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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kimberly

Number of Babies Named Kimberly

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Kimberly

Name Quotes #49: Stan, Alessia, Nanu

dido, quote, name, queen, fire

From “Dido: My Son Is Not Named After My Hit Song” at People‘s Celebrity Babies blog:

Dido’s duet with Eminem…”Stan,” [was] a collaboration which she never imagined fans would connect to her son’s moniker.

“Stanley was actually our favorite name, coincidentally both of our favorite names. He could never have been called anything else to be honest,” Dido shares. “I’m so stupid, I didn’t think anyone would make the connection.”

Proud of her choice, Dido jokes the name game in her family is always a fun affair. “It’s fine,” she says of her final decision. “I was named after a crazy queen who threw herself on a fire.”

(Here’s more on Dido’s name.)

From “An Open Letter to Anyone Considering a Unique Name For Their Baby” by Alessia Santoro at PopSugar:

I’m 26 years old and I can probably count on two hands the number of times a person has gotten the pronunciation of my name right on the first go — a surprising minority, considering it has the word “less” right in it. Whenever someone does get it right, my jaw drops, because these moments are few and very far between — I often consider hugging the person for making me feel so normal. But the other 99 percent of the time, people get my name wrong.

From the Kent City Council’s online timeline of the First World War:

Raida Margaret Fanny Collins…was born on the night of an air raid over Newington in September.

Her christening on 4th November 1917 is recorded in the diary of Florence Fitch Palmer, organist at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Newington.

From the chapter about Clara Louise Burnham in the 1918 book The Women who Make Our Novels by Grant Martin Overton:

The beginning of this capital story [The Opened Shutters] was not with Tide Mill, however, but with the name Thinkright Johnson. Like certain persons whose appearance before Mrs. Burnham’s mind’s eye has compelled her to write about them, this New Englandish appellation gave birth to a book. Thinkright Johnson–Thinkright Johnson; the name haunted Mrs. Burnham for days and weeks, “till I knew that the only way I could have any peace was to write something about him.”

From “A Puppy Called Marvin” by Julie Lasky in the New York Times:

Clara is my 2-year-old Wheaten terrier and one of several dogs in my neighborhood with a name that sounds as if it came from a shuffleboard tournament on a golden-years cruise. Among her pals, Fern is red-nose pit bull, Alfie is (mostly) a black lab and Eleanor is a mix of Bernese mountain dog and poodle.

This pack has led me to conclude that whereas we look back to remote centuries when giving children trendy names like Emma, Sebastian, Julian or Charlotte, we name our dogs after our grandparents.

[…]

This means that future generations of dogs should be prepared to be called the mom-and-dad names of today. Names like Kimberly, Jason and Heather.

From “If it’s forbidden to call a baby Cyanide, should Chardonnay be allowed?” by Charles Moore in The Spectator:

The country nowadays is full of children burdened with grotesque names. Are we to ban them? If you forbid Cyanide, should you permit Chardonnay? A further complication is that the little girl is a twin, and her mother wanted to call her twin brother Preacher. This too Lady Justice King forbade because, although Preacher ‘might not be an objectionable name’, ‘there was considerable benefit for the boy twin to be in the same position as his sister’ and for both to be named, as was proposed, by their half-siblings. We are not told what names the half-siblings want. I do hope it is something kind and simple, like Jack and Jill.

From “France names row: Politician hits back over criticism of daughter’s name” at the BBC:

Rachida Dati reacted angrily after journalist Eric Zemmour criticised her choice of name for seven-year-old daughter Zohra.

He said it was unpatriotic because it did not come from an official list of French Christian names.

[…]

He added: “I consider that by giving Muslim first names, you are refusing to accept the history of France.”

[…]

“Do you find it scandalous to give your mother’s name to your children?” [Rachita Dati] asked, in a vigorous defence of her choice of name.

“I loved my mother. I have a little girl, and I called her after my mother. Like millions of French people do every day.”

