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

Name Quotes #66: Brenton, Jacob, Gene Autry

It’s the last batch of name quotes for 2018!

Let’s start with a line from the Blake Shelton country song “I’ll Name The Dogs”:

You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs

From an article about dog names in New Orleans:

New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).

From an article about the names of Scottish salt trucks (“gritters”):

At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.

(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)

From an article about the name Brenton being trendy in Adelaide in the 1980s (found via Clare of Name News):

No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.

The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.

From an article about baby-naming in New South Wales:

Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.

The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.

Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.

From an article about the 16-child Sullivan family of North Carolina:

They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.

The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.

[…]

Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”

(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)

From an article about the challenges of growing up with an unfamiliar name:

Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”

From an article about a college football team full of Jacobs (Jacob was the #1 name in the US from 1999 to 2012):

Preparing for the fall season, the offensive coordinator for University of Washington’s football team realized his team had a small problem. It went by the name Jacob.

The Pac-12 Huskies had four quarterbacks named Jacob or Jake (plus a linebacker named Jake and a tight end named Jacob).

From an article about Sweden’s even-stricter baby-naming laws:

The number of baby names rejected by Swedish authorities has risen since last summer, when the regulations were tightened.

The new law made it easier to go through a legal name change in some ways, including by lifting a ban on double-barrelled surnames, but regulations around permitted first names were tightened.

Some of the restrictions include names that are misleading (such as titles), have “extreme spelling”, or resemble a surname.

To see more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

What’s a “Tee-Name”?

Centuries ago, in the small fishing villages of north-east Scotland, there weren’t many surnames to go around. There also weren’t many acceptable first names to choose from. So a large number of people ended up with identical sets of first and last names.

To differentiate between all these like-named people, locals began using tee-names: descriptive words that were added to (or used in place of) legal names. A tee-name could refer to a person’s appearance, demeanor, occupation, or anything else that served as a useful identifier.

Here’s how an article from 1842 described the practice:

In an unsophisticated village, the proper names only connect the inhabitants with the external civilisation [sic], while the tee-name is, of necessity, the thing for use. It is amusing enough to be permitted to turn over the leaves of a grocer’s ledger, and see the tee-names as they come up. Buckie, Beauty, Bam, Biggelugs, Collop, Helldom, the King, the Provost, Rochie, Stoattie, Sillerton, the Smack, Snipe, Snuffers, Toothie, Todlowrie. Ladies are occasionally found who are gallantly and exquisitely called the Cutter, the Bear, &c. Among the twenty-five George Cowies in Buckie, there are George Cowie, doodle, George Cowie, carrot, and George Cowie, neep.

(In Scottish, a buckie is a whelk, a collop is a slice of meat, rochie means “rough,” a snipe is either a type of bird or a contemptible person, a snuffers is a scissor-like tool used to snuff candles, a todlowrie is a fox, and a neep is a turnip.)

Here’s an interesting example that also demonstrates how tee-names were sometimes passed down to the next generation:

John May was born in Rathen, Aberdeenshire in 1846. He was known as Jockey Borra. Jockey is a common Scottish nick-name for John but Borra was taken from the “Northern Lights”, Aurora Borealis with which he was fascinated. His sons took the same Tee-name: one was also Jockey Borra and the other, Robert, was known as Bobby Borra, although it isn’t known if they also had a fascination with the Aurora.

Do you have Scottish ancestry? If so, did any of the folks in your family tree have a tee-name?

Sources:

How to Name Fictional Characters

three tips on choosing a character name

How-to articles on naming fictional characters are a dime a dozen. But most are a litany of tips — some important, others not so much. So I thought I’d try boiling the best of the advice down to a single sentence. Here’s what I came up with:

“Each character’s name should fit the setting, fit the character, and be distinct within the story.”

The sentence contains three different objectives, so let’s look out each one separately:

Fit the setting

The name should be appropriate for the time and place in which the story occurs. A romance set in 18th-century England could be between an Elizabeth and a Frederick, but not a Nevaeh and a Jayden. Similarly, the protagonist of a 24th-century space opera could be named something standard/plain (John) or futuristic (Loxxan), but probably not something very old (Holmketill), or even slightly old (Clarence).

Fit the character

The name should suit the character, primarily in terms of permanent descriptors (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity), but also, perhaps, in terms of personality traits (e.g., bubbly, gracious, haughty).

Stereotyping in general is bad, but when it comes to character names, it’s very useful: You want the name to give the correct impression of the character right away. A woman from India should be named Padma, not Margaret. A man from Germany should be called Armin, not Oakley.

You could also take it a step further and choose a name that reflects the character’s personality in a subtle way. A friendly woman could be an Amy, while a complex woman could be Demetria. Do this mainly with sounds and associations, which will be picked up instantly by the reader.

Be distinct within the story

The name should not look or sound similar to any of the other names in the story, or else the reader could get confused. Pay special attention to first letters and to repeated sounds. If the protagonists are sisters, name them Mila and Harriet, not Katie and Kelly. Likewise, if the main characters are brothers, use the names Brian and Luke, not Aidan and Adam.

…What are your thoughts on this topic?

Name Spotting: Malancthon

sign, colorado, names
Sign inside Garden of the Gods

My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.

One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:

As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”

It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?

My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).

Civilian Conservation Corps, new deal
CCC Company 1848

We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.

The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:

  • 5: Joe, Raymond
  • 4: Charles
  • 3: Arthur, Clarence, Edward
  • 2: Bill, Byron, Carl, David, Earnest, Edwin, Everett, Jack, James, Leo, Maurice, William
  • 1: Aaron, Albert, Aldine, Alfonso, Allen, Alva, Amos, Ancelmo, Arleigh, Aubrey, Audrey, Barnett, Blaine, Calvin, Celestino, Charley, Claud, Claude, Clayton, Cleston, Dale, Damas, Dan, Darold, Dick, Don, Donald, Ed, Elden, Elias, Elipio, Emerson, Emilio, Eric, Ernest, Eston, Fares, Frank, Fred, Glenn, Grant, Gust, Guy, Horace, Hubert, Irvin, Jake, Jasper, Jesse, Jim, John, Jose, Kenneth, Lawrence, Leland, Leonard, Lester, Louis, Lyman, Manual, Marvin, Max, Merce, Noah, Norman, Orval, Pasqual, Paul, Pete, Richard, Rowland, Rudolfo, Russel, Russell, Sandeford, Trenton, Willard

…What interesting names have you spotted while out and about recently?

Old-Fashioned Double Names: Jimbob, Troydale, Earlray

old-fashioned double names

Last month I posted a long list of old-fashioned double names for girls, so this month let’s follow up with a similar list for boys.

To come up with these names, I used the same search method and focused on the same type of name: double names written as a single names in the records.

Pairings that didn’t seem “old fashioned” enough (like Williamjohn and Jamespaul) were omitted, but pairings that also happen to be surnames (like Gilroy and Aldean) were left alone for the most part.

Again I limited the search to 15 second names, but of course plenty of other pairings exist. (One I remember spotting was “Philherbert,” for instance.)

*

-Bob

Billbob, Billiebob, Billybob, Eddybob, Elbertbob, Jimbob, Jobbob, Joebob, Leebob, Norrisbob, Olybob, Raybob, Roybob, Tombob, Willbob, Williebob

-Dale

Alfreddale, Billydale, Carldale, Clemdale, Cliffdale, Dougdale, Dondale, Earldale, Genedale, Georgedale, Glendale, Harrydale, Henrydale, Jaydale, Joedale, Leedale, Lesterdale, Maxdale, Orveldale, Pauldale, Ralphdale, Raydale, Rexdale, Robertdale, Rondale, Royaldale, Roydale, Russeldale, Standale, Thomasdale, Troydale, Vandale, Verndale, Vernondale, Walterdale, Warrendale, Willdale

-Dean

Abedean, Albertdean, Aldean, Alfreddean, Arnolddean, Barrydean, Bertdean, Billydean, Bobbydean, Carldean, Cobydean, Coydean, Daviddean, Donalddean, Dondean, Eddean, Elbertdean, Elmerdean, Floyddean, Freddean, Genedean, Georgedean, Geralddean, Glendean, Harolddean, Harrydean, Howarddean, Jackdean, Jaydean, Jerrydean, Joedean, Leedean, Leodean, Lexdean, Maxdean, Ollydean, Raydean, Rexdean, Robdean, Rondean, Rothdean, Roycedean, Roydean, Rupertdean, Samydean, Teddean, Vernondean, Warrendean, Wendeldean

-Dell

Albertdell, Aldell, Bertdell, Carldell, Cecildell, Coydell, Drewdell, Freddell, Georgedell, Glendell, Harrydell, Jaydell, Jeddell, Jimdell, Joedell, Leodell, Lyndell, Maxdell, Pauldell, Raydell, Rexdell, Roydell, Samdell, Standell, Verndell, Wesdell, Wildell, Wilfdell, Willydell

-Jack

Abejack, Adolfjack, Aljack, Benjack, Bertjack, Billjack, Billyjack, Bobjack, Edgarjack, Elwinjack, Jimjack, Johnjack, Kennethjack, Leejack, Leroyjack, Monroejack, Pauljack, Rayjack, Ronjack, Rossjack

-Jim

Benjim, Billiejim, Thorvaldjim

-Joe

Aljoe, Alphonsejoe, Anthonyjoe, Artjoe, Benjoe, Billyjoe, Bobbyjoe, Carljoe, Chrisjoe, Danjoe, Douglasjoe, Edjoe, Frankjoe, Harrisjoe, Ivanjoe, Jackiejoe, Jimyjoe, Johnjoe, Nedjoe, Peterjoe, Rayjoe, Rochejoe, Royjoe, Sammyjoe, Teryjoe, Tomjoe, Valentinejoe, Vanjoe, Williejoe, Willjoe

-John

Adolfjohn, Albertjohn, Alfjohn, Alfredjohn, Aljohn, Altonjohn, Angusjohn, Anthonyjohn, Antonjohn, Archiejohn, Arthurjohn, Benjohn, Bernardjohn, Bertjohn, Carljohn, Casimirojohn, Casperjohn, Chesterjohn, Chrisjohn, Davidjohn, Deanjohn, Donaldjohn, Earljohn, Edmundjohn, Edwinjohn, Elmerjohn, Emanueljohn, Emiljohn, Erichjohn, Eugenejohn, Francisjohn, Fredjohn, Georgejohn, Gerritjohn, Gilesjohn, Groverjohn, Gusjohn, Hermonjohn, Howardjohn, Irwinjohn, Jackjohn, Jayjohn, Johnnyjohn, Leejohn, Leojohn, Lewisjohn, Lioneljohn, Louisjohn, Martinjohn, Nilsjohn, Oscarjohn, Ottojohn, Philjohn, Rexjohn, Royjohn, Samueljohn, Vernonjohn, Victorjohn, Vincentjohn, Walterjohn, Weldonjohn, Wiljohn, Willardjohn

-Lloyd

Aloislloyd, Charleslloyd, Davidlloyd, Gaylloyd, Jaylloyd, Johnlloyd, Leelloyd, Leroylloyd, Lewislloyd, Macklloyd, Martinlloyd, Reylloyd, Thomaslloyd, Williamlloyd

-Mack

Billmack, Burlmack, Charleymack, Chestermack, Colliemack, Conmack, Danmack, Deemack, Donmack, Eddiemack, Galemack, Georgemack, Glenmack, Joemack, Johnmack, Kylemack, Lannymack, Leemack, Leomack, Lonmack, Michaelmack, Raymack, Williemack, Willmack

-Paul

Alfredpaul, Alpaul, Antonpaul, Archiepaul, Arthurpaul, Carlpaul, Clauspaul, Clementpaul, Donpaul, Edwardpaul, Edwinpaul, Erhardpaul, Ernestpaul, Eugenepaul, Francispaul, Frankpaul, Georgepaul, Glenpaul, Gordonpaul, Haroldpaul, Harrypaul, Henrypaul, Hermanpaul, Homerpaul, Howardpaul, Jaypaul, Johnnypaul, Lawrencepaul, Leepaul, Leonpaul, Louispaul, Mauricepaul, Maxpaul, Morrispaul, Oscarpaul, Raphaelpaul, Raymondpaul, Raypaul, Ronaldpaul, Samuelpaul, Sanfordpaul, Stephenpaul, Tompaul, Vincentpaul, Wesleypaul, Willpaul

-Ralph

Alralph, Conralph, Edwardralph, Ernestralph, Henryralph, Horaceralph, Jamesralph, Johnralph, Josephralph, Leeralph, Lesterralph, Orsonralph, Thomasralph,

-Ray

Alfray, Alfredray, Alray, Artray, Barnyray, Benray, Bertray, Billyray, Bobbyray, Bobray, Carlray, Charlesray, Charleyray, Conray, Coyray, Danray, Deeray, Delbertray, Delray, Dennyray, Donaldray, Donray, Earlray, Edray, Elray, Eugeneray, Ferdray, Frankieray, Fredray, Generay, Georgeray, Glenray, Guyray, Howardray, Jayray, Jimray, Joeray, Johnray, Kennyray, Kenray, Leeray, Leoray, Maxray, Nedray, Paulray, Robertray, Robray, Ronray, Sammieray, Samray, Sidray, Thomasray, Vanray, Willieray, Willray, Wilmerray

-Roy

Alfroy, Alroy, Andrewroy, Benroy, Bertroy, Bobroy, Carlroy, Clayroy, Clemroy, Conroy, Deeroy, Delroy, Donroy, Earlroy, Ebertroy, Edroy, Elroy, Generoy, Gilroy, Glenroy, Hughroy, Jamesroy, Jayroy, Jedroy, Joeroy, Johnroy, Kenroy, Kimroy, Leeroy, Leighroy, Leoroy, Lesroy, Lewroy, Louisroy, Mackieroy, Maxroy, Melroy, Milroy, Ollieroy, Paulroy, Philroy, Rayroy, Rexroy, Robertroy, Robroy, Samroy, Timroy, Toddroy, Tomroy, Vanroy, Vernonroy, Walterroy, Williamroy, Willieroy, Wilroy, Zephroy

-Tom

Bentom, Carltom, Chestertom, Claytom, Clemtom, Edtom, Jimmytom, Jimtom, Joetom, Johntom, Williamtom, Willietom

*

Which of these old-fashioned double names do you like best? Would you consider using any of them for a modern-day baby boy?