How popular is the baby name Samantha 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 Samantha.
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From the book A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis (2013) by Devin Brown:
Although born and baptized as Clive [Staples Lewis], Lewis soon took a disliking to the name his parents had given him. Sometime around the age of four, he marched up to his mother and, pointing at himself, declared that he was now to be known as “Jacksie.” This name, later shortened to Jacks and then to just Jack, became the only name he would answer to. In his book Jack’s Life, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, provides the following background on why Lewis chose this name: ‘It was actually because of a small dog that he was fond of that he picked the name Jacksie, which was what the dog was called. It was run over (probably by a horse and cart as there were almost no cars in the time and place where he was a child), and Jack, as he later became known just took the name for himself.’
When I grew up in Nebraska, I was the only Brandon, like, in my school. It was a really original, interesting name. I’m like, ‘My parents came up with this great, original, interesting name.’ And then I moved to Utah to go to BYU and there were five in my freshman dorm. And then I realized: It’s a Mormon name! Who would have thought? It’s not in any of the scriptures but it totally is a Mormon name. There’s a ton. Brandon Flowers, right? Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson. There’s a lot of Brandons out there with an LDS background. Who knew?
[Brandon Flowers is the lead singer of The Killers, while Brandon Mull — like Sanderson — writes fantasy. Brandon Sanderson is behind the debuts of the baby names Kaladin and Sylphrena, btw.]
Heather Marné Williams-Young is named after Marné Whitaker Tuttle. According to legend, Marné Whitaker Tuttle’s mother named her Marne (with no accent) after the French town on the frontlines of World War I, thinking Marne, which rhymes with barn, was a beautiful name.
But Marné disagreed, so she added the acute accent over the e, and pronounced it “Mar-nay.” “There is nothing more Utah to me than women of a certain generation trying make their names more French by putting accents places they shouldn’t be,” Williams-Young says.
[Marné Tuttle (1920-2014), the wife of LDS church leader A(lbert) Theodore Tuttle, served as “temple matron” in the Provo Utah Temple in the early 1980s. During that time, Heather’s mother worked as a Temple employee. Both Heather’s mother and Heather’s mother’s roommate ended up giving their future daughters the middle name Marné.]
“There are a handful of us around Utah County who were all named after the same woman with the made-up name,” Williams-Young says. “I feel such a kinship with them.”
[One of Marné Tuttle’s own daughters, Clarissa, was also given Marné as a middle.]
While it is hard to tell exactly how important the meaning of name elements were, it seems likely that people were aware, to some extent, that names carried some kind of meaning. Indeed, one of the most famous, or infamous, Anglo-Saxons is most often known to us today as Ethelred the Unready, the king who lost his kingdom to Cnut. However, the name Ethelred signified ‘noble counsel’. So, when his contemporaries labelled him Æðelræd Unræd they were not calling him ‘unready’, but using the meaning of his name to mock his lack of good counsel. Similarly, when Archbishop Wulfstan entitled his homily to the English people ‘Sermon of the Wolf to the English’, he was clearly doing so in the knowledge that the first part of his name did not just sound like, but signified, ‘wolf’. Surely it cannot be coincidence that ‘rich’, ‘strong’ and ‘beautiful’ were used in names, where ‘poor’, ‘weak’ and ‘ugly’ were not.
A feature of this naming system was flexibility. There was a finite number of elements, but they could be combined in a multitude of ways. This meant that, in essence, a name was created for, rather than given to, each person. So, while elements could be repeated to emphasize parentage and family links, there was very little repetition of full names and it would be unlikely that any two people within a community or family would have the same name.
Zebulon Vermillion, as he has to explain to just about everyone he meets, was born in Vail, Colo., not too far from the Rocky Mountains and a summit known as Pikes Peak. His parents, the outdoorsy type, read that the apex was named after Zebulon Pike, and it stuck with them.
