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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Jennifer

Number of Babies Named Jennifer

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Jennifer

Name Quotes #42 – Tucker, Tess, Shea

tucker, life, 1952

From the cover description of the June 2, 1952, issue of LIFE:

The birthday guest all done up for a party on this week’s cover is Second-Grader Tucker Burns, 7, of New York City.

(A female Tucker born in the mid-1940s? Interesting…)

From “10 facts about Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (pdf) at The Times:

Tess didn’t start out as Tess. Hardy often changed names when he was writing, and he tried out Love, Cis and Sue, using Woodrow as a surname, narrowing the name down to Rose-Mary Troublefield or Tess Woodrow before finally settling on Tess Durbeyfield.

From “Naming a Baby (or 2) When You’re Over 40” by Joslyn McIntyre at

But I’m now far too practical for whimsical names. I want to spare my kids the time wasted spelling their name slowly over the phone and correcting its pronunciation millions of times. So out the window went some of the iconoclastic names I loved, but which seemed difficult, along with two names I adored but couldn’t figure out how to spell in a way that would make their pronunciation obvious: CARE-iss and k’r-IN.

From “Why everyone started naming their kids Madison instead of Jennifer” by Meeri Kim in the Washington Post:

While some believed a central institution or figure had to be behind a skyrocketing trend — say, Kim Kardashian or Vogue magazine — researchers have discovered through a new Web-based experiment that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, the study suggests that populations can come to a consensus about what’s cool and what’s not in a rapid, yet utterly spontaneous way.

From “Name change proves a mysterious and outdated process” by Molly Snyder at

The process to change your name is surprisingly lengthy, pricey and arguably outdated. People fill out forms, pay a $168 filing fee (there is also a fee to obtain a new birth certificate once the name is legally granted), get assigned to a judge, schedule a hearing date with the court and take out a statement in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or the Daily Reporter three weeks in a row declaring intent of name change.

News websites are not approved for legal name change declaration, but this does not mean they couldn’t be someday, according to Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court John Barrett.

“The process is very old and it hasn’t been changed in a long time, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be,” says Barrett. “The Wisconsin legislature decides that. Someone would have to have an interest in that change and take the time to make the argument that we’re in a changing world and publications shouldn’t be limited to print.”

From “The latest trend in startup names? Regular old human names” (Dec. 2014) by Erin Griffith in Fortune:

If you work in startups, there’s a good chance you know Oscar. And Alfred. Benny, too. And don’t forget Lulu and Clara. These aren’t the prominent Silicon Valley people that techies know by first name (although those exist—think Marissa, Satya, Larry and Sergey, Zuck). Rather, Oscar, Alfred, Benny, Lulu and Clara are companies. The latest trend in startup names is regular old human names.

From “A teacher mispronouncing a student’s name can have a lasting impact” by Corey Mitchell at

For students, especially the children of immigrants or those who are English-language learners, a teacher who knows their name and can pronounce it correctly signals respect and marks a critical step in helping them adjust to school.

But for many ELLs, a mispronounced name is often the first of many slights they experience in classrooms; they’re already unlikely to see educators who are like them, teachers who speak their language, or a curriculum that reflects their culture.

“If they’re encountering teachers who are not taking the time to learn their name or don’t validate who they are, it starts to create this wall,” said Rita (‘ree-the’) Kohli, an assistant professor in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Riverside.

It can also hinder academic progress.

From the NPS biography of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848):

Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Abigail gave birth to her son two days before her prominent grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, died so the boy was named John Quincy Adams in his honor.

(Quincy, Massachusetts, was also named after Colonel John Quincy.)

And finally, from “How Many Mets Fans Name Their Babies ‘Shea’?” by Andrew Beaton in the Wall Street Journal:

You’re not a real Mets fan unless you name your kid Shea.

For more quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #40

Sting quote: Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a list of quotes by the musician Sting (a.k.a. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner):

Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a post about black names vs. white names at the blog Baby Making Machine:

My name is Jennifer. My siblings: Heather, Michael, Lauren, Kimberly. None of them are stereotypical names you’d hear on the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names list. They are, however, found in the most popular names of the year list. I didn’t want my daughter’s name on either. My mother’s reasoning for her decision was different than mine. She would say “do you want to get a job?” Which sounds harsh but some research shows “black-sounding” names on resumes don’t do as well next to the same resume holding a “white-sounding” names.

