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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Popularity of the Baby Name Joanna

Number of Babies Named Joanna

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Joanna

Names in the Willey Family – Alzada, Octavia, Idawalley

I wrote about Idawalley Zoradia Lewis a few years ago, but didn’t talk about the source of her unusual name.

She was named for her mother, Idawalley Zoradia Willey (1815-1879), who was born and raised in Rhode Island along with eight unusually named siblings and half-siblings — nearly all girls.

While I don’t know the names of all nine Willey children, I have tracked down these six:

  • Alzada Roslyn (her daughter was also named “Alzada Roslyn”)
  • Erasmus Darwin (apparently named for Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin)
  • Cordelia Joanna
  • Octavia Lodiska
  • Idawalley Zoradia
  • Laura E. (probably Effigenia, as her daughter was named “Laura Effigenia”)

Given the names above, what do you think the other three daughters in the Willey family might have been called?


Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1866

providenceLast month we looked at the top Providence names of 1867, so today let’s check out the rankings from the year before — 1866.

First, some stats:

  • 1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
  • 1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
  • 234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.

And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.

Now, on to the names…

Top 5

The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. George
5. Thomas

The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.

Girl Names

As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 43
  3. Ellen, 40
  4. Margaret, 37
  5. Sarah, 36
  6. Elizabeth, 32
  7. Alice, 18
  8. Annie, 15
  9. Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
  10. Clara, 13
  11. Ann, 11
  12. Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
  13. Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
  14. Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
  15. Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
  17. Amelia, Bridget, Ella, Frances, Hattie, Lydia, Nellie & Theresa, 4 each (8-way tie)
  18. Abby, Emily, Florence, Josephine, Laura, Lillian, Lizzie, Louise & Marion, 3 each (9-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amy, Augusta, Deborah, Edith, Etta, Eva, Fannie, Georgianna, Hannah, Henrietta, Honora, Isabel, Isabella, Lottie, Lucy, Mabel, Marietta, Maud & Teresa, 2 each (20-way tie)
  20. Almira, Annette, Bertha, Catharine, Cedelia, Celia, Christina, Delia, Diana, Dora, Dorcas, Eldora, Eleanor, Elsie, Emeline, Etherine, Eugenie, Evangeline, Fanny, Flora, Geneva, Georgia, Gracie, Helen, Helena, Imogene, Janette, Jessie, Kate, Lena, Louisa, Lucia, Lucinda, Madelina, Marian, Marsalin, May, Millie, Mina, Mini, Minna, Neatah, Nettie, Phebe, Rebecca, Rosa, Roselia, Rosetta, Ruth, Sophia, Stella, Susanna, Susannah, Tillie & Winnifred, 1 each (55-way tie)

Boy Names

John had an even more commanding lead in 1866 than in 1867.

  1. John, 109 baby boys
  2. William, 78
  3. James, 62
  4. George, 44
  5. Thomas, 41
  6. Charles, 36
  7. Edward, 28
  8. Joseph, 27
  9. Frederick, 20
  10. Henry, 18
  11. Frank, 17
  12. Michael, 15
  13. Francis, 14
  14. Daniel, 13
  15. Albert, Patrick & Robert, 12 each (3-way tie)
  16. Walter, 11
  17. Arthur, Peter & Samuel, 8 each (3-way tie)
  18. Alfred, Harry, Louis & Stephen, 7 each (4-way tie)
  19. Martin, 6
  20. Matthew, 5
  21. Christopher, Clarence, Herbert, Howard & Hugh, 4 each (5-way tie)
  22. Benjamin, Eugene, Ira & Jeremiah, 3 each (4-way tie)
  23. Aaron, Alvin, Arnold, Earl, Edgar, Elisha, Freddie, Harrison, Lewis, Marcus, Nicholas, Philip, Richard & Timothy, 2 each (14-way tie)
  24. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Alanson, Alden, Ambrose, Antonio, August, Augustavus*, Augustus, Bartholomew, Bernard, Bradford, Byron, Chauncey, Clinton, David, Duncan, Eben, Ebenezer, Edwin, Elias, Elliott, Ethan, Everett, Ezra, Ferdinand, Frederic, Fullerton, Gilbert, Gwynn, Harold, Herman, Isaac, Jesse, Josiah, Lauriston, Luther, Manuel, Marks, Maurice, Miles, Mortimer, Oliver, Olney, Oscar, Otto, Rana, Rectol, Salisbury, Shamball, Simon, Terence, Theodore, Victor, Willard, Willie & Wilton, 1 each (58-way tie)

(I didn’t combine any variant spellings, but I did lump the abbreviated names Chas., Benj., and Fred’k in with Charles, Benjamin and Frederick.)

