How popular is the baby name Rebecca 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 Rebecca.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Rebecca


Posts that Mention the Name Rebecca

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018

Nearly 270 blog posts were published at Nancy’s Baby Names in 2018. Which ones were the most popular?

It’s hard to know for sure right now, because the most recent 2018 posts haven’t had much time to gain traction, but here’s the (admittedly skewed) top ten list as of today:

  1. Black Panther Baby Names: T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia (Feb.)
  2. Popular Baby Names in Finland, 2017 (June)
  3. Five-Name Friday: Girl Names Like Imogen (Jan.)
  4. Old-Fashioned Double Names: Loladean, Ivylee, Effielou (Jul.)
  5. Classics on the Decline: Rebecca, Carol, Susan (Sept.)
  6. Top Debuts, Baby Girl Names, 2017 (May)
  7. Classics on the Decline: Paul, Jesse, Frank (Sept.)
  8. Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2017 (Jan.)
  9. Initials that Spell Names (Feb.)
  10. Top First Letters of U.S. Baby Names, 2017 (May)

And since we’re talking posts…do you have any topic suggestions for 2019? Or, are there any older posts you’d like me to update (à la Abcde)? I can’t make any promises, but I always do my best to honor reader requests that come my way (via comments, email, or social media).

Classics on the Decline: Rebecca, Carol, Susan

girl names falling out of fashion

In last week’s “lowest ever” boy names post, I mentioned that reader Caitlin had shared her research on downward-trending baby names with me recently. While many girl names hit relative lows in 2017, for instance…

  • Sarah, now ranked 62nd — lowest ranking since 1970.
  • Rachel, now ranked 195th — lowest ranking since 1960.
  • Melissa, now ranked 273rd — lowest ranking since 1949.

…a couple of the names on her list, Rebecca and Catherine, hit their “lowest ever” rankings last year. (Plus there was Katherine, a borderline case of a lowest-ever tie.)

So I set out to find other “lowest ever” girl names.

Many of the names I checked (like Clare, Lea, and Bridget) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Pauline, Sara, and Mary) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017. Still others (like Yvonne) had to be disqualified because, even though they hit their lowest ranking on record in 2017, they didn’t appear in the data for all 138 years (1880-2017)…an issue I didn’t encounter with any of the boy names.

In the end, I was able to add a dozen thirteen names to the list:

  • Ann. Ranked 1,023rd in 2017; peak was 28th in the 1930s.
  • Barbara. Ranked 908th in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1930s/1940s.
  • Carol. Ranked 1,814th in 2017; peak was 4th in the 1940s.
  • Catherine. Ranked 198th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1910s.
  • Celia. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 141st in the 1880s.
  • Cynthia. Ranked 637th in 2017; peak was 7th in the 1950s.
  • Elisabeth. Ranked 775th in 2017; peak was 286th in the 2000s.
  • Katherine. Ranked 105th in 2017 + 1938; peak 25th in the 1990s.
  • Kathleen. Ranked 871st in 2017; peak was 9th in the 1940s. (Late addition–thanks Kelly!)
  • Linda. Ranked 708th in 2017; peak was 1st in 1940s/1950s.
  • Priscilla. Ranked 527th in 2017; peak was 127th in the 1940s.
  • Rebecca. Ranked 216th in 2017; peak was 10th in the 1970s.
  • Rosa. Ranked 672nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1880s.
  • Susan. Ranked 963rd in 2017; peak was 2nd in the 1950s/1960s.
  • Teresa. Ranked 720th in 2017; peak was 18th in the 1960s.
  • Tressa. Ranked 9242nd in 2017; peak was 761st in the 1960s.

That makes 15 (or 16, if you count Katherine). I certainly could have missed a few, though, so if you can think of a good candidate, please let me know in the comments and I’ll take a look.

Christopher as a Girl Name?

Orson Welles, his first wife Virginia, and their daughter Christopher (1938)
Legendary actor Orson Welles was married three times and had one daughter per marriage. The last two daughters had conventional names (Rebecca and Beatrice), but the first had an unexpected name: Christopher.

On the day Christopher Welles arrived in March of 1938, her father sent out a short telegram that read: “Christopher, she is born.” The name Christopher was chosen simply because “Orson liked the sound of the name.”

The same year, the baby name Christopher appeared as a girl name for the first time in the SSA data:

Year # Boys Named Christopher # Girls Named Christopher
1940 500 7
1939 359 5
1938 308 8 [debut]
1937 294 .
1936 277 .

My hunch is that Orson Welles’s daughter was the main influence behind the debut. That said, the name Christopher was on the rise (as a boy name) in the late ’30s, so it’s possible that some of these female Christophers were simply miscoded male Christophers.

As it turns out, Christopher Welles did not like her name as a child: “I was teased mercilessly in school and was quite miserable as a result. I wanted to change it to Linda.” As an adult, she went by the shortened form Chris.

The name Christopher was in the top 10 for boys from 1967 to 2009, ranking #2 for many years from the ’70s to the ’90s. But it also ended up in the girls’ top 1,000 for 24 years, from 1967 to 1990.

What are your thoughts on Christopher as a girl name?

Sources: Orson Welles – Wikipedia, In My Father’s Shadow: a Daughter Remembers Orson Welles by Chris Welles Feder: review, Daughter of Orson Welles: daddy never let me hold him back

Dolly Parton’s Dozen

Dolly Parton album coverCountry singer Dolly Parton was born to parents Avie Lee and Robert Lee Parton in Tennessee 1946. She was the fourth of a dozen children: six boys and six girls. The names of all twelve, in order, are:

  1. Willadeene
  2. David Wilburn
  3. Coy Denver
  4. Dolly Rebecca
  5. Bobby Lee
  6. Stella Mae
  7. Cassie Nan
  8. Randel “Randy” Huston
  9. Larry Gerald
  10. Estel Floyd (twin)
  11. Freida Estelle (twin)
  12. Rachel Ann

Things that have since been named after Dolly include a cloned sheep, a celebrity baby, and a Tennessee amusement park.

Source: A Mother’s Love & Inspiration – Avie Lee Parton

Baby Names from Pullman Cars?

pullman car, train,Years ago I posted about Livonia, a baby both born on and named after a Pullman car. Recently I wondered: What other Pullman car names would have made good baby names?

So I downloaded a big spreadsheet of over 12,000 Pullman car names from The Pullman Project and was slightly surprised to see that thousands of them could have been baby names, if we allow for the splitting of compound car names (like Fort Miley, Glen Norman, Meredith College, and West Willow).

Here are a handful of examples. On the left are relatively common/familiar names, and on the right are some unexpected choices.

Alana, Archer, Arnold Adriatha, Arundel, Arvonia
Baxter, Becket, Bradley Bantry, Bellonia, Besco
Calvin, Catalina, Clyde Cadesia, Clarnie, Clymer
Dana, Deborah, Dwight Darlow, Dathema, Dodona
Edith, Eileen, Elmo Edminster, Emalinda, Etherley
Finley, Flavia, Floyd Fithian, Flaxton, Florilla
Gary, Georgette, Grayson Gavarnie, Gilia, Gloxinia
Harper, Harriet, Hector Harista, Humela, Hythe
Iona, Isabella, Ivan Irvona, Isleta, Ixion
Jessica, Jordan, Julia Jacelia, Jathniel, Justitia
Kara, Keith, Kenneth Keinath, Kenia, Kittson
Laurel, Lewis, Linden Lauveta, Leolyn, Lysander
Madison, Marco, Maude Mardonia, Mayence, Morganza
Nicola, Noel, Nora Narinda, Nasby, Norlina
Olivia, Omar, Otis Oaklyn, Olanda, Oxus
Parker, Perry, Philippa Penlyn, Pipila, Pixley
Quincy Quarren
Rebecca, Riley, Ronald Rexis, Risley, Ruxton
Sarah, Scott, Susanne Salphrona, Sarver, Sibley
Thora, Tracy, Tyler Tascott, Tilden, Tisonia
Vanessa, Vernon, Victoria Varick, Vinora, Vivita
Wesley, Wilson, Wren Welby, Wescott, Wexford

Which of the names above do you like best?