, 8
Ophelia, 8
Permelia, 8
Dorotha, 7
Fannie, 7
Missouri, 7
Olive, 7
Samantha, 7
Tabitha, 7
Ada, 6
Charity, 6
Delilah, 6
Flora, 6
Georgia, 6
Tennessee, 6

Names in the 2-to-5 range:

  • 5: Clementine, Cyntha, Florence, Ida, Joannah, Narcissa, Priscilla, Serena, Texana, Texas
  • 4: Almeda, Amelia, Augusta, Celia, Clara, Cornelia, Dicy, Dora, Henrietta, Janetta, Louisiana, Louvenia, Lulah, Mollie, Parmelia, Penelope, Ruth, Susannah
  • 3: Alma, Amarillo, Angelina, Antonette, Carrie, Casandra, Christiana, Clarissa, Cora, Cordelia, Edna, Emma, Ester, Fanny, Irena, Jemima, Kesiah, Leona, Leonora, Lucretia, Lyddia, Manerva, Maranda, Morando, Mildred, Milly, Narcissus, Olevia, Piety, Rhoda, Sallie, Sefrona, Sophrona, Telulah, Zelida
  • 2: Abigal, Adaline, Adelia, Agnes, Alabama, Alcasarah, America, Amy, Annetta, Araminta, Armelia, Arrenia, Candis, Caledonia, Celina, Easter, Eller, Elvira, Epsey, Exer, Henryetta, Jaly, Judy, Leah, Luella, Madora, Malissa, Marsileet, Medorah, Melinda, Mattie, Minnie, Moranda, Nelly, Olivia, Priscella, Rhody, Roxana, Salena, Sirena, Sophia, Temperance, Viola, Willie

Finally, names that appeared only once:

Abbigal
Abi
Absaly
Adah
Adalade
Adaline
Addia
Adelade
Adella
Ader
Aimenetta
Alamanzer
Alamo
Alcisty
Alis
Allethia
Almanda
Alphine
Alsey
Althie
Alvarado
Alvira
Amarantha
Amarylles
Amazor
Ameda
Americus
Amira
Ansebell
Appy
Arabella
Arainetta
Aramintha
Aranda
Arcadia
Ardalla
Armedilla
Armel
Armelda
Arminda
Artele
Arvezene
Arvilla
Atha
Audella
Aurire
Azeline
Barbary
Belzora
Bendett
Bernessa
Bethania
Bethany
California
Callie
Camella
Camilla
Candas
Candice
Cansandra
Carrentha
Casandre
Castero
Cecily
Celistia
CerroGordo
Christana
Cicily
Claranda
Claricinda
Conzada
Darcus
Deannah
Debra
Delila
Delitha
Della
Delmar
Derinda
Deziah
Dicey
Dilla
Dilly
Disha
Dlia
Dola
Domaris
Dorothea
Dovy
Drucilla
Dulcena
Dyca
Eddie
Edith
Editha
Elander
Eleanor
Elisa
Ellenor
Elmina
Elsy
Elvy
Elwina
Elzina
Elzona
Emaline
English
Eunis
Euphema
Euphemia
Euratasa
Evy
Falby
Fenette
Fillmore
Flore
Florida
Fransina
Georgana
George Eller
Georgiana
Harmoner
Hazeltine
Heepsebeth
Heland
Hester
Hetty
Hilery
Hutoka
Idella
Imogenia
Indiana
Inez
Irine
Isabelle
Isadora
Jeannah
Jerusha
Jessie
Joana
Joicy
Joly
Judah
Judith
Juliett
June
Kasandre
Kasana
Keburah
Keturah
Lailah
Larresa
Larrissa
Laurena
Lavacca
Lela
Leora
Leuella
Levega
Levina
Lewella
Lilla
Lillian
Lilly
Lina
Livana
Livona
Lizza
Loreey
Loreta
Lourana
Lourena
Lourenia
Louretta
Louvena
Louvina
Lova
Lovena
Lucretice
Lurana
Lurena
Lutitia
Luvena
Lydda
Madella
Madosa
Malabry
Mariella
Marietta
Marinda
Marion
Marbre
Marcella
Marcena
Marg
Matta
McReudry
Medarah
Melbry
Melvina
Mercena
Milley
Millison
Minor
Missoura
Mitty
Molly
Morinua
Mouring
Mourmen
Mourning
Nannett
Narcisa
Nebraska
Neome
Neomia
Nicy
Nina
Nisse
Occo
Octavia
Oja
Oliva
Omino
Orpha
Oudelia
Paralee
Paralie
Parilee
Parolee
Parthena
Pauline
Pemelia
Pernetta
Pernisia
Petrona
Phebe
Pheby
Phereby
Philliss
Pleasant
Pope
Prascovia
Pricilla
Prudence
Recella
Resalla
Reozia
Resiah
Rhina
Rosana
Rosanna
Rosena
Sabra
Sabrina
Salina
Samaria
Saphona
Saphrona
Sareta
Sebrina
Sefrone
Seleta
Selethia
Selina
Shaby
Sharlotti
Silena
Sina
Sirena
Sobrina
Sofrona
Solona
Sonora
Sophier
Stacy
Surana
Tabetha
Taletha
Talitha
Telpha
Teressa
Texanah
Texanna
Theodora
Theressa
Tranquilla
Trephemia
Ululie
Vanburena
Vandalia
Varlinda
Vashti
Vasti
Verlinda
Vertula
Victora
Victorier
Vina
Vinolia
Violet
Vunavista
Wennyford
Wilford
Wilmouth
Wineford
Winerfred
Winnaford
Winnfred
Zarilla
Zeban
Zeleame
Zira
Zouley

