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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Muriel

Number of Babies Named Muriel

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Muriel

Rhyming Nicknames – Polly, Dolly, Molly, Lolly

New York City businessman Isaac Rice, founder of the Electric Boat Company (maker of the first modern submarine used by the U.S. Navy), married his wife Julia in 1885. They had six children:

  • Muriel
  • Dorothy
  • Isaac
  • Marion
  • Marjorie
  • Julian

All six went by nicknames — mostly rhyming nicknames (for the girls):

  • Dolly
  • Polly
  • Tommy
  • Molly
  • Lolly
  • Babe

Several decades later, actor Don Ameche also had six kids, most of whom also had rhyming nicknames.

P.S. Julia Rice founded the Society for Suppression of Unnecessary Noise in the early 1900s.


Goodbye, Gertrude…Again

Last month I spotted an article about the decline of certain old-fashioned baby names in the UK.

(The first two words in the title were “Goodbye Gertrude.” Wait a minute, I thought. Hasn’t the UK already said goodbye to Gertrude? Hm.)

Anyway…

The article, drawing from a recent Ancestry.co.uk study, listed baby names that are now “extinct,” “endangered,” and “at risk” in the UK.

  • Extinct Baby Names (no longer on the England & Wales baby name list)
    • Cecil, Rowland, Willie
    • Bertha, Blodwen*, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie, Muriel
  • Endangered Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 99% since 1905)
    • Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie, Norman
    • Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion, Phyllis
  • At-Risk Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 98% since 1905)
    • Arnold, Bernard, Clarence, Cyril, Ernest, Fred, Herbert, Percy, Roland, Sydney, Trevor, Walter
    • Ann, Dorothy, Eveline, Freda, Gwendoline, Irene, Jane, Janet, Jennie, Lilian, Lizzie, Margaret, Mary, Maud, Mildred, Nellie, Rhoda, Winifred

I wonder how Derek fared in their study.

The article also mentioned that, over the years, some names have been outpaced by their diminutive forms — Alfred by Alfie, Frederick by Freddie, Archibald by Archie, Charles by Charlie, Alexandra by Lexi, Sophia by Sophie, Eleanor by Ellie, and so forth.

*Blodwen is Welsh for “white flowers.” The Breton form is Bleuzen, in case you were wondering.

Sources: Goodbye Gertrude, hello Lexi: records show UK demise of some baby names, Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed

List of Female Names from 1888

female names, 1888

A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Source: A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names by George J. Howson

Who Should Have the Final Say, Mom or Dad? [Poll]

When it comes to names, who should have the final say, the mother or the father?*

In April of 1914, a Los Angeles judge “rendered a decision that a wife has absolute authority in the naming of children. The husband has nothing to do with it.”

The ruling was made in the case of Chrystos Malamatinos, a Greek, who insisted that his baby daughter be named after Helen of Troy. His wife, and American, insisted on Muriel, and the court sustained her choice and ordered Malamatinos to pay the family $5 a week.

According to records, his name was actually spelled Christos Malamatinas, and his wife was named Esther May Reynolds.

They were married in 1912. Their baby girl was born in August of 1913.

Esther had discovered the name Muriel in a novel. When Christos learned that she had named the baby Muriel, he left home in protest. He was eventually charged with failure to provide for his family, and that’s how the couple ended up in court.

Now for a pair of polls:

Who should have the final say on baby names?

View Results

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I would have chosen the name...

View Results

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Here’s a similar poll, Antoinette vs. Annette, if you’re interested.

And here’s a court case like the one above, though I don’t know what the outcome was.

*I’m using heterosexual terminology here, just to keep things simple, but feel free to open things up and discuss other scenarios — homosexual, polyamorous, etc. — in the comments.

Sources:

  • “Greek to Stay in Jail Until Muriel is Helen.” Chicago Daily Tribune 15 Apr. 1914: 14.
  • “Wife Has Absolute Right to Name Children.” Evening News [San Jose] 17 April 1914: 5.

Female Names in the Domesday Book

Female Names in the Domesday Book

We looked at names from King Henry III’s fine rolls (13th century) a couple of weeks ago, so now let’s go back a bit further and look at names from the Domesday Book (11th century).

What is the Domesday Book?

It’s a land survey, compiled in 1086, that covered much of England and parts of Wales.

The Domesday Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land (villagers, smallholders, free men, slaves, etc.), the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and other resources, any buildings present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.), and the whole purpose of the survey – the value of the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday.

The book is held at The National Archives in London, but its contents are available online at Open Domesday.

Most of the names in the Domesday Book are male, as most landowners were men. So, to be different (and to make things easier!) I thought I’d focus on the women.

The female names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (Multiple mentions don’t necessarily speak to name popularity, as this is not a representative sample of 11th-century people. Also, some individuals are simply mentioned in the book more than once.)

