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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Elaine

Number of Babies Named Elaine

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Elaine

Girl Name Battle – Kathlyn, Helen, Pauline, Elaine, Myra, Ruth

Back in the 1910s, serial films with female protagonists were very trendy.

Many of these films had titles that followed the same formula: “The (Plural Noun) of (Female Name).”

Some examples:

the perils of pauline

  • The Adventures of Kathlyn* (1913-1914)
  • The Hazards of Helen (1914-1917)
  • The Perils of Pauline (1914)
  • The Exploits of Elaine* (1915)
  • The Mysteries of Myra (1916)
  • The Adventures of Ruth (1919)

First question: Using the same formula, can you create a serial title with your own name? (You don’t need to have a female name to play along, of course.) The Enigmas of Nancy, The Nuisances of Nancy, The Entanglements of Nancy, The Nail-Biters of Nancy…not that great, but I’m sure you guys can do better.

Second question: Of the six names listed above, which one do you like best?

I prefer:

View Results

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*The baby names Kathlyn and Elaine saw jumps in usage in 1914 and 1915, respectively.


26 Girl Names from 1916

In early 1916, Photoplay Magazine came up with a list of potential titles for serial films using the formula established by The Perils of Pauline (1914), The Exploits of Elaine (1914), and The Hazards of Helen (1914).

Not-Yet Serials, Photoplay Magazine, January 1916

(Just a few months after the above was published, The Mysteries of Myra came out.)

Which of those 26 names — Abigail, Bertha, Calpurnia, Delilah, Evangeline, Florence, Garnet, Hazel, Imogene, Jezebel, Kitty, Lizzie, Margaret, Nancy, Orillia, Priscilla, Queenie, Roberta, Sibyl, Theodosia, Ursula, Victoria, Winifred, Xanthippe, Yetta or Zira — do you like best?

And, which of those serials would you be most likely to watch? :)

The Baby Name Thumbelina

Thumbelina
1914 illustration of Thumbelina
In the Danish fairy tale “Tommelise” (1835) by Hans Christian Andersen, Tommelise is a tiny girl who has adventures with a toad, a butterfly, some stag beetles, a field mouse, a mole, a swallow, and finally a tiny prince.

In the earliest English translations of “Tommelise” the main character is renamed Little Ellie, Little Totty, and Little Maja. It wasn’t until 1864 that translator Henry W. Dulcken came up with the name Thumbelina.

(Both names, Tommelise and Thumbelina, were probably influenced by the name of folklore character Tom Thumb.)

Now for the important question: Have any babies ever been named Thumbelina?

Yes, at least a few dozen.

One example is Fabiola Thumbelina Blonigen, born in Minnesota in 1935. She was mentioned in the book Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface…and Other Totally True Names! by Russell Ash. (Her 5 siblings also had interesting names: Elaine Enid, Fabian Adrian, Quentin Phillip, Verdi Georgio and Twyla Delilah.)

Most of the Thumbelinas I’ve found were born in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. The parents of these babies were likely inspired by the song “Thumbelina” from the movie musical Hans Christian Andersen (1952).

The song, sung by Danny Kaye, starts at about 1:20 in this clip:

Believe it or not, “Thumbelina” was one of the nominees for Best Original Song at the 25th Academy Awards.

The most interesting Thumbelina name-combo I’ve spotted so far? “Tiny Thumbelina.” It was given to a North Carolina baby born in 1969.

So what do you think of Thumbelina as a baby name?

And, bonus question: At the end of the original fairy tale, the prince tells Tommelise [pron. tom-meh-lee-seh] that he doesn’t like her name. “It’s an ugly name, and you are so beautiful.” So he gives her a new one: Maja [pron. mie-ah]. Which name do you prefer, Tommelise or Maja?

Source: Tommelise – H.C. Andersen

How to Pronounce Chinese Names – Qinglan, Xiaolan

Yesterday’s post had to do with Chinese baby names, and Chinese New Year is coming up this weekend, so I thought today would be the perfect day to talk about how to pronounce Chinese names.

If you’re totally unfamiliar with Chinese names, here are the two biggest tips I can give you:

  • In Chinese, the letter Q sounds a lot like “ch.”
  • In Chinese, the letter X sounds a lot like “sh.”

Of course those aren’t the exact sounds — the Chinese Q and X don’t have equivalent sounds in English — but “ch” and “sh” are close. Wikipedia’s explanation, on the pinyin page, is a bit better:

  • Q is like the sound in the middle of “punch yourself.”
  • X is like the sound in the middle of “push yourself.”

To hear the exact sounds of Q and X, listen to a few of the audio files at the Mandarin Chinese Phonetics Table.

Now let’s try some names.

One of yesterday’s names was the female name Qinglan. Because Q sounds like “ch,” the pronunciation is similar to ching lan. (The a-sound in the second syllable is like the a-sound in “father.”)

None of yesterday’s names had a X, so let’s use Xiaolan. (This happens to be the Chinese name of Elaine Chao, 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor.) The X sounds like “sh” or “shy,” so the pronunciation is shyau lan.

