Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.
Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.
A couple of months ago, we looked at a long, year-by-year list of the top baby name rises. A month after that, we saw the corresponding list of top drops.
On that second post, Frank B. left a comment in which he asked about absolute rises and drops — because the lists only covered relative movement within the data. So I thought two more posts were in order: top raw-number rises, and top raw-number drops.
We’ll start with the rises again. Just keep in mind that the SSA numbers don’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t quite reflect reality.
Here’s the format: Girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the numbers represent single-year rises in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, the usage of the girl name Ethel increased by 155 babies and the usage of the boy name Chester increased by 106 babies.
Singer Ciara [pron. see-AIR-ah] explaining how she got her name (People):
My mom was trying to figure out my name when my dad bought her a fragrance called Ciara by Revlon. That’s where my name came from!
(The perfume name, according to the television commercials, was pronounced see‑AHR‑ah.)
Elon Musk explaining how Tesla Motors got its name (Elon Musk):
[W]e didn’t actually come up with the Tesla Motors name. Bought trademark off Brad Siewert for $75k in late 2004. He’d originally filed for it in 1994. Our alternative name was Faraday, which was used by a competitor several years later.
About a woman who married a carnival ride named Bruce (Daily Mail):
Most women look for a handsome, successful, dependable man to be their husband.
But Linda Ducharme, of Tampa, Florida, has decided to forgo relationships with men for those with metal.
The 56-year-old is ‘happily married’ to a skydiver carnival [ride] called Bruce – as she is sexually attracted to objects.
‘His name is Bruce and we’ve know each other since 1981,’ she said.
(You know you’re obsessed with names when your first question upon reading about this woman is: “I wonder why she chose the name Bruce?”)
About crafting names for San Francisco’s high-end condo towers (Modern Luxury):
Perusing high-end real estate literature these days is like reading the cubby signage at a Pacific Heights preschool. At the foot of the Bay Bridge, there’s the Jasper, a 400-foot-tall skyscraper by real estate developer Crescent Heights. Off Van Ness, you’ll run into the Austin, a shiny condo building from Pacific Eagle. And on Harrison Street awaits, well, the Harrison, with its private penthouse lounge, Uncle Harry’s. The trend of monikering luxury dwellings as though they were Ralph Lauren linen collections has hit San Francisco big-time, with the Ashton, the Avalon, and their ilk taking the place of yesteryear’s Paramount and Bel Air.
Yep, he is named after Mike Tyson, and yep, Tyson Fury is a perfect name for a boxer. Fury was born prematurely and only weighed one pound. “The doctors told me there was not much chance of him living,” said his father, John Fury. “I had lost two daughters in the same way who had been born prematurely. They told me there was not much hope for him. It was 1988, Mike Tyson was in his pomp as world heavyweight champion, and so I said, ‘Let’s call him Tyson’. The doctors just looked at me and smiled.”
About the recent celebrity baby name Indigo Blue (UPI):
French star SoKo is a new mom.
The 33-year-old singer and actress, born Stéphanie Sokolinski, took to Instagram Monday after giving birth to a daughter, Indigo Blue Honey.
SoKo shared a photo of herself kissing her baby girl’s foot. She said she named her daughter after The Clean song “Indigo Blue.”
About Marguerite Annie Johnson becoming Maya Angelou, from the book Maya Angelou: “Diversity Makes for a Rich Tapestry” by Donna Brown Agins:
Barry [Drew] signed Marguerite to a three-month contract performing as a Cuban calypso singer at the Purple Onion. He suggested that she change her name to something more exotic. She decided to use to childhood name, Maya. For added dramatic effect, she changed her married name, Angelos, to Angelou.
(Before she was a writer, she was a singer/dancer! This was news to me. The childhood nickname Maya came from her brother, who called her “Mya Sister.”)
About Malaysian sisters named Malaysia, Mayday and Mardeka (Malay Mail):
Mayday’s name pick also went through a similar spur-of-the moment decision, when Victoria was in labour.
“It was less than 24 hours to go before I had to go into labour and I looked at Kamalul and said we are going to have a baby girl soon and we have yet to decide on her name.
“At that point he was reading a historical book about Cold War and was at the part of the story where a plane was going down and an American pilot scream Mayday. He suddenly asked me why not we name her Mayday?” Victoria said with a big smile recalling the moment.
