How popular is the baby name Jessica 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 Jessica.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Jessica


Posts that Mention the Name Jessica

The Inception of Sway

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

The War-Inspired Name Nasiriyah

The name Nasiriyah was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 2003:

  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: 15 baby girls named Nasiriyah [debut]
  • 2002: unlisted
  • 2001: unlisted

Where did “Nasiriyah” come from, and what happened in 2003 to draw people’s attention to it?

It came from the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The city was founded and named after a local sheikh name Nasir in the 1870s. (The Arabic name Nasir means “helper.”)

The event that introduced Nasiriyah to the American public was the Iraq War (which overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein and, thereby, had an influence on Iraqi baby names). The Battle of Nasiriyah, one of the first major battles of the war, was fought between U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces and lasted from March 23 to April 2.

(One of the female soldiers involved in the battle, Jessica Lynch, had a baby girl in 2007 and gave her the middle name Ann in honor of Lori Ann Piestewa, the first woman in the U.S. military killed in the Iraq War.)

What do you think of Nasiriyah as a baby name? Do you like it more or less than the similar names Nayirah and Nasiya?

Sources: Nasiriyah – Wikipedia, U.S. Marines in Battle: An-Nasiriyah (PDF)

Popular and Unique Baby Names Scotland, 2019

According to National Records of Scotland (NRS), the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were Olivia and Jack.

Here are Scotland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 394 baby girls
  2. Emily, 388
  3. Isla, 364
  4. Sophie, 308
  5. Ella, 284
  6. Ava, 278
  7. Amelia, 275
  8. Grace, 272
  9. Freya, 260
  10. Charlotte, 243

Boy Names

  1. Jack, 449 baby boys
  2. Oliver, 359
  3. James, 345
  4. Charlie, 306
  5. Harris, 304
  6. Lewis, 280
  7. Leo, 278
  8. Noah, 272
  9. Alfie, 261
  10. Rory, 258

In girls’ top 10, Freya and Charlotte replace Jessica (now 11th) and Aria (now 15th).

In the boys’ top 10, Charlie and Alfie replace Alexander (now 11th) and Logan (now 13th). Charlie’s rise was significant; it shot up to 4th from 13th the year before.

The NRS press release mentioned that the popular British crime drama Peaky Blinders has given a boost to the baby names Cillian, Polly and Chester. (Polly and Chester are characters in the show; Cillian refers to star Cillian Murphy.) It also noted that Ezra has become more popular thanks to English singer/songwriter George Ezra.

Of the nearly 50,000 babies born in Scotland last year, more than 5,000 — over 10% — were given a one-of-a-kind first name. Here are some of the names bestowed just once in Scotland in 2019:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Alba-Nova, Bramble, Calanais, Delphi, Evie-Peaches, Fritha, Grey, Harper-Lee, Isla-Dee, Janiba, Kavinila, Lumi, Mazikeen, Moksha, Nirbhana, Ooliana, Pichapak, Quaintrelle, Roux, Salvina-Liza, Sanziana, Tefta, Thistle, Uendjipa, Vaticana, Wish, Xiorra, Yaldz, ZografiaAzmi, Bobby-Dylan, Coen-Knox, Dicaprio, Enxu, Ferdinand, Gurzack, Harbury, Iyvhn, Jonjo, Karamo, Leicester, Malachite, Moncef, Neo-Nova, Otter, Phenomenal, Qusai, Roag, Scirocco, Swift, Theodore-Bear, Torcuil, Udhay, Valdis, Wurrd, Xubin, Yug, Zalvadorro

And here are possible explanations/associations for some of the above:

  • Bobby-Dylan, American singer Bob Dylan
  • Calanais, a Scottish village and/or the standing stones nearby
  • Dicaprio, American actor Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Harper-Lee, American writer Harper Lee
  • Karamo, American TV personality Karamo Brown
  • Leicester, an English city and (more importantly) a professional soccer team
  • Malachite, a banded green stone
  • Mazikeen, a character from the TV show Lucifer
  • Moksha, the Hindu/Buddish cycle of rebirth (it was on the Baby Names from the East list)
  • Nirbhana, apparently a Gaelic-influenced Nirvana (another name from the East)
  • Quaintrelle, “a woman who is focused on style and leisurely pastimes”
  • Roag, a Scottish hamlet on the Isle of Skye
  • Sanziana, a Romanian word for either fairies or flowers
  • Scirocco, a Mediterranean wind and (more importantly) a car made by Volkswagen
  • Theodore-Bear, apparently an elongated form of “teddy bear”
  • Thistle, the national flower of Scotland (thank you to Clare for reminding me!)

(I posted even more of Scotland’s unique baby names over on Patreon.)

In 2018, the top two names were the same.

Sources: Full list of names for 2019, Babies’ First Names, Quaintrelle – Wiktionary

Name Quotes 78: Brene, Neal, SanDeE*

The name SanDeE* from LA Story (1991).
SanDeE* from LA Story

From the 1991 movie LA Story, a conversation between Harris (played by Steve Martin) and SanDeE* (played by Sarah Jessica Parker):

H: What was your name again?

S: SanDeE*

H: I’m sorry, Sandy, Sandy… It’s a nice name. Everybody has such weird names now, it’s like Tiffany with a P-H-I, and instead of Nancy it’s Nancine. [He begins to write her name down.]

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E.

H: What?

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. [She grabs his hand and writes directly on it.] Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. Then there’s a little star at the end.

Anna Wintour recently talking about her new puppy, named Finch [vid]:

She’s called Finch because we call all of our dogs after characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. So we have had a Scout, a Radley, and a Harper. And let me tell you, they are not happy about Finch’s arrival.

From a 1995 interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:

Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.

From an article about Lara Prescott, author of the new book The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:

You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.

A non-edited tweet from Cardi B, whose sister’s name is Hennessy:

Fun fact :Always wanted a daughter and I always used to say imma name her HennyLynn. It’s a cute mix of my sisters name but then I started calling my sister HennyLynn then it became one of the nicknames I gave my sister so it woulda been weird naming my daughter that .

From an article about a Georgia man whose name, Neal, came from a POW bracelet:

His father, the late John Carpenter, was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and was deployed overseas at the time. He arrived home in time for his son’s birth. When it became necessary to scramble and find a boy’s name, John Carpenter looked down at the POW/MIA bracelet he was wearing.

The engraved name was Neal Clinton Ward Jr. He had been listed as Missing in Action since June 13, 1969. An airman, his plane had been shot down over Laos in the jungles of Southeast Asia, nine days before his 24th birthday.

The Carpenters named their son Neal Ward Carpenter.

(Neal’s mom had been convinced the baby would be a girl. Neal said: “I was going to be April Michelle, and that’s all there was to it.”)

Research professor and author Brené Brown on her unique name:

Growing up, every time we drove from San Antonio to Houston, going to Stuckey’s — all these places where you buy monogrammed shirts and glasses — I was so put out because there was never a “Brené.” So I think I made up in my head that it was French. And then I hitchhiked across Europe after high school and I got to France and I was like, “Je suis Brené!” And they were like, “What kind of name is that?” They’d never heard of it. My parents just made it up. I had a whole narrative in high school — “When I bust out of this suburban Spring, Texas, high school I’m going to go back to France where my people are!” But, no, it’s not French — it’s south side San Antonio.

Marketing expert Seth Godin’s take on the best middle name ever:

It’s not Warren or Susan or Otis or Samuel or Tricia.

It’s “The.”

As in Attila The Hun or Alexander The Great or Zorba The Greek.

When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.