How popular is the baby name Pier 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 Pier.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Pier


Posts that Mention the Name Pier

Baby Name Duo: Kipchoge & Keino

baby name, olympics, 1972, keino, kipchoge
Kipchoge “Kip” Keino, 1972

Kenyan middle- and long-distance runner Kipchoge Keino (pronounced kip-CHOH-gay KAY-noh) won a total of four medals at two different Summer Olympics: the 1968 Games in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich.

Kip Keino’s most memorable race was his unlikely win in the 1,500 metre in ’68, but Kipchoge Keino‘s names — both first and last — didn’t enter the U.S. baby name data until ’72:

Year# Kipchoges# Keinos
1974
1973
1972
1971
1970
x
x
7 baby boys [debut]
x
x
9 baby boys
13 baby boys
19 baby boys [debut]
x
x

He won a gold and a silver in ’72, but a more important factor (in terms of baby names) may have been the naming climate in the U.S. in the early ’70s. A growing number of African-Americans were actively looking for African baby names at that time. (Check out this Names from Africa post for more.)

The name Kipchoge, a one-hit wonder in the data, means “born near the store for maize” in the Nandi language.

After retiring from competition, Kip Keino continued to work in sports. In the meanwhile, he and his wife Phyllis took in more than 100 orphaned children (and had seven of their own).

Each child has been given a name in English and Nandi, Kip’s native tongue. They include Claire/Cherop (“born when it’s raining”), Angela/Chepngetrik (“born when the cows go grazing”) and Susan/Chepchirchir (“born in a big hurry”).

For this and other humanitarian work, Keino has been honored in various ways, such as by winning the (very first) Olympic Laurel in 2016.

Sources:

P.S. Two other people who have inspired dual first-and-last name debuts are Cyd Charisse and Pier Angeli.

The Rise of Angelina & Jolie

Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider, 2001, movie

Actress Angelina Jolie was a rising star in the late ’90s and early 2000s, thanks to movies like Gia (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

But she wasn’t just becoming a familiar face in the movie theaters — she was also having a strong influence on baby names. In 2000, the name Jolie broke into the U.S. top 1,000 for the first time, and, a year later, the name Angelina entered the top 100 for the first time:

Angelina usage (ranking)Jolie usage (ranking)
20034,271 baby girls (71st)377 baby girls (691st)
20023,979 baby girls (74th)412 baby girls (620th)
20013,368 baby girls (93rd)385 baby girls (655th)
20002,140 baby girls (157th)275 baby girls (820th)
19991,327 baby girls (237th)152 baby girls (1,241st)
19981,167 baby girls (268th)109 baby girls (1,536th)

Best of all, though, are the debuts of Anjolina and Anjolie — names that cleverly blend “Angelina” with “Jolie” — in 2000. I know of other actresses (e.g., Cyd Charisse, Pier Angeli) who popularized both their first and last names, but Angie is the only one I know of to inspire mash-ups like this.

Which name do you like better for a baby girl, Angelina or Jolie? (Or do you prefer one of the portmanteaus?)

Source: Angelina Jolie – Rotten Tomatoes

The Rise of Kelly as a Girl Name

kelly and me. movie, 1957, dog

During the first half of the 20th century, the name Kelly was more of a boy name than a girl name. That is, it was given far more often to baby boys than to baby girls.

But things changed in the 1950s, when the overall usage of Kelly began to rise quickly — and rise faster for girls than for boys. The first year that more girls than boys were named Kelly was 1957:

Year # Girls Named Kelly # Boys Named Kelly
1959 6,379 (rank: 74th) 2,436 (rank: 142nd)
1958 4,471 (rank: 108th) 2,299 (rank: 148th)
1957 1,907 (rank: 187th) 1,868 (rank: 167th)
1956 831 (rank: 310th) 1,472 (rank: 189th)
1955 540 (rank: 380th) 1,251 (rank: 204th)
1954 455 (rank: 406th) 960 (rank: 225th)
1953 226 (rank: 590th) 845 (rank: 232nd)

Even though the gender switch happened in 1957, usage for boys continued to rise for several more years. Only in 1962 then did the two trajectories finally start to diverge.

