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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Shawn

Number of Babies Named Shawn

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Shawn

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA


Maureen and Mavourneen – Too Close for Twin Names?

Maureen O’Connor, former San Diego mayor (1986-1992), was charged with money laundering in federal court earlier this month.

I don’t know much about the situation, but I was intrigued to learn that Maureen had 12 siblings, including a twin sister with a very similar name — Mavourneen.

(The other siblings are Patrick, Michael, Dennis, Sharon, Dianne, Colleen, Sheila, Timothy, Karen, Thomas and Shawn.)

The names Maureen and Mavourneen [pronounced muh-VOOR-neen] are both Irish, but they have different etymologies:

Maureen is an anglicized form of Máirín, which is a pet form of Máire, which — like the English name Mary — is based on the French name Marie, which comes from the Latin name Maria. In Ancient Rome, Maria was originally a feminine form of Marius, but it was later popularized as a version of the Hebrew name Miriam. The meaning of Miriam is unknown, though hypothesized definitions abound: “beloved,” “rebellious,” “strong sea,” “bitter sea,” “drop of the sea,” etc.

Mavourneen is an anglicized form of the Irish phrase mo mhúirnín, meaning “my darling.” It began as a term of endearment, but morphed into a given name probably when the song “Kathleen Mavourneen” (1837) became popular in the mid-1800s. (A number of the 19th-century Mavourneens I’ve tracked down were named “Kathleen Mavourneen.” Many of the 20th century Mavourneens too, actually.)

In terms of popularity, Maureen was one of the top 100 baby names in the U.S. from 1947 until 1954. Mavourneen, on the other hand, has never cracked the U.S. top 1,000.

And now the main question: What do you think of the names Maureen and Mavourneen for twins? Cute? Too close? Somewhere in between?

[Related poll: How Similar Should Twin Names Be?]

Unusual Name Combinations

Here are some unusual name combinations I’ve come across recently.

First Name + Middle Name

Gold and Silver

Above Hope Demmell
(female, married in 1619 in England)

Alma Mater Hughes
(female, born in 1887 in Texas)

American Queen Ingrain
(female, born circa 1894 in Alabama)

Americus Discoverer Le Ballister
(male, born in 1838 in Maine)

Apple Pie Bell
(male, born in 1886 in Georgia)

Apple Seed Powell
(female, gave birth in 1954 in Texas)

Atom Nucleus Blackwell
(male, born in 1983 in California)

Bacchus Naughty Orgill
(male, had a baby in 1841 in Jamaica)

Birds Eye Conrad
(male, born in 1871 in Indiana)

Biscuit Foot Cobbin
(female, born circa 1939 in Texas)

Bitter Jam McClellan
(female, born circa 1925 in Oklahoma)

Black Eye Wesley
(female, born in 1892 in Georgia)

Burger King Austin
(male, born circa 1856 in California)

Catfish Hunter Kay
(male, born in 1997 in Texas)

Cloudy Day Canaan
(male, born in 1885 in Pennsylvania)

Confederate American Kenner
(female, born in 1863 in Utah)

Country Dream Patterson
(female, born in 1987 in Texas)

Easter Daybreak Mullarkey
(female, born in 1891 in Scotland)

Egyptian Pyramid Wade
(male, born in 1993 in Texas)

Electric Music Sparks
(male, born circa 1896 in West Virginia)

Emancipator Lincoln Quinn
(male, born in 1889 in Mississippi)

Equal Rights Gotcher
(male, born circa 1865 in Arkansas)

Evening Star Babcock
(female, born in 1979 in California)

Gold and Silver Gadbury
(female, gave birth in 1909 in Texas)

Gold Dollar Davis
(female, born in 1893 in Virginia)

Gold Dust Fauntlery
(female, born circa 1903 in Arkansas)

Holly Berry Pharo
(female, born in 1880 in England)

Hush Vocal Bryant
(female, born circa 1914 in Oklahoma)

