How popular is the baby name Francis 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 Francis.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Francis


Posts that Mention the Name Francis

Bridgewater’s Water Bridge

Barton Aqueduct (1793) by G. F. Yates

England’s canal era (from the 1760s to the 1830s) was kicked off by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater*, who’d commissioned the construction of the Bridgewater Canal (1761) from his coal mines in Worsley to the city of Manchester.

The most notable feature of his canal was the stone aqueduct across the River Irwell at Barton-upon-Irwell. It was the first navigable aqueduct in England, and it allowed the horse-towed canal boats to cross the river at an elevation of nearly 40 feet. (This engineering feat even attracted tourists, who came to marvel at the boats on the aqueduct floating over the boats on the river.)

My favorite part of this story? The name of the canal, Bridgewater, just happens to mirror the description of canal’s most notable feature, the water bridge, which itself happens to bridge water. What fun coincidences. :)

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*The dukedom took its name from the town of Bridgwater in Somerset. The settlement was originally called Brigge/Brugge/Brigga — “bridge.” After the Norman Invasion, the land on which the settlement stood was given to Norman knight Walter of Douai, so the settlement became known as Brugge-Walter/Brigge-Walter — “Walter’s bridge.” This later evolved into Bridgwater.

Name Quotes #71: Floy, Zyler, Tane Mahuta

Rami Malek, after winning the Oscar for Best Actor in early 2019 [vid]:

I grew up in a world where I never thought I was gonna play the lead on Mr. Robot because I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me. I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury until I realized his name was Farrokh Bulsara. […] That was the motivation that allowed me to say, “Oh, I can do this.”

Winnie Harlow, born Chantelle Brown-Young, upon being asked where the name “Winnie Harlow” came from:

It’s literally just from Winnie the Pooh! I was a big fan growing up, and it was actually from a joke with some friends. We were on the phone with some boys, I grabbed the phone from one of my girls, and was like, “Don’t give my friends attitude!” And the boys asked, “Who is this?” I looked over, my friend was wearing a Winnie the Pooh T-shirt, so I said my name was Winnie. When I started working, it felt kind of natural to just continue with it. Harlow comes from Jean Harlow; I’m a really big Marilyn Monroe fan, but I didn’t want to use Monroe, because that felt cheesy. But Jean Harlow was one of Marilyn’s really big career inspirations, so I took the name Harlow. I do love my actual name a lot. At the beginning, I tried to go by Chantelle Winnie, but then decided to keep Winnie Harlow and Chantelle separate. My family calls me Chantelle.

Monica Lewinsky, on “the Monica Lewinsky scandal” of early 1998:

“The scandal was named after me,” she said. “Any time that this has been referenced, every single day, every single day in the past 20 years — so it may not be a direct reference to me, but because the investigation and the scandal have my name, I’m then, therefore, attached to it.”

[…]

“Bill Clinton didn’t have to change his name,” Lewinsky said, when Oliver asked if she considered changing hers. “Nobody’s ever asked him, did he think he should change his name.”

From an article about an 11-year-old golf player who happens to have been named for the Ryder cup:

With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young [age] is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.

From an article about Southern names (via Abby):

[W]hen Southerners make up new names, it’s usually a more meaningful exercise than simply slapping a K where it does not belong, like when people name their girls after their daddies. This results in the likes of Raylene, Bobette, Earline, Georgette (one of George Jones’s daughters), Georgine, and my personal favorite, Floy (feminine for Floyd). As it happens, I almost got a masculine name (unfeminized) myself. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Julia Evans Clements Brooks, and my mother was dead set on calling me Evans until my father put his foot down on the grounds that that was the kind of stuff that Yankees did. Maybe, but we do plenty of the last name/family name business for girls down here, too. Off the top of my head I can think of three Southern women I love a lot: Keith, Cameron, Egan.

From an article comparing the relative popularity of twin professional hockey players Daniel and Henrik Sedin by looking at the B.C. baby name data:

[T]he name Henrik magically first started appearing on B.C. baby announcements in 2007, which, maybe not so coincidentally, was also the year following the Sedins’ breakout season.

[…]

Interestingly, the largest spike — a total of 13 baby Henriks — came in 2011, which coincides with the Canucks’ march to the Stanley Cup Final.