From a post called “Save Our Susans and Protect The Peter: The Ridiculous World of “Endangered” Names” at the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda:

If a name isn’t used much any more, no great calamity will result. Brangien and Althalos have been rarely used since the Middle Ages, but nobody has suffered as a result of Brangien deficiency, and no awful disaster has ensued from the loss of Althalos.

Furthermore, if we decided we’d like to see more of a particular name which has gone out of use, it costs no money or effort to bring it back. You simply slap the name onto your child’s birth certificate, and hey presto – you’ve got yourself a rare and beautiful specimen of an Althalos.

As long as we still know of a name’s existence from books and records, it is a potential baby name, no matter how many centuries or even millennia since it was last used.

From an article about Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) in NYC newspaper The Villager:

There is hardly an account of Greenwich Village in the ’20s in which she does not prominently figure. Yet her roots in the neighborhood preceded even her fame. The poet’s unusual middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital on 12th St. Millay’s uncle was nursed back to health there after a sailing accident, and her mother wished to show her gratitude by naming her first-born child after the place.

From an article called “Baby Names Can’t Be Stolen–but It’s Not Surprising That Some Parents Think They Can” in Slate:

This belief [in baby-name stealing] is ridiculous–after all, liking a name doesn’t give you ownership over it, and sharing a name with a friend or relative is, at worst, a mild nuisance. But the idea that names shouldn’t be stolen is not surprising. Over the past hundred years, naming has increasingly become an act of self-expression for parents, a way to assert their individuality rather than a sense of belonging in their community. With our names and selves so thoroughly intertwined, it stands to reason that parents would become increasingly protective of their children’s names.


As with so much of contemporary parenting, the drama surrounding name-stealing is ultimately more about the threat it poses to parent’s identities than their children’s. In practical terms, no child will be harmed by having the same name as a classmate or cousin. … Far more punishing than having the same name as another child is growing up in an environment where names are considered personal property and friendships end when someone “steals” one.

Jimmy Wales, in response to the Quora question: Is the name “Jimmy” unsuitable for an adult?

Interestingly, my actual name is Jimmy. Not James. I used to wonder the same thing, but decided – hey, I’m from Alabama, so people can get over themselves.

It has not seemed to hurt my career in any way, and may have helped as it (correctly, as it turns out) signals to people that I’m not stuffy.

From an article called “How baby names got so weird” in The Spectator:

Naming your child was once simple: you picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.


They’ve forgotten about ‘eccentric sheep’ syndrome.

This is the process, identified by social anthropologist Kate Fox in her book Watching the English, whereby something meant as ‘evidence of our eccentricity and originality’ ends up as ‘conformist, conservative rule-following’. Fox applied it to clothes, but the same thing is happening with names. In an attempt to make their children stand out, parents are only helping them to blend in. When everyone’s a Marni or an Autumn or a Sky, the rebellion has nothing to register against.

(Incidentally, here’s a Ptarmigan.)

From an article about Medieval Pet Names at

In England we find dogs that were named Sturdy, Whitefoot, Hardy, Jakke, Bo and Terri. Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of King Henry VIII, had a dog named Purkoy, who got its name from the French ‘pourquoi’ because it was very inquisitive.

Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles/blog posts lately? Let me know!

The Earliest Celebrity Baby Name Debuts

When a major celebrity chooses an uncommon baby name, there’s a good chance that name will become trendy.

Seems like this might be a modern phenomenon, right? Maybe tied to the rise of the Internet?

Nope. In fact, I bet you’ll be surprised at just how far back it goes.

Let’s take a look at celebrity baby names through the decades, focusing on those that inspired debuts on the SSA’s baby name list. (To debut, a rare names needs to be given to at least 5 babies of one gender or the other in a single year.)


Jerilyn Jessel
Lois Andrews and baby Jerilyn
Which baby name was the very first to debut on the charts thanks to a celebrity baby?

The answer depends on how strict you want to be about spelling.

If you exact-spelling debuts are what you want, the first I know of doesn’t appear until the late ’40s.

If variant-spelling debuts are okay, though, there’s a celebrity baby name from the early ’40s that inspired at whopping six of them:


In October of 1941, actor/comedian George Jessel (43 years old) and showgirl Lois Andrews (17) welcomed a baby girl named Jerilyn.