Ice Cream Goldsmith
(female, born circa 1871 in Alabama)

Ice Snow Franklin
(female, born in 1899 in Georgia)

Jelly Bean Carlton
(female, born in 1931 in Texas)

Jesus Mosquito Mansul
(male, born in 1953 in the Philippines – Mosquito was the mom’s surname)

Joy In Sorrow Godman
(female, married in 1614 in England)

Lemon Lime Clay
(male, divorced in 1992 in Florida)

Lucky Boy Turipa
(born in 1948 in New Mexico)

Magic Brilliance Carter
(born in 1987 in North Carolina)

Magic Enchantress Creamer
(born in 1974 in California)

Mint Julip Wilson
(male, born circa 1921 in Illinois)

Northern Pacific White
(male, born in Minnesota in 1872)

Nucleus Demon Johnson
(male, born in 1987 in Texas)

Obey The Lord Jenkins
(female, born circa 1904 Georgia – sister of Prase)

Ocean Wave Hamilton
(male, born in 1888 in Texas)

Orange Lemon Thomas
(male, born in 1859 in Ohio)

Panama Canal Caldwell
(female, born in 1912 in North Carolina)

Pearl Shell Adams
(female, born circa 1901 in Tennessee)

Penny Nickel Sutherland
(female, married in 1987 in Florida)

Prase The Lord Jenkins
(female, born circa 1903 in Georgia – sister of Obey)

Quiet Glow Kellough
(male, born in 1881 in Ohio)

Rasp Berry Nelson
(male, had a baby in 1954 in North Carolina)

Red Apple Thomas
(female, born circa 1885 in Iowa)

Remember Death Comper
(male, born in the late 1500s in England)

Rocky Mountain Kennedy
(male, born in 1884 in Arizona)

Rose Of The Sea McKay
(female, born in 1884 at sea aboard the Duke of Westminster steamship)

Salary Grab Hamrick
(male, born in 1880 in Illinois – a reference to the Salary Grab Act apparently)

Sanspariel Audacious Thomas Philpott
(male, born in 1892 in England)

Somebody Nobody Lord*
(male, married in 1992 in Nevada)
*This one is a name change. Don’t know what his birth name was.

South Pole Mitchell
(male, born circa 1908 in Georgia)

Star Spangled Banner Osborne
(male, born circa 1860 in Illinois)

Sterling Silver Slayden
(male, born in 1966 in Texas)

Summer Solstice Walker
(female, born in 2001 in Minnesota)

Superior Inches Brown
(male, born circa 1858 in Wisconsin)

Supreme Intelligence Thomas
(born in 1983 in New York)

Treasure Trove Kittenger
(female, born circa 1895 in West Virginia)

United States America Cook
(female, born in 1896 in Ohio)

Vernal Equinox Richardson
(female, born in 1898 in Texas)

Vice President Evans
(male, born circa 1918 in South Carolina)

Vocal Refrain Rose
(female, married in 1951 in West Virginia)

Washington Territory Stockand
(male, born circa 1869 in Washington Territory)

Yankee Doodle Norris
(male, born in 1910 in Tennessee)

Similar names from other posts: April Fool Harris, Acts of the Apostles Kennett, Aussie Trooper Kenna, Cash Money Smith, Christmas Carol Porter, Christmas Day Wagstaff, Christmas Eve Hayes, Dawn Siren Lingerman, Dee Day Edwards, Easter Lily Gates, Eclipse Glasses Banda, Eiffel Tower Sutherland, Emancipation Proclamation Coggeshall, Encyclopedia Britannica Dewey, Fearless Mentor Williams, Friday February Eleven Biddle, Harley Quinn Smith, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Legal Tender Coxey, Louisiana Purchase O’Leary, Luna Eclipse Hill, Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer, Nanda Devi Unsoeld, Oregon Territory Winters, Pitbull Shotgun Collier, States Rights Gist, Thursday October Christian, Union Jack Smart, Victory Pearl Harbor Moore.

First Name + Last Name

Superb Bullocks

American Born*
(female, born circa 1854 in Georgia)
*This is her married name. Not sure what her birth name was.

American Crook*
(female, born in 1836 in Tennessee)
*Another married name.

Bitter Apple
(female, born in 1874 in Tennessee)

Bitter Berry
(female, born in 1845 in Alabama)

Black Berry
(female, born circa 1925 in Washington)

Bum Dials
(male, born circa 1934 in Kentucky)

Cashmere Obedience
(male, born in 1907 in the Philippines)

Cheese Bologna
(male, born circa 1879 in Austria)

Continent Walker
(female, born in 1594 in England)

Copious Midgett
(male, born circa 1894 in North Carolina)

Cucumber Pickle
(male, born circa 1850 in Michigan)

Danger Dangervil
(born in 1943 in Florida)

Death Bugg
(male, born in 1746 in England)

Death Knox
(female, born circa 1927 in Mississippi)

Delicious Bacon
(female, born in 1895 in Georgia)

Dewdrop Trulove
(female, born circa 1933 in Mississippi)

Elder Berry
(male, born circa 1901 in Minnesota)

Every Evelyn
(female, born circa 1917 in Alabama)

Gold Mine
(male, born circa 1901 in Alabama)

Green Land
(male, born in 1886 in Tennessee)

Honorable Charming
(male, born circa 1782 in England)

Howdy Guy
(male, born in 1784 in England)

Ineeda Nunn
(female, born circa 1915 in North Carolina)

Larceny Luckydoo
(female, born circa 1914 in Arkansas)

London England
(male, born circa 1914 in Canada)

Magnetic Love
(female, born in 1912 in New York)

Many Moore
(female, born circa 1880 in Pennsylvania)

Married Young
(female, born circa 1923 in Tennessee)

Married  Young, born in Tennessee

Minnie Merrycats
(female, born circa 1880 in Utah)

Mud Brown
(born in 1877 in Wisconsin)

Much Moore
(female, born circa 1900 in Georgia)

Mustard Mustard
(female, born circa 1841 in Delaware)

Need Butler
(male, born circa 1933 in Pennsylvania)

Never Fail
(male, married in 1928 in Oklahoma)

Nude Mann
(male, born circa 1871 in Ohio)

Obedient Beard
(male, born circa 1852 in Indiana)

Odious Nutt
(male, born in 1879 in Texas)

One Moore
(male, born circa 1869 in Missouri – the youngest sibling in the family)

Orchestra Harp
(male, born in 1873 in Kentucky)

Phoebe Beebee
(female, born in 1876 in England)

Pullman Carr
(male, born circa 1906 in Illinois)

Scholastic Sauce
(female, born circa 1889 in Louisiana)

Scot Land
(born in 1959 in Wisconsin)

Sea Shore
(male, born circa 1892 in Kansas)

Silence Bellows*
(female, born in 1896 in New York)
*Another married name.

Slipper Wearing
(female, born circa 1873 in South Carolina)

Smart Strong
(male, born circa 1923 in Arkansas)

Smelly Cotton
(male, married in 1906 in Texas)

Some Moore
(male, born in 1850 in Virginia)

Square Kitchen
(born in 1909 in Illinois)

Strong Beer
(male, born in 1846 in Indiana)

Superb Bullocks
(female, gave birth in 1916 in Ohio)

Teaspoon Typhoon
(born in 1953 in Michigan)

Tender Shoulders
(female, born circa 1939 in Kentucky)

Village Millage
(male, born in 1872 in South Dakota)

Wiggle Messenger
(male, born in the 1700s in Massachusetts)

Similar names from other posts: Cole Sellar, Constant Agony, Dill Pickle, Gettysburg Battle, Lottery Lament, Norman Conquest, Orbit Moon, Sacred Mango, Soda Popp, Ten Million, Truly Wright, Wrigley Fields.

