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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Johnny

Number of Babies Named Johnny

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Johnny

Names from WHER, the First All-Female Radio Station

Dot Fisher of WHER radio station in the 1950s
Dot Fisher of WHER c. 1957 © Broadcast News
Memphis-based radio station WHER (1430 AM), which was run almost entirely by women, went on the air in October of 1955. It was billed as America’s “First All-Female Radio Station.”

The station was created and funded by legendary record producer Sam Phillips — the guy who discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, among others.

WHER’s original staff included Sam’s wife Rebecca (Becky) along with seven other women: Barbara Gurley, Donna Rae Johnson, Dorothy “Dot” Fisher, Dotty Abbott, Fay Bussell, Phyllis Stimbert, and Roberta Stout.

Six of these eight ladies were on-air personalities with their own programs, each of which emphasized “some particular subject of interest to housewives” according to a 1957 source.

Which of the original WHER names do you like best?

Which WHER name do you like best?

View Results

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(Dotty is usually a nickname for Dorothy, so I combined them in the poll.)

Vida Jane Butler, who joined WHER later in the ’50s, was known on-air as “Janie Joplin.” She’d been told that Vida “was considered too old-fashioned and too Southern for WHER,” and the data backs it up: the name Vida was indeed out of fashion and associated with the south at that time. These days, though, Vida is picking up steam — particularly in California. Janie, on the other hand, saw peak usage in the mid-20th century and has been in decline ever since.


Popular Baby Names in Quebec, 2015

According to data from Retraite Québec, the most popular baby names in Quebec in 2015 were Emma and Thomas/William (tied).

Here are the province’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Emma, 615 baby girls
2. Léa, 535
3. Olivia, 475
4. Alice, 471
5. Florence, 460
6. Zoe, 429
7. Chloe, 398
8. Beatrice, 390
9. Charlotte, 381
10. Rosalie, 350
1. Thomas, 754 baby boys
2. William, 754 baby boys
3. Jacob, 663
4. Liam, 661
5. Félix, 638
6. Nathan, 630
7. Samuel, 583
8. Logan, 576
9. Alexis, 554
10. Noah, 537

In 2015, Emma replaced Lea as the top girl name, William joined Thomas as the top boy name, Beatrice replaced Charlie in the girls’ top 10, and Noah replaced Olivier in the boy’s top 10. (Here are the 2014 rankings.)

Of all 9,096 girl names on Quebec’s list in 2015, 74.5% of them were used a single time. Here are some of the unique girl names:

  • Allegresse – the French word allégresse means “joy, elation.”
  • Angelhephzibah
  • Brightness
  • Cathalaya-Skuessi
  • Clerilda
  • Confiance – the French word confiance means “confidence, trust.”
  • Doxalyah
  • Etky
  • Eubenice
  • Evlly
  • Exaucee – the French verb exaucer means “to grant a wish.”
  • Flory Comfort
  • Garance – the French word garance refers to a shade of red created from the root of the madder plant.
  • Glad Marie
  • Glody
  • Graytchelle Mayssa – a Gretchen + Rachel smoosh?
  • Greasy-Elizabeth
  • Happy Moussoni
  • Janiphee
  • Kalliah
  • Kzy
  • Luneve – reminds me of Leneve.
  • M Mah Bourgeois
  • Mingolou Oracle-Kidj
  • Nebraska
  • Nina-Symone
  • Nomad
  • Paphaelle – typo?
  • Poema
  • Praise Peter
  • Protegee
  • Relilah – typo?
  • Shamash-Cleodaine
  • Skodrina
  • Symphony Melody
  • Uqittuk
  • Uri Wonder
  • Winola – this one reminds me of early 20th-century America.
  • Zoalie
  • Zhya

Of all 7,920 boy names on Quebec’s list in 2015, 76.5% of them were bestowed just once. Here are some of the unique boy names:

  • Anakyn
  • Appamatta – the Pali word appamatta means “diligent, careful.”
  • Aunix
  • Axeliam
  • Bleart
  • Bradley Prague
  • Brady Bullet – this one reminds me of modern America (e.g. Shooter, Trigger).
  • Cedrick Wolynsky
  • Chrysolithe – a type of gem (a.k.a. peridot).
  • Cirrus
  • Dejgaard
  • Diamond-Heliodor – two more gems.
  • Drake Luke
  • Dublin
  • Dugaillekens
  • Elliottt – the only triple T’s in the U.S. data so far are Mattthew and Britttany. Probably typos, but you never know.
  • Eviee
  • Exauce – the masculine form of Exaucee.
  • Ezzeldeen
  • Garnet – another gem.
  • Glovacky
  • Gningnery Yoshua
  • Hervenslaire
  • Icky Neymar
  • Iola Stevie
  • Jimmy Johnny
  • Jyceton
  • Jyfr
  • Kbees
  • Keylord
  • Ludo-Vyck
  • Mathis-Adorable
  • Messy
  • Michael Antares – reminds me of an earlier Antares.
  • Napesis – the Cree word napesis means “boy” or “little boy.”
  • Nyquist
  • Perlcy
  • Rowdy Chance
  • Skogen
  • Sosereyvatanack
  • Tysaiah Jay
  • Whidjley Densly
  • Woobs Therly
  • Zogan

For more sets of rankings, check out the name rankings category.

Source: Retraite Québec – List of Baby Names

The Rise of the Baby Name Cheryl

Cheryl Walker, Stage Door Canteen (1943)

It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the name Cheryl (Cherie + Beryl? Cherry + Beryl?) but it’s clear that the name saw a drastic rise in popularity during the first half of 20th century. Cheryl went from a rarity in the early 1900s to one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. by the mid-1950s.

I doubt Cheryl could have achieved this kind of popularity without a series of pop culture boosts — two caused by the same person, interestingly.

The first (and smallest) boost happened in 1938:

  • 1940: 285 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 408th] – 42 in CA
  • 1939: 289 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 390th] – 49 in CA
  • 1938: 397 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 312th] – 76 in CA
  • 1937: 145 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 563rd] – 16 in CA
  • 1936: 94 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 688th] – 10 in CA

Many of these babies were born in California specifically.

The cause?

A 19-year-old from Pasadena named Cheryl Walker. In late 1937, she was selected as the 1938 Queen of the Tournament of Roses. Local newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times) talked about Cheryl quite a bit during the last month of 1937 and the first few months of 1938.

She signed a film contract with Paramount around that time, but didn’t have much success in the entertainment industry until five years later.

That’s when she played the romantic lead in the wartime hit Stage Door Canteen, released in the middle of 1943. Dozens of major celebrities — including Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, George Jessel, Gertrude Lawrence, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Mary Pickford, and Johnny Weissmuller — had cameos in the film, which was one of the highest-grossing of the year.

(Notably, several months before Stage Door Canteen came out, LIFE magazine published a series of photos of the actress along with a short article subtitled “Cheryl Walker rises from stand-in for Veronica Lake to stardom.”)

In both 1943 and 1944, the number of babies named Cheryl increased significantly:

  • 1945: 8,150 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 32nd]
  • 1944: 7,970 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 36th]
  • 1943: 2,878 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 102nd]
  • 1942: 590 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 280th]
  • 1941: 439 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 311th]

The name of Cheryl’s character, Eileen, also saw increased usage, as did many variants of Cheryl (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
Cheryl 590 2,878 7,970 8,150 11,525
Sheryl 324 588 949 1,055 1,632
Sherrill 202 207 263 206 250
Cheryle 27 80 176 184 238
Sherryl 49 71 104 140 203
Cheryll 11 41 69 98 120
Sheryle 12 19 26 31 52
Cherryl 9 19 59 58 104
Sharelle** 28* 10
Charyl 24* 27 17 21
Scheryl 11* 11 7 5
Cherril 6 6 7
Sherral 6 6 8
Sherelle 6*
Sheril 5 11 6 9
Chyrl 5* 8 7 10
Cheril 6* 7
Cherl 6* 5 8
Sherryll 5 6 5
Cherill 5*
Cheyrl 5* 5 9
Chyrel 7* 10
Cheryal 6* 5
Cherryle 5*
Sherell 5*
Sherrille 5*
Chryl 9*
Sherryle 7*
Cherel 5*
Cherle 5*
Cherryll 5*
Chyral 5*
Shyrel 5*

**Sharelle was the top debut name of the year in 1943.

Usage of the name Cheryl plateaued in the late ’40s and early ’50s, then began to rise again in 1954:

  • 1956: 21,280 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 18th]
  • 1955: 19,100 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 19th]
  • 1954: 15,000 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 22nd]
  • 1953: 12,271 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 28th]
  • 1952: 12,197 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 31st]


It wasn’t Cheryl Walker — she’d retired from acting by this time.

Instead it was a short-lived TV show called Waterfront (1954-1956). The central character, John Herrick, was the captain of a San Pedro Harbor tugboat called the “Cheryl Ann.”

The show also gave a boost to the compound names Cherylann, Cherylanne and Sherylann.

[EDIT, 6/10 – Diana reminded me about Mouseketeer Cheryl, who was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1956 to 1958. No doubt she also contributed to the name’s popularity in the mid-to-late ’50s.]

Cheryl became one of the top 20 baby names in the country in 1955, and it remained in the top 20 until 1961, peaking at 13th in 1958.

After that, usage began to decline. Cheryl fell out of the top 50 in 1972, then out of the top 100 in 1980. (This despite a late-1970s uptick inspired by actress Cheryl Ladd, singer Cheryl Lynn, and/or model Cheryl Tiegs.)

[EDIT, 7/7 – Cheryl M. reminded me to include Cheryl Ladd.]

And in 1998, exactly 40 years after nearly reaching the top 10, Cheryl fell out of the top 1,000 entirely.

What are your thoughts on the name Cheryl?

Do you like it more or less than Cherrill?


P.S. Other WWII-era names: Dorie, Jesse Roper, Sea Bee, MacArthur, Swoosie, Roger, Adolf Hitler.

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

80s name-song tournament, round 1b

Round 1a is over, so now it’s time for Round 1b! Which of the songs below are awesome enough to advance in the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament?

This round ends on Saturday, so you have exactly 5 days to submit your answers.

The four winning songs from this week and last week will compete against each other in round 2, which starts next Monday.

Let the battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 5

WINNER: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

The contestants:

  • Sara” (1985) by Starship
    • Sara, Sara, storms are brewin’ in your eyes
  • Oh Sheila” (1985) by Ready for the World
    • Oh oh Sheila, let me love you till the morning comes
  • Nikita” (1986) by Elton John
    • Hey Nikita is it cold, in your little corner of the world
  • Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco
    • Come and rock me Amadeus
  • Suzanne” (1986) by Journey
    • Remember Suzanne, those summer nights with me

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

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

  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (48%, 10 Votes)
  • "Sara" (1985) by Starship (29%, 6 Votes)
  • "Nikita" (1986) by Elton John (29%, 6 Votes)
  • "Oh Sheila" (1985) by Ready for the World (19%, 4 Votes)
  • "Suzanne" (1986) by Journey (19%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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Battle 6

WINNER: “You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon

The contestants:

  • Venus” (1986) by Bananarama
    • I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire
  • Jimmy Jimmy” (1986) by Madonna
    • Where you goin’ boy, I see your legs twitchin’, Jimmy Jimmy, oh Jimmy Jimmy
  • Who’s Johnny” (1986) by El DeBarge
    • Who’s Johnny, she said, and smiled in her special way
  • For Rosanna” (1986) by Chris de Burgh
    • This is for Rosanna, sweet girl of mine, a song for the baby who changed my life
  • You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon
    • I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

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

  • "You Can Call Me Al" (1986) by Paul Simon (55%, 12 Votes)
  • "Venus" (1986) by Bananarama (50%, 11 Votes)
  • "For Rosanna" (1986) by Chris de Burgh (18%, 4 Votes)
  • "Jimmy Jimmy" (1986) by Madonna (14%, 3 Votes)
  • "Who's Johnny" (1986) by El DeBarge (9%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Battle 7

WINNER: “Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega

The contestants:

  • Amanda” (1986) by Boston
    • I’m gonna take you by surprise and make you realize, Amanda
  • Carrie” (1987) by Europe
    • Carrie, Carrie, things they change my friend
  • Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega
    • My name is Luka, I live on the second floor
  • Sheila Take a Bow” (1987) by The Smiths
    • Sheila take a, Sheila take a bow, boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear
  • Dirty Diana” (1988) by Michael Jackson
    • Dirty Diana, let me be!

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

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

  • "Luka" (1987) by Suzanne Vega (57%, 12 Votes)
  • "Amanda" (1986) by Boston (29%, 6 Votes)
  • "Dirty Diana" (1988) by Michael Jackson (29%, 6 Votes)
  • "Carrie" (1987) by Europe (14%, 3 Votes)
  • "Sheila Take a Bow" (1987) by The Smiths (10%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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Battle 8

WINNER: “Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello

The contestants:

  • Lucretia, My Reflection” (1988) by The Sisters of Mercy
    • Lucretia, my reflection, dance the ghost with me
  • Roni” (1988) by Bobby Brown
    • The truth about Roni, she’s a sweet little girl
  • The Ballad of Jayne” (1989) by L.A. Guns
    • What a shame, what happened to Jayne
  • Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello
    • These days I’m afraid she’s not even sure if her name is Veronica
  • Angelia” (1989) by Richard Marx
    • Angelia, where you running to now

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

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

  • "Veronica" (1989) by Elvis Costello (67%, 12 Votes)
  • "Lucretia, My Reflection" (1988) by The Sisters of Mercy (28%, 5 Votes)
  • "Angelia" (1989) by Richard Marx (22%, 4 Votes)
  • "Roni" (1988) by Bobby Brown (6%, 1 Votes)
  • "The Ballad of Jayne" (1989) by L.A. Guns (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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If you’re having fun voting in this tournament, please spread the word by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thanks!

Jack Daniels, Father to Jim Beam

Last month, a man in Louisiana named Jack Daniels (after the whiskey) named his newborn son Jim Beam (after the bourbon).

