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

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Popularity of the Baby Name John

Number of Babies Named John

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name John

McCutcheon’s Baby Names: Nedra, Yetive, Gerane, Doraine…

I doubt the name “George Barr McCutcheon” means much to you. But the name has become quite familiar to me. Why? Because George Barr McCutcheon — who wrote dozens of novels in the early 1900s — put several brand new baby names on the map during the early 20th century.

The Indiana-born writer lived from 1866 to 1928, and many of his books became bestsellers. Today, his best-remembered story is Brewster’s Millions, which has been adapted into a movie several times. The most memorable adaptation would have to be the 1985 version starring comedians Richard Pryor (as protagonist Montgomery Brewster) and John Candy.

So which baby names did McCutcheon introduce/influence? Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Nedra

nedraMcCutcheon’s novel Nedra (1905) was the 5th best-selling book of 1905. Though there’s a lady on the front cover, “Nedra” isn’t a female character, but the name of an island on which several of the characters are shipwrecked.

The next year, the name Nedra debuted on the baby name charts. In fact, it was the top debut name of 1906.

  • 1909: 14 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1908: 18 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1907: 10 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1906: 11 baby girls named Nedra [debut]
  • 1905: unlisted

SSDI data confirms that the name Nedra saw noticeably higher usage after the book was released.

One of these baby Nedras grew up to become actress Nedra Volz (b. 1908).

Yetive, Truxton, Gerane, Beverly

McCutcheon wrote six novels about the fictional Eastern European country of Graustark:

  • Graustark (1901) – the 9th best-selling book of 1901
  • Beverly of Graustark (1904) – the 6th best-selling book of 1904
  • Truxton King (1909) – the 6th best-selling book of 1909
  • The Prince of Graustark (1914) – the 10th best-selling book of 1914
  • East of the Setting Sun (1924)
  • The Inn of the Hawk and Raven (1927)

Several of these books were later made into movies and plays. The three Graustarkian names I’ve noticed on the charts are:

  • Yetive, inspired by the character Princess Yetive from the first two books. First appeared in the SSA data in 1911.
  • Truxton, inspired by Truxton King from the 3rd book. First appeared in the data in 1912.
  • Gerane, inspired by Gerane Davos from the final book. First appeared in the data 1928.

Plus there’s Beverly, which was used for a female character in Beverly of Graustark. The novel, along with a 1926 film adaptation, helped pull the once-gender-neutral name onto the girls’ side definitively. (Ironically, the actress who played Princess Yetive in a 1915 film adaptation of Graustark used the stage name Beverly Bayne.)

Here are some of Graustarkian names that did not make the charts: Ganlook, Grenfall, Dantan, Dannox, Marlanx, Bevra (the daughter of Beverly), Hedrik, and Pendennis.

Doraine

McCutcheon’s novel West Wind Drift (1920) is like his earlier book Nedra in that both stories involve a shipwreck and an island. In Nedra, “Nedra” is the name of the island; in West Wind Drift, “Doraine” is the name of the ship.

The year West Wind Drift came out, the name Doraine debuted in the baby name data.

  • 1923: 5 baby girls named Doraine
  • 1922: unlisted
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Doraine
  • 1920: 11 baby girls named Doraine [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

It was tied for 2nd-highest debut name that year. (#1 was Dardanella.)

Coincidentally, the shipwrecked characters in West Wind Drift have a debate at one point about using “Doraine” as baby name. They argue over whether or not they should give the name to an orphaned baby girl who had been born aboard the ship. Here’s the opinion of character Michael Malone: “We can’t do better than to name her after her birthplace. That’s her name. Doraine Cruise. It sounds Irish. Got music in it.”

*

Have you ever a George Barr McCutcheon book? If so, do you remember any unusual character names? (If not, and you’d like to check him out, here are dozens of George Barr McCutcheon novels archived at Project Gutenberg.)

Sources: The Books of the Century: 1900-1999 – Daniel Immerwahr, George Barr McCutcheon – Wikipedia


The Baby Names Shevawn and Siobhan

siobhan mckenna, 1956, life, magazine
Siobhán McKenna on the cover of LIFE
Tara, Maeve, and many of the other
Irish names used in the U.S. today weren’t popularized by Irish immigrants. Instead, they gained traction after being introduced to the public via movies, television, and other types of pop culture.

Siobhan is no different. But it’s also a special case, because Americans heard about the name before they saw it written down. The result? The Irish spelling made a splash on the U.S. baby name charts…but only after a phonetic respelling made a similar splash. In fact, the misspelled version and the correctly spelled version were consecutive top girl name debuts in the mid-1950s.

So who’s the person behind the launch of Siobhan? Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923-1986).

In 1955, McKenna was nominated for a Tony for her role as Miss Madrigal in the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (who had written National Velvet two decades earlier). The same year, the name Shevawn debuted in the U.S. data:

  • 1960: 5 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

The spellings Shevon, Shevonne, Chavonne, and Chevonne also debuted in ’55.

The next year, Siobhán McKenna impressed audiences with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in the George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan. Her popularity in this role earned her the cover of LIFE magazine in September. Next to her image was her name, Siobhan, spelled correctly (but missing the fada). Right on cue, the name Siobhan debuted in the data:

  • 1960: 90 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1959: 85 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1958: 54 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1957: 67 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1956: 58 baby girls named Siobhan [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Once U.S. parents learned how to spell “Siobhan,” the alternative spellings became less common, though they remained in use.

Siobhan was boosted into the top 1,000 in 1979 and remained popular during the 1980s thanks to the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, which introduced a character named Siobhan in 1978.

It’s rather fitting that Siobhán McKenna was best known for playing Saint Joan, as both “Siobhán” and “Joan” were derived from the name Jeanne, which is French feminine form of John (meaning “Yahweh is gracious”).

How do you feel about the name Siobhan? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Sources: Siobhán McKenna – Wikipedia, SSA

Popular Baby Names in Moldova, 2016

According to an article published in late January by Moldovan news site Publika TV, the most popular baby names in Moldova in 2016 were Sofia and David.

The article was hard to interpret, but here’s my guess at Moldova’s top girl names and top boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Sofia
2. Anastasia
3. Daria
4. Victoria
5. Alexandra
6. Evelina
7. Amelia
8. Andrea
9. Valeria
10. Gabriela

Boy Names
1. David
2. Maxim
3. Alexandru
4. Artiom (…which is based on the name of Greek goddess Artemis)
5. Ion (…looks molecular, but it’s actually a form of John)
6. Bogdan
7. Daniel
8. Matthew
9. Nikita
10. Michael

The top names in 2014 were Sofia and Maxim.

Source: Most popular baby names chosen by Moldovans in 2016

Name Quotes #47 – Hiroko, Jaxon, Joule

Welcome to this month’s quote post!

From “Modern baby names have gone too far” (in the Telegraph) by Tom Ough:

Yes: Jaxon. This name is a bad name — an atrocious name. It is an elision of “Jack’s” and “son”, the join clumsily Sellotaped by an X which would find a better home in a bad action film than in a child’s name. (Young readers called Xerxes: forgive me, then promise never to watch your parents’ copy of 300.)

The babies lumbered with ‘Jaxon’ are victims of poor taste rather than sons of men called Jack: if any name is a bastardisation, this is it.

From “The untold stories of Japanese war brides” (in the Washington Post) by Kathryn Tolbert:

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

On the origin of the name “Lolo” from the Lolo National Forest website:

“Lolo” probably evolved from “Lou-Lou”, a pronunciation of “Lawrence,” a French-Canadian fur trapper killed by a grizzly bear and buried at Grave Creek.

The first written evidence of the name “Lolo” appears in 1831 when fur trader John Work refers in his journal to Lolo Creek as “Lou Lou.”

In an 1853 railroad survey and map, Lieutenant John Mullan spelled the creek and trail “Lou Lou.” However, by 1865 the name was shortened to Lolo and is currently the name of a national forest, town, creek, mountain peak, mountain pass and historic trail in west central Montana.

