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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Nancy

Number of Babies Named Nancy

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Nancy

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: T (part 1)

theda bara, 1915, actress, cinemaHere’s the next installment of rare female names collected from very old films (1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s).

There were a lot of T-names, so I split the list into two posts. The second half will be up in a few weeks.

Taffy
Taffy was a character name in multiple films, including Penthouse Rhythm (1945) and Springtime in the Sierras (1947).

  • Usage of the baby name Taffy.

Tahama
Tahama was a character played by actress Madame Sul-Te-Wan in the film King of the Zombies (1941).

Tahia
Tahia was a character name in multiple films, including White Savage (1943) and Call of the South Seas (1944).

  • Usage of the baby name Tahia.

Tahona
Tahona was a character played by actress Margaret Loomis in the film The Hidden Pearls (1918).

Taisie
Taisie Lockhart was a character played by actress Fay Wray in the film The Conquering Horde (1931).

Takla
Takla was a character played by actress Gilda Gray in the film The Devil Dancer (1927).

Talapa
Talapa was a character played by actress Margaret Loomis in the film Told in the Hills (1919).

Talithy
Talithy Millicuddy was a character played by actress Mary Philbin in the film The Blazing Trail (1921).

Talma
Madame Talma was a character played by actress Edna May Oliver in the film The Great Jasper (1933).

  • Usage of the baby name Talma.

Talu
Talu was a character played by actress Lenore Ulric in the film Frozen Justice (1929).

Taluta
Taluta was a character played by actress Ann Little in the short film The Outcast (1912).

Tama
Tama was a character played by actress Dorothy Lamour in the film Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Tama.

Tamandra
Tamandra was a character played by actress Ormi Hawley in the short film Tamandra, the Gypsy (1913).

Tamarah
Tamarah was a character played by actress Fern Andra in the film Lotus Lady (1930).

Tamarind
Tamarind Brook was a character played by actress Gloria Swanson in the film What a Widow! (1930).

Tambourina
Tambourina was a character played by actress Carrie Clark Ward in the film The Paliser Case (1920).

Tamea
Tamea was a character name in multiple films, including Never the Twain Shall Meet (1925) and Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931).

  • Usage of the baby name Tamea.

Tana
Tana was a character name in multiple films, including The Devil Dancer (1927) and The Forest Rangers (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Tana.

Tanaka
Tanaka was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Fashion Madness (1928).

  • Usage of the baby name Tanaka.

Tanis
Tanis was a character name in multiple films, including Babbitt (1924) and Babbitt (1934).

  • Usage of the baby name Tanis.

Tanit
Tanit Zerga was a character played by actress Milada Mladova in the film Siren of Atlantis (1949).

Tannie
Tannie Edison was a character played by actress Virginia Weidler in the film Young Tom Edison (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Tannie.

Tansy
Tansy Firle was a character played by actress Alma Taylor in the film Tansy (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Tansy.

Tanyusha
Tanyusha was a character played by actress Nancy Carroll in the film Scarlet Dawn (1932).

Tarusa
Tarusa was a character played by actress Esther Dale in the film Aloma of the South Seas (1941).

Tarzana
Tarzana was a character played by actress Raquel Torres in the film So This Is Africa (1933).

Tasia
Tasia was a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film The Red Dance (1928).

  • Usage of the baby name Tasia.

Tatiane
Tatiane Shebanoff was a character played by actress Jacqueline Gadsden in the film His Hour (1924).

Tatuka
Tatuka was a character played by actress Velma Whitman in the short film As the Twig Is Bent (1915).

Taula
Taula was a character played by actress Ernestine Gaines in the film Aloma of the South Seas (1926).

Taupou
Taupou was a character played by actress Margaret Livingston in the film The Brute Master (1920).

Taxi Belle
Taxi Belle Hooper was a character played by actress Rita La Roy in the film Blonde Venus (1932).

Tautinei
Tautinei was a character played by actress Grace Lord in the film The Lure of the South Seas (1929).

