How popular is the baby name Joanna in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Joanna and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Joanna.
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Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…
Blu (rejected): A baby girl born in late 2016 in Italy was almost named Blu, but the Italian government rejected the name because it didn’t correspond to her gender. (The Local)
Betsy and Emory: Twin baby girls born in January of 2018 to singer Hillary Scott were named Betsy Mack and Emory JoAnn. Their older sister Eisele was behind the debut of Eisele in 2014. (Taste of Country)
Brianna: A baby girl born in Sacramento in early 2018 with the help of firefighter Brian Hoffer was named Brianna Renee in his honor. (CBS Sacramento)
Crew: A baby boy born in June of 2018 to reality TV stars Joanna and Chip Gaines was named Crew. (Motherly)
Harry and Meghan: Twin foals born in Wales the day before the royal wedding were named Harry and Meghan. (BBC)
Hayes: A baby boy born on the last day of 2017 to actress Jessica Alba was named Hayes. (People)
Knight: A baby boy born in Vegas in during the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals was named Haizen Knight in part after the Vegas Golden Knights, who ultimately lost to the Washington Capitals. (KTNV Las Vegas, video)
Neve: A baby girl born in June of 2018 to Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was named Neve Te Aroha. (NZ Herald)
Riley: A baby girl born in Vegas on the day the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the playoffs was named Riley after player Reilly Smith. Her parents were survivors of the Las Vegas shooting. (NY Post)
Ryder: A baby boy born in May of 2018 was named Ryder after the Ryder Cup. (Ryder Cup…and here’s the follow-up post that mentions several more babies named Ryder)
Saynt: A baby boy born in February of 2018 to Australian actress Tessa James was named Saynt — a respelling of Saint, which would have been illegal in Australia. (news.com.au)
Sheboygan: A baby boy born in April of 2018 to a Michigan couple already famous for being prodigious producers of sons was named Finley Sheboygan — middle name derived from the phrase “she is a boy again.” (Today)
Stormi: A baby girl born in February to reality TV star Kylie Jenner was named Stormi. (People)
Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel How Green Was My Valley told the story of a Welsh coal-mining family during the late 19th century. The story’s narrator was schoolboy Huw Morgan, eighth of nine* siblings, and the symbolic greenness of the valley referred to the fact that, over the course of the Huw’s life, the valley where he lived changed color from green to black due to the mining.
In 1940, How Green Was My Valley was the best-selling book of the year and won the National Book Award for fiction the same year. In late 1941, a Hollywood film based on the book was released. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and ended up winning in five categories, including Best Picture.
Thanks to the book and the movie, two Welsh names (and one sort-of Welsh name) ended up appearing in the SSA’s baby name data…
Let’s go alphabetically, starting with Angharad, pronounced ahn-HAHR-ahd, roughly. In the story, Angharad (played by Maureen O’Hara in the film) was Huw’s older sister.
American audiences heard this name loud and clear within the first few minutes of the movie:
While the name didn’t catch on in the U.S., one name-book notes that it “has been strongly revived in Wales since the 1940s.”
The middle element of Angharad has the same root as the Welsh word caru, meaning “love.”
Next we have the names Bronwen and Bronwyn. The first appeared in 1941:
1945: 10 baby girls named Bronwen
1944: 8 baby girls named Bronwen
1943: 9 baby girls named Bronwen
1942: 8 baby girls named Bronwen
1941: 7 baby girls named Bronwen [debut]
And the second followed in 1942:
1945: 20 baby girls named Bronwyn
1944: 9 baby girls named Bronwyn
1943: 10 baby girls named Bronwyn
1942: 9 baby girls named Bronwyn [debut]
In the story, Bronwen/Bronwyn was Huw’s sister-in-law (the wife of his brother Ivor).
For the book, the name was spelled Bronwen, which is the traditional form of the name. It can be traced back to Welsh elements meaning “breast” (bron) and “white, fair; blessed, holy” (gwen).
But for the movie, the name was respelled Bronwyn, inexplicably. The film character Bronwyn (played by Anna Lee**) was typically called “Bron.”
Notably, one of the babies named after the character was Maureen O’Hara’s only child, Bronwyn, born in 1944. Her birth is likely what boosted the -wyn spelling ahead of the -wen spelling in 1945.
Which Welsh name do you like more, Angharad or Bronwen?
*The nine Morgan siblings in order were Ivor, Ianto, Davy, Owen, Gwilym Jr., Angharad, Ceridwen, Huw, and Olwen.
**Anna Lee’s five children were named Joanna Venetia, Caroline, John, Stephen, and Timothy.
Which girl names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? Which ones decreased the most?
The SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I like to answer it by looking at raw number differences that take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Girl Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kehlani, +2,487 spots — up from 3,359th to 872nd
2. Royalty, +618 spots — up from 1,150th to 532nd
3. Saoirse, +465 spots — up from 1,448th to 983rd
4. Ophelia, +396 spots — up from 976th to 580th
5. Aitana, +368 spots — up from 917th to 549th
6. Itzayana, +356 spots — up from 1,125th to 769th
7. Alessia, +348 spots — up from 1,175th to 827th
8. Kaylani, +301 spots — up from 1,056th to 755th
9. Avianna, +298 spots — up from 751st to 453rd
10. Nalani, +294 spots — up from 1,280th to 986th
Royalty was influenced by the R&B singer Chris Brown, whose daughter (b. 2014) and 7th album (2015) were both called Royalty.
Saoirse was influenced by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — perhaps specifically by those American talk show appearances in which she talked to the hosts (Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, etc.) about how to pronounce her name. Plus there was that widely circulated Ryan Gosling quote on the same topic (“It’s Ser-sha, like inertia”).
Alessia was influenced by singer/songwriter Alessia Cara.
1. Adeline, +1,700 baby girls — up from 2,403 to 4,103
2. Charlotte, +1,649 baby girls — up from 11,381 to 13,030
3. Riley, +1,390 baby girls — up from 5,720 to 7,110
4. Adaline, +971 baby girls — up from 902 to 1,873
5. Amelia, +864 baby girls — up from 9,838 to 10,702
6. Luna, +849 baby girls — up from 2,796 to 3,645
7. Emilia, +804 baby girls — up from 2,215 to 3,019
8. Camila, +765 baby girls — up from 5,271 to 6,036
9. Nova, +754 baby girls — up from 1,518 to 2,272
10. Evelyn, +708 baby girls — up from 9,352 to 10,060
Adeline and Adaline were influenced, at least initially, by the movie The Age of Adaline (2015).
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Eleanor, Teagan, Kinsley, Scarlett, Everly, Quinn, Aria, Remi, Harper, Penelope, Thea, Claire, Rowan, Hazel, Ruby, Blake, Aurora, Ivy, Harley, Eloise, Willow, Elena, Josephine, Alice, Blakely, Saylor, Nora, Leia, Iris, Margot, Isla, Freya, Samara, Joy, Zara, Eliana, Joanna, and Malia.
Girl Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Caitlin, -542 spots — down from 609th to 1,151st
2. Caitlyn, -462 spots — down from 598th to 1,060th
3. Katelynn, -402 spots — down from 652nd to 1,054th
4. Kaitlynn, -381 spots — down from 994th to 1,375th
5. Neriah, -344 spots — down from 943rd to 1,287th
6. Bryanna, -276 spots — down from 783rd to 1,059th
7. Kiley, -275 spots — down from 898th to 1,173rd
8. Yaritza, -271 spots — down from 935th to 1,206th
9. Denise, -210 spots — down from 993rd to 1,203rd
10. Kaelyn, -203 spots — down from 521st to 724th
Caitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn, were negatively influenced by Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in mid-2015 with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”
This reminds me of what happened a few decades ago to Hillary — another name that was strongly associated for a time with a female who wasn’t conforming to gender norms. Perhaps tellingly, the name Bruce wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Jenner did fall of the charts, though.
1. Sophia, -1,311 baby girls — down from 17,381 to 16,070
2. Alexa, -1,289 baby girls — down from 6,049 to 4,760
3. Madison, -1,090 baby girls — down from 10,072 to 8,982
4. Emma, -1,001 baby girls — down from 20,415 to 19,414 (…but still the #1 name overall)
5. Aubrey, -869 baby girls — down from 7,376 to 6,507
6. Isabella, -852 baby girls — down from 15,574 to 14,722
7. Emily, -840 baby girls — down from 11,766 to 10,926
8. Kylie, -753 baby girls — down from 4,149 to 3,396
9. Alexis, -744 baby girls — down from 3,406 to 2,662
10. Abigail, -672 baby girls — down from 12,371 to 11,699
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Kaitlyn, Avery, Allison, Alyssa, London, Kaylee, Sofia, Katelyn, Kimberly, Zoey, Mia, Chloe, Kendall, Taylor, Sadie, Khloe, Mackenzie, Hannah, Peyton, Addison, Samantha, Ashley, Olivia, Gabriella, Brianna, Lauren, Anna, Brooklyn, Morgan, Jocelyn, Sydney, Natalie, Victoria, Makayla, Zoe, Hailey, Payton, Brooke, Annabelle, Trinity, Keira, Adalyn, Jordyn, Kayla, Molly, Audrey, Faith, Madelyn, Lillian, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Makenzie, Paige, Aaliyah, Paisley, Nevaeh, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jessica.