The name Jerilyn itself had already been on the list for a few years, but usage rose significantly in both 1941 and 1942:

  • 1943: 182 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 558th]
  • 1942: 325 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 397th]
  • 1941: 135 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 608th]
  • 1940: 10 baby girls named Jerilyn

The popularity of similar names like Jerrilyn and Jerelyn also increased, and six other variants appeared on the national list for the very first time in either 1941 or 1942 (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1940 1941 1942 1943
Jerilynn x 56* 162 58
Jerrilynn x 9* 38 19
Gerilyn x x 15* 5
Jerilynne x x 7* x
Jarilyn x x 6* x
Geralynn x x 5* x

In fact, Jerilynn and Gerilyn were the top baby name debuts of 1941 and 1942, respectively.

I was skeptical about this one for a while, as I’d never heard of George Jessel before. Was he really high-profile enough for his baby to have that sort influence? Turns out he was indeed a popular entertainer from the ’20s until at least the ’50s. He’s the one responsible for the “Garland” part of Judy Garland’s stage name, and some sources even claim he invented the Bloody Mary.

Even more variants of Jerilyn (e.g., Gerilynn) debuted during the ’40s and early ’50s, when young Jerilyn was being mentioned in newspaper articles and appearing on TV and in films with her father. Here’s a fundraising film from 1953, for instance, featuring both George and Jerilyn.

Jerilyn Jessel’s influence on the U.S baby names was impressive, but, technically speaking, she didn’t put “Jerilyn” on the map.


The first exact-spelling celebrity baby name debut was Yasmin, which appeared on the list in 1949.

In December of 1949, actor Rita Hayworth and her husband Prince Aly Khan welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin. The same year, the baby name Yasmin appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.

(The name Yasmin was late addition to the post. Thank you, Becca!)


Elizabeth Taylor and daughter Liza on the cover of LIFE in 1957
Liz & Liza in 1957 © LIFE
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1950s were inspired by celebrity babies:


In October of 1951, actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian welcomed a baby girl named Romina. The same year, the baby name Romina appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.


In September of 1953, Power and Christian welcomed their second baby girl, Taryn, whose name was likely inspired by “Tyrone.” The same year, the baby name Taryn debuted on the list.


In November of 1956, boxer Floyd Patterson and his wife Sandra welcomed a baby girl named Seneca. The same year, the traditionally male name Seneca debuted on the list as a female name. Patterson said the name was inspired by a street sign.


In October of 1958, actor/singer Rosemary Clooney and actor José Ferrer welcomed a baby girl named Monsita — their fifth child. The same year, Monsita debuted. It fell off the list the very next year, though, making it a one-hit wonder.

Honorable mentions from the ’50s include:

  • Liza, which became more popular after Liz Taylor named her daughter Liza in 1957.
  • Tyrone, which became more popular after Tyrone Power named his third child Tyrone in 1959. The increased usage could also have been influenced by the death of the actor himself the same year, though.


Casey & Timolin Cole in 1963
Casey & Timolin Cole in 1963 © Ebony
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1960s were inspired by celebrity babies:


In September of 1961, singer of Nat King Cole and his wife Maria welcomed identical twin baby girls named Timolin and Casey. The same year, the baby name Timolin debuted on the list.


In September of 1965, actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands welcomed a baby girl named Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes. The same year, the baby name Xan debuted on the list.


In June of 1968, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed a baby girl named Maryum. The same year, the baby name Maryum debuted on the list.


In March of 1969, singers Cher and Sonny Bono, welcomed a baby girl named Chastity. The same year, the baby name Chastity debuted on the list. In May of 2010, Chastity legally changed genders and adopted the name Chaz.


Rasheda & Jamillah Ali in 1971
The Alis and babies Rasheda & Jamillah in 1971 © Ebony
At least eight of the baby names that debuted during the 1970s were inspired by celebrity babies:


In August of 1970, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed twin baby girls named Rasheda and Jamillah. The same year, the baby name Rasheda debuted on the list.

(An Ebony article from 1971 misspelled her name “Reeshemah.” The same year, there was a spike in the usage of Reeshemah and a dip in the usage of Rasheda.)


In 1971, comedian/activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian welcomed a baby girl named Ayanna. The same year, the baby name Ayanna debuted on the list.


In July of 1973, Dick Gregory and Lillian welcomed a baby boy named Yohance. The same year, the baby name Yohance debuted on the list.

(I wrote more about baby names in the Gregory family a few years ago.)


In March of 1974, musician/producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton welcomed a baby girl named Kidada. The same year, the baby name Kidada debuted on the list.


