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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Shelby

Number of Babies Named Shelby

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Shelby

The Baby Name Trilby

the baby name trilbyThe gothic melodrama Trilby by British author George du Maurier was first published serially in Harper’s Monthly from January to August, 1894. It was released as a book in September.

The story is set in Paris in the early 1850s. The titular character, Trilby O’Ferrall, is a naïve, tone-deaf artist’s model who goes on to become a world-famous singer, thanks to the hypnotic powers of the sinister Svengali. When Svengali suddenly dies, Trilby loses her ability to sing and and ends up wasting away.

Trilby wasn’t just a bestseller — the entire country was gripped by Trilby-mania for several years straight. (Not unlike the Twilight-mania that emerged more than 100 years later.)

Many things, from fashion to food, were influenced/inspired by Trilby during this time. Here’s a partial list:

  • Language:
    • Trilbies became slang for “(women’s) feet,” as Trilby had particularly beautiful feet
    • Svengali became slang for “a person who exercises a controlling or mesmeric influence on another, especially for a sinister purpose”
  • Music:
  • Products:
    • Trilby hat
    • Trilby dolls
    • Trilby ice cream (it was molded into the shape of a foot)
    • Trilby board game
    • Trilby high-heeled shoes
    • Trilby jewelry
    • Trilby belts
    • Trilby bathing suits
    • Trilby cigars/cigarettes
    • Trilby hearth brush
    • Trilby tea
    • Trilby cocktail
    • Trilby pie
    • Trilby sausage
    • Trilby ham
  • Non-human namesakes:
    • Trilby, Florida
    • USS Trilby
  • Adaptations:
    • Trilby, stage play
    • Trilby (1915), movie
    • Trilby (1923), movie
    • Svengali (1931), movie
  • Influence on other literary works:
    • Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
    • Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1909) by Gaston Leroux

Trilby and its glamorization of the bohemian lifestyle even “excited a vogue for nude modeling among the many young women who wished to follow the Trilby life.” (And this, of course, “alarmed the clergy and other guardians of morality.”)

So where does the name Trilby come from?

For a long time I’d assumed that George du Maurier had based it on the musical term trill, which refers to rapid alternation between two adjacent musical notes. Turns out this isn’t the case.

He borrowed the name from an earlier work of literature, the story “Trilby, ou le Lutin d’Argail” (“Trilby, or the Fairy of Argyle”) (1822) by French writer Charles Nodier. In Nodier’s story, which is set in Scotland, Trilby is a male sprite who seduces a mortal woman.

In 1895 a New York Times writer guessed that the name of Nodier’s Trilby might be “an endearing diminutive of “trall,” a member of the brownie clan,” but I can’t find any outside confirmation that the word “trall” even exists. (Perhaps it’s a Scottish variant of the word “troll”…?)

How many people in the U.S. have been named Trilby?

According to the SSA data, Trilby was the 978th most popular girl name in the U.S. in 1895, the year after the book was published. This was the only time Trilby managed to rank within the U.S. top 1,000.

  • 1897: unlisted
  • 1896: 6 baby girls named Trilby
  • 1895: 12 baby girls named Trilby [debut] (rank: 978th)
  • 1894: unlisted

But the SSA data from that period is incomplete, so here are the SSDI numbers for the same years:

  • 1897: 10 people named Trilby
  • 1896: 22 people named Trilby
  • 1895: 34 people named Trilby
  • 1894: 5 people named Trilby

These days, Trilby rarely appears on the SSA’s list:

  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted
  • 2012: unlisted
  • 2011: unlisted
  • 2010: 6 baby girls named Trilby
  • 2009: unlisted
  • 2008: 7 baby girls named Trilby
  • 2007: unlisted
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: unlisted
  • 2002: unlisted
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: unlisted

Trilby may be an unfashionable name right now, but for the parents-to-be who want something a bit retro-sounding, this could be a good thing.

The name is also an intriguing option for lovers of trivia and/or quirky history, as it’s tied to a fascinating pop culture craze from over a century ago. (We might be saying the same thing about Renesmee 100 years from now!)

