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

Baby Names Have Become More Female-Sounding

In 1995, researchers Herbert Barry and Aylene S. Harper invented a way to score personal names to determine how “male” or “female” they sounded. Names with positive scores on the scale were more female-sounding, and names with negative scores were more male-sounding.

“Female” attributes:

  • +2 points if the accent is on the 2nd or later syllable (Elizabeth)
  • +2 points if the last phoneme is unstressed and schwa-like (Sarah)
  • +1 points if the last phoneme is some other vowel sound, not a schwa sound (Melanie)
  • +1 points if the accent is on the 1st of 3 or more syllables (Emily)

“Male” attributes:

  • -1 points if the name has 1 syllable (Mitch)
  • -1 points if the last phoneme is S, Z, F, V, TH, CH, ZH, or DZH (James)
  • -2 points if the last phoneme is P, B, T, D, K, or G (Jacob)
  • -2 points if the accent is on the 1st of 2 syllables and the name has 6+ phonemes (Robert)

The authors looked at Pennsylvania baby names from 1960 to 1990 and discovered that the average phonetic gender score for girl names and boy names had become more “female” over time.

Several years ago, linguist Anika Okrent used the same scale to analyze national baby name data from 1880 to 2013. She noticed the same trend — stretching back to 1950 and continuing until today.

Her theory is that the shift was essentially fueled by shifting trends in boy names. As names like Donald gave way to names like Elijah, the result was an overall rise in the average phonetic gender score for boy names. This in turn triggered a corresponding rise in the average phonetic gender score for girl names “in order to maintain the gender distinction” (i.e., Janet giving way to Olivia).

Do you agree with this theory?

Sources:


Names in the News: Wrigley, Donald, Vaibhavi

Three recent baby name stories from the news:

  • Wrigley: The first Chicago-area baby born in 2017 was a baby girl with a Chicago Cubs-inspired name: Wrigley Rose. She arrived 12 minutes after midnight.
  • Donald Trump: In August of 2016, a baby boy born in Kisumu, Kenya, was named Donald Trump after the U.S. presidential nominee (now president-elect). His older brothers are Robert Kelly (after an American comedian) and Prince Charles.
  • Vaibhavi: In August of 2016, a baby girl born in Uttar Pradesh, India, was named Vaibhavi upon the suggestion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The baby’s mother had written to Modi asking for a name, and Modi telephoned a week later to recommend Vaibhavi, as it contained letters from the names of both parents, Bharat and Vibha.

In December, Narendra Modi indirectly named a baby Khazanchi, or “treasurer.”

Sources: Little Wrigley among suburbs’ first 2017 babies, Kisumu Couple Names Baby Donald Trump and the Internet Can’t Cope, Young UP couple become celebrity of sorts after PM Modi names their daughter

Top Baby Names in Nova Scotia, 1914

Speaking of popular baby names Nova Scotia…did you know that the province’s Open Data site includes birth registration records from the mid-1800s and from the early 1900s? I isolated the records from 1914 — the most recent year in the data — and came up with baby name rankings for about a century ago:

Top Girl Names, 1914
1. Mary (close to 700 girls)
2. Margaret
3. Annie
4. Marie
5. Helen
6. Dorothy
7. Florence
8. Elizabeth
9. Catherine (over 100 girls)
10. Alice

Top Boy Names, 1914
1. John (close to 600 boys)
2. Joseph
3. James
4. William
5. George
6. Charles
7. Robert
8. Arthur
9. Donald
10. Edward (over 100 boys)

The rankings represent about about 6,700 baby girls and about 6,800 baby boys born in Nova Scotia in 1914. I’m not sure how many babies were born that year overall, but it looks like the province’s total population in 1914 was roughly 500,000 people.

Hundreds of the names were used just once. Here are some examples:

Unique Girl names Unique Boy names
Adalta, Adayala, Ailsa, Amilene, Anarina, Aniela, Attavilla, Birdina, Buema, Burance, Caletta, Cattine, Celesta, Claviettee, Deltina, Elta, Erdina, Ethelda, Eudavilla, Evhausine, Fauleen, Genneffa, Gennesta, Heuldia, Hughenia, Iselda, Ivenho, Lanza, Lebina, Lelerta, Loa, Lougreta, Manattie, Meloa, Milnina, Minira, Namoia, Naza, Neitha, Neruda, Olava, Oressa, Prenetta, Ramza, Ruzena, Sophique, Stanislawa, Taudulta, Udorah, Velena, Vola, Vonia, Waldtraut, Willina, Yuddis Albenie, Alpine, Alywin, Alyre, Armenious, Bayzil, Bernthorne, Briercliffe, Carefield, Cicero, Colomba, Craigen, Desire, DeWilton, Docithee, Edly, Enzile, Ethelberth, Ewart, Exivir, Fernwood, Firth, Florincon, Glidden, Gureen, Haliberton, Haslam, Hibberts, Irad, Kertland, Kinsman, Kitchener, Langille, Lemerchan, Lockie, Lubins, Meurland, Murl, Neddy, Nevaus, Niron, Odillon, Olding, Phine, Rexfrid, Roseville, Saber, Sifroi, Sprat, Stannage, Venanties, Waitstill, Wardlo, Wentworth, Wibbert

I also spotted one boy with the first and middle names “Earl Gray” (delicious!) and another with the first and middle names “Kermit Roosevelt” (the name of one of Theodore Roosevelt’s six children).

Sources: Open Data Nova Scotia (specifically, Birth Registrations 1864-1877, 1908-1914), Nova Scotia – Population urban and rural, by province and territory (via Wayback)

Name Quotes #46 – Chloe, Lucille, Iowa

toni morrison, toni, chloe, chloe wofford, books, quote, quotation

From a New York Magazine article about author Toni Morrison, born Chloe Wofford, who “deeply regrets” not putting her birth name on her books:

“Wasn’t that stupid?” she says. “I feel ruined!” Here she is, fount of indelible names (Sula, Beloved, Pilate, Milkman, First Corinthians, and the star of her new novel, the Korean War veteran Frank Money), and she can’t own hers. “Oh God! It sounds like some teenager–what is that?” She wheeze-laughs, theatrically sucks her teeth. “But Chloe.” She grows expansive. “That’s a Greek name. People who call me Chloe are the people who know me best,” she says. “Chloe writes the books.” Toni Morrison does the tours, the interviews, the “legacy and all of that.”

From the Amazon bio of author Caitlin Moran:

Caitlin isn’t really her name. She was christened ‘Catherine.’ But she saw ‘Caitlin’ in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was thirteen and thought it looked exciting. That’s why she pronounces it incorrectly: ‘Catlin.’ It causes trouble for everyone.

From the book Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey:

I have been told that I was born one hour before midnight, April 3, 1924, in the Omaha Maternity Hospital. […] My mother, Dorothy Pennebaker Brando, was 27; my father, Marlon Brando Sr., was 29. I rounded out the family and made it complete: My sister Jocelyn was almost 5 when I was born, my other sister Frances almost 2. Each of us had nicknames: My mother’s was Dodie; my father’s Bowie, although he was Pop to me and Poppa to my sisters; Jocelyn was Tiddy; Frances was Frannie; and I was Bud.

(Here’s more about the name Brando.)

From Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990):

The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

From an NPR article about the naming of B. B. King’s guitar Lucille:

I used to play a place in Arkansas called Twist, Ark., and they used to have a little nightclub there that we played quite often. […] Well, it used to get quite cold in Twist, and they used to take something look like a big garbage pail and set it in the middle of the floor, half-fill it with kerosene. They would light that fuel, and that’s what we used for heat. And generally, the people would dance around it, you know, never disturb this container. But this particular night, two guys start to fight and then one of them knocked the other one over on this container, and when they did, it spilled on the floor. Now it was already burning, so when it spilled, it looked like a river of fire, and everybody ran for the front door, including yours truly. But when I got on the outside, then I realized that I’d left my guitar inside. I went back for it. The building was a wooden building, and it was burning so fast when I got my guitar, it started to collapse around me. So I almost lost my life trying to save the guitar. But the next morning, we found that these two guys who was fighting was fighting about a lady. I never did meet the lady, but I learned that her name was Lucille. So I named my guitar Lucille and reminded me not to do a thing like that again.

(B. B. King’s birth name is Riley; “B. B.” stands for “Blues Boy.”)

From an article about roller derby skate names:

Some other things we noticed: 10 percent of the list falls into the “Tech & Geek” category, which includes names inspired by Computing (“Paige Not Found,” “Syntax Terror,” “Ctrl Alt Defeat”) fonts (“Crimes New Roman,” “Give ‘Em Hell Vetica”); Chemistry (“Carmen Die Oxide,” “ChLauraform”); and Philosophy (“Blockem’s Razor”).

From an interview with David Lisson, registrar-general of Northern Territory, Australia:

“I once had parents that came in with 11 given names for their baby,” Mr Lisson said.

“We had a long talk with them to explain how difficult it would be to fill out forms.

“They had an answer for basically all of them, as they were from a diverse cultural background. Each name had a significance. After some hard bargaining, we got them down to nine.”

From a 1909 article in Hampton’s Magazine about Woman’s Relief Corps president Jennie Iowa Berry (1866-1951):

Mrs. Berry is a native of Iowa. Her father is Wilbur Riley Peet, a soldier of the Sixties, who was born in Iowa when it was still a territory, his people having been among the pioneer settlers. His love for his State is indicated by the second name of his daughter.

(The name Iowa last appeared in the SSA data in 1921.)

Want to see more? Here’s the name quotes category.

Kennedy Baby Named for Vieques

Vieques, Puerto Rico

The U.S. Navy annexed about two-thirds of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in the 1940s and kept control of that land for decades, using it for military training.

The accidental death of a Viequense civilian on the naval base in 1999 kicked off a series of protests against the U.S. military presence on the island. The protests received international attention, and many prominent people (incuding Ricky Martin, Rosie Perez, Jesse Jackson, and Rigoberta Menchu) visited the island to show their support.

One of the visitors was attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of John F. Kennedy. Robert ended up serving 30 days in prison in mid-2001 for his involvement in the protests.

On July 13, while Kennedy was incarcerated, his wife Mary gave birth to a baby boy named Aidan Caomhan Vieques Kennedy. Mary said, “I think that when he is older, the child will understand why he has the name of Vieques and how important it is and he’ll be proud to be a part of that history.”

The place name Vieques is based on the Taíno name for the island: Bieke, meaning “small land.”

The protests eventually convinced the U.S. Navy to leave Vieques in the early 2000s. Much of the former Navy-controlled land is now a national wildlife refuge.

Sources: Newest Kennedy a Vieques Namesake, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – Wikipedia, Vieques, Puerto Rico – Wikipedia
Image: © US Fish & Wildlife Service

Marie Ahnighito, the Snow Baby

Marie Ahnighito Peary
Marie Ahnighito Peary, mid-1890s
Roald Amundsen was the first explorer to verifiably reach the North Pole (in 1926, with the help of a dirigible). But he wasn’t the first explorer to claim to have reached the North Pole.

One of those early claimants was Robert Peary, who said he reached the Pole in 1909. While no one knows for sure if this is true, other facts about Peary’s travels are not in question.

For instance, there’s the fact that he brought his pregnant wife Josephine to northern Greenland in 1893 so that she could give birth to their first child in the Arctic. The baby girl, who arrived in September, was the first Caucasian baby to be born at that altitude.

The baby’s name? Marie Ahnighito. She was often called the “snow baby” by the media.

In her 1901 book “The Snow Baby: A True Story with True Pictures,” Josephine described an outfit one of the Inuit women had constructed for Marie, and that led to the story of the name:

This costume was made by a woman named AH-NI-GHI-TO; so, when the baby was christened, she too was called AH-NI-GHI-TO. She was also named Marie for her only aunt, who was waiting in the far-off home land to greet her little niece.

(I wish she’d included a translation/interpretation of Ahnighito, but alas she did not.)

Marie Ahnighito was probably the first non-Inuit baby to get that particular Inuit name, but she wasn’t the last. So far I’ve found four U.S. babies (two male, two female) named Ahnighito. Two were born in the late 1930s, not long after Marie’s book “The Snowbaby’s Own Story” (1934) was published, and the other two were born in the late 1950s. (One was Ahnighito Eugene Riddick.)

…Oh, and I know of one more thing named after Marie Ahnighito: A meteorite. Or at least a big chunk of one.

About 10,000 years ago, a meteorite entered the atmosphere, broke up, and landed in pieces close to Cape York, Greenland. For centuries the Inuit of the region used iron from the fragments to make tools and harpoons.

Peary discovered these meteorite fragments around 1894. A few years later, he sold the three largest pieces — called “Tent,” “Woman” and “Dog” by the Inuit — to the American Museum of Natural History for $40,000. (Essentially, he profited from stealing/selling the Inuit’s only source of metal.) At some point Peary renamed the largest fragment “Ahnighito” in honor of his daughter, and today all three pieces — Ahnighito, Woman and Dog — remain on display in New York City.

Sources:

Image: Marie Peary (LOC)

California Family with 22 Children

Story family of California in 1940 U.S. census
The Story family on the 1940 U.S. Census
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).

I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).

Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.

And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.

So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?

Sources: Charlotte M Lacount Story – Find A Grave, Elsie E Dubay LaCount – Find A Grave