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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sally

Number of Babies Named Sally

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Sally

Baby Names Inspired by the Solar Eclipse

baby names, solar eclipse

On August 21, the United States will see its first coast-to-coast solar eclipse since 1918. If you’re planning to have — or conceive! — a baby around the time of the eclipse, you might be interested in a name that marks the event (but that isn’t as audacious as Eclipse itself). So what are your options?

Names with “celestial” associations

A solar eclipse involves the alignment of three celestial bodies — the sun (a star), the moon, and the Earth — in the sky. You could use a name that is associated in some way with one of these elements, such as…

“Sun” names Helios, Elio, Sunny, Sol, Solange, Soleil, Solaris, Ravi, Samson, Surya, Sunniva, Haruko, Hinata
“Star” names Star, Stella, Estelle, Starla, Astra, Seren, Tara, Citlali, Hoshi
“Moon” names Luna, Moon, Selene, Selena, Chandra, Qamar, Dawa
“Earth” names Eartha, Gaia, Tierra, Tlaloc, Avani
“Sky” names Sky, Skyla, Skylar, Lani, Miku, Akash, Alya, Ciel, Sora

Names with “dark” associations

The main event, from an Earthling’s perspective, is the darkening of the sun thanks to the moon getting in the way and casting its shadow over us. You could use a name associated in some way with darkness, such as…

“Shadow” names Shade, Umbra, Shadow, Zillah
“Dark” or “Black” names Melanie, Duff, Dubhan, Ciar, Ciara, Ciaran, Sullivan*, Krishna, Charna, Jett, Raven
“Night” names Nisha, Layla, Nyx, Lilith, Miyako, Rajnish

*Sullivan essentially means “descendant of the little dark eye” in Irish — weirdly appropriate for a solar eclipse baby name, don’t you think?

Name combos with both “celestial” and “dark” associations

You could combine some of the “celestial” and “dark” names above to get something more specific, like…

  • Layla Soleil: “night” and “sun”
  • Jett Samson: “black” and “sun”
  • Ciaran Sol: “black” and “sun”
  • Melanie Stella: “dark” and “star” (“Dark Star” is also a Grateful Dead song)
  • Luna Zillah: “moon” and “shadow” (“Moon Shadow” is also a Cat Stevens song)

Names (or name combos) featuring the letters “S” and “E”

This is as inconspicuous as it gets. Commemorate the solar eclipse simply by using the letters “S” and “E” in combination. You could choose a single name that starts with “Se-,” like…

Selene (“moon” in Greek)
Seren (“star” in Welsh)

Or, you could use a pair of names that start with “S-” and “E-,” such as…

Sally Esther
Scarlett Eve
Sophia Eloise
Susanna Elizabeth
Samuel Elijah
Shane Everett
Stanley Edward
Sylvester Ellis

Which of the above names (or combos) do you like most? What other solar eclipse-themed ideas would you add to this list?

Sources: When & Where to See the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, Two Minutes Of Darkness With 20,000 Strangers

Names from Central Burying Ground in Boston

Boston’s Central Burying Ground was established in 1756, so it’s newer than the other Boston cemeteries I’ve blogged about (King’s Chapel, Granary, and Copp’s Hill). Nevertheless, it still contains some pretty interesting names:

  • A: Aderline, Alford, Alona, Alpheus, Alsendorf, Annjulett, Antice, Anstice, Arodi, Artemis, Asadel
  • B: Barstow, Barzillia, Belcher, Benaset
  • C: Calista, Christeena, Clarena, Clarentine, Cumming
  • D: Dolley
  • E: Ede, Elbridge, Elhanah, Eliakim, Emely
  • F: Fletcher, Freelove
  • G: Giles, Gilman, Gustavus
  • H: Hannahretta, Hawkes, Hepzibah, Hermione, Hezekiah, Hitty
  • I: Ichabod, Ignatius, Iphigenia
  • J: Jaazaniah, Jennet
  • K: Keziah
  • L: Lendall, Llewlwyn, Loms, Lot, Lyman
  • M: Manasseh, Mansfred, Marayanna, Marston, Mayday, Mehitable, Micajah, Milla, Mindwell, Minerva
  • N: Nabby, Nahum
  • O: Orvilla
  • P: Pamelia, Percival, Phebee, Philander, Pliny
  • R: Rodolth, Rosalinda, Rosamund, Ruhamah
  • S: Sally, Salome, Seiba, Shubael, Shubel, Sibley, Silence, Silvanus, Sophronia, Sukey, Sylvanus
  • T: Tamer, Ternon, Theophilus, Tristam, Tryphena
  • V: Vivia
  • W: Waverly, Wentworth, Worham, Winthrop
  • Z: Zabiah, Zebiah, Zeal, Zephaniah, Zilpah

I bet Vivia would appeal to modern parents looking for an alternative to Olivia and/or Vivian.

Which of the above do you like best? How about least?

Source: Gravestone Inscriptions and Records of Tomb Burials in the Central Burying Ground (1917) by Ogden Codman

Is the Name Mellona Really that Bad?

Back in 1886, writers at the New York newspaper The Sun spotted the name “Mellie Butterfield” in the Omaha Herald and it piqued their curiosity.

In the same column…we found Nellies and Minnies, Gussies and Lizzies, Mollies and Sadies, Tillies and Sallies, Bessies, Maggies, Jennies, Tudies [sic], and the whole run of nursery names, but we were able to infer the real and dignified names of these lovely young women.

They couldn’t figure out Mellie, though. So they asked the Herald editor for the details. He said Mellie’s real name was Mellona after the Roman goddess Mellona. (Mellona is based on the Latin word mel, meaning “honey.”)

It seems that the young lady’s grandfather was a Presbyterian minister [Rev. Josiah Moulton], and that he gave the name to her mother at the suggestion of a classically inclined brother clergyman, and that Mellona was therefore handed down to the daughter.

The anonymous Sun writers were not keen on the name Mellona:

  • “Mellona? We cannot say that we like the name suggested by the clergyman”
  • “it is so unusual as to be odd”
  • “why did he not call her Melissa”
  • “A very odd name for a girl is objectionable rather than otherwise”
  • “surely there is nothing peculiarly beautiful in Mellona to call for its selection”
  • “the Moulton family have a monopoly of its use — and they are likely to keep it”

Their final comment — “Mellona is a much more suitable name for a young lady than Mellie” — was vaguely complimentary, but it doesn’t quite make up for the string of criticisms that preceded it.

Do you agree with them about the name Mellona?

Source: “Mellie.” Sun [New York] 19 Jul. 1886: 2.

(That post about women’s pet names from a few months ago was also based on a Sun essay.)

The Baby Name Denali

baby name denali

People sat up and took notice in early 1897 when gold prospector William Dickey claimed that a mountain he’d seen in Alaska was the tallest mountain on the continent:

We named our great peak Mount McKinley, after William McKinley of Ohio, who had been nominated for the Presidency, and that fact was the first news we received on our way out of that wonderful wilderness. We have no doubt that this peak is the highest in North America, and estimate that it is over 20,000 feet high.

William Dickey, "Discoveries in Alaska," 1897, about Mt. McKinley
From “Discoveries in Alaska,” New York Sun, Jan. 1897
And Dickey’s claim proved to be true — the tallest peak in North America is indeed the South Peak of “Mount McKinley,” with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet. (Not only that, but the base-to-summit vertical rise above sea level is around 18,000 feet — greater than that of Mount Everest.)

But it also kicked off a naming controversy that persists to this day.

Because the mountain already had a name. Several names, in fact. There were multiple indigenous groups in the region, and each called the peak something different:

The Koyukon called it Deenaalee, the Lower Tanana named it Deenaadheet or Deennadhee, the Dena’ina called it Dghelay Ka’a, and at least six other Native groups had their own names for it.

Denali — a version of the Koyukon Athabascan name Deenaalee, meaning “the high one” or “the tall one” — seems to have become the preferred name among settlers and visitors in the area.

And yet, even though…

  • Hudson Stuck, co-leader of the first expedition to successfully climb the mountain in 1913, began his book The Ascent of Denali (1914) with a “plea for the restoration to the greatest mountain in North America of its immemorial native name,” and
  • Charles Sheldon, the naturalist who came up with the idea of a conserving the Denali region as a national park, made “repeated pleas [to Congress] to return the mountain to its original name,”

…the U.S. officially adopted the name McKinley when President Wilson signed the Mount McKinley National Park Act in early 1917.

Alaska officially renamed the mountain Denali in 1975, and the U.S. officially renamed the park Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980. But, despite ongoing efforts to restore the name Denali, the federal government continues to refer to Denali as “Mt. McKinley.”

UPDATE: On August 30, 2015, the mountain was officially renamed Denali by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The mountain is part of the 65-million-year-old, 600-mile-long Alaska Range located in south-central Alaska. The mountain range was created by the Denali Fault, which runs along the southern edge of the range and frequently causes earthquakes in the region.

Tens of thousands of people have attempted to reach the summit of Denali over the years. The overall success rate is about 52%, but in the 2014 season it was just 36%. The average expedition (round-trip) lasts 17 to 21 days, and climbers experience an “extremely wide range of temperatures and conditions” on the mountain, including winds in excess of 80 miles per hour that can last for several days in a row.

Denali is surrounded by 6 million acres of subarctic parkland, one-sixth of which is covered with glaciers. In 2014, the park welcomed over 531,000 visitors.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the mountain that Charles Sheldon was thinking of when he came up with the idea of establishing a park. It was the large mammals — grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, lynxes, wolves, and more — in the region. He thought they’d be wiped out by hunters if the land wasn’t protected.

There’s also plenty of evidence of ancient life in Denali National Park: thousands of trace fossils (such as footprints) have been discovered there.

So, has the word Denali ever been used as a baby name?

It has, for both genders. Here’s the number of U.S. babies given the baby name Denali since the turn of the century:

  • 2014: 55 baby girls and 20 baby boys named Denali
  • 2013: 62 baby girls and 11 baby boys named Denali
  • 2012: 48 baby girls and 21 baby boys named Denali
  • 2011: 45 baby girls and 13 baby boys named Denali
  • 2010: 42 baby girls and 20 baby boys named Denali
  • 2009: 54 baby girls and 15 baby boys named Denali
  • 2008: 55 baby girls and 22 baby boys named Denali
  • 2007: 43 baby girls and 26 baby boys named Denali
  • 2006: 57 baby girls and 31 baby boys named Denali
  • 2005: 51 baby girls and 41 baby boys named Denali
  • 2004: 56 baby girls and 31 baby boys named Denali
  • 2003: 46 baby girls and 33 baby boys named Denali
  • 2002: 50 baby girls and 29 baby boys named Denali
  • 2001: 44 baby girls and 17 baby boys named Denali
  • 2000: 40 baby girls and 8 baby boys named Denali

The gender breakdown for these particular years is 69% female, 31% male.

Though I’ve found a few isolated cases of people in the U.S. named Denali in the 1800s and early 1900s, usage of the name didn’t pick up steam until the end of the 1900s. Denali started appearing regularly on the SSA’s baby name list as a girl name in the late 1980s, and as a boy name in the late 1990s.

Appropriately, the name Denali first became trendy in Alaska. In fact, it’s one of Alaska’s most distinctive baby names…though I think this may soon change, as usage in the states (especially California and Texas) has been inching upward lately.

What do you think of the baby name Denali?