From an article about historical name trends in England:

The establishment of the Church of England coincided with the publication in 1535 of the first modern English translation of both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. The Protestant reform movement stressed the central importance of the Bible, and the new English translations meant that many more people could read the Bible themselves. In turn, it also meant that they had access to the large stock of names from the Old Testament – from Aaron to Zechariah, and Abigail to Zipporah. These names had the added attraction that they were much less associated with Catholicism than many New Testament names. As a result, Old Testament names became much more common during the late-16th century and 17th century, especially among girls.

NPR writer Lateefah Torrence on the name of her daughter Dalia Joule Braun-Torrence:

Post-delivery, Frank and I were still unsure of her name. In the few days before her birth, we had narrowed our girl name list down to Aziza and Dalia.

[…]

We looked into her tiny face and asked, “Dalia?” Our little girl stared at us inquisitively. I think she may have been thinking, “Obviously.” We then asked, “Aziza?” — she turned away from us, and we knew our Dalia was here.

From the book Cajun Country (1991) by Barry Jean Ancelet, Jay Dearborn Edwards, and Glen Pitre:

[A] few years ago the Lafourche Daily Comet ran an obituary for eighty-two-year-old Winnie Grabert Breaux. The article listed Winnie’s brothers and sisters, living and dead: Wiltz, Wilda, Wenise, Witnese, William, Willie, Wilfred, Wilson, Weldon, Ernest, Norris, Darris, Dave, Inez and Lena.

(According to Winnie’s Find a Grave profile, “Wiltz” is Wilson, “Witnese” is Witness and “Weldon” is Wildon. Here’s a recent post on Cajun nicknames.)

From “JFK’s legacy in Bogotá lives on 55-years later” (in The City Paper) by Andy East:

It was Dec. 17, 1961, and nearly one-third of Bogotá’s 1.5 million inhabitants had turned out on a sunny Sunday afternoon for one reason: to catch a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The massive outpouring was the largest reception the U.S. leader ever had.

[…]

The historic visit, which lasted only 14 hours, would change the lives of thousands of families and have a profound impact on the city that is still visible 55 years later.

[…]

In the immediate years after Kennedy’s visit, the most popular baby names registered at baptisms in Ciudad Kennedy were John, Fitzgerald (Kennedy’s middle name), Jacqueline and Kennedy.

(Here’s a recent post about U.S. babies named for JFK.)

From “Old people names of the future” by Sara Chodosh:

Perhaps the strongest trend in recent years hasn’t been certain names, it’s been a diversity of names. […] The plethora of names has weakened individual trends; we haven’t had a strong female name trend since the ’90s. And without a significant number of babies with a particular name, we may stop associating certain names with certain generations.

For more, check out the name quotes category.

Popular Baby Names in Tennessee, 2016

According to provisional data released on January 10th by Tennessee’s Office of Vital Records, the most popular baby names in the state in 2016 were Emma and William.

Here are Tennessee’s projected top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Ava
4. Harper
5. Isabella
6. Amelia
7. Elizabeth
8. Ella
9. Charlotte
10. Abigail

Boy Names
1. William
2. Elijah and James (tie)
3. Mason
4. Noah
5. Jackson and Liam (tie)
6. John and Michael (tie)
7. Benjamin
8. Aiden
9. Jacob
10. Carter

The #1 names were the same in 2015.

In the girls’ top 10, Amelia, Ella, and Charlotte replace Sophia, Madison, and Emily.

Newcomers to the boys’ top 10 are Michael, Benjamin, and Aiden. (No drop-offs this year due to the ties.)

Source: Emma, William Maintain Titles as Tennessee’s Top Baby Names

Popular Baby Names in Bulgaria, 2016

According to preliminary data released yesterday by Bulgaria’s National Statistical Institute, the most popular baby names in the country in 2016 were Viktoria and Aleksandar.

Here are Bulgaria’s projected top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Viktoria
2. Maria
3. Nikol
4. Raya
5. Sofia
6. Aleksandra
7. Gabriela
8. Daria
9. Yoana
10. Simona

Boy Names
1. Aleksandar
2. Georgi
3. Martin
4. Dimitar
5. Ivan
6. Nikola
7. Viktor
8. Daniel
9. Kaloyan
10. Nikolay

On the boys’ list, Aleksandar replaces Georgi as the #1 name.

The name Kaloyan can be traced back to Tsar Ivan II, who ruled Bulgaria from 1197 to 1207. His nickname, “Kaloyan,” was based on the Greek phrase kalos Ioannes, meaning “handsome John.” In fact, an increasing number of baby boys are being named after the “khans and the kings of the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdom, for example Asparuh, Tervel, Simeon, Samuil, Kaloyan.”

Trendy girl name Krisia isn’t in the top 10, but it was given to 169 baby girls in 2016 (and 222 in 2015) thanks to the influence of Bulgarian child singer Krisia Todorova.

And what are the most common first names in Bulgaria overall?

Female Names, overall
1. Maria
2. Ivanka
3. Elena
4. Yordanka
5. Penka
6. Daniela
7. Rositsa
8. Desislava
9. Petya
10. Gergana

Male Names, overall
1. Georgi
2. Ivan
3. Dimitar
4. Nikolay
5. Petar
6. Hristo
7. Aleksandar
8. Stefan
9. Yordan
10. Vasil

Interesting entries in the overall top 20 include the female name Rumyana and the male names Stoyan, Atanas (from Athanasius), and Plamen.

Sources: Alexander and Victoria most preferred baby names in Bulgaria in 2016, Republic of Bulgaria National Statistical Institute, Kaloyan – Behind the Name

Top Baby Names in Nova Scotia, 1914

Speaking of popular baby names Nova Scotia…did you know that the province’s Open Data site includes birth registration records from the mid-1800s and from the early 1900s? I isolated the records from 1914 — the most recent year in the data — and came up with baby name rankings for about a century ago:

Top Girl Names, 1914
1. Mary (close to 700 girls)
2. Margaret
3. Annie
4. Marie
5. Helen
6. Dorothy
7. Florence
8. Elizabeth
9. Catherine (over 100 girls)
10. Alice

Top Boy Names, 1914
1. John (close to 600 boys)
2. Joseph
3. James
4. William
5. George
6. Charles
7. Robert
8. Arthur
9. Donald
10. Edward (over 100 boys)

The rankings represent about about 6,700 baby girls and about 6,800 baby boys born in Nova Scotia in 1914. I’m not sure how many babies were born that year overall, but it looks like the province’s total population in 1914 was roughly 500,000 people.

Hundreds of the names were used just once. Here are some examples:

Unique Girl names Unique Boy names
Adalta, Adayala, Ailsa, Amilene, Anarina, Aniela, Attavilla, Birdina, Buema, Burance, Caletta, Cattine, Celesta, Claviettee, Deltina, Elta, Erdina, Ethelda, Eudavilla, Evhausine, Fauleen, Genneffa, Gennesta, Heuldia, Hughenia, Iselda, Ivenho, Lanza, Lebina, Lelerta, Loa, Lougreta, Manattie, Meloa, Milnina, Minira, Namoia, Naza, Neitha, Neruda, Olava, Oressa, Prenetta, Ramza, Ruzena, Sophique, Stanislawa, Taudulta, Udorah, Velena, Vola, Vonia, Waldtraut, Willina, Yuddis Albenie, Alpine, Alywin, Alyre, Armenious, Bayzil, Bernthorne, Briercliffe, Carefield, Cicero, Colomba, Craigen, Desire, DeWilton, Docithee, Edly, Enzile, Ethelberth, Ewart, Exivir, Fernwood, Firth, Florincon, Glidden, Gureen, Haliberton, Haslam, Hibberts, Irad, Kertland, Kinsman, Kitchener, Langille, Lemerchan, Lockie, Lubins, Meurland, Murl, Neddy, Nevaus, Niron, Odillon, Olding, Phine, Rexfrid, Roseville, Saber, Sifroi, Sprat, Stannage, Venanties, Waitstill, Wardlo, Wentworth, Wibbert

I also spotted one boy with the first and middle names “Earl Gray” (delicious!) and another with the first and middle names “Kermit Roosevelt” (the name of one of Theodore Roosevelt’s six children).

Sources: Open Data Nova Scotia (specifically, Birth Registrations 1864-1877, 1908-1914), Nova Scotia – Population urban and rural, by province and territory (via Wayback)