How popular is the baby name Donna 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 Donna.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Donna


Posts that Mention the Name Donna

Where did the baby name Esai come from?

Esai Morales as Bob Morales in La Bamba (1987)
Esai Morales as Bob Morales in “La Bamba”

The uncommon name Esai debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:

  • 1990: 22 baby boys named Esai
  • 1989: 34 baby boys named Esai
  • 1988: 33 baby boys named Esai
  • 1987: 14 baby boys named Esai [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Actor Esai (pronounced ee-sie) Morales, who was one of the stars of the 1987 movie La Bamba.

The movie was a biopic of rock and roll pioneer Richard Valenzuela, popularly known as Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips). Esai played Ritchie’s brash older brother, Bob Morales. (The characters had different fathers, which accounts for the different surnames.)

Esai Morales, born in New York and of Puerto Rican descent, inherited his first name from his own father. The name is thought to be based on Esaias, which is a form of the Biblical name Isaiah (meaning “Yahweh is salvation” in Hebrew).

Interestingly, the character’s surname being “Morales” like his own was a factor in Esai’s decision to take the part. At the time, he was trying to choose between the role in La Bamba and a role in the Steven Spielberg movie Batteries Not Included, which he assumed would be an “instant hit.”

And I just thought to myself, there’s the commercial-looking success thing, but then there’s this thing that tugs at my heart. It made me cry. I read the story and, like, I had tears streaming down my face. […] And I saw a character with my name on it. Literally, it had my name on it. You don’t see great roles oftentime with Latino names, much less your own. You know, so I was like, you know, I’m gonna roll the dice with this one. And I think I made the right decision.

What do you think of the name Esai?

Sources: Esai Morales – Wikipedia, Esai Morales on his decades-long career in Hollywood – BEONDTV

P.S. Despite having a very short recording career, Ritchie Valens scored several hit singles, including “Donna.”

Where did the baby name Deshannon come from?

jackie deshannon, music, 1960s, baby name

Right around the time the name Shannon was seeing a steep rise in usage, the name Deshannon debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

YearGirls Named ShannonGirls Named Deshannon
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1966
10,965 [rank: 22nd]
12,651 [rank: 21st]
13,548 [rank: 22nd]
10,448 [rank: 31st]
6,402 [rank: 53rd]
3,446 [rank: 101st]
2,992 [rank: 120th]
14
12
13
12 [debut]
.
.
.

The influence? Singer Jackie DeShannon, whose biggest hit, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” peaked at #4 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart in the summer of 1969.

But this wasn’t DeShannon’s first hit. She’d already seen success with the song “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” which had peaked at #7 in the summer of 1965.

So it seems that sudden trendiness of “Shannon” was the x-factor that prepared expectant parents to see more name-potential in “DeShannon” the second time around.

The singer’s birth name was Sharon Lee Myers. She went through various stage names before settling on “Jackie DeShannon.” “Jackie” was chosen because it was gender-neutral, while “DeShannon” was created out of two earlier ideas: “Dee,” which, by itself, made the full name too close to ones already in use (like Sandra Dee and Brenda Lee), and “de Shannon,” which was often written incorrectly.

DeShannon also had a successful career as a songwriter, working with performers like Jimmy Page and Marianne Faithfull. In 1982, she received the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for “Bette Davis Eyes,” which she had co-written with Donna Weiss. (The song was a 1981 hit for singer Kim Carnes.)

How do you like DeShannon as a baby name?

Sources: What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon, Jackie DeShannon – Wikipedia

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2020

Which of the names in the 2020 pop culture baby name game saw higher usage last year?

The following names increased in usage from 2019 to 2020. They’re ordered by relative size of increase.

NameActionIncrease’19 to ’20 usageSugg. by
Dalettdebuted2,250%, at least? to 94 baby girlsalex
Ehlaniincreased2,100%5 to 110 baby girlsalex
Alessiincreased418%11 to 57 baby girlsLeah
Gianninaincreased400%5 to 25 baby girlsalex
Breonnaincreased211%9 to 28 baby girls
Kobeincreased199%502 to 1,500 baby boys
Aalamre-emerged175%, at least? to 11 baby boys
Raddixdebuted150%, at least? to 10 baby boys
Azulaincreased142%26 to 63 baby girls
Avaniincreased133%101 to 235 baby girlsalex
Giannaincreased129%3,412 to 7,826 baby girls
Ahmaudincreased100%12 to 24 baby boys
Catoriincreased85%13 to 24 baby girlsalex
Doveincreased70%30 to 51 baby girlsKM & Leah
Rueincreased68%41 to 69 baby girls
Zaiaincreased60%35 to 56 baby girlsalex
Mykaincreased57%53 to 83 baby girlsalex
Kataraincreased54%41 to 63 baby girls
Chadwickincreased50%20 to 30
Rellre-emerged50%, at least? to 6 baby girlsLeah
Zukoincreased47%15 to 22 baby boys
Bryantincreased46%271 to 395 baby boys
Tenilleincreased40%5 to 7 baby girlsEmily A
Nayaincreased39%256 to 356 baby girlsalex
Kamalaincreased38%13 to 18 baby girls
Onyxincreased38%321 to 442 baby boys
Steelincreased31%35 to 46 baby boysalex
Joseyincreased31%16 to 21 baby boysalex
Duaincreased29%72 to 93 baby girls
Radleyincreased28%53 to 68 baby boysalex
Charliincreased24%594 to 735 baby girls
Lyraincreased24%431 to 534 baby girls
Kamiyahincreased23%333 to 409 baby girls
Sovereignincreased23%13 to 16 baby girlsalex
Shaiincreased22%98 to 120 baby boysLeah
Yaraincreased21%362 to 439 baby girls
Dorotheaincreased21%47 to 57 baby girlsRandi & KM
Bettyincreased20%161 to 194 baby girlsRandi
Riverincreased17%2,361 to 2,771 baby boys
Estyincreased16%58 to 67 baby girls
Sakaiincreased14%21 to 24 baby boysalex
Creedincreased12%257 to 288 baby boysalex & Leah
Lovellaincreased11%18 to 20 baby girls
Huxleyincreased10%469 to 518 baby boysalex
Daisyincreased9%1,729 to 1,877 baby girls
Isaiasincreased8%580 to 625 baby boys
Adonisincreased8%1,539 to 1,663 baby boysalex
Amalaincreased5%20 to 21 baby girls
Ivyincreased3%3,675 to 3,794 baby girlsRandi
Zealandincreased3%30 to 31 baby boysalex
Milanincreased3%
13%
662 to 683 baby boys
397 to 449 baby girls
alex
Marjorieincreased2%203 to 208 baby girlsRandi
Augustincreased1%2,376 to 2,403 baby boysEmily A

The following names did not increase in usage from 2019 to 2020. These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.

Ammika, Anaia, Casme, Corona, Crozier, Desz, Divinity, Doja, Domhnall, Estee, George, Gervonta, Giveon, Greta, Hamilton, Ice, Jack, James, Kaori, King, Kraken, Larriah, Laura, Lenin, Liberty, Lynika, McGivney, Nakova, Neowise, Raditz, Rayshard, Robinette, Rona, Rumble, Ruth, Saphir, Slash, Tacoda, Tchalla, Theodosia, Tianwen, Wednesday, Wenliang, Willa, Willow, Win, Zaya

And here are the late bloomers — names that were part of the 2019 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2020.

  • Donna increased by 20%.
  • Nipsey debuted with 7 baby boys.
  • Luce returned to the data with 7 baby girls.
  • Maleficent returned to the data with 5 baby girls.
  • Miren returned to the data with 5 baby girls.

Finally, regarding our theories about how Covid might have affected 2020’s names…I didn’t notice anything definitive. For instance, both Gheba and Skizzo mentioned “prestige” names (e.g., King, Legend, Major, Messiah and Royal). What I found was that some went up, some went down. Same with the modern virtue names (e.g., Courage, Honor, Brave, Bravery, Freedom).

What are your thoughts on these results? Which name surprised you the most?

[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In all cases, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]

What popularized the baby name Donna?

Donna, Ritchie Valens, 1958, Del-Fi

From 1955 to 1965, Donna was a top-ten baby name in the United States. But, in 1959, it saw a steep rise in usage that boosted it all the way up to 5th place:

  • 1961: 28,668 baby girls named Donna [ranked 7th]
  • 1960: 34,132 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th]
  • 1959: 36,465 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th] – peak usage
  • 1958: 26,949 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]
  • 1957: 28,039 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]

Why the rise?

I think the primary reason was the song “Donna” by California teenager Ritchie Valens. It was released in December of 1958 and became Valens’ highest-charting single, reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in February of 1959.

Sadly, Valens died in the same plane crash that killed The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue“) several weeks before “Donna” reached peak popularity.

Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela in Pacoima, California, in 1941. He’d written “Donna” as a tribute to his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig. (They’d stopped dating about year before the song was released.)

Donna Reed show

A secondary influence on the name Donna might have been The Donna Reed Show, which began airing in September of 1958 — though the show didn’t achieve peak popularity until the early 1960s. It featured already-famous actress Donna Reed as fictional middle-class housewife Donna Stone.

Do you like the name Donna? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?

Source: Ritchie Valens – Billboard, Ritchie Valens – Wikipedia

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2019

Which of the names in the 2019 pop culture baby name game saw increases in usage last year? And which did not? All the results are below!

Here are the names that increased in usage from 2018 to 2019:

  • Alita (f) increased by 554%.
  • Banks (f) increased by 267%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Posie (f) increased by 143%. Suggested by alex.
  • Psalm (m) increased by 129%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Maelyn (f) increased by 91%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Navy (f) increased by 85%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Archie (m) increased by 82%, and re-emerged as a girl name in the data as well.
  • Asante (m) increased by 80%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hart (m) increased by 73%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ciro (m) increased by 70%. Suggested by alex.
  • Alaiya (f) increased by 66%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myracle (f) increased by 51%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Boomer (m) increased by 45%. Suggested by Aya.
  • Billie (f) increased by 42%, and increased as a boy name as well.
  • Valentine (m) increased by 38%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Kamala (f) increased by 30%.
  • Birdie (f) increased by 29%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rosalia (f) increased by 28%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myles (m) increased by 26%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Rue (f) increased by 24%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rami (m) increased by 24%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
    • Incidentally, the usage of Malek also increased. :)
  • Jed (m) increased by 23%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hayes (m) increased by 19%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ace (m) increased by 16%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Elsa (f) increased by 16%. Suggested by elbowin.
  • Maverick (m) increased by 14%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Brixton (m) increased by 14%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Lucca (m) increased by 13%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Phoebe (f) increased by 11%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Valentino (m) increased by 8%. Suggested by alex.
  • Dorian (m) increased by 3%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Gloria (f) increased by 3%.
  • Roux (f) increased by 3%, but decreased as a boy name. Suggested by alex.
  • Adeya debuted with 22 baby girls.
  • Marsai was a double-debut: 10 baby girls, 5 baby boys.
  • Kaavia debuted with 15 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Eryss re-emerged in the data with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Embrii debuted with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.

Here are the names that did not increase in usage from 2018 to 2019:

Abril, Aeko, Arendelle, Asahd, Avani, Catori, Charli, Deckard, Donna, Eilish, Garima, Gil, Gilmher, Gima, Greedy, Greta, Huckleberry, Idina, Iduna, Kelleth, Lia, Lisann, Lizzo, Luce, Maleficent, Malone, Marli, Megan, Miren, Nadia, Nipsey, Post, Riyaz, Sameeksha, Sanni, Sansa, Saybie, Shaed, Shahadi, Sulwe, Taeyang, Wick

(These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.)

Here are the late bloomers (i.e., names that were part of the 2018 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2019):

  • Kulture double-debuted with 17 baby girls and 5 baby boys.
  • Chevel debuted with 17 baby girls.
  • Zaxai debuted with 14 baby boys.
  • Qira debuted with 13 baby girls.
  • Story increased by 40 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Dash increased by 25 baby boys (but fell for girls).
  • Akash increased by 14 baby boys.
  • Storm increased by 10 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Kiki increased by 4 baby girls.

Finally, two more things…

  • While the name Nipsey didn’t debut in 2019, Nipsey Hussle’s legal first name, Ermias, was the fastest-rising boy name of 2019 (in terms of relative increase).
  • Dua, one of the rising names in last year’s game, stayed perfectly level this time around — exactly 72 baby girls in both ’18 and ’19. (In the UK, on the other hand, Dua’s usage increased quite a bit.)

What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?

[The usual disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In each case, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]