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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Neil

Number of Babies Named Neil

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Neil

Name Quotes for the Weekend #32

Thana, cover of LIFE, 1947

Happy Friday! Here’s another batch of random, name-related quotes to end the week…

From the description of the December 15, 1947, cover of LIFE magazine:

Among the prettiest showgirls in New York’s nightclubs are (from left) brunette Dawn McInerney, red-haired Thana Barclay and blond Joy Skylar who all work in the Latin Quarter. […] Thana, also 22, was named after her mother’s favorite poem Thanatopsis. She is married to a song plugger named Duke Niles and owns a dachshund named Bagel.

The poem “Thanatopsis” was written by William Cullen Bryant. The word itself means “a view or contemplation of death.” In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the god of death.

From the All Music Guide to Hip-hop by Vladimir Bogdanov:

Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1975, with the unlikely name of Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (after D.C.-born Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor).

Elgin Baylor, born in 1934, was named after the Elgin National Watch Company. (He’s on my Long List of Unusual Real Names.)

From “The Art Of Knowing When Less Is More” by Greg Dawson, published in the Orlando Sentinel in 1997:

Fellow immigrants…Here is proof that we need that national “conversation about race” urged by President Clinton: Last week in a whimsical moment I argued that official hurricane names are too “white bread” (like Greg) and don’t reflect America’s ethnic stew. To make my point I looked at the births page of the Sentinel for names that you never see attached to a hurricane — names such as Attaliah, Desjambra, Ofori. A reader called to complain about the “white bread” line and added, “A lot of those names aren’t even American.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “but they were born in this country. They’re just as American as you and me.”

“You know what I mean,” he said.

Yes, unfortunately, I think I do.

From The Making of Cabaret by Keith Garebian, regarding the name of English actress Valerie Jill Haworth, who was born on Victory over Japan Day (Aug. 15, 1945):

The initials of her baptismal names (Valerie Jill) were in honor of her birth on VJ Day.

Related: American actress Robin Vee Strasser was born on Victory in Europe Day.

A quote from Freddie Prinze, Jr., in the documentary Misery Loves Comedy (sent to me by Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda):

“When you’re a Junior you’re pretty much just a statue to what went before.”

From “My Daughter Will Be Named Ruby Daffodil” in US magazine article

Back when Drew Barrymore was only 20 years old, she already had a name picked out for her future child.

During an interview with Rolling Stone in June 1995, Barrymore opened up about her relationship at the time with Hole musician Eric Erlandson.


“I never thought I’d have a sense of family until I had my own kids. I want two: a boy and a girl,” she revealed. “My daughter will be named Ruby Daffodil.”

Today she has two daughters, neither of whom are named Ruby Daffodil. The first was named Olive and the second Frankie.

From “The History Of How “Cow Poop” Became A Real-Life Japanese Family Name” by Mami of the blog Tofugu:

There are some Japanese family names that are so ridiculous that I’m forced to believe that someone was playing some kind of horrible family prank when they named themselves. Cow Poop (Ushikuso), Horse-Butt (Umajiri), and Boar-Crotch (Inomata/Imata) are actual people in Japan. If they wanted a memorable name, they’ve certainly achieved it, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up with a name like that as a child.

From the “Name Wisely” section of “8 Tips for Creating Great Stories” by Hugh Hart of Fast Company:

Fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman stresses the importance of a good name in describing the genesis of his American Gods protagonist. “There’s a magic to names, after all,” he says. “I knew his name [needed to be] descriptive. I tried calling him Lazy, but he didn’t seem to like that, and I called him Jack, and he didn’t like that any better. I took to trying every name I ran into on him for size, and he looked back at me from somewhere in my head unimpressed every time. It was like trying to name Rumpelstiltskin.”

He finally discovered the name, Shadow, in an Elvis Costello song. (American Gods will be on TV soon…will we soon be seeing more babies named Shadow?)

Baby Names from ‘American Gods’?

Neil Gaiman’s award-winning book American Gods is going to be made into a TV series. Here’s a quick synopsis, courtesy of Nerdist:

For those of you who haven’t read the novel, American Gods centers around a war brewing between old and new gods; the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world, who are now steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity, and drugs. The lead character, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday. Mr. Wednesday is a con man who is in reality one of the older gods on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.

I don’t know when the show will be on the air (2016?) but Shadow’s name is already being thrown around a lot on social media, thanks to the #CastingShadow social media campaign.

Do you think we’ll see an uptick in the number of babies named Shadow the year the show comes out?

(At least two other Gaiman character names, Coraline and Yvaine, saw increased usage after the books Stardust and Coraline were made into movies.)

Source: Starz Greenlights Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Television Series

The Baby Name Coraline

CoralineNeil Gaiman’s fantasy book Coraline (2002) tells the story of young Coraline Jones. The book was turned into a movie in 2009.

The book did inspire a few baby names, but watch what happens when the movie comes out:

  • 2013: 385 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2012: 325 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2011: 224 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2010: 237 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2009: 120 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2008: 11 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2007: 5 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2006: 7 baby girls named Coraline
  • 2005: unlisted

Since 2012, the name Coraline has been among the top 1,000 baby girl names in the U.S.

How did Gaiman come up with the name? Here’s what he said in his recent University of the Arts Class of 2012 commencement speech [9:17 to 9:43]:

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful. I once misspelled Caroline in a letter, transposing the A and O. And I thought, “Coraline…looks almost like a real name.”

(h/t Tim Ferriss)

Related: Yvaine is another Neil Gaiman character name.

Baby Name Needed – Brother of Jett Royce

One of my readers is expecting a baby boy in a matter of days and she’d like some last-minute name suggestions.

The baby will have one older sibling, a brother named Jett Royce. The surname sounds like Adlard.

Jett’s given names are both quite short, so I’m going to stick to the pattern and suggest…

Drew (or Andrew)
Tom (or Thomas)

Which of the above do you like best for Jett’s little brother? What other names would you suggest?

How Did Jacqueline Kennedy Pronounce Her Name?

Jacqueline KennedyLast week, audio recordings of Jacqueline Kennedy talking with historian Arthur Schlesinger were released under the title Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.

In an interview about the recordings, Caroline Kennedy noted that most people pronounce “Jacqueline” incorrectly. At least, they aren’t saying it the way her mother used to say it. Jackie pronounced her first name JAK-ə-leen [vid], according to Caroline.

Interesting, no?

I’m trying to find video/audio of Jackie introducing herself, just for confirmation, but haven’t had any luck yet.

So, instead, here are a few Jackie-related name facts:

  • Jackie’s daughter Caroline is the inspiration behind Neil Diamond’s song “Sweet Caroline” (1969).
  • Sources claim that Jackie’s first child, who was stillborn, would have been named Arabella. One source states the name was inspired by the ship Arbella, which carried Puritans to New England during the Great Migration.
  • Jackie’s maiden name, Bouvier, has appeared on the SSA’s baby name list once–in 1963. Five baby boys were named Bouvier that year. This may have been due to the death of baby Patrick Bouvier in August, or the death of JFK in November.
  • Jackie’s second married name, Onassis, has appeared on the SSA’s baby name list three times. The first was in 1968, when she wed Aristotle Onassis. Six baby boys were named Onassis that year.

Source: Pottker, Jan. Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.
Photo: AP

Dust Motes + Neil Diamond = Baby Name

Remember Invicta, the baby name inspired by a childhood memory of steamrollers and “the smell of thick, black tar”? Well, I’ve found another baby name that can be traced back to a vivid childhood memory. This memory belongs to writer Mary Schneider:

Her name came to me when I was seven months pregnant and still trying to think of something suitable to call her. At the time, I was walking down a flight of stairs when I became aware of the sunlight streaming through a side window.

Suddenly, I was transported back in time. I was sixteen years old and enjoying the long summer break from school. I’d just cleared all my household chores for the day and was getting ready to visit a friend when I heard the front door slamming – it was my mother coming in from the garden.

I came out of my room and went to the top of the stairs, just in time to see her vigorously unfurling a rug on the floor behind the front door.

As she hurried away, I watched the dust motes rising upwards, made visible by the shafts of sunlight that streamed through the little window at the side of the door. As the motes reached their apex and slowly began to float downwards through the thick air, I stopped mid-step on the staircase, mesmerized.

Just then, the sound of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” came drifting out of the living room to mingle with the dust motes. Illuminated all the more by a sudden increase in sunlight, the motes took on even more of a magical effect as they continued their downward dance.

A few minutes later, the show was over, and I was left on the staircase with Neil Diamond.

That song stuck with me long after the summer sun had disappeared from the Scottish sky. And now I have my own sweet Caroline.

If you come across any other great name stories like this one, please let me know!

Source: Schneider, Mary. “What’s in a name?Star [Malaysia]. 11 Sep. 2006.

Names Needed for Baby Boy

A reader named Leigh will be having a baby boy within the next few weeks. She writes:

I am a teacher and have heard so many names that I don’t want to name our child. My husband and I really like the name Miles, however, there are many new baby boys in my friend circle, named Miles. I really like Emmett, but my husband is afraid he’ll be mocked because people might only know of his name from the Twilight series. We’re interested in two or three syllable strong, unique (not necessarily unusual) names. A current front runner is Anders, possibly Anders Gray Hollyard*. We also like the name Lars. I guess I’m finding we like names that end in s!

First name and possible middle name suggestions to go with Anders would be greatly appreciated.

*Their surname isn’t Hollyard, but a like-sounding two-syllable h-name.

A few thoughts on the current favorites:

  • Miles: The popularity of this one has been on the rise for years, so it makes sense that you’re hearing it more often. I’m sure this has already come up, but just in case: Have you considered Milo or Niles as alternatives? They both sound a lot like Miles, but they’re not nearly as popular (i.e. only 29 babies were named Niles in 2010).
  • Emmett: Personally, I associate this name with Emmitt Smith, not the fictional vampire. And I’m not even a sports fan. This Twilight craze will blow over one day (thankfully!) and, when it does, these vampire/werewolf associations will fade. Exception: Renesmee.
  • Anders: I really like this one. I especially like that it shortens to the nickname Andy, allowing anyone with this name to flip back and forth between formal/unusual and informal/familiar, depending on the occasion. Versatility is always a good thing.
  • Lars: I have a strong association with this one as well, though I’m not sure how many others have it — Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. So this one may prompt people to ask about the possible Metallica connection. Much cooler than a Twilight question, anyway.

Here are some other names, many with s-endings:


As far as middle names for Anders go, I think Gray is great. I think a one-syllable name with a hard sound (that g) sounds good in that spot. Other names that fit this description are Brett, Craig, Drake, Frank, Grant, Jack, Kent, Mark and Paul.

Which of the above names do you like best? What other names would you suggest to Leigh?

Update: The baby has arrived! Scroll down for the name (or just click here).