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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Joanne

Number of Babies Named Joanne

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Joanne

Sorsha & Elora: Baby Names from “Willow”

The baby name Sorsha debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1989.

The movie Willow was released in May of 1988 — exactly 30 years ago this month. It didn’t do a thing for the baby name Willow, which hadn’t become trendy yet, but it did affect a couple of other character names: Sorsha and Elora.

Sorsha

The character Sorsha (played by Joanne Whalley) was the red-haired princess/soldier who was the daughter of the evil queen. She was also the love interest of Madmartigan (played by Val Kilmer). She started out as a bad guy, but changed sides mid-movie and was a good guy by the end.

The baby name Sorsha debuted in the U.S. data right on cue in 1989:

Year Usage of Sorsha Usage of Sorcha
1992 5 baby girls 5 baby girls
1991 5 baby girls 5 baby girls
1990 . 6 baby girls
1989 5 baby girls [debut] 5 baby girls [debut]
1988 . .
1987 . .

Curiously, parents opted for the spelling Sorcha as often as they opted for Sorsha. Why?

I couldn’t find any typos in contemporary sources — newspapers all used the more logical “Sorsha” — so my best guess is the baby name books.

Expectant parents wanting to know the definition of Sorsha would have instead encountered the Irish name Sorcha in those books. They would have learned the meaning (“bright”), but probably not the pronunciation, which is unfortunate because Sorcha isn’t pronounced SOR-sha. It’s more like SUR-kha. (Irish names that sound more like Sorsha include Saoirse, SEER-sha, or even the male name Seoirse, SHOR-sha.)

Elora

The character Elora Danan was the adorable read-haired baby at the center of the action. Her birthmark identified her as the one destined to depose Queen Bavmorda, so of course the queen wanted her found and destroyed. It was Willow’s job to deliver Elora Danan safely to those who would raise her.

The baby was given a good amount of screen time. Film critic Roger Ebert even complained about it: “One of the crucial problems…is that we see so much of this baby.”

As a result, the baby name Elora re-emerged in the data in 1988 and saw a distinct jump in usage in 1989/1990. The rise of Alora was even greater.

Year Usage of Elora Usage of Alora
1992 34 baby girls 72 baby girls
1991 63 baby girls 84 baby girls
1990 91 baby girls 108 baby girls
1989 87 baby girls 103 baby girls
1988 30 baby girls 11 baby girls
1987 . .

Many similar-sounding names (like Ellora) also got a boost, and several (like Alaura and Allora) appeared for the first time in the data in the late ’80s. And I spotted even more spelling variants when I did records searches.

Speaking of the records…they revealed (unsurprisingly?) that many of the babies with these various Elora-like first names also had Danan-like middles. “Danan” was the most common spelling, but another I saw repeatedly was “Dannon” — possibly influenced by the yogurt brand being advertised on TV during those years.

…What are your thoughts on the baby names Sorsha and Elora? Which one would you be more likely to use for a baby girl?

Sources: Willow (film) – Wikipedia, “Willow” Review by Roger Ebert

Name Quotes #58: Vesper, Ailsa, Kikkan

"Vesper. I do hope you gave your parents hell for that."

From the 2006 movie Casino Royale, James Bond commenting about Vesper Lynd’s first name:

‘Vesper.’ I do hope you gave your parents hell for that.

About the choosing of Ailsa, the first name of the daughter of gold-medal winning Olympic curler Joe Polo:

Both her parents were curlers, members of a tight-knit sport where an intense reverence for the game tends to bleed over into the players’ personal lives. And so it was only natural that Joe and Kristin Polo decided to name their future daughter Ailsa, after the Scottish island where the granite that makes curling rocks is mined.

About the coining of Kikkan, the first name of gold-medal winning Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall:

After Randall’s birth on Dec. 31, 1982, Ronn wanted to name her Kikki, after Kiki Cutter, the first American skier, male or female, to win a rase in a World Cup event, a slalom in 1968. Deborah preferred Meghan. They compromised on Kikkan.

(Kiki Cutter = Christina “Kiki” Cutter.)