Vermillion’s last name is Nordic and middle name — Cassis — French, after a fishing port in Southern France. His mother, who is trilingual, loves the city.
From the book Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire (2022) by Brad Stone, on the process of naming Amazon’s Alexa:
Bezos said he wanted the wake word to sound “mellifluous” and opined that his mother’s name, Jacklyn, was “too harsh.” His own quickly discarded suggestions included “Finch,” the title of a fantasy detective novel by Jeff VanderMeer; “Friday,” after the personal assistant in the novel Robinson Crusoe; and “Samantha,” the witch who could twinkle her nose and accomplish any task on the TV show Bewitched.
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.
Which girl names decreased in usage the most from 2020 to 2021?
Here’s a table of the fastest-falling girl names of 2021. On the left are the top 25 decreases in terms of absolute numbers of babies, and on the right are the top 25 decreases in terms of relative numbers of babies.
*Also at -67% were Helayna, Asmara, Arriyah, Anu, Akane, Kimberlin, Jojo, Elianni, Naleya and Leta.
In 1978, the interesting name Sayward debuted as a girl name in the U.S. baby name data:
1980: 26 baby girls named Sayward
1979: 12 baby girls named Sayward
1978: 22 baby girls named Sayward [debut]
Where did it come from?
A three-part TV miniseries called The Awakening Land, which aired on NBC in February of 1978. The miniseries chronicled the struggles of pioneer woman Sayward Luckett, who moved with her family to the unsettled Ohio Valley in the last years of the 1700s.
Sayward was played by played by Elizabeth Montgomery (who was playing Samantha on Bewitched a decade earlier). Montgomery was nominated for the Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series” for her portrayal of Sayward.
And Sayward wasn’t the only character with an interesting name. Her parents were Worth and Jary; her younger sisters were Genny, Achsa, and Sulie; her husband was Portius; her children included sons Resolve, Kinzie, and Chancey and daughters Huldah, Sulie, and Dezia.
The name Sulie, used for two different characters, also debuted in the data in 1978:
1979: 5 baby girls named Sulie
1978: 5 baby girls named Sulie [debut]
And the name Chancey, used for Sayward’s youngest son, saw peak usage the same year:
1980: 37 baby boys named Chancey
1979: 24 baby boys named Chancey
1978: 53 baby boys named Chancey [peak]
1977: 17 baby boys named Chancey
1976: 22 baby boys named Chancey
The story was originally a trilogy of books published in the 1940s and ’50s by Conrad Richter. The third book, called The Town, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951.
In the books, the Luckett family had one more child, a boy named Wyitt, and Sayward and Portius had a total of ten children (sons Resolve, Guerdon, Kinzie, and Chancey; daughters Sulie, Huldah, Libby, Sooth, Dezia, and Massey).
What are your thoughts on the baby name Sayward? (Or on any of the other names in the series?)
Did you know that New York City’s website hosts vital statistics reports (PDFs) going all the way back to the 1960s? And that, from 1991 onward, these annual reports include baby name rankings for NYC?
I don’t want you to have to comb through a whole bunch of PDFs to find the city’s historical top-ten lists, though, so I gathered all the lists into a single blog post.
The name tables in the reports also incorporate several older sets rankings (from 1990, 1985, 1980, 1948, 1928, and 1898 specifically) for comparison, and those are here well — just scroll to the bottom.