So what’s behind both the popularization and feminization of the name Kelly in the 1950s? There seem to be at least three different influences (and possibly others that I haven’t discovered yet). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Grace Kelly: actress, most popular around 1955/1956
  • Kelly and Me: movie, released in 1957
  • Bachelor Father: television show, aired from 1957 to 1962

I have a big post about Grace Kelly-inspired baby names scheduled for tomorrow, so for now I’ll just say that, if she was an influence here, she wouldn’t be the first famous actress to inspire parents to start using her surname as a girl name. Before her was Janet Gaynor, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Debra Paget, Denise Darcel, Pier Angeli, etc.

The movie Kelly and Me, which co-starred Piper Laurie, is weirdly reminiscent of the 2008 movie Marley and Me. Both films feature a male dog as a main character, and both titular names saw increased usage as baby names — particularly girl names — the years the movies were released. Apparently neither the species nor the gender of the character mattered much to parents. (Here’s the popularity graph for Marley.)

The TV show Bachelor Father focused on a wealthy Beverly Hills attorney named Bentley Gregg who is raising his orphaned teenage niece, a female Kelly. The show clearly gave the name Bentley a boost in the late ’50s and early ’60s, nudging it into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1961, so no doubt it also helped American audiences see Kelly as a nice name for a daughter.

Do you like the name Kelly? Do you like it more as a girl name or as a boy name? (Or does it not matter to you?)

Pi-Names for Pi Day (3/14)

pi, pi day, pi names

In mathematics, ? (pi) — the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference — is a constant roughly equal to 3.14159. That means today, 3/14, is ? day!

What baby names start with “Pi-“? There are a bunch, but only a handful start with that same “pie” sound:

Other names that start with “Pi-” but a different sound include:

Pia/Pio
Piedad
Pier
Pierce
Piero/Piera
Pierre
Pierrick
Pieter
Pietro/Pietra
Pihu
Pina/Pino
Pinchas
Pink/Pinkie
Piotr
Pip
Pippin
Pippa
Pilar
Piritta
Pixie
Piyush

What’s your favorite Pi- name?

Baby Name Duo: Pier & Angeli

pier angeli, life magazine, 1956
Pier Angeli on the cover of LIFE in 1956

While Cyd Charisse gave both her first and last name a boost on the baby name charts, those debuts didn’t happen in the same year.

In the case of Italian-born television and film actress Pier Angeli, though, both Pier and Angeli popped up in the data in 1953:

YearUsage of PierUsage of Angeli
1956
1955
1954
1953
1952
18 baby girls
25 baby girls
8 baby girls (& 5 baby boys)
11 baby girls [debut]
x
12 baby girls
x
x
14 baby girls [debut]
x

In fact, the name Angeli was the 3rd-highest debut name of the year (after Trenace and Caster).

Pier Angeli was born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Sardinia, Italy, in 1932. Before she launched her U.S. film career, her name was changed:

The movie moguls decided that her name Anna Maria Pierangeli was too long for the lights over a marquee, so it was abridged to Pier Angeli simply by dividing her surname. She didn’t like it, complaining that it was “a boy’s name” which of course it was in Italy, and never used it in private life. Her friends always called her Anna.

Pier Angeli’s first American film Teresa (1951). Her performance impressed critics; she won a Golden Globe Award in 1952 for “Most Promising Newcomer.” And the year after that, her names double-debuted in the U.S. baby name data.

Nowadays, dozens of baby girls are named Angeli every year. Pier is still used as well, but mostly as a boy name. Which name do you prefer?

Which name do you prefer for a baby girl, Pier or Angeli?

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Source: Allen, Jane. Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002.

P.S. Speaking of dividing a surname to create a stage name…two people who divided a first name to come up with a professional name were actor Kal Penn (born Kalpen Modi) and lyricist Kal Mann (born Kalman Cohen).