From the 2013 book The Lahu Minority in Southwest China: A Response to Ethnic Marginalization on the Frontier by Jianxiong Ma:

When a baby is born, his or her name is decided by the birthday tiled by the twelve zodiac days together with gender, so he or she will normally be named Za Birthday for male or Na Birthday for female. For example, if two babies were born on the rat day (fa ni) and the ox day (nu ni) respectively, if they are boys, their names should be Zafa and Zanu, but if they are girls, their names should be Nafa and Nanu, and so on. […] In general, there are about 45 names that can be used in the village for individual persons, even though the very basic names total 24, twelve days for both male and female members.

(The extra baby names used by the Lahu are essentially replacement names used in case of childhood sickness. These replacement names also follow specific formulas.)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.


The Top Baby Names in Maryland in 2011?

Maryland’s Open Data website includes a single table of Maryland baby name rankings (2011) broken down by race/ethnic group. This is cool because New York City does the exact same breakdown, and we happen to have the equivalent NYC baby name rankings (2011). So we ought to be able to compare and contrast the two sets of rankings, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought…until I started looking more closely at Maryland’s data.

According to the SSA, these were the top 10 boy names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Mason
  2. Jacob
  3. Michael
  4. Ethan
  5. Ryan
  6. William
  7. Alexander
  8. Noah
  9. Daniel
  10. Aiden (tied for 10th)
  11. Jayden (tied for 10th)

But according to the state of Maryland, the top 10 boy names were quite different:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Aiden Aiden Jaiden Christopher Lucas
2 Christopher Lucas Aiden Anthony Mason
3 Jayden Alexander Christopher John Jackson
4 Mason Muhammed Cameron Alexander Jacob
5 Lucas Ethan Elijah Daniel John
6 Jacob Nathan Jeremy Matthew Aiden
7 Alexander John Michael Brian Alexander
8 Nathan Andrew Isaiah Justin Liam
9 Michael Justin Mason Jaiden William
10 Ethan Jacob Caleb Kevin Ryan

It isn’t totally implausible that Aiden and Jayden might have ranked 1st and 3rd in 2011, but Christopher in 2nd? Maybe if this were a dataset from thirty years ago, but not five years ago. The SSA indicates that Christopher ranked closer to 18th in the state that year.

And what’s with the two different spellings of Jayden/Jaiden?

Plus there are some sizable raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Aiden: 588 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Christopher: 584 babies (MD data) vs. 256 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Jayden: 498 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Mason: 463 babies (MD data) vs. 432 babies (SSA data for MD)

And now the girl names. According to the SSA, these were the top 10 girl names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Sophia
  2. Olivia
  3. Isabella
  4. Madison
  5. Ava
  6. Emma
  7. Abigail
  8. Chloe
  9. Emily
  10. Elizabeth

According to the state of Maryland, though, the top 10 girl names in the state were these:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Sophia Sophia Chloe Sophia Sophia
2 Isabel Chloe London Emily Isabel
3 Chloe Isabel Layla Allison Abigail
4 Ava Caitlin/Kate Madison Isabel Olivia
5 Madison Hannah Kennedy Ashley Ava
6 Olivia Olivia Aaliyah Angelina Riley
7 Emily Sara(h) McKenzie Natalie Madison
8 McKenzie Abigail Zoe(y) Genesis Emily
9 Abigail Emily Payton Gabrielle McKenzie
10 Riley Lillian/Lily Taylor Kimberly Chloe

Not only does Isabel magically replace Isabella in the Maryland data, but McKenzie and Riley rank 8th and 10th — even though the SSA says they should be closer to 77th (!) and 28th.

Not to mention the raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Sophia: 503 babies (MD data) vs. 367 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • McKenzie: 325 babies (MD data) vs. 71 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Riley: 298 babies (MD data) vs. 118 babies (SSA data for MD)

Intriguing parallels between the MD data and the NYC data do exist. In both locations, Elijah and Isaiah were in the top 10 for African-American boys only, and London, Aaliyah, and Taylor were in the top 10 for African-American girls only.

