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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Karl

Number of Babies Named Karl

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Karl

Arrr! Baby Names for Talk Like a Pirate Day

pirate baby

Avast! Did you know that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day?

“Arrr” itself doesn’t make a great name — even for pirates — but here’s the next best thing: over 120 names that feature the “ar”-sound.

Margot, Margaux
Bernard (…Bernarr?)
Marc, Mark
Marcus, Markus
Stewart, Stuart

Which of the “ar”-names above do you like best? Did I miss any good ones?

(Image from Pixabay)

Additions, 9/20:

19 Impressive People Named Karl

The baby name Karl is based on a Germanic element meaning “man” or “freeman” (that is, someone who ranks above a slave, but not as high as a royal or a noble).

Here are a bunch of impressive people named Karl:

  1. Karl E. von Baer (1792-1876), Prussian-Estonian scientist and explorer. Discovered the mammalian ovum in 1826.
  2. Karl Benz (1844-1929), German engineer. Built the first automobile powered by an internal-combustion engine in 1885.
  3. Karl Drais (1785-1851), German inventor. Invented the Laufmaschine, also called the Draisine or dandy horse, in 1817.
  4. draisine illustration, karl drais
    The Draisine was invented by Karl Drais in 1817.
  5. Karl Deisseroth (1971-), American psychiatrist and bioengineer.
  6. Karl A. Folkers (1906-1997), American biochemist. Helped isolate vitamin B12 in 1948.
  7. Karl von Frisch (1886-1982), Austrian ethologist. Expert on honey bees.
  8. Karl Herzfeld (1892-1978), Austrian-American physicist.
  9. Karl G. Jansky (1905-1950), American physicist and radio engineer. Discovered cosmic radio waves in 1931.
  10. Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943), Austrian-American biologist and physician. Discovered three of the four major blood groups in 1900. Co-discovered the polio virus in 1908.
  11. Karl S. Lashley (1890-1958) American psychologist.
  12. Karl A. Menninger (1893-1990), American psychiatrist.
  13. Karl L. Nessler (1872-1951) German inventor. Invented the permanent wave in the early 1900s.
  14. Karl Pearson (1857-1936), English mathematician and statistician.
  15. Karl Schwarzschild (1873-1916), German astronomer.
  16. Karl O. Stetter (1941), German microbiologist.
  17. Karl Terzaghi (1883-1963), Austrian-American civil engineer.
  18. Karl Terzaghi (1883-1963), Austrian-American civil engineer. Founded soil mechanics.
  19. Karl Weierstrass (1815-1897), German mathematician.
  20. Karl Ziegler (1898-1973), German chemist.

Do you know of any other equally cool people named Karl?

The Baby Name Nydia

baby name nydiaThe eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D. buried a number of nearby communities, including the now-famous ancient city of Pompeii.

The city was forgotten for centuries, rediscovered in 1599, forgotten again, then rediscovered a second time in 1748. Excavations finally began in the mid-1700s, and the rest of the world soon came to know of Pompeii and its sad fate.

After Russian painter Karl Bryullov visited the ruins in 1828, he was inspired to create The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833), which depicts the destruction of Pompeii as Vesuvius erupts in the background. The massive painting (which measures 15 feet high by 21 feet long) became extremely popular.

English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton (of “It was a dark and stormy night” fame) saw the painting while it was on display in Italy. It inspired him to write the book The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which also became extremely popular.

One of the book’s main characters is a blind slave-girl named Nydia (pronounced NID-ee-ah) who sells flowers to earn money for her owner.

She’s a memorable, tragic character who has since been portrayed in other works of art, most notably the sculpture Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii (see above) by American sculptor Randolph Rogers. Here’s a description:

[Nydia] struggles forward to escape the dark volcanic ash and debris of Mount Vesuvius as it erupts and buries the ancient city of Pompeii. Clutching her staff and cupping hand to ear, she strains for sounds of Glaucus (a nobleman with whom she has fallen desperately in love) and his fiancée Ione. Accustomed to darkness, blind Nydia uses her acute hearing to find the two, leading them to safety at the shore; but in the end, despairing of the impossibility of her love, she drowns herself.

