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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ellery

Number of Babies Named Ellery

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Ellery

Do Americans Have an Obsession with Nicknames?

A couple of weeks ago, Judith left the following comment on a Five-Name Friday post.

I would love it if you dedicated a blog article to the American obsession with nicknames. Being European this really baffles me. Over here we give our children the name we like best, whether this is a long name (i.e. Michael) or a short one (i.e. Mike). A nickname might pop up in due course but is not something that you force (or even think about) beforehand. If you want your child to be called Ella, why would you name her Eleonora only to shorten it to Ella? Like I said it baffles me and I would love to know the background of this phenomenon.

Such an interesting question!

There’s certainly a difference between Americans and Europeans when it comes up nickname usage. You can see it comparing the top names in the U.S. with the top names in England — boy names especially. The English top 20 includes many more informal names (Jack, Harry, Charlie, Alfie, Freddie, Archie) than the U.S. top 20.

Seems to me that both regions are concerned with nicknames, but handle them in very different ways. Europeans are reasonably comfortable putting nicknames on birth certificates, while Americans are not as comfortable turning nicknames into legal names.

So what’s behind these diverging trends? I’m not sure that there’s a single answer, but here are a few theories. (Please excuse me ahead of time for making sweeping generalizations about Americans and Europeans.)

Formality differences
Europeans tend to be more relaxed than Americans, both in terms of daily life/habits and in terms of viewpoints. Maybe this informality leads them to prefer the informal names. (Or at least doesn’t make them feel obligated to use formal names.)

Work attitude differences
Americans tend to be more career-focused than Europeans. Perhaps this outlook makes them feel that it’s smart to have a formal name to fall back on for future professional use — that having a nickname-only name could be limiting.

Class differences
This theory, which is somewhat like the work attitude theory, comes from an Encyclopedia Britannica* blogger and concerns the U.S. and the UK specifically:

Perhaps the difference has to do with class. Americans may shy away from bestowing diminutives upon their children because they suspect that such “cutesy” names will prevent their children from climbing the ranks and becoming CEOs. In the more-rigid class system of the U.K., on the other hand, some parents might believe that that sort of advancement is so unlikely that it’s not worth letting it affect their choice of a name. So Charlie it is.

Gender-switch differences (pertains to boy names only)
In America, many formerly male/unisex names with “-ee” endings (e.g., Ashley, Avery, Bailey, Ellery, Riley) have turned into girl names. This might make Americans more hesitant to permanently attach diminutives with similar endings to baby boys.

Which (if any) of these theories do you think makes the most sense? What others can you think of?

Source: How to Tell a British Baby from an American: Differences in Naming Trends, Judith’s comment

*Did you know about the New York woman named Encyclopedia Britannica?

Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2013

The top baby names in England and Wales were announced last week.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the most popular baby names last year were Amelia and Oliver.

Here are England and Wales’ top 20 girl names and top 20 boy names of 2013:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Amelia, 5570 baby girls
2. Olivia, 4598
3. Emily, 4049
4. Ava, 3575
5. Isla, 3526
6. Jessica, 3507
7. Poppy, 3422
8. Isabella, 3246
9. Sophie, 3013
10. Mia, 2993
11. Ruby, 2948
12. Lily, 2883
13. Grace, 2799
14. Evie, 2767
15. Sophia, 2764
16. Ella, 2722
17. Scarlett, 2643
18. Chloe, 2401
19. Isabelle, 2287
20. Freya, 2266
1. Oliver, 6,949 baby boys
2. Jack, 6,212
3. Harry, 5,888
4. Jacob, 5,126
5. Charlie 5,039
6. Thomas, 4,591
7. Oscar, 4,511
8. William, 4,268
9. James, 4,236
10. George, 4,202
11. Alfie, 4,138
12. Joshua, 3,973
13. Noah, 3,830
14. Ethan, 3,572
15. Muhammad, 3,499
16. Archie, 3,265
17. Leo, 3,264
18. Henry, 3,248
19. Joseph, 3,225
20. Samuel, 3,188

There were some big moves on the boys’s side: Oscar rose from 17th to 7th, while Riley plummeted from 8th to 21st. (Here are the biggest moves overall for boy names and girl names.)

