How popular is the baby name Marilyn 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 Marilyn.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Marilyn


Posts that Mention the Name Marilyn

Name Quotes #71: Floy, Zyler, Tane Mahuta

Rami Malek, after winning the Oscar for Best Actor in early 2019 [vid]:

I grew up in a world where I never thought I was gonna play the lead on Mr. Robot because I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me. I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury until I realized his name was Farrokh Bulsara. […] That was the motivation that allowed me to say, “Oh, I can do this.”

Winnie Harlow, born Chantelle Brown-Young, upon being asked where the name “Winnie Harlow” came from:

It’s literally just from Winnie the Pooh! I was a big fan growing up, and it was actually from a joke with some friends. We were on the phone with some boys, I grabbed the phone from one of my girls, and was like, “Don’t give my friends attitude!” And the boys asked, “Who is this?” I looked over, my friend was wearing a Winnie the Pooh T-shirt, so I said my name was Winnie. When I started working, it felt kind of natural to just continue with it. Harlow comes from Jean Harlow; I’m a really big Marilyn Monroe fan, but I didn’t want to use Monroe, because that felt cheesy. But Jean Harlow was one of Marilyn’s really big career inspirations, so I took the name Harlow. I do love my actual name a lot. At the beginning, I tried to go by Chantelle Winnie, but then decided to keep Winnie Harlow and Chantelle separate. My family calls me Chantelle.

Monica Lewinsky, on “the Monica Lewinsky scandal” of early 1998:

“The scandal was named after me,” she said. “Any time that this has been referenced, every single day, every single day in the past 20 years — so it may not be a direct reference to me, but because the investigation and the scandal have my name, I’m then, therefore, attached to it.”

[…]

“Bill Clinton didn’t have to change his name,” Lewinsky said, when Oliver asked if she considered changing hers. “Nobody’s ever asked him, did he think he should change his name.”

From an article about an 11-year-old golf player who happens to have been named for the Ryder cup:

With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young [age] is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.

From an article about Southern names (via Abby):

[W]hen Southerners make up new names, it’s usually a more meaningful exercise than simply slapping a K where it does not belong, like when people name their girls after their daddies. This results in the likes of Raylene, Bobette, Earline, Georgette (one of George Jones’s daughters), Georgine, and my personal favorite, Floy (feminine for Floyd). As it happens, I almost got a masculine name (unfeminized) myself. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Julia Evans Clements Brooks, and my mother was dead set on calling me Evans until my father put his foot down on the grounds that that was the kind of stuff that Yankees did. Maybe, but we do plenty of the last name/family name business for girls down here, too. Off the top of my head I can think of three Southern women I love a lot: Keith, Cameron, Egan.

From an article comparing the relative popularity of twin professional hockey players Daniel and Henrik Sedin by looking at the B.C. baby name data:

[T]he name Henrik magically first started appearing on B.C. baby announcements in 2007, which, maybe not so coincidentally, was also the year following the Sedins’ breakout season.

[…]

Interestingly, the largest spike — a total of 13 baby Henriks — came in 2011, which coincides with the Canucks’ march to the Stanley Cup Final.

From an article about “theybies” — kids being brought up without gender designations:

Three-year-old twins Zyler and Kadyn Sharpe scurried around the boys and girls clothing racks of a narrow consignment store filled with toys. Zyler, wearing rainbow leggings, scrutinized a pair of hot-pink-and-purple sneakers. Kadyn, in a T-Rex shirt, fixated on a musical cube that flashed colorful lights. At a glance, the only discernible difference between these fraternal twins is their hair — Zyler’s is brown and Kadyn’s is blond.

Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide.

How did presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke acquire the nickname Beto?

He was named after his grandfathers. His mother Melissa O’Rourke said on the campaign trail during his U.S. Senate run that “Robert” — her father’s name — didn’t seem to fit when he was a baby.

The family has deep roots in El Paso, Texas, and “Beto” is a common shortening of the name “Roberto,” or “Robert.” If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced BEH-toe and O’Rourke is oh-RORK.

From an article about America’s first exascale supercomputer:

The supercomputer, dubbed Aurora — which [Secretary of Energy Rick] Perry joked was named after his three-legged black lab Aurora Pancake — is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2021, as the DOE attempts to keep pace with China in a supercomputing arms race.

(Turns out the dog’s nickname is “Rory.” I posted a quote about another named computer, the Lisa, last year.)

From an article about the divorce of Lady Davina Windsor, 30th in line to the British throne, from husband Gary “Gazza” Lewis, a Maori sheep shearer:

Lady Davina gave birth to a daughter, Senna Kowhai, who is now aged eight, and a son, Tane Mahuta, six. He was named after the giant Tane Mahuta kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, in New Zealand.

(Here’s more on the famous Tane Mahuta tree. The name Kowhai was also inspired by New Zealand tree.)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Gwyned: Baby Name Inspired by 1940s Career Girl

gwyned, 1948, baby name, 1940s, magazine
© 1948 Life

In 1948, the name Gwyned was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data. In fact, it was the top one-hit wonder of the year.

  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted
  • 1948: 9 baby girls named Gwyned [debut]
  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A 23-year-old career girl named Gwyned Filling.

In May of 1948, she was profiled in Life magazine in a 12-page, 24-image photo essay called “The Private Life of Gwyned Filling.” A 25th image of Gwyned was featured on the cover.

Gwyned, a recent college graduate from Missouri, was working in New York City as a copywriter at the Newell-Emmett advertising agency for $52 a week. The photos showed Gwyned in her day-to-day life: quarreling with her roommate Marilyn in their 11×15-foot apartment, eating breakfast at the diner for 15¢, going on a date, running to work in the rain, and so forth.

“In a world where television was still a novelty, the story turned her into a minor celebrity. The issue sold so fast it had to be reprinted in the first week.”

The very first paragraph of the accompanying article revealed that Gwyned’s mother Mildred had discovered the name “Gwyned” in the society column of a newspaper. Life called it an “odd name.” (It may have been based on Gwynedd, the name of an ancient kingdom in Wales.)

In November of the same year, Life gave readers an update on Gwyned: she had quit her job and married a co-worker named Charlie. For their honeymoon, they took a cruise to the Caribbean.

What are your thoughts on the name Gwyned? Do you like it more or less than the similar name Gwyneth?

P.S. Thank you to Becca for calling my attention to Gwyned a few years ago!

Sources:

Why Was Marilyn Monroe Named “Norma Jeane” at Birth?

We already know how Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, came up with her stage name — “Marilyn” was from Marilyn Miller, and “Monroe” was her mother’s maiden name.

But why was she named “Norma Jeane” as a baby?

In 1922, her mother Gladys, originally from California, moved to Kentucky to try to get her first two children (Robert and Berniece) back from her former husband’s family.

While there, Gladys worked as a housekeeper in the home of Harry and Lena Cohen of Louisville. She also helped care for the couple’s young daughters, Dorothy and Norma Jean.

norma jean cohen, namesake
The Cohen family of KY, 1930 U.S. Census

She eventually returned to California, alone.

In 1926, Gladys had her third and final baby. “She named the child after the little girl she had looked after whilst in Kentucky and, for the sake of respectability, also gave the surname of her former husband, hence naming her Norma Jeane Mortenson (she added an ‘e’ to Norma Jean and changed Mortensen to Mortenson on the birth certificate).”

Which first name do you like more, Marilyn or Norma? Vote below, then leave a comment with your reason…

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Source: Morgan, Michelle. Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. London: Little, Brown Book Group, 2012.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #33

It's not like I called her Coffee Table - quote by Holly Madison, mother of Rainbow

From an interview with Holly Madison at Yahoo Parenting:

Q: People love to pass judgment on baby names — everyone has an opinion. Your daughter Rainbow has an unusual name; did you have to deal with a lot of judgment there?

A: Oh, yeah. I got flooded with stupid commentary on social media. It’s definitely a unique name. I like unique names and I wouldn’t have picked it if were common. But, growing up, there was a girl in my class named Rainbow. I grew up in Oregon, where a lot of hippies went to start families. There was a girl at school named Rainbow, and I was so jealous and I wanted it to be my name. So it’s definitely unusual, but it’s a name. It’s not like I called her Coffee Table. People love to say, “That’s a stripper name.” But I’ve spent a lot of time in Vegas and strippers aren’t named Rainbow. They’re named Amber, Crystal and Jessica.

From an article about Woody Guthrie’s son Joady in the Mercury News:

Joady Guthrie was named for Tom Joad, the hero of John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” because his father, himself a political activist and an Oklahoman, or “Okie,” was sympathetic to the plight of 1930s farmers of the Great Depression. Many of Woody Guthrie’s songs championed Dust Bowl migrant workers and working people.

From an article about a baby sloth at the London Zoo:

The seven-week-old two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), born to second-time parents Marilyn and Leander, needed a helping hand when his mum stopped producing milk, and was unable to care for her infant.

Keepers have named the young male Edward after Johnny Depp’s famous character, Edward Scissorhands, due to his impressive claws – which will grow up to four inches in length and enable him to cling on and climb easily through the tree-top branches of his Rainforest Life home.

From the opinion piece “Denali and the Names of the Past” by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker:

The truth is that the obsession with word magic and names is a primitive one, inherently irrational. Names are notional. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet–or as rancid, depending; a mountain by its older name is just as tall. Yet the desire to remedy the wrongs of the past by righting our nomenclature is a deep one, and it burns on. Word magic it may be, and no more than that, but we believe in magic, and we think in words.

[…]

Nothing depends on names. The rock will not get an inch taller or shorter or changed in nature depending on what we call it. If Ohioans want to keep calling it Mount McKinley, let them, and let them take a place of pride along with those who are fighting to keep Pluto called a planet. We are not slaves of our tongues. But we are citizens of our languages. Choosing names is a way of expressing emotions. The things of this world can exist with as many names as we choose to give them, and the biggest among them can take on many identities without getting any smaller.

(This is in response to Denali’s recent renaming.)

From “Leave Mariah Alone, Dammit” at New York Magazine site The Cut:

Little Moroccan, whose name is technically a modifier, modified Mariah’s photo-op by briefly rushing over to hug her.

From “The Paradox of Baby Names” by Megan Garber in The Atlantic:

Erfolgswelle [a baby-naming company in Switzerland] has a business not just because there are people in the world with $31,000 lying around to finance its services, but because there can be a game-theory component to baby-naming. While some parents choose traditional names for their kids, and many others choose family names, and many others choose names that have been lifted from pop culture…many other new parents seek unusual names that, they hope, will help their kids stand out rather than fit in. As the sociologist Philip Cohen put it, exploring the precipitous decline of the name Mary in recent years, “Conformity to tradition has been replaced by conformity to individuality.”

(Thank you to commenter Pernille for making sure I saw this one!)

From an article about the late Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in the New York Times:

Mr. Pinckney’s late mother, Theopia Stevenson Aikens, was a baseball fan who named her son after Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star, who had died in a plane crash seven months earlier while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, family members said. His last name, one of the most stories in South Carolina politics, is that of a pair of white slaveholding cousins who signed the United States Constitution.

From a comment about Vietnamese names by reader Pham Quang Vinh in Viet Nam News:

Vietnamese address other compatriots by their first name, not by their family name like other peoples in the world and always call it in Vietnamese way, which means they will pronounce the last syllable of the longer full name for addressing that person.

For example, if a person is named Nguyen Manchester United, everybody will know he comes from the Nguyen family and no matter what follows Nguyen, including a middle name or addressed name or not, it must be translated and spoken in Vietnamese way and will become something like man-chet-to-diu-nai-tit, so, people will call him Tit.

Nobody cares about what lies before the “Tit” in his full name. If he is stopped by a policeman on the street, he would be called “Anh (Brother) Tit” or “Ong (Mister) Tit.”

For previous quote posts, check out the name quotes category.

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

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:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.

  • 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
given to…
# 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?