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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Jill

Number of Babies Named Jill

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Jill

Queen Changed Name from Edith to Matilda

Matilda of ScotlandHenry I, who ruled England from 1100 to 1135, was one of the sons of William the Conqueror, England’s first Norman king.

About two months after Henry was crowned king (on the interesting date 11/11/1100) he married one of the daughters of Malcolm III of Scotland and his Anglo-Saxon wife, Margaret.

Malcolm and Margaret’s daughter had been baptized with the Anglo-Saxon name Eadgyth [Edith], but when she was crowned Queen of England, she used the name Matilda.

From then on, she was known as either Matilda or Maud.

Why the name change?

Because “Matilda” was a name favored by the Normans. As historian Robert Bartlett put it, “A lot of people changed their names [following the Norman conquest] because they wanted to pass in polite society — they didn’t want to be mistaken for a peasant, marked out with an Anglo-Saxon name.”

In fact, Norman nobles liked to mock the couple by calling them Godric and Godiva, both of which are Anglo-Saxon names. “Godric and Godiva were the Jack and Jill of their period.”

Sources:


Name Quotes for the Weekend #32

Thana, cover of LIFE, 1947

Happy Friday! Here’s another batch of random, name-related quotes to end the week…

From the description of the December 15, 1947, cover of LIFE magazine:

Among the prettiest showgirls in New York’s nightclubs are (from left) brunette Dawn McInerney, red-haired Thana Barclay and blond Joy Skylar who all work in the Latin Quarter. […] Thana, also 22, was named after her mother’s favorite poem Thanatopsis. She is married to a song plugger named Duke Niles and owns a dachshund named Bagel.

The poem “Thanatopsis” was written by William Cullen Bryant. The word itself means “a view or contemplation of death.” In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the god of death.

From the All Music Guide to Hip-hop by Vladimir Bogdanov:

Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1975, with the unlikely name of Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (after D.C.-born Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor).

Elgin Baylor, born in 1934, was named after the Elgin National Watch Company. (He’s on my Long List of Unusual Real Names.)

From “The Art Of Knowing When Less Is More” by Greg Dawson, published in the Orlando Sentinel in 1997:

Fellow immigrants…Here is proof that we need that national “conversation about race” urged by President Clinton: Last week in a whimsical moment I argued that official hurricane names are too “white bread” (like Greg) and don’t reflect America’s ethnic stew. To make my point I looked at the births page of the Sentinel for names that you never see attached to a hurricane — names such as Attaliah, Desjambra, Ofori. A reader called to complain about the “white bread” line and added, “A lot of those names aren’t even American.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “but they were born in this country. They’re just as American as you and me.”

“You know what I mean,” he said.

Yes, unfortunately, I think I do.

From The Making of Cabaret by Keith Garebian, regarding the name of English actress Valerie Jill Haworth, who was born on Victory over Japan Day (Aug. 15, 1945):

The initials of her baptismal names (Valerie Jill) were in honor of her birth on VJ Day.

Related: American actress Robin Vee Strasser was born on Victory in Europe Day.

A quote from Freddie Prinze, Jr., in the documentary Misery Loves Comedy (sent to me by Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda):

“When you’re a Junior you’re pretty much just a statue to what went before.”

From “My Daughter Will Be Named Ruby Daffodil” in US magazine article

Back when Drew Barrymore was only 20 years old, she already had a name picked out for her future child.

During an interview with Rolling Stone in June 1995, Barrymore opened up about her relationship at the time with Hole musician Eric Erlandson.

[…]

“I never thought I’d have a sense of family until I had my own kids. I want two: a boy and a girl,” she revealed. “My daughter will be named Ruby Daffodil.”

Today she has two daughters, neither of whom are named Ruby Daffodil. The first was named Olive and the second Frankie.

From “The History Of How “Cow Poop” Became A Real-Life Japanese Family Name” by Mami of the blog Tofugu:

There are some Japanese family names that are so ridiculous that I’m forced to believe that someone was playing some kind of horrible family prank when they named themselves. Cow Poop (Ushikuso), Horse-Butt (Umajiri), and Boar-Crotch (Inomata/Imata) are actual people in Japan. If they wanted a memorable name, they’ve certainly achieved it, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up with a name like that as a child.

From the “Name Wisely” section of “8 Tips for Creating Great Stories” by Hugh Hart of Fast Company:

Fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman stresses the importance of a good name in describing the genesis of his American Gods protagonist. “There’s a magic to names, after all,” he says. “I knew his name [needed to be] descriptive. I tried calling him Lazy, but he didn’t seem to like that, and I called him Jack, and he didn’t like that any better. I took to trying every name I ran into on him for size, and he looked back at me from somewhere in my head unimpressed every time. It was like trying to name Rumpelstiltskin.”

He finally discovered the name, Shadow, in an Elvis Costello song. (American Gods will be on TV soon…will we soon be seeing more babies named Shadow?)

The Sad Story of Roni Sue

Yesterday’s post was a happy story about a toddler named Roni Marie, but today’s is a sad one about a premie named Roni Sue.

On the morning of November 26, 1966, a set of quintuplets was born to Patti and Michael Aranson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The quints, all girls, were born 2.5 months premature. None of them weighed more than 2 pounds.

Even the very first articles about the quints noted that “there was only a 10 per cent chance all five would survive.” They “were born with lungs no sufficiently developed to perform the vital function of breathing.”

Their names, in order, were Roni Sue, Amy Beth, Susan, Kimberly Ann and Marci Jill.

About 24 hours after birth, middle quint Susan was the first to give up. Amy Beth followed 12 hours later, and Kimberly Ann a few hours after that. Marci Jill, the weakest of the five, was able to hang on overnight but died the next day on November 28.

All eyes were now on Roni Sue, the last quint still alive. She was the oldest, the heaviest, and the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, Dr. Lee Bass, said she “look[ed] reasonably good and there [was] some chance she might live.”

On November 29, one hopeful article reported that Roni Sue had passed the critical 72-hour mark:

Kicking and active, tiny Roni Sue Aranson passed the first crisis in her struggle for survival today, bolstering the hopes to her parents and doctors that at least one of Pittsburgh’s quintuplets would live.

But breathing soon became an issue for her, as it had been for her sisters.

At first Dr. Bass was positive, saying that there was “a possibility she may withstand all of this.”

But her situation steadily worsened, and on December 2 he stated that her “outlook for life [was] almost hopeless.”

On December 3, after being front-page news across the nation for several days straight, Roni Sue passed away. TIME magazine made note of her death about a week later, calling her “the strongest of [the] quintuplets.”

Though Roni Sue didn’t live long, she did end up having an influence on U.S. baby names. Most notably, the baby name Ronisue became a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1967:

  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: 13 baby girls named Ronisue [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

And the baby name Roni was boosted into the top 1,000 for three years straight, peaking in 1967:

  • 1969: 93 baby girls named Roni
  • 1968: 124 baby girls named Roni (ranked 932nd)
  • 1967: 210 baby girls named Roni (ranked 665th)
  • 1966: 109 baby girls named Roni (ranked 984th)
  • 1965: 68 baby girls named Roni

Records show that a number of these babies named Roni were indeed given “Sue” as a middle name.

(It looks like Roni Sue’s sister Marci Jill may have also had an influence on the charts, as the name Marci spiked in 1967, though it’s a bit hard to see as the name was already on the rise.)

Sources (chronologically):

  • “Quintuplets Born to 22-Year-Old Woman.” Ellensburg Daily Record 26 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Three of Aranson Quints Die.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “One Aranson Quintuplet Continues Battle for Life.” Southeast Missourian 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Surviving Quint Passes First Crisis.” Park City Daily News 29 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Quint’s Chances in Sharp Plunge.” Fort Scott Tribune 30 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Furnish Blood to Last Quint.” Daily Illini 1 Dec. 1966: 4.
  • “Last Quint Near Death.” Miami News 2 Dec. 1966: 8-A.
  • “Quint Dies After Fight to Survive.” Milwaukee Journal 3 Dec. 1966: 2.

Baby Names Typed by the Right Hand – Better?

Years ago, I came up with a list of one-handed baby names — that is, names that are typed with either the left hand or the right hand on a QWERTY keyboard.

Turns out there may be a slight advantage to right-hand names.

According to a study published recently in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, “the QWERTY keyboard may gradually attach more positive meanings to words with more letters located on the right side of the layout (everything to the right of T, G and B).”

Why?

It has to do with fluency.

We tend to like simplicity over complexity, and the harder-to-type letter pairs are on a QWERTY keyboard’s left side — these two facts together may lead people to prefer words (and names) that are typed on the right.

Which names are typed by the right hand only? My original list:

  • Holly
  • Io
  • Jill, Jim, Jimi, Jimmy, Jin, Jo, John, Johnny, Jon, Joni, Joy, Juho, Juli, Julio, Jun, Juno
  • Kiki, Kim, Kimi, Kimiko, Kimmy, Kimo, Kip, Kiyoko, Kojo, Kollin, Kumiko, Kyou
  • Lili, Lilly, Lilou, Lily, Lin, Lino, Loni, Lonny, Lou, Lulu, Lyn, Lynn
  • Miki, Mikki, Mikko, Milly, Milo, Mimi, Min, Minh, Miyu, Molly, Momoko
  • Nik, Nikhil, Niki, Nikki, Niko, Nikol, Nikon, Nuno
  • Olli, Olujimi, Om
  • Phil, Philip, Phillip, Pio, Polly, Poppy
  • Yoko, Yuko, Yumi, Yumiko

Can you think of any others?

Source: The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words (h/t Anthony Mitchell, @aem76us)

The Fall of Nan & Nanny

Nancy was first used during the medieval era as a form of Agnes, but became popular during the 18th century as a form of Anne.

But it was used as a form of Anne only because the other forms of Anne — Nan and Nanny — had fallen into disuse.

Why were the once-common names Nan and Nanny shunned in the late 17th century? Because they, like several other once-common female names (e.g. Jill, Parnel), had become synonyms for “jade.” Nanny was even used in terms like nanny-house and nanny-shop, synonyms for “brothel.”

So babies stopped getting the names Nan and Nanny. But “[r]espectable people, still liking the name, changed it to Nancy, and in that form it still lives.”

Interesting, no?

Makes me wonder if Parnel (a short form of Petronilla) could have been resurrected with a nifty new ending. Parnelcy? Parncy? Hm.

Sources:

  • Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature. London: Chatto & Windus, 1897.
  • Green, Jonathon. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang. 2nd ed. London: Cassell, 2006.

Baby Name Needed for Ethan’s Little Sister

A reader named Kathy is expecting a baby girl in December. She’d like some help coming up with a name. She writes:

I have a 25 month old named Ethan. I have loved that name but am sad to see it’s become so popular. I would like suggestions for a feminine, unique girl name if you have some.

Kathy does like the name Ava, but feels it’s too popular to use.

She also mentions that the baby will be of German/Irish extraction and have a 2-syllable surname that starts with an h (think Hofler).

Ethan and Ava are short, simple, traditional names. But they both happen to be very popular right now. So I looked for girl names that have a similar profile, but that aren’t quite as popular (i.e. none are top 20).

Alice
Amy
Anna
Clara
Cora
Elsa
Gemma
Heidi
Ivy
Laura
Leah
Lucy
Lydia
Marie
Mary
Naomi
Paula
Ruth
Sarah
Susan

Now, Kathy did use the word “unique” in her e-mail. None of the above names could be described as unique. In fact, I don’t think any baby name is unique in a literal sense. But here are some names that weren’t popular enough to make the top 1,000 in 2009.

Anja
Audra
Flora
Jill
Judy
Marla
Petra
Sonja

Which of these names do you like best with Ethan? What other names would you suggest to Kathy?

Baby Name Needed – Girl Name for Edie’s Sister

A reader named Andrea is expecting her second daughter in May and she’d appreciate some name suggestions. Here’s what she writes:

My husband and I love unusual names that have a little bit of a retro feel (my first daughter is Edie). We’ve been trying to think of something fun and different but still feminine. A few we like: Camilla, Lina, Romi, Gia, Neve and Leigh.

Here are some other names I think they might like:

Beatrix
Bettina
Blythe
Celia
Colette
Cora
Daphne
Della
Fern
Flora
Gemma
Hazel
Iola
Iris
Isla
Jill
Kate
Lida
Livia
Louise
Lucy
Mabel
Martha
Mina
Mona
Nelle
Nessa
Nina
Odette
Pearl
Pia
Rita
Rose
Ruby
Sabina
Sally
Stella
Sylvie
Thea
Tilda
Tess
Wendy
Willa
Winnie

Which of the above do you like best with Edie? What other names would you suggest to Andrea?