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

“Broken Arrow” Baby Names

Broken Arrow movie poster

Elliott Arnold’s 1947 novel Blood Brother was a fictionalized account of the adventures of Old West historical figures Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache chief, and Tom Jeffords, a U.S. Indian agent.

The book was later adapted into a movie and a TV series, and both of these things ended up influencing U.S. baby names.

Sonseeahray & Debralee

The movie Broken Arrow was released in the summer of 1950. It starred Jeff Chandler as Cochise and James Stewart as Tom Jeffords. But the two baby names that debuted in the data thanks to the movie were associated with a different character: Sonseeahray, played by teenage actress Debra Paget.

Broken Arrow wasn’t Debra Paget’s first movie, but it was her first big hit, and it helped her achieve a new level of fame. And in 1951, her birth name Debralee debuted in the data. In fact, it was that year’s top debut name.

  • 1955: 7 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1953: 11 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1952: 9 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1951: 19 baby girls named Debralee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

The public had become aware that Debra Paget was born “Debralee Griffin” in mid-1950, thanks to a newspaper article by AP journalist Hubbard Keavy, who called Debra’s birth name “improbable” (a curious comment, coming from guy named Hubbard Keavy). He quoted Debra’s mother, Margaret Griffin, as saying:

I christened her Debra. Her father’s people were Pagets. I used to call her Debra Lee, thinking that would be a good professional name. But Paget is more unusual and there are no Pagets in the movies.

Debra’s sister, Marcia Eloise Griffin, also acted under a stage name: Teala Loring.

The name of the character Sonseeahray also debuted in 1951:

  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Sonseeahray [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

Sonseeahray, defined in the novel as “morning star,” seems to be legitimate Apache name; it was included and defined in the book Life Among the Apaches (1868) by John C. Cremony.

Two real-life Sonseeahrays are Fox News reporter Sonseeahray Tonsall and German actress Sonsee Neu, born Sonsee Ahray Natascha Floethmann-Neu.

Marsheela & Ansara

The TV series Broken Arrow first aired on ABC from 1956 to 1958. (Reruns aired in 1959 and 1960.) The show starred Michael Ansara as Cochise and John Lupton as Tom Jeffords. While it did not include the character Sonseeahray, an early episode did feature a Sonseeahray-like character named Marsheela.

Marsheela, played by actress Donna Martell, appeared in the episode “Apache Girl” in mid-1957. The same year, the name Marsheela was a one-hit wonder in the baby name data:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Marsheela [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

I figured out the source of this one only after posting about Marsheila, which was the most-used spelling of Marsheela that year (no doubt because of the familiarity of the Irish name Sheila, which was a top-100 girl name in the U.S. throughout the ’50s and ’60s).

Another one-hit wonder was the surname of Arab-American actor Michael Ansara. Five baby boys were named Ansara in 1960:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Ansara [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

Though Broken Arrow had made Michael Ansara a household name, this debut lines up more cleanly with a later TV Western that Ansara also starred in: Law of the Plainsman, which lasted from 1959 to 1960.

His surname may be based on the Arabic term al-ansar, meaning “the helpers.”

Sources:

Baby Names from Obscure Sorrows?

Ever heard of the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows? It’s a blog written by John Koenig, who invents words and gives them melancholic definitions in order “to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.”

I discovered the site via Merriam-Webster’s 10 Perfectly Cromulent Words, which features the Obscure Sorrows word Vellichor (“the strange wistfulness of used bookstores”). It’s a made-up word, but it’s been getting traction online, so…does Vellichor qualify as a “real” word now?

And let’s take it a step further: Vellichor sounds like Petrichor, which has seen usage as a baby name. So could Vellichor also become a baby name?

If so, could other Obscure Sorrows words become baby names too? Here are some of Koenig’s coinages that may have onomastic potential:

  • Opia, “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye”
  • Tangency, from a “moment of tangency,” which is “a glimpse of what might have been”
  • Fitzcarraldo, “an image that somehow becomes lodged deep in your brain” and “grows into a wild and impractical vision”
  • Sonder, “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”

Could you imagine any of the words above morphing into human names?

Names in the News: Revy, Cali, Jameson

Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…

Abbey: A baby girl born in England in November of 2017 was named Abbey in honor of Dr. Abey Eapen, her parents’ fertility doctor. (Mirror)

Blake Ramsey: A baby girl born in Florida in January of 2018 was named Blake Ramsey after Jaguars football players Blake Bortles and Jalen Ramsey. (First Coast News)

Cali: A baby girl born into the Perry family of Kentucky in July of 2017 was named Cali Perry in honor of John Calipari, head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team. (SEC Country)

  • Here’s another Cali from a couple of weeks ago.

Derc’hen (rejected): A baby boy born in France in August of 2017 was almost named Derc’hen, but the French government rejected the name because of the apostrophe. (The c’h is “a combination widely used in Breton language.”) (The Local)

Fañch (rejected): A baby boy born in France in May of 2017 was almost named Fañch, a traditional Breton diminutive of François, but the French government rejected the name because of the tilde over the n. (The Local)

Harveigh: A calf born in Texas a few days after Hurricane Harvey was named Harveigh. (Today)

Jameson: A baby boy born in Missouri in February of 2018 — and whose birth was broadcast live on his mom’s St. Louis radio show — was named Jameson, thanks to radio listeners who’d voted in a name poll held in January. (Newsweek)

Joshua: A baby boy born in Wisconsin in September of 2017 was named Joshua in honor of Dr. Josh Medow, the doctor who’d saved his mother’s life two years earlier. (Fox47)

Lucifer (rejected): A baby boy born in Germany in 2017 was almost named Lucifer, but the government rejected the name due to the association with evil. He’s now known as Lucian. (Deutsche Welle)

Olivia: A baby girl born into the Garton family of Arkansas in December of 2017 was named Olivia Garton as a tribute to Olive Garden restaurant. (ABC News)

Pilzner (rejected): A baby boy born in Sweden in August of 2017 was almost named Pilzner after his grandfather (nicknamed Pilzner), his father (nicknamed Pilzner), and Pilsner lager (clearly a family favorite), but the government rejected the name. (The Local)

Revy: A baby girl born in California in November of 2017 was named Revy after the ski town of Revelstoke, British Columbia. (CBC)

Brady Ruben Nuno: A baby boy born in England in December of 2017 was named Brady Ruben Nuno after: American football player Tom Brady, Portuguese footballer Ruben Neves, and Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. head coach Nuno Espirito Santo. (Express & Star)

Swachhata: A baby girl born in India in February of 2018 was named “Swachhata” in recognition of the country’s cleanliness campaign, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. (Hindustan Times)

Popular Baby Names in Ireland, 2017

Ireland’s rankings came out early this year! Typically we don’t see them until the start of June, but this year they were released at the end of February.

Anyway…according to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), the most popular baby names in the country in 2017 were Emily and Jack.

Here are Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Emily
2. Emma
3. Amelia
4. Grace
5. Sophie
6. Lucy
7. Hannah
8. Mia
9. Ava
10. Chloe

Boy Names
1. Jack
2. James
3. Daniel
4. Conor
5. Sean
6. Noah
7. Luke
8. Harry
9. Adam
10. Michael

In the girls’ top 10, Chloe replaces Lily.

In the boys’ top 10, Harry replaces Oisin.

Interesting factoid: “While there were 2,981 baby boys named John [the #1 boy name] 50 years ago, taken together the five most popular boys’ names in 2017 accounted for 2,765 baby boys.”

The names that saw the most growth in popularity — just within the top 100, I believe — were:

  • Girl names by…
    • Rank: Aoibhin (+81 spots), Nina (+41 spots), Hazel & Pippa (tie; +21 spots each)
    • Number of babies: Aoibhin (+57), Evie (+54), Sadie (+34)
  • Boy names by…
    • Rank: Theo (+33 spots), Jackson (+29 spots), Ruairi (+27 spots)
    • Number of babies: Luke (+45), Logan (+44), Harry (+36)

In 2016, the top two names were Emily and James.

Sources: Irish Babies’ Names 2017, Babies’ Names 2017 Tables, Jack and Emily most popular baby names in 2017

Name Quotes #57: Gage, Ciku, Abigail Fortitude

George Clooney explaining why he and his wife Amal named their twins Alexander and Ella (People):

“[We] didn’t want to give them one of those ridiculous Hollywood names that don’t mean anything,” George told Paris Match in an interview published Saturday. “They’ll already have enough difficulty bearing the weight of their celebrity.”

Summary of a recent study on the practice of naming winter storms (WBIR):

The researchers presented their subjects with three mock tweets about an upcoming winter storm — either using names like “Bill,” “Zelus,” or no name at all — then asked them about their perceptions of the storm’s potential severity.

It turned out that the survey participants were equally likely to show concern for the storm regardless of whether common names such as Bill were used, rather than uncommon names, such as Zelus. This was a surprise to Rainear, who thought that more “Americanized” names might make people more wary.

On the origin of the name of the Slinky (New York Times):

[N]ext month the Toy Manufacturers of America will induct Betty James, 82, the retired toy maker who gave the Slinky its name, into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

Mrs. James came up with the name after deciding that Slinky best described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing. Slinky, of course, meaning sort of stealthily quiet. Mrs. James did not have sexy evening wear in mind; it was 1943, after all, and there was a war.

On changing name trends in Kenya (SDE Kenya):

It is so 1980 for modern Kenyan parents to name their children after biblical figures. Ati names like Grace, Hannah, Sarah, Magdalene or Jane for their daughters is now a no-no. For sons, naming them Abednego or Adonijah sounds like a bad Sunday school dream.

[…]

Names like Peter and Paul, Esther and Lois were fashionable in their grandparents’ time and today, girls are named Tasha, Tanya or Tiffany, while boys go by cooler ones like Cy, Kyle, Declan and Sherwin.

…The article also mentioned that many traditional names now have modernized forms:

  • Wangui -> Kui
  • Waithiageni -> Sheni
  • Wanjiku -> Ciku
  • Wanjiru -> Ciru
  • Wambui -> Foi
  • Wacera -> Cera

“Modern parents have no qualms having them appear like that in official documents. Welcome to baby names in 21st century Kenya.”

Onomastician Cleveland Kent Evans vs. the baby name Gage (Washington Post):

But right now, Evans is pondering the sudden, explosive rise of the male first name Gage. From out of nowhere. There’s no record of this name, nothing in the texts, nothing anywhere. And yet just in the last couple of years, it’s been popping up all around the country.

[…]

Finally, he asked his students at Bellevue College near Omaha. One student got the reference immediately: “Emergency!” he said. Meaning the short-lived 1970s TV series, of course. Turns out there was a character named John Gage on that show, and he was generally addressed as Gage.

[…]

Incredibly, “Emergency!,” which aired opposite “60 Minutes” for four years, was exceedingly popular among elementary-school children.

One mom’s positive experience with revealing her son’s name during pregnancy (Popsugar)

One reason why people don’t reveal the baby’s name is to ward off other people’s opinions. I could tell there were a couple of my friends who didn’t like the name, but just like I didn’t get pregnant to please them, I’m wasn’t going to change his name for them either. Most people that I talked to had enough common sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

My son’s name […] is special to me. I didn’t stop feeling that way once I told it to people — if anything, it made the pregnancy a whole lot easier.

From the script for Mother Is a Freshman (1949), about a 35-year-old widow, Abigail, who starts attending the college that her daughter Susan goes to:

Abigail: I mean about the Abigail Fortitude Memorial Scholarship.
Susan: The one they give to any girl whose first two names are Abigail Fortitude?
Abigail: Yes.
Susan: Clara Fettle says no one’s applied for it since 1907, and there’s zillions piling up.
Abigail: And you never told me!
Susan: Of course not.
Abigail: It never occurred to you that my first names are Abigail Fortitude–that I’ve had to put up with them all my life!
Susan: I know, Mom. It must have been awful.
Abigail [struck by thought]: Maybe that’s why my mother gave me those names. Maybe she know about the scholarship.

…Turns out the scholarship had been set up by Abigail’s grandmother, also named Abigail Fortitude.

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