Baby name popularity graphs, rankings, lists, news, and trivia.
How popular is the baby name Samuel in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Samuel and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Samuel.
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On 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).
In the girls’ top 50, Alexa, Paisley, Ellie and Violet replace Arianna, Gabriella, Sadie and Sarah.
In the boys’ top 50, Grayson and Charles replace Eli and Aaron.
Alexa rose 31 places, from 63rd to 32nd
Violet rose 17 places, from 67th to 50th
Grayson rose 16 places, from 63rd to 47th
Oliver rose 13 places, from 32nd to 19th
Riley (girl name) rose 12 places, from 47th to 35th
Arianna dropped 16 places, from 40th to 56th
Gabriella dropped 11 places, from 43rd to 54th
Anna dropped 10 places, from 34th to 44th
There’s much more to come! Until then, I’ll quote liberally from the SSA’s press release:
Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop-culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Alaia and Riaan.
Alaia jumped 2,012 spots on the girls’ side to number 664, from number 2,676 in 2014. Perhaps this can be attributed to high fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, or maybe it is because of Alaia Baldwin, the model/daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin.
Riaan increased 1,360 spots for the boys, from number 2,286 in 2014 to number 926. Of Indian origin, it is also the name of the young son of a well-known Bollywood actor, Riteish Deshmukh.
The second fastest riser for girls was Meilani. If you have ever watched MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard of Jenni “JWoww” Farley. She gave birth to daughter Meilani in 2014. On a different American shore, out in Hawaii, is another well-known Meilani–Bethany Meilani Hamilton, the professional surfer whose story of surviving a shark attack was documented in the movie “Soul Surfer.”
For boys, it was Huxley (a brave new comeback for the late science fiction writer?).
Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category, and some possible reasons for their newfound popularity:
Omari and Jabari for boys. Omari Hardwick is an actor, known for his roles in “Sparkle,” “The A-Team,” and BET Network’s “Being Mary Jane.” He currently stars in “Power,” a popular cable TV series. Jabari Parker is a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft out of Duke.
Adaline and Zelda for girls. “The Age of Adaline” is a 2015 fantasy film starring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, and Ellen Burstyn. As for Zelda, maybe the legend continues to grow?
I’ll also note that the name Isis dropped from 705th place (398 baby girls) in 2014 to 1770th place (117 baby girls) in 2015.
In 2015, Emma replaced Lea as the top girl name, William joined Thomas as the top boy name, Beatrice replaced Charlie in the girls’ top 10, and Noah replaced Olivier in the boy’s top 10. (Here are the 2014 rankings.)
Of all 9,096 girl names on Quebec’s list in 2015, 74.5% of them were used a single time. Here are some of the unique girl names:
Allegresse – the French word allégresse means “joy, elation.”
Confiance – the French word confiance means “confidence, trust.”
Exaucee – the French verb exaucer means “to grant a wish.”
Garance – the French word garance refers to a shade of red created from the root of the madder plant.
Various websites have been echoing BabyCenter.com’s claim that Star Wars names like Rey and Kylo are now trendy baby names. The problem? It’s all conjecture. So far, real-world data does not indicate that these names are being bestowed often enough to qualify as “trendy” (à la Nevaeh). We might have to wait a year or two (or ten) for that data, if we ever get it at all.
In the meanwhile, let’s check out the name Cindel — a Star Wars name that everyone seems to have forgotten about.
Cindel debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1984 and saw peak usage in 1986:
A pair of made-for-TV movies based on stories by George Lucas.
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure aired on ABC in November of 1984, and the sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, aired on the same channel one year later.
Both films feature a young human character named Cindel Towani (played by actress Aubree Miller).
In the first film, a family of humans is shipwrecked on the forest moon of Endor, home of the Ewoks. Parents Jeremitt and Catrine Towani are promptly kidnapped, and their children — brother Mace and sister Cindel — locate and rescue them, with the help of the Ewoks.
In the second film, a group of marauders kills everyone in the Towani family except for Cindel. She and several friends fight the the marauders, and in doing so obtain the star cruiser energy cell that Cindel needs to finally leave Endor.
In the book A Brief Guide to Star Wars, author Brian J. Robb notes that Mace is “a name from Lucas’s earliest Star Wars drafts later used for Samuel L. Jackson’s Jedi character in the prequels.” I can’t find any clues about how George Lucas came up with Cindel, though.