Independent baby name blog & directory, est. 2006.
How popular is the baby name Rosemary in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Rosemary and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Rosemary.
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In late 1935, photographs of 21-year-old Mardee Hoff started appearing in the newspapers. She’d been selected from a pool of 2,600 models by the American Society of Illustrators as the girl with “the most beautiful figure in America.”
The papers said she would compete against Rosemary Andree, “Britain’s Venus,” for the international title in 1936. Many published side-by-side photos of the two women. I can’t find any record of this event actually happening, though.
But one thing that did happen in 1936 was the debut of Mardee on the SSA’s baby name list:
The usage spike in 1941, plus the debut Mardi in 1941, were likely influenced by Mardee Hoff’s appearance on a late 1940 LIFE cover. She’s identified by name inside the magazine: “Mardee Hoff, photographed in one of the new torso-length cardigans on this week’s cover, has for the past three years been one of the most popular models with both photographers and illustrators.”
Interestingly, Mardee Hoff also posed for Norman Rockwell in the 1930s. She was the model for “Hollywood Starlet,” which appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in March of 1936.
(And here’s another model name, Twiggy, that debuted about three decades later…)
When a major celebrity chooses an uncommon baby name, there’s a good chance that name will become trendy.
Seems like this might be a modern phenomenon, right? Maybe tied to the rise of the Internet?
Nope. In fact, I bet you’ll be surprised at just how far back it goes.
Let’s take a look at celebrity baby names through the decades, focusing on those that inspired debuts on the SSA’s baby name list. (To debut, a rare names needs to be given to at least 5 babies of one gender or the other in a single year.)
Which baby name was the very first to debut on the charts thanks to a celebrity baby?
The answer depends on how strict you want to be about spelling.
If you exact-spelling debuts are what you want, the first I know of doesn’t appear until the late ’40s.
If variant-spelling debuts are okay, though, there’s a celebrity baby name from the early ’40s that inspired at whopping six of them:
In October of 1941, actor/comedian George Jessel (43 years old) and showgirl Lois Andrews (17) welcomed a baby girl named Jerilyn.
The name Jerilyn itself had already been on the list for a few years, but usage rose significantly in both 1941 and 1942:
1943: 182 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 558th]
1942: 325 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 397th]
1941: 135 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 608th]
1940: 10 baby girls named Jerilyn
The popularity of similar names like Jerrilyn and Jerelyn also increased, and six other variants appeared on the national list for the very first time in either 1941 or 1942 (asterisks denote debuts):
I was skeptical about this one for a while, as I’d never heard of George Jessel before. Was he really high-profile enough for his baby to have that sort influence? Turns out he was indeed a popular entertainer from the ’20s until at least the ’50s. He’s the one responsible for the “Garland” part of Judy Garland’s stage name, and some sources even claim he invented the Bloody Mary.
Even more variants of Jerilyn (e.g., Gerilynn) debuted during the ’40s and early ’50s, when young Jerilyn was being mentioned in newspaper articles and appearing on TV and in films with her father. Here’s a fundraising film from 1953, for instance, featuring both George and Jerilyn.
Jerilyn Jessel’s influence on the U.S baby names was impressive, but, technically speaking, she didn’t put “Jerilyn” on the map.
The first exact-spelling celebrity baby name debut was Yasmin, which appeared on the list in 1949.
In December of 1949, actor Rita Hayworth and her husband Prince Aly Khan welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin. The same year, the baby name Yasmin appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.
(The name Yasmin was late addition to the post. Thank you, Becca!)
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1950s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In October of 1951, actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian welcomed a baby girl named Romina. The same year, the baby name Romina appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.
In September of 1953, Power and Christian welcomed their second baby girl, Taryn, whose name was likely inspired by “Tyrone.” The same year, the baby name Taryn debuted on the list.
In November of 1956, boxer Floyd Patterson and his wife Sandra welcomed a baby girl named Seneca. The same year, the traditionally male name Seneca debuted on the list as a female name. Patterson said the name was inspired by a street sign.
In October of 1958, actor/singer Rosemary Clooney and actor José Ferrer welcomed a baby girl named Monsita — their fifth child. The same year, Monsita debuted. It fell off the list the very next year, though, making it a one-hit wonder.
Honorable mentions from the ’50s include:
Liza, which became more popular after Liz Taylor named her daughter Liza in 1957.
Tyrone, which became more popular after Tyrone Power named his third child Tyrone in 1959. The increased usage could also have been influenced by the death of the actor himself the same year, though.
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1960s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In September of 1961, singer of Nat King Cole and his wife Maria welcomed identical twin baby girls named Timolin and Casey. The same year, the baby name Timolin debuted on the list.
In September of 1965, actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands welcomed a baby girl named Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes. The same year, the baby name Xan debuted on the list.
In June of 1968, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed a baby girl named Maryum. The same year, the baby name Maryum debuted on the list.
In March of 1969, singers Cher and Sonny Bono, welcomed a baby girl named Chastity. The same year, the baby name Chastity debuted on the list. In May of 2010, Chastity legally changed genders and adopted the name Chaz.
At least eight of the baby names that debuted during the 1970s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In August of 1970, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed twin baby girls named Rasheda and Jamillah. The same year, the baby name Rasheda debuted on the list.
(An Ebony article from 1971 misspelled her name “Reeshemah.” The same year, there was a spike in the usage of Reeshemah and a dip in the usage of Rasheda.)
In 1971, comedian/activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian welcomed a baby girl named Ayanna. The same year, the baby name Ayanna debuted on the list.
In July of 1973, Dick Gregory and Lillian welcomed a baby boy named Yohance. The same year, the baby name Yohance debuted on the list.
In March of 1974, musician/producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton welcomed a baby girl named Kidada. The same year, the baby name Kidada debuted on the list.
In August of 1975, singer Tito Jackson (of The Jackson 5) and his wife Dee Dee welcomed a baby boy named Taryll. The same year, the baby name Taryll debuted on the list.
In April of 1975, singer Mary Wilson (of The Supremes) and her husband Pedro welcomed a baby girl named Turkessa. The same year, the baby name Turkessa debuted on the list. Turkessa was just 3 babies away from being the top baby name debut of the year. Here’s how Mary came up with the name:
Pedro brought me a beautiful plant. I asked him was it was called. “Turquesa,” he replied, “Spanish for turquoise.” So we named our daughter Turkessa.
In November of 1975, singer Diana Ross (also of The Supremes) and her husband Robert welcomed a baby girl named Chudney. The next year, the baby name Chudney debuted on the list. Here’s how Diana came up with the name:
Friends kept suggesting popular names like Courtney, but so many girl babies were getting that. I suddenly thought of something I liked very much — chutney. Only I didn’t know how to spell it — I put a ‘d’ where the ‘t’ should have been on the birth certificate. And that’s how my little girl became Chudney!
In 1978, Puerto Rican dancer/singer Iris Chacón and her husband Junno welcomed a baby girl named Katiria. The same year, the baby name Katiria debuted on the list. Most of these babies were born in New York.
At least three of the baby names that debuted during the 1980s were inspired by celebrity babies, and at least one was inspired by a celebrity grandbaby:
In September of 1984, singer Gladys Knight didn’t have a baby, but her son James (b. 1962) and his wife Michelene did. They welcomed a boy named Rishawn. The next year, the baby name Rishawn debuted on the list.
In November of 1986, football player Willie Gault and his wife Dainnese welcomed a baby girl named Shakari. The next year, the baby name Shakari debuted on the list.
I wrote about Condola a few months ago, but here’s a recap: In December of 1986, actress Phylicia Rashad and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad welcomed a baby girl named Condola. The next year, the baby name Condola debuted on the list.
In December of 1987, filmmaker/actor Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow welcomed a baby boy named Satchel. The next year, the baby name Satchel debuted on the list. He now goes by Ronan, and rumor has it that he is *possibly* the biological son of Frank Sinatra.
At least three of the baby names the debuted during the 1990s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In July of 1991, actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis welcomed a baby girl named Scout. (And in August, that famous image of 7-months-pregnant Demi ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.) The next year, the baby name Scout debuted on the list, for both genders.
In February of 1995, actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy welcomed twin baby girls named Aquinnah and Schuyler. The same year, the baby name Aquinnah debuted on the list. (I wrote more about the name Aquinnah a few years ago.)
In July of 1998, model Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter welcomed a baby girl named Sailor. The same year, the baby name Sailor debuted on the list as a girl name. It had debuted as a boy name the year before.
Honorable mentions from the ’90s include:
Seven, which became more popular after Erykah Badu named her son Seven in 1997.
Zion, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her son Zion in 1997.
Selah, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her daughter Selah in 1998.
At least five of the baby names that debuted during the 2000s (the decade) were inspired by celebrity babies:
In August of 2001, singer Shania Twain and her husband Robert welcomed a baby boy named Eja. The same year, the baby name Eja debuted on the list (as a girl name).
In August of 2001, actors Tisha Campbell-Martin and Duane Martin welcomed a baby boy named Xen. The same year, the baby name Xen debuted on the list.
In March of 2003, singer Toni Braxton and musician Keri Lewis welcomed a baby boy named Diezel. The same year, the baby name Diezel debuted on the list.
In June of 2005, magician Penn Jillette and his wife Emily welcomed a baby girl named Moxie (middle name CrimeFighter). The next year, the baby name Moxie debuted on the list.
In September of 2006, model Anna Nicole Smith and her partner Larry Birkhead welcomed a baby girl named Dannielynn. The next year, the baby name Dannielynn debuted on the list.
Honorable mentions from the ’00s include:
Massai, which became more popular after Nia Long named her son Massai in 2000.
Rocco, which became more popular after Madonna and Guy Ritchie named their son Rocco in 2000.
Denim, which became more popular after Toni Braxton named her son Denim in 2001.
Maddox, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted son Maddox in 2002.
Carys, which became more popular after Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas named their daughter Carys in 2003.
Stellan, which became more popular after Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany named their son Stellan in 2003.
Apple, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple in 2004.
Coco, which became more popular after Courtney Cox and David Arquette named their daughter Coco in 2004.
Zahara, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted daughter Zahara in 2005.
Moses, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their son Moses in 2006.
Kingston, which became more popular after Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale named their son Kingston in 2006.
Suri, which became more popular after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri in 2006.
Shiloh, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh in 2006.
Pax, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their adopted son Pax in 2007.
Harlow, which became more popular after Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their daughter Harlow in 2008.
Knox & Vivienne, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their twins Knox and Vivienne in 2008.
Honor, which became more popular after Jessica Alba named her daughter Honor in 2008.
Nahla, which became more popular after Halle Berry named her daughter Nahla in 2008.
Bronx, which became more popular after Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their son Bronx in 2008.
The Lane Sisters, a singing/acting trio famous during the ’30s and ’40s, actually began as the Mullican sisters. And there were 5 of them, not 3.
The Mullican family of Iowa consisted of parents Lorenzo and Cora and daughters Leotabel (nn Leota), Martha, Dorothy (nn Lola), Rosemary and Priscilla.
Four out of the five daughters pursued careers in entertainment, and three out of the four saw success in film. Along the way they changed their surname to “Lane,” so the final three — Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola — became known as the Lane Sisters.
P.S. Remember that post about Torchy Blane? Lola Lane, one of the actresses who played Torchy, inspired Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to create the character Lois Lane.
Just a few weeks after Adnil came up in Notes and Queries, another contributor wrote:
“The growing popularity of flower-names is noticeable: Marigold, Rosemary, Iris, Ivy, Primrose, Hazel, Heather and Gloxinia (given to a girl baby very recently).”
Gloxinia! Like Arbutus, a flower name that was totally new to me.
Apparently Gloxinia can refer to either the genus Gloxinia or to several specific flowers called Gloxinia (e.g., Florist’s gloxinia, Creeping gloxinia, Hardy gloxinia) that are not part of the genus.
The name Gloxinia was created in honor of 18th-century German physician and botanical writer Benjamin Peter Gloxin. So far I haven’t had any luck tracking down the etymology of the surname Gloxin (also spelled Glocksin).
Have you ever seen Gloxinia used as a personal name before? What do you think of it?
Source: “Curious Christian Names.” Notes and Queries 19 Mar. 1904: 236.
Image: Adapted from Gloxinia by abelard1005 under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Today’s interview is with Roseanna, a 26-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
What’s the story behind her name?
In the 80’s, singer Chris de Burgh wrote a song for his daughter called “For Rosanna”. When my mom heard the song, she instantly loved the name. She chose my spelling, Roseanna, because she figured it was the most intuitive. Rose-anna.
The name Rosanna (and all sound-alike names) had become trendy in the early ’80s thanks to Toto’s 1982 song “Rosanna.” Perhaps this trendiness is what inspired Chris de Burgh to name his daughter Rosanna in 1984. His song “For Rosanna” was released on the same 1986 album as mega-hit “The Lady in Red.” (The specific spelling Roseanna, though, was most popular back in 1950 thanks to the 1949 movie Roseanna McCoy.)
What does she like most about her name?
I love that it is uncommon. I have only met a few others with my name. I like the nickname options too, though I don’t use them often. When I was younger, I was called Rosie, which I quite like these days. My family calls me Zana, which I really love.
What does she like least about her name?
I am constantly called Roseanne. And despite my moms best intentions, people usually spell it without the E, Rosanna.
Finally, would Roseanna recommend that her name be given to babies today?
Perhaps? In some ways, Roseanna seems kind of dated. I have yet to meet anyone my age, or younger, with this name; most I’ve met are a couple decades older. That said, both Rose and Anna are well loved these days.
-anna/ana names are all over the charts: Arianna, Brianna, Gianna, Adriana, Joanna, Hanna, Leanna, Liliana, Eliana, etc
Then there are names like Annabelle, Annalise, Annalee, Rosemary, Rosalie, and Roselyn that are all in the top 1000. I think Roseanna could fit in nicely. It is certainly usable and might be considered somewhat unexpected.
A reader named Jessica has a son named Atticus and is expecting her second baby at the end of February. Here’s what she says:
We don’t know the gender of this baby, but we have already agreed on a boy’s name (which I can’t share–sorry!–because my husband and I have agreed not to tell anyone), but we have yet to agree on a girl’s name. We’ve come up with several ideas (Annaliese, Piper, Penelope, Evelyn), but nothing seems to fit. Generally, we like less common names with a bit of history to them. Definitely nothing trendy or “made up.” Also, no names starting with a “B” since the child’s last name will begin with a “B” and I’m not keen on the combination. We are pretty flexible on middle names, so I’m not worried about that. Hope you can help! Thanks!
Here are some ideas to kick things off:
A reader named Lisa is expecting her second daughter a couple of weeks and needs some name assistance. Her first daughter is Copeland Rhine. Lisa’s main predicament is this:
[H]ow do I find a strong unique vintage name for this second precious girlie that will not wilt next to a strong name like Copeland Rhine?
And here are some other questions and points Lisa brought up:
“Our goal is not to have their names competing for placement but complimenting each other.”
“We do not want to be boxed in on unisex or surname first names.”
“I have been gravitating towards Sojourner Bliss or Sojourner Mercy (Sophie for short) but that is all I have and my husband is not sold on it nor on a stronger masculine name.”
“My husband really loves Evangeline yet he is not wanting to use it because it is becoming so popular. We both love the idea of Evie as a nickname.”
“I really want to honor three people in my family but all three would not wish their name on anyone: Leona, Gertrude and Lorraine. Are there any derived names that I could use?” [Other family names she mentioned are Cornelia, Josephine, Ester, Rosemary, Carmelita, Trinia (Trijntje), Johannes, Sophia, Evelientje, Alice (called Ollie), Francis, Felicia and Blanche.]
The baby’s surname will be a 2-syllable name that starts with D and also includes a z-sound. It’s somewhat similar to De Souza.
So the challenge is to find “strong unique vintage” names that work with Copeland, but that won’t lock Lisa’s family into surnames or unisex names. And to try to get a family connection in there as well.
I think Evangeline is a great idea, actually. It’s strong, vintage, and neither a surname nor a unisex name. And both Lisa and her husband like the nickname Evie. Seems like the only thing holding them back is the popularity.
Yes, Evangeline has become slightly popular recently. It’s been back in the top 1,000 since 2006. But let’s put that into context. Over 2,000,000 baby girls were born last year, and only 735 of them were named Evangeline. That’s a very small percentage. (But if it’s really that bothersome, there’s always Evangelina, which is still well out of the top 1,000.)
I’m not a big fan of Sojourner. It’s strong, and unique, and not a surname…but it’s not feminine, and it’s not what I’d call vintage, even if Sojourner Truth was a well-known 19th-century woman. I’d worry about teasing, especially with a noun-middle like Bliss or Mercy. And I think naming a third child (of either gender) after Copeland and Sojourner would be tricky.
Sophie seems like it would be an awkward nickname for Sojourner. It’s so different from Sojourner that it strikes me as more of a cover-name than a nickname–as if Sojourner were just too strong or strange to work as an everyday name.
Leona, Gertrude and Lorraine…the most interesting way I could think of to combine them was to look for names that feature their first letters (L, G, L) such as Nigella, Allegra and Gillian.
Here are a few other name ideas that came to mind: