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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Polly

Number of Babies Named Polly

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Polly

Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Name Quotes for the Weekend #20

Dale Carnegie, on Names

From the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie:

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

From a Washington Post article about Khaleesi, Katniss, and similar names by Alexandra Petri:

Every generation’s baby names are the refuse of terrible literature. It is a tradition of long standing.


Maybe it’s not so bad. This is one of the major incentives to write fiction: to take up residency in the minds of others, to make your story a part of their stories, to run into crops of little Anakins at recess or drive the name Joffrey to extinction, all through the power of your storytelling.

(Popularity graphs for Anakin and Joffrey.)

From a Mental Floss article on why we call parrots Polly by Kara Kovalchik:

The generic name “Pol” for a parrot can be traced back to England since at least the early 1600s. In his 1606 comedy Volpone, Renaissance playwright — and close friend of William Shakespeare — Ben Jonson assigned many of the characters animal personas which reflected their true nature.


Two comic relief-type characters, Sir Politic Would-Be (“Sir Pol” for short) and his wife, are visitors from England who are trying to ingratiate themselves into Venetian society, and they do so by simply mimicking the words and behavior of Volpone and his associates. Because of their endearing ignorance of what they are actually saying when they repeat phrases they’ve learned, Jonson describes them as parrots.

It is unclear whether Jonson actually coined the term “Pol” as a catch-all moniker for parrots, or if he simply popularized it. In any case, indulgent British pet owners eventually turned “Pol” into the much cutesier diminutive “Polly,” and both names made their way across the Atlantic.

From an essay on why expectant parents are hesitant to talk about baby names by Anna Claire Vollers:

In an ideal world, the baby’s name is between my husband and me, and it shouldn’t bother me what other people think about it. I’ve shared with family and close friends the name(s) we’re thinking about, and gotten mixed reviews. Which is fine. I asked because I value their opinions.

But I’m already a hormonal mess most days. I just don’t want to hear from an acquaintance that she used to know a kid with my favorite baby name who grew up to be a meth dealer, or from a stranger at the grocery store who had an extremely overweight uncle with the same name “but he was a really nice person.”

From a Tulsa World article on Oklahoma baby names:

Jeremiah and Carrie Rosson of Kellyville chose the name Elijah Gust for their 17-month-old because of its biblical roots and because the weather-influenced middle name paired well with their four-year-old son Josiah Thunder’s name.

“There is a verse in the 2 Kings that says Elijah was swept up in a gust,” Jeremiah Rosson said of the inspiration for their younger son’s name.

(Hundreds of baby boys in the U.S. have been named Thunder, btw.)

From the book Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew by Christine Wallace:

In the autumn of 1938 came the first conception. Peggy’s pregnancy was easy, with little more than queasiness. But the labor was long and difficult. The baby, a girl, was bruised around the head from the traumatic delivery and arrived in floods of blood as Peggy hemorrhaged from a retained placenta. The baby was named Germaine, with no middle initial to interrupt the elegant alliteration with Greer. According to Peggy, it was the name of a minor British actress she found in an English magazine Reg had brought home from work. In Germaine’s version, her mother was reading George Sand’s The Countess of Rudolstadt when she fell pregnant, and drew the name from one of its characters, the Comte de Saint-Germain — `because she liked the sound of it, I reckon.’ It was the height of the last Australian summer before the war: 29 January 1939.

From the book Descendants of David McWhirter and Mary Posten (Vol. 1) by Patricia Lynn Petitt:

Alexander, the eldest son, died at the age of twenty-two, before he had graduated from Princeton. About two months after his death another son was born to Hugh and Jean. This baby was named “Alexander” after his deceased brother, but his name was not allowed to bespoken in the family until he was several months old. This son became the Rev. Dr. Alexander McWhirter of Revolutionary fame.

From “You Can Call Me Chana” by Chana R. Schoenberger in the Harvard Crimson:

No one can pronounce my name correctly. Most people think it’s “Shana” or “Chayna” or “Shanna.” It’s not hard, really: just say “Hannah,” only with a guttural ch sound, like “Chanukah.”


