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

The Debut of Hoby

trackdown, hoby gilman, 1950s, western, television

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?


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!

Name Quotes for the Weekend #35

Happy New Year, everyone! Some quotes to kick off 2016…

From an article about Taylor Swift in GQ:

Swift mentions that she wrote a non-autobiographical novel when she was 14, titled A Girl Named Girl, and that her parents still have it. I ask her what it was about, assuming she will laugh. But her memory of the plot is remarkably detailed. (It’s about a mother who wants a son but instead has a girl.)

From a biography of North Carolina businessman Edward James Parrish in the book Makers of America: Biographies of Leading Men of Thought and Action, vol. II (1916):

Colonel Parrish was born near Round Hill Post Office, then in Orange County (now Durham County), on October 20, 1846, son of Colonel Doctor Claiborn and Ruthy Anne (Ward) Parrish. His father had the peculiar given name of Doctor because he was a seventh son, in accordance with the old belief that the seventh son has the gift of healing.

From What’s in a name? Everything, if you are a migrant and Muslim by Yusuf Sheikh Omar (found via Anna’s Wintery Name News post at Waltzing More than Matilda):

Many Somali refugees have changed their names. Since 1991 a brutal civil war in our homeland, in the Horn of Africa, has displaced 1.7 million people, roughly one-fifth of the population. The displaced spent years in refugee camps or embarked on long, treacherous journeys to safety; the luckier ones found haven in countries such as Australia and elsewhere in the West. Some of these newly arrived refugees feared that if they kept their real names, the authorities would trace their travel route and return people to their last country of departure. So these Somalis changed their names on arrival at the airport. Many still use these bogus names in official documents, but use their real names in the community.


Some of the generation who changed their names have since passed away leaving their children with unknown family and clan names. These young people are in limbo, both in the Somali community in Australia and in their country of origin. From other Somalis they often hear insults, such as “you have a fake family name.”

From an article about late Mexican American singer Selena Quintanilla:

Selena continues to have influence over other known and up-and-coming performers. Born in 1992 near Dallas, Disney bopper Selena Gomez, now a pop star of her own, was named after the queen of Tejano (during Selena’s 1991-1995 reign, her name skyrocketed from 780 to 91 in the rankings of most popular baby names in America).

From Anthony S. Kline’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 9:

When the pains grew, and her burden pushed its own way into the world, and a girl was born, the mother ordered it to be reared, deceitfully, as a boy, without the father realising. She had all that she needed, and no one but the nurse knew of the fraud. The father made good his vows, and gave it the name of the grandfather: he was Iphis. The mother was delighted with the name, since it was appropriate for either gender, and no one was cheated by it.

From Dear Saint West: I Too Once Had an Unusual Name by Logan Hill:

Baby Saint, maybe you’re thinking: No way am I going to be some middle-aged man with some basic name. Well, I used to think the same thing, back when I was No. 902. Now I’m No. 13 on the list.

You know who was No. 13 in 1975? Fucking Eric.

Now I’m the Eric.

You may not want to hear this, Baby Saint, but, some day — and probably some day soon, thanks to your family’s fame — you’ll be the Eric, too.

From the book The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) by Oliver Goldsmith:

Our second child, a girl, I intended to call after her aunt Grissel; but my wife, who during her pregnancy had been reading romances, insisted upon her being called Olivia. In less than another year we had another daughter, and now I was determined that Grissel should be her name; but a rich relation taking a fancy to stand godmother, the girl was, by her directions, called Sophia; so that we had two romantic names in the family; but I solemnly protest I had no hand in it.

(Elea of British Baby Names also mentioned this passage in one of her ‘Twas Ever Thus posts.)

From an article about unique names in a 1990 issue of the Harvard Crimson:

“When I was growing up, everyone in my community knew my name,” Caraway Seed ’93 says. “Sometimes it’s a little disconcerting because a lot of people at Harvard have never met me, but know my name,” she added.

“I feel like I’m always noticed because of my name…I want people to know me for who I am,” she says.

Seed says her name was chosen by her father, who as a child was often asked “What kind of Seed are you?” In order to save his children from a similar fate, he decided to name three of them after plants: Caraway, Cotton and Huckleberry.

“I guess they just wanted to be interesting,” Seed says.

From Sunday Summary: 48/2015 by Abby of Appellation Mountain:

A few days ago, I picked him up from a [hockey] skills clinic. “Who else was there tonight?” I asked. He rattled off some names, finishing with, “… and Kelly.”

“Is Kelly a boy or a girl?”

“A boy, mom! Who names a girl Kelly?”

Mind blown.

Have you spotted any good name-related quotes/articles lately? Let me know!