Here are a few more Chinese names featuring the letters Q and X. The pinyin transcriptions are followed by my own approximate phonetic pronunciations, in italics. (If you’re a Mandarin speaker and can suggest more accurate pronunciations, I’d appreciate it!)

Qiaoping, chyau ping
Qinghua, ching hwa
Weiqiong, way chyong
Xiaoping, shyau ping
Xinghua, shing hwa
Weixiong, way shyong

What other Chinese names do you have a hard time pronouncing?

How They Named the Baby (Poem)

I think it’s time for a poem.

Here’s one from the late 1800s called “How They Named the Baby.” It was first published in humor magazine Judge.

They talked of Medora, Aurora and Flora,
Of Mabel and Marcia and Mildred and May;
Debated the question of Helen, Honora,
Clarissa, Camilla, and Phyllis and Fay.

They thought of Marcella, Estella, and Bella;
Considered Cecilia, Jeanette, and Pauline;
Alicia, Adela, Annette, Arabella,
And Ethel and Eunice, Hortense and Irene.

One liked Theodora, another Leonora;
Some argued for Edith and some for Elaine;
For Madeline, Adeline, Lily and Lora;
And then, after all, they decided on Jane.

Which of the above names do you like most? How about least?

Baby Name Needed for the Sister of Brynnlee

A reader named Raychel has a daughter named Brynnlee Rose. She’s expecting her second daughter in early December, and would like some help choosing a name. Here’s what she says:

My husband’s name begins with Bry, mine with Ray so we’d like it to contain one of those or a combo Bray. No lee, li, lie, ley, leigh endings. If possible we’d like to also honor my Nani, whose name is Delores (Dee), but that could be moved to MN position.

So far we’ve considered Auraylia, Brayslin, Bryar, Bryonie, Rayenne, Abryelle, Bryenne/Brayenne, Esmeray, Deloray, Araya/h (though I have cousin named Raya & I’m afraid that might be too close!) Rayanna and Rayannon (Rhiannon) are also out because of family! And I can’t stand the other typical Ray names, Rayna, Rayleen, Raynelle, etc.

And MN of Nanalie, Derora, Deeana, Delora, Esdee, Delwen, Nanice, Deegen, Delaine (My MN is Elaine) to honor my Nana OR Briar, Evangeline, Scarlett, Rinslett, Liliana.

Lots to think about here! Let’s do first names first, middle names second.

I’m partial to first names that are familiar and easy to spell, so many of the above aren’t really up my alley. I understand why they include bry and ray, and I do love it when a baby name has a family connection, but I’m also wary about unusual names and/or names that are unnecessarily complicated. Names like these can turn into a headache for the child. I mean, none of the above are as difficult as Addtakizz, but someone named Abryelle or Brayslin or Rayannon will still have to spell her name out for people on a regular basis. And if that can be avoided, well…why not avoid it?

Here are some other first name possibilities:

Sabryna
Sabrina, but with a y instead of an i.

Grayce
Grace with an extra letter.

Aubrey
Aubrey’s -brey isn’t bray, but it’s similar.

Marybeth
Does not have bry or ray, but does include all of those letters (a, b, r, y).

Avery, Crystal
Both contain the letters of ray (a, r, y).

Robyn, Ruby
Both contain the letters of bry (b, r, y).

Middle names aren’t used as often as first names, so I think people can get away with a lot more when it comes to middles. I really like Delaine (two family names for the price of one!). Delora is also cute. I’m not too keen on the Nana-based names Nanalie and Nanice, though. Especially when you consider that the Nana in question isn’t the child’s Nana.

Here are a few other middle name ideas, all of which contain the del of Delores:

Adelaide
Adele
Adeline
Cordelia
Delia
Della

I wonder–was “Dee” by itself ever considered for the middle spot? It would be a direct connection to Raychel’s Nana, and also reminiscent of Brynnlee’s middle name (in the sense that both are monosyllabic).

Which of the above names do you like best for the sister of Brynnlee Rose? What other name suggestions would you offer to Raychel?

Baby Named Elora After Gorge in Ontario

I was reminded of this story when I saw the name Elora on yesterday’s list of baby girl names outside the top 1,000:

Several years ago, Elaine Yuen named her daughter Elora after the Elora Gorge in Ontario, Canada. She was mainly paying tribute to fond memories of hiking in the area, but also liked that Elora began with El- (like her name) and that it’s a “short form of Elnora, derived from Eleanor, which means light.”

[That last part is incorrect. The name of gorge comes from the name of a town, which comes from the name of a ship, which comes from the name of the Ellora Caves in India. So, no connection to Eleanor. Also (kind of a moot point now) Eleanor probably doesn’t mean “light,” though many sources claim that it does. It’s more likely to mean “the other Aenor.”]

In any case, Elora Gorge Conservation Area superintendent Dan Morden said that, as far as he knew, Elaine’s Elora was the first baby to be named after the gorge.

Sources:

  • Connon, John. The Early History of Elora, Ontario and Vicinity. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1974.
  • Rushowy, Kristin. “Beautiful place, beautiful baby.” Toronto Star 26 July 2008.