But if we can’t trust the data, we can’t draw any meaningful conclusions.

Labels like “Caitlin/Kate,” “Sara(h),” “Zoe(y)” and “Lillian/Lily” suggest that variant names were combined here and there. I suspect this is also what happened with Isabel/Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, Aiden, Jayden, MacKenzie, Riley, and maybe even Christopher (perhaps Maryland merged all the “Chris-” names). What are your thoughts on this?

Name Quotes for the Weekend #40

Sting quote: Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a list of quotes by the musician Sting (a.k.a. Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner):

Your parents name you, but they haven’t a clue who you are. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

From a post about black names vs. white names at the blog Baby Making Machine:

My name is Jennifer. My siblings: Heather, Michael, Lauren, Kimberly. None of them are stereotypical names you’d hear on the Top 60 Ghetto Black Names list. They are, however, found in the most popular names of the year list. I didn’t want my daughter’s name on either. My mother’s reasoning for her decision was different than mine. She would say “do you want to get a job?” Which sounds harsh but some research shows “black-sounding” names on resumes don’t do as well next to the same resume holding a “white-sounding” names.

From a post called “Save Our Susans and Protect The Peter: The Ridiculous World of “Endangered” Names” at the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda:

If a name isn’t used much any more, no great calamity will result. Brangien and Althalos have been rarely used since the Middle Ages, but nobody has suffered as a result of Brangien deficiency, and no awful disaster has ensued from the loss of Althalos.

Furthermore, if we decided we’d like to see more of a particular name which has gone out of use, it costs no money or effort to bring it back. You simply slap the name onto your child’s birth certificate, and hey presto – you’ve got yourself a rare and beautiful specimen of an Althalos.

As long as we still know of a name’s existence from books and records, it is a potential baby name, no matter how many centuries or even millennia since it was last used.

From an article about Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) in NYC newspaper The Villager:

There is hardly an account of Greenwich Village in the ’20s in which she does not prominently figure. Yet her roots in the neighborhood preceded even her fame. The poet’s unusual middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital on 12th St. Millay’s uncle was nursed back to health there after a sailing accident, and her mother wished to show her gratitude by naming her first-born child after the place.

From an article called “Baby Names Can’t Be Stolen–but It’s Not Surprising That Some Parents Think They Can” in Slate:

This belief [in baby-name stealing] is ridiculous–after all, liking a name doesn’t give you ownership over it, and sharing a name with a friend or relative is, at worst, a mild nuisance. But the idea that names shouldn’t be stolen is not surprising. Over the past hundred years, naming has increasingly become an act of self-expression for parents, a way to assert their individuality rather than a sense of belonging in their community. With our names and selves so thoroughly intertwined, it stands to reason that parents would become increasingly protective of their children’s names.

[…]

As with so much of contemporary parenting, the drama surrounding name-stealing is ultimately more about the threat it poses to parent’s identities than their children’s. In practical terms, no child will be harmed by having the same name as a classmate or cousin. … Far more punishing than having the same name as another child is growing up in an environment where names are considered personal property and friendships end when someone “steals” one.

Jimmy Wales, in response to the Quora question: Is the name “Jimmy” unsuitable for an adult?

Interestingly, my actual name is Jimmy. Not James. I used to wonder the same thing, but decided – hey, I’m from Alabama, so people can get over themselves.

It has not seemed to hurt my career in any way, and may have helped as it (correctly, as it turns out) signals to people that I’m not stuffy.

From an article called “How baby names got so weird” in The Spectator:

Naming your child was once simple: you picked from the same handful of options everyone else used. But modern parents want exclusivity. And so boys are called Rollo, Emilio, Rafferty and Grey. Their sisters answer to Aurelia, Bartolomea, Ptarmigan or Plum. Throw in a few middle names and the average birth certificate looks like an earthquake under a Scrabble board.

[…]

They’ve forgotten about ‘eccentric sheep’ syndrome.

This is the process, identified by social anthropologist Kate Fox in her book Watching the English, whereby something meant as ‘evidence of our eccentricity and originality’ ends up as ‘conformist, conservative rule-following’. Fox applied it to clothes, but the same thing is happening with names. In an attempt to make their children stand out, parents are only helping them to blend in. When everyone’s a Marni or an Autumn or a Sky, the rebellion has nothing to register against.

(Incidentally, here’s a Ptarmigan.)

From an article about Medieval Pet Names at Medievalists.net:

In England we find dogs that were named Sturdy, Whitefoot, Hardy, Jakke, Bo and Terri. Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of King Henry VIII, had a dog named Purkoy, who got its name from the French ‘pourquoi’ because it was very inquisitive.

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

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?

Popular Baby Names in Quebec, 2014

According to data from the Régie des rentes du Québec (RRQ), the most popular baby names in Quebec in 2014 were Lea and William.

Here are the province’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2014:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Lea, 575 baby girls
2. Emma, 569
3. Olivia, 508
4. Florence, 482
5. Chloe, 472
6. Alice, 459
7. Zoe, 422
8. Rosalie, 410
9. Charlie, 386
10. Charlotte, 369
1. William, 773 baby boys
2. Thomas, 733
3. Felix, 711
4. Liam, 695
5. Nathan, 672
6. Jacob, 611
7. Alexis, 594
8. Logan, 593
9. Olivier, 582
10. Samuel, 579

Charlotte replaces Juliette in the girls’ top 10, and Logan replaces Gabriel in the boys’ top 10.

The biggest moves within the top 10 were the fall of Samuel (down 7 spots) the rises of both Chloe and Thomas (up 5 spots each).

Quebec is one of the wonderful places that releases all of its baby name data (yay!) so now let’s check out some of the names at the other end of the spectrum.

The following names were bestowed only once in Quebec last year:

Rare Girl Names Rare Boy Names
Aberdeen, Acacia, Alghalia, Allegresse, Alimata, Alypier, Amorelle Simo, Anabia, Aonnhi Io, Armiella Sylene, Astoria, Ausalie, Auxanne, Ayqut, Balsam, Berangere, Brunaica, Bremellia, Cassou, Coumba, Coramely, Cydra, Dahlianne, Delnaz, Edmaelle, Ejona, Eliabelle, Elielle, Eliora, Elisapie, Elowen, Eluvia, Ember, Eolie, Eunicia, Fedaelle, Felune, Greyelle, Hyzalie, Inuluk, Isatis*, Izalee, Janabelle, Jedia, Juniper, Kalixie, Kazelly, Koubrah, Lessika Sibi, Leocadie, Lilafee, Lilwenn Sage, Losokola Victoria, Lysea, Lysmee, Macdara, Massylia, Mavie, Mayura, Mazaly, Mervedie Hope, Miaphee, Mijanie, Moon, Myrannie, Nauralie, Neelamy, Nektaria, Nephthalie, Nima, Nourcine, Nuunia, Oonq, Orkida, Orzala, Ozia, Phiji, Poeme, Prunille, Quinn Logan, Quppiak, Ralph-Emma, Rivlynca, Rizelane, Rosemma, Runa, Saby-Lina, Sauriane, Sensylia, Sheltoina Nissie, Sherodie Norah, Siella, Sillija, Siska, Sonoma, Spring Kimberly, Stratus, Sylenad, Syrianne, Tassadit, Taurie, Taurielle, Tillia, Toltzy, Tshiala, Twiggy, Upoma, Velesie, Venba, Yaralee Phedianie, Yebga Johanne, Yolbie, Zazyl Alarik, Asher Zelig, Ateronhiahere, Audric, Avigdor, Benjamin Rebel, Carther, Carlvin, Charvey, Clyvens, Curry-Tianlang, Dannic, Darwin, Detroit, Dillis Della Mcnjiss, Dimaben, Donadel Theo, Dzoti-Dylan, Ednershley Josue, Eluann, Enxu, Eudovic Nicanor, Exode Baelo, Faucher-Levasseur, Fenryr, Fulgence, Fundy, Glennfrey, Glory-Honneuramons, Godlycharacter, Gonzalo Kai Fei, Harley Davidson, Heliodore, Hugolin, Imix, Jayssijay, Joelvino, Jusipi, Kaherahere, Kallytrie, Karmany Alain, Kerfala, Klooff, La Fleche, Leith, Leolo, Lowry Nessi, Madden-Steeve, Malorik, Markernald, Maverix, Maxange, Med Reda, Maydenlee, Micipsa, Monzonto Bertinel, Mor Talla, Mordechai Max, Namory, Neven, Nick-Jovi, Nils, Noeliam*, Nowlan, Ossimbo, Providence Nathanael, Renzo, Rozzel Emmanuel, Savio, Sederi, Sphinx Jones, Syphax, Taliby, Tauren, Techeley, Thymote, Trencely, Turic, Tylian, Valliant-Bob, Vanguard, Vyber Biao, William-Wallace, Willie Ittuk, Y Rambo, Xquenda, Yansyl, Yartine, Yizo, York, Yulrick, Zacchaeus Righteous, Zeegar, Zineddine Zidane, Zino

*Isatis is a genus of Old World plants/herbs that includes woad (Isatis tinctoria).

**Noeliam might be a mashup of Noel + Liam. Maybe his parents are big Oasis fans?

Here are Quebec’s top baby names of 2013, 2012, 2009 and 2006, if you’d like to compare.

Source: RRQ – List of Baby Names in Québec

The Sad Story of Roni Sue

Yesterday’s post was a happy story about a toddler named Roni Marie, but today’s is a sad one about a premie named Roni Sue.

On the morning of November 26, 1966, a set of quintuplets was born to Patti and Michael Aranson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The quints, all girls, were born 2.5 months premature. None of them weighed more than 2 pounds.

Even the very first articles about the quints noted that “there was only a 10 per cent chance all five would survive.” They “were born with lungs not sufficiently developed to perform the vital function of breathing.”

Their names, in order, were Roni Sue, Amy Beth, Susan, Kimberly Ann and Marci Jill.

About 24 hours after birth, middle quint Susan was the first to give up. Amy Beth followed 12 hours later, and Kimberly Ann a few hours after that. Marci Jill, the weakest of the five, was able to hang on overnight but died the next day on November 28.

All eyes were now on Roni Sue, the last quint still alive. She was the oldest, the heaviest, and the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, Dr. Lee Bass, said she “look[ed] reasonably good and there [was] some chance she might live.”

On November 29, one hopeful article reported that Roni Sue had passed the critical 72-hour mark:

Kicking and active, tiny Roni Sue Aranson passed the first crisis in her struggle for survival today, bolstering the hopes to her parents and doctors that at least one of Pittsburgh’s quintuplets would live.

But breathing soon became an issue for her, as it had been for her sisters.

At first Dr. Bass was positive, saying that there was “a possibility she may withstand all of this.”

But her situation steadily worsened, and on December 2 he stated that her “outlook for life [was] almost hopeless.”

On December 3, after being front-page news across the nation for several days straight, Roni Sue passed away. TIME magazine made note of her death about a week later, calling her “the strongest of [the] quintuplets.”

Though Roni Sue didn’t live long, she did end up having an influence on U.S. baby names. Most notably, the baby name Ronisue became a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1967:

  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: 13 baby girls named Ronisue [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

And the baby name Roni was boosted into the top 1,000 for three years straight, peaking in 1967:

  • 1969: 93 baby girls named Roni
  • 1968: 124 baby girls named Roni (ranked 932nd)
  • 1967: 210 baby girls named Roni (ranked 665th)
  • 1966: 109 baby girls named Roni (ranked 984th)
  • 1965: 68 baby girls named Roni

Records show that a number of these babies named Roni were indeed given “Sue” as a middle name.

