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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Free

Number of Babies Named Free

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Free

What’s Your Cape Breton Nickname?

A few weeks ago I posted about the baby names Silver and Free Silver, which were bestowed by bimetallism buffs in the 1890s.

Decades later, in the 1930s, Canadian writer Silver Donald Cameron was born.

His name had nothing to do with monetary standards, though. He wasn’t even born a “Silver.” He was simply Donald Cameron until the early 1970s, when he decided to adopt the name Silver to set himself apart from all the other Canadian men named Donald Cameron.

How did he come up with Silver? He didn’t. A friend gave it to him:

“Lard Jasus, b’y,” said folk-singer Tom Gallant, “you need a proper Cape Breton nickname.” I know what he means: Black John MacDonald as distinguished from John The Piper MacDonald and Gimpy John MacDonald and John By-The-Church MacDonald. What are my own characteristics? I’m short: what about Donald The Runt? Or Brief Donald? No, no dignity: if he had called himself Clubfoot George would we remember Lord Byron?

Tom struck a chord in his Yamaha, gazed at me. “That hair,” he said. It’s my most striking feature, prematurely grey hair, set off by black eyebrows and moustache. Don’t ask me how I got that color scheme, ask God: He did it. Children stop me in the street to ask me if I’m wearing a wig. Adults chalk it up to noxious personal habits and secret vices.

“That hair,” said Tom. “That’s it. Silver Donald Cameron.”

Cameron refers to himself as “Silver Donald” all over his website, awesomely.

Nicknames have been a tradition on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, for hundreds of years. They’re particularly popular among the coal miners, and tend to fall into several broad categories: place names, occupational names, patronymics, physical features, and personality traits.

Other nicknames based on physical features don’t tend to be as complimentary as “Silver.” They include “Buffalo Head,” “Potato Nose,” “Saucer Eyes,” “Popeye,” and “Bandy Legs.”

“Alex the Clock” had one arm that was shorter than the other. “Waterloo Dan” had backed into a hot stove in his youth and thereafter sported the brand “Waterloo No. 2” (written backwards) on his bum.

People don’t get to choose their own nicknames on Cape Breton, but let’s pretend for a moment that you live there and you get to choose yours. What would it be?

Sources:


Unusual American Names – Free Silver, Gold Standard

gold vs silver
Puck‘s take on gold vs. silver in 1900

The Free Silver Movement gave the baby name Silver a boost during the 1890s, as we saw in yesterday’s post. But the story doesn’t end there.

Some parents got even more specific with their babies’ names, opting for the full phrase “Free Silver”:

  • Free Silver Hopkins, born in Oklahoma in 1894
  • Free Silver Kasler, born in Oklahoma in 1895
  • Goldie Freesilver Crawford, born in Oklahoma in 1897
  • Free Silver Waters, born in Georgia in 1898
  • Free Silver Watts, born in West Virginia in 1895

Then there were the people on the other side of the issue. They supported the gold standard, and a handful of them named their babies accordingly:

  • Goldstandard G. Anderson, born in Kansas in 1898
  • Gold Standard Kirkwood, born in Mississippi in 1890
  • Gold Standard Gunn, born in West Virginia in 1897
  • Goldstandard T. Rowlett, born in Oklahoma in 1898

Names from the same decade that included both metals, such as Goldie Freesilver, are harder to interpret. These names could be more about novelty than about politics (i.e., not a nod to bimetallism).

  • Goldie Silvery Budd, in Ohio in 1896
  • Golden Silver Colley, born in Kentucky in 1896
  • Goldie Silverada Hoffman, born in Colorado in 1899
  • Silver Gold Kay, born in Arizona in 1893

Today’s question: If you had to choose either Gold or Silver (or some variant thereof, like Goldie or Silverene) as your baby’s name, which metal would you choose?

Image: The survival of the fittest – LOC