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, see baby names similar to Marilyn and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Marilyn.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Marilyn

Number of Babies Named Marilyn

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Marilyn

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?

Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2012

Which girl names made the biggest gains from 2011 to 2012?

And which ones suffered the biggest losses?

This is where the stats start telling us some interesting stories!

Below I’ve got two different lists for both “increases” and “decreases.”

On the left is the my list. I looked at the raw number differences between the 2011 names and the 2012 names. My analysis covers all 19,380 girl names on the 2012 list.

On the right is the SSA’s list. They looked at the ranking differences between the 2011 names and the 2012 names. Their analysis covers approximately the top 500 girl names on the 2012 list.

Biggest Increases

The baby girl names that saw the biggest popularity increases from 2011 to 2012 were…

Nancy’s list (raw numbers) SSA’s list (rankings)
  1. Harper, +2,496 babies [rank: 54th to 24th]
  2. Emma, +2,053 babies [rank: 3rd to 2nd]
  3. Paisley, +1,269 babies [rank: 195th to 104th]
  4. Aria, +1,232 babies [rank: 157th to 91st]
  5. Skylar, +1,173 babies [rank: 145th to 87th]
  6. Aubree, +1,100 babies [rank: 99th to 60th]
  7. Zoey, +1,030 babies [rank: 28th to 20th]
  8. Charlotte, +1,017 babies [rank: 27th to 19th]
  9. Avery, +952 babies [rank: 18th to 13th]
  10. Aubrey, +846 babies [rank: 20th to 15th]
  11. Amelia, +842 babies [rank: 30th to 23rd]
  12. Mila, +835 babies [rank: 174th to 115th]
  13. Genesis, +779 babies [rank: 82nd to 56th]
  14. Hannah, +672 babies [rank: 25th to 22nd]
  15. Penelope, +647 babies [rank: 169th to 125th]
  16. Hadley, +645 babies [rank: 178th to 130th]
  17. Nora, +639 babies [rank: 137th to 107th]
  18. Cataleya, +608 babies [rank: 4,931st to 479th]
  19. Cora, +516 babies [rank: 203rd to 155th]
  20. Reagan, +470 babies [rank: 121st to 97th]
  1. Arya, +298 (711th to 413th)
  2. Perla, +190 (642nd to 452nd)
  3. Catalina, +171 (648th to 477th)
  4. Elisa, +168 (534th to 366th)
  5. Raelynn, +155 (496th to 341st)
  6. Rosalie, +141 (547th to 406th)
  7. Haven, +140 (572nd to 432nd)
  8. Raelyn, +136 (585th to 449th)
  9. Briella, +123 (498th to 375th)
  10. Marilyn, +119 (545th to 426th)
  11. Adelynn, +116 (581st to 465th)
  12. Hanna, +106 (454th to 348th)
  13. Ayla, +97 (347th to 250th)
  14. Averie, +96 (554th to 458th)
  15. Arabella, +92 (337th to 245th)
  16. Paisley, +91 (195th to 104th)
  17. Arielle, +91 (501st to 410th)
  18. Adalynn, +88 (328th to 240th)
  19. Elsie, +86 (483rd to 397th)
  20. Myla, +85 (484th to 399th)

Check out Cataleya! That’s quite a jump.

Here are last year’s raw number jumps and last year’s ranking jumps.

Biggest Decreases

The baby girl names that saw the biggest popularity decreases from 2011 to 2012 were…

Nancy’s list (raw numbers) SSA’s list (rankings)
  1. Chloe, -1,361 babies [rank: 10th to 11th]
  2. Alexis, -1,194 babies [rank: 26th to 40th]
  3. Addison, -1,158 babies [rank: 13th to 14th]
  4. Madison, -1,017 babies [rank: 8th to 9th]
  5. Alyssa, -935 babies [rank: 37th to 44th]
  6. Isabella, -893 babies [rank: 2nd to 3rd]
  7. Natalie, -760 babies [rank: 14th to 17th]
  8. Nevaeh, -739 babies [rank: 35th to 39th]
  9. Ashley, -709 babies [rank: 42nd to 50th]
  10. Makayla, -691 babies [rank: 56th to 69th]
  11. Emily, -664 babies [rank: 6th to 6th]
  12. Khloe, -644 babies [rank: 49th to 55th]
  13. Leah, -642 babies [rank: 29th to 33rd]
  14. Abigail, -622 babies [rank: 7th to 7th]
  15. Gabriella, -608 babies [rank: 33rd to 37th]
  16. Kayla, -568 babies [rank: 59th to 70th]
  17. Brianna, -562 babies [rank: 45th to 51st]
  18. Destiny, -549 babies [rank: 91st to 113th]
  19. Sydney, -531 babies [rank: 65th to 78th]
  20. Jocelyn, -515 babies [rank: 70th to 92nd]
  1. Dulce, -159 (415th to 574th)
  2. Mikaela, -141 (451st to 592nd)
  3. Estrella, -129 (433rd to 562nd)
  4. Danna, -125 (365th to 490th)
  5. Audrina, -122 (318th to 440th)
  6. Cameron, -113 (440th to 553rd)
  7. Kiera, -108 (482nd to 590th)
  8. Savanna, -101 (346th to 447th)
  9. Paola, -98 (477th to 575th)
  10. Tenley, -96 (424th to 520th)
  11. Kendra, -94 (293rd to 387th)
  12. Breanna, -94 (309th to 403rd)
  13. Kailyn, -93 (399th to 492nd)
  14. Jasmin, -93 (422nd to 515th)
  15. Joselyn, -92 (369th to 461st)
  16. Kiley, -90 (423rd to 513th)
  17. Jayden, -88 (292nd to 380th)
  18. Liana, -82 (464th to 546th)
  19. Sasha, -77 (374th to 451st)
  20. Karen, -66 (287th to 353rd)

Here are last year’s raw number drops and last year’s ranking drops.