From an article about unusual names by Felicity “Flic” Everett:

When I was eight, I changed my name. Until then, I was called Johanna Louise, because my youthful parents, huge Bob Dylan fans, had named me after his mystical 1966 ballad, Visions of Johanna. In mid-70s south Manchester, sadly, the mysticism was somewhat lost. I hated explaining my name […] and thought it sounded clunky and earthy, when I longed to be ethereal and balletic.

From an essay about ethnic names by Australian-born Turkish author Dilvin Yasa

“Have you ever considered changing your name to something more ‘white’?” asked a literary agent the other day. “It’s been my experience that authors with strong, Anglo names tend to do better at the cash registers than those who have ethnic or even Aboriginal names.”

[…]

“Leave your name as it is!” [Jane Palfreyman] wrote. “I can tell you that their names have affected the popularity of Anh Do*, Christos Tsiolkas, Kevin Kwan or Munjed Al Muderis – and indeed may well have contributed to their success.”

*Misspelled “Ahn Do” in the original text.

From an article called “Restore Yamhill!” in the March 30, 1917, issue of The New York Sun:

The City Commission of Portland, Ore., has succumbed to an attack of mock elegance and under its influence has erased from the map the excellent, juicy and meaningful name of Yamhill street, substituting for it the commonplace and sordid Market street.

[…]

Yamhill is ancient, respectable, typical, historic. Alexander Henry, a fur trader of the Northwest Company, traversing the then unknown Willamette country, met at Willamette Falls, January 10, 1814, seven “ugly, ill formed Indians” leading a horse. They were of the Yamhela tribe, as Henry spelled it in his diary, the name being derived from the Yamhela, or yellow river.

From an article about Rose Collom in True West Magazine:

Rose was the perfect name for the Grand Canyon’s first official botanist, because self-taught Rose Collom blossomed when exposed to the state’s flora.

Rose discovered several varieties of plants previously unknown, and each was named after her.

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.

California Family with 22 Children

Story family of California in 1940 U.S. census
The Story family on the 1940 U.S. Census
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).

I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).

Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.

And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.

So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?

Sources: Charlotte M Lacount Story – Find A Grave, Elsie E Dubay LaCount – Find A Grave

Name Quotes for the Weekend #38

Another quote post! This installment includes a record number of ellipses. Very exciting.

From The Clintons ruined the name ‘Hillary’ for new parents by Christopher Ingraham:

It…looks like the popularity of first ladies’ names falls more sharply than the popularity of presidents’ names during their time in office. But again, it’s not clear just from these charts if that’s a true presidential spouse effect, or just a reflection of the natural long-term trajectory of those names.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about The Demise of the Baby Name Hillary.

From Keith Ng’s My last name sounds Chinese, in response to the erroneous claim by New Zealand politician Phil Twyford that Chinese people are buying up property in Auckland:

The subtext of this story is that people with Chinese-sounding names are foreigners full of cash who are buying all our houses and chasing hardworking Kiwis out of their homes. This is straight-up scapegoating, placing the blame for a complex, emotive problem at the feet of an ethnic group.

[…]

Phil Twyford, Labour, and the Herald – you are fueling racial division in this country. You are encouraging people to question whether ethnically Chinese people ought to be able to buy houses. You are saying that people with “Chinese-sounding names” are dangerous foreigners who will destroy the Kiwi way of life with real estate purchases.

From Royal Caribbean’s press release asking James Hand to name the next Royal Caribbean ship:

“The people of the United Kingdom know the name of a great ship when they see it,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand’s talent to name our next ship.”

The “name our next ship” part is an April Fools’ Day joke, but (as far as I can tell) the offer to send Hand on a free cruise is legit.

NERC’s Name Our Ship campaign ends tomorrow, btw.

From the Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. page of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park website:

Thomas Alva, Junior, was born on January 10, 1876. Since his sister Marion was nicknamed “Dot,” he was nicknamed “Dash.”

[…]

After selling the use of his name to advertise “quack” medicines and dubious inventions, his father asked Tom Junior to change his name. This he did, briefly going by the name of Thomas Willard.

