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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Katherine

Number of Babies Named Katherine

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Katherine

The Baby Name Ketti

ketti frings, look homeward angel

The name Ketti appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1959:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby girls named Ketti [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

This was the year after writer Ketti Frings won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Look Homeward, Angel, which ran on Broadway from 1957 to 1959.

The play, set in North Carolina in the mid-1910s, is an adaptation of the 1929 Thomas Wolfe novel of the same name:

Concentrating on the last third of Wolfe’s story, the play vividly portrays Eugene Gant, his mother, who is obsessed by her material holdings and who maintains barriers against the love of her family, his father, a stonecutter imprisoned by his failures, and the brother who never breaks away.

The author was born Katherine Hartley in Ohio in 1909. In 1938 she married German lightweight boxer Kurt Frings, who who gave her the nickname “Ketti.” (Kurt went on to become a Hollywood agent representing stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and Desi Arnaz.)

Do you like Ketti as a nickname for Katherine?

Sources: Ketti Frings, Stage and Film Writer – NYTimes.com, Look Homeward, Angel – Samuel French, Inc.

P.S. In 1962, a singer named Ketty Lester (born Revoyda Frierson) had a hit on the charts called “Love Letters,” but it doesn’t look like the song influenced the usage of the baby name Ketty.


Most Popular Lengths for Baby Names, 2016

The long and short of it is that U.S. parents don’t choose long and short baby names as often as they choose mid-length baby names. The most popular lengths for baby names in 2016? 6 letters, followed by 5 letters, followed by 7 letters…yet again.

Here’s a chart showing the length breakdown for girl names:

lengths, girl names, baby names, 2016, chart

The most-used girl names per length (from 2 to 10 letters) last year were…

And here’s the breakdown for boy names:

lengths, boy names, baby names, 2016, chart

The most-used boy names per length (from 2 to 10 letters) were…

Finally, here are both genders on the same chart:

lengths, boy names, baby names, girl names, 2016, chart

Here’s last year’s post on the top name lengths of 2015, if you’d like to compare.

Baby Nearly Named After Police Officer

On July 30, 1946, Los Angeles police officer Harry Dowty helped a pregnant woman named Edith Runfola deliver a baby girl.

According to the LA Times, Edith “said she [would] name the baby Harriet in honor of Officer Dowty.”

But what do the records say? The California Birth Index shows that Edith’s daughter got the first name Josephine and middle name Katherine. No mention of “Harriet.”

Did Edith change her mind? Did her husband veto “Harriet”? We shall never know…

But we do know the names of Edith’s other children. The article listed the 10 born before Josephine and the California Birth Index revealed that at least two more came along after:

  • Florence
  • Pearl
  • Ruby
  • Willie
  • Hazel
  • Marie
  • Daniel
  • Grace
  • Edith
  • Kenneth
  • Josephine (and not Harriet)
  • Jack
  • Helena

Source: “Police Officer Assists at Birth of Baby Girl.” Los Angeles Times 31 Jul. 1946: A1.

Catherine vs. Katherine, State by State, 1910

In a comment on last week’s post about Providence’s baby name rankings from 1867, Diane brought up an interesting point: the list includes dozens of babies named Catherine, but not a single one named Katherine.

Curious, isn’t it?

Since I don’t have the 1866 and 1868 Providence rankings done yet, the next-oldest set of comparable data I have is the 1910 Rhode Island list from the SSA state data. So I used this data to check out the Catherine vs. Katherine preferences of not just Rhode Island, but all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.).

Turns out that Rhode Island really did have a strong preference for Catherine. Of the 42 states that welcomed at least 5 baby girls with one name and at least 5 more with the other, Rhode Island was the state with the strongest preference for Catherine:

State % Catherine % Katherine Winner?
Rhode Island 82% (31) 18% (7) C
Maryland 76% (100) 24% (31) C
New Jersey 75% (158) 25% (53) C
New York 73% (521) 27% (191) C
Pennsylvania 73% (568) 27% (210) C
South Dakota 73% (16) 27% (6) C
Wisconsin 70% (56) 30% (24) C
Indiana 68% (71) 32% (33) C
Illinois 67% (184) 33% (91) C
Massachusetts 65% (184) 35% (97) C
Ohio 65% (161) 35% (87) C
North Carolina 65% (60) 35% (33) C
Missouri 64% (85) 36% (48) C
Florida 62.5% (25) 37.5% (15) C
Mississippi 62% (32) 38% (20) C
Kentucky 61% (79) 39% (51) C
Georgia 60% (57) 40% (37) C
North Dakota 60% (21) 40% (14) C
Minnesota 60% (46) 40% (31) C
Connecticut 60% (41) 40% (28) C
Oregon 59% (10) 41% (7) C
Nebraska 59% (17) 41% (12) C
South Carolina 58% (31) 42% (22) C
Vermont 58% (7) 42% (5) C
Montana 58% (14) 42% (10) C
Michigan 58% (74) 42% (53) C
California 56% (53) 44% (41) C
New Hampshire 56% (9) 44% (7) C
Louisiana 55% (27) 45% (22) C
Arkansas 54% (19) 46% (16) C
West Virginia 52% (32) 48% (29) C
Virginia 52% (62) 48% (57) C
Alabama 51% (37) 49% (36) C
Kansas 50% (20) 50% (20) tie
Iowa 47% (32) 53% (36) K
Wyoming 45% (5) 55% (6) K
Washington 45% (19) 55% (23) K
Oklahoma 43% (18) 57% (24) K
Texas 42% (50) 58% (70) K
Colorado 41% (18) 59% (26) K
Tennessee 40% (43) 60% (64) K
Maine 38% (13) 62% (21) K

Five other states and Washington, D.C., only welcomed at least 5 baby girls with one of the names, so I calculated some minimums:

State % Catherine % Katherine Winner?
D.C. at least 86% (28) ? C
Delaware at least 76% (13) ? C
Idaho ? at least 56% (5) K
Hawaii ? at least 64% (7) K
Arizona ? at least 64% (7) K
Utah ? at least 69% (9) K

Alas, Rhode Island no longer loves Catherine as much as it did in decades past. These days, Katherine is the winner. The switch happened during the early 1970s.

Which of these two versions of the name do you prefer?

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?