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

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the Baby Name Joshua

Number of Babies Named Joshua

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Joshua

100+ Baby Names for 100 Years of the NPS

national park service 100th birthday (zion poster, 1938)The U.S. National Park Service has a birthday coming up!

When the NPS was created on August 25, 1916, there were only 35 national parks and monuments. (The world’s first, Yellowstone, had been established in 1872.)

Nowadays the agency oversees 411 units. These units are located in the 50 states and beyond, and include national monuments (82), national historic sites (78), national parks (59), national historical parks (50), national memorials (30), national battlefields (11), national seashores (10), national lakeshores (4), national scenic trails (3), and more.

Let’s celebrate the upcoming centenary with over 100 baby names that pay tribute to the national parks specifically:

  • Acadia for Acadia National Park.
  • Angel or Angela for Grand Canyon National Park’s Angel’s Window.
  • Arrow for the NPS emblem, the arrowhead.
  • Archer for Arches National Park.
  • Barbara for Channel Islands National Park’s Santa Barbara Island.
  • Bathsheba for Hot Springs National Park’s Bathhouse Row.
  • Bay for any of the parks featuring a bay, such as Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Biscayne National Park, etc.
  • Benda or Bendrick for Big Bend National Park.
  • Bona for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Bona.
  • Bristol for Great Basin National Park’s bristlecone pines.
  • Bryce or Brycen for Bryce Canyon National Park.
  • Cadden or Caddie for Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain.
  • Cade for Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Cades Cove.
  • Canyon for any of the parks featuring a canyon, such as Grand Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, etc.
  • Capitola for Capitol Reef National Park or for Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.
  • Carl or Carla for Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
  • Caven for Mammoth Cave National Park.
  • Cedar for Congaree National Park’s Cedar Creek.
  • Cinder for Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Cinder Cone.
  • Clark for Lake Clark National Park & Preserve.
  • Clifford or Clifton for Mesa Verde National Park’s Cliff Palace.
  • Cruz for Channel Islands National Park’s Santa Cruz Island.
  • Delica for Arches National Park’s Delicate Arch.
  • Denali for Denali National Park & Preserve.
  • Denison for Katmai National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Denison.
  • Domenica or Domenico for Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome.
  • Douglas for Katmai National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Douglas.
  • Elias for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.
  • Elliott for Biscayne National Park’s Elliott Key.
  • Ever or Everly for Everglades National Park.
  • Faith for Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser.
  • Forest for Petrified Forest National Park.
  • Garland for Garland County, Arkansas, where Hot Springs National Park is located.
  • Gates for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve.
  • Guadalupe for Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
  • Gunnison for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
    • The park was established in 1999, and Gunnison debuted on the baby name charts the very same year. Did one event cause the other?
  • Harding for Kenai Fjords National Park’s Harding Icefield.
  • Hassel for Virgin Islands National Park’s Hassel Island.
  • Jackson for Jackson Hole, where much of Grand Teton National Park is located.
  • Jarvis for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Jarvis.
  • Jefferson for Dry Tortugas National Park’s Fort Jefferson.
  • John for Virgin Islands National Park’s St. John Island.
  • Joshua for Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Kenai for Kenai Fjords National Park.
    • The derivation of Kenai is unknown, but it could come from either Dena’ina Athabascan (“big flat” or “two big flats and river cut-back” or “trees and brush in a swampy marsh”), Russian (“flat barren land”), or Iniut (“black bear”).
  • Kingston or Kingsley for Kings Canyon National Park.
  • Lake for any of the parks featuring lakes, such as Crater Lake National Park, Voyageurs National Park, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, etc.
  • Lamar for Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Buffalo Ranch.
  • Lata for the National Park of American Samoa’s Lata Mountain.
  • Lehman for Great Basin National Park’s Lehman Caves.
  • Lewis for Glacier National Park’s Lewis Range.
  • Livingston for Glacier National Park’s Livingston Range.
  • Manning for Saguaro National Park’s Manning Cabin.
  • Mara for Joshua Tree National Park’s Oasis of Mara.
    • In the Serrano language, Mara means “the place of little springs and much grass.”
  • Martin for Katmai National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Martin.
  • Maui, where Haleakalā National Park is located.
  • Mauna for Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s Mauna Loa.
  • Miguel for Channel Islands National Park’s San Miguel Island.
  • Norris for Yellowstone National Park’s Norris Geyser Basin.
  • North for North Cascades National Park.
  • Olympia for Olympic National Park.
  • Parker, Parkyr, Parks, Park, or Parke as a tribute to all national parks.
  • Pele as a symbol of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
  • Prairie for any of the parks featuring a prairie, such as Badlands National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, etc.
  • Pratt for Guadalupe Mountains National Park’s Pratt Cabin.
  • Rainier for Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Ranger as a tribute to all national parks and park rangers.
  • Reef for Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Rhodes for Biscayne National Park’s Old Rhodes Key.
  • Rocky for Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Roosevelt for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
  • Rosa for Channel Islands National Park’s Santa Rosa Island.
  • Royale or Royal for Isle Royale National Park.
  • Sandy for Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.
  • Sanford for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve’s Mt. Sanford.
  • Sequoia for Sequoia National Park.
  • Shenandoah for Shenandoah National Park.
  • Sherman for Sequoia National Park’s General Sherman Tree.
  • Sky or Skye for any of the parks featuring a night sky program, such as Big Bend National Park, Great Basin National Park, etc.
  • Talus for Pinnacles National Park’s talus caves.
  • Theodore for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
  • Valley for any of the parks featuring a valley, such as Cuyahoga Valley, Death Valley, Kobuk Valley, etc.
  • Verda or Verdell for Mesa Verde National Park.
  • Virginia for Virgin Islands National Park.
  • Windy for Wind Cave National Park.
  • Wolfe for Arches National Park’s Wolfe Ranch.
  • Woodrow or Wilson for Woodrow Wilson, who signed the act that created the NPS.
  • Woodson or Woody for Redwood National and State Parks.
  • Yosemite for Yosemite National Park.
  • Zion for Zion National Park.

