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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Patty

Number of Babies Named Patty

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Patty

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?]

It’s Paddy, Not Patty

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, so now is a good time to mention that the diminutive used in Ireland is Paddy, Not Patty. Here’s why:

Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.

Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.

There’s not a sinner in Ireland that would call a Patrick, “Patty”. It’s insulting. It’s really as simple as that.

And there you have it. Paddy, not Patty.

(h/t Grammar Girl.)

The Baby Names Shelva and Shelby

The Woman in Red movie posterShelva was the highest-hitting debut name for both baby girls and baby boys in 1936.

In fact, Shelva was the highest-hitting of all the highest-hitting newbie girl names up to that point, and it would remain the record-holder until 1959.*

Here are the numbers:

  • 1939: 100 baby girls named Shelva (533rd)
  • 1938: 163 baby girls named Shelva (681st)
  • 1937: 194 baby girls named Shelva (471st)
  • 1936: 89 baby girls named Shelva [debut] (708th) & 9 baby boys named Shelva
  • 1935: unlisted

Where did the name Shelva come from?

It took me forever to figure this one out, but the answer is Shelby.

Turns out that many Shelby-like names (Shelva, Shelbie, Shelba, Shelbia, Shelvy, Shelvie, Shelvia, Shelvey, Shelda, Shelma) debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in the mid-1930s, right around the time Shelby — previously more of a boy name — became popular for girls:

  • 1939: 1,164 baby girls and 206 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1938: 1,713 baby girls and 213 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1937: 1,996 baby girls and 203 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1936: 1,072 baby girls and 150 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1935: 67 baby girls and 121 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1934: 17 baby girls and 133 baby boys named Shelby

Why the spike and the sex-change for Shelby circa 1936?

The popular 1935 film The Woman in Red [vid], which starred Barbara Stanwyck as professional horse rider Shelby Barret. The movie was based on the book North Shore by Wallace Irwin.

*In 1959, Shelva (89) was ousted by Torey (102). Torey’s newfound fame was likely inspired by the character Torey Peck, played by Patty McCormack, on the short-lived summer sitcom Peck’s Bad Girl (1959).

Premature Baby Named for Nurse and Pilot

A few years ago, Minnesota newspaperman Allan “Red” Helderman told the Daily Journal the story behind the name of his youngest daughter, born on 25 November 1978.

His wife had been battling leukemia while pregnant. “Patty went into labor twice, and the doctors stopped it. The third time, when she was about seven months along, they couldn’t stop her labor.”

So Red and Patty were immediately flown to Duluth on a Cessna (with “no heat, no oxygen”) piloted by Francis Einarson. They were accompanied by a nurse named Arlene Enzmann.

They baby girl was born as they were flying over Buhl. “Nurse Arlene had to give mouth-to-mouth until they landed in Duluth.” She weighed just two pounds, nine ounces.

The baby survived, and was named Arlene Francis in honor of the nurse and the pilot.

“Every year since then, Nov. 25 in Buhl is Arlene Francis Day,” says Red. “They have a plaque in their town hall and they gave us one, too.”


  • “Cancer Victim Gives Birth During Flight to Hospital.” Observer-Reporter [Washington, PA] 30 Nov. 1978: A-10.
  • Severson, Trina. “Good journey to the journeyman.” Daily Journal [International Falls, MN] 31 Jan. 2008.