Jack Daniels Leathers and his wife Lydia welcomed baby Jim Beam on November 14. They came up with the name way back on their first date. (The guy who officiated at their wedding was named Judge Johnny Walker, btw.)

Jack Daniels says that, if he and Lydia have another baby, it’ll be named Evan Williams (another brand of bourbon) if a boy and Sherry if a girl.

This reminds me of Matthew McConaughey’s brother “Rooster” — actually Michael — who has kids named Miller Lyte and Margarita. It also reminds me of the Hawkins family: Budweiser, Falstaff, Jose Cuervo, etc.

Source: Named to irritate grandparents, Jack Daniels names son Jim Beam

35 Most Unisex Baby Names in the U.S.

Last month, FlowingData crunched some numbers to come up with the 35 most unisex baby names in the U.S. since 1930. Here’s their list:

  1. Jessie
  2. Marion
  3. Jackie
  4. Alva
  5. Ollie
  6. Jody
  7. Cleo
  8. Kerry
  9. Frankie
  10. Guadalupe
  11. Carey
  12. Tommie
  13. Angel
  14. Hollis
  15. Sammie
  16. Jamie
  17. Kris
  18. Robbie
  19. Tracy
  20. Merrill
  21. Noel
  22. Rene
  23. Johnnie
  24. Ariel
  25. Jan
  26. Devon
  27. Cruz
  28. Michel
  29. Gale
  30. Robin
  31. Dorian
  32. Casey
  33. Dana
  34. Kim**
  35. Shannon

I’m not sure exactly what criteria were used to create the rankings, but it looks like the top unisex names on this list were the top-1,000 names that “stuck around that 50-50 split” the longest from 1930 to 2012.

(In contrast, my unisex baby names page lists any name on the full list to fall within the 25-75 to 75-25 range, but only in the most recent year on record.)

The FlowingData post also mentions that, though the data is pretty noisy, there might be “a mild upward trend” over the years in the number of babies with a unisex name.

**In 1957, Johnny Carson’s 5-year-old son Kim had his name changed to Richard because he’d been having “a little trouble over his name being mistaken for a girl’s.”

Source: The most unisex names in US history

[Update: Changed Michael to Michel, 11/7]

Mouseketeer Names – Annette, Dennis, Margene, Ronnie

Annette Funicello, the most popular member of the original Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1959), passed away a couple of days ago.

Seeing her name in the news made me think about the other original Mouseketeers, most of whom were born in the early to mid-1940s (making them teens in the late 1950s). If you’re looking for a baby name reminiscent of sock hops and soda fountains, the first batch of Mouseketeers is not a bad place to start:

  1. Annette Funicello (b. 1942)
  2. Billie Beanblossom (b. 1944)
  3. Bonita “Bonnie” Lynn Fields (b. 1944)
  4. Bonni Lou Kern (b. 1941)
  5. Bronson Scott* (b. 1947)
  6. Charles “Charlie” Laney (b. 1943)
  7. Cheryl Holdridge (b. 1944) – who went on to marry Lance Reventlow
  8. Carl “Cubby” O’Brien (b. 1946)
  9. Dallas Johann (b. 1944)
  10. Darlene Gillespie (b. 1941)
  11. Dennis Day (b. 1942)
  12. Joseph Richard “Dickie” Dodd (b. 1945)
  13. Don Agrati (b. 1944)
  14. Donald “Don” Underhill (b. 1941)
  15. Doreen Tracey (b. 1943)
  16. Eileen Diamond (b. 1943)
  17. John “Johnny” Crawford (b. 1946)
  18. John Joseph “Jay-Jay” Solari (b. 1943)
  19. (John) Lee Johann (b. 1942)
  20. Judy Harriet (b. 1942)
  21. Karen Pendleton (b. 1946)
  22. Larry Larsen (b. 1939)
  23. Linda Hughes (b. 1946)
  24. Leonard “Lonnie” Burr (b. 1943)
  25. (Lowrey) Lynn Ready* (b. 1944)
  26. Margene Storey (b. 1942)
  27. Mark Sutherland (b. 1944)
  28. Mary Espinosa (b. 1945)
  29. Mary Sartori (b. 1943)
  30. Mickey Rooney, Jr. (b. 1945)
  31. Michael “Mike” Smith (b. 1945)
  32. Nancy Abbate (b. 1942)
  33. (William) Paul Petersen (b. 1945)
  34. Robert “Bobby” Burgess (b. 1941)
  35. Ronald “Ronnie” Steiner (b. 1942)
  36. Sharon Baird (b. 1942)
  37. Sharyn “Sherry” Alberoni (b. 1946)
  38. Timothy “Tim” Rooney (b. 1947)
  39. Thomas “Tommy” Cole (b. 1941)

*Bronson Scott was a girl; Lynn Ready was a boy.

Which of the above names are your favorite(s)?

Sources: Girl next door Annette Funicello dies at 70, The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show