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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Robert

Number of Babies Named Robert

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Robert

What’s a “Tee-Name”?

Centuries ago, in the small fishing villages of north-east Scotland, there weren’t many surnames to go around. There also weren’t many acceptable first names to choose from. So a large number of people ended up with identical sets of first and last names.

To differentiate between all these like-named people, locals began using tee-names: descriptive words that were added to (or used in place of) legal names. A tee-name could refer to a person’s appearance, demeanor, occupation, or anything else that served as a useful identifier.

Here’s how an article from 1842 described the practice:

In an unsophisticated village, the proper names only connect the inhabitants with the external civilisation [sic], while the tee-name is, of necessity, the thing for use. It is amusing enough to be permitted to turn over the leaves of a grocer’s ledger, and see the tee-names as they come up. Buckie, Beauty, Bam, Biggelugs, Collop, Helldom, the King, the Provost, Rochie, Stoattie, Sillerton, the Smack, Snipe, Snuffers, Toothie, Todlowrie. Ladies are occasionally found who are gallantly and exquisitely called the Cutter, the Bear, &c. Among the twenty-five George Cowies in Buckie, there are George Cowie, doodle, George Cowie, carrot, and George Cowie, neep.

(In Scottish, a buckie is a whelk, a collop is a slice of meat, rochie means “rough,” a snipe is either a type of bird or a contemptible person, a snuffers is a scissor-like tool used to snuff candles, a todlowrie is a fox, and a neep is a turnip.)

Here’s an interesting example that also demonstrates how tee-names were sometimes passed down to the next generation:

John May was born in Rathen, Aberdeenshire in 1846. He was known as Jockey Borra. Jockey is a common Scottish nick-name for John but Borra was taken from the “Northern Lights”, Aurora Borealis with which he was fascinated. His sons took the same Tee-name: one was also Jockey Borra and the other, Robert, was known as Bobby Borra, although it isn’t known if they also had a fascination with the Aurora.

Do you have Scottish ancestry? If so, did any of the folks in your family tree have a tee-name?

Sources:

Classics on the Decline: Paul, Jesse, Frank

boy names falling out of fashion

A few weeks back, a reader named Caitlin emailed me a cool list of well-known names that were decreasing in usage. Her list included:

  • Andrew, now ranked 40th — lowest ranking since 1963
  • Michael, now ranked 12th — lowest ranking since 1942
  • David, now ranked 23rd — lowest ranking since 1924

She also generously told me that I could share her findings (thank you Caitlin!).

The names that intrigued me most were the “lowest ever” names: names that had been in the data since 1880, but that saw their lowest usage ever (in terms of rankings) in 2017. Three of the boy names on her list — Paul, Richard, Robert — were “lowest ever” names, so I decided start with these and search for others.

I checked hundreds of potential candidates. Many (like Andrew, Michael, and David) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Stanley, Alvin, and Clarence) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017.

In the end, I was able to add 15 names to the list:

  • Allen. Ranked 401st in 2017; peak was 71st in the 1940s/1950s.
  • Dennis. Ranked 544th in 2017; peak was 16th in the 1940s.
  • Edgar. Ranked 353rd in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1880s.
  • Edwin. Ranked 332nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1910s/1920s.
  • Frank. Ranked 373rd in 2017; peak was 6th in the 1880s/1890s.
  • Gerald. Ranked 824th in 2017; peak was 19th in the 1930s.
  • Glenn. Ranked 1,288th in 2017; peak was 55th in the 1960s.
  • Herman. Ranked 2,347th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1880s/1890s.
  • Jerome. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 93rd in the 1930s.
  • Jesse. Ranked 186th in 2017; peak was 37th in the 1980s.
  • Lloyd. Ranked 1,570th in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1910s.
  • Martin. Ranked 281st in 2017; peak was 62nd in the 1960s.
  • Marvin. Ranked 559th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1930s.
  • Paul. Ranked 225th in 2017; peak was 12th in the 1910s/1930s.
  • Raymond. Ranked 293rd in 2017; peak was 14th in the 1910s.
  • Richard. Ranked 175th in 2017; peak was 5th in the 1930s/1940s.
  • Robert. Ranked 65th in 2017; peak was 1st in the 1920s/1930s/1950s.
  • Wayne. Ranked 816th in 2017; peak was 29th in the 1940s.

Interestingly, all 18 have spent time in the top 100. And one, Robert, is still in the top 100. (How long before Robert is out of the top 100, do you think?)

A handful of girl names also saw their lowest-ever rankings in 2017. I’ll post that list next week…

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 for Tea Lovers (Namestorm #17)

baby names for tea lovers

We haven’t done a Namestorm in a long time! The last one we did was for coffee lovers, so let’s follow that up with one for tea lovers.

Here are some tea-inspired baby names for all the tea lovers out there:

Camellia
The Camellia genus gives us not only flowers, but also tea: the Camellia sinensis plant is our primary source of tea. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus in honor of Czech missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706).

Thomas

  • Thomas Garway was the first person sell tea in London, in 1657.
  • Thomas Twining founded Twinings of London in the early 1700s.
  • Thomas Lipton founded Lipton Tea in the 1890s.
  • Thomas Sullivan of New York inadvertently invented teabags in 1907 when he distributed tea samples in loosely woven silk bags and people started using the bags to brew the tea.

Catherine (or Catarina)
Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza popularized tea-drinking among the British nobility in the mid-1600 upon her marriage to King Charles II in 1662. (FYI: The borough of Queens in New York City was named during Catherine’s tenure, so it was presumably named for her.)

Robert
Britain was obsessed with tea by the 1800s, but China controlled the tea trade. So in the late 1840s, the British East India Company sent Scottish botanist Robert Fortune (1812-1880) to China to learn the secrets of Chinese tea production and to smuggle tea plants and seedlings out of the country and take them to India.

Jasmine
Jasmine tea is a blend made with green tea and jasmine blossoms.

Grey (or Earl) (or Earl Grey)
Earl Grey tea is a blend made with black tea and oil of bergamot (a type of citrus fruit). It existed as far back as the 1880s and is thought to be named after former British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.

Nanette
The famous song “Tea for Two” comes from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette. It’s a duet sung during Act II by characters Nanette and Tom.

What other baby names with a tea association can you come up with?

The Beginning of Broderick

broderick crawford, willie stark, all the kings men
Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark
The first name Roderick has been in use for centuries, but the similar name Broderick is relatively new. It debuted in the U.S. data in 1950:

  • 1953: 29 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1952: 25 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1951: 25 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1950: 30 baby boys named Broderick [debut]
  • 1949: unlisted

The man who inspired this debut? Veteran actor Broderick Crawford. His portrayal of corrupt politician Willie Stark in the drama All the King’s Men, released nationally in early 1950, turned him into a star overnight. He won the Best Actor award at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes that year.

The movie was based on the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. The story was inspired by the rise and fall of notorious Louisiana politician Huey P. Long.

Crawford’s birth name was William Broderick Crawford; Broderick was his mother’s maiden name. There are two possible etymologies for the surname Broderick:

  • The Gaelic surname Ó Bruadair, meaning “descendant of Bruadar.” The origin of Bruadar is either Norse or Irish — sources disagree.
  • The Welsh surname ap Rhydderch, meaning “son of Rhydderch.” The definition of Rhydderch is “reddish brown.”

Do you like the name Broderick? Do you like it more or less than Roderick?

Sources: