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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Owen

Number of Babies Named Owen

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Owen

Baby Names from “How Green Was My Valley”

Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel How Green Was My Valley told the story of a Welsh coal-mining family during the late 19th century. The story’s narrator was schoolboy Huw Morgan, eighth of nine* siblings, and the symbolic greenness of the valley referred to the fact that, over the course of the Huw’s life, the valley where he lived changed color from green to black due to the mining.

In 1940, How Green Was My Valley was the best-selling book of the year and won the National Book Award for fiction the same year. In late 1941, a Hollywood film based on the book was released. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and ended up winning in five categories, including Best Picture.

Thanks to the book and the movie, two Welsh names (and one sort-of Welsh name) ended up appearing in the SSA’s baby name data…

The baby name Angharad debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943.

Let’s go alphabetically, starting with Angharad, pronounced ahn-HAHR-ahd, roughly. In the story, Angharad (played by Maureen O’Hara in the film) was Huw’s older sister.

American audiences heard this name loud and clear within the first few minutes of the movie:

The name Angharad was a one-hit wonder in the data in 1943:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: 5 baby girls named Angharad [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted

While the name didn’t catch on in the U.S., one name-book notes that it “has been strongly revived in Wales since the 1940s.”

The middle element of Angharad has the same root as the Welsh word caru, meaning “love.”

The baby name Bronwyn debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1942.

Next we have the names Bronwen and Bronwyn. The first appeared in 1941:

  • 1945: 10 baby girls named Bronwen
  • 1944: 8 baby girls named Bronwen
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Bronwen
  • 1942: 8 baby girls named Bronwen
  • 1941: 7 baby girls named Bronwen [debut]
  • 1940: unlisted

And the second followed in 1942:

  • 1945: 20 baby girls named Bronwyn
  • 1944: 9 baby girls named Bronwyn
  • 1943: 10 baby girls named Bronwyn
  • 1942: 9 baby girls named Bronwyn [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted

In the story, Bronwen/Bronwyn was Huw’s sister-in-law (the wife of his brother Ivor).

For the book, the name was spelled Bronwen, which is the traditional form of the name. It can be traced back to Welsh elements meaning “breast” (bron) and “white, fair; blessed, holy” (gwen).

But for the movie, the name was respelled Bronwyn, inexplicably. The film character Bronwyn (played by Anna Lee**) was typically called “Bron.”

Notably, one of the babies named after the character was Maureen O’Hara’s only child, Bronwyn, born in 1944. Her birth is likely what boosted the -wyn spelling ahead of the -wen spelling in 1945.

Which Welsh name do you like more, Angharad or Bronwen?

Which Welsh name do you prefer?

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*The nine Morgan siblings in order were Ivor, Ianto, Davy, Owen, Gwilym Jr., Angharad, Ceridwen, Huw, and Olwen.
**Anna Lee’s five children were named Joanna Venetia, Caroline, John, Stephen, and Timothy.

Sources:

Biggest Changes, Baby Boy Names, 2017

Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2016 to 2017? And which ones decreased the most?

There are a few different ways to answer this question. The SSA, for instance, likes to look at ranking differences within the top 1,000. And I like to augment their list by looking at raw number differences across all the data.

So let’s look at increases first…

Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2016 to 2017

Rankings

1. Wells, +504 spots
2. Kairo, +423
3. Caspian, +328
4. Nova, +323
5. Colson, +323
6. Kace, +315
7. Kashton, +302
8. Koa, +294
9. Gatlin, +282
10. Bjorn, +276

Wells was influenced by Wells Adams, a contestant from The Bachelorette. Nova may have been influenced by “all those Villanova Wildcats basketball fans naming their sons in celebration of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions.”

Raw Numbers

1. Logan, +2,748 babies
2. Maverick, +1,751
3. Ezekiel, +1,350
4. Mateo, +1,181
5. Lincoln, +1,032
6. Theodore, +1,018
7. Matias, +643
8. Leo, +642
9. Jameson, +639
10. Rowan, +637

Other names that saw raw number increases in the 300+ range included Asher, Santiago, Ezra, Rhett, Waylon, and Legend.

And now let’s check out decreases…

Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2016 to 2017

Rankings

1. Riaan, -421 spots
2. Kylo, -245
3. Kolby, -195
4. Urijah, -189
5. Kamdyn, -189
6. Jamar, -163
7. Giovani, -160
8. Nickolas, -155
9. Chad, -155
10. Jair, -147

The higher they climb, the harder they fall: Riaan was the fastest-rising boy name of 2015, and Kylo was the fastest-rising boy name of 2016, and now they’re both plummeting in 2017.

Raw Numbers

1. Mason, -1,728 babies
2. Michael, -1,478
3. Ethan, -1,417
4. Jacob, -1,373
5. Daniel, -1,281
6. Andrew, -1,161
7. Gabriel, -1,124
8. Anthony, -1,049
9. Matthew, -994
10. Owen, -970

Other names that saw raw number drops in the (negative) 300+ range included Aiden, Jackson, Gavin, Ryder, Jase, Hudson, and Tristan.

Do you have any explanations for the name movement above? If so, please comment!

Sources: Change in Popularity, SSA, Emma and Liam Top Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2017

Popular and Unique Baby Names in Iowa, 2016

I love that the Social Security Administration releases so much baby name data to the public. But I’ve always had mixed feelings about that 5-baby threshold for inclusion. (Due to privacy concerns, the government doesn’t release names given to fewer than 5 babies per gender, per year.)

Part of me appreciates the threshold. For instance, I like that it adds significance to the pop culture debut names I’m always posting about, as these names had to hit a certain minimum level of usage in order to register in the data.

But the other part of me? The other part just really, really wants to see those rare/crazy names at the bottom of the list.

