How popular is the baby name Homer 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 Homer.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Homer


Posts that Mention the Name Homer

The Ephemeral Marpessa

marpessa dawn, actress
© 1959 Ebony

The baby name Marpessa was a mere one-hit wonder in the data, back in 1960:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 8 baby girls named Marpessa [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The inspiration was a half-black, half-Filipino actress named Marpessa Dawn. She was American, but spent most of her adult life in Europe.

It was her starring role in the 1959 Portuguese-language film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) that brought her to the attention of American audiences. The film was based on the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, but set in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in mid-1959, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1960, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film in 1960.

But Marpessa wasn’t able to capitalize on this brief period of fame, so she (and her name) soon fell out of the spotlight.

Marpessa’s name, like her most memorable film, has ancient Greek roots. The mythical Marpessa in Homer’s Iliad was an Aetolian princess who had been seized from her mortal lover Idas by the sun god Apollo. The name, accordingly, is based on an ancient Greek verb meaning “to seize.”

Do you like the name Marpessa? Would you use it?

Sources:

  • “America’s Dawn Comes Up in France.” Life 14 Mar. 1960: 57-59.
  • Nelson, Eric. The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Image: Ebony, Nov. 1959 issue

More Top Baby Name Drops

A couple of weeks a go we checked out the list of top raw-number rises in the U.S. baby name data, so today let’s balance things out with the list of top raw-number drops.

Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.

Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.

  • 1881: Mary, -146; William, -1,008
  • 1882: Lulu, -34; Garfield, -78
  • 1883: Mary, -136; William, -911
  • 1884: Mina, -33; Albert, -61
  • 1885: Sarah, -94; William, -853
  • 1886: Nancy, -35; Grover, -361
  • 1887: Minnie, -157; John, -916
  • 1888: Dorothea, -24; Rudolph, -17
  • 1889: Emma, -203; William, -933
  • 1890: Mollie, -53; William, -278
  • 1891: Mary, -375; John, -821
  • 1892: Jennie, -26; Enoch & Irving, -16 each (tie)
  • 1893: Mary, -390; John, -990
  • 1894: Ruth, -286; Grover, -171
  • 1895: Laura, -87; Charles, -155
  • 1896: Jessie, -197; John, -182
  • 1897: Anna, -431; John, -589
  • 1898: Sophie, -49; Hobart, -63
  • 1899: Mary, -1,234; William, -1,314
  • 1900: Manila, -24; Dewey, -154
  • 1901: Mary, -3,572; John, -2,931
  • 1902: Sophie, -45; Manuel, -32
  • 1903: Mary, -211; William, -305
  • 1904: Lillie, -121; Leo, -83
  • 1905: Florence, -94; Alton, -138
  • 1906: Minnie, -173; Theodore, -146
  • 1907: Bessie & Alice, -85 each (tie); Austin, -27
  • 1908: Evelyn, -178; Theodore, -69
  • 1909: Mae, -154; Ernest, -115
  • 1910: Allie, -35; Delmar & Bruce, -24 each (tie)
  • 1911: Annie, -220; Willie, -405
  • 1912: Dessie, -20; Lawyer & Blas, -12 each (tie)
  • 1913: Carrie, -62; Emerson, -28
  • 1914: Tomasa, -27; Woodrow, -547
  • 1915: Juana, -32; Kermit, -79
  • 1916: Mollie, -88; Willard, -476
  • 1917: Edna, -204; Woodrow, -239
  • 1918: Rose, -215; Frederick, -103
  • 1919: Helen, -2,447; John, -3,029
  • 1920: Sophie, -234; Woodrow, -1,033
  • 1921: Gertrude, -449; Willie, -391
  • 1922: Helen, -2,314; Warren, -3,315
  • 1923: Helen, -1,017; George, -321
  • 1924: Elizabeth, -512; Warren, -1,231
  • 1925: Mary, -2,910; John, -1,878
  • 1926: Mary, -2,773; William, -1,358
  • 1927: Helen, -1,582; William, -479
  • 1928: Mary, -3,756; William, -2,360
  • 1929: Mary, -3,361; John, -1,652
  • 1930: Ruth, -1,079; Herbert, -2,187
  • 1931: Dorothy, -3,884; John, -4,026
  • 1932: Betty, -1,688; Robert, -1,255
  • 1933: Mary, -4,381; Robert, -5,052
  • 1934: Dorothy, -761; Franklin, -1,209
  • 1935: Betty, -2,408; Franklin, -1,543
  • 1936: Shirley, -7,202; Donald, -1,025