*Does Augustavus = Augustus + Gustav, I wonder?

Twins

I counted 19 pairs of twins born in Providence in 1866. I didn’t notice any triplets this year. (All of these names have already been accounted for above.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g)
Edgar & Oscar
Edward & James
Francis & James
James & John
John & Thomas
(blank) & (blank)
Frederick & Alice
John & Alice
Samuel & Sarah
Stephen & Annie
(blank) & Catherine
Agnes & Anna
Eldora & Ellen
Eliza & Mary
Elizabeth & Julia
Frances & Mary
Josephine & Mary
Mary & Sarah
Theresa & (blank)

I’ll try to finish/post the final set of rankings before the end of the year.

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence During the Year 1866. Providence: Hammond, Angell & Co., 1867.

Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1867

providence baby names 1867The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.

I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:

  • 1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
  • 1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
  • 254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.

And now, on to the names…

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

Girl Names

Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.

  1. Mary, 138 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 46
  3. Ellen, 37
  4. Margaret, 34
  5. Sarah, 31
  6. Annie, 19
  7. Elizabeth, 16
  8. Alice, 15
  9. Florence, 14
  10. Ann, Emma & Ida, 12 each (3-way tie)
  11. Minnie, 11
  12. Harriet & Julia, 9 each (2-way tie)
  13. Anna, Caroline, Carrie, Jennie, Joanna & Louisa, 8 each (6-way tie)
  14. Cora & Eliza, 7 each (2-way tie)
  15. Agnes, Clara, Edith, Rosanna & Theresa, 6 each (5-way tie)
  16. Bertha, Grace, Hannah, Hattie, Jane, Lillian, Maria, Martha, Nellie & Susan, 5 each (10-way tie)
  17. Eleanor, Fannie, Gertrude, Helen, Isabella, Lucy & Rosa, 4 each (7-way tie)
  18. Anne, Bridget, Ella, Emily, Esther, Eva, Lizzie, Mabel, Matilda & Ruth, 3 each (10-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amelia, Charlotte, Dora, Eleanora, Elvira, Henrietta, Jessie, Josephine, Kate, Louise, Lydia, Maggie & Rosella, 2 each (14-way tie)
  20. Abby, Addie, Adelaide, Adelia, Almina, Almira, Amanda, Amey, Amy, Anastasia, Angelie, Annis, Antoinette, Augusta, Aurelia, Bethiah, Cecelia, Celia, Clarissa, Clementina, Corielynn, Cornelia, Drusilla, Effie, Emeline, Estella, Ethelin, Fanny, Florentina, Frances, Gelie, Genevieve, Georgiana, Georgianna, Helena, Honora, Irene, Isabel, Issie, Juliann, Julietta, Katie, Laura, Leah, Leonora, Lillie, Lillis, Lily, Lottie, Luella, Margaretta, Margery, Margret, Marietta, Maude, May, Millie, Myra, Nelly, Phebe, Robie, Rosalthe, Rose, Selina, Sophia, Susanna, Susannah, Vienna, Viola, Vira, Virginia & Winifred, 1 each (72-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. John, 87 baby boys
  2. William, 75
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 50
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 40
  7. Joseph, 30
  8. Walter, 21
  9. Edward, 16
  10. Francis & Michael, 14 each (2-way tie)
  11. Patrick, 13
  12. Arthur & Robert, 12 each (2-way tie)
  13. Frank, Frederick & Henry, 11 each (3-way tie)
  14. Albert, 9
  15. Daniel & Peter, 8 each (2-way tie)
  16. David, Eugene, Howard & Samuel, 6 each (4-way tie)
  17. Alexander, Louis & Stephen, 5 each (3-way tie)
  18. Harry, Herbert, Hugh & Martin, 4 each (4-way tie)
  19. Carl, Edgar, Everett, Jeremiah & Willie, 3 each (5-way tie)
  20. Abraham, Alfred, Clarence, Cornelius, Dennis, Ernest, Ezra, Franklin, Freddie, Jacob, Jesse, Lewis, Luke, Nicholas, Philip, Sylvester, Theodore, Timothy, 2 each (18-way tie)
  21. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Amos, Andrew, Appleton, Archibald, Ashel, August, Benjamin, Benno, Bernard, Bertram, Burt, Byron, Clifford, Davis, Dexter, Dunlap, Edmund, Edwin, Elmer*, Embert, Forrest, Freddy, Gustav, Herman, Isaac, Jeffrey, Jerome, Josiah, Lucian, Malcolm, Matthew, Maurice, Milton, Nathan, Nehemiah, Nelson, Oren, Oscar, Otto, Owen, Paul, Ralph, Reginald, Richard, Sanford, Seth, Shirley, Sullivan, Terence, Theobald, Victor, Wanton, Warren, Weston, Wheelan, Wilford, 1 each (59-way tie)

