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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Eugene

Number of Babies Named Eugene

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Eugene

Lalage: Chatterbox Baby Name?

lalage, baby name, greek

Lalage’s quirky definition is what first caught my eye.

Horace, the Roman poet, created the name Lalage over two thousand years ago from the ancient Greek word lalagein, meaning “to chatter,” “to prattle,” “to babble,” or (in the case of a bird) “to chirp.” He invented it as a fitting alias for the “sweetly laughing, sweetly talking” woman described in Ode 1.22:

dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
dulce loquentem.

The name Lalage has since appeared in other literary works, including the play Politian (1835) by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem “Rimini” (1906) by Rudyard Kipling, and the novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) by John Fowles.

In The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the mother of the child named Lalage “pronounced it as a dactyl, the g hard.” So: LAL-a-ghee. But I checked other sources (such as this one) and found a variety of pronunciation suggestions.

There are two distinct camps regarding the G, for instance — the hard-G camp (lal-a-ghee) and the soft-G camp (lal-a-dgee). I think the soft-G makes the most sense for English-speakers, as the English forms of other Greek-origin names (like George and Eugene) also tend to have soft G’s, but that’s just personal opinion.

Lalage has since become the name of an asteroid (822 Lalage) and a genus of birds (the trillers), but my favorite association so far is the mid-20th-century circus performer.

Lalage — whose real name was Hedwig Roth — was an aerialist with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. According to one circus program, she was a “dusty blonde of French-Swiss origin” and she pronounced her name lä-lä-gay, but she had “given up trying to sell people that idea” because most people assumed it was lä-LÄZH. (See what I mean about the various pronunciations?)

Here’s the first stanza of the poem “Lalage!” (1946) by American poet Charles Olson:

The legs of Lalage toss, and toss, and toss
(l’esprit de femme)
against the canvas of the circus sky

What do you think of the name Lalage? Would it be a good alternative to popular girl names like Lillian or Lily?

Sources:


Baby Born During Superbowl, Named Brady

On Superbowl Sunday, Colleen Gaffney of Plymouth, Massachusetts, went into labor.

During the third quarter, when the Patriots were down 25 points against the Falcons, Colleen’s husband Sean demanded that the baby be born so that the Pats could start making their comeback already.

And you know what? That’s exactly what happened. The baby arrived a few minutes later, just as the Pats began to rally. They ultimately won the game 34-28 in overtime.

So what did the Gaffneys decide to name their baby boy? Brady, after longtime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady has three older siblings: Quinn (named for Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn), Reese, and Knox. The family dog is named Rudy after Notre Dame football player Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger.

(As you might imagine, much of the recent usage of the baby name Brady has been centered in New England specifically.)

Source: Child named Brady born in Falmouth during Super Bowl

Marie Ahnighito, the Snow Baby

Marie Ahnighito Peary
Marie Ahnighito Peary, mid-1890s
Roald Amundsen was the first explorer to verifiably reach the North Pole (in 1926, with the help of a dirigible). But he wasn’t the first explorer to claim to have reached the North Pole.

One of those early claimants was Robert Peary, who said he reached the Pole in 1909. While no one knows for sure if this is true, other facts about Peary’s travels are not in question.

For instance, there’s the fact that he brought his pregnant wife Josephine to northern Greenland in 1893 so that she could give birth to their first child in the Arctic. The baby girl, who arrived in September, was the first Caucasian baby to be born at that altitude.

The baby’s name? Marie Ahnighito. She was often called the “snow baby” by the media.

In her 1901 book “The Snow Baby: A True Story with True Pictures,” Josephine described an outfit one of the Inuit women had constructed for Marie, and that led to the story of the name:

This costume was made by a woman named AH-NI-GHI-TO; so, when the baby was christened, she too was called AH-NI-GHI-TO. She was also named Marie for her only aunt, who was waiting in the far-off home land to greet her little niece.

(I wish she’d included a translation/interpretation of Ahnighito, but alas she did not.)

Marie Ahnighito was probably the first non-Inuit baby to get that particular Inuit name, but she wasn’t the last. So far I’ve found four U.S. babies (two male, two female) named Ahnighito. Two were born in the late 1930s, not long after Marie’s book “The Snowbaby’s Own Story” (1934) was published, and the other two were born in the late 1950s. (One was Ahnighito Eugene Riddick.)

…Oh, and I know of one more thing named after Marie Ahnighito: A meteorite. Or at least a big chunk of one.

About 10,000 years ago, a meteorite entered the atmosphere, broke up, and landed in pieces close to Cape York, Greenland. For centuries the Inuit of the region used iron from the fragments to make tools and harpoons.