(It looks like Roni Sue’s sister Marci Jill may have also had an influence on the charts, as the name Marci spiked in 1967, though it’s a bit hard to see as the name was already on the rise.)

Sources (chronologically):

  • “Quintuplets Born to 22-Year-Old Woman.” Ellensburg Daily Record 26 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Three of Aranson Quints Die.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “One Aranson Quintuplet Continues Battle for Life.” Southeast Missourian 28 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Surviving Quint Passes First Crisis.” Park City Daily News 29 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Quint’s Chances in Sharp Plunge.” Fort Scott Tribune 30 Nov. 1966: 1.
  • “Furnish Blood to Last Quint.” Daily Illini 1 Dec. 1966: 4.
  • “Last Quint Near Death.” Miami News 2 Dec. 1966: 8-A.
  • “Quint Dies After Fight to Survive.” Milwaukee Journal 3 Dec. 1966: 2.

What Popularized the Baby Name Deneen?

mystery name deneen

Deneen is the million-dollar baby name mystery. It saw a massive spike in usage in 1964, and I had no idea why for years. Only recently have I stumbled upon a plausible explanation.

But first let’s check out the numbers. Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Deneen (or a variant) from 1963 to 1966, sorted by 1964 levels of usage:

Name 1963 1964 1965 1966
Deneen 22 1,604 421 223
Denine 17 133 101 71
Daneen 29 132 85 70
Dineen 10 68 43 35
Denene 7 66 38 31
Denean 7 58 61 40
Danine 7 29 23 31
Danene 12 24 18 11
Deneane 24* 11 9
Deneene 24* 13 14
Danean 14* 14 6
Deeneen 12**
Doneen 7 11 9
Dennine 10* 7 7
Deneena 7**
Deniene 7*
Dennen 7**
Donene 7
Deaneen 5**
Deneem 5**
Dinene 7**
TOTALS 118 2,247 842 557

*Debut, **One-hit wonder

According to the state-by-state data, Deneen usage tended to be highest in the most populous states. This isn’t much of a clue, but it does tell us that the influence was national (e.g., movie, music) and not regional (e.g., college sports, local politician).

For a long time my only guess on Deneen was the same guess Hilary Parker made in her poisoned baby names post: musical duo August & Deneen. But their hit single “We Go Together” came out in 1968 — long after the 1964 baby name spike. So August & Deneen clearly isn’t the answer.

About a month ago I tried another Deneen search. This time around I found a recent thread on Deneen at the Baby Name Wizard forum. According to intel gathered by forum members, Deneen could have been popularized by a ’60s commercial for Ivory dishwashing liquid.

At first I wasn’t so sure. The only vintage Ivory commercials I could find online were for Ivory Snow laundry detergent and, while many of these did feature names (e.g., Allison, Betsy, Bonnie, Debbie, Esther, Joy, Kerry, Kimberly, Michelle, Terry) the names were never on-screen. You don’t get a spelling-specific name spike if the influence is audio-only.

Then I noticed, lower down in the thread, that someone included a link to a single Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial from 1962. The spot featured a mother-daughter pair, “Mrs. Bernard Pugar and Dana,” and their names were indeed shown on-screen for several seconds. Now this looked promising.

I’ve since tracked down a similar Ivory commercial featuring “Mrs. Blake Clark” and her daughter Nicky, though Nicky’s name was never shown on-screen. No luck finding a Deneen version yet.

So I’ll just sit tight and hope that, one day, someone uploads the commercial in question and puts this whole Deneen baby name mystery to rest. :)

In the meanwhile, some questions:

  • If you were watching TV in the ’60s, do you happen recall an Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial featuring the name Deneen? (Long shot, I know.)
  • What do you think of the name Deneen? Which spelling do you like best?

P.S. Djuna popped up on the baby name charts in 1964 as well. I’m declaring 1964 the year of the mysteriously trendy D-names.