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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Hilary

Number of Babies Named Hilary

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Hilary

What Popularized the Baby Name Deneen?

mystery name deneen

Deneen is the million-dollar baby name mystery. It saw a massive spike in usage in 1964, and I had no idea why for years. Only recently have I stumbled upon a plausible explanation.

But first let’s check out the numbers. Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Deneen (or a variant) from 1963 to 1966, sorted by 1964 levels of usage:

Name 1963 1964 1965 1966
Deneen 22 1,604 421 223
Denine 17 133 101 71
Daneen 29 132 85 70
Dineen 10 68 43 35
Denene 7 66 38 31
Denean 7 58 61 40
Danine 7 29 23 31
Danene 12 24 18 11
Deneane 24* 11 9
Deneene 24* 13 14
Danean 14* 14 6
Deeneen 12**
Doneen 7 11 9
Dennine 10* 7 7
Deneena 7**
Deniene 7*
Dennen 7**
Donene 7
Deaneen 5**
Deneem 5**
Dinene 7**
TOTALS 118 2,247 842 557

*Debut, **One-hit wonder

According to the state-by-state data, Deneen usage tended to be highest in the most populous states. This isn’t much of a clue, but it does tell us that the influence was national (e.g., movie, music) and not regional (e.g., college sports, local politician).

For a long time my only guess on Deneen was the same guess Hilary Parker made in her poisoned baby names post: musical duo August & Deneen. But their hit single “We Go Together” came out in 1968 — long after the 1964 baby name spike. So August & Deneen clearly isn’t the answer.

About a month ago I tried another Deneen search. This time around I found a recent thread on Deneen at the Baby Name Wizard forum. According to intel gathered by forum members, Deneen could have been popularized by a ’60s commercial for Ivory dishwashing liquid.

At first I wasn’t so sure. The only vintage Ivory commercials I could find online were for Ivory Snow laundry detergent and, while many of these did feature names (e.g., Allison, Betsy, Bonnie, Debbie, Esther, Joy, Kerry, Kimberly, Michelle, Terry) the names were never on-screen. You don’t get a spelling-specific name spike if the influence is audio-only.

Then I noticed, lower down in the thread, that someone included a link to a single Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial from 1962. The spot featured a mother-daughter pair, “Mrs. Bernard Pugar and Dana,” and their names were indeed shown on-screen for several seconds. Now this looked promising.

I’ve since tracked down a similar Ivory commercial featuring “Mrs. Blake Clark” and her daughter Nicky, though Nicky’s name was never shown on-screen. No luck finding a Deneen version yet.

So I’ll just sit tight and hope that, one day, someone uploads the commercial in question and puts this whole Deneen baby name mystery to rest. :)

In the meanwhile, some questions:

  • If you were watching TV in the ’60s, do you happen recall an Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial featuring the name Deneen? (Long shot, I know.)
  • What do you think of the name Deneen? Which spelling do you like best?

P.S. Djuna popped up on the baby name charts in 1964 as well. I’m declaring 1964 the year of the mysteriously trendy D-names.


The Demise of the Baby Name Hillary

Hilary Parker’s recent post on the 14 most “poisoned” baby names reminded me that I haven’t yet written about the demise of the baby name Hillary. (Or Hilary. Or Chelsea.)

So let’s travel back to 1992 for a minute.

In mid-July, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was selected as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. His wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea were now in the national spotlight.

In early November, Bill managed to beat Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush to become the 42nd president of the United States. Hillary and Chelsea would now stay in the national spotlight.

And in late November, a few weeks after the election, the Miami Herald printed this:

Now that the Clinton women are set to move into the White House, both names are becoming more popular among new parents.

For the first time, Chelsea has cracked the top 10 list of the most popular girl names in Florida. Name expert Leonard R. N. Ashley, a Brooklyn College professor, said he expects Hillary to also catch on.

[…]

The popularity of Chelsea, on the rise long before the presidential pre-teen made her Democratic convention appearance, is likely to get a boost from the first family pedigree, Ashley said.

The “name expert” got it wrong, of course.

Hillary did not catch on. Nor did Chelsea. Both names had been on the rise, but usage dropped significantly after 1992.

Here are the spikes, both graphically and numerically:

The Baby Name Hillary

Baby Name Hillary - Drop in Popularity After 1992
The Baby Name Hillary
  • 1994: 408 baby girls named Hillary [rank: 566th]
  • 1993: 1,064 baby girls named Hillary [rank: 261st]
  • 1992: 2,522 baby girls named Hillary [rank: 132nd]
  • 1991: 1,789 baby girls named Hillary [rank: 166th]
  • 1990: 1,523 baby girls named Hillary [rank: 192nd]

That’s a 58% drop from 1992 to 1993. Hillary fell so low that it got pushed out of the top 1,000 entirely for two years (2002 and 2003).