See any names you like? Any that make you curious?

Here are some thoughts I had:

  • Location names were more common than I thought they’d be. Seven females named Missouri? Six named Tennessee? Huh.
  • I love that Emmer appeared 22 times, while Emma appeared a mere 3 times.
  • The Battle of Cerro Gordo (1847) inspired a handful of namesakes. Cerro gordo is Spanish for “fat hill.”
  • Hutoka: Or, The Maid of the Forest: a Tale of the Indian Wars (1846) by Osgood Bradbury inspired several hundred namesakes nationwide. The book claimed that the fictitious Native American name Hutoka meant “springing fawn.”
  • Martin Van Buren — no doubt the inspiration behind Vanburena — was president of the U.S. from 1837 to 1841.
  • I’m thinking Vunavista was based on buena vista, Spanish for “good view.”

Source: Female First Names in the 1860 Smith County, Texas, Census, via Vicki Betts

The Woman Who Buys This Shirt – How Old Is She?

A few days before last week’s road trip, I went shopping. I didn’t find much, but I did spot this shirt while wandering aimlessly around Forever 21:

shirt from forever 21

The shirt says:

I (heart)
Brad
Dave
Sam
Ryan

What caught my eye specifically, beyond the fact that it’s a product with names on it, was the inclusion of the name Dave.

Names used in marketing (or on products themselves, as in this case) can give you a lot of information about the type of customer a company is targeting. A commercial featuring people named Madison and Tyler, for instance, is aimed at a different demographic than one featuring Debra and Gary, or Camila and Diego.

To me, Dave seems a bit old for the teens and 20-somethings shopping at Forever 21.

Here’s why:

forever-21-graph

The graph above indicates how many babies were named Bradley, David, Samuel, and Ryan from 1950 to 2000.

David was a top-10 boy name from the mid-1930s until the early 1990s, but it was really big pre-1970. It was the #1 boy name in the country in 1960, in fact.

Today’s oldest 20-somethings were born circa 1985. David was still more popular than Bradley, Samuel and Ryan in 1985, but it wasn’t as massively popular the 1980s as it had been in previous decades.

This might not seem like a big deal, but I find it really curious. Someone chose the name Dave for this shirt instead of Josh, or Matt, or Justin. Why?

There may not be an answer, but after doing some research, I’m wondering whether the choice of Dave wasn’t intentional. Here’s what I found in a Business Insider article about Forever 21 published a year ago:

Forever 21 is expanding its customer base — Forever 21 is becoming a fashion department store that caters to all members of the family — not just teens.

That means a broader set of customers are being gobbled up by the retailer as it releases new lines targeting men and older demographics. Yet, at its core, Forever 21 still has a similar target as the big teen retailers — 18- to 24-year-olds.

