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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Irmalee

Number of Babies Named Irmalee

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Irmalee

Mystery Baby Names – Open Cases

I’m a baby name blogger, but sometimes I feel more like a baby name detective. Because so much of my blogging time is spent doing detective work: trying to figure out where a particular baby name comes from, or why a name saw a sudden jump (or drop) in usage during a particular year.

If a name itself doesn’t make the answer obvious (e.g., Lindbergh) and a simple Google search hasn’t helped, my first bit of detective work involves scanning the baby name charts. I’ve learned that many search-resistant baby names (like Deatra) are merely alternative spellings of more common names (Deirdre).

If that doesn’t do it, I go back to Google for some advanced-level ninja searching, to help me zero in on specific types of historical or pop culture events. This is how I traced Irmalee back to a character in a short story in a very old issue of the once-popular McCall’s Magazine.

But if I haven’t gotten anywhere after a few rounds of ninja searching, I officially give up and turn the mystery baby name over to you guys. Together we’ve cracked a couple of cases (yay!) but, unfortunately, most of the mystery baby names I’ve blogged about are still big fat mysteries.

Here’s the current list of open cases:

  • Wanza, girl name, debuted in 1915.
  • Nerine, girl name, debuted in 1917.
  • Laquita, girl name, debuted in 1930.
  • Norita, girl name, spiked (for the 2nd time) in 1937.
  • Delphine, girl name, spiked in 1958.
  • Leshia, girl name, debuted in 1960.
  • Lavoris, girl name, debuted in 1961.
  • Djuna, girl name, debuted in 1964.
  • Latrenda, girl name, debuted in 1965.
  • Ondina, girl name, debuted in 1968.
  • Khari, boy name, debuted in 1971.
  • Jelani, boy name, debuted in 1973.
  • Toshiba, girl name, debuted in 1974.
  • Brieanna, girl name, debuted in 1979.
  • Sumiko, girl name, spiked in 1980.
  • Tou, boy name, debuted in 1980.
  • Marquita, girl name, spiked in 1983.
  • Caelan, boy name, debuted in 1992.
  • Deyonta, boy name, debuted in 1993.
  • Trayvond, boy name, debuted in 1994.
  • Zeandre, boy name, debuted in 1997.
  • Yatzari, girl name, debuted in 2000.
  • Itzae, boy name, debuted in 2011.

If you enjoy sleuthing, please give some of the above a shot! I’d love to knock one or two off the list before I start adding more mystery names in the coming weeks…

Update, 1/23/15: Forgot to add Avenir from the distinctive baby names, state by state list (see Oregon & Washington). It debuted as a boy name in 2002.

Update, 7/13/16: More still-open cases from the Mystery Monday series last summer: Theta, Memory, Treasure, Clione, Trenace, Bisceglia, Genghis and Temujin.


Where Did the Name Irmalee Come From?

Irma Lee McCallsIn 1925, the name Irmalee popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time. It was the top debut name for girls that year, in fact, with at least 37 baby girls getting the name:

  • 1931: unlisted
  • 1930: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1929: unlisted
  • 1928: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1927: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1926: 10 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1925: 37 baby girls named Irmalee [debut]
  • 1924: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

Signs point to “Irmalee and the Mid-Victorian Age,” a short story by Oregon writer Vivien R. Bretherton. The story was printed in the July 1925 issue of McCall’s magazine, which had a circulation of well over 1,000,000 at that time.

The teaser for the story asked, “Which do our American men really prefer–the bold modern flapper, or the demure girl of yesteryear?”

Irmalee initially is represented as the archetypal flapper who brags: “[We] out-smoked and out-drank and out-danced and out-petted the rest of the world. We nabbed all the young chaps and we accumulated all the older ones. We didn’t even stay off the married women’s preserves.”

She proceeds to steal her divorced mother’s boyfriend, Shawn.

She accomplishes this by appearing to him as a Victorian vision in billowing flock and rose-draped hat. When he asks her “…do you go in for the new poetry? Or is it psycho-analysis?” she replies: “Tennyson.” Shawn is smitten, but Irmalee cannot sustain the masquerade, for she is “the jazz queen of her set.” She decides to show up for a dinner date as the scantily clad, cigarette-smoking “ultra-modern person” she believes herself to be. Rather than being disillusioned, as she anticipates, Shawn helps her to realize her true self, neither the passive Victorian ideal nor the sensation-seeking flapper, but the “very modern girl” who wants “all that the game” has given her but wants it honestly.

Nearly all of the 1925 Irmalees listed in Social Security Death Index (so far) were born in July or later. The rest, all born in June, probably just took a few weeks to be named.

(Waiting to choose a baby’s name was a lot more common a century ago. In 1915, one reporter joked that Wisconsin’s top baby name was “baby” because so many babies were not named at birth.)

The name Shawn doesn’t show up on the SSA’s baby name list until 1931, incidentally.

Sources:

  • Holliday, Heather. “Death of a Magazine Industry Icon.” AdAge 13 Mar. 2001.
  • Studlar, Gaylyn. “The Perils of Pleasure? Fan Magazine Discourse as Women’s Commodified Culture in the 1920s.” Silent Film. Ed. Richard Abel. London: The Athlone Press, 1996. 263-298.

The Top Baby Name Debuts, 1881 to Today

the top U.S. baby name debuts

Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.

Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.

Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So not only is this a list of names, but it’s also a list of stories.

Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)

  • 1881: Adell & Celeste, 14; Brown & Newell, 14
  • 1882: Verda, 14; Cleve, 13
  • 1883: Laurel, 12; Brady, Festus, Jewell, Odell & Rosco, 8
  • 1884: Crystal & Rubie, 11; Benjamen, Jens, Oakley & Whitney, 9
  • 1885: Clotilde, 13; Arley & Terence, 9
  • 1886: Manuelita, 10; Terrence, 10
  • 1887: Verlie, 13; Myles, 11
  • 1888: Ebba, 18; Carlisle, Hughie & Orvel, 9
  • 1889: Garnett, 12; Doyle, 9
  • 1890: Verena, 11; Eduardo & Maggie, 10
  • 1891: Gayle, Idabelle & Zenia, 9; Sheridan, 14
  • 1892: Astrid, Dallas & Jennett, 9; Corbett, 23
  • 1893: Elmyra, 12; Estel, Mayo, Shelley & Thorwald, 8
  • 1894: Beatriz, Carola & Marrie, 9; Arvel, Erby & Floy, 8
  • 1895: Trilby, 12; Roosevelt, 12
  • 1896: Lotus, 11; Hazen, 11
  • 1897: Dewey, 13; Bryon, Frankie, Mario & Rhoda, 7
  • 1898: Manilla, 35; Hobson, 38
  • 1899: Ardis & Irva, 19; Haven, 9
  • 1900: Luciel, 14; Rosevelt, 20
  • 1901: Venita, 11; Eino, 9
  • 1902: Mercie, 10; Clarnce, 9
  • 1903: Estela, 11; Lenon & Porfirio, 7
  • 1904: Magdaline, 9; Adrain, Arbie, Betty, Desmond, Domenic, Duard, Raul & Severo, 8
  • 1905: Oliver, 9; Eliot & Tyree, 9
  • 1906: Nedra, 11; Domenico & Ryan, 10
  • 1907: Theta, 20; Taft, 16
  • 1908: Pasqualina, 10; Robley, 12
  • 1909: Wilmoth, 9; Randal & Vidal, 9
  • 1910: Ellouise, 12; Halley, 12
  • 1911: Thurley, 12; Colie, 16
  • 1912: Elynor, Glennis, Mariann, 12; Woodroe, 25
  • 1913: Wilba, 18; Vilas, 24
  • 1914: Floriene, 14; Torao, 17
  • 1915: Wanza, 33; Audra, 18
  • 1916: Tatsuko, 14; Verdun, 14
  • 1917: Nerine, 43; Delwyn, 14
  • 1918: Marne, 24; Foch, 58
  • 1919: Tokie, 12; Juaquin, 11
  • 1920: Dardanella, 23; Steele, 11
  • 1921: Marilynne, 13; Norberto, 14
  • 1922: Evelean, 14; Daren, 35
  • 1923: Nalda, 15; Clinard & Dorland, 9
  • 1924: Charis, 14; Melquiades, 13
  • 1925: Irmalee, 37; Wayburn, 11
  • 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 14
  • 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • 1929: Jeannene, 25; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9
  • 1935: Treasure, 16; Haile, 11
  • 1936: Shelva, 89; Renny & Shelva, 9

This is where the numbers start becoming more accurate. Why? Because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.” (SSA)

Now back to the list:

  • 1937: Deeann, 18; Gaynell, 11
  • 1938: Sonjia, 19; Daivd, 9
  • 1939: Thanna, 17; Brenda, 19
  • 1940: Sierra, 32; Willkie, 13
  • 1941: Jerilynn, 56; Saford, 11
  • 1942: Dwala, Gerilyn & Rise, 15; Mcarther, 23
  • 1943: Sharelle, 28; Howie, 10
  • 1944: Deatra, 29; Kipp, 9
  • 1945: Sherida, 26; Vickie, 10
  • 1946: Suzzette, 17; Sung & Tyronne, 8
  • 1947: Rory, 41; Eliezer, 11
  • 1948: Vickii, 30; Ridge, 10
  • 1949: Rainelle, 46; Ezzard, 21
  • 1950: Monalisa, 35; Broderick, 30
  • 1951: Debralee, 19; Cregg, 10
  • 1952: Terria, 17; Faron & Gevan, 12
  • 1953: Trenace, 32; Caster, 21
  • 1954: Corby, 39; Durk, 17
  • 1955: Shevawn, 36; Anothony & Erol, 10
  • 1956: Siobhan, 58; Trace, 17
  • 1957: Tierney, 46; Maverick, 32
  • 1958: Tamre, 63; Hoby, 30
  • 1959: Torey, 102; Rowdy, 22
  • 1960: Leshia, 76; Cully, 31
  • 1961: Lavoris, 36; Jefre, 21
  • 1962: Lafondra, 30; Thadd, 10
  • 1963: Phaedra, 70; Medgar, 25
  • 1964: Djuna, 198; Janssen, 16
  • 1965: Latrenda, 89; Illya, 35
  • 1966: Indira, 43; Jarred, 17
  • 1967: Cinnamon, 40; Clayt, 13
  • 1968: Laryssa, 67; Jemal, 47
  • 1969: Omayra, 42; Tige, 28
  • 1970: Shilo, 38; Toriano, 62
  • 1971: Ayanna, 194; Diallo, 54
  • 1972: Cotina, 109; Jabbar, 77
  • 1973: Yajaira, 55; Yohance, 44
  • 1974: Shalawn, 70; Nakia, 611
  • 1975: Azure, 121; Viet, 23
  • 1976: Tynisa, 79; Delvecchio, 27
  • 1977: Kizzy, 1,115; Levar, 523
  • 1978: Enjoli, 35; Mychal, 59
  • 1979: Chimere, 78; Jorel, 22
  • 1980: Lerin, 35; Tou, 33
  • 1981: Fallon, 232; Taurean, 90
  • 1982: Tyechia, 71; Eder, 48
  • 1983: Mallori, 35; Jonerik & Marquita, 20
  • 1984: Nastassja, 40; Eldra, 17
  • 1985: Sade, 392; Rishawn, 25
  • 1986: Myleka, 38; Cordero, 173
  • 1987: Jaleesa, 116; Teyon, 25
  • 1988: Jalesa, 77; Kadeem, 52
  • 1989: Alexandr*, 301; Christop*, 1,082 [Audreanna, 80; Khiry, 158]
  • 1990: Isamar, 446; Dajour, 26
  • 1991: Emilce, 30; Quayshaun, 93
  • 1992: Akeiba, 49; Devanta, 41
  • 1993: Rosangelica, 91; Deyonta, 37
  • 1994: Ajee, 185; Shyheim, 168
  • 1995: Yamilex, 130; Alize, 30
  • 1996: Moesha, 426; Quindon, 67
  • 1997: Erykah, 279; Cross, 43
  • 1998: Naidelyn, 78; Zyshonne, 26
  • 1999: Verania, 62; Cauy, 32
  • 2000: Kelis, 108; Rithik, 22
  • 2001: Yaire, 184; Jahiem, 155
  • 2002: Kaydence, 70; Omarian, 31
  • 2003: Trenyce, 88; Pharrell, 67
  • 2004: Eshal, 38; Jkwon, 100
  • 2005: Yarisbel, 30; Jayceon, 48
  • 2006: Lizania, 35; Balian, 24
  • 2007: Leilene, 81; Yurem, 206
  • 2008: Aideliz, 91; Yosgart, 72
  • 2009: Greidys, 186; Jeremih, 87
  • 2010: Tynlee, 42; Vadhir, 55
  • 2011: Magaby, 50; Jionni, 62
  • 2012: Kimbella, 52; Naksh, 28
  • 2013: Vanellope, 63; Jaceyon, 89
  • 2014: Dalary, 215; Llewyn, 38
  • 2015: Kehlani, 48; Gotham, 46

I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!

*If you ignore the Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989, the top debut names of 1989 are actually Audreanna and Khiry.