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Shirley, -8,337; Donald, -771
  • 1938: Shirley, -3,048; Donald, -1,207
  • 1939: Shirley, -3,320; Robert, -2,630
  • 1940: Shirley, -2,573; Donald, -962
  • 1941: Betty, -1,172; Wendell, -533
  • 1942: Deanna, -408; Billy, -352
  • 1943: Carole, -1,900; Douglas, -3,001
  • 1944: Barbara, -4,242; Robert, -4,008
  • 1945: Mary, -3,184; James, -2,497
  • 1946: Victoria, -280; Victor, -492
    • Top 5 boy-name drops of ’46, in order: Victor, Truman, Franklin, Delano, Roosevelt/Homer (tie)
  • 1947: Carole, -793; Richard, -369
  • 1948: Patricia, -5,144; Richard, -7,570
  • 1949: Linda, -5,192; Ronald, -2,026
  • 1950: Linda, -10,549; John, -1,642
  • 1951: Linda, -6,553; Larry, -1,016
  • 1952: Linda, -6,808; Larry, -2,224
  • 1953: Linda, -5,819; Larry, -3,081
  • 1954: Linda, -5,884; Dennis, -2,860
  • 1955: Mary, -4,830; Gary, -3,499
  • 1956: Deborah, -4,476; David, -4,588
  • 1957: Deborah, -7,778; Gary, -2,286
  • 1958: Cynthia, -8,311; James, -5,502
  • 1959: Debra, -4,166; Michael, -5,209
  • 1960: Debra, -4,626; Richard, -3,619
  • 1961: Donna, -5,468; Richard, -2,432
  • 1962: Mary, -4,163; Mark, -4,234
  • 1963: Linda, -3,754; Mark, -4,150
  • 1964: Lori, -5,280; Mark, -4,073
  • 1965: Mary, -6,709; John, -10,972
  • 1966: Karen, -7,431; John, -6,519
  • 1967: Lisa, -4,483; James, -3,495
  • 1968: Mary, -3,592; David, -3,058
  • 1969: Lisa, -4,494; Timothy, -3,153
  • 1970: Lisa, -6,077; David, -1,953
  • 1971: Lisa, -6,053; David, -8,650
  • 1972: Lisa, -5,357; John, -8,340
  • 1973: Lisa, -4,883; David, -5,267
  • 1974: Lisa, -2,889; Robert, -1,681
  • 1975: Jennifer, -4,926; Brian, -3,864
  • 1976: Michelle, -3,116; Scott, -1,571
  • 1977: Amy, -4,613; Scott, -1,541
  • 1978: Amy, -3,509; Jason, -4,027
  • 1979: Kelly, -1,686; Kevin, -1,373
  • 1980: Melissa, -2,420; Jason, -2,203
  • 1981: Melissa, -3,623; Jason, -6,268
  • 1982: Brooke, -2,183; Jeremy, -2,643
  • 1983: Jennifer, -2,767; Jason, -5,512
  • 1984: Jennifer, -3,784; Jason, -5,167
  • 1985: Jennifer, -7,903; Jason, -3,905
  • 1986: Jennifer, -6,474; Joshua, -4,655
  • 1987: Jennifer, -3,483; Jason, -3,054
  • 1988: Ashley, -4,873; Jason, -3,441
  • 1989: Jennifer, -3,888; Jason, -3,292
  • 1990: Tiffany, -2,555; Adam, -2,216
  • 1991: Brittany, -7,446; Christopher, -5,219
  • 1992: Jessica, -5,047; Michael -6,409
  • 1993: Chelsea, -4,885; Michael, -4,821
  • 1994: Ashley, -4,571; Michael, -5,089
  • 1995: Jessica, -4,175; Michael, -3,060
  • 1996: Jessica, -3,752; Michael, -3,043
  • 1997: Jessica, -3,142; Cody, -2,660
  • 1998: Jessica, -2,816; Christopher, -2,104
  • 1999: Brittany, -1,903; Austin, -2,710
  • 2000: Brittany, -2,760; Austin, -4,824
  • 2001: Hannah, -2,366; Brandon, -2,445
  • 2002: Taylor, -2,220; Jacob, -1,968
  • 2003: Ashanti, -1,983; Austin, -2,850
  • 2004: Hannah, -2,034; Zachary, -1,832
  • 2005: Alexis, -1,503; Jacob, -2,059
  • 2006: Emily, -2,540; Ryan, -1,557
  • 2007: Emily, -2,050; Joshua, -1,664
  • 2008: Hannah, -3,738; Christopher, -2070
  • 2009: Emily, -2,084; Anthony, -2,099
  • 2010: Madison, -2,059; Joshua, -2,219
  • 2011: Isabella, -3,032; Jacob, -1,783
  • 2012: Chloe, -1,361; Jacob, -1,370
  • 2013: Isabella, -1,536; Ethan, -1,494
  • 2014: Sophia, -2,657; Jayden, -1,834
  • 2015: Isabella, -1,523; Jase, -1,459
  • 2016: Sophia, -1,311; Logan, -1,697
  • 2017: Sophia, -1,281; Mason, -1,728
  • 2018: Emily, -1,125; Matthew, -1,747

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

The Baby Name Hud

hud, moive, western, 1960sThe unusual name Hud first appeared in the baby name data in 1964:

  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 6 baby boys named Hud
  • 1964: 9 baby boys named Hud [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The Western Hud (1963), which was set on a failing cattle ranch in Texas. The movie starred Paul Newman as unscrupulous Hud Bannon, son of ranch owner Homer Bannon (who, in contrast to his son, was very principled).

