How popular is the baby name Passion 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 Passion.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Passion


Posts that Mention the Name Passion

Rare Flower Name: Passiflora

passiflora, passion flower,

Yesterday’s post about the name Passion, plus the fact that I happen to love passion flowers (because they are so weirdly elaborate), made me wonder: Has anyone ever been given the first-middle combo “Passion Flower”? How about the name of the genus, passiflora?

Turns out the answer is “yes” to both questions, though I could only find a single trustworthy example of each in the records.

  • A female named Passion Flower Johnson was born in California in 1988.
  • A female named Passiflora Dadge was born in Lancashire, England, in 1896. (Her four older siblings were Lilian, Stephen, Rose and Violet.)

So how did the plant come to be called “passion flower” in the first place? It was named in the 17th century by Spanish Christian missionaries who saw the various components of the bloom as being symbolic of the Passion of Jesus (e.g., the corona filaments represented the crown of thorns).

I also happened to find a Mississippi man named Maypop Stewart on the 1880 U.S. Census. “Maypop” is the common name of a type of passion flower native to the southern U.S. He was an African-American man who’d been born in Alabama in 1820s, so it’s possible that he was a former slave who’d been named by a slaveowner.

Sources: Passiflora – Wikipedia, Passion – Online Etymology Dictionary

P.S. Did you know that the word Passionate has appeared in the SSA’s baby name data before?

The Appearance of Pashen (& Passion)

The baby name Pashen debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1974.

I’ve known for a while that the baby name Passion debuted impressively in 1974. Not as high as Nakia, but higher than Savalas.

  • 1976: 30 baby girls named Passion
  • 1975: 34 baby girls named Passion
  • 1974: 34 baby girls named Passion [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: unlisted

I occasionally looked for a reason, but never spent too much time on it because word-names are notoriously tricky to research.

Then I happened to discover something about the like-sounding name Pashen — which also debuted in ’74, and which I thought was merely a variant of Passion.

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 6 baby girls named Pashen
  • 1974: 9 baby girls named Pashen [debut & peak]
  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: unlisted

As it turns out, the blaxploitation movie Willie Dynamite, which was released nationally in early 1974, featured a female character named Pashen (played by Joyce Walker). Willie was a New York City pimp, and Pashen was one of his call girls. Here’s how Pashen’s name appears in the end credits:

pashen, spelling, willie dynamite, 1970s, movie

So: “Pashen” was the main form of the name, while “Passion” — despite being correctly spelled — was the variant form. (Other variant forms that also debuted in 1974 were Pashion and the one-hit wonder Pashun.)

Since then, though, “Passion” has emerged as the preferred spelling among expectant parents. Well over 2,000 baby girls have been named Passion since the mid-1970s, whereas only about two dozen baby girls have been named Pashen.

What are your thoughts on these names? Which spelling do you prefer?

Source: Willie Dynamite (1974) – IMDb

P.S. The actor who played Willie Dynamite, Roscoe Orman, was also Gordon on Sesame Street!