*Elmer, who had the middle initial “E.,” was likely named after Civil War casualty Elmer E. Ellsworth.

Twins & Triplets

Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g) Triplets
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah

I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).

Sources:

The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Round 1a

80s name-song tournament, round 1a

Ready for a March Madness-inspired tournament that involves both names and ’80s music?

We’ll start with 40 songs from the ’80s that prominently feature given names — songs like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Oh Sherrie,” “Who’s Johnny” and “Dirty Diana” — and, over the next few weeks, we’ll whittle them down until we determine which song earns the title of Ultimate ’80s Name-Song.

Here’s the tournament schedule:

  • March 9-14: Round 1a. Starts with 20 songs. Ends with 4 winners.
  • March 16-21: Round 1b. Starts with 20 songs. Ends with 4 winners.
  • March 23-28: Round 2. Starts with 8 songs. Ends with 2 winners.
  • March 30-April 4: Final round.
  • April 6: Winner announcement.

Round 1 is so big that I had to split it up over two weeks. This week (1a) covers the first half of the ’80s. Next week (1b) covers the second half.

Each round begins early Monday and ends early Saturday, so you have exactly 5 days to submit your answers.

Ready? Let the battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 1

WINNER: “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes

The contestants:

  • Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes
    • She got Greta Garbo standoff sighs, she’s got Bette Davis eyes
  • Charlotte Sometimes” (1981) by The Cure
    • All the sounds of Charlotte sometimes, into the night with Charlotte sometimes
  • 867-5309/Jenny” (1981) by Tommy Tutone
    • Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to? You give me somethin’ I can hold on to
  • Jessie’s Girl” (1981) by Rick Springfield
    • I wish that I had Jessie’s girl, where can I find a woman like that
  • Mickey” (1982) by Toni Basil
    • Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Bette Davis Eyes" (1981) by Kim Carnes (43%, 23 Votes)
  • "Jessie's Girl" (1981) by Rick Springfield (36%, 19 Votes)
  • "867-5309/Jenny" (1981) by Tommy Tutone (30%, 16 Votes)
  • "Mickey" (1982) by Toni Basil (23%, 12 Votes)
  • "Charlotte Sometimes" (1981) by The Cure (11%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Battle 2

WINNER: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

The contestants:

  • Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners
    • Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means, at this moment, you mean everything
  • Gloria” (1982) by Laura Branigan
    • Gloria, I think they got your number, I think they got the alias, that you’ve been living under
  • Jack and Diane” (1982) by John Cougar Mellencamp
    • Little ditty ’bout Jack and Diane, two American kids growin’ up in the heartland
  • Rosanna” (1982) by Toto
    • All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes, Rosanna, Rosanna
  • Valerie” (1982) by Steve Winwood
    • Valerie, call on me, call on me, Valerie, come and see me, I’m the same boy I used to be

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (54%, 27 Votes)
  • "Jack and Diane" (1982) by John Cougar Mellencamp (42%, 21 Votes)
  • "Rosanna" (1982) by Toto (30%, 15 Votes)
  • "Gloria" (1982) by Laura Branigan (22%, 11 Votes)
  • "Valerie" (1982) by Steve Winwood (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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Battle 3

WINNER: “Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson

The contestants:

  • Rio” (1983) by Duran Duran
    • Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
  • Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson
    • Billie Jean is not my lover, she’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
  • Oh Diane” (1983) by Fleetwood Mac
    • Love is like a grain of sand, slowly slippin’ through your hand, oh oh Diane
  • Joanna” (1983) by Kool and the Gang
    • Joanna, I love you, you’re the one, the one for me
  • Think of Laura” (1983) by Christopher Cross
    • Think of Laura but laugh don’t cry, I know she’d want it that way

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Billie Jean" (1983) by Michael Jackson (67%, 31 Votes)
  • "Rio" (1983) by Duran Duran (35%, 16 Votes)
  • "Joanna" (1983) by Kool and the Gang (22%, 10 Votes)
  • "Think of Laura" (1983) by Christopher Cross (15%, 7 Votes)
  • "Oh Diane" (1983) by Fleetwood Mac (13%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 46

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Battle 4

WINNER: “Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry

The contestants:

  • Sister Christian” (1984) by Night Ranger
    • Sister Christian oh the time has come, and you know that you’re the only one
  • Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry
    • Oh, Sherrie, our love, holds on, holds on
  • William, It Was Really Nothing” (1984) by The Smiths
    • William, William, it was really nothing, it was your life
  • Frankie” (1985) by Sister Sledge
    • Hey Frankie, do you remember me? Frankie, do you remember?
  • Kayleigh” (1985) by Marillion
    • Kayleigh, is it too late to say I’m sorry?

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Oh Sherrie" (1984) by Steve Perry (48%, 25 Votes)
  • "Sister Christian" (1984) by Night Ranger (38%, 20 Votes)
  • "William, It Was Really Nothing" (1984) by The Smiths (19%, 10 Votes)
  • "Frankie" (1985) by Sister Sledge (13%, 7 Votes)
  • "Kayleigh" (1985) by Marillion (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 52

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Finally, please help me share this tournament post on social media! I’d love to get a lot of people participating. Thank you!

How Do You Feel About Your Name, Roseanna?

Today’s interview is with Roseanna, a 26-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What’s the story behind her name?

In the 80’s, singer Chris de Burgh wrote a song for his daughter called “For Rosanna”. When my mom heard the song, she instantly loved the name. She chose my spelling, Roseanna, because she figured it was the most intuitive. Rose-anna.

The name Rosanna (and all sound-alike names) had become trendy in the early ’80s thanks to Toto’s 1982 song “Rosanna.” Perhaps this trendiness is what inspired Chris de Burgh to name his daughter Rosanna in 1984. His song “For Rosanna” was released on the same 1986 album as mega-hit “The Lady in Red.” (The specific spelling Roseanna, though, was most popular back in 1950 thanks to the 1949 movie Roseanna McCoy.)

What does she like most about her name?

I love that it is uncommon. I have only met a few others with my name. I like the nickname options too, though I don’t use them often. When I was younger, I was called Rosie, which I quite like these days. My family calls me Zana, which I really love.

What does she like least about her name?

I am constantly called Roseanne. And despite my moms best intentions, people usually spell it without the E, Rosanna.

Finally, would Roseanna recommend that her name be given to babies today?

Perhaps? In some ways, Roseanna seems kind of dated. I have yet to meet anyone my age, or younger, with this name; most I’ve met are a couple decades older. That said, both Rose and Anna are well loved these days.

-anna/ana names are all over the charts: Arianna, Brianna, Gianna, Adriana, Joanna, Hanna, Leanna, Liliana, Eliana, etc

Then there are names like Annabelle, Annalise, Annalee, Rosemary, Rosalie, and Roselyn that are all in the top 1000. I think Roseanna could fit in nicely. It is certainly usable and might be considered somewhat unexpected.

Thank you, Roseanna!

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

List of Female Names from 1888

A while ago I found this book of female name acrostics that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I’m loath to post any of the poems, which are pretty cheesy, but it’s an intriguing selection of names. The author notes that he included “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #12

A snippet of an old poem called “Ladies’ Names,” via British Baby Names:

And Phoebe for a midwife,
Joanna for a prude,
And Rachel for a gipsy-wench,
Are all extremely good:

A snippet of the poem “Menstruation at Forty,” from Anne Sexton’s book Live or Die (1966):

Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)

Why “Robert Galbraith”? J. K. Rowling’s answer, via Nancy Friedman:

I can only hope all the real Robert Galbraiths out there will be as forgiving as the real Harry Potters have been. I must say, I don’t think their plight is quite as embarrassing.

