How popular is the baby name Leslie 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 Leslie.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Leslie


Posts that Mention the Name Leslie

How did “The Big Valley” influence baby names?

Title of the TV series "The Big Valley" (1965-1969)

TV western The Big Valley (1965-1969) was set in California’s San Joaquin Valley in the 1870s.

It followed the wealthy, ranch-owning Barkley family, which was headed by widowed matriarch Victoria (played by Barbara Stanwyck).

Victoria had five adult children — Jarrod, Nick, Audra, Heath, and Eugene* — and three of the five ended up having a big influence on U.S. baby names…

big valley, baby name, jarrod, 1960s

Jarrod Barkley, Victoria’s eldest son, was a respected attorney. The name Jarrod debuted in the baby name data in 1965, and by 1966 usage had increased by more than a factor of 10:

  • 1969: 318 baby boys named Jarrod (rank: 443rd)
  • 1968: 353 baby boys named Jarrod (rank: 410th)
  • 1967: 263 baby boys named Jarrod (rank: 469th)
  • 1966: 219 baby boys named Jarrod (rank: 511th)
  • 1965: 21 baby boys named Jarrod [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted

Other forms of the name also got a boost, from the traditional spelling (Jared) to several other brand-new spellings (including Jerrid, Jarrad, and Jarred — the highest-debuting male name of 1966).

big valley, baby name, heath, 1960s

Heath Barkley was the illegitimate son of Victoria’s late husband. (Victoria eventually accepted him as her own.) The name Heath entered the top 1,000 in 1966:

  • 1969: 524 baby boys named Heath (rank: 344th)
  • 1968: 548 baby boys named Heath (rank: 326th)
  • 1967: 516 baby boys named Heath (rank: 329th)
  • 1966: 433 baby boys named Heath (rank: 361st)
  • 1965: 37 baby boys named Heath
  • 1964: 10 baby boys named Heath

One variant, Heith, emerged in the data in 1966. (Not surprising, given the popularity of Keith at the time.)

big valley, baby name, audra, 1960s

Audra Barkley was Victoria’s only daughter. The name Audra entered the top 1,000 in 1966 and saw peak usage in 1967:

  • 1969: 844 baby girls named Audra (rank: 310th)
  • 1968: 997 baby girls named Audra (rank: 273rd)
  • 1967: 1152 baby girls named Audra (rank: 246th) [peak]
  • 1966: 892 baby girls named Audra (rank: 283rd)
  • 1965: 90 baby girls named Audra
  • 1964: 15 baby girls named Audra

Finally, while neither Nick nor Eugene (who was on the series during the first season only) had much influence upon their respective names, at least one single-episode character made an impact.

Layle Johnson (played by Leslie Parrish) — a love-interest for Nick — appeared on the episode “Bounty on a Barkley,” which aired in February of 1968. The name Layle, which had appeared in the data once before as a boy name, returned that year as a girl name:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 6 baby girls named Layle [debut for girls]
  • 1967: unlisted

Which of these Big Valley names do you like best?

Sources: The Big Valley – Wikipedia, “Bounty on a Barkley” – The Big Valley – IMDb

Where did the baby name Alisande come from?

Alisande Ullman and Leslie Nielsen on the TV game show "It's Your Bet" in the early 1970s.
The Nielsens on “It’s Your Bet” in the early ’70s.

The rare name Alisande appeared in the U.S. baby name data for a succession of four years in the early ’70s before disappearing again:

  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby girls named Alisande
  • 1972: 12 baby girls named Alisande
  • 1971: 6 baby girls named Alisande
  • 1970: 13 baby girls named Alisande [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: unlisted

What was the source?

Alisande Ullman, the wife of actor Leslie Nielsen from 1958 to 1974. She and Leslie appeared together on several TV game shows during that period. They were on five sequential episodes of It Takes Two in June of 1969, and at least five episodes (non-sequential) of It’s Your Bet from 1970 to 1972.

What are your thoughts on the name Alisande? Would you use it?

How did the movie “Giant” influence baby names in the 1950s?

The characters Bick and Leslie Benedict from the movie "Giant" (1956).
Bick and Leslie from “Giant

One of last week’s post featured Glenna Lee McCarthy, whose father was famous Texas oil prospector and entrepreneur Glenn McCarthy (1907-1988).

Writer Edna Ferber fictionalized Glenn’s rags-to-riches life story in her novel Giant (1952) with the character Jett Rink.

The book was later made into a movie, which came out in October of 1956.

Jett was played by James Dean, who died in a car accident a month before the film premiered.

The other two main characters were Jordan “Bick” Benedict (played by Rock Hudson) and his wife Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Secondary characters included the Benedicts’ son Jordan, or “Jordy” (Dennis Hopper) and a neighbor named Vashti (Jane Withers).

The movie did well at the box office and was nominated for various Academy Awards, including a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Dean. It also gave a boost to several baby names.

In 1957, the year after the movie was released, the name Jett saw its then-highest ever usage (a level that wasn’t surpassed until the 1980s).