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2019. (Here’s my post about the 2019 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2019)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2019)
1. Emma 2. Olivia 3. Sophia 4. Mia 5. Isabella 6. Leah 7. Ava 8. Chloe 9. Amelia 10. Charlotte
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Ethan 4. Jacob 5. Lucas 6. Aiden 7. Daniel 8. Michael 9. David 10. Matthew
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2018. (Here’s my post about the 2018 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2018)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2018)
1. Emma 2. Isabella 3. Sophia 4. Mia 5. Olivia 6. Ava 7. Leah 8. Sarah 9. Amelia 10. Chloe
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Ethan 4. Jacob 5. Aiden 6. David 7. Lucas 8. Matthew 9. Daniel 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2017. (Here’s my post about the 2017 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2017)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2017)
1. Emma 2. Olivia 3. Mia 4. Sophia 5. Isabella 6. Ava 7. Leah 8. Emily 9. Sarah 10. Abigail
1. Liam 2. Noah 3. Jacob 4. Ethan 5. David 6. Lucas 7. Matthew 8. Jayden 9. Aiden 10. Daniel
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2016. (Here’s my post about the 2016 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2016)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2016)
1. Olivia 2. Sophia 3. Emma 4. Isabella 5. Mia 6. Ava 7. Emily 8. Leah 9. Sarah 10. Madison
1. Liam 2. Jacob 3. Ethan 4. Noah 5. Aiden 6. Matthew 7. Daniel 8. Lucas 9. Michael 10. Dylan
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2015. (Here’s my post about the 2015 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2015)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2015)
1. Olivia 2. Sophia 3. Emma (tie) 4. Mia (tie) 5. Isabella 6. Leah 7. Emily 8. Ava 9. Chloe 10. Madison
1. Ethan 2. Liam 3. Noah 4. Jacob 5. Jayden 6. Matthew 7. David 8. Daniel (tie) 9. Dylan (tie) 10. Aiden
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2014. (Here’s my post about the 2014 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2014)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2014)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Olivia 4. Mia 5. Emma 6. Emily 7. Leah 8. Ava 9. Sofia 10. Chloe
1. Ethan 2. Jacob 3. Liam 4. Jayden 5. Noah 6. Daniel 7. Michael 8. Alexander 9. David 10. Matthew
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2013.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2013)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2013)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emma 4. Olivia 5. Mia 6. Emily 7. Leah 8. Sofia 9. Madison 10. Chloe
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Jacob 4. Daniel 5. David 6. Noah 7. Michael 8. Matthew 9. Alexander 10. Liam
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2012.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2012)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2012)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emma 4. Olivia 5. Emily 6. Mia 7. Chloe 8. Madison 9. Leah 10. Ava
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Jacob 4. Daniel 5. Matthew 6. Michael 7. Aiden 8. David 9. Ryan 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2011. (Here’s my post about the 2011 NYC rankings.)
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2011)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2011)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Olivia 4. Emma 5. Mia 6. Emily 7. Madison 8. Leah 9. Chloe 10. Sofia
1. Jayden 2. Jacob 3. Ethan 4. Daniel 5. Michael 6. Matthew 7. Justin 8. David 9. Aiden 10. Alexander
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2010.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2010)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2010)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Olivia 4. Emily 5. Madison 6. Mia 7. Emma 8. Leah 9. Sarah 10. Chloe
1. Jayden 2. Ethan 3. Daniel 4. Jacob 5. David 6. Justin 7. Michael 8. Matthew 9. Joseph 10. Joshua
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2009.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2009)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2009)
1. Isabella 2. Sophia 3. Mia 4. Emily 5. Olivia 6. Madison 7. Sarah 8. Ashley 9. Leah 10. Emma
1. Jayden 2. Daniel 3. Ethan 4. Michael 5. David 6. Justin 7. Matthew 8. Joshua 9. Alexander 10. Christopher
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2008.
Top Girl Names (NYC, 2008)
Top Boy Names (NYC, 2008)
1. Sophia 2. Isabella 3. Emily 4. Olivia 5. Sarah 6. Madison 7. Ashley 8. Mia 9. Samantha 10. Emma
1. Jayden 2. Daniel 3. Michael 4. Matthew 5. David 6. Joshua 7. Justin 8. Anthony 9. Christopher 10. Ethan/Ryan (tied for 10th)
The most popular baby names in New York City in 2007. (Here’s my post about the 2007 NYC rankings.)