How popular is the baby name Rhiannon in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Rhiannon and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Rhiannon.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name Rhiannon

Number of Babies Named Rhiannon

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Rhiannon

Name Quotes #50: Rocket, Lenore, Heloise

clueless, quote, cher, dionne

Clueless character Cher on the similarity between her name and that of her best friend Dionne:

We were both named after great singers of the past who now do infomercials.

(Dionne’s name comes from Dionne Warwick.)

From a 2007 interview in People with film director Robert Rodriguez (whose kids are named Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue, and Rhiannon):

Asked about his children’s unusual names, Robert attributes them to side effects he sustained from his college years when he subjected himself to medical tests to make extra money.

“Rocket is the first one. And once you name your first kid Rocket, you can’t name your next kid Marty. Racer, Rebel, Rogue…I’m just gonna blame this on the medical experiments. But they do have regular middle names in case they don’t want to start their own wrestling team.”

(An Australian celebrity named Lara Bingle has two sons named Rocket and Racer…perhaps in homage to Robert Rodriguez?)

From Incomplete birth certificates create a bureaucratic morass by Andrew Ryan in the Boston Globe:

A generation ago — when more families had six or more children — babies without official first names were surprisingly common. Overwhelmed new parents would leave the hospital without completing birth certificate paperwork.

But what once seemed like a quaint oddity becomes a serious inconvenience in a world of identity theft and terrorism. Today, governments demand birth certificates.

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, vital statistics offices — including at Boston City Hall — continue to receive a trickle of people whose birth certificates carry no first name. Boston officials estimated that in the 1950s, roughly 1 of every 25 birth certificates lacked a first name.

From the 1970 obituary of actress Lenore Ulric in the New York Times:

Born in the little town of New Ulm, Minn., in 1892, the daughter of Franz Xavier Ulrich, an Army hospital steward, Miss Ulric (she dropped the H from her last name) used to say that she was predestined for the stage. Her father gave her the name of Lenore because of his fondness for Poe’s poem, “The Raven,” and her childhood was devoted to theatrical yearnings.

(She played Wetona on stage in 1916.)

Name expert Kunio Makino, as quoted in What to call baby? by Tomoko Otake in The Japan Times:

“I think people who come up with bizarre names for their children tend to feel that they couldn’t live the life they wanted to, and they feel that they have been hindered by many rules and restrictions. The only freedom they have at their disposal, they think, is the right to name their child.”

From Hi, My Name Is Héloïse by Héloïse Chung (formerly Kathy Bryant):

I leaned toward names made of calm, feminine sounds that never sounded like someone was yelling at you. The harsh K in Kathy conjured up my mother’s words for me: kigibe, keoji, shikkeuro. Korean for girl, beggar, and shut up. But I still wasn’t ready. I switched from Kathy to “Kate,” which felt like a small step, but not one nearly big enough.

[…]

Once the universe gave me the OK, a little space seemed to open up for the name to find me. And so it was that Héloïse fluttered into my head one day, devastatingly perfect. I’m not sure exactly where it came from. Perhaps some derivation of Luisita (a friend) or Elio (a boy I used to babysit). I guess I have a thing for L names. I honed it, trying it with and without the H and with and without the diacritics. I didn’t want them to be an affectation. Is it gauche to use French spelling if you don’t even speak French? Eff it, I went with the French.

From Why and how Ontarians change their names in the 21st century by Eric Andrew-Gee in The Globe and Mail:

Some change their names by truncation, some by hyphenation, others by amalgamation, others by invention. Some changes are banal, done for everyday reasons – a divorce, a marriage, a mistransliteration (an imprecise conversion from one alphabet to another) – while others are poignant, playful, even poetic.

When I asked people about their choice while reporting this story, virtually no one was glib. Many would go on and on, grateful to talk about a decision that cuts to the marrow of who they are. Others became tearful and, in some cases, shuddered audibly at the sound of their birth names. Some even declined to discuss the subject.

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


The Musical Baby Name Anona

anona, sheet music, 1903Music has introduced dozens of new names (like Rhiannon, Monalisa, and Alize) to the baby name charts.

I believed for a long time that Dardanella was the first of these introduced-by-song names. It bounded onto the charts in 1920 — before the widespread usage of radio and record players, impressively. This must make it one-of-a-kind, right?

Nope. I’ve since gone back over the early name lists and discovered a musical name that debuted on the charts a whopping 17 years earlier, in 1903. That name is Anona:

  • 1908: 8 baby girls named Anona
  • 1907: 6 baby girls named Anona
  • 1906: 12 baby girls named Anona
  • 1905: 22 baby girls named Anona
  • 1904: 22 baby girls named Anona
  • 1903: 7 baby girls named Anona [debut]
  • 1902: unlisted

The SSA’s early name lists are relatively unreliable, so here are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) numbers for the same time-span:

  • 1908: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1907: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1906: 38 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1905: 48 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1904: 57 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1903: 18 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1902: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)

The song “Anona” was published in mid-1903. It was written by Vivian Grey, which was a pseudonym for either presidential niece Mabel McKinley or prolific songwriter Robert A. King, sources don’t agree.

The song became very popular and was recorded multiple times. (Here’s Henry Burr’s version, for instance.) This is the chorus:

My sweet Anona, in Arizona,
There is no other maid I’d serenade;
By camp-fires gleaming, of you I’m dreaming,
Anona, my sweet Indian maid.

So-called “Indian love songs” were becoming trendy around this time, thanks to the success of the song “Hiawatha” (1902). Here are a few more that, like “Anona,” have titles that were also used as female names in the songs:

  • “Kick-apoo” (1904)
  • “Oneonta” (1904)
  • “Tammany” (1905)
  • “Silverheels” (1905)
  • “Iola” (1906)
  • “Arrah Wanna” (1906)
    • Dozens of babies were named Arrahwanna, Arrah-Wanna, and Arrah Wanna after this song was published.
  • “Sitka” (1909)
  • “Ogalalla” (1909)

What do you think of the baby name Anona? Would you ever consider using it?

Source: Native Americans: The Noble Savage: The Indian Princess

The 10 Children of Lady Charlotte Guest

Charlotte Guest
Charlotte Guest
A couple of days ago, in my post about Rhiannon, I mentioned the Mabinogion.

The first person to translate this collection of medieval tales into English was Lady Charlotte Guest (1812-1885). She wasn’t a native Welsh speaker, but learned the language after marrying Welsh businessman John Josiah Guest at the age of 21 and moving to Wales.

That marriage produced 10 children. Here are the names:

  1. Charlotte Maria (b. 1834)
  2. Ivor Bertie (b. 1835)
  3. Katherine Gwladys (b. 1837)
  4. Thomas Merthyr (b. 1838)
  5. Montague John (b. 1839)
  6. Augustus Frederick (b. 1840)
  7. Arthur Edward (b. 1841)
  8. Mary Enid Evelyn (b. 1843)
  9. Constance Rhiannon (b. 1844)
  10. Blanche Vere (b. 1847)

Many of the above, including Bertie, Montagu (without the e) and Vere, are family names on Charlotte’s side. Charlotte’s father Albemarle got another interesting family name.

Here are definitions for the four Welsh names:

  • Gwladys – A form of the old Welsh name Gwladus. It might be based on the Welsh word gwlad, meaning “country.”
  • Merthyr – From the Welsh word merthyr, which means “martyr.” Records show that Thomas was born in the town of Merthyr Tydfil.
  • Enid – Found in the Welsh legend of Geraint and Enid. It might be based on the Welsh word enaid, meaning “soul.”
  • Rhiannon – Found in the Mabinogion. It might mean “divine goddess” or “maid of Annwfn.”

If you could add an 11th name (first + middle) to this set, what combination would you choose and why? Gender is up to you.

Source: Lady Charlotte Guest – Wikipedia

The Baby Name Rhiannon

“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, and wouldn’t you love to” …know a little more about her name?

The Welsh name Rhiannon comes to us via the Mabinogion, a famous collection of medieval Welsh tales that was written during the 1300s (or possibly earlier).

What’s the etymology? Here are two theories:

Rhiannon’s persona is much older than the medieval text, however. She appears to be derived from the pre-Christian goddess hypothesized as Rigantona and also Epona, the horse goddess. Her pedigree within the Mabinogi also implies supernatural status as she is thought to be the daughter of the king of Annwfn, the otherworld; her name may mean maid of Annwfn.

Song of Rhiannon (book)The reconstructed proto-Celtic name Rigantona means “divine goddess.” The definition “maid of Annwfn,” on the other hand, would come from combining the word rhiain, meaning “maid,” with the place name Annwfn.

Before the 1970s, the name Rhiannon was rarely used as a name for newborns. The few babies that got the name tended to have a direct connection to Wales (i.e., either they were born there or their parents were).

Then two novels featuring the name came out: Song of Rhiannon (1972) by Evangeline Walton and Triad (1973) by Mary Leader. The first was based directly on the Mabinogion; the second was not.

Both books probably played a part in putting Rhiannon on the map in 1974:

  • 1975: 15 baby girls named Rhiannon
  • 1974: 5 baby girls named Rhiannon [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

The first book might have been the one with the word “song” in the title, but it was the second book that inspired a young Stevie Nicks to write her hit song “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win).” Here’s how Stevie tells the story:

I got the name from a novel, I think I bought in an airport just before a long flight; it was called Triad, and it was about a girl named Rhiannon and her sister and mother, or something like that. I just thought the name was so pretty that I wanted to write something about a girl named Rhiannon. I wrote it about three months before I joined Fleetwood Mac, in about 1974.

The song was first released on Fleetwood Mac’s album Fleetwood Mac in mid-1975. It was then re-released a single in February of 1976, and, four months later, peaked at #11 on the Billboard charts.

Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)

The single is what made an impact on the baby name charts. Hundreds of baby girls were named Rhiannon in 1976, and the name entered the top 1,000 for the first time at an impressive 593rd. A year later it peaked at 418th.

Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Rhiannon (or a variant) from 1973 to 1980, sorted by 1977 levels of usage:

Name 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
Rhiannon 5* 15 272 491 460 422 409
Rhianna 56* 97 79 89 93
Reanna 7 65 90 87 86 90
Riann 76* 37 22 10
Rhiana 33* 38 27 16 24
Rheanna 24* 34 23 30 31
Rianne 25* 9 17 12
Rheannon 6* 20 16 15 20
Rianna 10* 19 29 27 30
Rhianon 7* 13 25 9 16
Riannon 11* 8 8
Reannon 12* 10 7 16 17
Rhian 9* 7 7
Reannan 6**
Rhia 5* 5 5
Reana 8 8 6 13
Reanne 7 5 9
Rheanne 5*
Rhiannan 7* 6
Rheana 7*
Rhyan 6* 7 10
Reann 6 10
Rhianne 5*

*Debut
**One-hit wonder

Usage cooled off after that, but rose again in the late ’90s and early 2000s, probably thanks to Fleetwood Mac’s successful 1997 tour The Dance and resulting live album, which features an extended version of “Rhiannon.”

The song was voted one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone in 2004, but by then the name Rhiannon was falling out of fashion. In 2008, it dropped out of the top 1,000. In 2013, only 106 baby girls got the name.

Regardless, Rhiannon will always be one of my favorite uniquely ’70s baby names. :)

Sources:

  • Bishop, Stephen. Songs in the Rough. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996.
  • MacKillop, James. Myths and Legends of the Celts. London: Penguin UK, 2005.
  • Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton. Rock Movers & Shakers. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1991.

Biggest Baby Name Debuts of All Time: Girls, 40 to 31

biggest baby name debuts of all time, girl names, 40 to 31

Time for baby name debuts, part 2! (Part deux?)

From 40 to 31:

Leshia & Riann, 2-way tie for #40

  • Leshia debuted with 76 baby girls in 1960.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Riann debuted with 76 baby girls in 1977.
    Inspired by the song “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.

Jalesa, #39

  • Jalesa debuted with 77 baby girls in 1988.
    Inspired by Jaleesa Vinson, a character on the TV sitcom “A Different World.”

Chimere & Naidelyn, 2-way tie for #38

  • Chimere debuted with 78 baby girls in 1979.
    Inspired by the Prince Matchabelli perfume Chimere.
  • Naidelyn debuted with 78 baby girls in 1998.
    Inspired by Naidelyn Navarrete, an actress on the telenovela “Maria Isabel.”

Joyel & Tynisa, 2-way tie for #37

  • Joyel debuted with 79 baby girls in 1975.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Joyelle, a character on the soap opera “How to Survive a Marriage.” (Thank you C in DC!)
  • Tynisa debuted with 79 baby girls in 1976.
    Inspired by the song “Tynisa (Goddess of Love)” by Major Harris.

Audreanna, #36

  • Audreanna debuted with 80 baby girls in 1989.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Adriana, a character on the soap opera “Santa Barbara.” (Thank you C in DC!)

Leilene, #35

  • Leilene debuted with 81 baby girls in 2007.
    Inspired by Leilene Ondrade, a contestant on the reality TV show “Flavor of Love.”

Evolet, #34

  • Evolet debuted with 82 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Evolet, a character in the movie 10,000 BC.

Joyelle & Trenyce, 2-way tie for #33

  • Joyelle debuted with 88 baby girls in 1975.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Same reason as #37.
  • Trenyce debuted with 88 baby girls in 2003.
    Inspired by singer Trenyce.

Irania & Shelva, 2-way tie for #32

  • Irania debuted with 89 baby girls in 1995.
    Inspired by Irania Paniagua, a character on the telenovela “Maria Celeste.”
  • Shelva debuted with 89 baby girls in 1936.
    Inspired by Shelby Barret, a character in the movie The Woman in Red.

Latrenda, #31

Do you have any thoughts on Latrenda, Audreanna, Joyelle/Joyel or Leshia?

*The Top 50 Baby Name Debuts for Girls: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1*