Middle Name + Middle Name

Country Cowboy

Beata Apple Tree Hitchens
(female, born circa 1845 in England)

Ernest Big Boy Sloan
(male, born circa 1896 in South Carolina)

Lorelei Pink Dragonfly Dunlap
(female, born in 1996 in Texas)

Mary-Francis Morning Star Adams
(female, born in 1929 in Texas)

Nephi United States Centennial Jensen
(male, born in 1876 in Utah)

Ngan Ha Milky Way T Tran
(female, born in 1976 in Texas)

Oscar Church Bell Kham
(male, born in 1983 in Texas)

Shawn Country Cowboy Cunningham
(male, born in 1978 in Texas)

Shawn Hugh Hefner Moore
(male, born in 1975 in Texas)

Sidney Sweet Apple Granger
(male, born circa 1880 in England)

Similar names from other posts: James Good Hope Sky Martin, John Hodge Opera House Centennial Gargling Oil Samuel J. Tilden Ten Brook, Louis Meadows Brook Verhayden, Isaiah Olive Branch Williams, Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar Tabor.

First Name + Middle Name + Last Name

Little Bit Moore

Chevy Van Pickup
(male, born circa 1986 in Massachusetts)

Henry Ford Carr
(male, born in 1924 in Minnesota)

Jolly Jingle Bell
(male, born circa 1926 in Arkansas)

Little Bit Moore
(female, born circa 1924 in Tennessee)

South East West
(male, born circa 1932 in Oregon – an older brother was named North)

Sun Shine Summers
(female, born circa 1924 in Texas)

Supreme Knowledge Allah
(born in 2002 in Minnesota)

Tell No Lyes
(born in 1734 in England)

Similar names from other posts: Crimson Tide Redd, Happy New Year, Merry Christmas Easter, Trailing Arbutus Vines.

Which of these name combinations is your favorite?

I think I’d have to go with Married Young from the first + last list.

[P.S. For some of the above, I assumed the state where the person was issued a social security number was also the birth-state. I realize now that this isn’t always the case. Sorry about that. If you’ve found a mistake, feel free to correct me in the comments.]

Name Prediction from 1964

This comes from a newspaper article published in the mid-1960s:

The American melting pot has made something of a stew of old world cultures. Isaac and Rebecca Goldberg are the parents not of Moses and Rachael, but of Donald and Marie. Hjalmar and Sigrid Johanson are the parents of Richard and Dorothy. It seems rather a shame that Axel and Jens, Helma and Ingeborg, not to mention Stanislaus and Giacomo and Pedro and Vladimir have just about disappeared. The custom seems to be for the first generation to anglicize the given name as soon as possible. The next generation or two branches out and we get Pat Johnson, even Angus Puccini. Then, after a few generations, there is a tentative reach backward for the Shawns or even the Seans. Katy’s real name may again be Caitlin, Pat’s Padriac.

The last two sentences are rather prescient. We see many parents nowadays taking that “tentative reach backward” to find a name that pays tribute to their cultural heritage. The key, of course, is finding a name that conforms to modern tastes. Names like Hjalmar and Zbigniew may be legit family names, but they’re probably a no-go. Family names like Giuliana and Liam, on the other hand, fit right in.

Source: “Quite a Problem, Naming the Baby.” Eugene Register-Guard 9 Feb. 1964: 10A.

Where Did the Name Irmalee Come From?

Irma Lee McCallsIn 1925, the name Irmalee popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time. It was the top debut name for girls that year, in fact, with at least 37 baby girls getting the name:

  • 1931: unlisted
  • 1930: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1929: unlisted
  • 1928: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1927: 5 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1926: 10 baby girls named Irmalee
  • 1925: 37 baby girls named Irmalee [debut]
  • 1924: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

Signs point to “Irmalee and the Mid-Victorian Age,” a short story by Oregon writer Vivien R. Bretherton. The story was printed in the July 1925 issue of McCall’s magazine, which had a circulation of well over 1,000,000 at that time.