The Baby Name Hilary

Baby Name Hilary - Drop in Popularity After 1992
The Baby Name Hilary
  • 1994: 145 baby girls named Hilary [rank: 1,208th]
  • 1993: 343 baby girls named Hilary [rank: 651st]
  • 1992: 1,171 baby girls named Hilary [rank: 233rd]
  • 1991: 1,148 baby girls named Hilary [rank: 243rd]
  • 1990: 1,216 baby girls named Hilary [rank: 232nd]

A 71% drop from 1992 to 1993. Hilary was out of the top 1,000 by 1994 and hasn’t been back since. (Hilary Parker says the name Hilary is “clearly the most poisoned.”)

The Baby Name Chelsea

Baby Name Chelsea - Drop in Popularity After 1992
The Baby Name Chelsea
  • 1994: 7,713 baby girls named Chelsea [rank: 38th]
  • 1993: 11,288 baby girls named Chelsea [rank: 25th]
  • 1992: 16,176 baby girls named Chelsea [rank: 15th]
  • 1991: 13,508 baby girls named Chelsea [rank: 18th]
  • 1990: 12,782 baby girls named Chelsea [rank: 24th]

The drop here isn’t as dramatic — just 30% — but Chelsea was out of the top 100 by 1999. It currently ranks 222nd.

Why?

Why did the name Hillary slip after Hillary Clinton became a fixture in the White House?

Because she violated gender norms — that’s my guess.

Hillary Clinton, 1992

Hillary Clinton was a new kind of First Lady. She was a lawyer, a businesswoman, a scholar and an activist. She was the first First Lady with an earned (vs. honorary) post-graduate degree, and the first to have her own professional career.

But, instead of being praised for her intelligence and ambition, she was criticized for it.

Just two months after the inauguration, Anna Quindlen of the New York Times made note of the double standard:

Maybe some of our daughters took notice of how Hillary Clinton was seen as abrasive, power-hungry and unfeminine when to some of us she seemed merely smart, outspoken and hard-working. Maybe they saw the masquerade and recognized intuitively the age-old message about how much more attractive women are when they are domestic, soft, contented, the message aimed over the years at Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt and many, many others.

To expectant parents, it didn’t matter that Hillary Clinton was smart and successful. They began avoiding the name Hillary in 1993 because the First Lady — the most high-profile Hillary in the nation — was making her name seem “unfeminine.”

Do you agree? Disagree?

P.S. What are the 13 other “poisoned” names? The 9 to drop since the 1960s are Ashanti, Catina, Deneen, Farrah, Iesha, Infant, Katina, Khadijah and Renata. The other four — Celestine, Clementine, Dewey and Minna — are from the 1800s, a time when SSA data wasn’t too reliable.

Sources:

Male Names in the Domesday Book

Male Names in the Domesday Book

I listed all the female names in the Domesday Book a while back, so today I thought I’d complete the project by listing all the male names.

The male names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (For the record, I overlooked entries in which one person’s name was used to refer to another person, e.g., “Aelfric’s uncle.”)

The most-mentioned name within each letter group is in bold.

If you make it all the way to the bottom, your reward is a top ten list. :)

A

  • Abba (2)
  • Abbud
  • Abel
  • Abraham
  • Acard (2)
  • Acwulf
  • Adam (4)
  • Adbrei
  • Adelard
  • Adelelm (4)
  • Adelo
  • Adelulf (3)
  • Adelund
  • Adulf
  • Aedi
  • Aefic (3)
  • Aelbert (4)
  • Aelfric (88)
  • Aelgeat
  • Aelhard (2)
  • Aellic (2)
  • Aelm
  • Aelmer (5)
  • Aelod
  • Aelred
  • Aelric (4)
  • Aelsi
  • Aeschere
  • Aescman
  • Aescwulf (2)
  • Aethelhelm
  • Aethelmer
  • Aethelmund
  • Aethelred
  • Aethelric (2)
  • Aethelsi
  • Aethelstan (3)
  • Aethelward (2)
  • Aethelwin
  • Aethelwold (4)
  • Agenet
  • Agenwulf
  • Aghmund (5)
  • Agneli
  • Ailbern
  • Aildag
  • Airard
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  • Aitard (3)
  • Aiulf (5)
  • Akeli
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  • Akile
  • Alan (6)
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  • Alcolm
  • Alcude
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  • Aldchurl
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  • Aldstan
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  • Aldwulf
  • Aldwy (2)
  • Aleran
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  • Alfgeat (9)
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  • Altei
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  • Alwold (11)
  • Alwulf
  • Alwy (17)
  • Amalfrid
  • Amalgar
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  • Ambi
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  • Anbold
  • Andor
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  • Andrac
  • Andrew (3)
  • Ani
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  • Ape
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  • Ascored
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  • Augustine
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B

  • Baca
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  • Balki (2)
  • Bark
  • Barn
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  • Benedict (2)
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  • Beowulf
  • Ber
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  • Berewold
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  • Bernard (14)
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  • Bernheah
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  • Bertunt
  • Besi
  • Beso
  • Best
  • Bettica
  • Biarni
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  • Bigot
  • Bil
  • Blaca
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  • Blaec (2)
  • Blaecmann (5)
  • Blaecmer
  • Blaecstan (3)
  • Blaecsunu
  • Blaecwin (2)
  • Blanc
  • Blancard
  • Bleddyn
  • Bleio
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  • Blize
  • Blohin
  • Bo
  • Boda
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  • Bodin (3)
  • Boia (2)
  • Boli
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  • Bolli
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  • Bono
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  • Brand (3)
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  • Breme
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  • Brict
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  • Brisard
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  • Burgric
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  • Buter

