How popular is the baby name Elizabeth 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 Elizabeth.
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On a trip that took us through Vegas earlier this year, my husband and I stumbled upon a Titanic-themed gift shop inside the Luxor.
One of the items for sale was a book called Titanic Names. I didn’t purchase it, but it did prompt me to find the very same list of names online. (The list is in various places, including Encyclopedia Titanica and Wikipedia.)
Here are some of the interesting Titanic passenger names I noticed among the more common names (e.g., William, Richard, Alice, Ida):
Gail Gail Kane was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1887. Her birth name was Abigail Kane. Gail Patrick was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1930s. She was born in Alabama in 1911. Her birth name was Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick. Gail was also a character name in multiple films, including Dangerous (1935) and Woman Doctor (1939).
Garda Garda Sloane was a character played by various actresses (Florence Rice, Rosalind Russell, Ann Sothern) in various late-1930s mystery movies (Fast Company, Fast and Loose, Fast and Furious) written by Harry Kurnitz.
Gerda Gerda Holmes was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Illinois in 1892. Gerda was also a character name in multiple films, including Three Sinners (1928) and Babies for Sale (1940).
Germaine Germaine De Neel was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in Canada in 1911. Germaine was also a character name in multiple films, including Evening Clothes (1927) and The Great Garrick (1937).
Gertrude Gertrude McCoy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Georgia in 1890. Gertrude Robinson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1890. Gertrude was also a character name in multiple films, such as Coming-Out Party (1934).
Ginna Ginna was a character played by actress Eve Arden in the film My Reputation (1946).
Usage of the baby name Ginna (which debuted in the data in 1947).
Ginny Ginny Simms was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Texas in 1913. Her birth name was Virginia Ellen Simms. Ginny was also a character played by actress Luana Patten in the film Song of the South (1946).
Glad Glad was a character played by various actresses (such as Mary Pickford and Jacqueline Logan) in various movies called The Dawn of a Tomorrow, all based on the novella of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Glenda Glenda Farrell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was born in Oklahoma in 1901. Glenda was also a character name in multiple films, including TheWhite Parade (1934) and Down Argentine Way (1940).
Gypsy Gypsy Abbott was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Georgia in 1897. Gypsy Rose Lee was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Washington in 1911. Her birth name was Rose Louise Hovick. Gypsy was also a character played by actress Evelyn Brent in the film Bowery Champs (1944).
Philadelphia native Grace Kelly appeared in her first movie in 1951. By 1955, she had become one of the biggest box-office draws in the nation. But she gave up her career as an actress to assume the role of a princess in 1956 when she married the ruler of Monaco.
I know of five baby names (so far) that got a boost thanks to Grace Kelly…
First thing’s first: Grace Kelly’s first name, Grace. It saw a two-year uptick in the mid-’50s:
1959: 1,660 baby girls named Grace [rank: 204th]
1958: 1,708 baby girls named Grace [rank: 198th]
1957: 1,917 baby girls named Grace [rank: 186th]
1956: 1,837 baby girls named Grace [rank: 189th]
1955: 1,390 baby girls named Grace [rank: 216th]
1954: 1,410 baby girls named Grace [rank: 213th]
Decades later, it would peak in the rankings at 13th place for two years in a row (2003 and 2004).
The rise of Kelly can’t be attributed to a single factor, as we saw yesterday. That said, I have no doubt that Grace Kelly played a part in feminizing the first name Kelly during the 1950s:
1959: 6,379 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 74th]
1958: 4,471 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 108th]
1957: 1,907 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 187th]
1956: 831 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 310th]
1955: 540 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 380th]
1954: 455 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 406th]
Grace Kelly’s paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants. The Irish surname Kelly can have several possible origins, but a common one is the Ó Ceallaigh, “descendant of Ceallach.” The meaning of the personal name Ceallach isn’t known for certain — some sources say “bright-headed,” others say it comes from a word meaning “war,” or a different word meaning “church.”
In 1968, the name Kelly saw peak usage on the boys’ list (97th) and then-peak usage on the girls’ list (12th). In 1977, thanks to the Charlie’s Angels character, it bounced back to reach an even higher peak for girls (10th).
Grace’s little sister Elizabeth “Lizanne” Kelly married Donald LeVine in Philadelphia in June of 1955. The same year, the baby name Lizanne debuted on the charts:
1959: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
10 born in Pennsylvania
1958: 39 baby girls named Lizanne [peak]
13 born in Pennsylvania
1957: 36 baby girls named Lizanne
10 born in Pennsylvania
1956: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
9 born in Pennsylvania
1955: 15 baby girls named Lizanne [debut]
Notice how the usage of Lizanne in the late ’50s was particularly high in Pennsylvania. It was the same through most of the ’60s as well.
Grace married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, in a lavish wedding in Monaco in April of 1956. The same year, the baby name Rainier debuted on the charts:
1957: 7 baby boys named Rainier
1956: 11 baby boys named Rainier [debut]
The name Rainier is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and hari, meaning “army.”
(The six bridesmaids at the wedding were named Bettina, Carolyn, Judith, Maree, Rita — actress Rita Gam — and Sally.)
Grace and Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stephanie. The births of the latter two didn’t seem to have an effect on U.S. baby names, but the birth of Caroline in January of 1957 did give Caroline a bump that year:
1959: 1,046 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 273rd]
1958: 990 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 282nd]
1957: 1,135 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 253rd]
1956: 702 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 329th]
1955: 743 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 315th]
1954: 770 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 304th]
Toward the end of 1957, John and Jacqueline Kennedy — who were still several years away from becoming President and First Lady — also welcomed a daughter named Caroline. They didn’t get the idea from Grace Kelly, though. Caroline Kennedy was named after her maternal aunt, Caroline Lee Radziwill.
When Ilya first popped up in the SSA’s baby name data, it appeared as a girl name in 1961:
1961: 5 baby girls named Ilya [debut]
Because the Greek romantic comedy Never on Sunday was released in October of 1960. It starred Greek actress Melina Mercouri as a free-spirited prostitute named Ilya.
The movie was a big hit, and Melina Mercouri was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (she lost to Elizabeth Taylor). The film earned four other nominations as well, but only won the Best Song category.
Interestingly, the trailer for the film starts with a string of names: “On Monday, it’s Tonio. On Tuesday, Boris. Wednesday is Spiro the fisherman’s day. And on Thursday, Jorgo’s the lucky fellow. Friday is devoted to Homer…”
Most sources classify the name Ilya and similar names (Iliya, Illya, Ilia, etc.) as male names — specifically, as forms of Elijah/Elias. So my best guess on the character name is that it was a nickname for Iliana, the feminine form of the Greek name Ilias (yet another form of Elijah/Elias).
Do you like the name Ilya? Do you prefer it as a girl name or as a boy name?