How popular is the baby name Michael 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 Michael.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Michael


Posts that Mention the Name Michael

Name Quotes 89: Shelley, Kelly, Bill

Dram EP

From an Uproxx article about DRAM’s most recent EP:

Virginian rap crooner DRAM returned last night with the release of his new, three-song EP, That’s A Girl’s Name. Produced and co-written by Josh Abraham and Oligee, the EP’s title refers to DRAM’S real name, Shelley Massenburg-Smith, which means “that’s a girl’s name” is probably a phrase he heard quite a bit growing up.

(“DRAM” is an acronym for “Does Real Ass Music.” DRAM’s goldendoodle also has an interesting name: Idnit [vid] — “as in, idnit so cute.”)

DRAM with his dog, Idnit

From an Us Magazine article about Matthew McConaughey’s new book Greenlights:

The Texas native also revealed that when he was born his father wasn’t there. Instead, he explained that James “called my mom and said, ‘Only thing I have to say is if it’s a boy, don’t name him Kelly.’”

From a New York Times article about the marriage of Sugar Good, a Dunkin’ Donuts manager, to one of her drive-through customers:

A year would go by before she gathered the courage to pass him her sprinkle-bedecked business card with his breakfast in September 2018. But when she did, it came as a relief to both. The man, John Thompson, a recently retired Marine working as a car salesman in Oklahoma City, had been wondering how he was going to figure out what her real name was.

“When I started going through the drive-through, I noticed she would smile with her eyes, and I thought, maybe if I read the receipt I can see what her name is,” he said. “But it said ‘Sugar No. 7.'” He figured Sugar must have been a reference to how he likes his coffee. With the card, which listed her cellphone number at the bottom, she cleared up the mystery — as well as her own case of the blues.

(I discovered this one via Nancy Friedman — thank you!)

From a Harper’s Bazaar article about genderless beauty brands:

“As a culture, we are realizing that gender is no longer a fixed concept,” says Sam Cheow, senior vice president of corporate innovation and product development at the Estée Lauder Companies, which owns brands like M.A.C, Tom Ford Beauty, Le Labo, and Frédéric Malle . . . Cheow points to evidence that the needle is moving forward: the growing backlash surrounding gender-reveal parties; a rise in gender-neutral baby names (for example, in 2018, 51 percent of “Charlies” were female); and the arrival of Q, the world’s first genderless voice assistant.

From a Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources blog post entitled “The Tiffany Problem“:

Wait, what? No way there’s a Tiffany in this book! Not when there are other women running around with convincing names like Blanchefleur, Isolde, and Ermentrude.

[…]

[T]he Tiffany Problem describes the tension between historical fact and the average, everyday person’s idea of history. So even though authors may research carefully and want to include historically accurate information in their book—like a medieval character named Tiffany—a popular audience likely won’t buy it.

From a piece in Blue Ridge Outdoors about not wanting a trail name:

I remember a guy named Bill. His view on trail names mirrored mine. He didn’t have one, didn’t want one. He was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, not seeking a new identity. As he walked the white-blazed path, he simply introduced himself as “Bill”.

The most-often stated reply to him was, “What’s your trail name?”

His standard answer, “I don’t have a trail name. My name is just Bill.”

He became “Just Bill.”

From a Pitchfork interview with The Good Place actress D’Arcy Carden:

I put an apostrophe in my name that wasn’t there before, like Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky, because of how influential this band was to me. D’Arcy was just the epitome of cool to me. In 1993, I was really into alternative and grunge music, and whereas the Nirvanas and the Pearl Jams felt so masculine, there was something sweeter and lighter about Smashing Pumpkins. The fact that they had a girl in their band was huge for me and my friends. I learned the guitar part to “Today,” and it made me feel like such a badass. It was like, “Wow, I can play guitar!” But, of course, anybody can play the beginning of “Today.”

(Name Quotes #73 mentioned another Good Place actress…)

From an amNewYork article about Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh (born Terri Sue Feldshuh in 1952):

What ever happened to Terri Sue Feldshuh?

“I fell in love with a Christian boy, Michael Fairchild, who didn’t want to kiss a Terri Sue. He said: ‘Terri Sue doesn’t fit you at all. What’s that other name of yours? Tovah? Now that’s a name!'”

(Her stage name was initially “Terri Fairchild,” according to Wikipedia.)

The Emergence of Mychal

mychal, sports, baby name, 1970s

The name Mychal first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1978, when it was suddenly given to nearly five dozen baby boys:

  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1980: 26 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1979: 35 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1978: 59 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted

That number was impressive enough to make Mychal not just the top debut name of 1978, but also the 26th-highest boy-name debut of all time.

What was the influence?

Bahamian basketball player Mychal Thompson. He was the #1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft (chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers) and also happened to be the first foreign-born player to be a #1 pick.

Later in his career, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them in the late ’80s. As a result, the baby name Mychal shot into the top 1,000 in 1987 and saw peak usage in 1988.

So how did he get the name “Mychal”? He gave it to himself, actually. In an interview with Lakers Nation, he told the story of why he changed the spelling from the original “Michael”:

When I did start playing basketball in high school, all of a sudden people started talking about Michael Thompson in all the [newspaper] write-ups. […] So every time they’d write my name they’d go, Mike Thompson. And my name is Michael.

Now I understand Mike is short for Michael, but I wanted to be known as Michael, so I said, ‘How can I get them to stop calling me Mike?’ I’ll tell you what, I’ll change the spelling of my name so that way, and I figured I wanted to make it kind of a unique name, so people know it’s me, cause there are a million Michaels out there, it’s one of the most popular names there is.

So I figured, ok, just [so that] everybody knows that it’s me when I write Michael Thompson, I started writing M-y-c-h-a-e-l, nah, M-y-k-a-e-l, nah I don’t like that one, M-y-c-h-a-l, oh that looks cool, I’ll just go with that. So I started signing my name that way and to make it legal, I actually had to go back home [to the Bahamas] and change my name legally to Mychal.

All three of Mychal’s uniquely named sons — Mychel (different spelling; “I didn’t want him to be a junior”), Klay, and Trayce — now play professional sports. In fact, much of the recent usage of “Klay” is in California, where Klay Thompson has been playing for the Golden State Warriors since 2011.

Mychal admitted that his eldest son doesn’t like that his name is often mispronounced Michelle, but also noted that, while Mychel is “always complaining about it, […] he’s never changed it back to the original spelling.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Mychal? Do you like the spelling?

Sources: Mychal Thompson – Wikipedia, Lakers Nation Special Feature, Part 1: Getting to Know Mychal Thompson [vid]

Top Baby Names in Northern Territory, 2019

According to the government of Northern Territory, Australia, the most popular baby names in NT in 2019 were Grace and Oliver.

Here are Northern Territory’s top 10+ girl names and top 10+ boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Grace, 15 baby girls
  2. Mia, 14 (tie)
  3. Olivia, 14 (tie)
  4. Charlotte, 13 (tie)
  5. Isla, 13 (tie)
  6. Aria, 12 (tie)
  7. Ruby, 12 (tie)
  8. Chloe, 11 (4-way tie)
  9. Harper, 11 (4-way tie)
  10. Isabella, 11 (4-way tie)
  11. Matilda, 11 (4-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 20 baby boys
  2. William, 18
  3. Michael, 15
  4. Jack, 13 (3-way tie)
  5. Liam, 13 (3-way tie)
  6. Lucas, 13 (3-way tie)
  7. Noah, 11 (tie)
  8. Thomas, 11 (tie)
  9. Daniel, 10 (5-way tie)
  10. Elijah, 10 (5-way tie)
  11. Jacob, 10 (5-way tie)
  12. Joshua, 10 (5-way tie)
  13. Logan, 10 (5-way tie)

Notably, Grace — the #1 girl name — wasn’t even in the top ten in 2018.

Source: Popular Baby Names – NT.gov.au

The Beginning of Billie Jean

billie jean horton, country music, baby names, 1960s
Advertisement in Billboard (July 1961)

When I think of the name Billie Jean, I think of the Michael Jackson song. Next, I think of the tennis player.

But the name Billiejean first appeared in the U.S. baby name data way back in 1962, decades before the song, and years before the tennis player was at the height of her fame.

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Billie Jean
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

My guess on this one? Country singer Billie Jean Horton.

Today she’s best remembered for her relationships with various country singers: Faron Young, Hank Williams (married 1952-1953), Johnny Horton (married 1953-1960), and Johnny Cash.

But she was a recording artist in her own right, and her most successful single, “Ocean Of Tears,” peaked at #29 on the country chart in August of 1961. The next year, for one year only, Billiejean popped up in the data.

The name didn’t return until 1973, when tennis player Billie Jean King defeated male player Bobby Riggs in tennis’s most famous “Battle of the Sexes” match. This time it stuck around until the late ’70s.

billie jean, michael jackson, song, 1980s, baby name,

It emerged a third time with the help of Michael Jackson, whose song “Billie Jean” was the #1 song in the nation for seven weeks straight in March and April of 1983.

What are your thoughts on the name Billie Jean? What’s your strongest association with the name?

Source: Billie Jean Horton – Wikipedia

Popular Baby Names in Ireland, 2019

According to data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were — yet again! — Emily and Jack.

Here are Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Emily, 452 baby girls
  2. Grace, 426
  3. Fiadh, 334
  4. Sophie, 330
  5. Hannah, 321
  6. Amelia, 315
  7. Ava, 313 (tie)
  8. Ellie, 313 (tie)
  9. Ella, 292
  10. Mia, 289

Boy Names

  1. Jack, 677 baby boys
  2. James, 534
  3. Noah, 502
  4. Conor, 427
  5. Daniel, 399
  6. Adam, 345
  7. Liam, 334
  8. Tadhg, 318
  9. Luke, 317
  10. Charlie, 316

Jack has been the top boy name since 2007 (with the exception of 2016) and Emily has been the top girl name since 2011.

In the girls’ top 10, Hannah returned and Emma dropped out.

In the boys’ top 10, Liam and Tadhg (pronounced tyeg, like the first syllable of “tiger”) replaced Harry and Michael.

The fastest-rising names in the top 100 in terms of numbers of babies were:

  • Éabha (+57 baby girls), Caoimhe (+36), Molly (+32), Erin (+31), Sadhbh (+31)
  • Rían (+69 baby boys), Bobby (+50), Senan (+46), Darragh (+38), Tadhg (+38), Theo (+38)

And the fastest-rising in terms of rank were:

  • Alexandra (+25 spots), Heidi (+20), Hollie (+20), Bonnie (+19), Éabha (+19)
  • Odhrán (+41 spots), Odhran (+39), Eli (+37), Kayden (+30), Ruairí (+27)

Source: Irish Babies’ Names 2019 – CSO