How popular is the baby name Ray 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 Ray.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ray


Posts that Mention the Name Ray

The Launch of Lara

Yesterday we looked at the baby name Laura, which saw a curious dip in usage from 1965 to 1967:

You know what was happening at the very same time? A drastic increase in the usage of the very similar name Lara, which suddenly jumped into the top 1,000 in 1966:

Here’s the data, side-by-side:

Laura usage (rank)Lara usage (rank)
196818,743 baby girls (11th)1,295 baby girls (227th)
196715,817 baby girls (15th)945 baby girls (277th)
196615,549 baby girls (19th)236 baby girls (618th)
196516,213 baby girls (18th)65 baby girls (1,376th)
196418,974 baby girls (14th)57 baby girls (1,512th)

So…what caused Lara to suddenly skyrocket (and thereby steal some of Laura’s thunder)?

Doctor Zhivago movie poster

The film Doctor Zhivago, which was released at the very end of 1965 and which, accounting for inflation, currently ranks as the eighth highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S.

Doctor Zhivago, based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel of the same name, was a drama set in Russia during the early 1900s — primarily around the time of WWI and the Russian Revolution. The main character was married physician/poet Yuri Zhivago (played by Omar Sharif), who was having an affair with Larisa “Lara” Antipova (played by Julie Christie), the wife of a political activist.

But it was more than just the character — we can’t ignore the influence of the film’s leitmotif “Lara’s Theme.” After Doctor Zhivago came out, it was turned into a Grammy-winning pop song, “Somewhere, My Love,” that name-checked the character in the lyrics:

Lara, my own, think of me now and then
Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again

Renditions of both versions of the song ended up peaking on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” list during the summer of 1966: Ray Conniff’s “Somewhere, My Love” at #9, and Roger Williams’ “Lara’s Theme” at #65.

Ironically, the names Lara and Laura are not related. Laura comes from the Latin name Laurus, meaning “laurel,” whereas the Russian name Lara is a short form of the Greek myth name Larisa, which may have been inspired by the ancient city of Larisa.

The movie also seems to have given a boost to the name Yuri (which had debuted a few years earlier thanks to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin). And it must be connected somehow to the 1980 debut of the one-hit wonder name Zhivago. (Perhaps it was airing on TV around that time?) “Zhivago” isn’t a Russian surname, incidentally — it’s a Church Slavonic word meaning “the living.”

Getting back to Lara…the name’s popularity declined after the 1960’s, but, so far, it has never dropped out of the top 1,000. (The uptick in usage in 2001-2002 corresponds to the release of the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which starred Angelina Jolie.)

Now let’s try a poll: Which name do you prefer, Lara or Laura? Give me your reasons in the comments!

Which name do you prefer, Lara or Laura?

View Results

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Sources: Doctor Zhivago (film) – Wikipedia, Doctor Zhivago – Orthodox England, Lara’s Theme – Wikipedia, Top 10 Highest-Grossing Films of All Time in the US, Ray Conniff – Billboard, Roger Williams – Billboard, Ray Conniff – Grammy.com, Laura – Behind the Name, Lara – Behind the Name

P.S. A woman named Lara after the Zhivago character was mentioned in Name Quotes 78.

The Revitalization of Laura

Laura movie poster, 1940s

In the early 1880s, Laura was a top-20 name in the United States. From the mid-1880s onward, though, the name slowly sank in popularity. It even slipped out of the top 100 for a decade. But then, in 1945, Laura suddenly changed directions and started rising:

  • 1947: 5,051 baby girls named Laura [rank: 74th]
  • 1946: 4,478 baby girls named Laura [rank: 75th]
  • 1945: 3,589 baby girls named Laura [rank: 77th]
  • 1944: 2,243 baby girls named Laura [rank: 119th]
  • 1943: 2,391 baby girls named Laura [rank: 117th]
  • 1942: 2,409 baby girls named Laura [rank: 115th]

What happened in the mid-1940s to change the fate of Laura?

The one-two punch of the 1944 film noir Laura and — probably more importantly — the 1945 hit song “Laura,” which was created from the film’s theme song.

The movie starred Gene Tierney as the title character, Laura Hunt, who was believed to have been murdered for most of the film. The police detective looking into the murder, Mark McPherson (played by Dana Andrews), slowly became obsessed with Laura over the course of the investigation.

The film’s theme song, composed by David Raksin, lent “a haunted, nostalgic, regretful cast to everything it play[ed] under,” according to Roger Ebert. Here’s what it sounds like:

After the film was released, lyricist Johnny Mercer was asked to add words to the tune. His lyrics described Laura “through a series of elusive attributes: a face in the misty light, footsteps down the hall, a floating laugh, and as a woman on a passing train.”

Once there were words, various singers began recording and releasing their own versions of “Laura.” Five of these renditions reached top-10 status on the pop charts during 1945; the one sung by Woodrow “Woody” Herman (below) ended up selling more than a million copies.

The song has since become a jazz standard.

Fifteen years later, in the summer of 1960, the teenage tragedy song “Tell Laura I Love Her” by Ray Peterson reached #7 on Billboard‘s Hot 100. This second Laura-song gave the name an extra boost from 1959 to 1960.

And did you notice that intriguing dip in usage from 1965 to 1967? There’s a reason for that, too, but I’ll save the explanation for tomorrow’s post

Sources: Laura (1944) – TCM.com, Laura (1945) – Jazz Standards, Laura (1945 song) – Wikipedia, Laura movie review – Roger Ebert, Tell Laura I Love Her – Songfacts.com

Numerology & Baby Names: Number 8

baby names that add up to 8, numerologically

Here are hundreds of baby names that have a numerological value of “8.”

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 “8” names per gender (according to the current U.S. rankings).

Beneath all the names are some ways you could interpret the numerological value of “8,” including descriptions from two different numerological systems.

8

The following baby names add up to 8.

  • “8” girl names: Bea
  • “8” boy names: Abe

8 via 17

The following baby names add up to 17, which reduces to eight (1+7=8).

  • “17” girl names: Gia, Bo, Afia, Abida, Aana, Adiba, Cala, Kada, Beia
  • “17” boy names: Bo, Mac, Cam, Md, Jeb, Adeeb, Ibaad, Abie, Aabid, Ege

8 via 26

The following baby names add up to 26, which reduces to eight (2+6=8).

  • “26” girl names: Leah, Maci, Jana, Pia, Aahana, Brea, Dua, Gema, Cami, Anja
  • “26” boy names: Eli, Bode, Bear, Obed, Eben, Adil, Asaad, Mica, Baer, Mega

8 via 35

The following baby names add up to 35, which reduces to eight (3+5=8).

  • “35” girl names: Mila, Clara, Laila, Heidi, Alicia, Dahlia, Cadence, Hadlee, Carla, Cleo
  • “35” boy names: Liam, Cole, Eric, Jax, Kaden, Edgar, Jase, Abram, Kian, Makai

8 via 44

The following baby names add up to 44, which reduces to eight (4+4=8).

  • “44” girl names: Ariana, Faith, Hope, Keira, Helen, Jenna, Opal, Anais, Kiera, Erika
  • “44” boy names: Kaiden, Jayce, Abraham, Judah, Brian, Dante, Andy, Allen, Braden, Ray

8 via 53

The following baby names add up to 53, which reduces to eight (5+3=8).

  • “53” girl names: Julia, Eliza, Samara, Laura, Chelsea, Kendra, Reign, Rosa, Livia, Kori
  • “53” boy names: Gavin, Bryce, Kyle, Archer, Colin, Atlas, Khalil, Keith, Saul, Kamari

8 via 62

The following baby names add up to 62, which reduces to eight (6+2=8).

  • “62” girl names: Natalie, Leilani, Kylie, Sienna, Georgia, Arielle, Ariyah, Jordan, Danielle, Serena
  • “62” boy names: Mason, Josiah, Jordan, Ronan, Adonis, Callum, Briggs, Randy, Talon, Hassan

8 via 71

The following baby names add up to 71, which reduces to eight (7+1=8).

  • “71” girl names: Avery, Zoey, Adalynn, Jasmine, Finley, Lauren, Rowan, Gabrielle, Shelby, Octavia
  • “71” boy names: Samuel, Rowan, Rhett, Avery, Finley, Orion, Kyler, Mathias, Zayne, Emanuel

8 via 80

The following baby names add up to 80, which reduces to eight (8+0=8).

  • “80” girl names: Savannah, Alexandra, Cassidy, Emberly, Colette, Monroe, Cassandra, Stevie, Ensley, Cynthia
  • “80” boy names: Tyler, Bennett, Brooks, Alejandro, Spencer, Moises, Emmitt, Bryant, Jeremias, Giancarlo

8 via 89

The following baby names add up to 89, which reduces to eight (8+9=17; 1+7=8).

  • “89” girl names: Raelynn, Emerson, Summer, Alexandria, Felicity, Winter, Virginia, Ivory, Avalynn, August
  • “89” boy names: Wyatt, Wesley, August, Emerson, Titus, Travis, Garrett, Enrique, Mauricio, Quincy

8 via 98

The following baby names add up to 98, which reduces to eight (9+8=17; 1+7=8).

  • “98” girl names: Scarlett, Valentina, Allyson, Crystal, Jocelynn, Londynn, Kenzley, Julietta, Kynzlee, Justine
  • “98” boy names: Trevor, Jefferson, Marquis, Lazarus, Klayton, Zephyr, Britton, Giuseppe, Brexton, Kurtis

8 via 107

The following baby names add up to 107, which reduces to eight (1+0+7=8).

  • “107” girl names: Treasure, Dominique, Phoenyx, Charolette, Jourdyn, Winsley, Journeigh, Chrisette, Shukrona, Lynnley
  • “107” boy names: Preston, Dominique, Giovanny, Yousuf, Shourya, Phoenyx, Prosper, Norberto, Rayshaun, Ruston

8 via 116

The following baby names add up to 116, which reduces to eight (1+1+6=8).

  • “116” girl names: Royalty, Annistyn, Eternity, Suzette, Christianna, Graylynn, Ruqayyah, Jozlynn, Rhylynn, Christyn
  • “116” boy names: Cornelius, Stryker, Treyson, Royalty, Christiano, Prescott, Dimitrios, Burhanuddin, Maxemiliano, Josemiguel

8 via 125

The following baby names add up to 125, which reduces to eight (1+2+5=8).

  • “125” girl names: Tristyn, Rozalynn, Anjolaoluwa, Remingtyn, Skyelynn, Oliviarose, Sophiarose, Quintessa, Skylynne, Charlestyn
  • “125” boy names: Kyngston, Tristyn, Octavious, Oluwademilade, Trystin, Dontavius, Vishruth, Johnrobert, Johnpatrick, Prinston

8 via 134

The following baby names add up to 134, which reduces to eight (1+3+4=8).

  • “134” girl names: Willoughby
  • “134” boy names: Constantine, Massimiliano, Christensen, Juanantonio, Willoughby, Muhammadibrahim, Muzzammil

8 via 143

The following baby names add up to 143, which reduces to eight (1+4+3=8).

  • “143” girl names: Montserrat, Skylarrose, Monserratt, Oluwafifehanmi
  • “143” boy names: Kaitochukwu

8 via 161

The girl name Prosperity adds up to 161, which reduces to eight (1+6+1=8).

8 via 170

The boy name Josephanthony adds up to 170, which reduces to eight (1+7+0=8).

8 via 197

The girl name Moyosoreoluwa adds up to 197, which reduces to eight (1+9+7=17; 1+7=8).

What Does “8” Mean?

First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “8” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “8” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.

Numerological Attributes

“8” (the octad) according to the Pythagoreans:

  • “They used to call the ogdoad [group of eight] ’embracer of all harmonies’ because of this marvellous attunement, or because it is the first to have been attuned and multiplied so as to be equal-times-equal-times-equal, which is a most lawful generation. So when they call it ‘Cadmean,’ they should be understood to be referring to the fact that, as all historians tell us, Harmonia was the wife of Cadmus.”
  • “The number 8 is the source of the musical ratios”
  • “All the ways in which it is put together are excellent and equilibrated tunings.”
  • “The ogdoad is called ‘safety’ and ‘foundation,’ since it is a leader, because two is a leader: the seed of the ogdoad is the first even number.”
  • “They used to call the ogdoad ‘mother, ‘ perhaps [because] even number is female”
  • “The eighth sphere encompasses the whole ‘ hence the saying ‘All is eight.'”

“8” according to Edgar Cayce:

  • “Eight – a money number” (reading 261-14).
  • “Eight indicates the commercial change” (reading 261-15).
  • “This brings eight as a vibration for the entity that means an awakening within the inner self to the new possibilities, the new opportunities within self that may make for not only carrying with it the abilities but the obligations of same as well. For to whom much is given in any manifested form, of him much is required” (reading 707-1).
Personal/Cultural Significance

Does “8” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 35, 44, 71, 143) — 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 “35” (i.e., 35 mm format) reminds you of photography and film, 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 8, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!

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

Name Quotes #75: Ossie, Rishabh, Sharona

Time for another batch of name quotes!

From the novel I Shall Wear Midnight (2010) by Terry Pratchett:

[T]he coach door opened again and one dainty good touched the flint. It was her: Angelica or Letitia or something else out of the garden; in fact Tiffany knew full well it was Letitia, but surely she could be excused just a tiny touch of nasty in the privacy of her own head? Letitia! What a name. Halfway between a salad and a sneeze.

From an article about black names and stereotypes:

Names do matter, and sometimes they say something whether we want them to or not. Just the other day, a caller from Arizona, after a long conversation about a column, commented that my name, Bob Ray, “must be a redneck Texas name.” He obviously didn’t know my race.

Even a mistake in a name can stick with you for a lifetime, as my late friend Ossie Davis discovered. Ossie, a great actor and director who died in 2005 at 87, was born in Georgia. When the nurse asked his parents for a name, his mother said, “R.C.” The nurse wrote “Ossie” on the birth certificate, he said.

From an article about using diacritical marks in baseball players’ names:

Until recently, most sportswriting has omitted diacritical marks. The reason for that isn’t out of disrespect or wanton cruelty. Rather, it is because of educational chauvinism and ignorance. […] Many schools don’t teach the use of diacritical marks — mine didn’t — so it is implicitly chauvinist. Names without diacritical marks are normal, according to these institutions. We graduate from these schools having learned this. Then some of us become sportswriters who retrofit people’s names to fit what we were taught. Sportswriting by and large omitted those accents from players’ names until very recently, including here. Sportswriters rarely asked players how to properly write and pronounce their names. Unsurprising, given the past and current demographics of sportswriters.

I say all of that to point out that our failure to use diacritical marks isn’t necessarily malicious, just ignorant.

(The article also linked to a PDF listing players’ preferences concerning their own names.)

From an article about German parents opting for Jewish baby names:

Non-Jewish parents in Germany are picking names straight out of the Hebrew Bible for their newborns, and they might not even know it.

[…]

But few non-Jewish parents actually know the meaning of such names — they just like how they sound, according to Frauke Rüdebusch, a linguist with the Society for the German Language, which has put out an annual list since 1977.

[…]

According to Rüdebusch, a survey done several years ago showed that most people chose names based on how they sounded rather than their origin.

From an article about an 11-year-old golfer in Minnesota named after the Ryder Cup:

With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.

From an article about baby names by a writer named Josanne:

In my case it can be mildly tiring because I am constantly having to explain that there is no “i” in Josanne, (simply because the most common spelling and pronunciation is Josianne) – one person had even asked me if I was sure I was spelling it right and asked me to check my own ID card. True story.

From an article about names in India:

Intuitively, most Indians recognise that names like “Shubham” and “Rishabh” are younger and more modern, while those like “Om” and “Shashi” are older.

A quote about jazz musician Red Norvo from the book American Musicians II: Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz (1986) by Whitney Balliett:

Norvo isn’t my real name. I was born Kenneth Norville, in Beardstown, Illinois, in three thirty-one oh-eight. […] I got the name Norvo from Paul Ash, in vaudeville. He could never remember my name when he announced me. It would come out Norvin or Norvox or Norvick, and one night it was Norvo. Variety picked it up and it stuck, so I kept it.

(Red also had a strong opinion about the name of his instrument: “Please don’t call it a vibraphone. I play the vibraharp, a name coined by the Deagan Company, which invented the instrument in 1927 and still supplies me with mine.”)

From an interview with Emilia Clarke, following the Game of Thrones finale:

Q: I would guess that [the parents who] named [their daughters] Khaleesi in the spirit of empowerment. And yet the character has taken this rather dark turn.

A: I know! It doesn’t take away from her strength, though — it doesn’t take away from her being an empowered woman.

I think that, when you see the final episode, they’ll see there is a beginning and a middle and an end to her as a character. I think that there are people that will agree with her, because she’s a human being.

And Khaleesi is a beautiful name. [Laughs] It’ll all be forgotten in a minute! You know, and people will just go, “Oh, what an unusual name, how fabulous,” and the child will say, “Yes, yes. My parents just really liked the name.”

From an article about Sharona Alperin, who inspired the 1979 song “My Sharona”:

The cover art of the single “My Sharona” actually features Alperin posing in a revealing tank top and tight jeans. For some time, she was famous in her own right. […] “I remember going on tour, and seeing sometimes people dress up. And I’d say, ‘What are you dressed up as?’ And they would say, ‘Sharonas.’

From the book Edgar Cayce on Vibrations: Spirits in Motion (2007) by Kevin J. Todeschi:

[T]he readings suggest that the soul often has an impact upon the consciousness of the parents as they are in the process of naming their offspring. In addition to that, the readings contend that an individual’s name may carry some similarity from one incarnation to the next, as the name often embodies the overall vibration and consciousness of the individual.

From an article about the 2001 Japanese movie Spirited Away:

The characters’ names reflect who they are

Boh means little boy or son, Kamaji means old boiler man, Yubaba means bathhouse witch, and Zeniba means money witch. The heroine Chihiro means a thousand fathoms or searches, while her worker name, Sen, just means thousand.

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