For all you national park lovers out there: What other park-inspired names can you come up with?

Sources: List of national parks of the United States – Wikipedia, History (U.S. National Park Service), NPS Site Designations (pdf), Kenai Fjords National Park Profile 2015 (pdf)

Image: Adapted from Zion National Park, Ranger Naturalist Service – LOC

Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity, 2015

Which boy names increased and decreased the most in popularity from 2014 to 2015?

Here are two ways to look at it. The SSA’s way looks at ranking differences and covers the top 1,000 boy names (roughly). My way looks at raw number differences and takes all boy names on the SSA’s list into account.

Biggest Increases

Raw Numbers (all boy names) Rankings (top 1,000 boy names)
  1. Oliver, +2,181 babies (9,411 to 11,592)
  2. Matteo, +1,320 babies (835 to 2,155)
  3. Grayson, +1,296 babies (6,556 to 7,852)
  4. Mateo, +1,258 babies (3,729 to 4,987)
  5. Lincoln, +1,150 babies (4,809 to 5,959)
  6. Theodore, +895 babies (3,216 to 4,111)
  7. Ezra, +893 babies (3,406 to 4,299)
  8. Hudson, +779 babies (5,229 to 6,008)
  9. Asher, +754 babies (4,305 to 5,059)
  10. Wyatt, +750 babies (8,847 to 9,597)
  1. Riaan, +1,360 spots (2,286th to 926th)
  2. Huxley, +392 spots (1,354th to 962nd)
  3. Wilder, +360 spots (1,324th to 964th)
  4. Jaziel, +276 spots (1,215th to 939th)
  5. Canaan, +271 spots (1,077th to 806th)
  6. Kaison, +251 spots (981st to 730th)
  7. Brixton, +212 spots (1,197th to 985th)
  8. Ridge, +204 spots (1,136th to 932nd)
  9. Omari, +198 spots (708th to 510th)
  10. Jabari, +194 spots (1,139th to 945th)

Riaan was boosted by a celebrity baby born in late 2014 to Bollywood actors Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza.

Jaziel’s rise seems to be due to Jaziel Avilez, a young singer featured in the 2014 song “Padre Ejemplar” [vid] by Mexican group Los Titanes de Durango.

Omari’s rise can be traced back to American actor Omari Hardwick, who has appeared in the TV shows Being Mary Jane and Power lately, and Jabari’s to basketball player Jabari Parker, the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

Biggest Decreases

Raw Numbers (all boy names) Rankings (top 1,000 boy names)
  1. Jase, -1,459 babies (3,737 to 2,278)
  2. Jayden, -1,448 babies (12,923 to 11,475)
  3. Joshua, -1,123 babies (10,843 to 9,720)
  4. Andrew, -1,097 babies (11,124 to 10,027)
  5. Michael, -1,079 babies (15,400 to 14,321)
  6. Jacob, -996 babies (16,812 to 15,816)
  7. Anthony, -974 babies (11,538 to 10,564)
  8. William, -967 babies (16,776 to 15,809)
  9. Jace, -965 babies (6,276 to 5,311)
  10. Alexander, -902 babies (15,362 to 14,460)
  1. Arnav, -666 spots (888th to 1,554th)
  2. Jayse, -257 spots (910th to 1,167th)
  3. Neymar, -240 spots (550th to 790th)
  4. Rylee, -228 spots (879th to 1,107th)
  5. Johnathon, -213 spots (915th to 1,128th)
  6. Broderick, -195 spots (971st to 1,166th)
  7. Brenden, -187 spots (711th to 898th)
  8. Yael, -178 spots (913th to 1,091st)
  9. Aidyn, -173 spots (925th to 1,098th)
  10. Gavyn, -167 spots (944th to 1,111th)

I can remember Neymar debuting in 2010 under the influence was Brazilian footballer Neymar.

In 2014, the big winners were Oliver and Bode, and the big losers were Jayden and Bently.

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2014 to 2015, Emma and Noah Once Again Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2015

U.S. Baby Names 2015: Most Popular Baby Names, Top Debuts: Girl Names, Top Debuts: Boy Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Girl Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Boy Names, First Letter Popularity, Name Length Popularity

Most Popular U.S. Baby Names of 2015

According to the Social Security Administration, Emma and Noah were the most popular baby names in the United States in 2015.

Here’s the top 10:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Emma, 20355 baby girls
2. Olivia, 19553
3. Sophia, 17327
4. Ava, 16286
5. Isabella, 15504
6. Mia, 14820
7. Abigail, 12311
8. Emily, 11727
9. Charlotte, 11332
10. Harper, 10241
1. Noah, 19511 baby boys
2. Liam, 18281
3. Mason, 16535
4. Jacob, 15816
5. William, 15809
6. Ethan, 14991
7. James, 14705
8. Alexander, 14460
9. Michael, 14321
10. Benjamin, 13608

Emma and Noah were also the #1 names in 2014.

Harper replaces Madison in the girls’ top 10; Benjamin replaces Daniel in the boys’ top 10.

Here’s the rest of the top 50:

Girl Names Boy Names
11. Madison, 10038
12. Amelia, 9795
13. Elizabeth, 9656
14. Sofia, 9650
15. Evelyn, 9313
16. Avery, 9298
17. Chloe, 7884
18. Ella, 7852
19. Grace, 7589
20. Victoria, 7575
21. Aubrey, 7357
22. Scarlett, 7100
23. Zoey, 6900
24. Addison, 6683
25. Lily, 6617
26. Lillian, 6571
27. Natalie, 6466
28. Hannah, 6372
29. Aria, 6371
30. Layla, 6289
31. Brooklyn, 6268
32. Alexa, 6029
33. Zoe, 5995
34. Penelope, 5921
35. Riley, 5707
36. Leah, 5585
37. Audrey, 5581
38. Savannah, 5413
39. Allison, 5329
40. Samantha, 5304
41. Nora, 5301
42. Skylar, 5258
43. Camila, 5257
44. Anna, 5094
45. Paisley, 5056
46. Ariana, 4933
47. Ellie, 4838
48. Aaliyah, 4836
49. Claire, 4805
50. Violet, 4779
11. Elijah, 13511
12. Daniel, 13408
13. Aiden, 13378
14. Logan, 12862
15. Matthew, 12648
16. Lucas, 12246
17. Jackson, 12182
18. David, 11691
19. Oliver, 11592
20. Jayden, 11475
21. Joseph, 11375
22. Gabriel, 10782
23. Samuel, 10733
24. Carter, 10727
25. Anthony, 10564
26. John, 10303
27. Dylan, 10232
28. Luke, 10219
29. Henry, 10112
30. Andrew, 10027
31. Isaac, 9878
32. Christopher, 9742
33. Joshua, 9720
34. Wyatt, 9597
35. Sebastian, 9569
36. Owen, 9549
37. Caleb, 8727
38. Nathan, 8530
39. Ryan, 8474
40. Jack, 8456
41. Hunter, 8284
42. Levi, 8236
43. Christian, 8127
44. Jaxon, 8015
45. Julian, 8003
46. Landon, 7896
47. Grayson, 7852
48. Jonathan, 7577
49. Isaiah, 7528
50. Charles, 7125

In the girls’ top 50, Alexa, Paisley, Ellie and Violet replace Arianna, Gabriella, Sadie and Sarah.

In the boys’ top 50, Grayson and Charles replace Eli and Aaron.

Impressive rises:

  • Alexa rose 31 places, from 63rd to 32nd
  • Violet rose 17 places, from 67th to 50th
  • Grayson rose 16 places, from 63rd to 47th
  • Oliver rose 13 places, from 32nd to 19th
  • Riley (girl name) rose 12 places, from 47th to 35th

Impressive drops:

  • Arianna dropped 16 places, from 40th to 56th
  • Gabriella dropped 11 places, from 43rd to 54th
  • Anna dropped 10 places, from 34th to 44th

There’s much more to come! Until then, I’ll quote liberally from the SSA’s press release:

Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop-culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Alaia and Riaan.

Alaia jumped 2,012 spots on the girls’ side to number 664, from number 2,676 in 2014. Perhaps this can be attributed to high fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, or maybe it is because of Alaia Baldwin, the model/daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin.

Riaan increased 1,360 spots for the boys, from number 2,286 in 2014 to number 926. Of Indian origin, it is also the name of the young son of a well-known Bollywood actor, Riteish Deshmukh.

The second fastest riser for girls was Meilani. If you have ever watched MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard of Jenni “JWoww” Farley. She gave birth to daughter Meilani in 2014. On a different American shore, out in Hawaii, is another well-known Meilani–Bethany Meilani Hamilton, the professional surfer whose story of surviving a shark attack was documented in the movie “Soul Surfer.”

For boys, it was Huxley (a brave new comeback for the late science fiction writer?).

Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category, and some possible reasons for their newfound popularity:

  • Omari and Jabari for boys. Omari Hardwick is an actor, known for his roles in “Sparkle,” “The A-Team,” and BET Network’s “Being Mary Jane.” He currently stars in “Power,” a popular cable TV series. Jabari Parker is a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft out of Duke.
  • Adaline and Zelda for girls. “The Age of Adaline” is a 2015 fantasy film starring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, and Ellen Burstyn. As for Zelda, maybe the legend continues to grow?

I’ll also note that the name Isis dropped from 705th place (398 baby girls) in 2014 to 1770th place (117 baby girls) in 2015.

Source: Emma and Noah Once Again Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2015

U.S. Baby Names 2015: Most Popular Baby Names, Top Debuts: Girl Names, Top Debuts: Boy Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Girl Names, Biggest Changes in Popularity: Boy Names, First Letter Popularity, Name Length Popularity

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!

Popular Boy Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

How has the ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names changed over time (if at all) among the most popular baby names in the U.S.?

This question popped into my head recently, so I thought I’d take a look at the data. We’ll do boy names today and girl names tomorrow.

First, let’s set some parameters. For these posts, “Biblical” names are personal names (belonging to either humans or archangels) mentioned in the Bible, plus all derivatives of these names, plus any other name with a specifically Biblical origin (e.g., Jordan, Sharon, Genesis). The “most popular” names are the top 20, and “over time” is the span of a century.

For boy names, the ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names has basically flipped over the last 100 years. Here’s a visual — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and a borderline name (which I counted as non-Biblical) is in the orange cell:

Popular boy names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular boy names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Adam, Alexander, Andrew, Austin (via Augustus), Benjamin, Daniel, David, Elijah, Ethan, Jack (via John), Jackson (via John), Jacob, James, Jason, John, Jonathan, Joseph, Joshua, Justin (via Justus), Lucas, Mark, Matthew, Michael, Nathan, Nicholas, Noah, Paul, Stephen, Steven, Thomas, Timothy, Zachary
  • Non-Biblical names: Aiden, Albert, Anthony, Arthur, Billy, Brandon, Brian, Charles, Christopher, Dennis, Donald, Dylan, Edward, Eric, Frank, Gary, George, Harold, Harry, Henry, Jayden, Jeffrey, Kenneth, Kevin, Larry, Liam, Logan, Louis, Mason, Raymond, Richard, Robert, Ronald, Ryan, Scott, Tyler, Walter, William
  • Borderline name: Jerry (can be based on the Biblical name Jeremy/Jeremiah or on the non-Biblical names Jerome, Gerald, Gerard)
    • It felt strange putting an overtly Christian name like Christopher in the non-Biblical category, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, so…that’s where it goes.

      Here are the year-by-year tallies:

      Year Top 20 names
      given to…
      # Biblical # Non-Biblical
      1914 40% of baby boys 5 (25%) 15 (75%)
      1924 43% of baby boys 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
      1934 43% of baby boys 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
      1944 47% of baby boys 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
      1954 46% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1964 42% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1974 38% of baby boys 11 (55%) 9 (45%)
      1984 36% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      1994 27% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      2004 19% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)
      2014 14% of baby boys 14 (70%) 6 (30%)

      But there’s a huge difference between sample sizes of 40% and 14%, so let’s also take a look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 42% of male births.

      By my count, last year’s top 100 boy names were half Biblical, half non-Biblical:

      Biblical names (49) Non-Biblical names (51)
      Noah, Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, James, Daniel, Elijah, Benjamin, Matthew, Jackson (via John), David, Lucas, Joseph, Andrew, Samuel, Gabriel, Joshua, John, Luke, Isaac, Caleb, Nathan, Jack (via John), Jonathan, Levi, Jaxon (via John), Julian (via Julius), Isaiah, Eli, Aaron, Thomas, Jordan, Jeremiah, Nicholas, Evan, Josiah, Austin (via Augustus), Jace (via Jason), Jason, Jose, Ian, Adam, Zachary, Jaxson (via John), Asher, Nathaniel, Justin (via Justus), Juan Liam, Mason, William, Logan, Aiden, Jayden, Anthony, Carter, Dylan, Christopher, Oliver, Henry, Sebastian, Owen, Ryan, Wyatt, Hunter, Christian, Landon, Charles, Connor, Cameron, Adrian, Gavin, Robert, Brayden, Grayson, Colton, Angel, Dominic, Kevin, Brandon, Tyler, Parker, Ayden, Chase, Hudson, Nolan, Easton, Blake, Cooper, Lincoln, Xavier, Bentley, Kayden, Carson, Brody, Ryder, Leo, Luis, Camden

      (Christian, Angel, Xavier, Dominic…all technically non-Biblical, despite having strong ties to Christianity.)

      50%-50% isn’t quite as extreme as 70%-30%, but it’s still noticeably more Biblical than 1914’s 25%-75%.

      Do any of these results surprise you?

Feithfailge, Jossoway, Ulundi – Random List of Names

I recently read through a 19th-century book about personal names “either in every-day use or lingering in the literature of Great Britain and Ireland.” Here are a couple dozen names that caught my eye:

“A female name of common occurrence in the Highlands of Scotland. Formed from Aeneas,” which itself was “not from the classical name, but from the Gaelic name Aonghas, i.e. Angus.”

“The Gaelic original of Banquo. Some translate this name ‘white’ (Gaelic ban, white, also pale, fair, fair-haired); but it is rather from ban-cu, the white dog; figuratively white hero. In Irish, cu, among other meanings, is a dog, greyhound, champion, hero, warrior.” Banquo was a character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Dousabel, Dowsabel
“A female name, said to be derived from Fr. douce et belle, sweet and fair.” Most books define these as variants of Dulcibella (Latin dulcis “sweet” + bella “beautiful”).

“A Gaelic name of local origin, viz. from Drymen, co. Stirling, from druim monadh, back of the hill.”

Dubhdeasa, Dudeasa
“An old Irish female name, signifying ‘a dark-haired beauty’ (dubh, and deas beautiful).” According to Wiktionary, deas does mean “pretty,” and also “nice,” “honest,” “straight” and “right (as opposed to wrong).”

“An old Irish name derived from each a steed, marcach a rider.”

“An old Irish name derived from each a steed, milidh a knight.”

“A Welsh name. From uniaum, upright, perfect, just; lit. right, straight, direct, like iniawn.”

Eochaidh, “pronounced Eochy or Eohy”
“An old Irish name signifying a horseman or knight; from each or eoch, a steed. According to the Annals of Ireland it has been Anglicised Achy, and Latinised Eochadius, Achadius, and Achaius.”

“An old Irish female name, signifying a honeysuckle of ringlets (feith-failge).” That meaning doesn’t make a lot of sense to me…I wonder if it shouldn’t read “ringlets of honeysuckle” instead?

“A female baptismal name. One writer says Gesana, or rather Gesina, is a very common female name in Friesland, and not unknown in other parts of the Netherlands. According to others Gesana is a Spanish name, and of Scriptural origin. It is scarcely Scriptural, and is probably derived from the ending of some feminine diminutive.”

“If of Celtic origin this name might translate ‘willow marsh.'”

“Found as a male name at the present day. From A. S. hengest, which Lye renders ‘cantherius, caballus,’ i.e. gelding, horse.” According to Encyclopedia Britannica (the book, not the baby) Hengist and Horsa were “brothers and legendary leaders of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in Britain.”

“An old baptismal name derived from L. idoneus, fit, […] proper.” According to Behind the Name, Idonea is based on the Scandinavian name Iðunn, but was influenced by the Latin word idonea.

“A male name corrupted from Joshua.”

“A female name which some think to have been corrupted from Rabege, another form of Rebecca.”

“A name derived from Mwyngu or Munghu, the subsequent name of the Pictish saint Kentigern. It may be derived from mwyn, tender, kind, mild, gentle, courteous, affable, with the addition of og, as a diminutive.”

“A baptismal name signifying little Nap–that is, Napoleon.”

“A baptismal name often found in Hertfordshire. One writer suggests that it may be from L. pertenuia, very slender. It has been more probably corrupted from the Scripture place-name Bethany.”

“A female name. The Tyne Mercury of 3rd November, 1829, gives a ‘Shepherdess Speedy.’ The name was no doubt derived from the occupation, like the male names Pastor and Le Pastur, found in the Hundred Rolls.”

“Found as an old baptismal name, said to mean God’s star.” Presumably based on the Latin words theos, “god,” and aster, “star.”

“An old Irish name signifying ‘a man of hospitality,’ derived from tomailt, provisions.”

Uther, Uthyr
“A Welsh name derived from uthr, signifying awful, wonderful, astonishing, terrific, horrible.”

The book also mentioned the battle-inspired baby names Crimea and Ulundi. (The Battle of Ulundi, fought in 1879, was the last major battle of the Anglo-Zulu War.)

Source: Charnock, Richard Stephen. Prænomina; or, The Etymology of the Principal Christian Names of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Trubner & Co., 1882.

Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity, 2014

Which boy names increased and decreased the most in popularity from 2013 to 2014?