I was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to a pair of New Yorkers who did not want to give me a more ordinary American name like Jennifer or Jessica–names by which I now call almost all my female friends. As my parents intended, my name sets me apart from the mainstream. There has never been another Chana in my class (although a Harvard classmate spells it Hanna). This uniqueness made it harder to blend in when I was a preteen and wanted to disappear into a crowd. But now that I’m older and value individuality, I appreciate the merits of not being just another Mary or Susan.

My parents also wanted me to have a distinctly Jewish name, with a Hebrew pronunciation. Because of my name, my religion is one of the first things most people find out about me. So no one can ever call me a dirty Jew behind my back, as my mother explained to me years ago.

For more name quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Growing Up with the Name Bich

What was it like to grow up in the U.S. in the ’70s and ’80s with a Vietnamese name like Bich?

Here’s an excerpt from Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen, who moved to Michigan with her family as a 1-year-old in 1975.

In Vietnamese [Bich] meant jade, which was all well and fine in Vietnam but meant nothing in Michigan. It was pronounced with an accent tilting up, the tone leading almost toward a question, with a silent h. Bic! I hated the sound–too harsh, too hard, and the c so slight that it evaporated in the air. I preferred to hear it as Bit. The sound seemed tidier, quieter. So that’s what I made my name over to be, and it was fine until my classmates learned to read and swear. By second grade I was being regularly informed that I was a bitch. I started fantasizing then about being Beth, or maybe Vanessa or Polly. I longed to be Jenny Adams with the perfect simple name to match her perfect honeyed curls. […] I felt I could judge the nature and compassion of teachers, especially substitutes, by the way they read my name. The good ones hesitated and gently spelled it, avoiding a phonetic pronunciation. The evil ones simply called out, Bitch? Bitch Nu-guy-in?

Bich wasn’t allowed to use an American name, but other kids she knew were allowed to:

Their parents were anxious for them to fit into Grant Rapids and found the three quickest avenues: food, money, and names. Food meant American burgers and fries. Money meant Jordache jeans and Izod shirts. Names meant a whole new self. Overnight, Thanh’s children, Truoc and Doan, became Tiffany and David, and other families followed. Huong to Heather, Quoc to Kevin, Lien to Lynette. Most of the kids chose their own names and I listened while they debated the merits of Jennifer versus Michelle, Stephanie versus Crystal. They created two lives for themselves: the American one and the Vietnamese one–Oriental, as we all said back then. Out in the world they were Tiffany and David; at home they were Truoc and Doan. They mothers cooked two meals–pho and sautes for the elders, Campbell’s soup and Chef Boyardee for the kids.

In primary school, Bich knew one other Vietnamese girl, Loan, who also continued to use her original name. They became friends.

Bitch and Loan, some of the kids said on the playground. Hey, bitch, can you loan me some money?

Nowadays, Bich Minh Nguyen tends to go by the name Beth.

I wonder what proportion of the Vietnamese-American kids in Bich’s generation went by an “American” name outside the home. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any data on this, have any of you guys?

Source: Nguyen, Bich Minh. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir. New York, Penguin: 2008.

Related: Hebrew Names Lost In Translation

Were Babies Named After Sputnik?

SputnikA tweet from Mashable just reminded me that the Space Race began 55 years ago today with the launch of Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik.

Did you know that, not long after the launch, Sputnik became a baby name here in the U.S.?

So far I’ve found four people named Sputnik (which means “fellow traveler” in Russian):

  • Sputnik Eisenhower Watkins, born on October 31, 1957, in Ramsey, Minnesota.
  • Gary Sputnik Clack, born on January 17, 1958, in Orange, Texas.
  • Polly Sputnik Johnson, born in 1959 in Wilson, North Carolina.
  • Isaac Sputnik Ornelas, born in 1991 in Riverside, California.

“Sputnik Eisenhower” is definitely the most memorable of the bunch. According to an article in Jet, Sputnik Eisenhower Watkins had three older siblings with the non-satellite names Pauline, Merium and Sam.


Baby Names Typed by the Right Hand – Better?

Years ago, I came up with a list of one-handed baby names — that is, names that are typed with either the left hand or the right hand on a QWERTY keyboard.

Turns out there may be a slight advantage to right-hand names.