From an article about “theybies” — kids being brought up without gender designations:

Three-year-old twins Zyler and Kadyn Sharpe scurried around the boys and girls clothing racks of a narrow consignment store filled with toys. Zyler, wearing rainbow leggings, scrutinized a pair of hot-pink-and-purple sneakers. Kadyn, in a T-Rex shirt, fixated on a musical cube that flashed colorful lights. At a glance, the only discernible difference between these fraternal twins is their hair — Zyler’s is brown and Kadyn’s is blond.

Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide.

How did presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke acquire the nickname Beto?

He was named after his grandfathers. His mother Melissa O’Rourke said on the campaign trail during his U.S. Senate run that “Robert” — her father’s name — didn’t seem to fit when he was a baby.

The family has deep roots in El Paso, Texas, and “Beto” is a common shortening of the name “Roberto,” or “Robert.” If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced BEH-toe and O’Rourke is oh-RORK.

From an article about America’s first exascale supercomputer:

The supercomputer, dubbed Aurora — which [Secretary of Energy Rick] Perry joked was named after his three-legged black lab Aurora Pancake — is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2021, as the DOE attempts to keep pace with China in a supercomputing arms race.

(Turns out the dog’s nickname is “Rory.” I posted a quote about another named computer, the Lisa, last year.)

From an article about the divorce of Lady Davina Windsor, 30th in line to the British throne, from husband Gary “Gazza” Lewis, a Maori sheep shearer:

Lady Davina gave birth to a daughter, Senna Kowhai, who is now aged eight, and a son, Tane Mahuta, six. He was named after the giant Tane Mahuta kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, in New Zealand.

(Here’s more on the famous Tane Mahuta tree. The name Kowhai was also inspired by New Zealand tree.)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes #70: Silas, Mabel, Ilima

It’s April Fools’ Day! I don’t have any pun names (like April Fool or Seymour Butts) for you today, but here are some name quotes…

From the book Jazz And Its Discontents by Francis Davis, a passage about jazz singer Abbey Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge) :

When the singer Abbey Lincoln gives her autograph, she appends the name Aminata Moseka. During her pilgrimage to Africa in 1975, the president of Guinea christened her “Aminata” in recognition of her inner strength and determination, and Zaire’s minister of education likened her to “Moseka,” the god of love in female form. “I love Aminata Moseka. I’ve added her to myself. But I can’t say that’s my one and only name,” says Lincoln […] “It’s more like a title–something to live up to. That’s why I recorded Stevie Wonder’s ‘Golden Lady.’ It gave me the opportunity to sing to a female god. But I’m still Abbey Lincoln–I still like to wear makeup and glittering dresses and look attractive for an audience. And in many ways, I’m still Anna Marie.”

From an interview with Skid Row bass player Rachel Bolan (born James Richard Southworth):

DC9 at Night: How did you get the name Rachel?

Bolan: It’s not my real first name. When I was first getting into bands, I wanted a cool stage name. I wanted to be like Alice Cooper. Eventually, when I was old enough, I legally changed my name to Rachel. It’s always raised a few eyebrows. It’s funny to hear people pronounce it when I give them a credit card or something. It’s funny to this day. They ask me if I gave them the wrong ID or if I gave them some chic’s credit card.

(According to Wikipedia, he created “Rachel” by combining the names of his brother Richard and his grandfather Manuel.)

From an article about the top baby names across Ontario:

As for Maverick — the number one boy name in Sault Ste. Marie — Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker said it’s an interesting choice, quipping: “It’s better than Goose” — referring to the main characters from the movie Top Gun.

From an ESPN article about MMA fighter Ilima-Lei Macfarlane:

She was named after the official island flower of Oahu — the ilima — recognizable for its delicate yellow petals.

“It was considered a flower for royalty,” Macfarlane said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday, “because it would take hundreds of flowers to make a lei, they’re so paper thin.”

From an article about baby naming trends being linked to the stock market:

Alan [Hall] compared seven decades of stock market records to baby naming data from the same period and found that parents tend to give their children unique and unusual names during and right after rallies in the market. On the flip side, when the market is down, parents revert to safer, more traditional names.

In contrast with the above…from an article called “It’s Not the Economy: Why Unique Baby Names Are Trending Up“:

The researchers also examined the naming trends against the background of the economy. Some theorists had speculated that increased economic hardship might make people more focused on the community, and thus cause a decline in individualism. One study, published in 2013 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found increases of communal behavior like charitable activity among high-schoolers during the 2008 recession. But baby names didn’t follow that pattern, [psychologist Jean] Twenge said.

[…]

“There’s just a longer-scale trend toward uniqueness and individualism that isn’t necessarily rooted in these economic cycles,” Twenge said.

From an article about Justin Timberlake’s latest album:

Timberlake’s interview comes weeks before the release of his new album Man of the Woods, which is set to hit stores on February 2. He said his son inspired the name of the record and its title track.

“I literally just went on Google like, ‘meaning of the name Silas,’ and it sent me to this to this site and it said, ‘of Latin origin, meaning ‘Man of the woods,'” he said. “I was like, ‘How serendipitous that my last is Timberlake, like what does that mean?'”

From a collection of baby name stories contributed by Long Island moms:

My grandfather hated tattoos. He used to tell his standard stories and would say only people who had tattoos in ‘his day’ were sailors. He said their tattoos always said either ‘death before dishonor’ or ‘true love Mabel.’ He always used Mabel as the example name. I’m not sure why. He died in 2013. We named our daughter Mabel as a nod to him.

Want to see more blog posts like this one? Check out the name quotes category.

Arctic Baby Named Charlie Polaris

polaris, boat, north pole, baby name
The Polaris in 1871

The Polaris Expedition (1871-1873) was one of the many ill-fated early attempts to reach the North Pole.

In November of the first year, the ship’s captain, Charles Francis Hall, died — possibly from being poisoned. In October of the second year, the ship’s company accidentally broke up: 19 people were stranded on an ice floe while 14 remained on board.

Among those on the floe were Inuit hunter/interpreter Hans Hendrik (Greenlandic name: Suersaq), his wife Mergut, and their four children — including a newborn. The baby boy had arrived in August of 1871, while the family was still aboard the ship.

No doubt his parents gave him a Greenlandic name, but all the accounts of the expedition only mention the baby’s English name: Charlie Polaris. “Charlie” was for the late captain, and “Polaris” was for the ship.

Baby Charlie and the others were finally rescued in April of 1973 off the coast of Newfoundland, having drifted some 1,500 miles.

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P.S. The ship’s original name was Periwinkle, and it was part of the Potomac Flotilla during the final months of the Civil War.

Baby Names Inspired by The Chantels

chantels, music, 1950s, doowop

Though The Chantels were technically the second African-American girl-group (after the Bobbettes) to achieve chart success, they missed being first by just a matter of weeks.

The quintet of Catholic choir girls — Arlene, Lois, Renee, Jackie, and Sonia — hit the scene in the latter half of 1957 with two singles: “He’s Gone,” released in August, and “Maybe,” released in December.

“Maybe” ended up becoming a hit in early 1958, reaching #2 on the R&B charts and #15 on the Hot 100. Here are the Chantels singing (well, lip-syncing) “Maybe” on The Dick Clark Show in March:

The word “Chantels” never ended up in the U.S. baby name data, but non-plural forms like Chantel and Chantell started appearing in 1957:

  • 1964: 45 Chantel, 30 Chantelle, 20 Chantell, 19 Shantel, 12 Shantell, 9 Shantelle, 7 Chantele
  • 1963: 56 Chantel, 31 Chantelle, 11 Shantel, 9 Chantele, 7 Chantell, 6 Shantell
  • 1962: 12 Chantel
  • 1961: 5 Chantel
  • 1960: 5 Chantell
  • 1959: 5 Chantel
  • 1958: 6 Chantell
  • 1957: 5 Chantel
  • 1956: unlisted

I’m not sure what caused that explosion of variants in 1963. The Chantels’ next-biggest hit, “Look In My Eyes” (1961), is too early to account for it. The answer might be the 1962 movie If a Man Answers, which featured a character named Chantal played by Sandra Dee.

So where did the Chantels get their name? From a Catholic parish in Bronx — but not their own, St. Anthony of Padua. Here’s the story:

The girls were performing at a dance at St. Francis [sic] de Chantal parish in Throgs Neck, got a terrific hand from the audience, and had a brainstorm for the name of their group.

They simply altered Chantal — a French place name meaning “stony” — to create Chantel.

Do you like the name Chantel? Do you like it more or less than Chantal?

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