How popular is the baby name Mike in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Mike and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Mike.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Mike

Number of Babies Named Mike

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Mike

Do Americans Have an Obsession with Nicknames?

A couple of weeks ago, Judith left the following comment on a Five-Name Friday post.

I would love it if you dedicated a blog article to the American obsession with nicknames. Being European this really baffles me. Over here we give our children the name we like best, whether this is a long name (i.e. Michael) or a short one (i.e. Mike). A nickname might pop up in due course but is not something that you force (or even think about) beforehand. If you want your child to be called Ella, why would you name her Eleonora only to shorten it to Ella? Like I said it baffles me and I would love to know the background of this phenomenon.

Such an interesting question!

There’s certainly a difference between Americans and Europeans when it comes up nickname usage. You can see it comparing the top names in the U.S. with the top names in England — boy names especially. The English top 20 includes many more informal names (Jack, Harry, Charlie, Alfie, Freddie, Archie) than the U.S. top 20.

Seems to me that both regions are concerned with nicknames, but handle them in very different ways. Europeans are reasonably comfortable putting nicknames on birth certificates, while Americans are not as comfortable turning nicknames into legal names.

So what’s behind these diverging trends? I’m not sure that there’s a single answer, but here are a few theories. (Please excuse me ahead of time for making sweeping generalizations about Americans and Europeans.)

Formality differences
Europeans tend to be more relaxed than Americans, both in terms of daily life/habits and in terms of viewpoints. Maybe this informality leads them to prefer the informal names. (Or at least doesn’t make them feel obligated to use formal names.)

Work attitude differences
Americans tend to be more career-focused than Europeans. Perhaps this outlook makes them feel that it’s smart to have a formal name to fall back on for future professional use — that having a nickname-only name could be limiting.

Class differences
This theory, which is somewhat like the work attitude theory, comes from an Encyclopedia Britannica* blogger and concerns the U.S. and the UK specifically:

Perhaps the difference has to do with class. Americans may shy away from bestowing diminutives upon their children because they suspect that such “cutesy” names will prevent their children from climbing the ranks and becoming CEOs. In the more-rigid class system of the U.K., on the other hand, some parents might believe that that sort of advancement is so unlikely that it’s not worth letting it affect their choice of a name. So Charlie it is.

Gender-switch differences (pertains to boy names only)
In America, many formerly male/unisex names with “-ee” endings (e.g., Ashley, Avery, Bailey, Ellery, Riley) have turned into girl names. This might make Americans more hesitant to permanently attach diminutives with similar endings to baby boys.

Which (if any) of these theories do you think makes the most sense? What others can you think of?

Source: How to Tell a British Baby from an American: Differences in Naming Trends, Judith’s comment

*Did you know about the New York woman named Encyclopedia Britannica?


How Do You Like Your Name, Barry?

Today’s name interview is with Barry Brake, a 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas.

What’s the story behind his name?

They were going to name me Brandon (or was it Brendan?) — one of the really trendy names of the late 60s. But a few months into it, a kid down the street was born and they named *him* Brendan, so my parents didn’t want 2 on the same block.

It appeared to everyone that the name Barry came out of the blue. It’s not a family name or anything. But when I was an adult my mom told me something she’d never told me or anyone before, except my dad: that she thought I’d be a performer with my name in lights, and she really liked the stagey sound of “Barry Brake.” Indeed I ended up with musical talent and a showoff personality, and became a performer (though my name isn’t in lights!) I have to say my name works quite well and is a memorable name for a performer to have. Nice premonition!

(He’s right about the ’60s: the baby name Barry was most popular back in 1962.)

What does he like most about his name?

It’s catchy and memorable, and easy to spell for bank tellers and other people behind desks. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours of my life would have been wasted in spelling out Kryzstoffre or something. Whew! And Barry works well with my last name, too, which I think matters a lot.

What does he like least about his name?

As a kid it’s pretty easy to make fun of. It rhymes with stuff, so you get everything from the relatively irritating “Barry Cherry” to the slightly more irritating “Barry Fairy.” Also, there were several years there when people could not help but mention Barry Manilow when they met me.

Added to that is that my last name is rather unusual, leading to my now rule that a kid should only have one unusual name, so if your last name is Sauvage you should stick to naming your kids Mike and Ann, and if your last name is Smith you can name them Thaddeus and Guinevere, but you don’t want a super-plain-jane name or a plaid-on-stripes name.

That said, mine wasn’t *too* plaid-on-stripes, and all the current research shows that people with unusual names who get made fun of as kids generally grow as a result of it. So I’m glad I had a mildly character-building name, though I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my name wasn’t Schenectady Picklebottom.

Later on in life, you get rid of the schoolyard games and move on to other concerns. Mine is that Barry seems to always be the name of the fiancé in the *beginning* of the movie: the bland guy who’s “nice” but all wrong for the girl, and who gets summarily dumped. Either that or the loser boyfriend who … also gets summarily dumped. What is it with screenwriters and the name Barry?

Finally, would Barry recommend that his name be given to babies today?

Sure. If we’d had a son, Barry was at least a consideration, probably for a middle name. It’s sturdy and solid, and not trendy. But on the other hand it *is* more a Gen-X name than you’d probably get today: with Jennifer and Amy and Scott, it just seems to belong to people my age and not to the Noahs and Calebs our kids’ age. My prediction is that for at least a couple of generations, the Barrys around you will be named for someone in the family.

