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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Monica

Number of Babies Named Monica

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Monica

California Family with 22 Children

Story family of California in 1940 U.S. census
The Story family on the 1940 U.S. Census
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).

I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).

Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.

And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.

So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?

Sources: Charlotte M Lacount Story – Find A Grave, Elsie E Dubay LaCount – Find A Grave

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA

Confirmation Name Needed for Convert

One of my readers — a married mom of four — is looking for a confirmation name. She’s in RCIA and will be confirmed next Easter. Here’s what she says:

So many of my “classmates” are choosing particular saints because they feel a connection to these people. I was not raised in a religious family so I don’t have these same relationships and want to be sure to choose a saint that I will have a true relationship with. Possibly a convert?!

Here’s something else she mentioned: “I feel like these saints are such devout people, how could I ever have something in common…my own faith doesn’t even compare…”

The latter statement immediately brought to mind St. Therese of Lisieux, who said something similar: “I’ve always wished that I could be a saint. But whenever I compared myself to the saints there was always this unfortunate difference–they were like great mountains, hiding their heads in the clouds, and I was only an insignificant grain of sand, trodden down by all who passed by.” Her little way is based on the idea of accepting one’s imperfections and finding holiness in the everyday.

As far as converts go, how about…

  • St. Margaret Clitherow, who was brought up as a Protestant. She was arrested and later martyred for allowing Mass to be celebrated in her home. She refused to enter a plea at trial — doing so would have endangered her husband and children — and was therefore pronounced guilty and crushed to death.
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who was raised in an Episcopalian home. She was married, had five children, and founded both the first congregation of religious sisters in the U.S. and also the first free Catholic school in the U.S. (both of these in Maryland).
  • St. Edith Stein, who was originally Jewish, and then an atheist, before becoming Catholic. She took the name Teresia Benedicta when she joined the Carmelites. She was an intellectual who earned a doctorate of philosophy working alongside the likes of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. She was later killed at Auschwitz.

There’s also St. Monica — not a convert, though she prayed for the conversion of her husband and eldest son. That son ended up becoming the one and only St. Augustine of Hippo. (Here’s more on the etymology of Monica.)

What other saints do you think this reader should look into? (I stuck to females, but you don’t have to.)

Names Needed for Twin Baby Girls

A reader named Grace would like some help naming her twin girls, due in a couple of months. She and her husband John already have three boys, Jackson, Samuel and Lucas.

So far, their favorite girl names are Juliet, Isla, Susannah and Norah. But they’re also considering a family name:

We would love to honor my mother, Denise Marie, but we despise both names. I would love some ideas on how to use that without actually using those names.

For the middle spots, they’re aiming for virtue names. They already have Honor picked out, and “[i]f there is another virtue name you would suggest so they both had one that would be great!”

Their last name is similar to Cawston.

On the current favorites…
I like all of the current favorites. The pairing I like best, though, is Juliet and Susannah. I just think they sound good together. I also like how they can both be shortened, just like the boys’ names — Jack, Sam, Luke, Jules & Sue (or Julie & Susie).

On incorporating Denise Marie…
One way to incorporate Denise Marie would be to find a name that features the sounds of both Denise and Marie (especially those D- and M-sounds). Names with these sounds include Madeline, Demetria, Dominique/Domenica, Damaris, Adamina, Amadea and Idamae.

Another approach would be to use initials — either the initials “D. M.” for one twin or a D-name for twin #1 and an M-name for twin #2. Some possibilities (beyond the names above) include Dahlia, Daisy, Damiana, Daphne, Dara, Delphine, Diana, Dina, Dora, Dorothy and Drusilla for D-names and Mara, Marian, Marlene, Martina, Mina, Mirabelle, Miranda, Miriam, Molly, Monica and Mona for M-names.

On virtuous middles…
My first thought was Mercy, because it sounds a lot like Marie. Other virtue names that might make nice middles are Amity, Charity, Clementine/Clemency, Hope, Joy, Patience, Peace/Pax, Temperance and Verity.