Teala
Teala Loring was an actress who appeared in films primarily in the 1940s. She was born in Colorado in 1922. Her birth name was Marcia Eloise Griffin.

  • Usage of the baby name Teala.

Teazie
Bessie “Teazie” Williams was a character played by actress Mae Marsh in the film The White Rose (1923).

Tecolote
Tecolote was a character played by actress Dorothy Dalton in the film The Captive God (1916).

Tecza
Tecza was a character played by actress Geraldine Farrar in the film The Woman God Forgot (1917).

Teddy
Teddy Sampson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1895. Teddy was also a character name in multiple films, including Vultures of Society (1916) and Having Wonderful Time (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Teddy.

Tee-hee-nay
Tee-Hee-Nay was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Legend of the Lost Arrow (1912).

Teena
Teena Johnson was a character played by actress Sally O’Neil in the film Hardboiled (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Teena.

Teenie
Teenie McPherson was a character played by actress Renee Houston in the film Fine Feathers (1937).

  • Usage of the baby name Teenie.

Tehani
Tehani was a character played by actress Movita in the film Mutiny on the Bounty (1935).

  • Usage of the baby name Tehani.

Tehura
Tehura was a character played by actress Jacqueline Logan in the film Ebb Tide (1922).

Teita
Teita was a character played by actress Bessie Love in the film Soul-Fire (1925).

Tela
Tela Tchaï was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in France in 1909.

  • Usage of the baby name Tela.

Teleia
Teleia Van Schreeven was a character played by actress Adele Mara in the film Wake of the Red Witch (1948).

Temata
Temata was a character played by actress Hilo Hattie in the film Tahiti Nights (1944).

Tempe
Tempe Pigott was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in England in 1884.

  • Usage of the baby name Tempe.

Tempest
Tempest Cody was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in a series of Tempest Cody short films in 1919.

Temple
Temple Drake was a character played by actress Miriam Hopkins in the film The Story of Temple Drake (1933). The film was based on the novel Sanctuary (1931) by William Faulkner.

  • Usage of the baby name Temple.

Tempy
Aunt Tempy was a character played by actress Hattie McDaniel in the film Song of the South (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Tempy.

Teodora
Teodora was a character played by actress Alma Rubens in the film The World and His Wife (1920).

Teola
Teola was a character played by various actresses in the various film adaptations of Tess of the Storm Country.

  • Usage of the baby name Teola.

Teresina
Teresina was a character played by actress Nina Campana in the film Tortilla Flat (1942).

Terpsichore
Terpsichore was a character played by actress Rita Hayworth in the film Down to Earth (1947).

Tesha
Tesha was a character played by actress Maria Corda in the film A Woman in the Night (1928).

  • Usage of the baby name Tesha.

Tessibel
Tessibel was a character played by various actresses in the various film adaptations of Tess of the Storm Country.

Tessie
Tessie was a character name in multiple films, including Tessie (1925) and Make Me a Star (1932).

  • Usage of the baby name Tessie.

Texas
Texas Guinan was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Texas in 1884. Texas was also a character played by actress Dot Farley in the film Lady Be Good (1928).

  • Usage of the baby name Texas.

Thais
Thais Merton was a character played by actress Adda Gleason in the film One Traveler Returns (1914).

  • Usage of the baby name Thais.

Thalie
Thalie was a character played by actress Dagmar Godowsky in the film The Trap (1922).

Thania
Princess Thania was a character played by actress Frances Drake in the film The Lone Wolf in Paris (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Thania.

Thanya
Thanya was a character played by actress Kitty Gordon in the film The Crucial Test (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Thanya.

Tharon
Tharon Last was a character played by actress Dorothy Dalton in the film The Crimson Challenge (1922). The film was based on the novel Tharon of Lost Valley (1919) by Vingetta “Vingie” Roe.

  • Usage of the baby name Tharon.

Theda
Theda Bara was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Ohio in 1885. Her birth name was Theodosia Burr Goodman.

  • Usage of the baby name Theda.

Thel
Thel Harris was a character played by actress Lottie Briscoe in the short film Honor Thy Father (1912).

  • Usage of the baby name Thel.

Thelda
Thelda Kenvin was an actress who appeared in one film in 1926. She was born (with the first name Ethelda) in Pennsylvania in 1899. Thelda was also a character played by actress Greta Granstedt in the film There Goes My Heart (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Thelda.

Thelma
Thelma Todd was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1906. Thelma Salter was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in California in 1908. Thelma was also a character name in multiple films, including A Modern Thelma (1916) and A Broadway Butterfly (1925).

  • Usage of the baby name Thelma.

Themar
Themar was a character played by actress Barbara La Marr in the film Arabian Love (1922).

Theo
Theo Scofield West was a character played by actress Lana Turner in the film Marriage is a Private Affair (1944).

  • Usage of the baby name Theo.

Theodosia
Sister Theodosia was a character played by actress Sarah Padden in the film The Zero Hour (1939).

Thera
Thera Dufre was a character played by actress Gretchen Lederer in the short film Under a Shadow (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Thera.

Thirza
Thirza Tapper was a character played by actress Viola Lyel in the film The Farmer’s Wife (1941).

  • Usage of the baby name Thirza.

Thomsine
Thomsine Musgrove was a character played by actress Dorothy Mackaill in the film The Fighting Blade (1923).

Thora
Thora was a character name in multiple films, including The Face of the World (1921) and The Winking Idol (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Thora.

Thorhild
Thorhild was a character played by actress Julia Swayne Gordon in the film The Viking (1928).

Thurya
Thurya was a character played by actress Dorothy Janis in the film Fleetwing (1928).

Thymian
Thymian was a character played by actress Louise Brooks in the film Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).

Thyra
Thyra was a character played by actress Eleanor Boardman in the film The Only Thing (1925).

  • Usage of the baby name Thyra.

*

Which of the above names do you like best?

In the video I pronounced Teala as “tee-AH-lah,” but I now think Teala Loring actually pronounced her name “TEE-lah.” Of course I didn’t find this out until after the video was created. :)


Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.

10th Blogiversary

A full decade of blogging! Why? Because clearly something is wrong with me.

Six-year-old Nancy Joyce Darken of Chicago, on the other hand, is perfect in all ways:

Nancy Joyce Darken in her Nancy box, Chicago, 1937
© LIFE

In fact, it was NJD who reminded me to write this post.

Not personally, of course. Her photo did the reminding.

I’ve had it saved on my computer since last year, and every time I saw it, I’d say to myself: “Don’t forget to add that to the 2016 blogiversary post.”

Which in turn reminded me to write the 2016 blogiversary post.

Anyway…

Double digits. Pretty cool. Not quite as cool as twenty years, which is what Behind the Name recently hit (congrats to Mike C!), but cool nonetheless.

On to decade #2!

Image: “She is tap-dancing on the ceiling.” LIFE 28 Jun. 1937: 68.

Girl Name Battle – Kathlyn, Helen, Pauline, Elaine, Myra, Ruth

Back in the 1910s, serial films with female protagonists were very trendy.

Many of these films had titles that followed the same formula: “The (Plural Noun) of (Female Name).”

Some examples:

the perils of pauline

  • The Adventures of Kathlyn* (1913-1914)
  • The Hazards of Helen (1914-1917)
  • The Perils of Pauline (1914)
  • The Exploits of Elaine* (1915)
  • The Mysteries of Myra (1916)
  • The Adventures of Ruth (1919)

First question: Using the same formula, can you create a serial title with your own name? (You don’t need to have a female name to play along, of course.) The Enigmas of Nancy, The Nuisances of Nancy, The Entanglements of Nancy, The Nail-Biters of Nancy…not that great, but I’m sure you guys can do better.

Second question: Of the six names listed above, which one do you like best?

I prefer:

View Results

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*The baby names Kathlyn and Elaine saw jumps in usage in 1914 and 1915, respectively.

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?