Thanks so much, Barry!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Mamie Eisenhower’s Middle Name

Mamie Eisenhower, wife of Dwight D. Eisenhower, was born Mamie Geneva Doud in 1896 to John and Elivera Doud of Iowa. She was the second of four daughters.

Lovely Lake GenevaWhere did her middle name come from? Her mother was a fan of the popular song “Lovely Lake Geneva,” written by Charles B. Holmes and published in 1885.

Mamie’s older sister was named Eleanor. Her younger sisters were Eda Mae and Mabel Frances, but her father was “so disappointed that he had not yet had a son that he nicknamed his two younger daughters “Buster” and “Mike,” respectively.” They were known as Buster and Mike their entire lives.

Source: Eisenhower, Susan. Mrs. Ike: Portrait of a Marriage. Sterling, Virginia: Capital Books, 2002.

Mouseketeer Names – Annette, Dennis, Margene, Ronnie

Annette Funicello, the most popular member of the original Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1959), passed away a couple of days ago.

Seeing her name in the news made me think about the other original Mouseketeers, most of whom were born in the early to mid-1940s (making them teens in the late 1950s). If you’re looking for a baby name reminiscent of sock hops and soda fountains, the first batch of Mouseketeers is not a bad place to start:

  1. Annette Funicello (b. 1942)
  2. Billie Beanblossom (b. 1944)
  3. Bonita “Bonnie” Lynn Fields (b. 1944)
  4. Bonni Lou Kern (b. 1941)
  5. Bronson Scott* (b. 1947)
  6. Charles “Charlie” Laney (b. 1943)
  7. Cheryl Holdridge (b. 1944) – who went on to marry Lance Reventlow
  8. Carl “Cubby” O’Brien (b. 1946)
  9. Dallas Johann (b. 1944)
  10. Darlene Gillespie (b. 1941)
  11. Dennis Day (b. 1942)
  12. Joseph Richard “Dickie” Dodd (b. 1945)
  13. Don Agrati (b. 1944)
  14. Donald “Don” Underhill (b. 1941)
  15. Doreen Tracey (b. 1943)
  16. Eileen Diamond (b. 1943)
  17. John “Johnny” Crawford (b. 1946)
  18. John Joseph “Jay-Jay” Solari (b. 1943)
  19. (John) Lee Johann (b. 1942)
  20. Judy Harriet (b. 1942)
  21. Karen Pendleton (b. 1946)
  22. Larry Larsen (b. 1939)
  23. Linda Hughes (b. 1946)
  24. Leonard “Lonnie” Burr (b. 1943)
  25. (Lowrey) Lynn Ready* (b. 1944)
  26. Margene Storey (b. 1942)
  27. Mark Sutherland (b. 1944)
  28. Mary Espinosa (b. 1945)
  29. Mary Sartori (b. 1943)
  30. Mickey Rooney, Jr. (b. 1945)
  31. Michael “Mike” Smith (b. 1945)
  32. Nancy Abbate (b. 1942)
  33. (William) Paul Petersen (b. 1945)
  34. Robert “Bobby” Burgess (b. 1941)
  35. Ronald “Ronnie” Steiner (b. 1942)
  36. Sharon Baird (b. 1942)
  37. Sharyn “Sherry” Alberoni (b. 1946)
  38. Timothy “Tim” Rooney (b. 1947)
  39. Thomas “Tommy” Cole (b. 1941)

*Bronson Scott was a girl; Lynn Ready was a boy.

Which of the above names are your favorite(s)?

Sources: Girl next door Annette Funicello dies at 70, The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show

What’s the Most Common Name in the U.S. Senate?

In early 2011, the blog Smart Politics analyzed the first names of all the U.S. Senators elected or appointed within the last 100 years.

In total, there were 884 senators and 313 names.

The most common names were these:

  1. John (including Jon, Jonathan, and Johnny) – total of 65 senators (7.4%)
  2. William (including Bill) – 50 (5.7%)
  3. James (including Jim) – 44 (5.0%)
  4. Robert (including Bob and Rob) – 34 (3.9%)
  5. Thomas (including Tom) – 29 (3.3%)
  6. George – 25 (2.8%)
  7. Charles (including Chuck) – 22 (2.5%)
  8. Joseph (including Joe) – 21 (2.4%)
  9. Frank – 17 (1.9%)
  10. Richard (including Rick and Dick) – 16 (1.8%)

Some of the unique names were Spessard, Furnifold, Zales, Xenophon, Olympia, Orrin, Rand, Saxby, Sherrod and Barack.

Names that have become popular recently in the Senate include Mark and Mike/Michael.

Source: What’s in a Name? From Abraham to Zell, 100 Years of U.S. Senators

Baby Named for Gibson Guitars

According to guitar company Gibson, Mike and Crystal Weber of Waukesha, Wisconsin — birthplace of Les Paul — named their newborn son Gibson after the brand.

Mike is a guitar enthusiast, and the name was picked out well in advance:

Mike Weber told the Waukesha Freeman newspaper, “I was talking to some co-workers about baby names before we even started trying for a baby and someone suggested Gibson – I loved it.”

Mike even wore his Gibson Les Paul shirt for the delivery on February 8.

“Growing up in Waukesha, you always hear about Les Paul, and this is such a cool way to honor him,” he said.

Source: Waukesha Couple Name Their New Baby Gibson