How popular is the baby name Reginald 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 Reginald.
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We’re all familiar with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, thanks to the catchy Christmas song.
But the character was around for a full decade before the song came out. He originated in a 1939 children’s book by Robert L. May.
May, a copywriter at Montgomery Ward, wrote the book as part of the retailer’s annual holiday promotion. More than two million copies of Rudolph were handed out to shoppers nationwide that year.
One of May’s handwritten notes from that era reveals that, before he’d settled on the name “Rudolph” for the red-nosed reindeer, he’d considered the following alliterative R-names:
The two names he’d circled were Rudolph and Reginald — the top two contenders, no doubt. (Sources say he decided Reginald was “too British,” and Rollo “too happy.”)
Robert L. May’s songwriter brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, later turned Rudolph’s story into a song. Gene Autry recorded “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in mid-1949 and it became a massive hit that Christmas. (Autry followed it up with “Frosty the Snowman” in 1950.)
So now imagine you’ve gone back in time, oh, say, 78 years. Your copywriter friend Rob sends you a telegram asking for your assistance in naming a fictional reindeer character he’s writing about, for work. He includes a list of ten possibilities. Which name do you select?
Or, if you’re not keen on any of these, feel free to comment with a write-in candidate. Just be sure it starts with R!
“A giveaway that sold millions.” The Bookseller 24 Dec. 1960: 2376.
In late 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton set off for Antarctica aboard the Endurance with a crew of 27 men.*
His goal was to be the first to cross the Antarctic by land, traveling from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Poll. (Roald Amundsen had become the first to reach the South Pole several years earlier.)
The expedition didn’t go as planned, though.
The Endurance became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea. It was crushed and sank in late 1915.
In April of 1916, Shackleton and five crew members set out on a daring 800-mile journey in a 22-foot lifeboat to the island South Georgia. They reached the island after an arduous 16 days, then trekked across the island to find help.
The remaining men were finally rescued in late August. Impressively, everyone survived.
The 28 men of the Endurance shared a total of 20 first names: Alexander (2), Alfred, Charles, Ernest (2), Frank (3), George, Henry, Hubert, James (2), John, Leonard, Lewis, Lionel, Perce, Reginald, Robert, Timothy, Thomas (3), Walter, and William (2). Which one do you like best?
The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.
I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:
1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.
And now, on to the names…
A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.
Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah
I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).
Well, I was making a record, and I had to choose a name, because they said, you know, you can’t make a record under the name of Reg Dwight, because it’s never going to — you know, it’s not attractive enough. And I agreed with that, and I couldn’t wait to change my name anyway, because I’m not too fond of the name of Reginald. It’s a very kind of ’50s English name.
So I picked Elton because there wasn’t — nobody seemed to have the name Elton. And I picked John to go with it. And it was — it was done on a bus going from London Heathrow back into the city. And it was done very quickly. So I said, oh, Elton John. That’s fine.
From The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography by Lois Potte:
Though contemporary sonneteers populated their world with lovers called Astrophil, Parthenophil, Stella, Delia, and Idea, the only names that appear in Shakespeare’s sonnets are Adonis, Helen, Mars, Saturn, Philomel, Eve, Cupid, Diana, and Time — and the one non-mythological figure, the author, “Will.”
Black people commonly use the term “Becky” when referring to generic white women. It has a slight negative connotation (airheadedness), but white women don’t have to do anything to deserve the title.
Clearly, this is as problematic as sexual stereotypes against any demographic of people. Women fight on a daily basis not to be objectified, but this portrayal takes it further and assigns white women a role to which they may not ascribe.
Despite my dislike for using a proper name as a slur, it took an actual person to bring it home to me. After my tweet, a white colleague nicknamed Becky told me about how she’s been forced to use Rebecca instead. A group of black men were catcalling her down a sidewalk and she was doing her best to ignore them. One of them yelled out, “Hey Becky!” That’s her name: she automatically swung her head around. But this had the opposite effect of validating the men’s impression that she was a Becky, not a woman named Becky. They laughed. She laughed, too, because…it is kinda funny.
But I stopped laughing quickly. I had never thought about the implications of people using your name as a stereotype against you. Where can you run to escape that?
A memo to every parent who’s ever lived: Giving your kid a special name does not make him special. It never has. It never will.
You know what I mean. It’s one thing to give yourself a screwy moniker. Body-modification enthusiasts have changed their names to Swirly Wanx Sinatra, Grenade Bee of Death, and RooRaaah Mew Crumbs, among other things, and there’s a U.S. Army Ohio National Guard firefighter who named himself Optimus Prime. That’s fine, you’re the one who has to live with it.
It’s worse when you inflict a harebrained epithet on a newborn, who will have to drag it through life like a neon hairshirt.
Originally named Arabella, this cheese underwent a slight name change recently; as Leslie told me, it’s always been named after Matthew’s great grandmother, whose name was America Arabella. To honor her, they combined her two names and came up with the Ameribella, which also has the unique quality of honoring this cheese’s American terroir and Italian origins.
The male names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (For the record, I overlooked entries in which one person’s name was used to refer to another person, e.g., “Aelfric’s uncle.”)
The most-mentioned name within each letter group is in bold.
If you make it all the way to the bottom, your reward is a top ten list. :)
Which male were mentioned most often in the Domesday book? The #1 name was William, followed by Robert and Ralph:
1. William (166)
2. Robert (127)
3. Ralph (124)
4. Aelfric (88)
5. Alwin (76)
5. Hugh (76)
7. Roger (73)
8. Godwin (72)
9. Walter (64)
10. Godric (59)
Though the names in the book aren’t necessarily representative of name usage in England overall, it does make sense than William took the top spot. The Domesday Book was created a couple of decades after the Norman Invasion, at a time when the name William was very fashionable, thanks to William the Conqueror.