According to a study published recently in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, “the QWERTY keyboard may gradually attach more positive meanings to words with more letters located on the right side of the layout (everything to the right of T, G and B).”


It has to do with fluency.

We tend to like simplicity over complexity, and the harder-to-type letter pairs are on a QWERTY keyboard’s left side — these two facts together may lead people to prefer words (and names) that are typed on the right.

Which names are typed by the right hand only? My original list:

  • Holly
  • Io
  • Jill, Jim, Jimi, Jimmy, Jin, Jo, John, Johnny, Jon, Joni, Joy, Juho, Juli, Julio, Jun, Juno
  • Kiki, Kim, Kimi, Kimiko, Kimmy, Kimo, Kip, Kiyoko, Kojo, Kollin, Kumiko, Kyou
  • Lili, Lilly, Lilou, Lily, Lin, Lino, Loni, Lonny, Lou, Lulu, Lyn, Lynn
  • Miki, Mikki, Mikko, Milly, Milo, Mimi, Min, Minh, Miyu, Molly, Momoko
  • Nik, Nikhil, Niki, Nikki, Niko, Nikol, Nikon, Nuno
  • Olli, Olujimi, Om
  • Phil, Philip, Phillip, Pio, Polly, Poppy
  • Yoko, Yuko, Yumi, Yumiko

Can you think of any others?

Source: The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words (h/t Anthony Mitchell, @aem76us)

One-Handed Baby Names – Jimmy, Carter, Tessa, Lynn

When you sign your first name, you use one hand. But when you type it, chances are you need to use both hands — even if your name is a short as Emma, Gus or Ty.

Have you ever wondered which names can be touch-typed on the standard QWERTY keyboard with one hand only? Me too, so I came up with some lists. Let’s check out the left-handed names first, since there are a lot more of them, then right-handed names.

left-handed baby names

Left-Handed Baby Names

  • Ace, Ada, Asa, Ava
  • Babette, Barbara, Barrett, Baxter, Bess, Bette, Brad, Brett
  • Cade, Caesar, Cara, Carter, Casara, Case, Cass, Cesar
  • Dara, Dave, Dax, Debra, Dee, Dessa, Dexter, Drew
  • Ed, Edgar, Edward, Egas, Esta, Etta, Eva, Eve, Everard, Everett, Evette, Ezra
  • Freeda, Fred, Fredda
  • Gage, Garret, Garrett, Gerard, Grace, Greg, Greta, Grete, Gretta
  • Rebeca, Rebecca, Reece, Reed, Reese, Retta, Reva, Rex
  • Sabra, Sage, Sara, Steve, Stewart, Svea
  • Tad, Ted, Tara, Tate, Tera, Teresa, Tess, Tessa, Tex, Trace, Tracee
  • Vera, Vesta, Vester
  • Wade, Wafa, Ward, Wes
  • Zada, Zara, Zed

How funny is it that Dexter, which comes directly from the Latin word for “right,” is typed with the left hand only?

right-handed baby names

Right-Handed Baby Names

  • Holly
  • Io
  • Jill, Jim, Jimi, Jimmy, Jin, Jo, John, Johnny, Jon, Joni, Joy, Juho, Juli, Julio, Jun, Juno
  • Kiki, Kim, Kimi, Kimiko, Kimmy, Kimo, Kip, Kiyoko, Kojo, Kollin, Kumiko, Kyou
  • Lili, Lilly, Lilou, Lily, Lin, Lino, Loni, Lonny, Lou, Lulu, Lyn, Lynn
  • Miki, Mikki, Mikko, Milly, Milo, Mimi, Min, Minh, Miyu, Molly, Momoko
  • Nik, Nikhil, Niki, Nikki, Niko, Nikol, Nikon, Nuno
  • Olli, Olujimi, Om
  • Phil, Philip, Phillip, Pio, Polly, Poppy
  • Yoko, Yuko, Yumi, Yumiko

I realize that QWERTY “handedness” is not a major baby-naming factor for most people, but I do think it would be cute to pair a one-handed name with another one-handed name — maybe a surname (Teresa Garza, Phillip Hill) or a twin name (Edward & John, Grace & Lily, Zara & Milo). What do you think?