In August of 1975, singer Tito Jackson (of The Jackson 5) and his wife Dee Dee welcomed a baby boy named Taryll. The same year, the baby name Taryll debuted on the list.


In April of 1975, singer Mary Wilson (of The Supremes) and her husband Pedro welcomed a baby girl named Turkessa. The same year, the baby name Turkessa debuted on the list. Turkessa was just 3 babies away from being the top baby name debut of the year. Here’s how Mary came up with the name:

Pedro brought me a beautiful plant. I asked him was it was called. “Turquesa,” he replied, “Spanish for turquoise.” So we named our daughter Turkessa.


In November of 1975, singer Diana Ross (also of The Supremes) and her husband Robert welcomed a baby girl named Chudney. The next year, the baby name Chudney debuted on the list. Here’s how Diana came up with the name:

Friends kept suggesting popular names like Courtney, but so many girl babies were getting that. I suddenly thought of something I liked very much — chutney. Only I didn’t know how to spell it — I put a ‘d’ where the ‘t’ should have been on the birth certificate. And that’s how my little girl became Chudney!


In 1978, Puerto Rican dancer/singer Iris Chacón and her husband Junno welcomed a baby girl named Katiria. The same year, the baby name Katiria debuted on the list. Most of these babies were born in New York.


Condola Rashad in 1987
The Rashads and baby Condola
© Ebony
At least three of the baby names that debuted during the 1980s were inspired by celebrity babies, and at least one was inspired by a celebrity grandbaby:


In September of 1984, singer Gladys Knight didn’t have a baby, but her son James (b. 1962) and his wife Michelene did. They welcomed a boy named Rishawn. The next year, the baby name Rishawn debuted on the list.


In November of 1986, football player Willie Gault and his wife Dainnese welcomed a baby girl named Shakari. The next year, the baby name Shakari debuted on the list.


I wrote about Condola a few months ago, but here’s a recap: In December of 1986, actress Phylicia Rashad and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad welcomed a baby girl named Condola. The next year, the baby name Condola debuted on the list.


In December of 1987, filmmaker/actor Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow welcomed a baby boy named Satchel. The next year, the baby name Satchel debuted on the list. He now goes by Ronan, and rumor has it that he is *possibly* the biological son of Frank Sinatra.


Demi, pre-Scout, on cover of Vanity Fair, August 1991
Demi Moore and baby Scout (kinda)
© Vanity Fair
At least three of the baby names the debuted during the 1990s were inspired by celebrity babies:


In July of 1991, actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis welcomed a baby girl named Scout. (And in August, that famous image of 7-months-pregnant Demi ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.) The next year, the baby name Scout debuted on the list, for both genders.


In February of 1995, actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy welcomed twin baby girls named Aquinnah and Schuyler. The same year, the baby name Aquinnah debuted on the list. (I wrote more about the name Aquinnah a few years ago.)


In July of 1998, model Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter welcomed a baby girl named Sailor. The same year, the baby name Sailor debuted on the list as a girl name. It had debuted as a boy name the year before.

Honorable mentions from the ’90s include:

  • Seven, which became more popular after Erykah Badu named her son Seven in 1997.
  • Zion, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her son Zion in 1997.
  • Selah, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her daughter Selah in 1998.


Angelina and Maddox Jolie in 2002
Angelina Jolie and baby Maddox
© People
At least five of the baby names that debuted during the 2000s (the decade) were inspired by celebrity babies:


In August of 2001, singer Shania Twain and her husband Robert welcomed a baby boy named Eja. The same year, the baby name Eja debuted on the list (as a girl name).


In August of 2001, actors Tisha Campbell-Martin and Duane Martin welcomed a baby boy named Xen. The same year, the baby name Xen debuted on the list.


In March of 2003, singer Toni Braxton and musician Keri Lewis welcomed a baby boy named Diezel. The same year, the baby name Diezel debuted on the list.


In June of 2005, magician Penn Jillette and his wife Emily welcomed a baby girl named Moxie (middle name CrimeFighter). The next year, the baby name Moxie debuted on the list.


In September of 2006, model Anna Nicole Smith and her partner Larry Birkhead welcomed a baby girl named Dannielynn. The next year, the baby name Dannielynn debuted on the list.

