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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Pam


Posts that Mention the Name Pam

“Real World” Baby Names: Amaya, Baya, Brynn…

“This is the true story…of seven strangers…picked to live in a loft…and have their lives taped…”

Several months ago, the cast of the inaugural season of MTV’s The Real World held a 6-day reunion in the very same NYC loft they shared back in 1992. The reunion — which was filmed, of course — is now airing as a series on the Paramount+ platform. (Here’s the trailer.)

When I was a teenager, I loved watching The Real World. (And I appreciated that the names of the cast members were always prominently displayed in the opening credits!) So I think now would be a great time to go back and see if any Real World cast member names had an influence on U.S. baby names.

First, let’s start with a comprehensive list of all the cast member names from each of RW‘s 33 (!) seasons…

  1. The Real World: New York (1992): Andre, Becky, Eric, Heather, Julie, Kevin, Norman
  2. The Real World: California (1993): Aaron, Beth (x2), David, Dominic, Glen, Irene, Jon, Tami
  3. The Real World: San Francisco (1994): Cory, Jo, Judd, Mohammed, Pam, Pedro, Puck, Rachel
  4. The Real World: London (1995): Jacinda, Jay, Kat, Lars, Mike, Neil, Sharon
  5. The Real World: Miami (1996): Cynthia, Dan, Flora, Joe, Melissa, Mike, Sarah
  6. The Real World: Boston (1997): Elka, Genesis, Jason, Kameelah, Montana, Sean, Syrus
  7. The Real World: Seattle (1998): David, Irene, Janet, Lindsay, Nathan, Rebecca, Stephen
  8. The Real World: Hawaii (1999): Amaya, Colin, Justin, Kaia, Matt, Ruthie, Teck
  9. The Real World: New Orleans (2000): Danny, David, Jamie, Julie, Kelley, Matt, Melissa
  10. The Real World: Back to New York (2001): Coral, Kevin, Lori, Malik, Mike, Nicole, Rachel
  11. The Real World: Chicago (2002): Aneesa, Cara, Chris, Keri, Kyle, Theo, Tonya
  12. The Real World: Las Vegas (2002-2003): Alton, Arissa, Brynn, Frank, Irulan, Steven, Trishelle
  13. The Real World: Paris (2003): Ace, Adam, Chris, Christina, Leah, Mallory, Simon
  14. The Real World: San Diego (2004): Brad, Cameran, Charlie, Frankie, Jacquese, Jamie, Randy, Robin
  15. The Real World: Philadelphia (2004-2005): Karamo, Landon, Melanie, M.J., Sarah, Shavonda, Willie
  16. The Real World: Austin (2005): Danny, Johanna, Lacey, Melinda, Nehemiah, Rachel, Wes
  17. The Real World: Key West (2006): Janelle, John, Jose, Paula, Svetlana, Tyler, Zach
  18. The Real World: Denver (2006-2007): Alex, Brooke, Colie, Davis, Jenn, Stephen, Tyrie
  19. The Real World: Sydney (2007-2008): Ashli, Cohutta, Dunbar, Isaac, KellyAnne, Parisa, Shauvon, Trisha
  20. The Real World: Hollywood (2008): Brianna, Brittini, Dave, Greg, Joey, Kimberly, Nick, Sarah, Will
  21. The Real World: Brooklyn (2009): Baya, Chet, Devyn, J.D., Katelynn, Ryan, Sarah, Scott
  22. The Real World: Cancun (2009): Ayiiia, Bronne, CJ, Derek, Emilee, Jasmine, Joey, Jonna
  23. The Real World: D.C. (2009-2010): Andrew, Ashley, Callie, Emily, Erika, Josh, Mike, Ty
  24. The Real World: New Orleans (2010): Ashlee, Eric, Jemmye, McKenzie, Preston, Ryan (x2), Sahar
  25. The Real World: Las Vegas (2011): Adam, Dustin, Heather (x2), Leroy, Michael, Nany, Naomi
  26. The Real World: San Diego (2011): Alexandra, Ashley, Frank, Nate, Priscilla, Sam, Zach
  27. The Real World: St. Thomas (2012): Brandon (x2), LaToya, Laura, Marie, Robb, Trey
  28. The Real World: Portland (2013): Anastasia, Averey, Jessica, Johnny, Joi, Jordan, Marlon, Nia
  29. Real World: Ex-Plosion (2014): Arielle, Ashley (x2), Brian, Cory, Hailey, Jamie, Jay, Jenna, Jenny, Lauren, Thomas
  30. Real World: Skeletons (2014-2015): Bruno, Jason, Madison, Nicole, Sylvia, Tony, Violetta
  31. Real World: Go Big or Go Home (2016): CeeJai, Chris, Dean, Dione, Dylan, Jenna, Kailah, Sabrina
  32. Real World Seattle: Bad Blood (2016-2017): Anika, Anna, Jennifer, Jordan, Kassius, Katrina, Kimberly, Mike, Orlana, Peter, Robbie, Theo, Tyara, Will
  33. The Real World: Atlanta (2019): Arely, Clint, Dondre, Justin, Meagan, Tovah, Yasmin

The names in boldface line up with a discernible increase in baby name usage. (Other Real World names may have affected baby names as well, but it can be hard to tell when, say, a name is already common, or already on the rise.)

Here are details on all the boldfaced names, plus two more influential RW names (from seasons 6 and 18) that didn’t even belong to primary cast members.

  • The name Jacinda (from season 4; 1995) saw peak usage in 1996.
  • The name Flora (5; 1996) saw increased usage in 1997.
  • The name Kameelah (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1998.
  • The name Syrus (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1997.
  • The name Jason (6; 1997) was probably not affected, but the name of Jason’s girlfriend, Timber, saw increased usage in 1998.
  • The name Amaya (8; 1999) saw sharply increased usage in 1999 and 2000.
  • The name Kaia (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
  • The name Ruthie (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
  • The name Aneesa (11; 2002) saw peak usage in 2002.
  • The name Arissa (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2003.
  • The name Brynn (12; 2002-3) saw sharply increased usage in 2003.
  • The name Irulan (12; 2002-3) debuted in the data in 2003.
    • It looks like she was named after the fictional character Princess Irulan from Frank Herbert’s Dune books…?
  • The name Trishelle (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2004.
  • The name Mallory (13; 2003) saw increased usage in 2003 and 2004.
  • The name Cameran (14; 2004) saw peak usage in 2004.
  • The name Jacquese (14; 2004) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2004.
  • The name Johanna (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005.
  • The name Nehemiah (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005 and 2006.
  • The name Janelle (17; 2006) saw increased usage in 2006.
  • The name Svetlana (17; 2006) saw peak usage in 2007.
  • The name Colie (18; 2006-7) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2007.
  • The name Tyrie (18; 2006-7) saw peak usage in 2007.
  • The name of Tyrie’s girlfriend, Jazalle, debuted in 2007 and is a one-hit wonder so far.
  • The name Kellyanne (19; 2007-8) returned to the data in 2008.
  • The name Baya (21; 2009) saw sharply increased usage in 2009. In fact, Baya was one of the fastest-rising baby names of 2009.
  • The name Averey (28; 2013) saw peak usage in 2013.
  • The name Kassius (32; 2016-17) saw increased usage in 2017.

Of all the names above, which one(s) do you like most?

And, for all the Real World fans out there: which season(s) do you like most? :)

Source: The Real World (TV series) – Wikipedia

Name Quotes #54: Roella, Rumi, Tsh

splash, movie, quote, quotation, madison, 1980s

From the 1984 movie Splash, the character Allen (Tom Hanks) talking with his then-nameless lady friend (Daryl Hannah) as they walk around NYC:

Woman: “What are English names?”

Allen: “Well, there’s millions of them, I guess. Jennifer, Joanie, Hilary. (Careful, hey, those are hot!) See names, names… Linda, Kim– (Where are we? Madison.) Uh, Elizabeth, Samantha–“

Woman: “Madison…I like Madison!”