Now it’s your turn! Which of Juliet, Isla, Susannah and Norah do you like best for twins? What names can you come up with to honor Denise Marie? Which virtue names do you like best for middle names?

Baby Name Needed for Sister of Diogo and Cruz

A reader named Debra would like some help naming baby número três:

We are just not finding THE name. I’m American, husband is Portuguese and we live in the states. We have two boys; Diogo and Cruz. I am due any day with #3 a GIRL. We definitely want a Portuguese name.

Our criteria…the name needs to be relatively easy for Americans to pronounce. Don’t want a name in the top 100 in the states. I prefer names that aren’t automatically shortened to nn – Debra to Debbie, Kimberly to Kim. I don’t usually care for names that end with the “e” sound, ex. Zoe. The name should be beautiful and sophisticated, more than cute.

I really like Sofia and Isabel, but they are just too popular in the U.S. right now. Other names we like are Beatriz (too hard to properly pronounce in US?), and Mara.

Please help us. I’d love to have a name before she is born! I’m 38 weeks today!

I think Mara would be a great choice, based on the criteria. Here are some other names that might also work:

Sílvia (good alternative to Sofia?)

Do you like any of the above for the baby sister of Diogo and Cruz? What other (preferably Portuguese) names would you suggest to Debra?

Morocco Bans Berber (Amazigh) Baby Names

Here’s something I wasn’t aware of until I did some research on Berber names (for a post about the name Monica, the only Berber name commonly used in English).

In 2009, human rights groups called out the Moroccan government for not allowing Berber (a.k.a. Amazigh) parents to choose Amazigh names for their babies. Activists claimed it amounted to ethnic discrimination.

According to a Moroccan government official, the names were rejected because they “contradict the Moroccan identity” — despite the fact that Berbers are native to Morocco.

The handful of Amazigh parents who’d fought for and won the right to use Amazigh names for their babies had to endure an expensive, time-consuming appeals process. They also had a hard time obtaining things like passports and medical insurance for their (officially) nameless newborns.

Here are some Amazigh names that were initially rejected, but later accepted, by the Moroccan government:

  • Ayyur – “moon” in Tamazight (the Berber language)
  • Massine – the diminutive form of Massinissa, the name of an ancient Berber king
  • Sifaw – “enlightened” in Tamazight
  • Tara – the name of an aromatic plant in Tamazight
  • Tin-Ass* – “light” in Tamazight
  • Tiziri – “moonlight” in Tamazight

I haven’t been able to find any updates on the story, so I’m not sure if Morocco has since changed its stance on Amazigh names.

*Not to make light of the issue, but…Tin-Ass reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago on lost-in-translation Hebrew names like Mangina and Dudu.

Sources: Morocco bans Berber names on birth certificates, Letter to Morocco Interior Minister Benmoussa on the Refusal of Amazigh Names, Morocco: Lift Restrictions on Amazigh (Berber) Names

Baby Names Needed for the Twin Sisters of Thomas

A reader named Eva is expecting twin girls and would like some help naming them. She says:

One of the twins should have a unisex first name and a very girly middle name. For the second twin we want a girly first name and unisex middle name.

Here are the names Eva likes so far:

  • Unisex: Avery, Harper, Morgan, Kennedy, Madison
  • Feminine: Anastasia, Michaela, Caroline, Sofia, Kristina

Her husband is only on board with Avery, Caroline, Kristina and Michaela (he prefers the spelling Makayla).

The twins will have an older brother named Thomas Aiden (nn Tommy) and their surname will be similar to Damon.

Eva’s criteria reminded me of the twins named Charlotte and Dylan I wrote about a few years ago. I think the name Charlotte is a good option in this case, but Dylan plus that surname might be D/N-overload. Here are some other possibilities:

Feminine names Unisex names

Which of the above names do you like best for Tommy’s sisters? What combinations (either unisex+feminine or feminine+unisex) sound best together, do you think?

Here are a few combinations I like, just to kick things off:

  • Unisex+Feminine: Avery Helena, Cameron Nicole, Riley Caroline
  • Feminine+Unisex: Amelia Quinn, Olivia Willow, Victoria Leigh