Below are two versions of each list. My version looks at raw number differences and takes all 13,977 boy names on the 2014 list into account. The SSA’s version looks at ranking differences and covers the top 1,000 boy names (roughly).

Biggest Increases

Raw Numbers (Nancy’s list) Rankings (SSA’s list)
  1. Oliver, +2,116 babies (7,249 to 9,365)
  2. Sebastian, +1,707 (7,530 to 9,237)
  3. Logan, +1,256 (12,323 to 13,579)
  4. Carter, +1,044 (9,555 to 10,599)
  5. Grayson, +996 (5,536 to 6,532)
  6. Noah, +965 (18,179 to 19,144)
  7. Karter, +929 (1,174 to 2,103)
  8. Luke, +885 (9,546 to 10,431)
  9. James, +799 (13,502 to 14,301)
  10. Theodore, +778 (2,413 to 3,191)
  1. Bode, +645 spots (1,428th to 783rd)
  2. Axl, +624 (1,474th to 850th)
  3. Gannon, +426 (839th to 413th)
  4. Bodie, +333 (1,314th to 981st)
  5. Royal, +327 (900th to 573rd)
  6. Coen, +290 (1,188th to 898th)
  7. Anakin, +281 (1,238th to 957th)
  8. Killian, +250 (766th to 516th)
  9. Reyansh, +226 (1,221st to 995th)
  10. Ronin, +219 (773rd to 554th)

Here’s what the SSA says about the rise of Bode: “[It] might have had something to do with the Winter Olympics in early 2014, where Bode Miller continued his outstanding alpine skiing career by collecting his sixth Olympic medal.”

And on the rise of Axl: “[It’s] a nod to both rock legend Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses and Axl Jack Duhamel, son of Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson and Josh Duhamel.”

Biggest Decreases

Raw Numbers (Nancy’s list) Rankings (SSA’s list)
  1. Jayden, -1,834 babies (14,712 to 12,878)
  2. Jacob, -1,360 (18,072 to 16,712)
  3. Joshua, -997 (11,761 to 10,764)
  4. Christian, -905 (9,293 to 8,388)
  5. Brayden, -873 (7,412 to 6,539)
  6. Justin, -858 (4,849 to 3,991)
  7. Tyler, -833 (6,618 to 5,785)
  8. Jase, -826 (4,545 to 3,719)
  9. Ryan, -824 (9,850 to 9,026)
  10. Gavin, -820 (7,402 to 6,582)
  1. Bently, -289 spots (902nd to 1,191st)
  2. Damion, -262 (856th to 1,118th)
  3. Amare, -239 (601st to 840th)
  4. Isiah, -234 (824th to 1,058th)
  5. Xavi, -198 (930th to 1,128th)
  6. Sidney, -187 (958th to 1,145th)
  7. Deegan, -180 (961st to 1,141st)
  8. Jair, -174 (820th to 994th)
  9. Juelz, -165 (908th to 1,073rd)
  10. Corban, -156 (979th to 1,135th)

Jase, last year’s biggest raw number increase, is now 8th on the list of decreases. Mason, which topped the list of raw number increases two years in a row (2010 and 2011), is now 18th on the list of decreases. (It was 3rd in 2013.) And Jayden, the trendy name that shot up the charts to become the 4th most popular baby name in the nation in 2010 and 2011, has since fallen to 15th.

Finally, here are the big winners and losers from the last few years:

  • 2013: Jase/Jayceon (biggest increases) and Ethan/Austyn (biggest decreases)
  • 2012: Liam/Major (biggest increases) and Jacob/Braeden (biggest decreases)
  • 2011: Mason (biggest increase) and Jacob (biggest decrease)
  • 2010: Mason (biggest increase) and Joshua (biggest decrease)

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2013 to 2014, Noah and Emma Top Social Security’s List of Most Popular Baby Names for 2014

U.S. Baby Names 2014: Most Popular Names, Top Girl Name Debuts, Top Boy Name Debuts, Biggest Girl Name Changes, Biggest Boy Name Changes, Top First Letters, Top Lengths