The nicknames “Dot” and “Dash” are references to Morse Code.

From Why Do I Have to Call This App ‘Julie’? by Joanne McNeil (found via Nancy Friedman’s January Linkfest):

Imagine if the plug-in devices that made housework more efficient were, like Alexa, sold with women’s names and talked about with female pronouns. “Could you hand me the Amanda? She’s in the hall closet.”

[…]

I used Julie [a “virtual inbox assistant”] only once, sending an email to a friend, copying the app email, with a time and date to meet for coffee. Julie emailed back promptly confirming the appointment, and it added the meeting to my calendar. The product is an interesting idea and easy to use, but interacting with a fake woman assistant just feels too weird. So I shut “her” off. This Stepford app, designed to make my work more efficient, only reminds me of the gendered division of labor that I’m trying to escape.

From the abstract of the paper Unfortunate First Names: Effects of Name-Based Relational Devaluation and Interpersonal Neglect by Jochen E. Gebauer, Mark R. Leary and Wiebke Neberich:

Can negative first names cause interpersonal neglect? Study 1 (N = 968) compared extremely negatively named online-daters with extremely positively named online-daters. Study 2 (N = 4,070) compared less extreme groups—namely, online-daters with somewhat unattractive versus somewhat attractive first names. Study 3 (N = 6,775) compared online-daters with currently popular versus currently less popular first names, while controlling for name-popularity at birth. Across all studies, negatively named individuals were more neglected by other online-daters, as indicated by fewer first visits to their dating profiles. This form of neglect arguably mirrors a name-based life history of neglect, discrimination, prejudice, or even ostracism.

From What’s in a Necronym? by Jeannie Vanasco (found via Longreads):

I remember the day I first learned about her. I was eight. My father was in his chair, holding a small white box. As my mother explained that he had a dead daughter named Jeanne, pronounced the same as my name, “without an i,” he opened the box and looked away. Inside was a medal Jeanne had received from a church “for being a good person,” my mother said. My father said nothing. I said nothing. I stared at the medal.

[…]

Parsed from the Greek, necronym literally translates as “death name.” It usually means a name shared with a dead sibling. Until the late nineteenth century, necronyms were not uncommon among Americans and Europeans. If a child died in infancy, his or her name was often given to the next child, a natural consequence of high birth rates and high infant mortality rates.

The second Notwithstanding Griswold, born in 1764, was named for her deceased older sister.

A post about Union Banner Hunt by Andy Osterdahl of The Strangest Names In American Political History:

Union Banner Hunt was born in Randolph County on September 2, 1864, the son of Joshua Parker and Rachel Howell Hunt. His full birth name is listed as “Union Banner Basil Morton Hunt”, and the 1914 work Past and Present of Randolph County gives some interesting anecdotes as to how his unusual name came about: “At the time of his birth his brother was confined in the Confederate Prison in Andersonville, Ga., having been captured at the Battle of Chickamauga. Hence the name “Union Banner”. Basil (pronounced “Bazil”) is an old family name, and “Morton” is for the great war Governor of Indiana.” This same book mentions that Hunt was “not responsible” for his unusual name and “neither is he ashamed of it.”

That “great war Governor” was Oliver P. Morton.

From an interview with Winona Ryder by Celia Walden:

Ryder’s unconventional childhood has been exhaustively documented and occasionally used to explain the more disturbing events in her life, but the actress — christened Winona Laura Horowitz and named after the Minnesota city in which she was born — speaks fondly of the four years she spent in a commune in Elk, Northern California, from the age of seven.

Winona’s younger brother Uri, born in the 1970s, was named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Have you come across any interesting name-related quotes lately? Let me know!

Name Quotes for the Weekend #34

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar quote

From the essay Why I converted to Islam by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor:

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

[…]

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

[…]

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

From an article about hipsters reviving long-lost English words:

Luu writes that words with “a nostalgic air, reflecting the cultural values and tastes of the speaker,” are suddenly popping up everywhere. These include: bespoke, peruse, dapper, mayhaps and bedchamber. You’ll also find that old-timey prepositions like amidst and amongst are back. The same goes for baby names that were long considered lost to the past, such as Silas and Adeline.

From a Graham Norton Show episode [vid] that aired in October, 2014, in which comedian Stephen Fry gives actor Robert Downey, Jr., a baby name suggestion:

Could you, just as a favor, cause I know that, you know, some stars like to give unusual names, could you call him or her Uppy? Uppy Downey?

Spoiler #1: Downey and his wife Susan welcomed a baby girl that November. But they didn’t name her “Uppy.” Her full name is Avri Roel Downey.

From Queer Mama for Autostraddle Episode Seven — Help Name Our Baby (thank you to the anonymous reader who sent me this link!):

When Simone and I were first considering names, we thought we should err towards the gender neutral side of the girl-name spectrum. We know a good number of masculine-identifying women and so many trans men who haven’t liked their more feminine given names. But that’s the problem with “gender neutral.” It mostly has just come to mean sort-of masculine. Lover of femininity that I am, was I really willing to write off all the beautiful feminine names because our kid might not be femme?

We decided no, we wouldn’t do that. Our kid can change her name if and when she wants, and in the meantime, we will call her a name we love, even if that’s feminine! In any case, I have friends who’ve later changed their names not because of gender at all, but just because they wanted to be called something else, so there really are no guarantees.

Spoiler #2: Haley and Simone’s baby girl was born in late August. Her full name is Juniper Everhart Jude [vid].

From an article about a 21-year-old Ariel (pronounced “are-e-elle,” not “air-e-elle” like the Disney mermaid):

“I mean, it’s annoying when people say ‘Ariel’ because that’s not my name,” Malloy said. “But it’s great because they’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a princess,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re right.'”

From an article about Irish TV personality Vogue Williams:

“Everyone thinks I made up my name or I changed it at some stage and I’m actually called Joanne. But I like having a different name. Brian and I squabble all the time over baby names – because I want to give any children we have an equally mad name as the one I was given.

“Our friends in Australia had a baby girl about four years ago when we were living there and they called her Sailor. Now Liv Tyler has had a boy and she’s named him Sailor. So that’s top of the list at the moment.”

Finally, two of the comments on Haleema Shah’s post What’s in a Name? Reflections on Who We are and What We are Called.

First one is from Lesley Woodward:

I was born in 1937 to an American mother and a naturalized German father. I was named “Gretchen” which was a mistake since war with Germany was looming and there was a lot of anti-German sentiment. Anything German was stigmatized, even innocent little daschund dogs were kicked and hated for their German origin. I was referred to as “the little Nazi” in the neighborhood and school because of my name and my father’s heavily accented English. We moved when I was about 12 years old, and I took the opportunity to change my name, dropping “Gretchen” and insisting on being called by my middle name “Lesley.” My parents knew nothing of this, and were confused when the neighborhood children came to the door and asked for “Lesley.” It took a lot of self control not to respond to “Gretchen” or even acknowledge the someone had spoken to me, but gradually I morphed into “Lesley” and have since legally dropped my birth name.

Second one is from Lloret de Mar Pelayo:

I cringe when people ask me my name. In Spanish it sounds beautiful, even in it’s native Catalan accent, but in English it sounds dreadful.

Lloret De Mar is a city north of Barcelona, a beach town. The double L can be pronounced like a Y or a J. But in English everyone and I mean everyone sounds out the double L like the L in laughter. I feel terrible correcting people because they immediately question whether I spelled my own name wrong (“You know there’s two Ls right?”) And I politely smile and have to further explain…

My father is Catalan and he and my mother (who is Puerto Rican) wanted a name that reflected Catalan ancestry and therefore Lloret was what they picked. I absolutely love the history of the name and its ties to Catalan culture…I just wish they had spelled it with a Y or a J so it’d be easier to pronounce in English!

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Lloret de Mar, which is on the Mediterranean coast.

And here’s a link to the names quotes category, if you’d like to see past posts like this one.