New to the top 20 are Scarlett, Archie, Henry and Joseph. They replace Charlotte, Riley, Daniel and Max.

One thing I found interesting? Freya wasn’t on the England top 20. It also wasn’t on the Wales top 20. And yet still it managed to rank 20th on the combined top 20. Very sneaky, Freya.

Here are some of last year’s rare baby names, each given to between 3 and 10 babies (inclusive):

Rare Girl Names Rare Boy Names
Akvile, Alaska, Alphonsa, Andromeda, Arena, Arizona, Atlantis, Belinay, Bellatrix, Blousey, Boadicea, Boglarka, Bonnie-Blue, Boo, Boux, Charm, Cressida, Crystal-Rose, Daenerys, Delphie, Disney, Duru, Edwina, Ellery, Eloghosa, Enfys, Enlli*, Eos, Ernestine, Esila, Evan, Frayer, Freshta, Fausta, Garance, Gelila, Gemini, Gerda, Glorious, Halo, Honour, Io, Iole, Ionie, Iseult, Isla-Belle, Izna, Lava, Lleucu, Llinos, Llio, Loveday, Loxy, Mafalda, Man, Maple, Miami, Migle, Milda, Misk, Mirabella, Mirren, Myfi, Myrtle, Nandi, Nephele, Nma, Ottoline, Pebbles, Popi, Purity, Quorra, Quratulain, Rory, Ruby-Tuesday, Salsabeel, Sehrish, Sequoia, Sibel, Sobia, Solveig, Sundus, Tiggi, Tiggy, Tirion, Tulsi, Vespa, Vogue, Yiyi Alaric, Bramwell, Cavalli, Ceirion, Denley, Diesel, Diggory, Drin, Eesaa, Eyoel, Fiachra, Finlo, Fyfe, Ghyll, Greatness, Gruff, Hanzala, Haoyu, Heathcliff, Henley-John, Ho, Hocine, Innis, Iori, J, Jai-Jai, Jay-J, Jaygo, Johnboy, Jonjoe, Kebba, Kelly, Khizr, King-David, Klevis, Lebron, Liutaruas, Llyr, Lochie, Messi, Mortimer, Nebi, Nimrod, Noman, Olti, Omarion, Orpheus, Osgar, Oska, Perseus, Ptolemy, Qi, Rhythm, Rozh, Rhon, Sandor, Shady, Shaquille, Sheriff, Shko, Soul, Swayley, T, Tiger, Tirath, Tobenna, Toprak, Tuguldur, Tylah, Tyrion, Ugnius, Viggo, Wentworth, Winter, Wolf, Wolfgang, Wren, Yanky, Yug, Zeus, Zsombor

*Enlli, which debuted last year, comes from the name of the Welsh island Ynys Enlli (called Bardsey Island in English). The island name is usually translated as “island of the current,” with ynys meaning “island,” and enlli meaning “current.” You can hear the proper pronunciation of Ynys Enlli at Forvo.

Finally, all of my previous posts on the popular (and unique) baby names in England and Wales: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

Source: Baby Names, England and Wales, 2013 – ONS

Ellery – Girl Name or Boy Name?

Ellery - girl name or boy name?

In the comments to my final road-trip post, several people mentioned Ellery. So I thought we should take a closer look at the name.

Specifically, let’s discuss whether Ellery is a boy name, a girl name, or both.

First, a little background. Ellery is related to Hilary, which comes from the Latin masculine name Hilarius, a derivative of hilaris, “cheerful.”

Like Hilary, Ellery began as a boy name. Unlike Hilary, Ellery was used primarily for baby boys all the way until the 1980s. (For Hilary, the scales tipped from “mostly boys” to “mostly girls” during the 1940s.) Fictional detective Ellery Queen may have helped reinforce Ellery’s masculinity mid-century.

