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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Isaiah

Number of Babies Named Isaiah

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Isaiah

What’s Wrong with U? (7 Usable U-Names)

u names, ursa, upton, upson, umber, ukiah, unity, union

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”?

Hm…

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

*

Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia


Most Popular First Letters for Baby Names, 2016

What were the most popular first letters for baby names in 2016?

Here’s a chart showing the first letter breakdown for girl names:

first letter, girl names, baby names, 2016, chart

For girls, the most-used first letter was A, followed by M and E. The least-used first letter was U.

The three most-used girl names per letter last year were…

A: Ava, Abigail, Amelia
B: Brooklyn, Bella, Brianna
C: Charlotte, Chloe, Camila
D: Delilah, Daisy, Daniela
E: Emma, Emily, Evelyn
F: Faith, Finley, Fiona
G: Grace, Genesis, Gabriella
H: Harper, Hannah, Hazel
I: Isabella, Isabelle, Ivy
J: Julia, Josephine, Jade
K: Kennedy, Kaylee, Kylie
L: Lily, Lillian, Layla
M: Mia, Madison, Mila
N: Natalie, Nora, Naomi
O: Olivia, Olive, Oakley
P: Penelope, Paisley, Piper
Q: Quinn, Queen, Quincy
R: Riley, Ruby, Reagan
S: Sophia, Sofia, Scarlett
T: Taylor, Trinity, Teagan
U: Unique, Uma, Una
V: Victoria, Violet, Vivian
W: Willow, Willa, Winter
X: Ximena, Xiomara, Xena
Y: Yaretzi, Yareli, Yamileth
Z: Zoey, Zoe, Zara

Here’s the breakdown for boy names:

first letter, boy names, baby names, 2016, chart

For boys, the most-used first letter was J, followed by A and C. The least-used letter was U.

The three most-used boy names per letter last year were…

A: Alexander, Aiden, Anthony
B: Benjamin, Brayden, Bryson
C: Carter, Christopher, Caleb
D: Daniel, David, Dylan
E: Elijah, Ethan, Eli
F: Finn, Felix, Francisco
G: Gabriel, Grayson, Gavin
H: Henry, Hunter, Hudson
I: Isaac, Isaiah, Ian
J: James, Jacob, Jackson
K: Kevin, Kayden, Kingston
L: Liam, Lucas, Logan
M: Mason, Michael, Matthew
N: Noah, Nathan, Nicholas
O: Oliver, Owen, Oscar
P: Parker, Patrick, Preston
Q: Quinn, Quentin, Quincy
R: Ryan, Robert, Roman
S: Samuel, Sebastian, Sawyer
T: Thomas, Theodore, Tyler
U: Uriel, Uriah, Ulises
V: Vincent, Victor, Valentino
W: William, Wyatt, Wesley
X: Xavier, Xander, Xzavier
Y: Yusuf, Yosef, Yahir
Z: Zachary, Zayden, Zane

Finally, here are both genders side-by-side:

first letter, baby names, 2016, chart

Overall, the top first letter was A, followed by J and M. And the least popular letter was, of course, U.

Here’s last year’s post on the most and least popular first letters of 2015.

The Top Baby Names in Maryland in 2011?

Maryland’s Open Data website includes a single table of Maryland baby name rankings (2011) broken down by race/ethnic group. This is cool because New York City does the exact same breakdown, and we happen to have the equivalent NYC baby name rankings (2011). So we ought to be able to compare and contrast the two sets of rankings, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought…until I started looking more closely at Maryland’s data.

According to the SSA, these were the top 10 boy names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Mason
  2. Jacob
  3. Michael
  4. Ethan
  5. Ryan
  6. William
  7. Alexander
  8. Noah
  9. Daniel
  10. Aiden (tied for 10th)
  11. Jayden (tied for 10th)

But according to the state of Maryland, the top 10 boy names were quite different:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Aiden Aiden Jaiden Christopher Lucas
2 Christopher Lucas Aiden Anthony Mason
3 Jayden Alexander Christopher John Jackson
4 Mason Muhammed Cameron Alexander Jacob
5 Lucas Ethan Elijah Daniel John
6 Jacob Nathan Jeremy Matthew Aiden
7 Alexander John Michael Brian Alexander
8 Nathan Andrew Isaiah Justin Liam
9 Michael Justin Mason Jaiden William
10 Ethan Jacob Caleb Kevin Ryan

It isn’t totally implausible that Aiden and Jayden might have ranked 1st and 3rd in 2011, but Christopher in 2nd? Maybe if this were a dataset from thirty years ago, but not five years ago. The SSA indicates that Christopher ranked closer to 18th in the state that year.