Source: SSA’s Change In Popularity From 2011 To 2012

At Work, Do Sexy Names Help or Hinder?

Signs point to “hinder.”

While Deborah Linville was a grad student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1984, she asked a group of students to “rate the perceived sexiness of 250 female names” on a scale from 1 to 7. Below are the biggest winners and losers. (Remember, this was the 1980s!)

Most Sexy Names Least Sexy Names
Christine (5.08)
Candace (4.92)
Cheryl (4.91)
Melanie (4.91)
Dawn (4.83)
Heather (4.83)
Jennifer (4.83)
Marilyn (4.83)
Michelle (4.83)
Susan (4.83)
Ethel (1.00)
Alma (1.08)
Zelda (1.16)
Florence (1.5)
Mildred (1.5)
Myrtle (1.5)
Silvana (1.5)
Edna (1.66)
Eurolinda (1.66)
Elvira (1.69)

Linville then had a different group of students to “rate the job applications of eight equally qualified women — submitted under particularly sexy and unsexy names.”

The result?

Linville found that a “sexy” name can hurt a woman’s chances of furthering her career. Conversely, an unsexy name may give her an advantage.

The study…found that men are more likely to hire women with names they perceive as non-sexy for managerial positions and give these women higher salaries. Women hiring other women are less influenced by the sound of the name.

Why might men be biased against sexy names in the workplace? “[P]erhaps because men particularly expect female managers to possess strengths, such as motivation and decisiveness, that they don’t associate with sexy-sounding names.”

Linville’s suggestion to women was to use initials rather than first names on their résumés. (Good suggestion, as this could also help job-seekers avoid other kinds of name discrimination.)


Mariah Carey’s Twins – Moroccan & Monroe

Mariah Carey’s twins, born Saturday, were named Moroccan (boy) and Monroe (girl).

Monroe comes from “Marilyn Monroe, who has been an inspiration to Mariah her whole life.”

And Moroccan? “The top tier of Mariah’s New York City apartment is called the Moroccan Room, because of the Moroccan-inspired decor. It’s also the place where Nick proposed to his wife, overlooking Manhattan!”

Moroccan is the only baby I know of (so far) with a décor-inspired name.


Source: Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon reveal baby names

Baby’s Name Inspired by Corporate Merger

In March of 1982, shareholders approved the merger of U.S. Steel and Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Oil. Newspapers at the time called it the “second-largest corporate takeover in history.”

Expectant parents Marilyn Chin and Ronald Yurcak were both working for a New York City investment banking firm involved in the merger. On March 24, about 2 weeks after the merger, they welcomed a baby girl named Jennifer Findlay Yurcak.

“For months, the talk was about Marathon and about Findlay, Ohio,” Ms. Chin said in a telephone interview. “The more I heard the name, the more I liked it. It has a nice ring to it.”

The couple said they would have used Findlay as a middle name regardless of the baby’s gender.


  • “Corporate Merger Gives Baby a Name.” Lakeland Ledger 9 Apr. 1982: 7D.
  • “Baby Named After Merger.” Lodi News-Sentinel 15 Mar. 1982: 10.
  • “Findlay Baby.” Times-News [Hendersonville, NC] 15 Mar. 1982: 2.

Like the Name Marilyn? Thank Miller, not Monroe

I’m much obliged to Nancy of Fritinancy for letting me know about this one.

Yesterday’s edition of Fresh Air featured a segment on Marilyn Miller, a very popular Broadway musical star of the 1920s and early 1930s. Here’s what author Lloyd Schwartz had to say about Marilyn’s name:

Reading about Marilyn Miller, I found several surprising items. The name Marilyn, for example — Miller made it up from her own given name, Mary, and her mother’s name, Lynn — had apparently been quite rare until Miller’s stardom made it one of this country’s most popular girl’s names.

Decades later, Ben Lyon — a Twentieth Century Fox executive and former leading man who had co-starred with Miller and W.C. Fields in Miller’s last and best movie, Her Majesty, Love — signed up another pretty blond actress, Norma Jean Baker. She reminded him of Miller, and he urged her to change her name to Marilyn.

Wikipedia’s story is slightly different. It says Miller’s mother’s name was Ada Lynn (i.e. Lynn was her middle name). It also says the initial version of Miller’s stage name was Marilynn, and that the second n was dropped “at the urging of Florenz Ziegfeld.”

But both sources agree that Marilyn Miller had a big impact on baby names. The baby name Marilyn was rarely bestowed during the early years of the 20th century, but by 1925 it was one of the top 100 names in the nation. It peaked at 13th in 1936 and 1937, sandwiched between Joyce and Virginia the first year, Helen and Beverly the second.

The name has been in slow decline ever since. (Though Marilyn Monroe did give it a bit of a boost in the mid-1950s.)

Source: A Star Named Marilyn (But Not The One You Think)