Allen: “Madison’s not a name… Well, all right, ok, Madison it is. Good thing we weren’t at 149th Street.”

Jay-Z on the names of his twins, Rumi and Sir, from a recent Rap Radar interview (via People):

“Rumi is our favorite poet, so it was for our daughter,” he shared. “Sir was like, man, come out the gate. He carries himself like that. He just came out, like, Sir.”

From a 2016 interview with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander in the Tampa Bay Times:

In the early ’90s, he and wife, Pam, who grew up in Pinellas County, settled down in the Sunshine State, drawn by family ties and the promise of a nice, safe community in which to raise their son, Robin Taylor, now 23, and daughter, Robin-Sailor, 15. (Zander’s go-to line about his kids’ quirky names: “My wife just calls us Robin, and we all come running.”)

From a 2009 review of the book Looking In, about photographer Robert Frank:

On November 7 1955, part-way through a two-year, Guggenheim-funded voyage around America, the photographer Robert Frank was arrested by Arkansas state police who suspected he was a communist. Their reasons: he was a shabbily dressed foreigner, he was Jewish, he had letters of reference from people with Russian-sounding names, he had photographed the Ford plant, possessed foreign whisky and his children had foreign names (Pablo and Andrea).

From an article called This Is The Biggest Influence On Baby Names:

[Neil] Burdess says most parents’ baby-name decisions are shaped by affluent, highly educated families who live near them, rather than prominent figures in pop culture.

[…]

He cites research conducted in California in the 1960s, which found that names adopted by high-income, highly educated parents are soon embraced by those lower down the socioeconomic ladder.

From a 2015 obituary of movie star Rex Reason:

Contrary to what one might think, Rex Reason was his birth name, not one dreamed up by a Hollywood executive. Universal Pictures, in fact, had billed him as “Bart Roberts” in a couple of films before he insisted on being credited with his real name.

From a 1998 obituary of surfer Rell Sunn:

There seemed to be a bit of destiny attached. Her middle name, Ka-polioka’ehukai, means Heart of the Sea.

“Most Hawaiian grandparents name you before you’re born,” she says. “They have a dream or something that tells them what the name will be.” Hawaiians also have a knack for giving people rhythmic, dead-on nicknames, and for young Rell they had a beauty: Rella Propella.

“My godmother called me that because I was always moving so fast,” says Rell. “To this day, people think my real name is Rella. Actually I was born Roella, a combination of my parents’ names: Roen and Elbert. But I hated it, and no one used it, so I changed it to Rell.”

From a blog post by Jason Fisher on naming practices in Nigeria:

When [Kelechi Eke] was born, his mother experienced dangerous complications, which his parents acknowledged in his naming. In Igbo, Kelechi means “thank God”, and Eke means “creation”. The usual Igbo name for God, Chineke, means literally, “God of Creation”, and you can see both elements (chi + eke) in his two names. When K.C.’s own son was born, it was in the wake of difficulties in bringing his wife to the United States; consequently, they chose the name Oluchi, meaning “God’s work”, suggesting their gratitude that the immigration problems were resolved before his mother went into labor.

From the about page of writer Tsh Oxenreider:

My name is Tsh Oxenreider, and no, my name is not a typo (one of the first things people ask). It’s pronounced “Tish.” No reason, really, except that my parents were experimental with their names choices in the 70s. Until my younger brother was born in the 80s, whom they named Josh, quite possibly one of the most common names for people his age. Who knows what they were thinking, really.

Baby Names in the News: Pam, Lau, Samuel Kini

Three baby name stories out of Melanesia:

  • Pam: Cyclone Pam, which hit the island nation of Vanuatu on March 13, prompted several new mothers there to name their babies Pam and Pamela. One of those babies, born to mother Trisha Ronald in the back of an ambulance, was named Charlotte Pam after both the storm and the Australian volunteer paramedic (Charlotte Gillon) who delivered her.
  • Samuel: A baby born in Vanuatu at the end of March was named Samuel Kini Lovobalavu after “three different Fijian health officials – Health Inspector Samuela Bolalailai, RFMF Medic Sgt. Kini Nacagilevu, and Chief Health Inspector Kanito Lovobalavu.” The Fijian health personnel were in Vanuatu helping with Cyclone Pam relief efforts.
  • Lau: Yuma Nagasaki of Japan, who is a volunteer language teacher in Fiji, welcomed a son in mid-March and named him Lau after the Fijian province. “He made the decision to name his newborn son after experiencing the warmth and hospitality of people from Lau.”

Castor and Ramsi are two older baby name stories from the same region of the world (Vanuatu & Solomon Islands).

Where did the baby name Orenthal come from?

Football player Orenthal James "O.J." Simspon
Orenthal “O.J.” Simspon

Last week’s post about baby names inspired by the O. J. Simpson trial reminded me that we haven’t yet talked about O. J. Simpson’s first name, Orenthal. So let’s do that today.

Here’s how Simpson explained his name to LIFE magazine in 1968, while he was still a student at the University of Southern California:

“I had an aunt,” he recalls, “who got to my mother and named me Orenthal and my cousin Ercale. Then she turned around and gave her own kids common names like Stanley, Stewart and Pam. The only thing she ever told me about Orenthal was that it was the name of some French or Italian actor. I don’t know, maybe she was loaded or something when she came up with it.”

That same year, Simpson won the Heisman Trophy.

And, right on cue, we see the name Orenthal pop on the national baby name charts:

  • 1976: 25 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1975: 25 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1974: 18 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1973: 10 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: 10 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1970: 18 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1969: 23 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1968: 10 baby boys named Orenthal [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted

The next year he was the #1 NFL draft pick. He went on to have a successful professional football career that lasted over a decade, including a particularly impressive 1973, which looks like it gave the name a second boost.

After retiring from football, Simpson worked as a sports broadcaster and as an actor. He had a small part in Roots, for instance.

But his reputation was irreparably tarnished with the events of the mid-1990s. Usage of the name declined in the ’80s and it was off the national list entirely during the ’90s. (It’s been back on the list a couple of times since, though).

What do you think of the name Orenthal?

Source: Bonfante, Jordan. “The Best College Halfback–Just Call Him O.J.” LIFE 27 Oct. 1967: 72-74.

How Do You Like Your Name, Kelsey?

Today’s name interview is with Kelsey, a 25-year-old from Tennessee.

What’s the story behind her name?

My name was going to be Lydia, but another couple at my parents’ church named their baby that shortly before I was born. They didn’t want to confuse nursery workers so they decided to come up with a different name. Some missionaries came to visit the church and had a daughter named Kelsey and my parents decided they liked the name.

What does she like most about her name?

I’m really struggling to come up with an answer for this one.

What does she like least about her name?

What I hate about it now, may make me like it in a few years, but as of now I hate how young it makes me sound. In the workplace, I think it makes it obvious that I am much younger than my coworkers Sheila, Pam, Suzanne, etc. I think this is a disadvantage when it comes to career growth.

This is such an interesting response. I rarely hear people with young-sounding names complain about name-based ageism in the workplace. Typically it’s the people with older-sounding names (Pam and Suzanne and the like).

While we’re on the topic…Kelsey’s name is young-sounding for good reason. Kelsey was rarely bestowed before 1980, but it shot into the top 100 in 1987. Usage peaked in the early 1990s:

  • 1994: 9,751 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 29th)
  • 1993: 11,376 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 24th)
  • 1992: 11,714 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 23rd)
  • 1991: 11,430 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 26th)
  • 1990: 9,494 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 32nd)

But the popularity didn’t last. Kelsey dropped out of the top 100 in 2002 and the name has been sinking ever since.

Final question: would Kelsey recommend that her name be given to babies today?

No, I don’t think it ages well. I believe this has to with the “ee” sound ending.

Thanks, Kelsey!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]