And what’s with the two different spellings of Jayden/Jaiden?

Plus there are some sizable raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Aiden: 588 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Christopher: 584 babies (MD data) vs. 256 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Jayden: 498 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Mason: 463 babies (MD data) vs. 432 babies (SSA data for MD)

And now the girl names. According to the SSA, these were the top 10 girl names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Sophia
  2. Olivia
  3. Isabella
  4. Madison
  5. Ava
  6. Emma
  7. Abigail
  8. Chloe
  9. Emily
  10. Elizabeth

According to the state of Maryland, though, the top 10 girl names in the state were these:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Sophia Sophia Chloe Sophia Sophia
2 Isabel Chloe London Emily Isabel
3 Chloe Isabel Layla Allison Abigail
4 Ava Caitlin/Kate Madison Isabel Olivia
5 Madison Hannah Kennedy Ashley Ava
6 Olivia Olivia Aaliyah Angelina Riley
7 Emily Sara(h) McKenzie Natalie Madison
8 McKenzie Abigail Zoe(y) Genesis Emily
9 Abigail Emily Payton Gabrielle McKenzie
10 Riley Lillian/Lily Taylor Kimberly Chloe

Not only does Isabel magically replace Isabella in the Maryland data, but McKenzie and Riley rank 8th and 10th — even though the SSA says they should be closer to 77th (!) and 28th.

Not to mention the raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Sophia: 503 babies (MD data) vs. 367 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • McKenzie: 325 babies (MD data) vs. 71 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Riley: 298 babies (MD data) vs. 118 babies (SSA data for MD)

Intriguing parallels between the MD data and the NYC data do exist. In both locations, Elijah and Isaiah were in the top 10 for African-American boys only, and London, Aaliyah, and Taylor were in the top 10 for African-American girls only.

But if we can’t trust the data, we can’t draw any meaningful conclusions.

Labels like “Caitlin/Kate,” “Sara(h),” “Zoe(y)” and “Lillian/Lily” suggest that variant names were combined here and there. I suspect this is also what happened with Isabel/Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, Aiden, Jayden, MacKenzie, Riley, and maybe even Christopher (perhaps Maryland merged all the “Chris-” names). What are your thoughts on this?

How Did Thurgood Marshall Get His Name?

Thurgood Marshall, 1967Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. He served from 1967 until 1991.

Prior to that, he was known for having won 29 of the 32 cases he’d argued argued before the Supreme Court. Most were civil rights cases, including the famous Brown v. Board of Education case that ended legal segregation in public schools in 1954.

The year he died, the name Thurgood debuted on the U.S. baby name charts:

  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: 5 baby boys named Thurgood [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted

…and it never returned, making Thurgood a statistical one-hit wonder.

So how did Thurgood Marshall get his unusual first name?

It was passed down from his paternal grandfather, who apparently went by either of two names: Thorneygood and Thoroughgood.

The elder Thoroughgood/Thorneygood served in the U.S. Army, and he didn’t know which name to use when he enlisted, so he used both. And he ended up getting two sets of retirement checks because of it.

Thurgood Marshall told TIME: “I was named Thoroughgood after him but by the time I was in the second grade, I got tired of spelling all that and shortened it.”

His maternal grandfather also had a distinctive name: Isaiah Olive Branch Williams. Isaiah and his wife Mary had six children, all with fascinating names — several inspired by Isaiah’s travels abroad with the U.S. merchant marine.

  • Avonia Delicia – first name after Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Avon Nyanza – first name also after Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Denmedia Marketa – after the family’s grocery store, located on Baltimore’s Denmead Street
  • Norma Arica – after the opera Norma and the place where Isaiah first heard it, the Chilean port city of Arica
  • Fearless Mentor – because, according to Isaiah:

    Most kids don’t open their eyes until they’re at least a few hours old. This one looked me straight in the eye as soon as I came in. He’s a fearless little fellow and Fearless will be his name.

  • Ravine Silestria – after a ravine in the Bulgarian/Romanian port city of Silistra

Norma was Thurgood Marshall’s mother. He called Fearless and Denmedia “Uncle Fee” and “Aunt Medi.”

Sources:

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA