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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Priscilla

Number of Babies Named Priscilla

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Priscilla

Names in the News: Rocky, Maxima, Ryker Jedi

Three recent baby name stories from the U.S.:

  • Rocky: In August of 2014, a baby boy born to a runner in Philadelphia was named Rocky after the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run.
  • Maxima: In November of 2015, a baby girl named Maxima was born to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. Will this one influence baby names nationally?
  • Ryker Jedi: In December of 2015, a baby boy born near Boston the day before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was named Ryker Jedi. The first name, Ryker, is a Star Trek reference.

Sources: Woman Pregnant at Last Year’s Rocky 50K Names Baby Boy Rocky, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to give away 99 percent of their Facebook stock, worth $45 billion, The force is strong with this one: Parents name newborn after Star Wars


Which Lane Sister Name Do You Like Best?

three of the five lane sisters
3 of the 5 Lane Sisters
The Lane Sisters, a singing/acting trio famous during the ’30s and ’40s, actually began as the Mullican sisters. And there were 5 of them, not 3.

The Mullican family of Iowa consisted of parents Lorenzo and Cora and daughters Leotabel (nn Leota), Martha, Dorothy (nn Lola), Rosemary and Priscilla.

Four out of the five daughters pursued careers in entertainment, and three out of the four saw success in film. Along the way they changed their surname to “Lane,” so the final three — Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola — became known as the Lane Sisters.

Which name do you like best?

View Results

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P.S. Remember that post about Torchy Blane? Lola Lane, one of the actresses who played Torchy, inspired Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to create the character Lois Lane.

Source: Lane Sisters – Wikipedia

26 Girl Names from 1916

In early 1916, Photoplay Magazine came up with a list of potential titles for serial films using the formula established by The Perils of Pauline (1914), The Exploits of Elaine (1914), and The Hazards of Helen (1914).

Not-Yet Serials, Photoplay Magazine, January 1916

(Just a few months after the above was published, The Mysteries of Myra came out.)

Which of those 26 names — Abigail, Bertha, Calpurnia, Delilah, Evangeline, Florence, Garnet, Hazel, Imogene, Jezebel, Kitty, Lizzie, Margaret, Nancy, Orillia, Priscilla, Queenie, Roberta, Sibyl, Theodosia, Ursula, Victoria, Winifred, Xanthippe, Yetta or Zira — do you like best?

And, which of those serials would you be most likely to watch? :)

List of Female Names from 1888

female names, 1888

A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Source: A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names by George J. Howson

Female Names in Texas, 1860

Vicki Betts, a librarian at the University of Texas, put together a neat list of female names using the 1860 census records for Smith County, Texas.

Here’s some background information, per Vicki:

Ninety per cent of the people had emigrated to the county within the preceding ten years, 95.8% born in the states of the future Confederacy, 1.8% in the border states, 1.6% in northern states, and 0.8% in foreign countries. Therefore, these name should be fairly representative of Southern female names in general, with the exception of Alamo, Texas, Texana, etc.

And now the names! Here are the names that appeared most frequently on the 1860 Smith County census:

Mary, 501
Sarah, 271
Martha, 247
Elizabeth, 218
Jane, 199
Ann, 198
Nancy, 176
Margaret, 98
Susan, 95
Frances, 94
Eliza, 74
Amanda, 65
Louisa, 61
Laura, 52
Lucinda, 50
Rebecca, 50
Emily, 49
Catherine, 48
Caroline, 41
Julia, 39
Anna, 31
Isabella, 28
Ellen, 26
Josephine, 25
Harriet, 24
Emmer, 22
Lucy, 22
Rachel, 22
Melissa, 18
Adeline, 17
Malinda, 17
Matilda, 16
Allice, 15
Mariah, 15
Virginia, 15
Minerva, 14
Ella, 13
Eveline, 13
Charlotte, 12
Cynthia, 10
Evaline, 10
Victoria, 10
Emeline, 9
Hannah, 9
Hellen, 9
Theodosia, 9
Angeline, 8
Eudora, 8
Eugenia, 8
Mahala, 8
Ophelia, 8
Permelia, 8
Dorotha, 7
Fannie, 7
Missouri, 7
Olive, 7
Samantha, 7
Tabitha, 7
Ada, 6
Charity, 6
Delilah, 6
Flora, 6
Georgia, 6
Tennessee, 6

Names in the 2-to-5 range:

  • 5: Clementine, Cyntha, Florence, Ida, Joannah, Narcissa, Priscilla, Serena, Texana, Texas
  • 4: Almeda, Amelia, Augusta, Celia, Clara, Cornelia, Dicy, Dora, Henrietta, Janetta, Louisiana, Louvenia, Lulah, Mollie, Parmelia, Penelope, Ruth, Susannah
  • 3: Alma, Amarillo, Angelina, Antonette, Carrie, Casandra, Christiana, Clarissa, Cora, Cordelia, Edna, Emma, Ester, Fanny, Irena, Jemima, Kesiah, Leona, Leonora, Lucretia, Lyddia, Manerva, Maranda, Morando, Mildred, Milly, Narcissus, Olevia, Piety, Rhoda, Sallie, Sefrona, Sophrona, Telulah, Zelida
  • 2: Abigal, Adaline, Adelia, Agnes, Alabama, Alcasarah, America, Amy, Annetta, Araminta, Armelia, Arrenia, Candis, Caledonia, Celina, Easter, Eller, Elvira, Epsey, Exer, Henryetta, Jaly, Judy, Leah, Luella, Madora, Malissa, Marsileet, Medorah, Melinda, Mattie, Minnie, Moranda, Nelly, Olivia, Priscella, Rhody, Roxana, Salena, Sirena, Sophia, Temperance, Viola, Willie

Finally, names that appeared only once:

Abbigal
Abi
Absaly
Adah
Adalade
Adaline
Addia
Adelade
Adella
Ader
Aimenetta
Alamanzer
Alamo
Alcisty
Alis
Allethia
Almanda
Alphine
Alsey
Althie
Alvarado
Alvira
Amarantha
Amarylles
Amazor
Ameda
Americus
Amira
Ansebell
Appy
Arabella
Arainetta
Aramintha
Aranda
Arcadia
Ardalla
Armedilla
Armel
Armelda
Arminda
Artele
Arvezene
Arvilla
Atha
Audella
Aurire
Azeline
Barbary
Belzora
Bendett
Bernessa
Bethania
Bethany
California
Callie
Camella
Camilla
Candas
Candice
Cansandra
Carrentha
Casandre
Castero
Cecily
Celistia
CerroGordo
Christana
Cicily
Claranda
Claricinda
Conzada
Darcus
Deannah
Debra
Delila
Delitha
Della
Delmar
Derinda
Deziah
Dicey
Dilla
Dilly
Disha
Dlia
Dola
Domaris
Dorothea
Dovy
Drucilla
Dulcena
Dyca
Eddie
Edith
Editha
Elander
Eleanor
Elisa
Ellenor
Elmina
Elsy
Elvy
Elwina
Elzina
Elzona
Emaline
English
Eunis
Euphema
Euphemia
Euratasa
Evy
Falby
Fenette
Fillmore
Flore
Florida
Fransina
Georgana
George Eller
Georgiana
Harmoner
Hazeltine
Heepsebeth
Heland
Hester
Hetty
Hilery
Hutoka
Idella
Imogenia
Indiana
Inez
Irine
Isabelle
Isadora
Jeannah
Jerusha
Jessie
Joana
Joicy
Joly
Judah
Judith
Juliett
June
Kasandre
Kasana
Keburah
Keturah
Lailah
Larresa
Larrissa
Laurena
Lavacca
Lela
Leora
Leuella
Levega
Levina
Lewella
Lilla
Lillian
Lilly
Lina
Livana
Livona
Lizza
Loreey
Loreta
Lourana
Lourena
Lourenia
Louretta
Louvena
Louvina
Lova
Lovena
Lucretice
Lurana
Lurena
Lutitia
Luvena
Lydda
Madella
Madosa
Malabry
Mariella
Marietta
Marinda
Marion
Marbre
Marcella
Marcena
Marg
Matta
McReudry
Medarah
Melbry
Melvina
Mercena
Milley
Millison
Minor
Missoura
Mitty
Molly
Morinua
Mouring
Mourmen
Mourning
Nannett
Narcisa
Nebraska
Neome
Neomia
Nicy
Nina
Nisse
Occo
Octavia
Oja
Oliva
Omino
Orpha
Oudelia
Paralee
Paralie
Parilee
Parolee
Parthena
Pauline
Pemelia
Pernetta
Pernisia
Petrona
Phebe
Pheby
Phereby
Philliss
Pleasant
Pope
Prascovia
Pricilla
Prudence
Recella
Resalla
Reozia
Resiah
Rhina
Rosana
Rosanna
Rosena
Sabra
Sabrina
Salina
Samaria
Saphona
Saphrona
Sareta
Sebrina
Sefrone
Seleta
Selethia
Selina
Shaby
Sharlotti
Silena
Sina
Sirena
Sobrina
Sofrona
Solona
Sonora
Sophier
Stacy
Surana
Tabetha
Taletha
Talitha
Telpha
Teressa
Texanah
Texanna
Theodora
Theressa
Tranquilla
Trephemia
Ululie
Vanburena
Vandalia
Varlinda
Vashti
Vasti
Verlinda
Vertula
Victora
Victorier
Vina
Vinolia
Violet
Vunavista
Wennyford
Wilford
Wilmouth
Wineford
Winerfred
Winnaford
Winnfred
Zarilla
Zeban
Zeleame
Zira
Zouley

See any names you like? Any that make you curious?

Here are some thoughts I had:

  • Location names were more common than I thought they’d be. Seven females named Missouri? Six named Tennessee? Huh.
  • I love that Emmer appeared 22 times, while Emma appeared a mere 3 times.
  • The Battle of Cerro Gordo (1847) inspired a handful of namesakes. Cerro gordo is Spanish for “fat hill.”
  • Hutoka: Or, The Maid of the Forest: a Tale of the Indian Wars (1846) by Osgood Bradbury inspired several hundred namesakes nationwide. The book claimed that the fictitious Native American name Hutoka meant “springing fawn.”
  • Martin Van Buren — no doubt the inspiration behind Vanburena — was president of the U.S. from 1837 to 1841.
  • I’m thinking Vunavista was based on buena vista, Spanish for “good view.”

Source: Female First Names in the 1860 Smith County, Texas, Census, via Vicki Betts

The Story of Flavilla

Flavilla
Flavilla Doane Loring

Flavilla Doane Loring was just 13 months old when she died on October 12, 1847.

She and I clearly never knew one another. We aren’t related in any way.

And yet I’ve known about her for decades.

Pine Grove Cemetery, South Yarmouth
Pine Grove Cemetery
(Yarmouth, Cape Cod, MA, USA)
I grew up on Cape Cod, which gets notoriously touristy in the summers. So, when I went places as a kid, I took as many non-road shortcuts as possible to avoid having to walk alongside the backed-up tourist traffic.

One of those shortcuts was the Pine Grove Cemetery, which allowed me to bypass the busy intersection of North Main Street and Route 28.

Even back then I had a thing for names, so I often stopped to read the headstones.

It didn’t take long for me to discover Flavilla.

She’s buried next to her parents, Capt. John Loring and Hannah Loring, and three of her siblings: William, John, and Hannah. (I later learned that young John drowned at the age of 3 in Bass River — the body of water on the right side of the map.)

John, Hannah, William…these were names I recognized.

But Flavilla was totally new to me.

I remember staring it, trying to make sense of it.

That’s a name? Really?

It wasn’t like any name I’d ever seen before. The closest thing I could come up with was Priscilla, the name of one of my Dad’s aunts. But even that was a stretch.

How did she get a name like that? Where did it come from? What does it mean?

I felt like an archaeologist who’d just dug up some curious little artifact. I was eager to identify it, figure it out, give it some context.

I couldn’t, though. Not back then. The Internet hadn’t become particularly useful yet, and there weren’t any big research libraries nearby.

But now I can…

The Origin of Flavilla

It may look made-up, but Flavilla is legitimate name. And a very old one at that.

It was used by women in Ancient Rome, where it was a feminine form of the name Flavius, which was based on the Latin word flavus, meaning “golden” or “yellow.” (The original bearer of the name Flavius was likely a blond.)

The name has since been attached to a species of butterfly with yellow wings:

Nica Flavilla (Butterfly)
Nica Flavilla (Butterfly)

But none of this explains why a 19th-century New England couple gave this fanciful, non-Biblical name to their daughter.

The Flavilla Trend

I checked Flavilla Doane Loring’s family tree for possible namesakes, but didn’t find anything conclusive.

While doing the research, though, I did spot a few other Flavillas — all born in the 1800s.

This made me wonder whether the name Flavilla wasn’t simply a trendy name back in 19th-century America.

Turns out, it was:

  • The first Flavillas I found were born in the 1760s.
  • After that, usage increased.
  • Usage peaked in the 1840s and 1850s.
  • After that, usage decreased.
  • The last Flavillas I found were born in the 1930s.

I’m not quite sure what made Flavilla stylish in the mid-1800s (beyond sound), but I think I know what sparked the trend in the first place: a story.

The Story of Flavilla

“The Fatal Effects of Fashionable Levities: The Story of Flavilla” first appeared in the London periodical The Adventurer in 1754.

The protagonist was a young woman, Flavilla, whose flighty behavior ended up costing her dearly. Here’s a line from the last paragraph: “May every lady, on whose memory compassion shall record these events, tremble to assume the levity of Flavilla.”

The author, English writer John Hawkesworth (1715–1773), may have chosen the name Flavilla because of the romantic sound, or because of the consonance with levity.

The story was reprinted (under various titles) in story and essay collections for decades to come. It eventually made its way to the States — either in The Adventurer or in one of the subsequent compilations — and that’s about the time we start seeing the first baby Flavillas.

Bitten by the Name Bug

For years, Flavilla’s name remained a mystery to me.

But I never stopped wondering about it.

Whenever I cut through the Pine Grove Cemetery, I would stop at the Loring family plot just so I could see her name one more time.

Stumbling upon Flavilla’s name is what motivated me to start really paying attention to names.

It’s what got me hooked, you could say.

I started checking name books out of the library. I started visiting other graveyards. I started scanning news articles, phone books, encyclopedia entries — any chunk of text that might contain an interesting name.

And, many years later, I started this blog. :)

Sources:

Images:

How Popular Are A-Endings for Girl Names?

Did you notice that all five of the five most popular girl names in the nation right now have a-endings?

  1. Isabella
  2. Sophia
  3. Emma
  4. Olivia
  5. Ava

Just how trendy is this end-sound? (I say “sound” to cover names like Hannah and Nevaeh, which don’t end with a, but sound like they do.) Looking at SSA data for 2010, here’s what I came up with:

Ending Names Babies
-a 7,210 670,605
-ah 1,720 93,358
-eh 23 6,649
-e 3 147
-agh 1 6
TOTAL: 8,956 770,765

These 770,765 babies represent 43.8% of all the babies on the SSA’s 2010 list. (The a-endings alone represent 38.1%.)

Let’s compare this with, say, 80 years ago. Why 80? Because whenever I think of a-endings, I’m reminded of my grandmother’s family — 9 siblings total, 8 of which were girls, only one of whom had a name that ended with an a-sound (Priscilla). Most of them were born in the 1920s and 1930s, so let’s look at 1930:

Ending Names Babies
-a 2,034 288,291
-ah 37 6,459
-eh 0 0
-eh 0 0
-agh 0 0
TOTAL: 2,071 294,750

These 294,750 babies represent 26.2% of all the babies accounted for on the SSA’s 1930 list. (The a-endings by themselves represent 25.6%).

So, from 26.2% to 43.8% for the end-sound, and from 25.6% to 38.1% for a-endings specifically. Quite a difference between then and now.