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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Rufus

Number of Babies Named Rufus

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Rufus

Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide


Pop Culture Baby Name: Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan wasn’t born with the name Chaka Khan.

The Grammy-winning singer, born in Chicago in 1953, was originally named Yvette Marie Stevens.

During her teens, Yvette “met a Yoruba priest who gave her a new name…based on her orishas, or guiding spirits.” Her new names, in order, were Chaka, Adunne, Aduffe, Yemoja, Hodarhi, and Karifi.

A few years later, she married for the first time and took her husband’s surname, Khan.

Hence, the stage name Chaka Khan.

*

Chaka joined the funk band Rufus in 1972.

In 1975, they released their fourth studio album, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, which included the popular single “Sweet Thing.”

That year and the next, the baby name Chakakhan appeared on the SSA’s baby name list:

  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: 16 baby girls named Chakakhan
  • 1975: 21 baby girls named Chakakhan [debut]
  • 1974: unlisted

Very likely these parents wrote the name with a space — “Chaka Khan” — but the SSA ignores spaces in first names.

The baby name Chaka also became more popular, but only for baby girls (many of whom were probably given Khan as a middle name):

  • 1977: 87 baby girls, 16 baby boys named Chaka
  • 1976: 147 baby girls, 20 baby boys named Chaka
  • 1975: 120 baby girls, 18 baby boys named Chaka
  • 1974: 15 baby girls, 18 baby boys named Chaka

It has since dropped off the list entirely for both genders.

Chaka Khan eventually left Rufus and began a solo career, and in 2011 she was given the 2,440th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Source: Ollison, Rashod D. “Through the Fire.” Sun [Baltimore] 28 Oct. 2003: 1E.

80+ Hidden Gems: Rare Baby Boy Names

gemstoneWant a boy name that’s not common, but also not crazy?

I looked through all the names at the bottom of SSA’s 2011 mega-list and found a bunch of hidden gems:

  1. Alaric (48 baby boys)
  2. Alban (12)
  3. Aldous (11)
  4. Aldric (7)
  5. Alphonse (20)
  6. Archibald (14)
  7. Astor (5)
  8. Augustin (50)
  9. Balthazar (13)
  10. Barclay (6)
  11. Barnabas (8)
  12. Bartholomew (19)
  13. Booker (22)
  14. Chadwick (34)
  15. Cyril (41)
  16. Clancy (14)
  17. Claude (44)
  18. Clement (34)
  19. Crispin (21)
  20. Darcy (15)
  21. Dirk (40)
  22. Doyle (10)
  23. Ernst (6)
  24. Ferdinand (20)
  25. Garrick (42)
  26. Giles (20)
  27. Gregor (14)
  28. Griffith (18)
  29. Grover (9)
  30. Gustaf (7); Gustav (29)
  31. Horatio (10)
  32. Hubert (46)
  33. Ignatius (49)
  34. Isidore (7)
  35. Kermit (6)
  36. Lambert (6)
  37. Laird (17)
  38. Laurence (48)
  39. Laurent (9)
  40. Leander (48)
  41. Leith (7)
  42. Lemuel (50)
  43. Lowell (29)
  44. Maxfield (22)
  45. Newton (14)
  46. Nicanor (8)
  47. Norbert (9)
  48. Norris (21)
  49. Ogden (13)
  50. Orson (33)
  51. Osborn (5); Osborne (7)
  52. Oswald (18)
  53. Pascal (25)
  54. Percival (13)
  55. Peregrine (9)
  56. Piers (16)
  57. Regis (10)
  58. Remis (11)
  59. Roscoe (47)
  60. Rudolph (44)
  61. Rufus (39)
  62. Rupert (8)
  63. Sanford (6)
  64. Seymour (6)
  65. Sherman (40)
  66. Sinclair (8)
  67. Tavish (16)
  68. Thane (48)
  69. Tobiah (14)
  70. Walton (14)
  71. Warner (48)
  72. Watson (42)
  73. Webster (8)
  74. Weldon (27)
  75. Werner (11)
  76. Wilbert (42)
  77. Wilbur (20)
  78. Winfield (7)
  79. Winfred (7)
  80. Winslow (10)
  81. York (5)
  82. Zebulon (25)
  83. Zeno (13)

(In some cases, a different spelling of the name is more popular than what’s shown here. For instance, Laurence is rare, but Lawrence is moderately popular.)

Like any of these?

Spot any other good names at the end of the list?

See the girls’ list, or check out the Rare Baby Names page.

Name Quotes for the Weekend, #3

From Barbara of the blog Sewing on the Edge:

I have started teaching a new course this month and am learning the names on a new class list.

My biggest challenge is, as always, the curse of the creative speller.

If your name is Megan why is it spelled Mheghaan?

Why is Cassidy, Kasidee?

Why is Britanny now Brit-anee?

Judy is Joodee?

I have taught Tifani’s, Tiffany, Tifanee all in the same class.

It makes my head explode.

Listen I have a last name that requires spelling out every time I say it, and over time that is a nuisance. Why send your child out in the world with that handicap over what is an ordinary name? Why have teachers say “you’re kidding” every time your kid says what the creative spelling stands for.

If you want your baby to have a cool name choose a cool name. Don’t try to do it with creative spelling. It’s making my class lists a nightmare.

From a Time article about how marketers could learn from baby name trends:

After using a statistical model to study more than 100 years of first names and doing a natural experiment using the names of hurricanes, the researchers found that the popularity of a particular moniker is impacted by how widely the sounds in that name were used previously. In other words, a first grade class filled with Karens is likely to be followed by a wave of six-year-olds with names that use similar sounds, or phonemes, such as “Katie” or “Karl” — or even “Darren” or “Warren.”

From a Slate article about minority births becoming the majority:

The Census Bureau announced Thursday that most of the newborn babies in the United States belong to minority groups, the first time in history that whites of European ancestry have accounted for less than half of that total.

Minorities—including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race—accounted for 50.4 percent of all U.S. births during the 12-month period that ended last July, edging past non-Hispanic whites who made up 49.6 percent.

From Angela of the blog Upswing Baby Names:

These names are still not in the top 1000: Cecily, Clementine, Philippa (or Pippa), Louisa, Linus and Rufus.

From Slate‘s Maurice Sendak obit:

He adored Melville, Mozart, and Mickey Mouse (and would have noted the alliteration with pleasure—he wrote in different places about the mysterious significance he attached to the letter M, his own first initial and that of many of his characters, beginning with Max of Where the Wild Things Are).

Sounds a lot like the Name-Letter Effect.

(Here are quote lists #1 and #2.)

Baby Names Inspired by the Spanish-American War

U.S.S. Maine sinking in Havana harbor
The U.S.S. Maine sinking in Havana harbor, 1898

The brief Spanish-American War (1898), which began in April and ended in August, inspired hundreds of patriotic parents in the U.S. to choose war-inspired baby names. Here are some examples:

Maine & Havana

One of the events that led to war was the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Cuba’s Havana Harbor on February 15. The explosion killed more than 260 men. Many people in the U.S. blamed the explosion on Spain.

The baby names Maine and Havana both debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1898.

  • 1899: unlisted
  • 1898: 9 baby girls named Maine [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

Maine was a one-hit wonder on the list — a rarity that never returned — but Havana has been on the list dozens of times since (and regularly since 1995).

  • 1899: unlisted
  • 1898: 8 baby girls named Havana [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

The SSDI tells a more complete story (though it doesn’t offer information on gender). It indicates that 25 babies were named Maine and 12 were named Havana in 1898.

Dewey & Manila

War was formally declared on April 25. On May 1, the Battle of Manila Bay took place in the Philippines. The U.S. fleet, under the command of Commodore George Dewey, defeated Spain.

Usage of the name Dewey spiked in 1898, both for boys and for girls:

  • 1901: 137 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Dewey
  • 1900: 345 baby boys and 9 baby girls named Dewey
  • 1899: 499 baby boys and 24 baby girls named Dewey
  • 1898: 1,115 baby boys and 104 baby girls named Dewey
  • 1897: 158 baby boys and 13 baby girls named Dewey
  • 1896: 63 baby boys named Dewey
  • 1895: 28 baby boys named Dewey

In terms of rankings, Dewey hit 19th (!) for boys and 305th for girls in 1898. Also that year, the spelling variants Dewie and Dewy debuted.

Going back to the SSDI, we see even higher numbers — 6,708 babies named Dewey, 36 named Dewie, and 1 named Dewy in 1898.

We even see evidence of Dewey’s spike on the U.S. Census of 1920:

  • 1910s: over 4,300 people named Dewey were born
  • 1900s: over 11,000 people named Dewey were born
  • 1890s: over 12,100 people named Dewey were born
  • 1880s: over 200 people named Dewey were born
  • 1870s: over 100 people named Dewey were born

An article in the Reading Eagle in 1899 listed ten local babies named for George Dewey, and another article I spotted from decades later joked about starting a George Dewey namesake club.

We see a similar (though less pronounced) spike of in the usage of Manila for baby girls:

  • 1900: 10 baby girls named Manila
  • 1899: 34 baby girls named Manila
  • 1898: 104 baby girls named Manila
  • 1897: 7 baby girls named Manila [debut]
  • 1896: unlisted

Also that year, the spelling variant Manilla debuted. (Manilla was the top girl name debut of the year, in fact.) Manila ranked 306th and Manilla ranked 536th nationally in 1898.

Again, the SSDI’s numbers are even higher — 195 babies were named Manila and 118 were named Manilla in 1898.

Hobson, Admiral, Shafter, Maceo, Schley & Philippina

Here are six more war-related names that debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1898.

The baby name Hobson was inspired by Richmond Pearson Hobson, prisoner of war in Cuba. (Hobson was the top boy name debut of 1898, in fact.)

  • 1899: 15 baby boys named Hobson
  • 1898: 38 baby boys named Hobson [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

According to the SSDI, at least 161 babies were named Hobson that year.

The baby name Admiral was the rank of many of the men (e.g. Admiral Dewey, Admiral Sampson, Admiral Schley) who played a part in the war — Dewey especially.

  • 1899: 13 baby boys named Admiral
  • 1898: 25 baby boys named Admiral [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

According to the SSDI, at least 154 babies were named Admiral.

The baby name Shafter was inspired by army general William Rufus Shafter.

  • 1899: unlisted
  • 1898: 14 baby boys named Shafter [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

According to the SSDI, at least 58 babies were named Shafter.

The baby name Maceo was inspired by Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo, “one of the outstanding guerrilla leaders in nineteenth century Latin America. (He died in late 1896, actually.)

  • 1899: 9 baby boys named Maceo
  • 1898: 13 baby boys named Maceo [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

According to the SSDI, at least 34 babies were named Maceo.

The baby name Schley was inspired by Winfield Scott Schley, hero of the Battle of Santiago Bay.

  • 1899: unlisted
  • 1898: 10 baby boys named Schley [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

According to the SSDI, at least 39 babies were named Schley.

Finally, the baby name Philippina, possibly inspired by the Philippines, was a one-hit wonder the year of the war:

  • 1899: unlisted
  • 1898: 5 baby girls named Philippina [debut]
  • 1897: unlisted

Interestingly, only one Philippina is accounted for in the SSDI data.

Sources:

Baby Names Needed for Fraternal Twins, Boy & Girl

A reader named Abby is expecting fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, in October. She and her husband already have a son named Leo Sebastian.

They’re aiming for vintage names (with kind of a quirky/British feel) that aren’t too popular. These are their favorites so far, top picks in italics.

Boy Names Girl Names
Her Picks: Edward (Teddy)
Henry
Jasper
Jude
Maxwell (Max)
Oliver
Alice
Elsa (Elsie)
Ivy
Juliet
Violet
His Picks: August (Auggie/Gus)
Dashiell (Dash)
Beatrix
Felicity
Matilda
Penelope (Nellie)
Ramona

Abby says, “He thinks mine are slightly boring, I think his are a tad too flamboyant.”

They’d like our opinions on two things:

  1. What other boy and girl names would we suggest?
  2. Out of the current favorites, what are the best pairings?

The twins’ surname will be similar to Waters.

Here are my thoughts…

1. First, name suggestions. Most of these names have a vintage feel, and none of are currently in the top 100 (though several are heading that way).

Boy Names Girl Names
Archer
Byron
Calvin
Elias
Felix
Gideon
Graham
Grant
Heath
Hugh
Niles
Oscar
Pierce
Roman
Rufus
Seth
Silas
Simon
Theodore (Teddy)
Tobias
Adele/Adeline
Camille
Cecily
Celia
Corinne
Daphne
Eloise
Esme
Eugenia
Flora
Hazel
Helena
Iris
Jane
Josephine
Marion
Millicent (Millie)
Nicola
Rosamund
Stella

I didn’t include any w-names, but I was tempted to throw in Willa and Winifred (Winnie). Maybe even Wilhelmina (Minnie).

2. Out of the current favorites, Henry and Penelope are the two I like best for twins. I also like Maxwell and Beatrix (because both have that quirky x).

What other names/pairings would you suggest to Abby?

Baby Name Needed – What Do You Think of Phineas?

A reader named Virginia is expecting a baby in September. For a boy, she’d selected the name Phineas. She liked “that it was unusual without being bizarre,” and that it started with ph. But now she’s not so sure about the name:

All was fine and dandy until I read an article about violence in the Bible. It vaguely mentioned Phineas as a name from the Bible used as a talisman by white supremacists. What!?!

That was a shock to me too. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Phineas Priesthood is “a violent credo of vengeance that has gained some popularity among white supremacists and other extremists in recent years.” I’d never heard of the Phineas Priesthood before–not even when Julia Roberts named her son Phinnaeus a few years ago.

Virginia doesn’t want to give up her favorite name, but she also “can’t live with such an association,” so she was hoping for some name suggestions. Other names she’s considering include Joel and Samuel (for boys) and Sigrid, Phoebe, Elisabeth, and Anne (for girls). All are family names.

First, a few thoughts:

  • I doubt many people are aware that white supremacists use Phineas as a code word. It’s an odious association, but maybe it’s also obscure enough that it’s not worth worrying about…?
  • I really like Sigrid and Phoebe–they’re both significant and unusual. Especially Sigrid. (Phoebe is being used more and more every year, so it might not be unusual for long.)

And now, name suggestions. Here are some unusual-but-not-bizarre boy names that I think Virginia might like:

Amos
Barnabas
Baxter
Ephraim
Ezra
Felix
Horatio
Humphrey
Lazarus
Matthias
Maximilian
Moses
Peregrine
Ralph
Raphael
Rufus
Silas
Simeon
Ulysses
Zephaniah

And some girl names:

Clotilde
Cybele
Daphne
Dagny
Delphine
Drusilla
Esther
Fabiola
Georgia
Josephine
Lucretia
Ophelia
Penelope
Phyllis
Ruth
Salome
Seraphina
Talulla
Tryphena
Verena

What other names would you suggest to Virginia? (And, what’s your take on the Phineas dilemma?)

Update: The baby has arrived! Click here to learn the baby’s name.