Honorable mentions from the ’00s include:

  • Massai, which became more popular after Nia Long named her son Massai in 2000.
  • Rocco, which became more popular after Madonna and Guy Ritchie named their son Rocco in 2000.
  • Denim, which became more popular after Toni Braxton named her son Denim in 2001.
  • Maddox, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted son Maddox in 2002.
  • Carys, which became more popular after Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas named their daughter Carys in 2003.
  • Stellan, which became more popular after Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany named their son Stellan in 2003.
  • Apple, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple in 2004.
  • Coco, which became more popular after Courtney Cox and David Arquette named their daughter Coco in 2004.
  • Zahara, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted daughter Zahara in 2005.
  • Moses, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their son Moses in 2006.
  • Kingston, which became more popular after Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale named their son Kingston in 2006.
  • Suri, which became more popular after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri in 2006.
  • Shiloh, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh in 2006.
  • Pax, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their adopted son Pax in 2007.
  • Harlow, which became more popular after Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their daughter Harlow in 2008.
  • Knox & Vivienne, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their twins Knox and Vivienne in 2008.
  • Honor, which became more popular after Jessica Alba named her daughter Honor in 2008.
  • Nahla, which became more popular after Halle Berry named her daughter Nahla in 2008.
  • Bronx, which became more popular after Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their son Bronx in 2008.


The 2010s are only half over and already we’ve seen more celebrity baby-inspired debuts than in any other decade — Naleigh, Aleph (for boys), Locklyn, Aaradhya, Sebella, Sparrow (for boys), Viaan, Naiovy, Eisele, and no doubt others I’ve missed. Follow along as we uncover more year by year in the Pop Culture Baby Names 2010s category.


  • Manners, Dorothy. “Off the Grapevine.” Toledo Blade 14 Feb. 1977: P-3.
  • Wilson, Mary and Patricia Romanowski. Supreme Faith. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

New “Sneaky Husband” Trend in Baby Names?

Lanesra, Arsenal spelled backwardsIn nearly 10 years of blogging, I can only recall two baby names that made the news because they were bestowed by fathers who did not okay those names with the mothers first:

Well, just recently I spotted two more.

The first is “Bermondsey Millwall Den.” It belongs to a baby boy born in London in October. Millwall is a football club, “The Den” is the Millwall stadium, and Bermondsey is where The Den is located.

Bermondsey’s father told the local paper: “I threatened to do it but I don’t think my wife believed me! I’m not sure how she’s going to react.”

The other name is “Lanesra.” It belongs to an baby girl born in Australia a couple of years ago. Here’s what Lanesra’s mother told a women’s magazine about the name:

We chose our daughter’s name, Lanesra, because it was unique and romantic. It wasn’t till she was two that my husband told me it was actually his favourite soccer team, Arsenal, spelled backwards!

In both cases, the wives ended up liking (or at least tolerating?) the names chosen by their husbands. So all is well, I suppose.

Still…I find stories like these disturbing.

What are your thoughts? And, do you think these stories might kick off some sort of “sneaky husband” trend in baby names?

Sources: Dad Names Baby Boy ‘Bermondsey Millwall Den Bloomfield’ – without Telling his Wife, Guy names his daughter Lanesra via Arsenal Cannon Pics

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?

How Do You Like Your Name, Barry?

Today’s name interview is with Barry Brake, a 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas.

What’s the story behind his name?

They were going to name me Brandon (or was it Brendan?) — one of the really trendy names of the late 60s. But a few months into it, a kid down the street was born and they named *him* Brendan, so my parents didn’t want 2 on the same block.

It appeared to everyone that the name Barry came out of the blue. It’s not a family name or anything. But when I was an adult my mom told me something she’d never told me or anyone before, except my dad: that she thought I’d be a performer with my name in lights, and she really liked the stagey sound of “Barry Brake.” Indeed I ended up with musical talent and a showoff personality, and became a performer (though my name isn’t in lights!) I have to say my name works quite well and is a memorable name for a performer to have. Nice premonition!

(He’s right about the ’60s: the baby name Barry was most popular back in 1962.)

What does he like most about his name?

It’s catchy and memorable, and easy to spell for bank tellers and other people behind desks. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours of my life would have been wasted in spelling out Kryzstoffre or something. Whew! And Barry works well with my last name, too, which I think matters a lot.

What does he like least about his name?

As a kid it’s pretty easy to make fun of. It rhymes with stuff, so you get everything from the relatively irritating “Barry Cherry” to the slightly more irritating “Barry Fairy.” Also, there were several years there when people could not help but mention Barry Manilow when they met me.