  • 1958: 17 baby boys named Jett
  • 1957: 24 baby boys named Jett
  • 1956: 14 baby boys named Jett
  • 1955: 5 baby boys named Jett
  • 1954: unlisted

The boy name Jordan more than doubled in usage in 1957, and the diminutive form Jordy debuted the same year:

JordanJordy
1958186 [rank: 567th].
1957207 [rank: 539th]5*
1956101 [rank: 733rd].
1955106 [rank: 712th].
1954109 [rank: 692nd].
*Debut

Leslie — which had started being given more often to girls than to boys about a decade earlier — saw its highest-ever usage as a girl name in 1957:

  • 1958: 6,010 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 79th]
  • 1957: 6,101 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 77th] (peak usage)
  • 1956: 4,386 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 104th]
  • 1955: 4,403 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 99th]
  • 1954: 4,148 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 99th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Leslie in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Leslie

And Vashti, like Jordan, more than doubled in usage:

  • 1958: 10 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1957: 16 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1956: 7 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1955: 8 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1954: 8 baby girls named Vashti

Interestingly, Luz — another name that was used for two different characters in the movie — saw a slight decline from 1956 to 1957.

Source: Giant (1956) – Wikipedia

Contrarian baby names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

corn

“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 #63: Aisling, Bertha, Corra

quotation marks

From a 2009 interview with 80s/90s pop star Taylor Dayne (born Leslie Wunderman):

Taylor Dayne had a major influence on pop culture when she hit the big time in 1987 with a string of hits that included Tell It To My Heart, Prove Your Love, I’ll Always Love You, Don’t Rush Me, With Every Beat of My Heart, Love Will Lead You Back and I’ll Be Your Shelter.

By 1993, the name Taylor hit its peak in popularity of baby names.

“You wonder where they generated from, right?” she yuks. “It was a very uncommon name in 1987, that’s for sure, but it’s a compliment.”

Perhaps she even inspired the name of country’s latest sensation, Taylor Swift, who was born in 1989. She laughs off the suggestion. “I would say that her mother was a fan.”

(The name Taylor had been rising steadily on the girls’ list throughout the ’80s, but Taylor Dayne helped kick the name into the top 10 in 1993. It stayed there for nearly a decade. According to records, some Taylors from this era did indeed get the middle name Dayne.)

From a 1911 newspaper item about about Georgia writer Corra May Harris:

Mrs. Harris finds much trouble in impressing the fact that her name is “Corra” and not “Cora”–the word being a family name.

From an interview with a man named Jörg who was raised in England, but later moved to Germany:

For my entire life up until the point I arrived in Germany at the age of 28 I pronounced my name wrong, saying Jurg instead of Jörg. Now that I’m in the land of Jörgs I pay more attention to getting the umlaut right, but I still say it slightly differently depending on whether I’m speaking English or German.

From an NPR article about product naming at Lexicon Branding:

CONAN: Give us an example of a one word poem aside from Pentium.

COLAPINTO: Yeah. I mean, one of their really great and successful ones is Swiffer, the – that cleaning product. And what was interesting about that is that the word – I think the first time I ever saw Swiffer on the shelf, it seemed sort of familiar to me, and I think it had something to do with that word, which – actually, when you look at it, you realize, no, it’s not saying swift. It seems to be, but it’s not quite saying that. What it is doing is it’s using certain parts of words that we think of when we mop up or clean. We sweep. We swipe.

From an article about the novel Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen:

We decided to give her a name: Aisling. Aisling’s the country girl who works up in Dublin but has precisely zero time for your city notions, thank you very much. She loves working in the Big Smoke – very sophisticated altogether – but she loves going Down Home every weekend even more. We saw Aisling everywhere: walking to work with her packed lunch in an old Brown Thomas bag, minding the handbags in Coppers on a Saturday night, being the one who knows how to work the office fax machine.

And so we started sharing our Aislingisms: “Aisling loves a good wake”; “Aisling has never hidden from the television licence inspector”; “Aisling knows the Weight Watchers points in everything”. Word started to spread because it turns out everyone knows an Aisling, or is an Aisling. Emer set up a Facebook group called Oh My God What A Complete Aisling, which has grown from just our circle of friends to having more than 37,000 members, all there for the love of Aisling and her quirks.

From the book Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt (2002) by Lynn Meskell:

The [Egyptian] newborn was named at birth…since without a name the individual could not exist.

From an interview with Canadian hockey player/coach Jarrod Skalde:

Q: Speaking of your kids, you named your boy “Skate,” is that right?

A: Haha, yeah, I gotta give my wife credit, when she was pregnant in ’97-’98 there, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, and she wanted to name it if it was a boy “Skate,” and I was like “Come on, I can’t have a boy named Skate.” So, we had a girl, and I was like “Thank God” [Note: the Skalde’s daughter is “True”] and then you know she gets pregnant again, and sure enough it’s a boy and we decided to go with it. And sure enough, he fits it perfectly, he loves the game, he’s passionate about it, he helps out and he’s around the room all the time with the guys.

From Tropic Thunder: Making of a War Movie Satire by Emanuel Levy:

One cast member had very few complaints about shooting in Hawaii, never letting it get in the way of her own agenda on the set. The filmmakers found Bertha, the water buffalo that [Jack] Black’s character rides, in Texas and flew her to Kauai on a special plane. But about midway through filming, everyone was in for a big surprise. One day the trainer called us and said, Oh, by the way, Bertha can’t work because when we showed up at the corral this morning, she had a calf, recalls producer McLeod. We didn’t know she was pregnant. No one knew she was pregnant. Bertha having this baby was definitely kind of a humorous morale booster for everyone. In honor of Jack Black, the animal trainer named Bertha’s baby Little Jack.

Here’s Jack Black talking about getting bucked off Bertha the water buffalo during filming.