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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Gretchen

Number of Babies Named Gretchen

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Gretchen

Nomenclator: Ancient Roman Name Remember-er

In ancient times, well-to-do Romans didn’t have to worry about remembering people’s names. Why? Because they had special name-remembering slaves to do the job for them.

These slaves were called nomenclators, from the Latin words nōmen, meaning “name,” and calō, meaning, “call together, summon.”

Essentially, a nomenclator was a social secretary. He accompanied his master in public and reminded him of the names and details of important individuals, such as business acquaintances. Nomenclators were particularly useful to politicians soliciting a votes in elections to public office.

The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum owns a 1st century epitaph for a guy named Aristarchus who worked as a nomenclator. (The name Aristarchus is based on the ancient Greek words aristos, meaning “best,” and archos, meaning “master.”)

Are you good at remembering names? Would you have made an efficient nomenclator?

Sources: nomenclator – Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Nomenclator – Wiktionary, ‘Working IX to V’ in Ancient Rome and Greece

P.S. I learned about this interesting ancient job from episode 51 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.


Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letter Z

zaza, movie, gloria swanson
Gloria Swanson as Zaza (1923)
Looking for an under-the-radar girl name with a retro feel?

A few years ago I combed though a bunch of IMDb pages looking for interesting female names associated with old films (1910s-1940s).

Most of the names I spotted — names like Mabel, Maisie, Hazel, Hattie, Elsie, Selma, Bessie, and Betty — were ones I expected to see. But I did manage to collect thousands of rarities, many of which have never appeared in the SSA data before.

Want to check out all these unusual names? I thought so! To make things interesting I’ll post the Z-names first and go backwards, letter by letter.

Enjoy!

Zabette
Zabette de Chavalons was a character played by actress Bebe Daniels in the film Volcano! (1926).

Zabie
Zabie Elliot was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Broken Butterfly (1919).

Zada
Zada L’Etoile was a character played by actress Sylvia Breamer in the Cecil B. DeMille-directed film We Can’t Have Everything (1918).

Zadee
Zadee Burbank was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1867 with the name Sarah Pyle Watt.

Zahanna
Zahanna was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film The Girl and the Tiger (1913).

Zahrah
Zahrah was a character played by actress Gene Gauntier in the short film The Fighting Dervishes of the Desert (1912).

Zahrat
Zahrat was a character played by actress Betty Blythe in the film Chu-Chin-Chow (1923) and by Anna May Wong in Chu-Chin-Chow (1934).

Zalata
Zalata was a character played by actress Ruth Stonehouse in the short film Ashes of Hope (1914).

Zalea
Zalea was a character played by mononymous actress Armida in the film Congo Bill
(1948).

Zalia
Zalia Graem was a character played by actress Virginia Bruce in the film The Garden Murder Case (1936).

Zalla
Zalla Zarana was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s. She was born in Slovenia in 1897 with the name Rozalija Sršen.

Zamina
Zamina was a character played by actress Edna Eichor in the film The Roughneck (1924).

Zana
Zana was a character name used in multiple films, including Tonight Is Ours (1933) and Call Out the Marines (1942).

Zanda
Zanda was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Shipwrecked (1926).

Zandra
Zandra was a character name used in multiple films, including Carnival Lady (1933) and Good Dame (1934).

Zarika
Countess Zarika Rafay was a character played by actress Rosalind Russell in the film The Night is Young (1935).

Zarita
Zarita was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the film King’s Mate (1928).

Zarmi
Zarmi was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the three short films The Queen of Hearts (1923), The Man with the Limp (1923), and The Golden Pomegranates (1924).

Zarrah
Zarrah was a character played by actress Violet Horner in the film A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

ZaSu
ZaSu Pitts was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Kansas in 1894.

Zavia
Princess Zavia was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Theft of the Crown Jewels (1914).

Zaza
Zaza was a character played by Pauline Frederick in the film Zaza (1915), Gloria Swanson in Zaza (1923), and Claudette Colbert in Zaza (1938).

Zedorah
Zedorah was a character played by actress Mayo Methot in the film Counsellor at Law (1933).

Zee
Zee was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1939) and Man from Texas (1948).

  • Usage of the baby name Zee (which debuted in the data the year Jesse James came out).

Zeetah
Zeetah was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Totem Mark (1911).

Zeffie
Zeffie Tilbury was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1863.

Zeleekha
Zeleekha was a character played by actress Mary Duncan in the film Kismet (1930).

Zelia
Zelia de Chaumont was a character played by actress Ruth Chatterton in the film The Rat (1937).

Zelie
Zélie was a character name in multiple films, including The Rat (1925) and The White Black Sheep (1926).

Zell
Zell was a character played by actress Mollie King in the film Fate’s Boomerang (1916).

Zelle
Zelle was a character played by actress Anne Cornwall in the short film The Roughneck (1924).

Zelma
Zelma was a character name in multiple films, including Charity Castle (1917) and Turkish Delight (1927).

Zema
Zema was a character played by actress Louise Vale in the short film The Debt (1912).

Zena
Zena Dare was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in England in 1887. Zena Keefe was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in California in 1898. Zena was also a character name in multiple films, including The Code of Honor (short, 1916) and The New York Peacock (1917).

Zenia
Zenia was a character name in multiple films such as His Friend’s Wife (short, 1911) and Centennial Summer (1946).

Zenobia
Zenobia was a character name in multiple films such as Secrets of Chinatown (1935) and The Crystal Ball (1943).

Zephne
Zephne Lamont was a character played by actress Edna Murphy in the film The Man Between (1923).

Zephyer
Zephyer Redlynch was a character played by actress “Miss DuPont” (born Patricia Hannon) in the film One Night in Rome (1924).

Zephyrine
Zephyrine was a character name in multiple films, including The Suicide Club (1914) and Women Everywhere (1930).

Zerelda
Zerelda was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1927) and Jesse James (1939).

Zerilda
Zerilda James was a character played by actress Dorothy Sebastian in the film Days of Jesse James (1939).

Zerlina
Zerlina was a character played by actress Lucile Browne in the film The Devil’s Brother (1933).

Zetta
Zetta was a character played by actress Zalla Zarana in the film The Lady Who Lied (1925).

Zilah
Zilah was a character played by actress Ruth Miller in the film The Sheik (1921).

Zilla
Zilla Riesling was a character played by Cissy Fitzgerald in the film Babbitt (1924) and Minna Gombell in Babbitt (1934).

Zillah
Zillah was a character played by actress Eulalie Jensen in the film Fighting Love (1927).

Zinida
Zinida was a character played by actress Paulette Duval in the film He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

Zira
Zira was a character name in multiple films, including Heart of Flame (short, 1915)
and The Fortieth Door (1924).

Zita
Zita was a character name in multiple films, including The Master Mystery (1919) and The Great Flirtation (1934).

Zixi
Queen Zixi was a character played by actress Juanita Hansen in the short film The Magic Cloak (1914).

Zizi
Zizi was a character played by actress Maudie Dunham in the film Circus Jim (1921).

Zohra
Princess Zohra was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film serial Under the Crescent (1915).

Zoila
Zoila Conan was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s. She was born in Mexico in 1903.

Zoldene
Zoldene was a character played by actress Gretchen Lederer in the film Black Friday (1916).

Zonia
Zonia was a character played by actress Eugenie Forde in the film The Light (1916).

Zoradi
Zoradi was a character played by actress Myrtle Gonzalez in the short film The Thief of the Desert (1916).

Zorah
Zorah was a character name in multiple films, such as The Cry of the Captive (short, 1914) and Samson (1914).

Zorina
Vera Zorina, often credited simply as Zorina, was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Germany in 1917 with the name Eva Brigitta Hartwig.

Zudora
Zudora was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film serial Zudora (1914).

Zuleika
Zuleika was a character played by actress Maria Montez in the film Raiders of the Desert (1941).

Zuletta
Zuletta was a character played by actress Lucille Young in the film The Spell of the Poppy (1915).

Zulika
Zulika was a character name used in multiple films, including The Greed of Osman Bey (short, 1913) and How the Earth Was Carpeted (short, 1914).

Zulima
Zulima was a character played by actress Blanche Cornwall in the film Fra Diavolo (1912).

*

Which of the above names do you like best?

Popular Baby Names in Germany, 2015

According to data from the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (Association for German Language), the most popular baby names in Germany in 2015 were Mia and Jonas.