A

  • Adelaide
  • Adelina (2)
  • Adeliza
  • Aeldiet
  • Aeleva (3)
  • Aelfeva (9)
  • Aelfgyth (4)
  • Aelfrun
  • Aelfthryth
  • Aelgeat
  • Aelgyth
  • Aelrun
  • Aethelfled
  • Aethelgyth
  • Agnes (2)
  • Ailhilla
  • Aldeva
  • Aldgyth (13)
  • Aldhild
  • Aldwif
  • Aleifr
  • Aleva
  • Alfhild (3)
  • Alfled (3)
  • Alswith
  • Althryth
  • Alware
  • Alweis
  • Alwynn (2)
  • Asa
  • Asmoth
  • Azelina

B

  • Beatrix
  • Bothild
  • Bricteva (8)
  • Brictfled
  • Brictgyth

C

  • Christina
  • Cwenhild
  • Cwenleofu
  • Cwenthryth

D

  • Deorwynn
  • Dove

E

  • Edeva (8)
  • Edhild
  • Edith (5)
  • Edlufu
  • Egelfride
  • Emma (7)
  • Estrild
  • Eva

G

  • Goda (6)
  • Gode (2)
  • Godelind
  • Godesa
  • Godgyth (4)
  • Goldhild
  • Godhyse
  • Godiva (7)
  • Godrun
  • Goldeva
  • Goldrun
  • Gudhridh
  • Gunild (2)
  • Gunwor
  • Guthrun
  • Gytha (4)

H

  • Heloise (2)
  • Hawise

I

  • Ida
  • Ingifrith
  • Ingrith
  • Isolde

J

  • Judith

L

  • Lefleda
  • Leodfled
  • Leofcwen
  • Leofeva (9)
  • Leoffled (4)
  • Leofgyth
  • Leofhild
  • Leofrun
  • Leofsidu
  • Leofswith
  • Leofwaru
  • Leohteva

M

  • Matilda (3)
  • Mawa
  • Menleva
  • Mereswith
  • Merwynn
  • Mild
  • Modeva
  • Molleva
  • Muriel

O

  • Odfrida
  • Odil
  • Odolina
  • Oia
  • Olova
  • Oseva

Q

  • Queneva

R

  • Regnild
  • Rohais (2)

S

  • Saegyth
  • Saehild
  • Saelufu
  • Saewaru
  • Saieva
  • Sigrith
  • Skialdfrith
  • Stanfled
  • Sunneva

T

  • Tela
  • Thorild
  • Thorlogh
  • Tova
  • Tovild
  • Turorne
  • Tutfled

W

  • Wigfled
  • Wulfeva (9)
  • Wulffled (2)
  • Wulfgyth
  • Wulfrun
  • Wulfwaru (2)
  • Wulfwynn (2)

See anything you like?

Also, did you notice the names of Scandinavian origin (e.g., Guthrun, Ingrith, Sigrith)? “These names are most numerous in the eastern half of the country, particularly Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This is precisely where, as we know from other evidence, there was a substantial settlement of Scandinavian immigrants.”

UPDATE: Here are the Male Names in the Domesday Book.

Sources:

Image: National Archives (UK)

First Names from King Henry III’s Fine Rolls (1200s)

Henry III of EnglandI’ve got some 13th-century English names for you today!

They come from the fine rolls of King Henry III (1216–1272). The fine rolls were basically financial records. King Henry III wasn’t the first to keep them, but they “expand[ed] considerably in size and content during Henry’s reign.”

The Henry III Fine Rolls Project has translated the fine rolls from Latin to English, if you want to check them out.

Even better for our purposes, though, is this nifty database of given names in the Fine Rolls of Henry III, which shows us the most-mentioned male names and female names in the rolls.

(These lists aren’t the same as the single-year, society-wide baby name popularity lists we’re accustomed to — they cover a wide range of birth years, and a small segment of society — but they do give us a general idea of which names were the most popular during the 1200s.)

Of the 8,423 male names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. William (1,217 mentions)
  2. John (669)
  3. Richard (495)
  4. Robert (434)
  5. Henry (376)
  6. Ralph (365)
  7. Thomas (351)
  8. Walter (346)
  9. Roger (337)
  10. Hugh (297)
  11. Geoffrey (261)
  12. Simon (218)
  13. Adam (200)
  14. Nicholas, Peter (180 each)
  15. Gilbert (157)
  16. Alan (110)
  17. Phillip (109)
  18. Reginald (88)
  19. Stephen (83)
  20. Elias (66)
  21. Alexander (65)
  22. Osbert (52)
  23. Eustace (44)
  24. Andrew, Matthew (42 each)
  25. Ranulf (40)

Other names on the men’s list: Hamo, Fulk, Payn, Waleran, Drogo, Engeram, Amfrid, Ratikin, Walkelin, Bonefey, Fulcher, Hasculf, Herlewin, Joldwin, Lefsi, Marmaduke, Orm, Albizium, Cocky, Deulobene, Gwenwynwyn, Markewart.

Of the 1,314 female names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. Alice (140 mentions)
  2. Matilda (138)
  3. Agnes (76)
  4. Margaret (69)
  5. Joan (62)
  6. Isabella (60)
  7. Emma (37)
  8. Beatrice (34)
  9. Mabel (33)
  10. Cecilia (32)
  11. Christiana (30)
  12. Hawise (29)
  13. Juliana (27)
  14. Sibyl (25)
  15. Rose (21)
  16. Sarra (16)
  17. Helewise (15)
  18. Avice, Eleanor, Eva, Lucy (14 each)
  19. Leticia (13)
  20. Felicia (12)
  21. Isolda, Margery, Petronilla (11 each)
  22. Ascelina, Edith (10 each)
  23. Phillippa (9)
  24. Amice, Elena, Katherine, Mary, Sabina (8)
  25. Basilia, Muriel (7)

Other names on the women’s list: Albrea, Amabilia, Eustachia, Idonea, Egidia, Millicent, Amphelisa, Avegaya, Barbata, Comitessa, Frethesenta, Wulveva, Alveva, Dervorguilla, Deulecresse, Elizabeth (just 1!), Flandrina, Oriolda.

See any names you like?

Source: The Henry III Fine Rolls by David Carpenter

Baby Name Needed for the Sister of Copeland

A reader named Lisa is expecting her second daughter a couple of weeks and needs some name assistance. Her first daughter is Copeland Rhine. Lisa’s main predicament is this:

[H]ow do I find a strong unique vintage name for this second precious girlie that will not wilt next to a strong name like Copeland Rhine?

And here are some other questions and points Lisa brought up:

  • “Our goal is not to have their names competing for placement but complimenting each other.”
  • “We do not want to be boxed in on unisex or surname first names.”
  • “I have been gravitating towards Sojourner Bliss or Sojourner Mercy (Sophie for short) but that is all I have and my husband is not sold on it nor on a stronger masculine name.”
  • “My husband really loves Evangeline yet he is not wanting to use it because it is becoming so popular. We both love the idea of Evie as a nickname.”
  • “I really want to honor three people in my family but all three would not wish their name on anyone: Leona, Gertrude and Lorraine. Are there any derived names that I could use?” [Other family names she mentioned are Cornelia, Josephine, Ester, Rosemary, Carmelita, Trinia (Trijntje), Johannes, Sophia, Evelientje, Alice (called Ollie), Francis, Felicia and Blanche.]

The baby’s surname will be a 2-syllable name that starts with D and also includes a z-sound. It’s somewhat similar to De Souza.

So the challenge is to find “strong unique vintage” names that work with Copeland, but that won’t lock Lisa’s family into surnames or unisex names. And to try to get a family connection in there as well.

I think Evangeline is a great idea, actually. It’s strong, vintage, and neither a surname nor a unisex name. And both Lisa and her husband like the nickname Evie. Seems like the only thing holding them back is the popularity.

Yes, Evangeline has become slightly popular recently. It’s been back in the top 1,000 since 2006. But let’s put that into context. Over 2,000,000 baby girls were born last year, and only 735 of them were named Evangeline. That’s a very small percentage. (But if it’s really that bothersome, there’s always Evangelina, which is still well out of the top 1,000.)

I’m not a big fan of Sojourner. It’s strong, and unique, and not a surname…but it’s not feminine, and it’s not what I’d call vintage, even if Sojourner Truth was a well-known 19th-century woman. I’d worry about teasing, especially with a noun-middle like Bliss or Mercy. And I think naming a third child (of either gender) after Copeland and Sojourner would be tricky.

Sophie seems like it would be an awkward nickname for Sojourner. It’s so different from Sojourner that it strikes me as more of a cover-name than a nickname–as if Sojourner were just too strong or strange to work as an everyday name.

Leona, Gertrude and Lorraine…the most interesting way I could think of to combine them was to look for names that feature their first letters (L, G, L) such as Nigella, Allegra and Gillian.

Here are a few other name ideas that came to mind:

Acacia
Adelaide
Amandine
Anais
Anneliese
Antonia
Aquila
Artemis
Astrid
Augusta
Aurelia
Aurora
Damaris
Delphina
Demetria
Freya
Ginevra
Harriet
Honora
Imogen
Ione
Isadora
Leocadia
Lucasta
Lucretia
Melosa
Merit
Mehetabel
Minerva
Morgana
Muriel
Nelle
Penelope
Petra
Sophronia
Sunniva
Theodosia/Theda
Thora
Venetia
Vera

Some are related to the family names Lisa mentioned (e.g. Adelaide/Alice, Sophronia/Sophia).

Which of the above names do you like best for the sister of Copeland? What other names would you suggest to Lisa?