Plus, Trilby is one of a small number of names with that distinctive “-by” ending, such as Ruby, Shelby, Darby, Colby, Kirby and Rigby.

One possible drawback to the name is the not-so-subtle anti-Semitism in the book itself. Svengali is not merely the “greasily, mattedly unkempt” antagonist of the story, but he’s also Jewish — with “bold, black, beady Jew’s eyes” no less. Then again…similar things could be said about other historical pieces of literature that have inspired baby names.

If you’re considering the naming your baby girl Trilby, I highly encourage you to head over to Project Gutenberg and read (or at least skim) the text of Trilby.

What are your thoughts on the name Trilby?

Sources:


Biggest Baby Name Debuts of All Time: Girls, 40 to 31

biggest baby name debuts of all time, girl names, 40 to 31

Time for baby name debuts, part 2! (Part deux?)

From 40 to 31:

Leshia & Riann, 2-way tie for #40

  • Leshia debuted with 76 baby girls in 1960.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Riann debuted with 76 baby girls in 1977.
    Inspired by the song “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.

Jalesa, #39

  • Jalesa debuted with 77 baby girls in 1988.
    Inspired by Jaleesa Vinson, a character on the TV sitcom “A Different World.”

Chimere & Naidelyn, 2-way tie for #38

  • Chimere debuted with 78 baby girls in 1979.
    Inspired by the Prince Matchabelli perfume Chimere.
  • Naidelyn debuted with 78 baby girls in 1998.
    Inspired by Naidelyn Navarrete, an actress on the telenovela “Maria Isabel.”

Joyel & Tynisa, 2-way tie for #37

  • Joyel debuted with 79 baby girls in 1975.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Joyelle, a character on the soap opera “How to Survive a Marriage.” (Thank you C in DC!)
  • Tynisa debuted with 79 baby girls in 1976.
    Inspired by the song “Tynisa (Goddess of Love)” by Major Harris.

Audreanna, #36

  • Audreanna debuted with 80 baby girls in 1989.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Adriana, a character on the soap opera “Santa Barbara.” (Thank you C in DC!)

Leilene, #35

  • Leilene debuted with 81 baby girls in 2007.
    Inspired by Leilene Ondrade, a contestant on the reality TV show “Flavor of Love.”

Evolet, #34

  • Evolet debuted with 82 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Evolet, a character in the movie 10,000 BC.

Joyelle & Trenyce, 2-way tie for #33

  • Joyelle debuted with 88 baby girls in 1975.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Same reason as #37.
  • Trenyce debuted with 88 baby girls in 2003.
    Inspired by singer Trenyce.

Irania & Shelva, 2-way tie for #32

  • Irania debuted with 89 baby girls in 1995.
    Inspired by Irania Paniagua, a character on the telenovela “Maria Celeste.”
  • Shelva debuted with 89 baby girls in 1936.
    Inspired by Shelby Barret, a character in the movie The Woman in Red.

Latrenda, #31

Do you have any thoughts on Latrenda, Audreanna, Joyelle/Joyel or Leshia?

*The Top 50 Baby Name Debuts for Girls: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1*

Unique Baby Names in Quebec, 2012

One thing I love about Quebec? Their yearly baby name list includes all baby names.

Not just names given to 5 or more babies, like the U.S. list. Not just names given to 3 or more babies, like the England and Wales list.

Every single name. Regardless of whether the name was given to hundreds of babies or just one.

Privacy: Who needs it! :)

Here are some stats on all those Quebec names:

  • 7,921 boy names total
    • 6,107 (77%) of them were given to 1 baby boy
    • 7121 (90%) of them were given to 1, 2, 3 or 4 baby boys*
  • 9,074 girl names total
    • 6,686 (74%) of them were given to 1 baby girl
    • 8058 (89%) of them were given to 1, 2, 3 or 4 baby girls*

*So, if the names given to 5+ babies in Quebec account for only about 10% of the names on the full list, and we assume baby name distribution in the U.S. is similar, the “full” U.S. lists should contain over 140,000 boy names and over 190,000 girl names.