Here are the country’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Mia
2. Emma
3. Hanna/Hannah
4. Sophia/Sofia
5. Anna
6. Emilia
7. Mila
8. Lea/Leah
9. Lina
10. Lena
1. Jonas
2. Maximilian
3. Ben
4. Luca/Luka
5. Leon/Léon
6. Louis/Luis
7. Lukas/Lucas
8. Elias
9. Felix
10. Noah/Noa

In the girls’ top 10, Mila replaces Marie. In the boys’ top 10, Elias replaces Paul.

Hanna/Hannah and Luis/Louis were the #1 names (and Jonas was down in 7th) in 2014.

One interesting baby name bestowed in Germany in 2015 was “Gretchen Schneewittchen,” or “Gretchen Snow White,” discovered by name researcher Knud Bielefeld. It may have been inspired by Grimm World, the Brothers Grimm museum that opened in Kassel, Germany, in 2015.

Finally, did you know that about 1,000 new baby names are approved in Germany every year?

Sources: GfdS (2015), Germans turn to Star Wars for baby names

Name Quotes for the Weekend #34

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar quote

From the essay Why I converted to Islam by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor:

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

[…]

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

[…]

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

From an article about hipsters reviving long-lost English words:

Luu writes that words with “a nostalgic air, reflecting the cultural values and tastes of the speaker,” are suddenly popping up everywhere. These include: bespoke, peruse, dapper, mayhaps and bedchamber. You’ll also find that old-timey prepositions like amidst and amongst are back. The same goes for baby names that were long considered lost to the past, such as Silas and Adeline.

From a Graham Norton Show episode [vid] that aired in October, 2014, in which comedian Stephen Fry gives actor Robert Downey, Jr., a baby name suggestion:

Could you, just as a favor, cause I know that, you know, some stars like to give unusual names, could you call him or her Uppy? Uppy Downey?

Spoiler #1: Downey and his wife Susan welcomed a baby girl that November. But they didn’t name her “Uppy.” Her full name is Avri Roel Downey.

From Queer Mama for Autostraddle Episode Seven — Help Name Our Baby (thank you to the anonymous reader who sent me this link!):

When Simone and I were first considering names, we thought we should err towards the gender neutral side of the girl-name spectrum. We know a good number of masculine-identifying women and so many trans men who haven’t liked their more feminine given names. But that’s the problem with “gender neutral.” It mostly has just come to mean sort-of masculine. Lover of femininity that I am, was I really willing to write off all the beautiful feminine names because our kid might not be femme?

We decided no, we wouldn’t do that. Our kid can change her name if and when she wants, and in the meantime, we will call her a name we love, even if that’s feminine! In any case, I have friends who’ve later changed their names not because of gender at all, but just because they wanted to be called something else, so there really are no guarantees.

Spoiler #2: Haley and Simone’s baby girl was born in late August. Her full name is Juniper Everhart Jude [vid].

From an article about a 21-year-old Ariel (pronounced “are-e-elle,” not “air-e-elle” like the Disney mermaid):

“I mean, it’s annoying when people say ‘Ariel’ because that’s not my name,” Malloy said. “But it’s great because they’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a princess,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re right.'”

From an article about Irish TV personality Vogue Williams:

“Everyone thinks I made up my name or I changed it at some stage and I’m actually called Joanne. But I like having a different name. Brian and I squabble all the time over baby names – because I want to give any children we have an equally mad name as the one I was given.

“Our friends in Australia had a baby girl about four years ago when we were living there and they called her Sailor. Now Liv Tyler has had a boy and she’s named him Sailor. So that’s top of the list at the moment.”

Finally, two of the comments on Haleema Shah’s post What’s in a Name? Reflections on Who We are and What We are Called.

First one is from Lesley Woodward:

I was born in 1937 to an American mother and a naturalized German father. I was named “Gretchen” which was a mistake since war with Germany was looming and there was a lot of anti-German sentiment. Anything German was stigmatized, even innocent little daschund dogs were kicked and hated for their German origin. I was referred to as “the little Nazi” in the neighborhood and school because of my name and my father’s heavily accented English. We moved when I was about 12 years old, and I took the opportunity to change my name, dropping “Gretchen” and insisting on being called by my middle name “Lesley.” My parents knew nothing of this, and were confused when the neighborhood children came to the door and asked for “Lesley.” It took a lot of self control not to respond to “Gretchen” or even acknowledge the someone had spoken to me, but gradually I morphed into “Lesley” and have since legally dropped my birth name.