The couple immediately agreed on it since they wanted all their daughters name to start with the pronunciation of “Ma”.
About Cornell University’s two corpse flowers, named Wee Stinky and Carolus (14850.com):
Wee Stinky is named for the spot on the Cornell campus known as the Wee Stinky Glen, near the Cornell Store, that used to have a distinct odor. Carolus was named after Carolus Linnæus, the 18th Century Swedish botanist who laid the foundations of the modern biological naming system known as binomial nomenclature, says Ed Cobb, research support specialist in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It’s also in honor of Carol Bader, the greenhouse grower who nurtured these plants for nearly ten years, but passed away before they bloomed.”
Mifanwy was a character name in multiple films, including Mifanwy: A Tragedy (1913) and A Welsh Singer (1916).
Mignon Anderson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Mignon was also a character name in multiple films, including The Drive for a Life (short, 1909) and Mignon (short, 1912).
Milada Mladova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born Oklahoma in 1921. Her birth name was Annabel Milada Mraz. Milada was also a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film Hostages (1943).
Minna Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1877. Minna Gombell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Minna was also a character name in multiple films, including Perils of the Secret Service (1917) and The Oath (1921).
Moyna MacGill was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Ireland in 1895. Her birth name was Charlotte Lillian McIldowie. Moyna was also a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film Come on Over (1922).
Moyra was a character played by actress Alice Hollister in the short film The Shaughraun (1912).
Myrna Myrna Loy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in Montana in 1905. Myrna Dell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1924. Her birth name was Marilyn Adele Dunlap. Myrna was also a character name in multiple films, including The Face or the Voice (short, 1912) and Broadway to Cheyenne (1932).
Myrta Bonillas was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1890. Myrta was also a character played by actress Ollie Kirby in the short film The Trap (1917).
Myrtle Gonzalez was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1891. Myrtle Stedman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Illinois in 1885. Myrtle was also a character name in multiple films, including Salvation Nell (1931) and Rackateers in Exile (1937).
In last week’s “lowest ever” boy names post, I mentioned that reader Caitlin had shared her research on downward-trending baby names with me recently. While many girl names hit relative lows in 2017, for instance…
Sarah, now ranked 62nd — lowest ranking since 1970.
Rachel, now ranked 195th — lowest ranking since 1960.
Melissa, now ranked 273rd — lowest ranking since 1949.
…a couple of the names on her list, Rebecca and Catherine, hit their “lowest ever” rankings last year. (Plus there was Katherine, a borderline case of a lowest-ever tie.)
So I set out to find other “lowest ever” girl names.
Many of the names I checked (like Clare, Lea, and Bridget) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Pauline, Sara, and Mary) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017. Still others (like Yvonne) had to be disqualified because, even though they hit their lowest ranking on record in 2017, they didn’t appear in the data for all 138 years (1880-2017)…an issue I didn’t encounter with any of the boy names.
In the end, I was able to add a dozen thirteen names to the list:
Ann. Ranked 1,023rd in 2017; peak was 28th in the 1930s.
Barbara. Ranked 908th in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1930s/1940s.
Carol. Ranked 1,814th in 2017; peak was 4th in the 1940s.
Catherine. Ranked 198th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1910s.
Celia. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 141st in the 1880s.
Cynthia. Ranked 637th in 2017; peak was 7th in the 1950s.
Elisabeth. Ranked 775th in 2017; peak was 286th in the 2000s.
Katherine. Ranked 105th in 2017 + 1938; peak 25th in the 1990s.
Kathleen. Ranked 871st in 2017; peak was 9th in the 1940s. (Late addition–thanks Kelly!)
Linda. Ranked 708th in 2017; peak was 1st in 1940s/1950s.
Priscilla. Ranked 527th in 2017; peak was 127th in the 1940s.
Rebecca. Ranked 216th in 2017; peak was 10th in the 1970s.
Rosa. Ranked 672nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1880s.
Susan. Ranked 963rd in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1950s/1960s.
Teresa. Ranked 720th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1960s.
Tressa. Ranked 9242nd in 2017; peak was 761st in the 1960s.
That makes 15 (or 16, if you count Katherine). I certainly could have missed a few, though, so if you can think of a good candidate, please let me know in the comments and I’ll take a look.