So I get excited when I find U.S. data from an official source that does go down to single-instance usage. Up until recently, I only knew about Sonoma County and Los Angeles County, but recently I discovered that Iowa (an entire state!) also releases down-to-1 baby name data. Yay!

But before we get to the rare names, let’s look at the state of Iowa’s top baby names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Olivia, 203 baby girls
2. Emma, 181
3. Charlotte, 158
4. Harper, 156
5. Ava & Evelyn, 148 each (2-way tie)
6. Amelia, 125
7. Nora, 123
8. Sophia, 112
9. Addison, 101
10. Grace, 96

Boy Names
1. Oliver, 197 baby boys
2. Owen, 178
3. William, 174
4. Wyatt, 170
5. Henry, 165
6. Liam, 159
7. Noah, 149
8. Benjamin, 148
9. Jackson, 144
10. Lincoln, 123

  • In the girls’ top 10, Addison and Grace replace Avery.
  • In the boys’ top 10, Benjamin and Lincoln replace Mason and Elijah.
  • In 2015, the top two names were Emma and Liam.

(The SSA rankings for Iowa are similar, but not exactly the same. One notable difference on is that the SSA ranks Grayson 10th on the boys list, and puts Lincoln down in 13th.)

And now for the rarities!

Iowa’s website offers interactive baby name usage graphs that include all names bestowed at least once from 2000 to 2016. Here’s a sampling:

Rare baby names in Iowa (2000-2016 total usage)
Girl Names Boy Names
Arabia (1)
Bishop (1)
Currency (1)
Dream (3)
Eros (1)
Fairy (1)
Gatsby (1)
Heritage (1)
Irish (5)
Jasper (1)
KeyEssence (1)
Lisbon (1)
Michigan (1)
Nirvana (3)
Orchid (1)
PairoDice (1)
Qy (1)
Reminisce (1)
Scully (1)
Tear (1)
Unity (4)
Veruca (1)
Windy (2)
Xanadu (1)
Yawh (1)
Zinnia (1)
Arcade (1)
Banksy (1)
Cactus (1)
Denali (2)
Elvis (18)
Fonzy (1)
Galaxy (1)
Helium (1)
Indigo (2)
Jeep (3)
Kal-El (3)
Lightning (1)
Mowgli (1)
Notorious (1)
Opttimus (1)
Player (1)
Quest (3)
Racer (3)
Sanctify (1)
Tavern (1)
Universe (1)
Vegas (1)
Winner (4)
Xyn (1)
Young-Sky (1)
Zealand (1)

If you decide to dig through the data, leave a comment and let me know what you spot!

And if you’re friends with any expectant parents in Iowa, tell those lucky ducks that they have access to full sets of baby name rankings for their state. Either send them a link to this post or to one of the pages below…

Sources: Top Baby Names – Iowa Department of Public Health, Baby Names Popularity Over Time – Iowa Department of Public Health

12 Rare Irish Boy Names

rare irish boy namesWe’re all familiar with Irish boy names like Aidan (Aodhán), Brendan (Breandán), and Kieran (Ciarán).

What if you like the sound of these names, but want something a little less common?

Here are a dozen legit Irish names that are barely being used right now — and all of them have that popular two-syllable, ends-with-N structure that American parents tend to like for boy names (think Mason, Ethan, Jackson, Logan, Owen, Jayden, Dylan, Justin…and countless others).

Which of these would you be most likely to use for your own baby boy?

Cammán
Historical example: Cammán mac Amlaíb, 10th-century viking.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Colmán
Historical example: Colmán mac Báetáin, 6th-century monarch.
Current usage: Colman is rare.

Crónán
Historical example: Crónán mac Bécáin, 7th-century saint.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Dallán
Historical example: Dallán Forgaill, 6th-century poet.
Current usage: Dallan is rare.

Donnán
Historical example: Donnán of Eigg, 7th-century priest.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Fintán
Historical example: Fintán of Taghmon, 7th-century saint.
Current usage: Fintan is rare.

Flannán
Historical example: Flannán mac Toirrdelbaig, 7th-century saint.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Garbán
Historical example: Garbán mac Éndai, 6th-century monarch.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Lommán
Historical example: Lommán mac Dalláin, 6th-century saint.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Lorcán
Historical example: Lorcán mac Cellaig, 9th-century monarch.
Current usage: Lorcan is rare.

Marcán
Historical example: Marcán mac Tommáin, 7th-century monarch.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

Mongán
Historical example: Mongán mac Fiachnai, 7th-century prince.
Current usage: Has never been in the data.

The Introduction of Neve

neve campbell, party of five, 1990s, baby name

The baby name Neve, an anglicized form of the Irish name Niamh (“bright”), first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1996:

  • 1999: 25 baby girls named Neve
  • 1998: 38 baby girls named Neve
  • 1997: 29 baby girls named Neve
  • 1996: 8 baby girls named Neve [debut]
  • 1995: unlisted

Who kicked it off?

Actress Neve Campbell, one of the stars of the TV show Part of Five. The show premiered in 1994, but didn’t become popular until 1996, after winning the Golden Globe for “Best Television Series – Drama” that January.

Neve played 15-year-old Julia Salinger, middle child of the five orphaned Salinger siblings. (Their parents had died in a car accident.) Julia had older brothers named Charlie and Bailey, a younger sister named Claudia, and a baby brother named Owen.

The show didn’t do much for the names Charlie or Claudia, and Julia was already on the rise, thanks to Julia Roberts. But it definitely gave the name Bailey a boost as a boy name. And it seems to have kicked off the long (and continuing!) rise of the name Owen.

Do you like the name Neve? What spelling do you prefer?

Source: Party of Five – Wikipedia