Ellery popped up on the girls’ list intermittently from the ’50s through the ’70s, but wasn’t a regular presence until the mid-1980s. By the late ’80s, more girls than boys were already getting the name:

  • 1982 – 25 boys and fewer than 5 girls named Ellery
  • 1983 – 29 boys, 6 girls
  • 1984 – 30 boys, 6 girls
  • 1985 – 21 boys, 8 girls
  • 1986 – 16 boys, 8 girls
  • 1987 – 28 boys, 11 girls
  • 1988 – 15 boys, 16 girls
  • 1989 – 12 boys, 18 girls
  • 1990 – 18 boys, 26 girls
  • 1991 – 15 boys, 28 girls
  • 1992 – 14 boys, 19 girls
  • 1993 – 18 boys, 32 girls
  • 1994 – 15 boys, 29 girls

From 2004 to 2005, the number of baby girls named Ellery nearly doubled, from 77 to 130. I’m still not quite sure why. Regardless, the number has stayed above the hundred-mark ever since.

Meanwhile, on the boy’s side, the number of baby Ellerys is dwindling:

  • 2007 – 10 boys and 151 girls named Ellery
  • 2008 – 19 boys, 141 girls
  • 2009 – 8 boys, 171 girls
  • 2010 – 13 boys, 187 girls
  • 2011 – 10 boys, 196 girls

Right now, Ellery is in danger of dropping off the boys’ list entirely.

It’s also on track to reach the top 1,000 for girls soon. (It ranked 1,216th in 2011.)

So what are your thoughts on Ellery: Girl name? Boy name? Somewhere in between?

[Other girl name/boy name debates: Aubrey, Avery, Charlie, Elliot, Maxwell, Peyton, Rory, Shea, Stuart]

Road Trip Roundup: Mattie, Ellery & Theda

There weren’t many names to be seen/heard among the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone.


But I did spot something interesting while flipping though a book at the gift shop near Old Faithful.

The book mentioned the grave of Mattie Culver (1856-1889). It’s one of the few graves located inside the park.

Mattie Culver grave

Mattie, born Martha Jane Shipley, was the tubercular wife of Ellery Channing Culver, the winter caretaker of the Firehole Hotel for the 1888-1889 season. Ellery had hoped the mountain air might improve Mattie’s condition but, unfortunately, it did not. Mattie passed away on March 2, 1889.

What really interested me was the name of their baby girl, Theda (b. 1887). When I saw it, I wondered: was she one of the many Thedas named for silent film star Theda Bara?

Nope, not even close.

Theodosia Goodman, later Theda Bara, was virtually the same age as Theda Culver.

Bara was born in 1885, and didn’t start appearing in films until 1914. The height of her popularity — and, hence, the popularity of her name — came in the late 1910s:

  • 1913: 17 baby girls named Theda
  • 1914: 33 baby girls named Theda
  • 1915: 124 baby girls named Theda
  • 1916: 315 baby girls named Theda
  • 1917: 334 baby girls named Theda
  • 1918: 354 baby girls named Theda
  • 1919: 356 baby girls named Theda
  • 1920: 290 baby girls named Theda
  • 1921: 293 baby girls named Theda
  • 1922: 202 baby girls named Theda

Nowadays, very few babies are named Theda.

Do you think the name will ever make a comeback?

[What’s this road trip all about?]

Names Spotted on Road Trip thru Wild West

I recently got back from a 2-week road trip through South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming:

Nancy's 2012 Roadtrip

(We set off on this one just two days after getting back from Toronto. Why? Insanity, I suppose.)

I spotted a bunch of interesting names on this trip, but instead of one massive post, I thought I’d break it all up into a series of smaller posts.

Here are some of the names I’ll be talking about:





I’ll come back and add links as the posts are published. Hope you enjoy!