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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sam


Posts that Mention the Name Sam

Name Quotes 76: Haechan, Frieda, Taz

From a Fodor’s article about the German gummy factory Haribo Fabrikverkauf:

At first glance it may seem like the milchbären (milk bears) are simply traditional German gummy bears with a milky jacket slapped on the back. However, not only are the flavors slightly different — including lemon, orange, cherry, strawberry, apple, and raspberry — but these bears have actual names. This fruity, creamy crew includes Emma, Emil, Anton, Mia, Ben, and Frieda.

From a Life article (Jan. 18, 1943) about actor and comedian Zero Mostel:

Back in 1941 Zero was a struggling New York painter who specialized in portraits of strong-muscled workmen. He went by the name of Sam, which was his own (“Zero” is a press agent’s inspiration). […] On Feb. 16, 1942, the day that news of the fall of Singapore reached the U.S., “Zero” Mostel made his professional debut as a night-club funny man.

From the Seattle Times obituary of Hildegarde:

Hildegarde, the “incomparable” cabaret singer whose career spanned almost seven decades and who was credited with starting the single-name vogue among entertainers, has died. She was 99.

From a Tribune India article about cyclone names:

Mala, Helen, Nargis and Nilofer may sound like the names of yesteryear Bollywood actors, but they are, in fact, lethal cyclones that have brought violent winds, heavy rain and wreaked destruction.

As Cyclone Fani pounded the Odisha coast on Friday, the name, which was suggested by Bangladesh, also evoked curiosity.

Mritunjay Mohapatra, the additional director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), said Fani, pronounced as ‘Foni’, means a snake’s hood.

From a Teen Vogue interview with Zendaya, who explains how her name is pronounced:

Zendaya decided to break it down for viewers with a simple step-by-step guide: “Zen is the first syllable, then day, and then a.”

“I think a lot of people see my name and think it’s more fancy than it is,” she explained. “They think Zendaya like papaya. It’s just day.

From a WWI-era New York Herald article (May 7, 1918) called “Six Get Permission to Change Names”:

Frederick Michael Knopp, an orchestra leader, disliked his Teutonic sounding name and permission was granted him to change it to Blondell.

Another German name was eliminated by the grave of Justice Guy, who permitted Leon Mendelson, a dental student, to call himself Leon Delson.

Believing that Malcolm Sumner sounded better than Malcolm Sundheimer, the latter applied for and received permission to assume the more euphonious name.

From an AP News article about a baby deer named after a K-pop star:

Fans of the K-pop group NCT 127 donated money in January to name a baby pudu at the Los Angeles Zoo after one of its members, Haechan (HECH’-ehn). This week, the human Haechan got to meet his namesake, snapping selfies with the little deer at his enclosure.

From a BBC article about the danger of female-voiced AI assistants:

AI-powered voice assistants with female voices are perpetuating harmful gender biases, according to a UN study.

These female helpers are portrayed as “obliging and eager to please”, reinforcing the idea that women are “subservient”, it finds.

Particularly worrying, it says, is how they often give “deflecting, lacklustre or apologetic responses” to insults.

From a write-up of Demi Moore‘s 2017 Tonight Show appearance:

“[Demi Lovato is] from Texas and I’m from New Mexico, so our families say our names the same but we each individually pronounce it differently,” Moore said, noting she pronounces it “Deh-mee” while Lovato says “Dem-ee.”

So what are the origins of Moore’s name?

“In my case, my mother just found it on a cosmetic carton,” she told Fallon. “It means ‘half,’ and she didn’t know that, but she just liked it.”

From a Wired article called “Pixar Reinvents Big Hair for Brave“:

So in 2009 Chung’s team designed a new simulator named Taz, after the wild Looney Tunes character. It forms individual coils [of hair] around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops.

From the 2013 book Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013 by Trina Robbins:

[A] male pseudonym seemed to be required for action strips, starting with Caroline Sexton who, in 1934, signed “C. M. Sexton” to Luke and Duke. From Cecilia Paddock Munson, who often signed her work either “Pad” or “Paddock Munson,” to Ramona “Pat” Patenaude, to Dale Messick and Tarpe Mills, the women of the 1940s seemed to believe at least in part upon having a male name.

From a Scottish dad who recently named his son Lucifer:

“I looked it up. Our first child born four years ago was going to be called Lucifer but she was a girl so we called her Lucy.

“I wasn’t too sure about Lucifer but eventually said, ‘I want this name’. It would have been even better if he was born on Halloween.”

(I’m actually more concerned about the similarity of the sibset Lucy/Lucifer than about the repercussions of Lucifer itself. Is that weird?)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Sicilian Baby Named for Uncle Sam During WWII

Uncle Sam army posterOn July 9, 1943, the Allies invaded the island of Sicily. Within six weeks they had expelled the Axis entirely, opening up Mediterranean sea lanes for Allied ships and setting the stage for the invasion of mainland Italy.

But before the battle was over, in early August, two American servicemen — 1st Lt. Lawrence Taylor (who was a doctor) and Sgt. Milton Spelman — helped a Sicilian woman give birth a baby boy amid the chaos.

As a thank-you to the American doctor, she decided to name the baby Sam after Uncle Sam.

“The shells were landing all about,” Taylor recalled, “but we got through the delivery okay. The mother, who lived in New York once, told us her husband was with an Italian combat unit near Rome and believed in fascism. But she didn’t. Spelman and I became little Sam’s god-fathers.”

So how did Uncle Sam get his name? The Library of Congress says that the origin of the term “Uncle Sam” is obscure, but “[h]istorical sources attribute the name to a meat packer who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812” — Samuel Wilson (1766-1854) of Troy, New York. According to the story, the soldiers who knew of “Uncle Sam” Wilson began to associate his nickname with the “U.S.” stamp on packaged meats, and over time the nickname simply became associated with anything marked “U.S.”

The name Samuel comes from the Hebrew name Shemuel/Shmuel and is typically defined as “name of God” (shem + el). Another possible definition is “heard of God” (shama + el).

Sources:

More WWII baby names: Adolf Hitler, Dorie, Fifinella, Hai-Hu, Irene, Jesse Roper, Linda Ann, Linda Vista, Roger, Tunisia, Vee

Names from WHER, the First All-Female Radio Station

Dot Fisher of WHER radio station in the 1950s
Dot Fisher of WHER c. 1957 © Broadcast News
Memphis-based radio station WHER (1430 AM), which was run almost entirely by women, went on the air in October of 1955. It was billed as America’s “First All-Female Radio Station.”

The station was created and funded by legendary record producer Sam Phillips — the guy who discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, among others.

WHER’s original staff included Sam’s wife Rebecca (Becky) along with seven other women: Barbara Gurley, Donna Rae Johnson, Dorothy “Dot” Fisher, Dotty Abbott, Fay Bussell, Phyllis Stimbert, and Roberta Stout.

Six of these eight ladies were on-air personalities with their own programs, each of which emphasized “some particular subject of interest to housewives” according to a 1957 source.

Which of the original WHER names do you like best?

Which WHER name do you like best?

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(Dotty is usually a nickname for Dorothy, so I combined them in the poll.)

Vida Jane Butler, who joined WHER later in the ’50s, was known on-air as “Janie Joplin.” She’d been told that Vida “was considered too old-fashioned and too Southern for WHER,” and the data backs it up: the name Vida was indeed out of fashion and associated with the south at that time. These days, though, Vida is picking up steam — particularly in California. Janie, on the other hand, saw peak usage in the mid-20th century and has been in decline ever since.

Sources:

Some Kenyans Eschewing Tribal Baby Names

Ongoing ethnic conflict in Kenya has started to influenced the way Kenyan parents name their babies.

Late last year, several mothers in a maternity hospital in Kisumu, Kenya, talked about choosing non-tribal baby names as a way to evade tribal discrimination.

The mother of baby boy named Santa Roby Aaron Sam said:

“I have been a victim of ethnic profiling and would not wish to have my children face the same. We have decided as an extended family that we want to avoid tribal names.”

The mother of baby boy named Fidel Daniels said:

“It is common these days for people to have all Christian names and for us, it is not a fashion but a way of just avoiding the stereotypes that come with the tribal names.”

The mother of baby girl named Rhiab Emmanuela said:

“People have gone overboard with tribal names and it is time we use neutral names, which do not stir any stereotypes at first sight.”

But other Kenyans worry that abandoning tribal names will contribute to the erosion of tribal culture. Opiyo Otondi, former chair of the Luo Council of Elders, said, “No amount of frustration should make our people abandon their culture.”

And Betty Okero, a Kisumu human rights activist, noted that non-tribal names can only offer a limited amount of protection against discrimination, as people’s home villages are recorded on their national identity cards.

Source: Mothers shun ‘tribal names’ for newborns by Kevine Omollo (found via Appellation Mountain)

Popular Baby Names in Sweden, 2015

According to data from Statistics Sweden, the most popular baby names in Sweden in 2015 were Elsa and William.

Here are Sweden’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Elsa, 872 baby girls
2. Alice, 847
3. Maja, 674
4. Saga, 671
5. Ella, 627
6. Lilly, 613
7. Olivia, 583
8. Ebba, 576
9. Wilma, 757
10. Julia, 574
1. William, 977 baby boys
2. Lucas, 802
3. Liam, 752
4. Oscar, 737
5. Elias, 732
6. Hugo, 711
7. Oliver, 709
8. Charlie, 664
9. Axel, 627
10. Vincent, 602

In the boys’ top 10, Axel replaces Alexander.

In the girls’ top 10, Saga, Ella and Wilma replace Agnes, Molly and Linnea.

The names in the top 100 that rose the fastest were:

  • Lo, Saga, Hedvig, Julie, and Ronja for girls, and
  • Kian, Henry, Love, Algot and Sam for boys.

The names in the top 100 that fell the fastest were:

  • Hilda, Cornelia, Elvira, Felicia and Linn for girls, and
  • Linus, Elvin, Rasmus, Felix and Jack for boys.

The sudden rise of Saga (from 21st to 4th) could be due to the popular Scandinavian TV show “The Bridge,” which features a character named Saga. But, as Maybe it is Daijirō (aka Maks) notes, the show has been around since 2011. Saga’s usage stayed relatively flat until 2014.

Also in 2015, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PVR) received 1,942 applications for adult name changes — a new national record. Znövit (Snow White), Lejontass (Lion paw) and Grön (green) were three of the new names requested last year. Sweden may be strict about names for babies, but name changes for adults are approved around 99% of the time.

Sources: Name statistics – Statistics Sweden, Swedes rush to ditch classic Nordic names