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

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

Names in the News: Wrigley, Donald, Vaibhavi

Three recent baby name stories from the news:

  • Wrigley: The first Chicago-area baby born in 2017 was a baby girl with a Chicago Cubs-inspired name: Wrigley Rose. She arrived 12 minutes after midnight.
  • Donald Trump: In August of 2016, a baby boy born in Kisumu, Kenya, was named Donald Trump after the U.S. presidential nominee (now president-elect). His older brothers are Robert Kelly (after an American comedian) and Prince Charles.
  • Vaibhavi: In August of 2016, a baby girl born in Uttar Pradesh, India, was named Vaibhavi upon the suggestion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The baby’s mother had written to Modi asking for a name, and Modi telephoned a week later to recommend Vaibhavi, as it contained letters from the names of both parents, Bharat and Vibha.

In December, Narendra Modi indirectly named a baby Khazanchi, or “treasurer.”

Sources: Little Wrigley among suburbs’ first 2017 babies, Kisumu Couple Names Baby Donald Trump and the Internet Can’t Cope, Young UP couple become celebrity of sorts after PM Modi names their daughter

Most Common Names of D.C. Voters, by Party

capitol building DC

A couple of weeks ago, reader Becca sent me a link to a Washington Post graphic showing the 10 most common names of registered voters within each of Washington D.C.’s four main political parties — Statehood Green, Democratic, Republican and Libertarian.

Here’s the info from the graphic:

Statehood Green Democratic Republican Libertarian
1. Jon
2. Jesse
3. Barry
4. Darnell
5. Ian
6. Juan
7. Jordan
8. Jerry
9. Corey
10. Tyrone
1. Lillie
2. Laverne
3. Ella
4. Bernice
5. Mildred
6. Peggy
7. Betty
8. Ethel
9. Toni
10. Geraldine
1. Tyler
2. Bradley
3. Kelsey
4. Lindsey
5. Kristina
6. Meredith
7. Caroline
8. Kyle
9. Kelly
10. Taylor
1. Jared
2. Jon
3. Brendan
4. Derek
5. Joy
6. Kyle
7. Brooke
8. Julian
9. Nicholas
10. Chelsea

The graphic didn’t mention the disparity between the sizes of these groups, though, so let’s throw that in too. The lists were based on data from mid-June, 2015, so here are the D.C. voter registration statistics from June 30th:

  • Statehood Green: 3,820 registered voters (0.82% of all registered voters in D.C.)
  • Democrats: 350,684 (75.58%)
  • Republicans: 28,560 (6.16%)
  • Libertarians: 779 (0.17%)

The Democrats outnumber the Libertarians by more than 450 to 1, in other words.

Here are the lists individually. After each name is the gender it’s most closely associated with and the year of peak usage as a baby name (in terms of percentage of births) since 1900.

Statehood Green (0.82% of registered voters):

  1. Jon, male, peak usage in 1968
  2. Jesse, male, 1981
  3. Barry, male, 1962
  4. Darnell, male, 1984
  5. Ian, male, 2003
  6. Juan, male, 1999
  7. Jordan, male, 1997
  8. Jerry, male, 1941
  9. Corey, male, 1977
  10. Tyrone, male, 1970

The top Statehood Green names are 100% male, and most saw peak usage during the last four decades of the 20th century.

Democrat (75.58% of registered voters):

  1. Lillie, female, peak usage in 1900
  2. Laverne, female, 1928
  3. Ella, female, 2012
  4. Bernice, female, 1921
  5. Mildred, female, 1920
  6. Peggy, female, 1937
  7. Betty, female, 1934
  8. Ethel, female, 1900
  9. Toni, female, 1968
  10. Geraldine, female, 1931

The top Democrat names are 100% female, and most saw peak usage in the first half of the 20th century, especially the ’20s and ’30s.

Republican (6.16% of registered voters):

  1. Tyler, male, peak usage in 1994
  2. Bradley, male, 1979
  3. Kelsey, female, 1992
  4. Lindsey, female, 1984
  5. Kristina, female, 1985
  6. Meredith, female, 1981
  7. Caroline, female, 2014
  8. Kyle, male, 1990
  9. Kelly, female, 1977
  10. Taylor, female, 1996

The top Republican names are 70% female and 30% male, and most saw peak usage during the last three decades of the 20th century, especially the ’90s.

Libertarian (0.17% of registered voters):

  1. Jared, male, peak usage in 1998
  2. Jon, male, 1968
  3. Brendan, male, 1999
  4. Derek, male, 1982
  5. Joy, female, 1974
  6. Kyle, male, 1990
  7. Brooke, female, 2003
  8. Julian, male, 2014
  9. Nicholas, male, 1999
  10. Chelsea, female, 1992

The top Libertarian names are 70% male and 30% female, and most saw peak usage during the last few decades of the 20th century, especially the ’90s.

*

It was interesting to see just how feminine and old-fashioned the top Democrat names are. But the thing that most surprised was that the Green party’s list included zero female names. I would have guessed that, if any list here was going to be 100% male, it’d be the Libertarian party — definitely not the Green party.

What are your thoughts on these lists?

Sources: Identity Politics, Washington Post, December 2015; Voter Registration Statistics – DC Board of Elections; Popular Baby Names – SSA
Image: NPS

P.S. Thank you, Becca!