I chose Robert because it is one of my favourite men’s names, because Robert F Kennedy is my hero and because, mercifully, I hadn’t used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or ‘The Casual Vacancy’.

Galbraith came about for a slightly odd reason. When I was a child, I really wanted to be called ‘Ella Galbraith’, and I’ve no idea why. I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself L A Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea.

Odder still, there was a well-known economist called J K Galbraith, something I only remembered by the time it was far too late. I was completely paranoid that people might take this as a clue and land at my real identity, but thankfully nobody was looking that deeply at the author’s name.

From an NPR article that asks, “How Long Can You Wait To Name A Baby?

In the U.S., it’s a bit more complicated. Laws pertaining to the birth registration are up to the states, and they’re all over the map, so to speak. In Minnesota, for example, you have five days to register your wee one — and “if you do not name your child within five (5) days, the record will be filed as “baby boy” or “baby girl.” If “baby” just doesn’t seem a good fit, you’ve got 40 more days to change it, free of charge.

Ohio offers stumped parents a bit more wiggle room. You have 10 days to register in that state, but if you haven’t provided a given name at registration, “a supplemental report of such given name may be completed and presented within one year after the birth.”

From a University of California news release about an upcoming paper on baby names:

[The author] observed that the so-called “cultured” parents tended to start baby name trends, and then others adopted those names. When the names became popular, the cultured parents were the first to drop usage of those popular names, she said.

“If cultured people live in similar neighborhoods, attend similar cultural events, work in similar environments and overall interact more with each other than with those outside their group, then it is easier for a cultured parent to obtain information on the names that other cultured people have given their children compared to a not-so-cultured parent,” the paper said.

Two quotes from Thomas Kersen, associate professor of sociology at Jackson State University, in an article about baby names.

1st:

There are some unique qualities to Southern names that aren’t seen as often in other regions. “Using ‘ie’ and ‘y’ for ending boys’ names is one,” he said, “and using double names. Some parents have been known to use abbreviations as names for their children by using initials. That’s seen more in the South.”

2nd:

“If I was wealthy and famous, not only would I have a gold-plated Hummer but I could name my kids all sorts of things,” Kersen said. “Celebrities make their own rules, and the children of the famous have money to help them in the future. For others, unusual names might be something to overcome. ‘Box of Books’ might be a hard sell on the job market.”

From the obituary of Art Ginsburg, founder of Art’s Deli in Los Angeles:

Using family recipes and an investment of $3,000, he opened Art’s Deli — “where every sandwich is a work of Art” — on June 22, 1957.

From a Rolling Stone article about Davy Jones (found while researching the Monkees):

Davy became so famous that another David Jones – a struggling singer-songwriter at the Monkees’ peak – had to change his last name to Bowie.

The New York Daily News talks to a “top naming expert” about the royal baby name:

“I definitely would not have selected the name George,” said Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), the author of several books on names and other forms of “non-verbal communication.”

[…]

“I only wish, for the little boy’s sake, they could have picked a far more attractive name,” he said.

A guy named Albert criticizes the name George. Cracks me up.

Baby Name Story – Invicta

Invicta and Horse - Aveling and PorterRemember Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose? I recently found out that one of his ex-wives is named Erin Invicta Everly. Invicta is a form of invictus, Latin for “unconquered.”

What’s the story behind Invicta?

Erin was born in 1965 to musician Don Everly and actress Venetia Stevenson, full name Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson. Venetia was born in 1938 to director Robert Stevenson and actress Anna Lee (best known for portraying Lila Quartermaine on General Hospital).

Anna Lee is the one who came up with Invicta. Here’s what she says in her memoir:

Venetia’s middle name, Invicta, meaning “invincible,” came from a childhood memory. I used to watch the street being repaired, and I loved the smell of the thick, black tar as it was poured over the gravel and then flattened and smoothed by a giant steamroller. It was the huge, formidable steamroller that fascinated me. On the front of this piece of machinery was a brass plaque of a horse, rearing up, with the word “Invicta” beneath it.

Interesting, isn’t it? Certainly one of the most vivid baby name stories I’ve seen in a while.

The steamroller would have been an Aveling-Barford steamroller. The company, established in the 1860s as Aveling and Porter, was based in Kent, which is where Anna Lee was born. It used Kent’s motto, Invicta, and the rearing horse from Kent’s coat of arms on its steamrollers and other equipment.

Lee’s memoir also mentions that Venetia’s first name was inspired by a portrait of Venetia Stanley (1600-1633) that Anna had seen at Sherborne Castle.

Source: Lee, Anna and Barbara Roisman. Anna Lee: Memoir of a Career on General Hospital and in Film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.
Image: Adapted from 1871 Aveling and Porter traction engine 04 by Oxyman under CC BY 2.5.

Babies Named After Katniss from Hunger Games?

The Hunger Games is a young adult science-fiction trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The last of the three books, Mockingjay, was released a few weeks ago.

At the moment, Mockingjay is #5 on the Amazon.com Bestseller List. Catching Fire, the second book, is #13. Hunger Games, the first, is #16.

Movies based on the books are in the works.

What interests me about the series is that most of the Hunger Games characters have odd names. The young female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, was named after an edible plant called katniss. She has a younger sister named Primrose, a male friend named Peeta, and lives in a world where people are named anything from Glimmer to Plutarch.

We all know that popular books and movies have the potential to affect baby name trends–even create brand new baby names. Babies have been named Renesmee thanks to Twilight, Eywa and Neytiri thanks to Avatar, Galadriel thanks to The Lord of the Rings…the list goes on.

Could you see Katniss crossing over into the real world as a baby name? How about any of the other Hunger Games names?

(I first learned about these books in a video by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, which is a great blog/site for writers. Her podcasts are especially interesting.)

UPDATE, March 26, 2012: As you know, the trilogy is now a movie. And, last weekend, Hunger Games (the film) had the 3rd-best opening weekend of all time (after The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2). So…Katniss is pretty much a sure thing at this point. If it doesn’t debut in 2011 for the books, it’s bound to debut in 2012 for the movie.

Most Popular First Letter-Pairs of U.S. Baby Names

Mathematically speaking, it’s possible to construct 676 pairs of letters from a 26-letter alphabet. In terms of baby names, though, only a portion of these pairs can realistically be used to start a baby name.

If you look at each of the 6,692 names that have ever ranked among the most popular U.S. (1880-2006), you’ll notice that only 233 two-letter combinations have ever been used at the beginning of the names (e.g., “Na-” for Nancy, or “Ev-” for Evan).

So…what’s the most common pair of starting letters?

Ma– is the clear winner. It starts nearly twice as many names as Ja-, the second most common starting letter-pair.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of all the two-letter combinations that have started at least 100 ranked baby names:

  • 331 “Ma-” names (Mark, Mandy, Matthias, Marylouise)
  • 177 “Ja-” names (Jane, Jacob, Jaleesa, Jamarion)
  • 174 “Al-” names (Alf, Alice, Alphonso, Albertina)
  • 167 “De-” names (Dean, Della, Devontae, Demetria)
  • 157 “Ka-” names (Karl, Katie, Kameron, Katharina)
  • 144 “Sh-” names (Shane, Sherman, Shanice, Sheridan)
  • 143 “Ca-” names (Cash, Cadence, Carmella, Casimiro)
  • 139 “Da-” names (Dave, Daisy, Damarcus, Dayanara)
  • 125 “El-” names (Elmo, Elyse, Elijah, Eleanora)
  • 121 “Ro-” names (Ross, Roxie, Roosevelt, Rosalinda)
  • 118 “Br-” names (Bruce, Brenda, Bryson, Brittany)
  • 118 “Ch-” names (Chad, Chantal, Christopher, Christiana)
  • 117 “La-” names (Lane, Laura, Lafayette, Lakeshia)
  • 113 “Le-” names (Les, Leah, Leandra, Leopoldo)
  • 102 “Je-” names (Jeff, Jewel, Jennifer, Jeremiah)
  • 101 “Jo-” names (John, Joanna, Joshua, Josefina)
  • 100 “Ar-” names (Art, Arla, Armani, Araceli)