Peary discovered these meteorite fragments around 1894. A few years later, he sold the three largest pieces — called “Tent,” “Woman” and “Dog” by the Inuit — to the American Museum of Natural History for $40,000. (Essentially, he profited from stealing/selling the Inuit’s only source of metal.) At some point Peary renamed the largest fragment “Ahnighito” in honor of his daughter, and today all three pieces — Ahnighito, Woman and Dog — remain on display in New York City.

Sources:

Image: Marie Peary (LOC)

Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.

Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1866

providenceLast month we looked at the top Providence names of 1867, so today let’s check out the rankings from the year before — 1866.

First, some stats:

  • 1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
  • 1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
  • 234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.

And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.

Now, on to the names…

Top 5

The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. George
5. Thomas

The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.

Girl Names

As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 43
  3. Ellen, 40
  4. Margaret, 37
  5. Sarah, 36
  6. Elizabeth, 32
  7. Alice, 18
  8. Annie, 15
  9. Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
  10. Clara, 13
  11. Ann, 11
  12. Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
  13. Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
  14. Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
  15. Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
  17. Amelia, Bridget, Ella, Frances, Hattie, Lydia, Nellie & Theresa, 4 each (8-way tie)
  18. Abby, Emily, Florence, Josephine, Laura, Lillian, Lizzie, Louise & Marion, 3 each (9-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amy, Augusta, Deborah, Edith, Etta, Eva, Fannie, Georgianna, Hannah, Henrietta, Honora, Isabel, Isabella, Lottie, Lucy, Mabel, Marietta, Maud & Teresa, 2 each (20-way tie)
  20. Almira, Annette, Bertha, Catharine, Cedelia, Celia, Christina, Delia, Diana, Dora, Dorcas, Eldora, Eleanor, Elsie, Emeline, Etherine, Eugenie, Evangeline, Fanny, Flora, Geneva, Georgia, Gracie, Helen, Helena, Imogene, Janette, Jessie, Kate, Lena, Louisa, Lucia, Lucinda, Madelina, Marian, Marsalin, May, Millie, Mina, Mini, Minna, Neatah, Nettie, Phebe, Rebecca, Rosa, Roselia, Rosetta, Ruth, Sophia, Stella, Susanna, Susannah, Tillie & Winnifred, 1 each (55-way tie)

Boy Names

John had an even more commanding lead in 1866 than in 1867.

  1. John, 109 baby boys
  2. William, 78
  3. James, 62
  4. George, 44
  5. Thomas, 41
  6. Charles, 36
  7. Edward, 28
  8. Joseph, 27
  9. Frederick, 20
  10. Henry, 18
  11. Frank, 17
  12. Michael, 15
  13. Francis, 14
  14. Daniel, 13
  15. Albert, Patrick & Robert, 12 each (3-way tie)
  16. Walter, 11
  17. Arthur, Peter & Samuel, 8 each (3-way tie)
  18. Alfred, Harry, Louis & Stephen, 7 each (4-way tie)
  19. Martin, 6
  20. Matthew, 5
  21. Christopher, Clarence, Herbert, Howard & Hugh, 4 each (5-way tie)
  22. Benjamin, Eugene, Ira & Jeremiah, 3 each (4-way tie)
  23. Aaron, Alvin, Arnold, Earl, Edgar, Elisha, Freddie, Harrison, Lewis, Marcus, Nicholas, Philip, Richard & Timothy, 2 each (14-way tie)
  24. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Alanson, Alden, Ambrose, Antonio, August, Augustavus*, Augustus, Bartholomew, Bernard, Bradford, Byron, Chauncey, Clinton, David, Duncan, Eben, Ebenezer, Edwin, Elias, Elliott, Ethan, Everett, Ezra, Ferdinand, Frederic, Fullerton, Gilbert, Gwynn, Harold, Herman, Isaac, Jesse, Josiah, Lauriston, Luther, Manuel, Marks, Maurice, Miles, Mortimer, Oliver, Olney, Oscar, Otto, Rana, Rectol, Salisbury, Shamball, Simon, Terence, Theodore, Victor, Willard, Willie & Wilton, 1 each (58-way tie)

(I didn’t combine any variant spellings, but I did lump the abbreviated names Chas., Benj., and Fred’k in with Charles, Benjamin and Frederick.)

*Does Augustavus = Augustus + Gustav, I wonder?

Twins

I counted 19 pairs of twins born in Providence in 1866. I didn’t notice any triplets this year. (All of these names have already been accounted for above.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g)
Edgar & Oscar
Edward & James
Francis & James
James & John
John & Thomas
(blank) & (blank)
Frederick & Alice
John & Alice
Samuel & Sarah
Stephen & Annie
(blank) & Catherine
Agnes & Anna
Eldora & Ellen
Eliza & Mary
Elizabeth & Julia
Frances & Mary
Josephine & Mary
Mary & Sarah
Theresa & (blank)

I’ll try to finish/post the final set of rankings before the end of the year.

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence During the Year 1866. Providence: Hammond, Angell & Co., 1867.