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

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the Baby Name Knute

Posts that Mention the Name Knute

The Baby Name Roald

roald amundsen
Roald Amundsen

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first person to cross the Northwest Passage (1905), to reach the South Pole (1911), and to reach both poles (1926).

His name, Roald, can be traced back to an Old Norse name made up of the words hróðr, meaning “fame,” and valdr, meaning “ruler.” It first appeared on the U.S. baby name charts in 1912:

  • 1915: 6 baby boys named Roald
  • 1914: 7 baby boys named Roald
  • 1913: 5 baby boys named Roald
  • 1912: 10 baby boys named Roald [debut]
  • 1911: unlisted

Why 1912? Because, even though Amundsen reached the South Pole in December of 1911, the rest of the world wasn’t aware of his accomplishment until after he’d left Antarctica and arrived in Tasmania in March of 1912.

The SSDI shows a similar rise in the number of Roalds born in 1912:

  • 1915: 4 people named Roald
  • 1914: 5 people named Roald
  • 1913: 6 people named Roald
  • 1912: 9 people named Roald
  • 1911: 3 people named Roald

Many of the U.S. babies named Roald during the 1910s were born to parents who had emigrated from Norway.* Amusingly, four or five of these baby Roalds were born into families with the surname Amundson or Amundsen.

Peak usage happened in 1928, the year Roald Amundsen went missing and was presumed dead after a plane crash in the Arctic.**

Finally, though I don’t have any data to back it up, my hunch is that the name Roald also saw increased usage in other regions in the 1910s and 1920s, and perhaps later. Amundsen’s two most famous namesakes are writer Roald Dahl, born in Wales in 1916, and chemist Roald Hoffmann, born in Poland in 1937.

*Similar to the way Bertil became trendy among Swedish immigrants.
**Same thing happened to the name Knute the year Knute Rockne died, also in a plane crash.

Source: Roald Amundsen – Wikipedia

Baby Named after Notre Dame Coach

Francis William “Frank” Leahy, who played football at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, went on to coach the Notre Dame football team himself for 11 seasons (1941-43, 1946-53).

“While at Notre Dame, Leahy had six undefeated seasons, five national championship teams and an unbeaten string of 39 games in the late 1940s.”

Leahy retired for health reasons in 1954.

A week after he retired, Arnold and Mildred Penza of Kenosha, Wisconsin — parents of Don Penza, captain of Leahy’s 1953 Notre Dame team — welcomed their 10th child.

The baby boy was named Frank Leahy Penza, after Coach Leahy.

(The names of all 10 Penza kids, from oldest to youngest, were Donald, John, George, Dennis, Thomas, Joan, James, Mary Lynn, Diane, and Frank.)


The Baby Name Rockne

Rockne killed, newspaper headline

In 1931, the baby name Rockne debuted on the SSA’s baby name list. It was the top debut name for baby boys, in fact.

  • 1933: 9 baby boys named Rockne
  • 1932: 14 baby boys named Rockne
  • 1931: 17 baby boys named Rockne [debut]
  • 1930: not listed

The number of babies named Knute increased that year as well:

  • 1933: 8 baby boys named Knute
  • 1932: 10 baby boys named Knute
  • 1931: 19 baby boys named Knute
  • 1930: 8 baby boys named Knute

If you know college football, you already know where these names come from: Knute [kah-NOOT] Rockne.

Knute Rockne
Knute Rockne

Rockne was born in Norway in 1888, and his family immigrated to America in 1893. He became the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 1918. Today, he’s considered one of the greatest coaches in college football history.

On March 31, 1931, 43-year-old Rockne was killed when the wooden Fokker Trimotor* he was flying in crashed in Kansas. The crash was thought to be caused by the deterioration of the plane’s wooden wings.

Rockne was the first American celebrity to die in a commercial airplane crash, and news of his death stunned a Depression-mired nation. The ensuing mourning was truly a national event.

Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral. The service was broadcast live via network radio.

But here’s the silver lining: The crash resulted in significant improvements in aircraft design, as manufacturers were suddenly put under pressure to build safer, all-metal airplanes.

Also named for Rockne in 1931 was Rockne, Texas. Several months after the crash, the local schoolchildren were asked to vote between the potential community names Rockne (for Knute Rockne) and Kilmer (for poet Joyce Kilmer):

The boys voted for the football coach and the girls voted for the poet resulting in a tie. The next day Edith Goertz changed her vote giving the community its name, “Rockne”.

So where does the surname Rockne come from? Originally spelled “Rokne,” it’s a locational name that refers to the family’s farmland in Voss, Norway.


  • Coughlin, Dan. “Now He Tells Me.” Cleveland Leader 22 Oct. 2009.
  • Davies, Richard O. Sports in American Life: A History. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  • Marks, Paula Mitchell. “Rockne, TX.” Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  • Nelson, Marian H. Early History of Rockne, Texas.

Image: Knute Rockne, George Grantham Bain Collection, LOC

*A few years earlier, in 1929, a baby born in a Fokker Trimotor was named Airlene