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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kelly

Number of Babies Named Kelly

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Kelly

Contrarian Baby Names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

contrarian baby names, uncool baby names

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

Name Quotes #65: Charlie, Jessica, Mahathir

Time for another batch of name quotes!

From the 2000 movie Where the Heart Is, character Lexie (Ashley Judd) talking about her kids’ names:

“I call my kids after snack foods: Brownie, Praline, Cherry and Baby Ruth.”

From an article about “weird” Dominican personal names by Isabelia Herrera:

When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my father read La montaña es algo más que una inmensa estepa verde, Omar Cabezas’ personal account of his time living with Sandinista guerrilla revolutionaries in the Cordillera Isabelia, a mountain range in Nicaragua. Today I choose to do justice to the radical provenance of my name, after years of subjecting myself to mispronunciations, ultracorrections, and the bulldozing erasure that accompanies nicknames. […] Because I’m not Izzy or Isa, I’m Isabelia.

From an article about the Fultz sisters, Americas first identical African-American quadruplets (b. 1946):

“The doctor took it upon himself to name the girls — all of them Mary, followed by the names of the women in the Klenner family. There was Ann, for the doctor’s wife; Louise, his daughter; Alice, his aunt; and Catherine, his great-aunt.

To the delivery nurse, who is black, it didn’t seem strange.

“At that time, you know, it was before integration,” Margaret Ware, 79, recalled recently. “They did us how they wanted. And these were very poor people. He was a sharecropper, Pete [Mr. Fultz] was, and she [Mrs. Fultz] couldn’t read or write.

From an essay by a woman whose in-laws hated her baby’s name:

Charlie was our choice. Not the most “out there” name in the world, but also not too overused or common. I honestly did not see why it was so very controversial. But they hated it. With a passion.

And they weren’t afraid to tell us. At the dinner table. At the restaurant. And even the day before Charlie was born.

[…]

Maybe they didn’t realize how hurtful it might be? Maybe they thought the name was so atrocious that they had to say something or else our kid would live a life of ridicule and pain? I just don’t freaking know.

From an article about Utah setting trends for unique baby names:

While in recent years Utah has garnered attention for spelling names in more unique (or tortuous) ways, Utah has actually been the trendsetter within the United States in naming kids for a century

[…]

For many names, popularity hits Utah typically five or so years before elsewhere in the country. In some cases, like Evan, names are popular only in Utah for decades before they gain national traction.

From an article about tropical cyclone names:

For a tropical cyclone with wind speeds that could reach up to 150 kmph and has forced the evacuation of three lakh people in the Odisha coastline, Titli — meaning butterfly — is a surprisingly delicate name.

(“Titli” was Pakistan’s choice, btw.)

From an article about the Malaysian prime minister’s influence on baby names:

Malaysian Prime Minster Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad is now a source of inspiration for parents looking to name their babies.

The names ‘Tun’ and ‘Mahathir’ are extremely popular, with 4,726 people named Tun and 420 named Mahathir, according to the country’s National Registration Department (NRD).

From an article about having the name Jihad:

“Especially in the Midwest, when they heard my name was Jihad the first thing that appeared to their minds was the image of suicide bombers, and the jihadists that attack the army in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

[Jihad Abdo, one of Syria’s best-known actors], whose most popular TV show had an audience of 50 million, simply couldn’t catch a break in Los Angeles. He suffered through 100 failed auditions and scraped by delivering pizza for Domino’s.

He realised that to keep his career, he would have to lose his name.

[…]

He considered Jude, but settled on the name Jay – simple, innocuous – American.

Things changed overnight, “because Jay for them is a lovely guy – it brings to them Jay Leno or… lovely people – people they are comfortable with. It doesn’t create any ‘sensitivity’, let’s say.”

From an article about a Maine-themed restaurant in Japan:

Yes, this Asian outpost of Maine food and culture is named after that Cabot Cove. The one where the fictitious mystery writer Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury from 1984 to 1996 on CBS) solved so many crimes that in 2012 researchers declared if the town were real, it would have the world’s highest murder rate.

It turns out that re-runs of “Murder, She Wrote” – or “Jessica Obasan no Jikenbo,” which translates to “Auntie Jessica’s Case Files” – were also must-see TV in Japan. Kiyoto and Keiko Deguchi, the owners of Cabot Cove restaurant, are big fans.