In the book, Nydia tells Ione that she originally came from Greece:

“What is your name, fair girl?”
“They call me Nydia.”
“Your country?”
“The land of Olympus–Thessaly.”

Her name was not used in ancient times, though, and the author doesn’t offer any clues about how he coined this (ostensibly Greek) name. Many sources echo the theory that the name Nydia was based on the Latin word nidus, meaning “nest,” but this shouldn’t be interpreted as fact.

So…has the literary name Nydia ever been used as a real-life baby name?

Yes, but the name has never been very common. Here’s the number of U.S. baby girls that have been given the baby name Nydia since the turn of the century:

  • 2014: 27 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2013: 16 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2012: 26 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2011: 30 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2010: 31 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2009: 29 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2008: 52 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2007: 53 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2006: 52 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2005: 53 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2004: 62 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2003: 69 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2002: 69 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2001: 72 baby girls named Nydia
  • 2000: 82 baby girls named Nydia

While a handful of people were named Nydia prior to the publication of Bulwer-Lytton’s book, consistent usage of the name began only after the book came out. Usage was at its highest during the last quarter of the 20th century. Even then, though, the name never managed to earn a spot among the top 1,000 girl names in the nation. Usage has been in decline ever since. (The spelling Nidia has followed a similar trajectory.)

So, not only is Nydia a relatively young name that originates in literature, it’s also a relatively rare name that’s reminiscent of more familiar options (like Lydia and Nadia). So it might be particularly appealing to parents who like literature names and/or “sweet spot” names (that is, names that are uncommon but not unheard of).

What do you think of the baby name Nydia?


Image: Adapted from Full Length view of Nydia by Mary Harrsch under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Popular Baby Names in Estonia, 2013

Estonia’s top baby names of 2013 were published in the newspaper Postimees at the end of 2012.

The paper didn’t explicitly mention the source of the information (the Ministry of the Interior?) but reported that the country’s most popular names from January to November, 2013, were Maria and Rasmus.

Here are Estonia’s projected top 15 girl names and top 15 boy names of 2013:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Maria**
2. Sofia
3. Laura
4. Anna**
5. Mia/Miia
6. Milana
7. Lisandra
8. Mirtel
9. Viktoria
10. Liisa
11. Arina
12. Darja
13. Aleksandra
14. Sandra
15. Adeele/Adele
1. Rasmus
2. Artjom**
3. Martin
4. Robin
5. Oliver
6. Markus
7. Nikita**
8. Romet
9. Sebastian
10. Sander
11. Kristofer
12. Robert
13. Oskar
14. Maksim
15. Daniel

**These names are particularly popular among Russian-speakers in Estonia.

Names that increased in popularity last year include Rasmus, Gregor and Mia.

Kevin, Kristjan and Kristina, on the other hand, decreased in popularity “significantly.”

Mirtel, 8th on the girls’ list, was rare until Estonian actress Mirtel Pohla came along.

The name Lenna was similarly uncommon until Estonian singer Lenna Kuurmaa hit the scene, and now Lenna is “quite popular,” though not in the top 15.

Robin, 4th on the boys’ list, is a curious one. It’s not an Estonian name, but simply the English male name Robin. And yet it’s trending in Estonia right now. (The last time Robin was trendy in the U.S. was a half century ago, and most of those baby Robins were female.) Could the inspiration be “Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke? I know it’s a long shot, but that’s all I can think of.

Postimees also published the following list of Estonia’s most popular baby names from 1992 to 2004. (They did say the Ministry of the Interior was the source for this one.)

Top Girl Names, 1992–2004 Top Boy Names, 1992–2004
1. Anna
2. Laura
3. Kristina
4. Maria
5. Diana
6. Sandra
7. Anastassia
8. Jekaterina
9. Karina
10. Alina
11. Kristiina
12. Aleksandra
13. Viktoria
14. Darja
15. Liis
16. Anastasia
17. Kätlin
18. Julia
19. Valeria
1. Martin
2. Sander
3. Aleksandr
4. Kristjan
5. Kevin
6. Nikita
7. Markus
8. Artur
9. Maksim
10. Karl
11. Dmitri
12. Daniil
13. Siim
14. Rasmus
15. Aleksei
16. Andrei
17. Artjom
18. Mihkel
19. Ilja

I’m guessing 2004 was picked as an endpoint because Estonia enacted a name law in early 2005 that regulates baby name orthography (to start weeding out foreign letters such as x, y and c). The full list has 677 names; at the bottom are names like Sirje, Raina, Raneli and Patricia.

Sources: And This Year’s Most Popular Baby Names Are…, These are the days of Rasmus, Artjom, Maria and Sofia

Family in Australia with 15 Children

Jeni and Ray Bonell of Queensland recently welcomed their 15th child. As of right now, theirs is the largest family in Australia.

Here are the names and ages of all 15 kids:

  • Jesse, 21 years old
  • Brooke, 20
  • Claire, 18
  • Natalie, 16
  • Karl, 15
  • Samuel, 13
  • Cameron, 11
  • Sabrina, 10
  • Timothy, 8
  • Brandon, 6
  • Eve, 5
  • Nate, 4
  • Rachel, 3
  • Eric, 18 months
  • Damian, 3 months

And now here’s the game: If you could change 3 of the 15 names above, which 3 would you replace, and what would the new names be?

Source: Largest Family in Australia Is a Queensland Couple With 15 Children

Name Quotes for the Weekend #15

betty white quote, "I love Cadillacs and name them after birds."

From an interview with Betty White in Parade Magazine:

Ask White if she still drives and she replies, “Of course!” She owns a silver Cadillac nicknamed Seagull. “I love Cadillacs and name them after birds.” Her previous ride, the pale-yellow Canary, was preceded by the green Parakeet.

From an article about how political preferences influence baby name choices in the Washington Times:

“If innovative birth names first appear as expressions of cultural capital, then liberal elites are most likely to popularize them, especially given that liberals are typically more comfortable embracing novelty and differentiation,” the study said. “Sometime afterwards, the name will diminish as a prestige symbol as lower classes begin adopting more of these names themselves thus sending liberal elites in search of ever new and obscure markers.”

When elite liberal parents do search for novelty, the authors write, they are “less likely to make up a name rather than choose a pre-existing word that is culturally esoteric (e.g., ‘Namaste,’ ‘Finnegan,’ ‘Archimedes’), because fabricating a name would diminish its cultural cachet.”

After all, they note, “the value of cultural capital comes, not from its uniqueness, but from its very obscurity.”

From an article on Chinese names in the LA Times:

In China, unusual names are viewed as a sign of literary creativity, UCLA sociology professor Cameron Campbell said.


“Picking a rare character is kind of like a marker of learning,” Campbell said, while in the United States, one-of-a-kind names are sometimes viewed as odd.

From an article about keeping your baby’s name a secret in the StarPhoenix:

“With our first we did not keep the name a secret. We told everyone. Then at 36 weeks, my cousin got a puppy which she named the same name as I had picked for our baby. When I asked why she used the name she choose she said she had heard it somewhere and really liked it but couldn’t remember where. I was devastated. Baby ended up coming at 37 weeks and we had not yet picked a new name! After that we kept the names quiet until they were born.” – Nicole Storms

From an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates (b. 1975) at Bookslut:

Last month, on the blog he writes for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explained the origin of his first name:

[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn’t just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation.

Coates’s father was a former Black Panther who raised seven children by four mothers, while running an underground Afro-centric publishing house from his basement. When Bill Cosby complained about black parents naming their children “Shaniqua, Taniqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail,” he may very well have been thinking of Paul Coates.

From a blog post about choosing a baby name by Jodi of Jodilightful! (via Abby of Appellation Mountain):

But if we learned anything from the process of naming Niko and watching him become that name, it was this: we could have called him anything we wanted to, and it would have been fine.