The teaser for the story asked, “Which do our American men really prefer–the bold modern flapper, or the demure girl of yesteryear?”

Irmalee initially is represented as the archetypal flapper who brags: “[We] out-smoked and out-drank and out-danced and out-petted the rest of the world. We nabbed all the young chaps and we accumulated all the older ones. We didn’t even stay off the married women’s preserves.”

She proceeds to steal her divorced mother’s boyfriend, Shawn.

She accomplishes this by appearing to him as a Victorian vision in billowing flock and rose-draped hat. When he asks her “…do you go in for the new poetry? Or is it psycho-analysis?” she replies: “Tennyson.” Shawn is smitten, but Irmalee cannot sustain the masquerade, for she is “the jazz queen of her set.” She decides to show up for a dinner date as the scantily clad, cigarette-smoking “ultra-modern person” she believes herself to be. Rather than being disillusioned, as she anticipates, Shawn helps her to realize her true self, neither the passive Victorian ideal nor the sensation-seeking flapper, but the “very modern girl” who wants “all that the game” has given her but wants it honestly.

Nearly all of the 1925 Irmalees listed in Social Security Death Index (so far) were born in July or later. The rest, all born in June, probably just took a few weeks to be named.

(Waiting to choose a baby’s name was a lot more common a century ago. In 1915, one reporter joked that Wisconsin’s top baby name was “baby” because so many babies were not named at birth.)

The name Shawn doesn’t show up on the SSA’s baby name list until 1931, incidentally.

Sources:

  • Holliday, Heather. “Death of a Magazine Industry Icon.” AdAge 13 Mar. 2001.
  • Studlar, Gaylyn. “The Perils of Pleasure? Fan Magazine Discourse as Women’s Commodified Culture in the 1920s.” Silent Film. Ed. Richard Abel. London: The Athlone Press, 1996. 263-298.

One-Syllable Boy Names – Cruz, George, Nash, Royce, Zane

Like baby names that are short and sweet? Here are over 100 one-syllable boy names:

Ace
Beau, Bo
Ben
Blaine, Blayne, Blane
Blaise, Blaze
Blake
Brad
Brent
Brett
Brock
Brooks
Bruce
Bryce, Brice
Cade
Cale
Carl
Case
Cash
Chad
Chance
Charles
Chase
Chaz
Chris
Clark
Clay
Cole
Colt
Craig
Cruz
Dale
Dane
Dax
Dean
Drake
Drew
Dwayne
Earl
Finn
Floyd
Flynn
Frank
Gage, Gauge
George
Glenn
Graham
Grant
Guy
Hank
Hayes
Heath
Hugh
Jace, Jayce, Jase
Jack
Jake
James
Jax
Jay
Jess
Jett
Joe, Jo
Joel
John, Jon
Josh
Juan
Jude
Kade
Kai
Kale
Kane
Karl
Kash
Keith
King
Knox
Kole
Krish
Kyle
Lance
Lane, Layne, Laine
Lee, Leigh
Lex
Lloyd
Lorne
Luke
Lyle
Mark, Marc
Max
Mike
Moe
Myles, Miles
Nash
Neil
Nick
Noel
Paul
Pierce
Prince
Quinn
Ralph
Ray, Rey
Reece, Reese, Rhys
Reid, Reed
Rex
Rhett
Ross
Roy
Royce
Sam
Saul
Scott
Sean, Shawn, Shaun
Seth
Shane
Steve
Stone
Tate
Todd
Tom, Thom
Trace
Trent
Trey
Tripp
Troy
Ty
Van
Vance
Vaughn
Vince
Wade
Wayne
Will
Zack, Zach, Zac
Zane, Zain, Zayne
Ziv
Zvi

Have any favorites?

P.S. Here are the most popular 1-syllable boy names of 2012, 2011 and 2010.