C

  • Cabe
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  • Colsege
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  • Corp
  • Costelin
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  • Cus
  • Cuthwulf
  • Cynegar
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  • Cynestan
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  • Cynwold
  • Cynwy
  • Cypping (2)

D

  • Dachelin
  • Daeging
  • Dagobert
  • Danemund
  • David (2)
  • Dedol
  • Deincora
  • Dela
  • Demiblanc
  • Dene (3)
  • Deorc
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  • Deorsi
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  • Doda (7)
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  • Dodman
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  • Domnic
  • Donald
  • Donewald
  • Dot (2)
  • Dreng
  • Drogo (16)
  • Druward
  • Dubhan
  • Dubhghall
  • Dublel
  • Duncan (2)
  • Dunn (2)
  • Dunnic
  • Dunning
  • Dunstan (4)
  • Durand (12)
  • Dynechaie

E

  • Eadne
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  • Egbert
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  • Elmwy
  • Engelbald
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  • Engelhere
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  • Erding
  • Erdwulf
  • Erembald
  • Erik
  • Erland
  • Erlebald
  • Erlechin
  • Erling
  • Ermenfrid (2)
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  • Ernburgis
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  • Erngeat (7)
  • Ernsi
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  • Ertald
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  • Estgar
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  • Euen
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  • Eur
  • Euremar
  • Eustace (4)
  • Everard (5)
  • Everwin (2)
  • Evrold
  • Ewein
  • Ewen
  • Ewicman

F

  • Falc
  • Fargrim
  • Farman (2)
  • Farthin
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  • Fastulfr
  • Fatherling
  • Fathin
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  • Fermeus
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  • Fiacc
  • Filiman
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  • Fin (2)
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  • Forthred
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  • Fredegaest
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  • Freond
  • Frewin
  • Fridebert
  • Frienday
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  • Froger
  • Frumold
  • Fugel
  • Fuglo
  • Fulbert (2)
  • Fulbric
  • Fulcard (4)
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  • Fulco (7)
  • Fulcran
  • Fulcred
  • Fulcric
  • Fulcwald
  • Fulcwin
  • Fulcwy (4)
  • Fursa

G

  • Gamal (9)
  • Gamalbarn
  • Gamalkarl
  • Gamas
  • Gamilo
  • Garthulfr
  • Garwine
  • Gelder
  • Genred
  • Genust
  • Geoffrey (48)
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  • Gerbert
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  • Gest
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  • Gifard (2)
  • Gilbert (33)
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  • Gilleandrais
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  • Gleman
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  • God
  • Goda (3)
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H

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And now it’s time for the…

Top Ten Male Names

Which male were mentioned most often in the Domesday book? The #1 name was William, followed by Robert and Ralph:

1. William (166)
2. Robert (127)
3. Ralph (124)
4. Aelfric (88)
5. Alwin (76)
5. Hugh (76)
7. Roger (73)
8. Godwin (72)
9. Walter (64)
10. Godric (59)

Though the names in the book aren’t necessarily representative of name usage in England overall, it does make sense than William took the top spot. The Domesday Book was created a couple of decades after the Norman Invasion, at a time when the name William was very fashionable, thanks to William the Conqueror.

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]

Baby Name Needed – Girl Name for Baby #3

A reader named Tiffany is expecting her third baby (gender unknown) in a couple of months. The boy name has been picked, but the girl name has been harder to come by. Here’s what she says:

We have two daughters, Vivian Grace and Margaret Anne. I like the first name Elise but struggle with a middle name for it ~ better to be brief, or do I go more dramatic?

We like Carmen, Veronica and Iris. I love Beatrix and Simone.

Because Elise is (visually) the shortest name in the group and has a unique rhythm, I think I would go for a middle that’s slightly more dramatic — something traditional like Grace and Anne, but with an added syllable or two. I might try Charlotte, Irene, Michelle, Naomi or Nicole. Of the names listed, I think Carmen could work.

As far as alternative first names go, out of the current favorites, I’m partial to Iris and Simone. (Vivian already has a V-name, Tiffany’s surname already starts with a B, and Carmen just doesn’t sound quite right to me as the sister of Vivian and Margaret.)

Most of the names Tiffany mentioned end with a consonant sound, so that’s what I focused on while brainstorming for other first name suggestions. Here are the results — consonant-endings on the left, the rest on the right:

Abigail
Amandine
Camille
Caroline
Clotilde
Elizabeth
Gabrielle
Isabel
Josephine
Judith
Katherine
Odette
Pauline
Rachel
Therese
Amelia
Bethany
Claudia
Cynthia
Dorothy
Elena
Fabiana
Hilary
Lydia
Natalie
Natasha
Ramona
Roxana
Susana
Tatiana

Do you think any of the above fit particularly well with Vivian and Margaret? What other names and/or advice would you offer to Tiffany?