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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ellen

Number of Babies Named Ellen

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Ellen

Ella, Emma…Enna?

enna, ella, emmaThe likeable names Emma and Ella are both very popular choices for babies right now. Nationally, Emma is ranked 1st and Ella is 16th.

Both can be traced back to Germanic words: Emma to ermen, meaning “entire, whole,” and Ella to ali, meaning “other, foreign.”

Both can also be used as short forms other names, particularly those starting with Em- (e.g., Emerson, Emmeline) or El- (e.g., Eleanor, Ellen).

So let’s say you like these names, but…you’d really prefer to use something a little less common. One thing you could try is moving to the next letter of the alphabet: L, M, N.

Enna isn’t what you’d call a traditional name. And it’s never been in the top 1,000 — though it did come close once, way back in 1894.

That said, the letter string “enna” is popular in longer names (like Jenna, Sienna, Mckenna, Kenna, Vienna, Brenna, Glenna, Gwenna, Zenna, etc.), and Enna as a standalone name has seen seen slightly higher usage lately:

  • 2017: 14 baby girls named Enna
  • 2016: 24 baby girls named Enna (peak usage so far)
  • 2015: 22 baby girls named Enna
  • 2014: 19 baby girls named Enna
  • 2013: 15 baby girls named Enna
  • 2012: 7 baby girls named Enna

What are your thoughts on the baby name Enna? Do you like it as an alternative to Ella and Emma?


Name Quotes #56: Albert, Arthur, Otterly

sex and the city, movie quote, name quote

From the 2010 movie Sex and the City 2, characters Carrie and Aidan talk about Aidan’s three sons:

Carrie: “My god, three?”
Aidan: “Homer, Wyatt, Tate.”
Carrie: “Sounds like a country music band.”

From a Telegraph article about creative baby names by Flic Everett (born a Johanna, later changed to Felicity):

Very unusual names can, [psychotherapist Christophe Sauerwein] says, make a child stand out for the wrong reasons. “I have a patient aged ten, named Otterly,” he says (spelling it out, in case I confuse it with Ottilie, which now features regularly in Telegraph birth announcements). “It’s a very unusual name and she’s bullied about it. As a parent, you can love a name, but come on, think twice. Is it embarrassing? Will she have a lifetime of explaining herself to everyone she meets?”

From a Pop Sugar article about the naming Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s sons:

When Diana gave birth to her first son in June 1982, he was given the name William Arthur Philip Louis; two years later, Prince Harry was christened Henry Charles Albert David. In a recorded interview that would go on to be published in the controversial 1992 book Diana: Her Story by Andrew Morton, Diana admitted that she picked the first names for both of her newborn sons after nixing the ones Charles had in mind. When asked, “Who chose [Harry’s] name?,” Diana said, “I did,” adding, “I chose William and Harry, but Charles did the rest.” She went on: “He wanted Albert and Arthur, and I said no. Too old!”

From a biography of English actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928):

“Ellen Terry is the most beautiful name in the world; it rings like a chime through the last quarter of the nineteenth century,” George Bernard Shaw wrote of the Dame when she was at the height of her career.

From a Washington Post article about Korean companies forcing workers to go by English names:

The norm in South Korea is to call your colleagues or superiors not by their given names but by their positions. It’s the same for addressing your older friends or siblings, your teacher or any person on the street. So if your family name is Johnson and you were to be hired in a Korean company as a manager, your co-workers would call you “Johnson-boojang.” To get the attention of your older female friend, you would call for “eunni,” or “older sister.”

[…]

One popular Korean blog was more explicit on shirking honorifics in the workplace: “Dropping your pants and [urinating] in the person’s briefcase would be only a little ruder than calling him/her by his/her first name.”

From the abstract of a study looking at passenger discrimination by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft (found via Baby Name Wizard):

In Boston, we observed discrimination by Uber drivers via more frequent cancellations against passengers when they used African American-sounding names. Across all trips, the cancellation rate for African American sounding names was more than twice as frequent compared to white sounding names.

From a 2016 Elle interview with comedian Alexandra “Ali” Wong in which Ali talks about her baby:

What’s her name?

Mari, inspired by my hero Marie Kondo, who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She’s really wonderful, is very into eye contact, and has forced me to be a lot more present. It’s hard to be anxious about the future or depressed about the past when your baby does an explosive poo that somehow ends up in the feet part of her pajamas.

From a New York Times essay about Turkish-American names by Eren Orbey:

Had my mother, Neşe (pronounced neh-sheh), not already published articles under her birth name, she probably would have changed it upon naturalization. Lately, to avoid confusion, she has taken to introducing herself simply as “N,” which her accent converts into an American name. People hear “Anne,” and that is what they call her.

At the start of the essay, Eren mentions that his mother’s name means “joy” in Turkish.

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.

Popular Baby Names in Finland, 2016

According to data released in March by the Population Register Centre of Finland (Väestörekisterikeskus), the most popular baby names in Finland in 2016 were Sofia and Onni.

Here are Finland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Sofia, 349 baby girls
2. Aino, 330
3. Eevi, 315
4. Venla, 311
5. Emma, 307
6. Aada, 281
7. Pihla, 279
8. Helmi and Ella, 276 each (tie)
9. Emilia, 270
10. Elli, 256

Boy Names
1. Onni, 400 baby boys
2. Elias, 390
3. Leo, 380
4. Väinö, 379
5. Oliver, 331
6. Eetu, 321
7. Eino, 301
8. Noel, 274
9. Leevi, 270
10. Niilo, 245

In the girls’ top 10, Pihla, which refers to the rowan tree (pihlaja), replaces Elsa (now 15th).

In the boys’ top 10, Noel replaces Daniel (now 24th).

Onni, which means “luck” or “fortune,” was last on top in 2013. The #1 names in 2015 were Venla and Leo.

Among the minority (approx. 6%) of Swedish speakers in Finland, the top baby names were Ellen and Adrian.

Sources: De populäraste förnamnen av finskspråkiga barn som föddes år 2016 (PDF), Onni Means ‘Happiness’ And Is the Most Popular Finnish First Name For Boys in 2016 – Sofia For Girls, Nordic Names Wiki

Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2016

Which girl names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? Which ones decreased the most?

The SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I like to answer it by looking at raw number differences that take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…

Girl Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, girl names, more popular

Rankings

1. Kehlani, +2,487 spots — up from 3,359th to 872nd
2. Royalty, +618 spots — up from 1,150th to 532nd
3. Saoirse, +465 spots — up from 1,448th to 983rd
4. Ophelia, +396 spots — up from 976th to 580th
5. Aitana, +368 spots — up from 917th to 549th
6. Itzayana, +356 spots — up from 1,125th to 769th
7. Alessia, +348 spots — up from 1,175th to 827th
8. Kaylani, +301 spots — up from 1,056th to 755th
9. Avianna, +298 spots — up from 751st to 453rd
10. Nalani, +294 spots — up from 1,280th to 986th

Kehlani and Kaylani were influenced by singer/songwriter Kehlani Parrish. (Kehlani was the top debut name of 2015, and variant Khelani debuted impressively in 2016.)

Royalty was influenced by the R&B singer Chris Brown, whose daughter (b. 2014) and 7th album (2015) were both called Royalty.

Saoirse was influenced by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — perhaps specifically by those American talk show appearances in which she talked to the hosts (Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, etc.) about how to pronounce her name. Plus there was that widely circulated Ryan Gosling quote on the same topic (“It’s Ser-sha, like inertia”).

Alessia was influenced by singer/songwriter Alessia Cara.

Raw Numbers

1. Adeline, +1,700 baby girls — up from 2,403 to 4,103
2. Charlotte, +1,649 baby girls — up from 11,381 to 13,030
3. Riley, +1,390 baby girls — up from 5,720 to 7,110
4. Adaline, +971 baby girls — up from 902 to 1,873
5. Amelia, +864 baby girls — up from 9,838 to 10,702
6. Luna, +849 baby girls — up from 2,796 to 3,645
7. Emilia, +804 baby girls — up from 2,215 to 3,019
8. Camila, +765 baby girls — up from 5,271 to 6,036
9. Nova, +754 baby girls — up from 1,518 to 2,272
10. Evelyn, +708 baby girls — up from 9,352 to 10,060

Adeline and Adaline were influenced, at least initially, by the movie The Age of Adaline (2015).

Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Eleanor, Teagan, Kinsley, Scarlett, Everly, Quinn, Aria, Remi, Harper, Penelope, Thea, Claire, Rowan, Hazel, Ruby, Blake, Aurora, Ivy, Harley, Eloise, Willow, Elena, Josephine, Alice, Blakely, Saylor, Nora, Leia, Iris, Margot, Isla, Freya, Samara, Joy, Zara, Eliana, Joanna, and Malia.

Girl Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, girl names, less popular

Rankings

1. Caitlin, -542 spots — down from 609th to 1,151st
2. Caitlyn, -462 spots — down from 598th to 1,060th
3. Katelynn, -402 spots — down from 652nd to 1,054th
4. Kaitlynn, -381 spots — down from 994th to 1,375th
5. Neriah, -344 spots — down from 943rd to 1,287th
6. Bryanna, -276 spots — down from 783rd to 1,059th
7. Kiley, -275 spots — down from 898th to 1,173rd
8. Yaritza, -271 spots — down from 935th to 1,206th
9. Denise, -210 spots — down from 993rd to 1,203rd
10. Kaelyn, -203 spots — down from 521st to 724th

caitlyn jenner, magazine coverCaitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn, were negatively influenced by Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in mid-2015 with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”

This reminds me of what happened a few decades ago to Hillary — another name that was strongly associated for a time with a female who wasn’t conforming to gender norms. Perhaps tellingly, the name Bruce wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Jenner did fall of the charts, though.

Raw Numbers

1. Sophia, -1,311 baby girls — down from 17,381 to 16,070
2. Alexa, -1,289 baby girls — down from 6,049 to 4,760
3. Madison, -1,090 baby girls — down from 10,072 to 8,982
4. Emma, -1,001 baby girls — down from 20,415 to 19,414 (…but still the #1 name overall)
5. Aubrey, -869 baby girls — down from 7,376 to 6,507
6. Isabella, -852 baby girls — down from 15,574 to 14,722
7. Emily, -840 baby girls — down from 11,766 to 10,926
8. Kylie, -753 baby girls — down from 4,149 to 3,396
9. Alexis, -744 baby girls — down from 3,406 to 2,662
10. Abigail, -672 baby girls — down from 12,371 to 11,699

Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Kaitlyn, Avery, Allison, Alyssa, London, Kaylee, Sofia, Katelyn, Kimberly, Zoey, Mia, Chloe, Kendall, Taylor, Sadie, Khloe, Mackenzie, Hannah, Peyton, Addison, Samantha, Ashley, Olivia, Gabriella, Brianna, Lauren, Anna, Brooklyn, Morgan, Jocelyn, Sydney, Natalie, Victoria, Makayla, Zoe, Hailey, Payton, Brooke, Annabelle, Trinity, Keira, Adalyn, Jordyn, Kayla, Molly, Audrey, Faith, Madelyn, Lillian, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Makenzie, Paige, Aaliyah, Paisley, Nevaeh, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jessica.

Interesting how certain like-names went in opposite directions last year. Leia, Alessia, and Adaline rose; Leah, Alyssa, and Adalyn fell.

Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please comment!

(In 2015, the big winners were Alexa and Alaia, and the big losers were Isabella and Isis.)

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2015 to 2016, Emma and Noah Remain Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2016

Obama’s Mama: Stanley Ann

It’s election day!

While we wait for news about the next U.S. president, let’s talk about Stanley, the late mother of the current U.S. president.

Stanley Ann Dunham was born in 1942 to Stanley and Madelyn Dunham of Wichita, Kansas. According to most sources, her father had been hoping for a baby boy. When a baby girl arrived instead, he stubbornly decided to pass his name down regardless.

But Pulitzer-winning journalist David Maraniss has another theory: “The naming of Stanley Ann had less to do with the dictates of a presumptuous father than with the longing for sophistication of a starstruck mother.” He explains:

Since her teenage years as a moviegoer at the commodious Augusta Theatre, Madelyn had devoutly followed the film career of Bette Davis, her favorite actress. A new picture starring Davis and Olivia de Havilland reached Kansas during the summer of 1942, while Madelyn was pregnant. In the movie, In This Our Life, Davis and de Havilland played the two Timberlake sisters, each with a man’s name: Davis was Stanley and de Havilland was Roy.

In This Our Life, Bette Davis, Stanley
Bette Davis as Stanley in the movie In This Our Life

According to Maraniss, this is what inspired Madelyn to name the baby Stanley, and the fact that the baby’s father was also named Stanley was just a coincidence.

The movie In This Our Life was based on a Pulitzer-winning novel of the same name by author Ellen Glasgow. The 1941 novel is set in Glasgow’s home state of Virginia — one of the many states throughout the South in which family surnames were often bestowed upon baby girls (especially in families without many sons).

Stanley Ann Dunham “was teased mercilessly for her name” as a youngster, according to Barack Obama in his book Dreams from My Father. She ended up dropping “Stanley” and simply going by “Ann” as an adult.

Where did her father get his name? “His mother, an avid reader, named him in honor of one of her favorite historical characters, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the British newspaperman and adventurer who became famous probing the nether regions of interior Africa.”

Interestingly, Sir Henry Morton Stanley was born John Rowlands; he created the name “Henry Morton Stanley” for himself upon emigrating to America from England.

What do you think of the name Stanley for a baby girl?

Sources:

  • Maraniss, David. Barack Obama: The Story. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012.
  • Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. New York: Crown Publishers, 1995.