How popular is the baby name Dwight in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Dwight and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Dwight.
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s mom didn’t like nicknames.
The future president, who was born in 1890, was going to be named “David Dwight Eisenhower” — David for his father, Dwight for evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody — until Mrs. Eisenhower realized that David would inevitably be shortened to Dave.
It was the contraction of Edgar’s name to Ed and another brother’s name from Arthur to Art that inspired Mrs. Eisenhower to try to forestall the cognomen of Dave for the son who was to lead the Allied armies in the second world war.
So she reversed David and Dwight.
But it made no difference. Dwight’s boyhood friends started called him “Little Ike” (because his older brother Edgar was called “big Ike”) and Ike stuck.
(Eisenhower biographer Stephen Ambrose tells a different story. He says Mrs. Eisenhower reversed the order of the names because she wanted to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family.)
Weirdly, I have three other posts about Eisenhower: Do You Like Ike, Were Babies Named After Sputnik, and Pakistani Baby Named After Eisenhower.
- “Mother of ‘Ike’ Shuns Nickname, Gets It Anyway.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 15 Jun. 1945: 2.
- Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012.
Taylor, Tyler, Madison, Jackson…sure, they’re presidential surnames, but if you met a kid with one of these names you wouldn’t assume that he/she was named after a former commander-in-chief.
Not so with Eisenhower.
The one and only time Eisenhower made the SSA’s baby name list was the year Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president (the first time):
- 1954: unlisted
- 1953: unlisted
- 1952: 5 baby boys named Eisenhower
- 1951: unlisted
- 1950: unlisted
And the SSDI reveals that at least four more people have been named Eisenhower — two were born in the ’40s, one in ’53, and one in the ’70s.
The German occupational surname means “iron-hewer” or “iron-cutter.”
The name Dwight became more popular during the 1950s as well, seeing peak usage in 1953:
- 1959: 1,595 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 186th]
- 1958: 1,695 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 176th]
- 1957: 2,024 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 159th]
- 1956: 2,368 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 139th]
- 1955: 2,150 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 142nd]
- 1954: 2,036 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 145th]
- 1953: 2,689 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 122nd]
- 1952: 2,405 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 123rd]
- 1951: 2,049 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 134th]
- 1950: 1,813 baby boys named Dwight [rank: 146th]
And let’s not forget Eisenhower’s famous campaign slogan, “I Like Ike.” His nickname — typically short for Isaac, but in this case based on the first syllable of his surname — also got a boost:
- 1959: 52 baby boys named Ike*
- 1958: 56 baby boys named Ike
- 1957: 76 baby boys named Ike
- 1956: 68 baby boys named Ike
- 1955: 77 baby boys named Ike
- 1954: 76 baby boys named Ike
- 1953: 110 baby boys named Ike
- 1952: 90 baby boys named Ike
- 1951: 61 baby boys named Ike
- 1950: 55 baby boys named Ike
And people still like Ike — in 2010, 59 boys were named Ike (coming down from a spike in 2008, courtesy of Hurricane Ike.)
*Here’s one more baby Ike from 1959.
A reader named Lucas is expecting twins, one boy and one girl, and would like help choosing the boy name:
Its decided that the girl will be named Eliza, we just couldn’t resist its streamlined modernity and Eliza Doolitte charm and spunk, but when it comes to boys names we’re completely stuck. We were thinking of Joseph, its classic and timeless but perhaps a little too conservative for a twin sister named Eliza?
Personally, I think Eliza and Joseph sound great together. They’re not an exact match in terms of tone, but the difference isn’t a huge one.
It’s too bad Joseph doesn’t offer much more than Joe and Joey in terms of nicknames, though. Eliza is a pet form of Elizabeth, so I wish Joseph shortened to something with more verve (e.g. Benji, Theo). But that’s the only drawback I can think of; it’s hard to go wrong with Joseph.
As for other boy name ideas, how about…
So now, three questions for you: Does Joseph sound good with Eliza? Do any of the non-Joseph names listed above sound good with Eliza? And, finally, what other names would you suggest to Lucas?
A total of 157 people voted in the Coolest Presidential Name poll. Here are the results:
I wasn’t too surprised that Lyndon and Ulysses claimed the top two spots. Lyndon, as Cathy points out, fits well with “today’s naming trends.” And Ulysses, as Camilla notes, might be appealing because it “isn’t a surname-as-first-name” like the other names on the list.
Next poll, coming up!
UPDATE, 11/2013: The first Presidential Name poll closed a long time ago, but I’ve just opened up a second one in the original post – go vote!
With the election coming up, I thought I might try a “presidential” theme for this poll. Which one of the following (rather unusual) presidential forenames is your favorite?
Even better: Would you consider giving any of the above to one of your own children? Which one(s)?
UPDATE, 11/2013: Here are the original results, but let’s try a brand new poll! Vote below: