How popular is the baby name May 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 May.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name May


Posts that Mention the Name May

Famous Female Names from 1916

Over at The Public Domain Review, I found a collection of 51 novelty playing cards — several incomplete decks, mixed together — from 1916 that feature the images and names of popular movie actresses from that era.

Below are all the first names from those cards, plus where those names happened to rank in the 1916 baby name data. (Two-thirds of them were in the top 100, and over 95% fell inside the top 1,000.)

  • Anita (ranked 151st in 1916)
  • Anna (7th)
  • Beatriz (1,281st)
  • Bessie (56th)
  • Blanche (89th)
  • Clara (39th)
  • Cleo (180th)
  • Constance (213th)
  • Dolores (146th)
  • Dorothy (3rd)
  • Edith (28th)
  • Ella (81st)
  • Ethel (25th)
  • Fannie (116th)
  • Florence (14th)
  • Geraldine (94th)
  • Gertrude (35th)
  • Grace (26th)
  • Helen (2nd)
  • Julia (46th)
  • June (86th)
  • Kate (346th)
  • Kathlyn (731st)
  • Lenore (340th)
  • Lillian (16th)
  • Louise (18th)
  • Mabel (65th)
  • Marguerite (78th)
  • Mary (1st)
  • May (190th)
  • Mildred (6th)
  • Myrtle (58th)
  • Nellie (61st)
  • Norma (111th)
  • Olive (132nd)
  • Ormi (4,982nd)
  • Pauline (33rd)
  • Pearl (57th)
  • Ruth (5th)
  • Viola (59th)
  • Violet (83rd)
  • Vivian (77th)
  • Wanda (138th)

Which of the names above do you like best?

Source: Moriarty Playing Cards (1916) – The Public Domain Review

Babies Named for Sailing Ships (A)

Back when sea voyages were the only way to reach distant lands, many babies ended up being born aboard ships. And many of these ship-born babies were given names that reflected the circumstances of their birth. A good portion of them, for instance, were named after the ships upon which they were born.

I’ve gathered hundreds of these ship-inspired baby names over the years, and I think it’s finally time to post what I’ve found. So here’s the first installment…

  • Abergeldie:
    • Emma Abergeldie Walsh, born in 1884
  • Abernyte:
    • Eva Abernyte Congdon, born in 1875
  • Abington:
    • Herbert Bealie Abington Tait, born in 1884
  • Abyssinia:
    • Abyssinia Louise Juhansen, born in 1870
    • Abyssinia Elfkin, born in 1872
    • Louise Abyssinia Bellanger, born in 1874
  • Achilles:
    • John Achilles Denchey, born in 1871
  • Actoea:
    • U. Actoea Jones, born in 1868
  • Adriatic:
    • John Adriatic Gateley Collins, born in 1879
    • Adriatic O’Loghlin Gould, born in 1880
    • Agnes Adriatic Cook, born in 1880
  • Agamemnon:
    • Frederick Agamemnon Dingly, born in 1876
  • Alaska:
    • Mary Alaska Magee, born in 1884
  • Alcester:
    • Gertrude Alcester Dart, born in 1884
  • Alcinous:
    • Mary Duncan Alcinosa Greenwood, born in 1887
  • Aldergrove:
    • Aldergrove Andrew Fullarton Feathers, born in 1875
    • Ethel Aldergrove Winning, born in 1883
  • Aleppo:
    • Rosalia Aleppo Rosenthal, born in 1866
    • Aleppo Atalanta Boardsen, born in 1883
  • Alexandrina:
    • Caroline Alexandrina Phillips, born in 1873
    • Mary Alexandrina Hedges, born in 1874
    • Alexandrina Horsnell, born in 1874
  • Algeria:
    • Louis Algeria Noizet, born in 1872
  • Aliquin:
    • Edward Aliquin Poley, born in 1860
  • Allanshaw:
    • Joseph Allanshaw Moss, born in 1883
    • Frederick Allanshaw Shields, born in 1883
  • Almora:
    • Almora May Leech, born in 1856
    • Emily Almora Hamper, born in 1883
    • Joseph Henry Almora Alford, born in 1883
    • Mary Almora Clothier, born in 1887
    • Almora Merten, born in 1887
  • Alnwick Castle:
    • William Alnwick Bull, born in 1861
  • Alpheta:
    • Mary Alpheta Stone, born in 1877
  • Alsatia:
    • Alsatia Campbell Carnalian, born in 1877
  • Altmore:
    • Eliza Altmore Harris, born in 1883
  • Alumbagh:
    • Alumbagh Eleanor Bright, born in 1868
    • Sarah Louise Alumbagh Hancock, born in 1868
  • Alvington:
    • Alvington Oak Silvester, born in 1879
  • Amoor:
    • William Amoor Walker, born in 1864
  • Anchoria:
    • Anchoria Adelaide Williams, born in 1890
  • Angerona:
    • Mary Angerona Harwood, born in 1875
  • Anglesey:
    • Clara Anglesey Oakley, born in 1859
    • Emma Jane Anglesey Conbrough, born in 1874
  • Anglia:
    • James Craig Anglia Watt, born in 1871
    • Emma Anglia Hewitt, born in 1873
    • Margaret Anglia Smith Mulholland, born in 1874
  • Anglo Saxon:
    • Mary Saxon Copeland, born in 1860
  • Antiope:
    • Lilias Antiope Carrick, born in 1884
  • Aorangi:
    • Arthur Aorangi Burrow, born in 1884
    • Aorangi Millar, born in 1885
    • Ellen Corbet Aorangi Browne, born in 1891
  • Arabic:
    • Isabella Arabic East, born in 1887
  • Arcadia:
    • Arcadia Herbert, born in 1877
  • Archer:
    • Archer Grainger Bryans, born in 1883
    • Beatrice Archer Shambers, born in 1885
  • Argo:
    • Sigri Argo Larsen, born in 1877
  • Arica:
    • Aricania Pereg, born in 1883
  • Arizona:
    • Helen Arizona Erickson, born in 1881
    • Sarah Arizona Duggan, born in 1881
    • Ole Arizona Melting, born in 1881
    • Agnes Arizona Kane, born in 1884
    • Elenor Arizona Poulteny, born in 1884
    • Elizabeth Arizona Harvey, born in 1887
    • Marie Arizona Malm, born in 1887
  • Arundel Castle:
    • Arundal Sheal Davis, born in 1870
    • Leopold Arundel Hofmeyer, born in 1876
    • George Arundel Baylis, born in 1876
    • Charles Arundel Holden, born in 1876
  • Arvonia:
    • Herbert John Arvon Hughes, born in 1881
  • Ashmore:
    • James Alfred George Henry Ashmore Curtis, born in 1882
  • Astria:
    • Jessie Astria Santon, born in 1875
  • Atalanta:
    • Anne Atalanta McCormack, born in 1861
  • Atlanta:
    • Elizabeth Atlanta Harrington, born in 1871
    • Elizabeth Atlanta Earp, born in 1871
  • Auckland:
    • Jane Auckland Peacock, born in 1872
  • Australia:
    • Australia Dominica Scioli, born in 1880
  • Avalanche:
    • Avalanche Isaac Hughes, born in 1874
    • Gabrielle Stella Avalanche Newson, born in 1876
  • Avoca:
    • Margaret Avoca Randall, born in 1878
  • Avonmore:
    • Gwendoline Avonmore Corfield, born in 1876

Do any of the ship names above work particularly well as human names? Wdyt?

Source: FamilySearch.org

Name Story: Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong photo

Chinese-American movie star Anna May Wong was born “Wong Liu Tsong” in Los Angeles in 1905.

Here’s what she had to say about her birth name in 1926:

I was named Wong Lew Song, which means Frosted Yellow Willows. A rather unusual name, isn’t it. Most Chinese children have names, which, interpreted into English, sound rather attractive, though they wouldn’t do for everyday use. They are all right in poetry, but I wouldn’t want to be called Frosted Yellow Willows by my acquaintances. It sounds altogether too quaint for a modern Chinese girl.

Here’s what she had to say about her American name and her stage name in 1928:

I was educated in Los Angeles. […] Our family did not live in the Chinese quarter but on Figueroa Street, where our neighbors were Americans and we were called by our English names. The doctor who brought me into the world named me ‘Anna’; my Chinese name is Tsong. When I was old enough to begin to think about a career, I added ‘May’ to ‘Anna,’ partly because we [daughters] all had four-letter names and I wanted to be different, and partly because it made a prettier signature.

(Her siblings’ American names were Lulu, James, Mary, Frank, Roger, and Richard.)

And, finally, here’s something funny I spotted in a newspaper about the 1924 movie Thief of Bagdad, which featured Wong:

The Mongol slave, a part that required emotional subtlety and balance, was played by Anna May Wong, a Chinese girl, educated in America. Her Chinese name is Lew Wong Song [sic], and means two yellow willows. When the picture was being filmed Miss Wong almost walked out on her job because an enthusiastic press agent misunderstood the translation of her name and published it as “two yelling widows.”

I saw several versions of this “two yelling widows” story, but never managed to track down the press agent’s original mis-translation.

Sources:

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: B

bessie love, actress

Time for more unusual female names from old films!

This is the “B” installment, meaning that we are almost done with the series. (I’ve been going backwards since starting with Z in early 2017.)

For those names that saw enough usage to register in the national data set, I’ve included links to the popularity graphs.

*

Babbie
Babbie was a character played by actress Betty Compson in the film The Little Minister (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Babbie.

Babette
Babette was a character name in multiple films, including A Circus Romance (1916) and Babette (1917).

Babs
Babs was a character name in multiple films, including Blondie Goes to College (1942) and Ever Since Venus (1944).

  • Usage of the baby name Babs.

Babsie
Babsie was a character played by actress Olympe Bradna in the film Souls at Sea (1937).

Babsy
Babsy was a character played by actress Ruth Robinson in the film Under Eighteen (1931).

Baclanova
Olga Baclanova, often credited simply as Baclanova, was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in Russia in 1896.

Balu
Balu was a character played by actress Kathlyn Williams in the short film The Leopard’s Foundling (1914).

Bara
Bara was a character played by actress Edythe Sterling in the film The Ghost Wagon (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Bara.

Barah
Barah was a character played by actress Laura Woods Cushing in the short film The Rug Maker’s Daughter (1915).

Bartine
Bartine Burkett was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1980s. She was born in Louisiana in 1898.

Bathsheba
Bathsheba Everdene was a character played by actress Florence Turner in the film Far from the Madding Crowd (1915).

Batooka
Batooka was a character played by actress Evelyn Selbie in the film A Cafe in Cairo (1924).

Bea
Bea Walters was a character played by actress Lila Lee in the film Queen of the Night Clubs (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Bea.

Beata
Beata was a character played by actress Winifred Greenwood in the short film The Broken Window (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Beata.

Beatie
Beatie Olna Travers was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in England in 1885.

Beattie
Beattie was a character name in multiple films, including The Magistrate (1921) and Mothers Cry (1930).

Bebe
Bebe Daniels was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Texas in 1901. Her birth name was Phyllis Virginia Daniels.

  • Usage of the baby name Bebe.

Becka
Becka Lipvitch was a character played by actress Virginia Valli in the film East Side, West Side (1927).

  • Usage of the baby name Becka.

Bedelia
Bedelia was a character name in multiple films, including A Trap to Catch a Burglar (1913) and Bedelia (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Bedelia (which saw peak usage in 1947).

Bee
Bee Haven was a character played by actress Alberta Vaughn in the film Uneasy Payments (1927).

  • Usage of the baby name Bee.

Beebe
Beebe was a character played by actress Shirley Mason in the film Flame of Youth (1920).

  • Usage of the baby name Beebe.

Begonia
Begonia Baggot was a character played by actress Bessie Love in the film Sons of the Sea (1941).

Bela
Bela was a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film The Huntress (1923).

  • Usage of the baby name Bela.

Belinha
Belinha De Rezende was a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film Flying Down to Rio (1933).

Belita
Belita was an actress and figure skater who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1960s. She was born in England in 1923. Her birth name was Belita Gladys Olive Lyne Jepson-Turner.

  • Usage of the baby name Belita (which debuted in the data in 1943).

Belva
Belva McKay was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1904.

  • Usage of the baby name Belva.

Bendetta
Bendetta was a character played by actress Martha Mattox in the film The Man in Blue (1925).

Benita
Benita Hume was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in England in 1906.

  • Usage of the baby name Benita.

Benjamine
Benjamine Downey was a character played by actress Anna Murdock in the film The Richest Girl (1918).

Beppa
Beppa was a character played by actress Charlotte Burton in the short film Heart of Flame (1915).

Berengaria
Berengaria was a character played by actress Loretta Young in the film The Crusades (1935).

Bernarda
Bernarda was a character played by actress Martha Mattox in the film Torrent (1926).

Bernice
Bernice Allen was a character played by actress Judith Allen in the film Boots and Saddles (1937).

Bertalda
Bertalda was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the short film Undine (1912).

Bertha
Bertha Kalich was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine) in 1874. Bertha was also a character name in multiple films, including Fisher Folks (short, 1911) and Caravan (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Bertha.

Berthe
Berthe de Praslin was a character played by actress Ann Todd in the film All This, and Heaven Too (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Berthe.

Berthelda
Berthelda was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film Undine (1916).

Berthine
Berthine Waller was a character played by actress Margaret Livingston in the film The Lady Refuses (1931).

Bertie
Bertie Pitcairn was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. Bertie was also a character played by actress Wanda Hawley in the film Let Women Alone (1925).

  • Usage of the baby name Bertie.

Beryl
Beryl Mercer was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in England in 1876. Beryl Morhange was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1915. Beryl was also a character name in multiple films, including Only the Maid (short, 1915) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939).

  • Usage of the baby name Beryl.

Berylune
Berylune was a character played by actress Lillian Cook in the film The Blue Bird (1918).

Bessie

  • Bessie Learn was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1888.
  • Bessie Love was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1980s. She was born in Texas in 1898. Her birth name was Juanita Horton.
  • Bessie Eyton was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in California in 1890.

Bessie was also a character name in multiple films, including Tomboy Bessie (short, 1912) and The False Alarm (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Bessie.

Betta
Betta was a character played by actress Marga Rubia Levy in the film Betta, the Gypsy (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Betta.

Bettina
Bettina was a character name in multiple films, including Bettina’s Substitute (short, 1912) and The Woman in Red (1935).

Beulah
Beulah Bondi was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Illinois in 1889. Beulah was also a character name in multiple films, including Beulah (1915) and The Martyr Sex (1924).

  • Usage of the baby name Beulah.

Bijou
Bijou was a character name in multiple films, including The Goat (1918) and Seven Sinners (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Bijou.

Billee
Billee was a character played by actress Ruth Roland in the short film When Men Wear Skirts (1914).

  • Usage of the baby name Billee (which debuted in the data the year after When Men Wear Skirts came out).

Bina
Bina was a character played by actress Neva Gerber in the short film The Prodigal Widow (1917).

  • Usage of the baby name Bina.

Binnie
Binnie Barnes was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was born in England in 1903. Binnie was also a character name in multiple films, including Children of Chance (1930) and Big House (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Binnie.

Birdie
Birdie was a character name in multiple films, including This Side of Heaven (1934) and A Stranger in Town (1943).

  • Usage of the baby name Birdie.

Blanche
Blanche Friderici was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to 1930s. She was born in New York in 1878. Blanche Sweet was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1950s. She was born in Illinois in 1896. Blanche was also a character name in multiple films, including The War o’ Dreams (short, 1915) and The Wild Party (1923).

Blanchette
Blanchette was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film The Patriot and the Spy (1915).

Blanny
Blanny Wheeler was a character played by actress May Allison in the film Fair and Warmer (1919).

Blanquette
Blanquette was a character played by various actresses (such as Madge Stuart and Margaret Lockwood) in various movies called The Beloved Vagabond, all based on the novel of the same name by William John Locke.

Bleuette
Bleuette Bernon was an actress who appeared in films from the 1890s to the 1900s. She was born in France in 1878. Her birth name was Léontine Ernestine Gauché.

Bliss
Bliss Milford was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in South Dakota in the late 1880s.

  • Usage of the baby name Bliss.

Blossom
Blossom was a character name in multiple films, including The Arizona Cat Claw (1919) and Alias Mary Smith (1932).

Blossy
Blossy Waveney was a character played by actress Olive Sloane in the film The Door That Has No Key (1921).

Bodil
Bodil Rosing was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Denmark in 1877. Bodil Ipsen was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Denmark in 1889.

Bona
Bona was a character name in multiple films, including The Silken Spider (short, 1916) and The Wine Girl (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Bona.

Bonita
Bonita Granville was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1980s. She was born in Illinois in 1923. Bonita was also a character name in multiple films, including A Question of Seconds (1912) and Arizona (1913).

  • Usage of the baby name Bonita.

Boots
Boots Mallory was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in Louisiana in 1913. Her birth name was Patricia Mallory.

  • Usage of the baby name Boots.

Bricotte
Bricotte was a character played by actress Jacqueline Logan in the film Playing with Souls (1925).

Brida
Brida was a character played by actress Clara Blandick in the film Rockabye (1932).

Bridgeen
Bridgeen was a character played by actress Fay Tincher in the short film The Deceiver (1914).

Brigida
Brigida was a character played by actress Rosina Galli in the film Escape to Paradise (1939).

Brina
Brina was a character played by actress Neva Gerber in the short film The Mansard Mystery (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Brina.

Brita
Brita Kaurin was a character played by actress Signe Hasso in the film A Double Life (1947).

  • Usage of the baby name Brita.

Bronwyn
Bronwyn was a character played by actress Anna Lee in the film How Green Was My Valley (1941).

  • Usage of the baby name Bronwyn (which debuted in the data the year after How Green Was My Valley came out).

Brouquet
Brouquet was a character played by actress Rosita Marstini in the film In Love with Life (1934).

Buena
Buena Bent was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in England in 1890.

  • Usage of the baby name Buena.

Bunny
Bunny was a character played by Glenda Farrell in the film Merry Wives of Reno (1934).

  • Usage of the baby name Bunny.

Bunty
Bunty Payne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1912. Her birth name was Gladys Helena Pain. Bunty was also a character played by actress Ilka Chase in the film The Careless Age (1929).

Burahami
Burahami was a character played by actress Gladys Frazin in the film Kiss Me Sergeant (1932).

Buria
Buria was a character played by actress Maude Eburne in the film The Warrior’s Husband (1933).

Burnu
Burnu Acquanetta was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1990s. She was born in Wyoming in 1921. Her birth name was Mildred Davenport.

Butterfly
Butterfly McQueen was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1980s. She was born in Florida in 1919. Her birth name was Thelma McQueen.

Byrdie
Byrdie May was a character played by actress Pearl White in the film McGuirk, the Sleuth (1912).

  • Usage of the baby name Byrdie.

Byrdine
Byrdine Zuber was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Illinois in 1886.

*

Which of the above B-names do you like best?

Source: IMDb

Name Quotes 81: Anne, Wendy, Charlie

It’s a new month — time for a new batch of name-related quotations!

From a write-up about Ryan Reynolds’ appearance on the Today show in mid-December:

After Hoda asked how he and Blake came up with the name of their third (a clever way to get the actor to publicly confirm what the name actually is), Reynolds quipped, “We haven’t yet! We’re gonna be original, and all the letters in her name are silent.” […] He continued, “I want to give her something to push against in life.”

From an article about the science of baby name trends (thank you, Uly!):

You can even see how the zeitgeist of the age affected American’s [sic] desire for novelty. As Matthew W. Hahn and Alexander Bentley found, the incidence of new, unusual names rose in the 20s, peaked around 1930, but then plummeted in the 40s and 50s. Then it shot up again in the 60s, before reversing and plummeting again in the late 70s. Why? If you wanted to engage in some armchair zeitgeist analysis, you could argue that this makes a crude sort of cultural sense: The “roaring 20s” and the 60s were both periods when significant subsets of the population treasured creative, rule-breaking behavior; the 50s and early 80s weren’t.

From an article announcing the cancellation of a TV series with a name-referencing title:

The Netflix and CBC drama Anne With an E, adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables, has been cancelled after three seasons.

From an article about the weirdly common celebrity baby name Charlie Wolf:

Celebrity moms and dads are going wild for the animal-inspired baby name Charlie Wolf.

Zooey Deschanel and her estranged husband, Jacob Pechenik, kicked off the trendy moniker when they welcomed their baby boy in 2017.

[…]

Lauren Conrad and William Tell welcomed their second little one in October 2019 — and named him Charlie Wolf as well.

[…]

The following month, another Charlie Wolf arrived — or rather, Charles Wolfe.

(The third one was born to former Bachelor in Paradise contestants Evan Bass and Carly Waddell.)

From an article and a blog post about the naming of Wendy’s:

When it came to deciding what to call the chain, [Dave Thomas] tried out the names of all five of his children before he settled on the nickname for his daughter, Melinda, which was Wendy.

Before my dad left us [in 2002], we had a long conversation about him naming the restaurant Wendy’s. It was the first time we’d ever had this conversation. He said, “You know what? I’m sorry.” I asked him what he meant. He explained, “I should’ve just named it after myself, because it put a lot of pressure on you.”

From an article about the “-Mae” trend in Australia:

Marlie-Mae, Gracie-Mae, Mila-Mae… you may have noticed the trend.

Aussie celebs are giving their baby girls hyphenated names with a sweet, old-fashioned sound. The Bachelor’s Matty J and Laura Byrne went for Marlie-Mae, Bachelor In Paradise’s Simone Ormesher and partner Matt Thorne chose Gracie-Mae, while Married at First Sight’s Davina Rankin and boyfriend Jaxon Manuel decided on Mila-Mae.

[…]

Although these names might sound American – think Elly May Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies – this is actually a huge British trend that seems to be just taking off in Australia.

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