Added to that is that my last name is rather unusual, leading to my now rule that a kid should only have one unusual name, so if your last name is Sauvage you should stick to naming your kids Mike and Ann, and if your last name is Smith you can name them Thaddeus and Guinevere, but you don’t want a super-plain-jane name or a plaid-on-stripes name.

That said, mine wasn’t *too* plaid-on-stripes, and all the current research shows that people with unusual names who get made fun of as kids generally grow as a result of it. So I’m glad I had a mildly character-building name, though I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my name wasn’t Schenectady Picklebottom.

Later on in life, you get rid of the schoolyard games and move on to other concerns. Mine is that Barry seems to always be the name of the fiancé in the *beginning* of the movie: the bland guy who’s “nice” but all wrong for the girl, and who gets summarily dumped. Either that or the loser boyfriend who … also gets summarily dumped. What is it with screenwriters and the name Barry?

Finally, would Barry recommend that his name be given to babies today?

Sure. If we’d had a son, Barry was at least a consideration, probably for a middle name. It’s sturdy and solid, and not trendy. But on the other hand it *is* more a Gen-X name than you’d probably get today: with Jennifer and Amy and Scott, it just seems to belong to people my age and not to the Noahs and Calebs our kids’ age. My prediction is that for at least a couple of generations, the Barrys around you will be named for someone in the family.

Thanks so much, Barry!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

Letter by Letter: Popular Baby Girl Names, 2013

popular baby girl names, letter by letter, in 2013

Wondering what the most popular K-names for baby girls are? How about R-names?

Below are the 10 most popular girl names for each letter, A through Z. (The parenthetical notations show how the current rankings differ from the 2012 rankings.)

The four new #1 names that emerged in 2013 were Charlotte, which replaced Chloe, Delilah, which replaced Destiny, Harper, which replaced Hannah, and Lillian, which replaced Lily.


1. Ava, 15129 baby girls
2. Abigail, 12313
3. Avery, 9121
4. Amelia, 7979 (was 6th)
5. Aubrey, 7927
6. Addison, 7677 (was 4th)
7. Audrey, 5567 (was 11th)
8. Allison, 5405 (was 9th)
9. Anna, 5315 (was 7th)
10. Aaliyah, 5195 (was 8th)

Out of the top 10: Alexis, now ranked 13th.


1. Brooklyn, 6837 baby girls
2. Bella, 4135 (was 3rd)
3. Brianna, 3869 (was 2nd)
4. Bailey, 2993
5. Brooke, 2736
6. Brielle, 2674
7. Brooklynn, 2140
8. Brynn, 1478
9. Brynlee, 1175 (was 11th)
10. Bianca, 1048

Out of the top 10: Briana, now ranked 13th.


1. Charlotte, 9232 baby girls (was 2nd)
2. Chloe, 8714 (was 1st)
3. Camila, 5127 (was 4th)
4. Claire, 4626 (was 3rd)
5. Caroline, 3955
6. Cora, 2569 (was 7th)
7. Clara, 2486 (was 6th)
8. Catherine, 1840
9. Cecilia, 1430
10. Callie, 1404

Charlotte became the new #1 C-name in 2013.


1. Delilah, 2324 baby girls (was 2nd)
2. Destiny, 2277 (was 1st)
3. Daisy, 1620
4. Daniela, 1433
5. Delaney, 1265 (was 7th)
6. Danielle, 1220 (was 5th)
7. Diana, 1171 (was 6th)
8. Daniella, 1090 (was 9th)
9. Dakota, 1074 (was 8th)
10. Daphne, 770

Delilah became the new #1 D-name in 2013.


1. Emma, 20788 baby girls
2. Emily, 13044
3. Elizabeth, 9345
4. Ella, 8370
5. Evelyn, 7616
6. Ellie, 3739
7. Eva, 3386
8. Eleanor, 2986
9. Eliana, 2584 (was 10th)
10. Elena, 2371 (was 9th)


1. Faith, 3349 baby girls
2. Fiona, 1625
3. Finley, 1089 (was 3rd)
4. Fatima, 1036 (was 4th)
5. Francesca, 711 (was 6th)
6. Fernanda, 583 (was 5th)
7. Felicity, 493 (was 8th)
8. Farrah, 451 (was 7th)
9. Frances, 401
10. Freya, 279 (was 13th)

Out of the top 10: Faye, now ranked 11th.


1. Grace, 7296 baby girls
2. Gabriella, 5173
3. Genesis, 4280
4. Gianna, 3416
5. Gabrielle, 2188
6. Gracie, 1924
7. Giselle, 1559
8. Genevieve, 1445 (was 9th)
9. Gabriela, 1438 (was 8th)
10. Georgia, 1250 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Giuliana, now ranked 11th.


1. Harper, 8222 baby girls (was 2nd)
2. Hannah, 7222 (was 1st)
3. Hailey, 4994
4. Hadley, 2807
5. Hazel, 2039
6. Hayden, 1674 (was 7th)
7. Harmony, 1602 (was 8th)
8. Haley, 1396 (was 6th)
9. Hope, 1359
10. Heaven, 982 (was 11th)

Harper became the new #1 H-name in 2013.

Out of the top 10: Haylee, now ranked 11th.


1. Isabella, 17490 baby girls
2. Isabelle, 2729
3. Isabel, 2317
4. Ivy, 2079 (was 5th)
5. Isla, 1900 (was 6th)
6. Izabella, 1769 (was 4th)
7. Iris, 1238
8. Itzel, 697 (was 9th)
9. Imani, 622 (was 8th)
10. Isis, 496


1. Julia, 3715 baby girls
2. Jocelyn, 3133 (was 3rd)
3. Jasmine, 3024 (was 2nd)
4. Jade, 2570
5. Jordyn, 2371
6. Juliana, 2085 (was 7th)
7. Josephine, 1996 (was 8th)
8. Jessica, 1935 (was 6th)
9. Jayla, 1822 (was 10th)
10. Julianna, 1685 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Jennifer, now ranked 11th.


1. Kaylee, 5079 baby girls
2. Kylie, 4003 (was 3rd)
3. Kennedy, 3932 (was 6th)
4. Katherine, 3693
5. Khloe, 3654 (was 2nd)
6. Kayla, 3236 (was 5th)
7. Kimberly, 3084
8. Kendall, 2504
9. Kaitlyn, 2361
10. Katelyn, 2126


1. Lillian, 7017 baby girls (was 2nd)
2. Lily, 6935 (was 1st)
3. Layla, 6440
4. Leah, 5554
5. Lucy, 3914
6. London, 3430 (was 7th)
7. Lauren, 3330 (was 6th)
8. Lydia, 3220
9. Liliana, 2597 (was 10th)
10. Lilly, 2586 (was 9th)

Lillian became the new #1 L-name in 2013.


1. Mia, 13066 baby girls
2. Madison, 10529
3. Mackenzie, 3990 (was 6th)
4. Madelyn, 3908 (was 4th)
5. Maya, 3783 (was 3rd)
6. Mila, 3661 (was 13th)
7. Melanie, 3455
8. Madeline, 3348 (was 10th)
9. Makayla, 3258 (was 5th)
10. Morgan, 3094 (was 8th)

Out of the top 10: Molly, now ranked 11th.


1. Natalie, 7430 baby girls
2. Nevaeh, 4716
3. Nora, 3482 (was 4th)
4. Naomi, 3400 (was 3rd)
5. Nicole, 3325
6. Natalia, 2613
7. Norah, 1715
8. Nina, 1100
9. Noelle, 1066 (was 10th)
10. Nyla, 1025 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Nadia, now ranked 11th.


1. Olivia, 18256 baby girls
2. Olive, 1086
3. Oakley, 272
4. Ophelia, 184
5. Opal, 123
6. Oaklee, 110 (was 9th)
7. Olyvia, 100 (was 6th)
8. Oriana, 75 (was 16th)
9. Octavia, 73 (was 8th)
10. Orianna, 68 (was 17th)

Out of the top 10: Olga, now ranked 13th, and October, now 20th.

(Oriana/Orianna probably got a boost from Ariana.)


1. Peyton, 4539 baby girls
2. Penelope, 4258 (was 6th)
3. Paisley, 3584 (was 4th)
4. Piper, 3159 (was 2nd)
5. Payton, 2597 (was 3rd)
6. Paige, 2560 (was 5th)
7. Presley, 1619
8. Paris, 1229
9. Parker, 1195 (was 10th)
10. Phoebe, 1050 (was 9th)


1. Quinn, 2634 baby girls
2. Quincy, 128
3. Queen, 126
4. Queenie, 37 (was 5th)
5. Quetzalli, 36 (was 4th)
6. Quorra, 35
7. Quinley, 31 (was 9th)
8. Quinlan, 29 (was 7th)
9. Quincey, 28 (was 8th)
10. Quetzaly, 26 (was 14th)

Out of the top 10: Quinlyn, now ranked 12th.


