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, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Samuel.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Samuel


Posts that Mention the Name Samuel

The Baby Name Colt

wayde preston, colt 45, television, 1950s
Christopher Colt

The baby name Colt has a distinctive popularity graph: usage begins in the 1950s, shoots up in the early 1980s, shoots up again in the early 2000s, and shoots up again in the late 2010s.

The initial usage was triggered by the TV Western Colt .45 (1957-1960), which was loosely based upon a 1950 film of the same name. The main character, Christopher Colt, was an undercover government agent posing as a pistol salesman. (The Colt .45 was a type of pistol that was particularly popular in the Old West.)

The name Colt debuted in the SSA’s data the year the show premiered:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Colt
  • 1958: 10 baby boys named Colt
  • 1957: 7 baby boys named Colt [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

The show may have given the name Christopher a boost as well, though it’s hard to tell, as the name was already on the rise in the late ’50s.

But the name that got the biggest boost from the show wasn’t Colt or Christopher — it was Wayde, from actor Wayde Preston, who played Christopher Colt. The name saw peak usage in 1959:

  • 1960: 135 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 674th]
  • 1959: 252 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 493rd]
  • 1958: 153 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 622nd]
  • 1957: 33 baby boys named Wayde
  • 1956: 15 baby boys named Wayde

But getting back to Colt…the name remained relatively rare until another show, The Fall Guy (1981-1986), introduced TV audiences to the character Colt Seavers, played by Lee Majors. This character wasn’t a gunslinger but a stuntman (who moonlighted as a bounty hunter).

The name jumped straight into the top 500 in 1982:

  • 1983: 351 baby boys named Colt [rank: 444th]
  • 1982: 344 baby boys named Colt [rank: 459th]
  • 1981: 20 baby boys named Colt
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Colt

The next rise in usage was kicked off by football quarterback Daniel “Colt” McCoy, who had a successful college career at the University of Texas (2005-2009) before going pro in 2010.

  • 2009: 820 baby boys named Colt [rank: 369th]
    • 162 (19.8%) born in Texas
  • 2008: 500 baby boys named Colt [rank: 532nd]
    • 85 (17.0%) born in Texas
  • 2007: 428 baby boys named Colt [rank: 593rd]
    • 67 (15.7%) born in Texas
  • 2006: 212 baby boys named Colt [rank: 910th]
    • 38 (17.9%) born in Texas
  • 2005: 186 baby boys named Colt [rank: 943rd]
    • 21 (11.3%) born in Texas
  •  2004: 143 baby boys named Colt [outside top 1,000]
    • 13 (9.1%) born in Texas

And the most recent rise in usage seems to be attributable to the Netflix series The Ranch, which premiered in mid-2016 and stars Ashton Kutcher as a character named Colt Reagan Bennett.

So, going back to the beginning now….where did the name of the Colt .45 pistol come from?

The pistol was made by Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Connecticut. The company was named for founder Samuel Colt (1814-1862), whose English surname originated as “a metonymic occupational name for someone who looked after asses and horses, or a nickname for an obstinate or frisky person.”

What do you think of the baby name Colt? (Do you like it as a standalone name, or do you prefer it as a nickname for Colton?)

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Popular Baby Names in Switzerland, 2019

According to data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the most popular baby names in Switzerland in 2019 were Mia and Liam.

Here are the country’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Mia, 434 baby girls
  2. Emma, 401
  3. Sofia, 341
  4. Lara, 312
  5. Emilia, 310
  6. Mila, 298
  7. Lina, 294
  8. Lia, 292
  9. Lena, 280
  10. Anna, 276

Boy Names

  1. Liam, 443 baby boys
  2. Noah, 437
  3. Matteo, 360
  4. Gabriel, 340
  5. Luca, 336
  6. Leon, 318
  7. Elias, 314
  8. Louis, 312
  9. David, 264
  10. Samuel, 252

In the girls’ top 10, Lara, Lina and Lia replace Lea, Elena and Laura.

In the boys’ top 10, Samuel replaces Ben.

Here are the top baby names within each of Switzerland’s main language groups:

  • German speakers (63% of the population): Mia and Noah
  • French speakers (23%): Emma and Liam
  • Italian speakers (8%): Sofia and Leonardo
  • Romansh speakers (under 1%): Lina and Elia/Finn/Luca (3-way tie)

In 2018, the top names in the country overall were Emma and Liam.

Sources: Vornamen der Neugeborenen, Revealed: Switzerland’s most popular baby names, Mia, Emma, Liam, Noah: the most popular baby names of 2019

The Peak of Vilma

Did you notice the name Vilma on the movie poster in yesterday’s Rudolph Valentino post?

Silent film star Vilma Banky was born in Hungary circa 1901 and started appearing in American movies after she immigrated in 1925.

She was Valentino’s co-star in his last two pictures: The Eagle (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). A year later, in 1927, she married fellow actor Rod La Rocque. Her highly publicized wedding, produced by Samuel Goldwyn himself, “was the most elaborate of the silent-film era.”

She was at the height of her fame at that time, and, correspondingly, usage of the bay name “Vilma” doubled in 1926 and peaked in 1927:

  • 1930: 147 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 563rd]
  • 1929: 198 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 481st]
  • 1928: 177 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 523rd]
  • 1927: 213 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 478th]
  • 1926: 117 baby girls named Vilma [rank: 673rd]
  • 1925: 54 baby girls named Vilma
  • 1924: 33 baby girls named Vilma

Her film career ended not long after this, though, because she — along with her heavy Hungarian accent — were unable to make the transition to talkies.