Second one is from Lloret de Mar Pelayo:

I cringe when people ask me my name. In Spanish it sounds beautiful, even in it’s native Catalan accent, but in English it sounds dreadful.

Lloret De Mar is a city north of Barcelona, a beach town. The double L can be pronounced like a Y or a J. But in English everyone and I mean everyone sounds out the double L like the L in laughter. I feel terrible correcting people because they immediately question whether I spelled my own name wrong (“You know there’s two Ls right?”) And I politely smile and have to further explain…

My father is Catalan and he and my mother (who is Puerto Rican) wanted a name that reflected Catalan ancestry and therefore Lloret was what they picked. I absolutely love the history of the name and its ties to Catalan culture…I just wish they had spelled it with a Y or a J so it’d be easier to pronounce in English!

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Lloret de Mar, which is on the Mediterranean coast.

And here’s a link to the names quotes category, if you’d like to see past posts like this one.

Starlet Names from the Early 1900s

Ever heard of the WAMPAS Baby Stars?

They were young actresses on the cusp of movie stardom back in the 1920s and 1930s.

WAMPAS baby stars 1928

About 13 Baby Stars were selected by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers every year from 1922 to 1934 (minus 1930 and 1933).

Some of those young women did indeed achieve stardom. Among the Baby Stars were Clara Bow (’24), Mary Astor (’26), Joan Crawford (’26), Fay Wray (’26) and Ginger Rogers (’32).

I thought the names of the Baby Stars — the oldest of whom were born in the final years of the 1800s, the youngest of whom were born in the mid-1910s — would make an interesting set. But I wanted birth names, not stage names, so I tracked down as many birth names as I could. Here’s the result, sorted by frequency (i.e., seven women were named Dorothy).

  • 7: Dorothy
  • 6: Helen
  • 4: Elizabeth
  • 3: Frances, Ruth, Virginia
  • 2: Anita, Ann, Barbara, Betty, Clara, Doris, Dorothea, Eleanor, Evelyn, Gladys, Gwendolyn, Hazel, Jacqueline, Katherine, Laura, Louise, Lucille, Margaret, Maria, Marian, Marie, Marion, Mary, Patricia, Violet
  • 1: Adamae, Alberta, Alma, Anne, Audrey, Augusta, Blanche, Carmelita, Caryl, Constance, Derelys, Dolores, Duane, Edna, Eleanor, Ena, Enriqueta, Ethel, Ethlyne, Evalyn, Flora, Gisela, Gloria, Gretchen, Hattie, Helene, Ina, Ingeborg, Jacquiline, Jean, Joan, Jobyna, Josephine, Juanita, Julanne, Kathleen, Kathryn, Kitty, Launa, Laurette, Lena, Lenore, Lilian, Lola, Lu Ann, Lucile, Madeline, Marceline, Martha, Mildred, Myrna, Natalia, Natalie, Nellie, Neoma, Olive, Olivia, Patsy, Rita, Rochelle, Rose, Sally, Suzanne, Sidney, Toshia, Vera, Vina

And here are the leftover stage names:

  • 5: Sally
  • 4: Mary
  • 3: Joan, June
  • 2: Betty, Jean, Judith, Pauline
  • 1: Alice, Bessie, Boots, Claire, Colleen, Dolores, Dorothy, Elinor, Evelyn, Fay, Frances, Gigi, Ginger, Gladys, Gloria, Gwen, Iris, Janet, Joyce, Julie, Karen, Kathleen, Lila, Lina, Lois, Lona, Loretta, Lucille, Lupe, Marian, Molly, Mona, Natalie, Patricia, Sue

(Often stage names were the real-life middle names of these women.)

Finally, a few interesting details:

  • Jobyna is Jobyna Ralston, named for actress Jobyna Howland, daughter of a man named Joby Howland. Jobyna debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1927.
  • Derelys is Derelys Perdue. “Perdue’s boss, future presidential father Joseph P. Kennedy, insisted on changing her name to the more palatable Ann Perdue.” She sued, but lost, and her career never recovered. Derelys was a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1924.
  • Sidney is Sidney Fox, a female who had the name Sidney/Sydney long before the name became trendy for girls.
  • Lina is Lina Basquette, who I mentioned in last week’s name quote post.
  • One of the Marys is Mary Astor, who went on to give her daughter a Hawaiian name.

Which of the above names do you like best? Why?

Source: Derelys Perdue – Biography – Movies & TV – NYTimes.com