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:
- 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
|# 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?