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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In 2016, the top names were Harper/Olivia and Oliver.
In the girls’ top 10, Abigail and Quinn replace Charlotte and Nora.
In the boys’ top 10, Noah, Logan, Asher, Jack, and Ryker replace William, Mason, James, Wyatt, and Hudson. And Easton is still going strong!
There were also differences between these rankings and the SSA’s 2017 rankings for North Dakota. The SSA data has Ellie and Hazel (instead of Quinn and Addison) in the girls’ top 10, and William (instead of Ryker) in the boys’ top 10.
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…
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:
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.”
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]
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]
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?
*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.