The female name Vilma (just like the male name William) can be traced back to the Germanic name Willahelm, made up of the elements wil, meaning “will, desire,” and helm, meaning “helmet, protection.”

Sources: Vilma – Behind the Name, Vilma Banky, Hollywood Star With Short but Influential Career – New York Times, Vilma Banky – Wikipedia

The Arrival of L’Tanya

L'Tanya Griffin, 1950s, fashion designer, baby name
L’Tanya Griffin w/ daughter L’Tanya.

In the late ’40s, long before the name Tanya (a diminutive of Tatiana) reached peak trendiness in the ’70s, some specific Tanya-based names started debuting:

YearLatanya usageLatonia usageLtanya usage
1955
1954
1953
1952
1951
1950
1949
1948
1947
1946
67 baby girls
31 baby girls
24 baby girls
12 baby girls
9 baby girls
13 baby girls
7 baby girls
6 baby girls
7 baby girls [debut]
.
10 baby girls
9 baby girls
8 baby girls
6 baby girls
8 baby girls
.
.
6 baby girls
5 baby girls [debut]
.
32 baby girls
22 baby girls
11 baby girls
5 baby girls
.
5 baby girls
9 baby girls [debut]
.
.
.

Latanya and Latonia first appeared in ’47. Ltanya followed in ’49. Latonya popped up in 1951, and other variants appeared later, including the intriguing LaTanga.

What influenced the usage of these names?

My guess is Hollywood-based African-American fashion designer L’Tanya Griffin.

She started to become famous during the second half of the ’40s. Her name began appearing newspapers around 1946, and it was often spelled “LaTanya” and “La Tanya.” (Her birth name was Julia Bernice Hilbert, incidentally.)

In mid-1949, a specific event made L’Tanya Griffin front-page news: Her estranged husband Earl tried to assault her with a beer can full of lye at racetrack in Atlantic City. She was uninjured, but her friend Marshall Miles (former manager of boxer Joe Louis) and several other people suffered first degree burns. Worst off was Earl himself, as the lye had splashed back into his face. It got into his eyes and blinded him (not permanently, turns out).

L’Tanya was at the height of her fashion-fame during the 1950s. She was even on the cover of Jet in mid-1954. The magazine sometimes ran pictures of her young daughter L’Tanya as well.

I’m not sure what became of L’Tanya Griffin after her fame waned in the ’60s, but I did discover that one of the babies named “LaTanya” in 1949 was none other than Samuel L. Jackson’s wife LaTanya Richardson.

Do you like the name L’Tanya?

Sources:

  • “Acid Toss by Hubby Backfires.” New York Age 20 Aug. 1949: 1.
  • “Fashions by L’Tanya” Ebony Aug. 1947: 24.
  • Kirkham, Pat and Shauna Stallworth. “”Three Strikes Against Me”: African American Women Designers.” Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference, ed. by Pat Kirkham, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, 2000, pp. 123-144.
  • LaTanya Martinique, Los Angeles, California, ca. 1945
  • “Lye Hurled at Pretty Designer.” Pittsburgh Courier 20 Aug. 1949: 1.

Image: © 1954 Jet

Popular & Unique Baby Names in Idaho, 2018

According to Idaho Vital Statistics, the most popular baby names in the state in 2018 were Olivia and Liam.

Here are Idaho’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 107 baby girls
  2. Emma, 92
  3. Harper, 88
  4. Charlotte, 83
  5. Evelyn, 82
  6. Amelia, 77
  7. Hazel, 62
  8. Ava, 60
  9. Abigail, 58
  10. Lily, 56 (tied with #11, Sophia)

Boy Names

  1. Liam, 127 baby boys
  2. Oliver, 114
  3. William, 93
  4. Hudson, 83 (tie)
  5. Henry, 83 (tie)
  6. James, 82
  7. Owen, 79
  8. Jackson, 78
  9. Wyatt, 77
  10. Lincoln, 75

In the girls’ top 10, Hazel and Lily replace Elizabeth and (technically) Sophia.

In the boys’ top 10, Hudson, Owen, and Wyatt replace Samuel, Mason, and Logan. Notably, Hudson didn’t even make Idaho’s top 25 in 2017.

Speaking of 2017…the top two names that year were Emma and Oliver.

And now, some of Idaho’s unusual baby names:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Amerikis, Anomaly, Aquamarine, Atlyss, Azkadealliya, Buttercup, Cansas, Ellexy, Gift, Glacier-Dawn, Ingeborg, Jonnacie, Kc, Livingston, Naivee, Netanya, Neverr, Onnicka, Phynixx, Reminatrix, Silentbird, Stormageddon, Sufia, Violetjade, YggdrasilAnarchy, Banx, Bekan, Boss, Combat, Derexx, Geremi, Given, Gnash, Grizzly, Jj, Jrue, Krush, Lighten, Lukasza, Prentiss, Rhun, Skeigh, Thackery, Timber, Trynitee, Tytanium, Ugutz, Wisely

Possible explanations/associations for a couple of the above:

Source: Annual Reports – Idaho Vital Statistics