How popular is the baby name Rachel 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 Rachel.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Rachel


Posts that Mention the Name Rachel

The Inception of Sway

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Name Quotes 84: Al, Gene, Sonatine

Welcome to the monthly quote post! There are a lot of celebrities in this one, so let’s start with…

Actor Emilio Estevez — who pronounces his surname ESS-teh-vez, instead of the Spanish way, ess-TEH-vezdiscussing his name [vid] on Talk Soup with Nessa in 2019:

So I was born on 203rd Street in South Bronx. And, at the time, my father had this very Hispanic-sounding last name. […] A lot people, a lot of these agents, and folks said, if you wanna work in this business, you gotta have a more Anglo-sounding name. Of course times have changed, but there was that moment where he was finally on Broadway — 1965, ’66 — and his father came from Dayton (he was from Spain, of course) and looked up on the marquee, and saw the three names that were starring in the play, and one of them was “Martin Sheen” and not his real name, Ramón Estévez. And my grandfather just looked up, and he just shook his head, and he was so disappointed. And my father saw that. And so when I began to get into this business, we had that conversation. And he said, don’t make the same mistake I did.

…A few sentences later, Estevez added:

I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me on the street and said, you know, just seeing your name on a poster, just seeing your name on screen, meant so much to me, you have no idea.

(Martin Sheen’s stage name was created from the names of CBS casting director Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.)

Singer Billy Idol, born William Broad, discussing his stage name [vid] with Karyn Hay on the New Zealand TV show Radio with Pictures in 1984:

Q: Why did you choose the name Billy Idol, especially in a time when [there’s] Johnny Rotten, Ret Scabies, you know?

A: Exactly, I mean that’s the point. That’s exactly the point. […] I thought, first of all, of course, of I-D-L-E, you know, idle. Cause this chemistry teacher when I was at school — I got 8 out of 100 for chemistry, I hated chemistry — so he wrote, “William is idle,” right? And I thought that was great to get 8 out of 10 [sic] for chemistry, cause I hated the hell out of it. So I thought that was respectable, so I thought it was worthwhile being called I-D-O-L, idol. Also, it’s good fun making fun of show business. I’m not into show business, I’m into rock ‘n’ roll.

Composer Bear McCreary’s baby name announcement from mid-2014:

Raya and I are proud to announce our greatest collaboration is finally here. 

Sonatine Yarbrough McCreary was born 6/2/14 and is filling our lives with joy, music… and poop.

(The musical term sonatina means “small sonata” in Italian. A sonata refers to a piece that is played — as opposed to a cantata, a piece that is sung.)

From an article about Amy Schumer legally changing her son’s name:

The I Feel Pretty star revealed her decision to change her 11-month-old son’s name on the newest episode of her podcast 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Tuesday. Schumer and her husband Chris Fischer named their first child Gene Attell Fischer, born May 5, with his middle name serving as a tribute to their good friend comic Dave Attell.

“Do you guys know that Gene, our baby’s name, is officially changed? It’s now Gene David Fischer. It was Gene Attell Fischer, but we realized that we, by accident, named our son ‘genital,'” Schumer told cohosts Rachel Feinstein, Bridget Everett, and Keith Robinson.

…More to the point, from Amy’s Instagram:

Oh, like you never named your kid Genital fissure!!!!!!!

Three quotes from a fantastic article in the NYT about Weird Al Yankovic (discovered via Nancy Friedman).

…On his Alfred-ness:

Although Alfred’s grades were perfect, and he could solve any math problem you threw at him, his social life was agonizing. Imagine every nerd cliche: He was scrawny, pale, unathletic, nearsighted, awkward with girls — and his name was Alfred. And that’s all before you even factor in the accordion.

…On how his surname turned him into an accordion player:

[The accordion] came from a door-to-door salesman. The man was offering the gift of music, and he gave the Yankovics a simple choice: accordion or guitar. This was 1966, the golden age of rock, the year of the Beatles’ “Revolver” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde.” A guitar was like a magic amulet spraying sexual psychedelic magic all over the world. So Yankovic’s mother chose the accordion. This was at least partly because of coincidence: Frankie Yankovic, a world-famous polka player, happened to share the family’s last name. No relation. Just a wonderful coincidence that would help to define Alfred’s entire life.

…On his Alfred-ness again:

The nickname “Weird Al” started as an insult. It happened during his first year of college. This was a fresh start for Alfred — a chance to reinvent himself for a whole new set of people. He had no reputation to live down, no epic humiliations. And so he decided to implement a rebrand: He introduced himself to everyone not as Alfred but as “Al.” Alfred sounded like the kind of kid who might invent his own math problems for fun. Al sounded like the opposite of that: a guy who would hang out with the dudes, eating pizza, casually noodling on an electric guitar, tossing off jokes so unexpectedly hilarious they would send streams of light beer rocketing out of everyone’s noses.

The problem was that, even at college, even under the alias of Al, Yankovic was still himself. He was still, fundamentally, an Alfred.

Comedian Kevin Hart on choosing baby names:

I wish I could say that I am the main guru, [but] I am awful when it comes to the names. That is not my expertise. […] I say the same thing every time. It’s either Kevin or Kevina. I got two names. That’s it. So if you never go with either one of those then I’m no good to you.

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

All About Belva

belva lockwood
Belva A. Lockwood
One of the most interesting usage patterns in the very early baby name data is that of Belva, which spiked twice: in 1884 and again in 1888. In fact, it was the fastest-rising girl name of 1884 by a wide margin.

  • 1891: 23 baby girls named Belva (542nd)
  • 1890: 42 baby girls named Belva (386th)
  • 1889: 31 baby girls named Belva (431st)
  • 1888: 66 baby girls named Belva (289th)
  • 1887: 27 baby girls named Belva (424th)
  • 1886: 23 baby girls named Belva (455th)
  • 1885: 30 baby girls named Belva (373th)
  • 1884: 66 baby girls named Belva (234th)
  • 1883: 5 baby girls named Belva (937th)
  • 1882: 5 baby girls named Belva (922nd)
  • 1881: 6 baby girls named Belva (rank: 747th)

The SSDI data reveals higher raw numbers, but the same double-spike pattern:

  • 1891: 50 people with the first name Belva
  • 1890: 67 people with the first name Belva
  • 1889: 59 people with the first name Belva
  • 1888: 95 people with the first name Belva
  • 1887: 33 people with the first name Belva
  • 1886: 35 people with the first name Belva
  • 1885: 62 people with the first name Belvas
  • 1884: 105 people with the first name Belva
  • 1883: 9 people with the first name Belva
  • 1882: 9 people with the first name Belva
  • 1881: 3 people with the first name Belva

What was the influence?

An impressive lady named Belva Ann Lockwood, who ran for president of the United States in both 1884 and 1888.

Belva was born into the Bennett family of western New York in 1830. Her four siblings were named Rachel, Warren, Cyrene, and Inverno (which means “winter” in Italian).

At the age of 18 she married a local farmer, Uriah McNall, and soon after she had a child, Lura. But Uriah died of tuberculosis, leaving Belva a widow at age 22.

She then took the highly unusual step of pursuing higher education. She attended Genesee College (later Syracuse University), graduated in 1857, and began working in the school system. She said:

The male teachers in the free schools of the State of New York received more than double the salary paid to the women teachers at that time, simply because they were men, and for precisely the same work. […] I at once began to agitate this question, arguing that pay should be for work, and commensurate to it, and not be based on sex.

Belva had a strong interest in law and in politics, so in 1866 she took another unusual step: she moved with her daughter to Washington, D.C., and began attending one of the few law schools that would admit women. She also married a second time (to Rev. Ezekiel Lockwood) and had a second daughter (Jessie, who lived only 18 months).

She completed the course of study, but, because she was female, she had to fight to receive a diploma. After that, she began practicing law. “Her clients were primarily blue-collar laborers, maids, and tradesmen and her work consisted of all manner of civil and criminal cases.”

In 1879, Belva became the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar, and in 1880, she became the first woman to argue a case, Kaiser v. Stickney, before the Supreme Court.

In 1884, she was nominated for president by the National Equal Rights Party — even though women didn’t yet have the right to vote. When one reporter asked her whether or not she was eligible to become president, Belva replied: “There’s not a thing in the Constitution that prevents a woman from becoming President. I cannot vote, but I can be voted for.”

The same party nominated her again in 1888. (Also this year, the community of Lockwood in Monterey County, California, was named after her.)

Though she didn’t come close to winning the race either time — the winners were Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, respectively — she did succeed in drawing attention to the cause of women’s suffrage.

She continued to practice law into her 80s, and died in 1917 at the age of 86.

I’m not sure how Belva’s parents selected her name, but a user at Behind the Name thinks that “Belva” evolved as a feminine variant of the name Belvedere, which originated as an Italian toponymic surname made up of the elements bello, meaning “beautiful,” and vedere, meaning “to see” or “to look at.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Belva? Will it ever be stylish again, do you think?

Sources:

Numerology & Baby Names: Number 2

baby names that add up to 2, numerologically

Here are hundreds of baby names that have a numerological value of “2.”

I’ve sub-categorized them by overall totals, because I think that some of the intermediate numbers could have special significance to people as well.

Within each group, I’ve listed up to ten of the most popular “2” names per gender (according to the current U.S. rankings).

Beneath all the names are some ways you could interpret the numerological value of “2,” including descriptions from two different numerological systems.

2 via 11

The following baby names add up to 11, which reduces to two (1+1=2).

  • “11” girl names: Adea, Fe
  • “11” boy names: Aj

2 via 20

The following baby names add up to 20, which reduces to two (2+0=2).

  • “20” girl names: Jade, Dana, Jia, Deja, Ara, Nada, Amada, Hiba, Ena, Jai
  • “20” boy names: Abel, Gage, Adan, Kace, Ean, Jai, Chace, Fahad, Jade, Able

2 via 29

The following baby names add up to 29, which reduces to two (2+9=11; 1+1=2).

  • “29” girl names: Aria, Diana, Alana, Nadia, Ann, Asha, Dania, Sia, Adina, Kacie
  • “29” boy names: Beau, Aidan, Dax, Khai, Isa, Kael, Alek, Lake, Sai, Abiel

2 via 38

The following baby names add up to 38, which reduces to two (3+8=11; 1+1=2).

  • “38” girl names: Sadie, Alaina, Paige, Amina, Nina, Aisha, Hanna, Cecelia, Jamie, Chaya
  • “38” boy names: Noah, Max, Bodhi, Jared, Jaime, Jamie, Jair, Amare, Isai, Deon

2 via 47

The following baby names add up to 47, which reduces to two (4+7=11; 1+1=2).

  • “47” girl names: Sarah, Rachel, Kamila, Hallie, Leona, Adley, Reina, Galilea, Myah, Leanna
  • “47” boy names: John, Isaiah, Adrian, Malachi, Legend, Omar, Cody, Shane, Damon, Callen

2 via 56

The following baby names add up to 56, which reduces to two (5+6=11; 1+1=2).

  • “56” girl names: Ivy, Norah, Charlie, Aliyah, Selena, Dylan, April, Elianna, Maisie, Emmy
  • “56” boy names: Lucas, Dylan, Nolan, Oscar, Charlie, Felix, Mario, Armani, Omari, Pierce

2 via 65

The following baby names add up to 65, which reduces to two (6+5=11; 1+1=2).

  • “65” girl names: Rylee, Isabelle, Eloise, Alondra, Carter, Kelly, Palmer, Bridget, Vienna, Chandler
  • “65” boy names: Carter, Andrew, Javier, Prince, Conor, Collin, Shawn, Uriel, Chandler, Dennis

2 via 74

The following baby names add up to 74, which reduces to two (7+4=11; 1+1=2).

  • “74” girl names: Aurora, Audrey, Madelyn, Melody, London, Marley, Daleyza, Zuri, Lucille, Margot
  • “74” boy names: Joshua, Easton, Jesus, Myles, Matteo, Messiah, Desmond, Muhammad, Ryland, Tony

2 via 83

The following baby names add up to 83, which reduces to two (8+3=11; 1+1=2).

  • “83” girl names: Evelyn, Violet, Margaret, Catherine, Emmalyn, Addilynn, Giovanna, Valery, Yuliana, Memphis
  • “83” boy names: Jonathan, Jaxson, Bentley, Memphis, Alonzo, Shepherd, Branson, Thatcher, Brysen, Judson

2 via 92

The following baby names add up to 92, which reduces to two (9+2=11; 1+1=2).

  • “92” girl names: Sydney, Kaitlyn, Mckinley, Oaklynn, Madilynn, Marilyn, Estrella, Sylvie, Heavenly, Rilynn
  • “92” boy names: Julius, Porter, Santino, Yusuf, Wilson, Salvador, Watson, Tyrell, Zakariya, Ozzy

2 via 101

The following baby names add up to 101, which reduces to two (1+0+1=2).

  • “101” girl names: Josephine, Christina, Jaylynn, Kristina, Brynley, Murphy, Sherlyn, Kiersten, Christian, Kylynn
  • “101” boy names: Christian, Tristan, Forrest, Kristian, Brentley, Murphy, Garrison, Jovanny, Marquez, Tyrion

2 via 110

The following baby names add up to 110, which reduces to two (1+1+0=2).

  • “110” girl names: Loyalty, Stormy, Sullivan, Sparrow, Amaryllis, Rozlyn, Kynsleigh, Paislynn, Brylynn, Justus
  • “110” boy names: Alexzander, Justus, Youssef, Tyshawn, Octavius, Joseluis, Loyalty, Torryn, Arlington, Suleyman

2 via 119

The following baby names add up to 119, which reduces to two (1+1+9=11; 1+1=2).

  • “119” girl names: Gwendolyn, Josselyn, Serinity, Carrington, Jessalynn, Pressley, Suttyn, Samyuktha, Pryncess, Sirenity
  • “119” boy names: Kingstyn, Treyvon, Aristotle, Tyberius, Carrington, Marcellous, Thorsten, Theodoros, Romulus, Grayston

2 via 128

The following baby names add up to 128, which reduces to two (1+2+8=11; 1+1=2).

  • “128” girl names: Kensington, Jazzlynn, Scottlyn, Yuritzi, Remmington, Oluwanifemi, Courtlyn, Josslynn, Mattilynn, Averyrose
  • “128” boy names: Remmington, Huckleberry, Vittorio, Kensington, Treyvion, Florentino, Quintrell, Patterson, Pratyush, Oluwanifemi

2 via 137

The following baby names add up to 137, which reduces to two (1+3+7=11; 1+1=2).

  • “137” girl names: Riverlynn, Savannahrose, Taylormarie
  • “137” boy names: Konstantin, Joseantonio, Kentavious, Toluwanimi

2 via 146

The following baby names add up to 146, which reduces to two (1+4+6=11; 1+1=2).

  • “146” girl names: Oluwadarasimi, Winterrose, Scarlettrose
  • “146” boy names: Oluwadarasimi, Jontavious

2 via 155

The following baby names add up to 155, which reduces to two (1+5+5=11; 1+1=2).

  • “155” boy names: Krystopher, Chrystopher, Muhammadmustafa

What Does “2” Mean?

First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “2” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “2” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.

Numerological Attributes

“2” (the dyad) according to the Pythagoreans:

  • “The dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called ‘daring. ‘ For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation.”
  • “Among the virtues, they liken it to courage: for it has already advanced into action. Hence too they used to call it ‘daring’ and ‘impulse.'”
  • “They also gave it the title of ‘opinion,’ because truth and falsity lie in opinion. And they called it ‘movement,’ ‘generation,’ ‘change,’ ‘division,’ ‘length,’ ‘multiplication,’ ‘addition,’ ‘kinship,’ ‘relativity,’ ‘the ratio in proportionality.’ For the relation of two numbers is of every conceivable form.”
  • “Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.'”
  • “From division into two, they call it ‘justice’ (as it were ‘dichotomy’)”
  • “And they call it ‘Nature,’ since it is movement towards being and, as it were, a sort of coming-to-be and extension from a seed principle”
  • “Equality lies in this number alone…the product of its multiplication will be equal to the sum of its addition: for 2+2=2×2. Hence they used to call it ‘equal.'”
  • “It also turns out to be ‘infinity,’ since it is difference, and difference starts from its being set against 1 and extends to infinity.”
  • “The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad.”

“2” according to Edgar Cayce:

  • “Two – divided” (reading 261-14).
  • “Two – the combination, and begins a division of the whole, or the one. While two makes for strength, it also makes for weakness” (reading 5751-1).
Personal/Cultural Significance

Does “2” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 38, 47, 83, 101) — have any special significance to you?

Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “101” reminds you of education and learning new things, for example.

Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.

If you have any interesting insights about the number 2, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!

Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).

Name Quotes #70: Silas, Mabel, Ilima

It’s April Fools’ Day! I don’t have any pun names (like April Fool or Seymour Butts) for you today, but here are some name quotes…

From the book Jazz And Its Discontents by Francis Davis, a passage about jazz singer Abbey Lincoln (born Anna Marie Wooldridge) :

When the singer Abbey Lincoln gives her autograph, she appends the name Aminata Moseka. During her pilgrimage to Africa in 1975, the president of Guinea christened her “Aminata” in recognition of her inner strength and determination, and Zaire’s minister of education likened her to “Moseka,” the god of love in female form. “I love Aminata Moseka. I’ve added her to myself. But I can’t say that’s my one and only name,” says Lincoln […] “It’s more like a title–something to live up to. That’s why I recorded Stevie Wonder’s ‘Golden Lady.’ It gave me the opportunity to sing to a female god. But I’m still Abbey Lincoln–I still like to wear makeup and glittering dresses and look attractive for an audience. And in many ways, I’m still Anna Marie.”

From an interview with Skid Row bass player Rachel Bolan (born James Richard Southworth):

DC9 at Night: How did you get the name Rachel?

Bolan: It’s not my real first name. When I was first getting into bands, I wanted a cool stage name. I wanted to be like Alice Cooper. Eventually, when I was old enough, I legally changed my name to Rachel. It’s always raised a few eyebrows. It’s funny to hear people pronounce it when I give them a credit card or something. It’s funny to this day. They ask me if I gave them the wrong ID or if I gave them some chic’s credit card.

(According to Wikipedia, he created “Rachel” by combining the names of his brother Richard and his grandfather Manuel.)

From an article about the top baby names across Ontario:

As for Maverick — the number one boy name in Sault Ste. Marie — Government and Consumer Services Minister Bill Walker said it’s an interesting choice, quipping: “It’s better than Goose” — referring to the main characters from the movie Top Gun.

From an ESPN article about MMA fighter Ilima-Lei Macfarlane:

She was named after the official island flower of Oahu — the ilima — recognizable for its delicate yellow petals.

“It was considered a flower for royalty,” Macfarlane said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday, “because it would take hundreds of flowers to make a lei, they’re so paper thin.”

From an article about baby naming trends being linked to the stock market:

Alan [Hall] compared seven decades of stock market records to baby naming data from the same period and found that parents tend to give their children unique and unusual names during and right after rallies in the market. On the flip side, when the market is down, parents revert to safer, more traditional names.

In contrast with the above…from an article called “It’s Not the Economy: Why Unique Baby Names Are Trending Up“:

The researchers also examined the naming trends against the background of the economy. Some theorists had speculated that increased economic hardship might make people more focused on the community, and thus cause a decline in individualism. One study, published in 2013 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found increases of communal behavior like charitable activity among high-schoolers during the 2008 recession. But baby names didn’t follow that pattern, [psychologist Jean] Twenge said.

[…]

“There’s just a longer-scale trend toward uniqueness and individualism that isn’t necessarily rooted in these economic cycles,” Twenge said.

From an article about Justin Timberlake’s latest album:

Timberlake’s interview comes weeks before the release of his new album Man of the Woods, which is set to hit stores on February 2. He said his son inspired the name of the record and its title track.

“I literally just went on Google like, ‘meaning of the name Silas,’ and it sent me to this to this site and it said, ‘of Latin origin, meaning ‘Man of the woods,'” he said. “I was like, ‘How serendipitous that my last is Timberlake, like what does that mean?'”

From a collection of baby name stories contributed by Long Island moms:

My grandfather hated tattoos. He used to tell his standard stories and would say only people who had tattoos in ‘his day’ were sailors. He said their tattoos always said either ‘death before dishonor’ or ‘true love Mabel.’ He always used Mabel as the example name. I’m not sure why. He died in 2013. We named our daughter Mabel as a nod to him.

Want to see more blog posts like this one? Check out the name quotes category.