From an essay by Craig Salters in the Hanover Mariner:

I was watching the Little League World Series the other day and the team from New Castle, Indiana has a great bunch of kids and much to be proud of.

But, unfortunately, that wasn’t what I noticed first about them. What I noticed was the first names of their lineup card: Mason, Janson, Cayden, Hunter, Niah, Bryce, Jarred, Blake, and Bryce (again).

So no John? No Jimmy, Bobby, Richard, or Chris? There’s nothing wrong with their names — like I said, their parents should be bursting with pride — but, as an apprentice old fogey, it’s hard to get used to.


I myself was named after Craig Breedlove, a daredevil who broke all sorts of land speed records in what was pretty much a rocket on wheels. I absolutely love my name and am proud of my namesake, but I always feel I’m letting Mr. Breedlove down when I putter along Route 3 at 55 miles per hour, content to listen to sports radio and let the world pass me by.

From a tweet by Sherman Alexie (via A Mitchell):

We gave our sons names they could easily find on souvenir cups, magnets & shirts. Childhood is rough enough.

A poem, “Möwenlied” (Seagulls), by German poet Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914):

Die Möwen sehen alle aus,
als ob sie Emma hiessen.
Sie tragen einen weissen Flaus
und sind mit Schrot zu schießen.

Ich schieße keine Möwe tot,
ich laß sie lieber leben –
und füttre sie mit Roggenbrot
und rötlichen Zibeben.

O Mensch, du wirst nie nebenbei
der Möwe Flug erreichen.
Wofern du Emma heißest, sei
zufrieden, ihr zu gleichen.

…and now the translation, by Karl F. Ross:

The seagulls by their looks suggest
that Emma is their name;
they wear a white and fluffy vest
and are the hunter’s game.

I never shoot a seagull dead;
their life I do not take.
I like to feed them gingerbread
and bits of raisin cake.

O human, you will never fly
the way the seagulls do;
but if your name is Emma, why,
be glad they look like you.

Want more name quotes? Check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes for the Weekend, #3

From Barbara of the blog Sewing on the Edge:

I have started teaching a new course this month and am learning the names on a new class list.

My biggest challenge is, as always, the curse of the creative speller.

If your name is Megan why is it spelled Mheghaan?

Why is Cassidy, Kasidee?

Why is Britanny now Brit-anee?

Judy is Joodee?

I have taught Tifani’s, Tiffany, Tifanee all in the same class.

It makes my head explode.

Listen I have a last name that requires spelling out every time I say it, and over time that is a nuisance. Why send your child out in the world with that handicap over what is an ordinary name? Why have teachers say “you’re kidding” every time your kid says what the creative spelling stands for.

If you want your baby to have a cool name choose a cool name. Don’t try to do it with creative spelling. It’s making my class lists a nightmare.

From a Time article about how marketers could learn from baby name trends:

After using a statistical model to study more than 100 years of first names and doing a natural experiment using the names of hurricanes, the researchers found that the popularity of a particular moniker is impacted by how widely the sounds in that name were used previously. In other words, a first grade class filled with Karens is likely to be followed by a wave of six-year-olds with names that use similar sounds, or phonemes, such as “Katie” or “Karl” — or even “Darren” or “Warren.”

From a Slate article about minority births becoming the majority:

The Census Bureau announced Thursday that most of the newborn babies in the United States belong to minority groups, the first time in history that whites of European ancestry have accounted for less than half of that total.

Minorities—including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race—accounted for 50.4 percent of all U.S. births during the 12-month period that ended last July, edging past non-Hispanic whites who made up 49.6 percent.

From Angela of the blog Upswing Baby Names:

These names are still not in the top 1000: Cecily, Clementine, Philippa (or Pippa), Louisa, Linus and Rufus.

From Slate‘s Maurice Sendak obit:

He adored Melville, Mozart, and Mickey Mouse (and would have noted the alliteration with pleasure—he wrote in different places about the mysterious significance he attached to the letter M, his own first initial and that of many of his characters, beginning with Max of Where the Wild Things Are).

Sounds a lot like the Name-Letter Effect.

(Here are quote lists #1 and #2.)