1. Riley, 4902 baby girls
2. Ruby, 3269 (was 3rd)
3. Reagan, 3020 (was 2nd)
4. Rylee, 2878
5. Rachel, 2271 (was 6th)
6. Reese, 2052 (was 5th)
7. Rebecca, 1773
8. Ryleigh, 1709
9. Rose, 1407
10. Raelynn, 1109 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Raegan, now ranked 11th.


1. Sophia, 21075 baby girls
2. Sofia, 9108
3. Samantha, 6453
4. Savannah, 5192
5. Scarlett, 5031 (was 8th)
6. Sarah, 4635 (was 5th)
7. Sadie, 4614 (was 12th)
8. Serenity, 4412 (was 7th)
9. Stella, 3880
10. Skylar, 3764 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Sophie, now ranked 11th, and Sydney, now 12th.


1. Taylor, 4108 baby girls
2. Trinity, 2895
3. Tessa, 1313
4. Teagan, 1211
5. Tatum, 970
6. Talia, 902 (was 7th)
7. Tiffany, 699 (was 6th)
8. Tatiana, 548 (was 9th)
9. Tiana, 540 (was 8th)
10. Tenley, 514


1. Unique, 144 baby girls
2. Unknown, 57 (was 3rd) [not a name; used when a name is unknown]
3. Uma, 56 (was 2nd)
4. Una, 39
5. Uriah, 32 (was 6th)
6. Ursula, 29 (was 5th)
7. Unity, 20
8. Umaiza, 14
9. Urvi, 14 (was 12th)
10. Ulani, 12 (was 13th)

Out of the top 10: Urijah, now ranked 11th, and Uriyah, now 13th.


1. Victoria, 7155 baby girls
2. Violet, 3895
3. Vivian, 2629 (was 4th)
4. Valentina, 2542 (was 6th)
5. Vanessa, 2085 (was 3rd)
6. Valerie, 1862 (was 7th)
7. Valeria, 1807 (was 5th)
8. Vivienne, 1124 (was 9th)
9. Veronica, 947 (was 8th)
10. Vera, 715 (was 11th)

Out of the top 10: Viviana, now ranked 11th.


1. Willow, 2055 baby girls
2. Whitney, 477
3. Winter, 418 (was 5th)
4. Willa, 404 (was 3rd)
5. Wendy, 394 (was 4th)
6. Wren, 332
7. Wynter, 264
8. Whitley, 170
9. Waverly, 107 (was 10th)
10. Winnie, 105 (was 9th)


1. Ximena, 1951 baby girls
2. Xiomara, 166
3. Xochitl, 115
4. Xitlali, 69
5. Xena, 67 (was 6th)
6. Xenia, 57 (was 7th)
7. Xitlaly, 47 (was 5th)
8. Xyla, 42
9. Xaria, 30 (was 10th)
10. Xoey, 26 (was 12th)

Out of the top 10: Xochilt, now ranked 11th.


1. Yaretzi, 1044 baby girls
2. Yareli, 430
3. Yamileth, 335 (was 5th)
4. Yasmin, 326 (was 3rd)
5. Yaritza, 301 (was 4th)
6. Yesenia, 237
7. Yaretzy, 228 (was 11th)
8. Yara, 207 (was 10th)
9. Yamilet, 200 (was 14th)
10. Yoselin, 196 (was 7th)

Out of the top 10: Yuliana, now ranked 11th, and Yazmin, now 13th.


1. Zoey, 7187 baby girls
2. Zoe, 5920
3. Zara, 625 (was 4th)
4. Zariah, 567 (was 3rd)
5. Zuri, 563 (was 6th)
6. Zoie, 427 (was 5th)
7. Zariyah, 347 (was 8th)
8. Zaniyah, 346 (was 9th)
9. Zaria, 328 (was 10th)
10. Zion, 324 (was 7th)

Here are the 2012 rankings, if you want to check them out.

U.S. Baby Names 2013: Most Popular Names, Top Girl Name Debuts, Top Boy Name Debuts, Biggest Girl Name Changes, Biggest Boy Name Changes, Top First Letters, Top Lengths, Top Girl Names by Letter, Top Boy Names by Letter, Top 1-Syllable Names