Interesting how certain like-names went in opposite directions last year. Leia, Alessia, and Adaline rose; Leah, Alyssa, and Adalyn fell.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please comment!
(In 2015, the big winners were Alexa and Alaia, and the big losers were Isabella and Isis.)
“People who give their kids weird names are unsophisticated morons,” I thought to myself when I was 23 years old and busy substitute-teaching a class full of kids named Brysalynn and Traxton.
Then, a few years later, one of my closest friends had a kid and named him something dumb. At the moment of said dumb-named kid’s entrance into this world, two options stood before me. Option A: I was wrong about baby names, and it was, in fact, possible to be an interesting, intelligent person while also being sweet on absurd baby monikers. Option B: Despite having a mountain of evidence that my friend was interesting and intelligent, this was all a ruse and he had been a moron the entire time.
From The Toast, an in-depth look at “ship names” — short for relationship names, i.e., name blends that represent fan-created relationships between fictional characters:
Onset conservation is also why we get Drarry (Draco/Harry), Dramione (Draco/Hermione), Klaroline (Klause/Caroline), Sterek (Stiles/Derek), Stydia (Stiles/Lydia), Clex (Clark Kent/Lex Luthor), Chlex (Chloe/Lex), Phrack (Phryne/Jack), Cherik (Charles/Erik), CroWen (Cristina/Owen), Bedward (Bella/Edward), Brucas (Brooke/Lucas), Brangelina (Brad/Angelina), and so on.
(“Olicity Is Real” was trending on Twitter recently…I wonder how long it’ll be before we start seeing ship names on birth certificates.)
Tiger Andrews was born on March 19, 1920, in Brooklyn; he was named after a strong animal to ensure good health, following a Syrian custom.
From a footnote in a 1986 translation of the book Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire (1824) by French scientist Nicolas-Léonard “Sadi” Carnot:
Sadi was named after the thirteenth-century Persian poet and naturalist, Saadi Musharif ed Din, whose poems, most notably the Gulistan (or Rose Garden), were popular in Europe in the late eighteenth century. It seems likely that Lazare [Sadi’s father] chose the name to commemorate his association, in the 1780s, with the Société des Rosati, an informal literary society in Arras in which a recurring theme was the celebration of the beauty of roses in poetry.
From Ed Sikov’s 2007 book Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis (spotted while doing research for the Stanley Ann post):
Manly names for women were all the rage [in Hollywood movies] in 1941: Hedy Lamarr was a Johnny and a Marvin that year, and the eponymous heroines of Frank Borzage’s Seven Sweethearts were called Victor, Albert, Reggie, Peter, Billie, George, and most outrageous of all, Cornelius.
Speaking of Cornelius…some comedy from John Oliver‘s 2008 special Terrifying Times:
[A] friend of mine emailed me and he said that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me. I didn’t realize this was true, so I looked it up. And like most Wikipedia entries, it came with some flamboyant surprises, not least amongst them my name. Because in it it said my name was John Cornelius Oliver. Now my middle name is not Cornelius because I did not die in 1752. But obviously, I want it to be. Cornelius is an incredible name. And that’s when it hit me — the way the world is now, fiction has become more attractive than fact. That is why Wikipedia is such a vital resource. It’s a way of us completely rewriting our history to give our children and our children’s children a much better history to grow up with.
It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to change my name. For the last twenty or thirty years, I’ve admired and envied all the performers who have proudly used their real names. The longer and harder to pronounce, the better.
(Was Mädchen Amick one of the performers she had in mind? They worked together on Twin Peaks in the early 1990s…)
Can you give an example of how your company’s software works?
Let’s hypothetically take the name of an American: Yeimary Moran. We see the common name Mary inside her first name, but unlike the name Rosemary, for example, we know that the letter string “eimary” is Hispanic. Her surname could be Irish or Hispanic. So then we look at where our Yeimary Moran lives, which is Miami. From our software, we discover that her neighborhood is more Hispanic than Irish. Customer testing and feedback show that our software is over 90 percent accurate in most ethnicities, so we can safely deduce that this Yeimary Moran is Hispanic.
From Duncan McLaren’s Evelyn Waugh website, an interesting fact about the English writer and his first wife, also named Evelyn:
Although I call the couple he- and she-Evelyn in my book, Alexander [Evelyn Waugh’s grandson] has mentioned that at the time [late 1920s] they were called Hevelyn and Shevelyn.
(Evelyn Waugh’s first name was pronounced EEV-lyn, so I imagine “Hevelyn” was HEEV-lyn and “Shevelyn” SHEEV-lyn.)