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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Pamela

Number of Babies Named Pamela

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Pamela

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?


Baby Name Battle – Lisa, Angela, Pamela, Renee

lisa, angela, pamela or renee?

LL Cool J’s hit “Around the Way Girl” came out in 1990.

Toward the end of the song you’ll hear the lyrics: “Lisa, Angela, Pamela, Renee, I love you, you’re from around the way.”

Which of these girl names do you like best?

Which "Around the Way Girl" name do you prefer?

View Results

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Here are the popularity graphs for Lisa, Angela, Pamela and Renee, btw.

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).

Interesting Baby Name Analysis

I only recently noticed that Behind the Name, one of my favorite websites for baby name definitions, has a page called United States Popularity Analysis — a “computer-created analysis of the United States top 1000 names for the period 1880 to 2012.”

The page has some interesting top ten lists. Here are three of them:

Most Volatile

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Elvis
2. Brooks
3. Santiago
4. Lincoln
5. Ernie
6. Wyatt
7. Quincy
8. Rogers
9. Alec
10. Dexter
1. Juliet
2. Lea
3. Justine
4. Martina
5. Felicia
6. Delilah
7. Selina
8. Lonnie
9. Magdalena
10. Katy

Biggest Recoveries

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Silas
2. Isaiah
3. Caleb
4. Emmett
5. Jordan
6. Josiah
7. Harrison
8. Ezra
9. Jason
10. Jesus
1. Ella
2. Stella
3. Sadie
4. Sophie
5. Isabella
6. Lily
7. Hannah
8. Isabelle
9. Sophia
10. Lilly

Biggest Flash-in-the-Pans

Boy Names Girl Names
1. Dewey
2. Woodrow
3. Dale
4. Barry
5. Rick
6. Greg
7. Roosevelt
8. Shannon
9. Kim
10. Darrin
1. Debra
2. Lori
3. Tammy
4. Pamela
5. Tracy
6. Cheryl
7. Beverly
8. Dawn
9. Diane
10. Kathy

I wonder what the formulas were. I’d love to try the same analysis on the SSA’s full list, using raw numbers instead of rankings. Wonder how much overlap there’d be…

How Do You Like Your Name, Patricia?

Today’s name interview is with Patricia, who is 70 years old and hails from Iowa.

How did Patricia get her name?

In 1942, Patricia ranked #3 and had been in the top 10 names in the USA for 13 years. I think of Patricia as “the Jennifer” of those days, and I think my mother chose it because she was hearing it so much. She knew a woman named Ellen at her work and that’s how she came up with my middle name. I think my mother chose my name with my dad agreeing.

I think Patricia vs. Jennifer is a good comparison.

Her mother also had the name Pamela Eileen picked out, in case Patricia had a twin sister.

What does Patricia like most about her name?

I like the name’s history, dating back to the Romans, and it’s meaning, “well born” or “patrician”. I like the name’s many positive associations with others of the name. I like the sound of the name. When I was in high school I had a close friend with the name (and also two close friends with the middle name Ellen), and I liked that. Although there was several other Pats or Pattys in my high school class, I was never called “Pat B.” but by my full first and last name if it was necessary to distinguish between two of us.

What does she like least about her name?

Really nothing! As a young child, I was called Patty. At about age 12, I felt too grown up for that nn and insisted I be called Pat. More recently, I’ve introduced myself as Patricia, preferring the full name now, but of course many people still call me “Pat”. So if there’s anything I dislike about the name now, it’s the short form “Pat”.

Would she recommend that the name Patricia be given to babies nowadays?

Probably not, although it makes a nice middle name, and my second daughter has Patricia as her middle name. I think the name is somewhat ‘dated’ right now, although it could make a comeback in another 20 years or so. Also, I don’t think the nn options — Pat, Patty, Patsy, Tricia — fit that well with current naming trends. I wonder if it is mainly Spanish-speakers who are keeping Patricia in the top 1000 names, ranking 667 in 2011. (I have a Latina daughter-in-law whose middle name is Patricia.) I think Ellen or similar names may have more appeal at this time. My oldest granddaughter Sarah Ellen has Elena picked out for her hoped-for daughter’s name — after my middle name and hers.

Thank you very much, Patricia!

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