Hud’s character, despite being despicable, was embraced by audiences. Newman himself later said, “The kids thought he was terrific. His amorality just went right over their heads; all they saw was this Western, heroic individual.”

According to TV and film historian Christine Becker,

[T]he willingness of 1960s audiences to increasingly accept and even revel in antiheroic characters signaled a hallmark societal change as counterculture sensibilities grew across the country.

Hud was nominated for seven Academy Awards and ended up winning three — two for acting, one for cinematography.

The movie was based on the novel Horseman, Pass By (1961) by Larry McMurtry.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Hud?

Sources:

  • Becker, Christine. “Paul Newman: Superstardom and Anti-Stardom.” New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960s, edited by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Rutgers University Press, 2012, pp. 14-33.
  • Hud – Wikipedia

Name Quotes #56: Albert, Arthur, Otterly

sex and the city, movie quote, name quote

From the 2010 movie Sex and the City 2, characters Carrie and Aidan talk about Aidan’s three sons:

Carrie: “My god, three?”
Aidan: “Homer, Wyatt, Tate.”
Carrie: “Sounds like a country music band.”

From a Telegraph article about creative baby names by Flic Everett (born a Johanna, later changed to Felicity):

Very unusual names can, [psychotherapist Christophe Sauerwein] says, make a child stand out for the wrong reasons. “I have a patient aged ten, named Otterly,” he says (spelling it out, in case I confuse it with Ottilie, which now features regularly in Telegraph birth announcements). “It’s a very unusual name and she’s bullied about it. As a parent, you can love a name, but come on, think twice. Is it embarrassing? Will she have a lifetime of explaining herself to everyone she meets?”

From a Pop Sugar article about the naming Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s sons:

When Diana gave birth to her first son in June 1982, he was given the name William Arthur Philip Louis; two years later, Prince Harry was christened Henry Charles Albert David. In a recorded interview that would go on to be published in the controversial 1992 book Diana: Her Story by Andrew Morton, Diana admitted that she picked the first names for both of her newborn sons after nixing the ones Charles had in mind. When asked, “Who chose [Harry’s] name?,” Diana said, “I did,” adding, “I chose William and Harry, but Charles did the rest.” She went on: “He wanted Albert and Arthur, and I said no. Too old!”

From a biography of English actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928):

“Ellen Terry is the most beautiful name in the world; it rings like a chime through the last quarter of the nineteenth century,” George Bernard Shaw wrote of the Dame when she was at the height of her career.

From a Washington Post article about Korean companies forcing workers to go by English names:

The norm in South Korea is to call your colleagues or superiors not by their given names but by their positions. It’s the same for addressing your older friends or siblings, your teacher or any person on the street. So if your family name is Johnson and you were to be hired in a Korean company as a manager, your co-workers would call you “Johnson-boojang.” To get the attention of your older female friend, you would call for “eunni,” or “older sister.”

[…]

One popular Korean blog was more explicit on shirking honorifics in the workplace: “Dropping your pants and [urinating] in the person’s briefcase would be only a little ruder than calling him/her by his/her first name.”

From the abstract of a study looking at passenger discrimination by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft (found via Baby Name Wizard):

In Boston, we observed discrimination by Uber drivers via more frequent cancellations against passengers when they used African American-sounding names. Across all trips, the cancellation rate for African American sounding names was more than twice as frequent compared to white sounding names.

From a 2016 Elle interview with comedian Alexandra “Ali” Wong in which Ali talks about her baby:

What’s her name?

Mari, inspired by my hero Marie Kondo, who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She’s really wonderful, is very into eye contact, and has forced me to be a lot more present. It’s hard to be anxious about the future or depressed about the past when your baby does an explosive poo that somehow ends up in the feet part of her pajamas.

From a New York Times essay about Turkish-American names by Eren Orbey:

Had my mother, Neşe (pronounced neh-sheh), not already published articles under her birth name, she probably would have changed it upon naturalization. Lately, to avoid confusion, she has taken to introducing herself simply as “N,” which her accent converts into an American name. People hear “Anne,” and that is what they call her.

At the start of the essay, Eren mentions that his mother’s name means “joy” in Turkish.

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.