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

Pollyanna: The Most Optimistic Baby Name Ever?

pollyanna, book, baby name, 1910sHas some grumpy person ever called you a “Pollyanna”? That person may have meant it pejoratively, but take it as a compliment! (And tell that grump to go take a nap.) Because for over a century now the name has been a vocabulary word with a seriously pleasant meaning: “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.”

So how did the compound name come to have that meaning? With the help of a popular book from the 1910s.

Pollyanna (1913) by Eleanor H. Porter was the first in a series of books about Pollyanna Whittier, one of the famous optimistic orphans of literature. (Think Anne of Green Gables, or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.) But Pollyanna Whittier, “a girl who preaches the gospel of Gladness,” was the most optimistic of them all:

After her father’s death, the orphan moves to Beldingsville, Vt. In the next hundred pages, this juvenile social worker persuades the whole town to play the Glad Game. Cranky Mr. Pendleton, the bedridden Mrs. Snow, the dispirited Reverend Ford, the forlorn Dr. Chilton, a loose woman contemplating divorce and (finally) her sclerotic aunt succumb to the power of positive thinking and begin to hunt for and find things to be glad about.

The original Pollyanna book was the 8th-bestselling book of 1913 and the 2nd-bestselling book of 1914. It was so successful that Porter turned it into a series, starting with the sequel Pollyanna Grows Up (1915), which ranked 4th on the bestseller list in 1915.

As one critic explained in 1947, “The publication of the story in 1913 was only less influential than the World War. White Mountain cabins, Colorado teahouses, Texas babies, Indiana apartment houses, and a brand of milk were immediately named for the new character.”

The critic mentioned Texas specifically because a Texas baby named for the character (Pollyanna Houston, born in Waco) was in the news in 1915. But babies elsewhere got the name as well. Here’s the SSA data for the usage of Pollyanna during the 1910s:

  • 1919: 15 baby girls named Pollyanna
  • 1918: 13 baby girls named Pollyanna
  • 1917: 21 baby girls named Pollyanna
  • 1916: 20 baby girls named Pollyanna
  • 1915: 12 baby girls named Pollyanna
  • 1914: 6 baby girls named Pollyanna [debut]
  • 1913: unlisted
  • 1912: unlisted

And here’s the SSDI data for the same window of time:

  • 1919: 10 Pollyannas
  • 1918: 9 Pollyannas
  • 1917: 15 Pollyannas
  • 1916: 18 Pollyannas
  • 1915: 11 Pollyannas
  • 1914: 3 Pollyannas
  • 1913: 6 Pollyannas
  • 1912: 2 Pollyannas

The greatest usage of the name came in the 1960s, with the Disney movie adaptation of the book…but we’ll talk more about that (and the name Hayley!) tomorrow.

Until then, why not leave me a comment with your thoughts on the baby name Pollyanna? Do you think it’s usable these days?

Sources:

Baby Names & Numerology: Number 1

baby names that add up to 1, numerologically

Here are hundreds of baby names that have a numerological value of “1.”

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

Beneath all the names are some ways you could interpret the numerological value of “1,” including descriptions from two different numerological systems.

1 via 10

The following baby names add up to 10, which reduces to one (1+0=1).

  • “10” girl names: Eda, Dea, Ebba, Ade
  • “10” boy names: Ade

1 via 19

The following baby names add up to 19, which reduces to one (1+9=10; 1+0=1).

  • “19” girl names: Mae, Ema, Abbie, Alea, Acadia, Aela, Mea, Jace, Aide, Gabi
  • “19” boy names: Adam, Jace, Dan, Jed, Fahd, Bob, Ra, Beka, Amad, Addai

1 via 28

The following baby names add up to 28, which reduces to one (2+8=10; 1+0=1).

  • “28” girl names: Eva, Eden, Lana, Ari, Nala, Andi, Adalee, Dani, Vada, Jael
  • “28” boy names: Alan, Ari, Eden, Case, Mack, Ira, Jael, Ash, Om, Adin

1 via 37

The following baby names add up to 37, which reduces to one (3+7=10; 1+0=1).

  • “37” girl names: Elena, Cora, Alina, Rebecca, Kate, Ariah, Alani, Liana, Amalia, Mina
  • “37” boy names: Luca, Baker, Axl, Jamal, Coen, Van, Brice, Niam, Nick, Ajay

1 via 46

The following baby names add up to 46, which reduces to one (4+6=10; 1+0=1).

  • “46” girl names: Hannah, Zoe, Gianna, Reagan, Lucia, Daniela, Adaline, Zara, Vera, Raegan
  • “46” boy names: Elias, Ivan, Juan, Zane, Leon, Damien, Arlo, Erick, Cesar, Malik

1 via 55

The following baby names add up to 55, which reduces to one (5+5=10; 1+0=1).

  • “55” girl names: Nevaeh, Hadley, Iris, Joanna, Camille, Freya, Aspen, Gabriela, Heaven, Mariam
  • “55” boy names: Edward, Jorge, Jett, Edwin, Grady, Davis, Conrad, Kellan, Vihaan, Grey

1 via 64

The following baby names add up to 64, which reduces to one (6+4=10; 1+0=1).

  • “64” girl names: Emily, Piper, Makayla, Tessa, Sabrina, Mercy, Miley, Frankie, Natasha, Azariah
  • “64” boy names: Jaxon, Brody, Zion, Peter, Knox, Lukas, Israel, Arjun, Ronald, Roland

1 via 73

The following baby names add up to 73, which reduces to one (7+3=10; 1+0=1).

  • “73” girl names: Brynn, Carolina, Kaylani, Jazmin, Elliot, Calliope, Karter, Jurnee, Bexley, Nataly
  • “73” boy names: Jackson, Joseph, Ezekiel, Elliot, Karter, Nicolas, Jayceon, Sergio, Sincere, Alberto

1 via 82

The following baby names add up to 82, which reduces to one (8+2=10; 1+0=1).

  • “82” girl names: Allison, Julianna, Kamryn, Meredith, Addyson, Clarissa, Kaisley, Lizbeth, Kaelynn, Charlize
  • “82” boy names: Maverick, Zachary, Hendrix, Phillip, Mitchell, Crosby, Thaddeus, Kamryn, Alfonso, Dimitri

1 via 91

The following baby names add up to 91, which reduces to one (9+1=10; 1+0=1).

  • “91” girl names: Katherine, Taylor, Everleigh, Sawyer, Payton, Phoenix, Braelynn, Kensley, Liberty, Lauryn
  • “91” boy names: Sawyer, Giovanni, Phoenix, Johnathan, Matthias, Taylor, Cassius, Yousef, Payton, Agustin

1 via 100

The following baby names add up to 100, which reduces to one (1+0+0=1).

  • “100” girl names: Presley, Vivienne, Clementine, Brynleigh, Joselyn, Austyn, Yaritza, Jordynn, Temperance, Lillyanna
  • “100” boy names: Maximus, Ezequiel, Quentin, Quinten, Presley, Everette, Shivansh, Austyn, Ignatius, Yunus

1 via 109

The following baby names add up to 109, which reduces to one (1+0+9=10; 1+0=1).

  • “109” girl names: Sutton, Brittany, Raylynn, Joslynn, Zipporah, Hennessy, Sunshine, Kimberlyn, Rowynn, Faithlynn
  • “109” boy names: Kingston, Sutton, Westley, Tristin, Khristian, Rigoberto, Montrell, Rayshawn, Justyn, Stryder

1 via 118

The following baby names add up to 118, which reduces to one (1+1+8=10; 1+0=1).

  • “118” girl names: Rosalynn, Westlyn, Shaylynn, Jesslynn, Kynzley, Sharlotte, Krystiana, Christyana, Isabellarose, Timberlyn
  • “118” boy names: Demitrius, Oluwatobi, Braxxton, Anastasios, Barrington, Stanislaw, Bryxton, Braxtynn, Youness, Jatavious

1 via 127

The following baby names add up to 127, which reduces to one (1+2+7=10; 1+0=1).

  • “127” girl names: Quetzaly, Karrington, Rosselyn, Roselynne, Lillyrose, Onyinyechi, Terralynn, Annavictoria, Torilynn
  • “127” boy names: Stratton, Odysseus, Kristoffer, Maksymilian, Augustino, Ozymandias, Theophilos, Chukwuebuka, Jaxxston, Kingarthur

1 via 136

The following baby names add up to 136, which reduces to one (1+3+6=10; 1+0=1).

  • “136” girl names: Kourtlyn, Oyinkansola, Brookelynne, Rosslynn, Tanitoluwa
  • “136” boy names: Jaquavious, Xzayvion, Oreofeoluwa

1 via 145

The following baby names add up to 145, which reduces to one (1+4+5=10; 1+0=1).

  • “145” girl names: Montgomery, Maryelizabeth, Elizabethrose, Peneloperose
  • “145” boy names: Montgomery, Sylvester, Quantavius, Constantinos

1 via 154

The girl name Summerlynn adds up to 154, which reduces to one (1+5+4=10; 1+0=1).

1 via 163

The boy name Constantinos adds up to 163, which reduces to one (1+6+3=10; 1+0=1).

1 via 172

The girl name Trinityrose adds up to 172, which reduces to one (1+7+2=10; 1+0=1).

What Does “1” Mean?

First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “1” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “1” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.

Numerological Attributes

“1” (the monad) according to the Pythagoreans:

  • “The Pythagoreans called the monad ‘intellect’ because they thought that intellect was akin to the One; for among the virtues, they likened the monad to moral wisdom; for what is correct is one. And they called it ‘being,’ ’cause of truth,’ ‘simple,’ ‘paradigm,’ ‘order,’ ‘concord,’ ‘what is equal among greater and lesser,’ ‘the mean between intensity and slackness,’ ‘moderation in plurality,’ ‘the instant now in time,’ and moreover they called it ‘ship,’ ‘chariot,’ ‘friend,’ ‘life,’ ‘happiness.'”
  • “They say that the monad is not only God, but also ‘intellect’ and ‘androgyne.’ It is called ‘intellect’ because of that aspect of God which is the most authoritative both in the creation of the universe and in general in all skill and reason”
  • “They consider it to be the seed of all, and both male and female at once”
  • “They call it ‘Chaos’ which is Hesiod’s first generator, because Chaos gives rise to everything else, as the monad does. It is also thought to be both ‘mixture’ and ‘blending,’ ‘obscurity’ and ‘darkness,’ thanks to the lack of articulation and distinction of everything which ensues from it.”
  • “They call it ‘Prometheus,’ the artificer of life, because, uniquely, it in no way outruns or departs from its own principle, nor allows anything else to do so, since it shares out its own properties.”

“1” according to Edgar Cayce:

  • “One indicates strength, power, influence” (reading 261-15).
  • “All activities emanate from the one” (reading 5751-1).
  • “As in numbers…all are formations or divisions or multiples of units of one, so the universe and the expressions of all natures within same are the manifestations of that one force, one power, one spirit, one energy known as or called a Universal Force, Creative Energy, or God.” (reading 1462-1).
Personal/Cultural Significance

Does “1” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 19, 55, 64, 109) — have any special significance to you?

Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe your favorite song is “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles, 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 1, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!

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

Unusual Political Names in Connecticut

James A. Bill (1817-1900) of Lyme, Connecticut, served in the Connecticut state senate in 1852 and 1853 and in the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1849 and 1867. He also happened to be a rare pro-slavery Northerner in the years before and during the Civil War. This fact is reflected in the names of the last three children:

  1. Elizabeth
  2. Phoebe
  3. Mary
  4. Rebecca
  5. Lodowick
  6. James
  7. Kansas Nebraska (born in July, 1855)
  8. Lecompton Constitution (b. October, 1857)
  9. Jefferson Davis (b. February, 1862)

Kansas Nebraska Bill was named after the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, but also allowed the territories to decide for themselves whether or not they would permit slavery (the “popular sovereignty” principle).

Lecompton Constitution Bill was named after the Lecompton Constitution (1857), a proposed pro-slavery constitution for the state of Kansas that was defeated early the next year.

And Jefferson Davis Bill was, of course, named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy throughout the Civil War.

Their older brother, Lodowick, inherited his interesting first name from James’s father. The name Lodowick — like Louis, Ludwig, and Luigi — can be traced back to the Germanic name Chlodovech, which consists of the elements hlud, meaning “famous, loud” and wig, meaning “war, battle.”

[Other notable Civil War-era baby names include Emancipation Proclamation (“Prockie”), Gettysburg (“Gettie”), Kenesaw Mountain, and Elmer Ellsworth.]

Sources:

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.