How popular is the baby name Sharon 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 Sharon.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sharon


Posts that Mention the Name Sharon

The Inception of Sway

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Name Quotes 79: Consuela, Gisele, Jeff

Phoebe Buffay becomes Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock in this month's collection of name-related quotes at Nancy's Baby Names.

From the 2004 Friends episode in which Phoebe changes her name to Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock:

Mike: So what’s new?

Phoebe: Well, I’m no longer Phoebe Buffay.

Mike: That’s great, you changed your name?

Phoebe: Yes I did! Meet Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock.

Lyrics from the song “Dear Winter” (2019) by indie band AJR:

Dear Winter,
I hope you like your name.
I hope they don’t make fun of you
When you grow up and go to school, ok?
‘Cause Winter is a badass name.

(The baby name Winter is already on the rise, but do you think this song could give it an extra boost?)

From an article that asks how it feels when one’s name becomes a meme:

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly popular to end online jokes with a name. The set-up usually goes like this: a person jokes about an annoying behaviour as though they were directly talking to the person annoying them, then they end the joke-angry outburst with a name. That name then slowly becomes cultural shorthand for a type of behaviour. Other names become internet jokes because they were part of movies that were clipped into gifs – such as “Sure, Jan” to denote disbelief, “My name is Jeff” for anyone whose name is, yes, Jeff, or “Bye, Felicia” for anyone irritating.

(Other names used in memes: Karen, Sharon, Janet, Chad, Becky…)

From an article about advocate Shanti Bhushnan, who was named after advocate Shanti Bhushnan (b. 1925):

I was born on March 16, 1977. By then, Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan was a very big name in India because he had appeared for Raj Narain against then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and won the case.

So my uncle KN Puttegowda, who was an advocate and later served as President of the Bangalore Advocates Association, suggested that I should be named after the legendary lawyer.

[…]

I had not met him until now. I consider it my good luck to be named after such a big man. Many people ask me about this name because it is an unusual name in the South.

From a video about the unhurried baby naming practices of the Borana people of Ethiopia and Kenya:

When a child is a toddler, if you have the means, you call on people to gather and name the child. If you don’t have enough, you can ask your relatives to help you prepare the ceremony. That’s how we name a child. Until you name them, you just call them by random names of your choice.

From an article about Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen:

…Gisele has become a brand in itself. That monicker is fortunate – it’s easy to equate “Gisele” with “gazelle”, which is exactly what comes to mind when you see her strutting down the catwalk…

How rapper Post Malone (born Austin Richard Post) came up with his stage name:

I was like 14, and I had started getting into producing and rapping and singing over my own stuff. And I needed a name, you know, for my s—- mixtape,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “So I ran [my real name] through a random rap name generator… now I’m stuck with it.”

How rapper Childish Gambino (born Donald Glover) came up with his stage name:

“We were all hanging out, chilling and drinking and then we were like, ‘Oh, Wu-Tang name generator, let’s put our name in,'” he revealed on The Tonight Show back in 2011. “And we’re putting them all in, and they’re all funny and stuff, and then mine came up and I was like, ‘you guys, it’s not funny anymore. This is something big.’ I just really liked it.”

How spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle (born Ulrich Tölle) came up with his new name:

Some time after this “inner transformation”, Tolle changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart following a dream in which he saw books lying around. On the cover of one was the name Eckhart and he knew he had written it. By coincidence, he bumped into an acquaintance, a psychic, a few days later who, for no apparent reason, called him Eckhart! Having become a completely different person he was ready to relinquish the name Ulrich and the unhappy energy the name held for him.

(Other sources say Tolle chose “Eckhart” in deference to 13th-century German theologian/mystic Meister Eckhart.)

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

The Baby Name “Raven”

comic, terry and the pirates, 1941, raven sherman, baby name
The death of Raven Sherman (1941)

The name Raven has been given to babies of both genders for decades, but I find its female usage particularly interesting because girl-name Raven has gotten three distinct boosts from popular culture so far.

The first boost happened in 1941, when Raven debuted as a girl name in the data. (It had already popped up a few times as a boy name.)

Year Female usage Male usage
1943 5 babies 7 babies
1942 5 babies 5 babies
1941 6 babies [debut] .
1940 . .

In October of that year, in the comic strip Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff, a female character named Raven Sherman died in a dramatic and memorable sequence.

Raven, “a WASP clearly modeled on Katharine Hepburn” according to one source, was an American heiress who was working at a camp for war refugees in China. She was pushed off a moving truck, died of her injuries, and was buried on an isolated Chinese hillside. “Caniff was flooded with flower deliveries, mock memorial services, petitions of condolence signed by disparate groups as factory workers and entire colleges, as well as a lot of irate letters.”

(Terry and the Pirates also influenced the names Normandie and Merrily.)

The second pop culture boost happened in the 1970s:

Year Female usage Male usage
1978 342 babies
[rank: 533rd]
25 babies
1977 299 babies
[rank: 579th]
20 babies
1976 100 babies 10 babies
1975 17 babies 9 babies
1974 15 babies 12 babies

In 1976, the soap opera The Edge of Night introduced a female character named Raven Swift (first played by Juanin Clay, then played by Sharon Gabet). She was described as “the show’s delightful young vixen-heroine” in The Soap Opera Encyclopedia. The character remained on the show until it was canceled in 1984.

(The soap also influenced the names Teal and Laurieann.)

And the most recent (and biggest) pop culture boost happened in the early 1990s:

Year Female usage Male usage
1992 2,016 babies
[rank: 152nd]
89 babies
1991 2,026 babies
[rank: 150th]
53 babies
1990 1,758 babies
[rank: 166th]
62 babies
1989 476 babies
[rank: 495th]
27 babies
1988 327 babies
[rank: 612th]
19 babies

It went on to peak at 139th in 1993.

The reason? Actress Raven-Symoné, who first found fame as a four year old when she started playing Olivia (Denise’s step-daughter) on the The Cosby Show in 1989. The compound name Ravensymone debuted in the data in 1990, and the spelling variant Ravensimone followed in 1991. (Her Disney Channel show That’s So Raven didn’t come along until much later.)

What are your thoughts on the name Raven? Would you use it?

Sources:

Name Quotes #69: Larry, Darryl, Darryl

larry, darryl, darryl, newhart, names

From the ’80s TV show Newhart:

“I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”

From a 1936 newspaper article about movie actress Veda Ann Borg:

Miss Borg was given a new tag almost the minute she stepped into the studio. It was “Ann Noble.” […] Miss Borg contended that her own name is more descriptive of her personality than Ann Noble. The former model’s argument was convincing. She will be billed as Veda Ann Borg.

(Keavy, Hubbard. “Screen Life In Hollywood.” Wilkes-Barre Record 23 Apr. 1936: 19.)

From an Atlas Obscura article about Australian nicknaming conventions:

How in the world did we get from “Jeremy” to “Jezza”?

There is a rule for how this works. Names which have the letter R in them–Jeremy, Catherine, Sharon, Barry, Murray–are trouble for speakers of non-rhotic variations of English to abbreviate. Rhoticity is a linguistic term for describing when the letter is pronounced; in non-rhotic dialects of English, the sound will be discarded unless followed immediately by a vowel. The dialects of England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and, well, New England are all non-rhotic, which is why the word “car” sounds like “cah.”

This isn’t a problem in any of those names if they’re pronounced fully; there’s always a vowel after the R. But to truncate them would be difficult. Typically hypocoristic nicknames are formed by cutting everything but the first syllable and then either leaving that as-is or adding a vowel. That’s how “Daniel” becomes “Danno”: clip to the first syllable (“Dan”) and add a vowel. (The -o ending is most common for male names; -ie is more common for female names.)

From a press release about a newly discovered prehistoric shark:

The team, led by North Carolina State University’s Terry Gates, named the shark Galagadon nordquistae, a nod to its teeth, which have a stepped triangle shape like the spaceships in the 1980s video game Galaga, and to Karen Nordquist, the Field Museum volunteer who discovered the fossils.

From a 1976 article in People about pianist Lorin Hollander and his then-wife Cali:

Lorin now often finds himself babysitting while Cali campaigns against atomic power. Symbolically, not long ago she shed the name she’d “hated for 30 years” for one that sounded right. Margo became Cali. “I look at myself differently now,” she says firmly, “except people all across the country think Lorin has remarried.”

From a WPMU DEV blog post about the Wayback Machine digital archive:

The Wayback Machine was named to reference Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine from the popular cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. In the show, the machine was pronounced as “way back,” which is where the index got its name.

From a BBC article about unpopular baby names in the UK:

The name Clive was 44th most popular choice for boys in 1954 but dropped to 58th place in 1964, and has not been in the top 100 since.

Clive Tricker, 70, from Kesgrave in Suffolk, said the cultural references associated with his name were no longer current.

[…]

“I don’t really mind too much if it dies out because the less of us there are the more unique we are.

(Tricker specified that he was named after Clive of India because his grandfather had been stationed in India while he was in the Army.)

From a Mental Floss article about Ron Howard:

However, Howard did go out of his way to confirm one long-held belief about Willow: that two of the villains were named after famous film critics. The evil General Kael was named after the notoriously ruthless Pauline Kael and the two-headed monster Eborsisk was named after the iconic At the Movies duo of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

And, finally, a pair of snippets from a Colorado Public Radio article about Denver street names. First:

William McGaa [one of Denver’s founding officials] had a debaucherous reputation of his own, drinking and adulterating his way out of favor with the city’s elite. McGaa even named Wazee and Wewatta streets after two of his many wives, both Native American woman from local tribes.

(The settlement of Denver was named in late 1858. McGaa’s son, William Denver McGaa, was born in the settlement in March of 1859 and named after it. His mother was neither Wazee nor Wewatta, but a half-Native American woman named Jennie.)

Second, regarding Denver’s “double alphabetical” streets, which were renamed in 1904:

The pattern is a proper noun name, ideally British, followed by the name of a tree or plant. Albion and Ash, Bellaire and Birch, Clermont and Cherry.

The switch wasn’t without resistance from those wealthy neighborhoods. When Eudora Avenue became Fir Street, residents decried the name as “too plebeian.”

Want to see more blog posts like this one? Check out the name quotes category.