For more, check out the name quotes category.

How to Name Fictional Characters

three tips on choosing a character name

How-to articles on naming fictional characters are a dime a dozen. But most are a litany of tips — some important, others not so much. So I thought I’d try boiling the best of the advice down to a single sentence. Here’s what I came up with:

“Each character’s name should fit the setting, fit the character, and be distinct within the story.”

The sentence contains three different objectives, so let’s look out each one separately:

Fit the setting

The name should be appropriate for the time and place in which the story occurs. A romance set in 18th-century England could be between an Elizabeth and a Frederick, but not a Nevaeh and a Jayden. Similarly, the protagonist of a 24th-century space opera could be named something standard/plain (John) or futuristic (Loxxan), but probably not something very old (Holmketill), or even slightly old (Clarence).

Fit the character

The name should suit the character, primarily in terms of permanent descriptors (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity), but also, perhaps, in terms of personality traits (e.g., bubbly, gracious, haughty).

Stereotyping in general is bad, but when it comes to character names, it’s very useful: You want the name to give the correct impression of the character right away. A woman from India should be named Padma, not Margaret. A man from Germany should be called Armin, not Oakley.

You could also take it a step further and choose a name that reflects the character’s personality in a subtle way. A friendly woman could be an Amy, while a complex woman could be Demetria. Do this mainly with sounds and associations, which will be picked up instantly by the reader.

Be distinct within the story

The name should not look or sound similar to any of the other names in the story, or else the reader could get confused. Pay special attention to first letters and to repeated sounds. If the protagonists are sisters, name them Mila and Harriet, not Katie and Kelly. Likewise, if the main characters are brothers, use the names Brian and Luke, not Aidan and Adam.

…What are your thoughts on this topic?

The Debut of Hoby

trackdown, hoby gilman, 1950s, western, television
Hoby

Westerns were the hottest thing on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and we can see it in the baby name data. Here’s yet another Western-inspired debut, Hoby:

  • 1961: 10 baby boys named Hoby
  • 1960: 6 baby boys named Hoby
  • 1959: 14 baby boys named Hoby
  • 1958: 30 baby boys named Hoby [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

Hoby (which rhymes with Toby and Dobie) was the top debut of the year for boys in 1958. In fact, one of the biggest boy name debuts ever.

The inspiration? Hoby Gilman, the main character of the TV western Trackdown (1957-1959).

Hoby, played by actor Robert Culp, was a Texas Ranger who spent his days tracking down bad guys in post-Civil War Texas. “[Culp’s] Hoby Gilman was a cooler character than other deadpan Western cowboys. Culp…imbued Hoby with a hipness that was ahead of the time but which presaged the Sixties yet to come.”

Notably, Trackdown “was given official approval from the (modern day) Rangers and the state of Texas.”

The character originated on an episode of Zane Grey Theatre in May of 1957. A mere five months later, a whole series based on Hoby had emerged. (A whopping five episodes of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre were developed into subsequent TV shows. Impressive.)

Robert Culp went on to co-star with Bill Cosby in I Spy from 1965 to 1968. His character, named Kelly, gave a temporary boost to the male usage of Kelly, which peaked for boys in 1967/1968.

What are your thoughts on the name Hoby?

Sources:

Keedy: The ’90s Baby Name that Never Was?

keedy, 90s, music
Pop Singer Keedy

Not long ago I discovered a new-to-me pop star from the early ’90s named Keedy (born Kelly Ann Keedy).

In 1991 she put out the album Chase the Clouds. Two singles from that album ended up the Billboard Hot 100. The catchier of the two, “Save Some Love,” peaked at #15 in May.

The follow-up, a ballad called “Wishing On The Same Star,” peaked at #86 in August.

…And that was it. No more major label albums, no more singles on the charts.

But what if she had stuck around a little longer? Would “Keedy” have emerged in the baby name data?

The girl names Keely, Kaylee, Kendall, Kennedy, and Kylie were all on the rise in the early ’90s. Keedy would have been right on trend.

What do you think: Could Keedy have been a contender?

Sources: Rare and Obscure Music: Keedy, Keedy – Billboard