Maybe Dave was included to catch the attention of me and all the other 30-somethings and 40-somethings wandering aimlessly through the store? Hm…

And now the question of the day!

Let’s say you’re in Forever 21 and you see this shirt. And then you see someone — a female — walk up, take it off the rack, and buy it. In your visualization, what age is this person? And why do you think your brain automatically chose that age?

Biggest Popularity Jumps of All Time – Girl Names

biggest jumps - girl names

Yesterday we looked at the biggest boy name jumps of all time, so today let’s look at the biggest girl name jumps.

Here are all the girl names that increased in popularity by more than 10,000 babies in a single year:

  1. Linda, +46,978 baby girls from 1946 to 1947
  2. Shirley, +19,514 baby girls from 1934 to 1935
  3. Ashley, +18,435 baby girls from 1982 to 1983
  4. Deborah, +12,954 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  5. Mary, +12,842 baby girls from 1914 to 1915
  6. Jennifer, +12,455 baby girls from 1969 to 1970
  7. Amanda, +11,406 baby girls from 1978 to 1979
  8. Linda, +11,239 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  9. Brittany, +10,969 baby girls from 1988 to 1989
  10. Michelle, +10,937 baby girls from 1965 to 1966
  11. Debra, +10,866 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  12. Jennifer, +10,626 baby girls from 1970 to 1971
  13. Patricia, +10,452 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  14. Cindy, +10,268 baby girls from 1956 to 1957
  15. Debra, +10,015 baby girls from 1952 to 1953

Linda is clearly the winner here. Linda’s spike in 1947 is like the perfect storm of spikes — the name was already on the rise, and then the song “Linda” became a huge hit right at the beginning of the post–WWII baby boom.

(If the song had been released just one year earlier — which is theoretically possible, as it was written in 1942 — the Linda spike might have been even bigger, as the largest one-year increase in births in U.S. history happened between 1945 and 1946.)

The song “Linda” was created by songwriter Jack Lawrence at the request of his attorney, Lee Eastman, who wanted a song written for his 5-year-old daughter.

Being a good friend, I obliged and wrote a song for five-year-old Linda. When I made the rounds of publishers I met with frustration. Most of them like everything about the song but the name Linda. “Why Linda?” they would ask. “That’s not a popular name”. One guy said: “Call it Ida — after my mother-in-law and I’ll publish it”. I had to remind him there already was an “Ida — Sweet as Apple Cider!” Another maven suggested the name Mandy. He felt that had a more musical ring than Linda.

But Jack stuck with Linda, and the song made musical (and baby name) history.

And 5-year-old Linda Eastman also made musical history, in a sense, by marrying Beatle Paul McCartney in the late 1960s.

Trivia question of the day: Only one girl name ever decreased in popularity by more than 10,000 baby girls over a one-year period. Can you guess the name?

Source: Jack Lawrence, Songwriter : Linda

Baby Name Needed for Sister of Diogo and Cruz

A reader named Debra would like some help naming baby número três:

We are just not finding THE name. I’m American, husband is Portuguese and we live in the states. We have two boys; Diogo and Cruz. I am due any day with #3 a GIRL. We definitely want a Portuguese name.

Our criteria…the name needs to be relatively easy for Americans to pronounce. Don’t want a name in the top 100 in the states. I prefer names that aren’t automatically shortened to nn – Debra to Debbie, Kimberly to Kim. I don’t usually care for names that end with the “e” sound, ex. Zoe. The name should be beautiful and sophisticated, more than cute.

I really like Sofia and Isabel, but they are just too popular in the U.S. right now. Other names we like are Beatriz (too hard to properly pronounce in US?), and Mara.

Please help us. I’d love to have a name before she is born! I’m 38 weeks today!

I think Mara would be a great choice, based on the criteria. Here are some other names that might also work:

Ana
Aurora
Carla
Clara
Flávia
Gloria
Lídia
Luísa
Magda
Marina
Marta
Monica
Paula
Rosa
Sílvia (good alternative to Sofia?)
Teresa

Do you like any of the above for the baby sister of Diogo and Cruz? What other (preferably Portuguese) names would you suggest to Debra?