How popular is the baby name Maeve 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 Maeve.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Maeve


Posts that Mention the Name Maeve

The Height of Eilish (…So Far)

katie, eilish, twins, siamese, 1990s, baby name,
Katie and Eilish Holton, born in Ireland in 1988

Once the SSA releases the 2019 baby name data, we’ll know just how high the name Eilish — an anglicized form of Eilís, the Irish Gaelic form of Elizabeth or Alice — climbed during Billie Eilish’s breakout year.

While we wait, though, we can go back in time to learn why the Irish name Eilish saw its strongest usage in the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

The year Eilish debuted in the data, 1977, it was given to a mere five babies. The year it reappeared, 1993, it was given to nearly two dozen babies. (The same year, we see the reappearance of Ailish and the debut of one-hit wonder Ilish.) And when Eilish peaked in usage three years later, the number had climbed to nearly three dozen.

  • 1997: 27 baby girls named Eilish
  • 1996: 35 baby girls named Eilish [peak]
  • 1995: 17 baby girls named Eilish
  • 1994: 14 baby girls named Eilish
  • 1993: 23 baby girls named Eilish
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

So what brought Eilish back?

Eilish Holton, a conjoined twin (along with her sister Katie) who was born in County Kildare, Ireland, in August of 1988. The pair were “joined from shoulder to hip, with four arms and two shared legs. Each had her own heart and spinal column but shared one pelvis, one large bowel, one bladder and one kidney.” Eilish was on the right-hand side, Katie on the left-hand side.

The girls came to the attention of Americans thanks to the British TV documentary Katie and Eilish (1992), which aired in the U.S. in May of 1993.

katie and eilish, documentary, television, 1993, conjoined, twins,

The Peabody Award-winning documentary followed the 3-year-old twins over the twelve months leading up to their 15-hour separation surgery, which took place in London in April of 1992. The film concluded after the operation had taken place and Katie had passed away (due to heart failure, just days after the separation) leaving Eilish as the sole surviving twin.

The documentary’s follow-up, Eilish: Life Without Katie (1995), which aired in the U.S. in July of 1996, is what pushed the name to peak usage three years later.

The second film followed 6-year-old Eilish, who was now getting around with the help of a prosthetic leg (dubbed “Katie,” poignantly). Unlike the first film, though, this one wasn’t well-received by reviewers; one described it as “maddeningly unchallenging, uninformative and undemanding.”

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

Sources: Katie and Eilish – ITV Studios, The Most Intimate Bond – Time, Such Sweetened Sorrow – The Independent, Life after Katie – Independent.ie, Eilish – Behind the Name

P.S. Eilish Holton’s four other sisters are named Claire, Therese, Mairead, and Maeve.

The First Appearance of Fiona

fiona, movie, 1940s, baby name
Fiona in the trailer for The Gay Sisters (1942)

The name Fiona — coined during the 18th century by Scottish poet James Macpherson, who based it on the Irish word fionn (“white, fair”) — is relatively common in the U.S. these days. Rank-wise, it’s been hovering around 200th place for the last few years.

But — like Siobhan, Maeve, Bronwen, and many other Celtic names — it didn’t arrive with the immigrants. Instead, it was introduced to America later on, via pop culture.

Fiona first popped up in the data in 1942, and it stuck around for several years:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 7 baby girls named Fiona
  • 1943: 19 baby girls named Fiona
  • 1942: 9 baby girls named Fiona [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

What boosted it onto the charts that initial time?

The movie The Gay Sisters, which came out in August of 1942. The main characters were the three Gaylord sisters/heiresses: Fiona, Evelyn, and Susanna. Fiona, the eldest sister, was played by popular actress Barbara Stanwyck (birth name Ruby Catherine Stevens). The film didn’t do well at the box office, but it clearly had an impact on expectant parents.

The movie was based on the book of the same name by Stephen Longstreet. Longstreet was also the writer behind Stallion Road, which was similarly made into a movie and introduced audiences to a woman named Rory (traditionally a male name) later in the ’40s.

Do you like the name Fiona? Would you use it?

Sources:

  • The Gay Sisters – TCM
  • Hanks, Patrick, Kate Hardcastle and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of First Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Baby Names Shevawn and Siobhan

siobhan mckenna, 1956, life, magazine
Siobhán McKenna on the cover of LIFE

Tara, Maeve, and many of the other Irish names used in the U.S. today weren’t popularized by Irish immigrants. Instead, they gained traction after being introduced to the public via movies, television, and other types of pop culture.

Siobhan is no different. But it’s also a special case, because Americans heard about the name before they saw it written down. The result? The Irish spelling made a splash on the U.S. baby name charts…but only after a phonetic respelling made a similar splash. In fact, the misspelled version and the correctly spelled version were consecutive top girl name debuts in the mid-1950s.

So who’s the person behind the launch of Siobhan? Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923-1986).

In 1955, McKenna was nominated for a Tony for her role as Miss Madrigal in the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (who had written National Velvet two decades earlier). The same year, the name Shevawn debuted in the U.S. data:

  • 1960: 5 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted

The spellings Shevon, Shevonne, Chavonne, and Chevonne also debuted in ’55.

The next year, Siobhán McKenna impressed audiences with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in the George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan. Her popularity in this role earned her the cover of LIFE magazine in September. Next to her image was her name, Siobhan, spelled correctly (but missing the fada). Right on cue, the name Siobhan debuted in the data:

  • 1960: 90 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1959: 85 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1958: 54 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1957: 67 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1956: 58 baby girls named Siobhan [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Once U.S. parents learned how to spell “Siobhan,” the alternative spellings became less common, though they remained in use.

Siobhan was boosted into the top 1,000 in 1979 and remained popular during the 1980s thanks to the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, which introduced a character named Siobhan in 1978.

It’s rather fitting that Siobhán McKenna was best known for playing Saint Joan, as both “Siobhán” and “Joan” were derived from the name Jeanne, which is French feminine form of John (meaning “Yahweh is gracious”).

How do you feel about the name Siobhan? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Update, 3/2018: Here’s some new info on Shevawn!

Sources: Siobhán McKenna – Wikipedia, SSA
Image: © 1956 Life

Most Popular Baby Names in Ireland, 2012

Most popular baby names in Ireland, 2012
The most popular baby names in Ireland came out a few days ago.

According to the Central Statistics Office, the country’s top names are Jack for boys and Emily for girls.

Here are the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2012:

Baby Girl Names Baby Boy Names
1. Emily
2. Sophie
3. Emma
4. Grace
5. Lily
6. Mia
7. Ella
8. Ava
9. Lucy
10. Sarah
11. Aoife
12. Amelia
13. Hannah
14. Katie
15. Chloe
16. Caoimhe
17. Saoirse
18. Kate
19. Holly
20. Ruby
21. Sophia
22. Anna
23. Lauren
24. Leah
25. Amy
26. Isabelle
27. Molly
28. Ellie
29. Jessica
30. Olivia
31. Roisin
32. Ciara
33. Kayla
34. Julia [tie]
34. Zoe [tie]
36. Laura
37. Niamh
38. Abbie
39. Erin
40. Rachel
41. Robyn
42. Aisling
43. Faye
44. Rebecca
45. Eva [tie]
45. Layla [tie]
47. Ellen
48. Cara
49. Freya
50. Abigail [tie]
50. Eve [tie]
50. Isabella [tie]
53. Megan
54. Aine [tie]
54. Clodagh [tie]
56. Aoibhinn
57. Millie
58. Nicole
59. Aoibheann
60. Maja
61. Sadhbh
62. Eabha
63. Charlotte
64. Amber [tie]
64. Caitlin [tie]
64. Sofia [tie]
67. Alannah
68. Zara
69. Alice
70. Maria
71. Elizabeth [tie]
71. Lena [tie]
71. Mary [tie]
74. Emilia
75. Aimee [tie]
75. Lilly [tie]
77. Hollie
78. Aoibhe
79. Victoria
80. Eimear [tie]
80. Maya [tie]
82. Isabel [tie]
82. Orla [tie]
84. Evie
85. Kayleigh
86. Brooke [tie]
86. Clara [tie]
88. Meabh
89. Lexi
90. Tara
91. Daisy [tie]
91. Katelyn [tie]
93. Ailbhe [tie]
93. Amelie [tie]
93. Natalia [tie]
93. Sara [tie]
97. Hanna [tie]
97. Laoise [tie]
97. Ruth [tie]
100. Madison [tie]
100. Maeve [tie]
100. Maisie [tie]
100. Rose [tie]
1. Jack
2. James
3. Daniel
4. Sean
5. Conor
6. Adam
7. Harry
8. Ryan
9. Dylan
10. Michael
11. Luke
12. Charlie
13. Liam
14. Oisin
15. Cian
16. Jamie
17. Thomas
18. Alex
19. Noah
20. Darragh
21. Patrick
22. Aaron
23. Cillian
24. Matthew
25. John
26. Nathan
27. David [tie]
27. Fionn [tie]
29. Evan
30. Ethan
31. Jake
32. Kyle
33. Rian
34. Ben [tie]
34. Max [tie]
36. Eoin
37. Tadhg
38. Finn
39. Callum
40. Samuel
41. Joshua
42. Rory
43. Jayden
44. Joseph
45. Tyler
46. Sam
47. Shane
48. Mark [tie]
48. Robert [tie]
50. Aidan
51. William
52. Ronan
53. Eoghan
54. Alexander [tie]
54. Leon [tie]
56. Cathal
57. Mason
58. Tom
59. Oliver
60. Andrew
61. Oscar
62. Ciaran
63. Bobby
64. Jacob
65. Senan
66. Rhys
67. Scott
68. Benjamin [tie]
68. Cormac [tie]
70. Kevin
71. Lucas
72. Alan
73. Donnacha [tie]
73. Jakub [tie]
75. Christopher
76. Filip [tie]
76. Killian [tie]
78. Josh
79. Alfie
80. Tommy
81. Ruairi
82. Odhran
83. Oran
84. Leo
85. Isaac
86. Dara [tie]
86. Jason [tie]
88. Zach
89. Martin [tie]
89. Peter [tie]
91. Brian
92. Danny
93. Niall [tie]
93. Tomas [tie]
95. Edward [tie]
95. Stephen [tie]
97. Logan
98. Kacper
99. Anthony
100. Billy

New to the top 100 list are Isaac, Danny and Logan for boys and Evie, Amelie, Hanna, Maisie and Rose for girls.

Some of the specifically Irish names in the top 100 are…

  • Girls: Aoife, Caoime, Saoirse, Roisin, Ciara, Niamh, Aisling, Aine, Clodagh, Aoibhinn, Aoibheann, Sadhbh, Eabha, Aoibhe, Eimear, Meabh, Ailbhe, Laoise, Maeve
  • Boys: Liam, Oisin, Cian, Darragh, Cillian, Fionn, Rian, Eoin, Tadhg, Finn, Callum, Rory, Ronan, Eoghan, Cathal, Ciaran, Senan, Cormac, Donnacha, Ruairi, Odhran, Niall

Sources: Jack and Emily most popular baby names, Irish Babies’ Names – CSO