Here are some of Quebec’s unique names (used only once):

Baby Girl Names Baby Boy Names
Aghogho Elise
Alphee
Aoua
Apphia
Arnautilik Louisa
Aupale
Auphelie
Ayagutaq
Becky Tillikasak
Berlidia
Brunette
Cloud
Cloudine Mae
Cocolo
Delphine Eleonore
Desneiges
Euphelie
Evodine Ntshila
Feenix
Felixia
Fella
Fenixia
Feriel Nouara
Fihagarra
Flechanne
Flechelle
Fleurange
Franstevia
Fritzmaelle Deborah
Garrissa
Grace Nono Dipita
Iakohontsiio
Iakoteraswiioshton
Iaohseranawen
Ibtihel
Ichnekanoron
Idonia
Iehwatsirahnira’ts
Ietohrhuostha
Iotenhariio
Ipena Alexa
Iphigenie
Itohan
Justinique
Katsitsenhawitha
Kayla de la Caridad
Kelo-Meteore
Knoxia
Lady-Snider
Latt Hemlyss
Livia Mbombo
Ludgy
Lumen Pascale
Lyora Lyssandre
Maatiwaaytaabinukwaa
Maisie Inuusiq
Maniphone
Maori
Mar Mar
Mardochee Widlyka
Mavourneen
Mavrixe
Mennishkuess
Mewefca
Myrianna Pishumuss
Myrrhielle
Nancy Silaggi
Necerine
Nephthalia Elani
Oriana
Oriella
Orlanel Keriane Elsa
Orlguine
Ossossohou
Ouassila
Ouerdia
Paglianie Stacy
Perpetua
Prielle Tehora
Qilabuk
Qiluqi
Qods
Qullik
Qupanuaq
Ralphine
Roldyanna
Romance
Rosemaelle-Esperance
San San Jessica
Scotia
Sevim
Shellsea
Shyness
Sila Grey
Sombriddy
Stephanie Daystar
Stevia
Stherlyn’s
Sublime
Tally-Ann Uapikuniss
Teiakotshennonnihat
Teieronhiathe Tha
Teietsitsen Tons
Thalia Sgrolma
Thaliamenie
Thea Daphnee
Tiewennaie Na’s
Tillikasak
Trickcy
Tsubaki-Constance
Vinuki Sethlini
Vithusha
Vithushana
Wazberly
Wildana
Willfalya Gladaelle
Wilthalia
Windflower
Woodaelle
Wylianna
Xxxxxxxalaniq O’oka
Yvedianah
Zaely Hyacinthia
Agape Enrique
Aws
Brudginel-Bryan
Chedly
Chivens
Christian Braveheart
Chromeo
Cliffordson
Darling Jose
Darvens Moteler
Davinnsly
Delivrance
Dykxon
Ecclesiaste
Enbo
Fackel
Favour-Fane
Folly
Fougnigue
Fred-Eden
Ghemsley Nollens
Gia-Uy
Godly Christian
Heaven Theophile
Hichembentaiba
Ittulaaq
Judley
Kahrhata’kehshon
Kendley-Wilgenson
Kenny S. Phacoly
Klyf
Kylliam
Lafleche William
Lamartiniere Junior
Lewandowski
Lord-Lee Treasure
Manhattan-Zola
Manic
Mardochee
Milliam
Mortadha
Neo-Phoenix
Nyrlberson
Olmo Centeotl
Pat-Leo
Perseus Koperqualuk
Po Bing
Polycarpe Riley
Quincy-Herby
Quindlley
Rahontsawaks
Rahontsiiostha
Raiden Jethro
Ra’kerenhat’atie
Rakhmondzhon
Rallendi
Ramzi Nizar
Rani’ Konhra Katste
Raniehtenha Wi
Rarennisa’s
Rarennonni
Ratanakpich
Ricci Smily
Rocky Junior
Rolmerson
Ronikonrahniron
Roolens
Roque
Roweniente
Salomon Ghandi
Sebastian Berry-D
Shaquille-Shanqi
Shelby-Christ
Success
Sunny Skye
Sunny-James
Tchy
Tebly
Thominhdy
Tiesto
Toly-Jos
Tristar
Trooper
Tsikahnawakeniate H
Uqitatuq
Uqittuk
Utshimass
Victor-Sam Ikuagasak
Vuyolwethu
Wa’kenhrawakon
Widolph-Tristan
William-Promedi
Winner
Wynn Oscar
X-Zaylen
Yanga
Ylai Santiago
Yohann Tresors
Ywisnavin
Zack Browndly
Zion-Lee Eliott

I had my eye out for Inuit names in particular.

Among the girl names given to two babies last year, I spotted both Chaya Mushka and Katniss.

P.S. Here are the Most Popular Baby Names in Quebec for 2012.

The Baby Names Shelva and Shelby

The Woman in Red movie posterShelva was the highest-hitting debut name for both baby girls and baby boys in 1936.

In fact, Shelva was the highest-hitting of all the highest-hitting newbie girl names up to that point, and it would remain the record-holder until 1959.*

Here are the numbers:

  • 1939: 100 baby girls named Shelva (533rd)
  • 1938: 163 baby girls named Shelva (681st)
  • 1937: 194 baby girls named Shelva (471st)
  • 1936: 89 baby girls named Shelva [debut] (708th) & 9 baby boys named Shelva
  • 1935: unlisted

Where did the name Shelva come from?

It took me forever to figure this one out, but the answer is Shelby.

Turns out that many Shelby-like names (Shelva, Shelbie, Shelba, Shelbia, Shelvy, Shelvie, Shelvia, Shelvey, Shelda, Shelma) debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in the mid-1930s, right around the time Shelby — previously more of a boy name — became popular for girls:

  • 1939: 1,164 baby girls and 206 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1938: 1,713 baby girls and 213 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1937: 1,996 baby girls and 203 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1936: 1,072 baby girls and 150 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1935: 67 baby girls and 121 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1934: 17 baby girls and 133 baby boys named Shelby

Why the spike and the sex-change for Shelby circa 1936?

The popular 1935 film The Woman in Red [vid], which starred Barbara Stanwyck as professional horse rider Shelby Barret. The movie was based on the book North Shore by Wallace Irwin.

*In 1959, Shelva (89) was ousted by Torey (102). Torey’s newfound fame was likely inspired by the character Torey Peck, played by Patty McCormack, on the short-lived summer sitcom Peck’s Bad Girl (1959).

Car Names as Baby Names

car names as baby names

Love cars? Here are some car-related names that have been used as baby names:

  • Allante, from Cadillac Allante.
  • Aston, from Aston Martin. Inspired by Aston Hill in England.
  • Audi, German manufacturer. The name is a Latin translation of Horch, surname of founder August Horch.
  • Avanti, from Studebaker Avanti. The word avanti means “forward” in Italian.
  • Bentley, British manufacturer. Named after founder W. O. Bentley.
  • Camry, from Toyota Camry. The name is based on kanmuri, which means “crown” in Japanese.
  • Caprice, from Chevrolet Caprice. Named after a New York City restaurant.
  • Catera, from Cadillac Catera.
  • Celica, from Toyota Celica. The name is based on caelica, which means “celestial” in Latin.
  • Chevelle, from Chevrolet Chevelle.
  • Chevy, nickname for Chevrolet.
  • Civic, from Honda Civic.
  • Cooper, from MINI Cooper. Named after auto racer John Cooper.
  • Cressida, from Toyota Cressida.
  • DeLorean, from DeLorean DMC-12.
  • Diamante, from Mitsubishi Diamante.
  • Dino, from Fiat Dino or Ferrari Dino. Both named after V6 engine designer Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari.
  • Dodge, a division of Chrysler. (I know of two babies named after Dodge Pickup Trucks specifically.)
  • Elantra, from Hyundai Elantra.
  • Elise, from Lotus Elise. Named after Elisa Artioli, granddaughter of Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli.
  • Elva, British manufacturer. The name is based on elle va, which means “she goes” in French.
  • Florian, from Isuzu Florian. Named after the fictional horse in Florian, the Emperor’s Stallion by Felix Salten.
  • Ford, American manufacturer. Named after founder Henry Ford.
  • Hudson, American manufacturer.
  • Jazz, from Honda Jazz.
  • Jeep, a division of Chrysler.
  • Jetta, from Volkswagen Jetta. The name is based on the phrase “jet stream.”
  • Jimmy, from GMC Jimmy.
  • Kia, South Korean manufacturer.
  • Lexus, a division of Toyota. The name has no specific meaning, according to the company.
  • Lincoln, a division of Ford. Named after former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.
  • Martin, from Aston Martin. Named after founder Lionel Martin.
  • Mercedes, from Mercedes-Benz, a division of Daimler AG. Named after Mercedes Jellinek, daughter of Austrian entrepreneur Emil Jellinek.
  • Miata, from Mazda Miata. Possibly means “reward” in Old High German.
  • Millenia, from Mazda Millenia.
  • Mondeo, from Ford Mondeo. The name is based on mundus, which means “world” in Latin.
  • Morgan, British manufacturer.
  • Porsche, German manufacturer. Named after founder Ferdinand Porsche.
  • Royce, from Rolls-Royce. Named after founder Henry Royce.
  • Scion, a Toyota marque.
  • Shelby, from Shelby American. Named for founder Carroll Hall Shelby.
  • Tiburon, from Hyundai Tiburon. The word tiburón means “shark” in Spanish.
  • Toyota, Japanese manufacturer. Named for founder Kiichiro Toyoda.
  • VW, short for Volkswagen.

Blog readers have also told me about babies named Riviera (after the Buick Riviera) and Axel (because of its similarity to the word axle).

Know any babies that were named for automobiles?

[Psst! Were you looking for a post about giving a name to your car?]

Baby Name Needed – Name for Baby #3

A reader named Molly recently asked me for a few name suggestions:

I have identical twin girls named Charlotte Maiden and Dylan Rose. I am expecting another. I need a boy or a girl name that fits with these names but isn’t too much like them (ie. I don’t want Sadie, Charlotte and Dylan because then Dylan would be too much of an odd woman out). I also don’t want any names ending in -en, -in, -an, etc. because they are just getting too popular. Finally, I’d prefer the names not start w/ a C or a D. Appreciate the help!!

Charlotte and Dylan make a very interesting pair, I think. The former is decidedly feminine and has been popular in Europe (and elsewhere) for centuries; the latter is traditionally masculine and has been popular in the U.S. only since the 1960s (thanks to folksinger Bob Dylan).

Here are some names that might work with both of them…

Girls Boys
Alexis
Astrid
Avery
Bailey
Beatrice
Brooke
Ellery
Georgia
Gwyneth
Ingrid
Laurel
Meredith
Matilda
Margot
Maeve
Piper
Paige
Philippa
Phoebe
Ramona
Reese
Riley
Shelby
Skylar
Sydney
Willow
Adam
Asher
Anthony
Alec
Bennett
Bryce
Brady
Blake
Edgar
Eli
Everett
Frederick
Gareth
Garrett
Graham
Henry
Hugh
Jonas
Leo
Lucas
Maxwell
Micah
Roderick
Raymond
Spencer
Wesley

Do you think any of these names sound particularly good with Charlotte and Dylan? What others would you suggest?

Update (1/30): Scroll down to the last comment to find out which name Molly chose!

Baby Name Needed – Name for Tanner’s Little Sister

A reader named Greg wrote to me a few days ago. He’s expecting his second child — a daughter — in a matter of months, and would like some name suggestions. He says:

We have a 1-year old son named Tanner, and we are very happy with his name. It’s easy to spell, uncommon but not weird, and sounds a little modern without being too trendy.

Here are some ideas I had:

Aubrey
Audrey
Bailey
Bella
Cassidy
Cleo
Darcy
Ellery
Fiona
Greta
Harper
Jillian
Jordan
Josie
Keely
Lucy
Matilda
Maya
Miranda
Molly
Morgan
Naomi
Paige
Parker
Phoebe
Piper
Quinn
Reese
Ruby
Scarlett
Shelby
Skylar
Stella
Talia
Tessa
Willow

Do you think any of the above sound particularly good with Tanner? Are there any other name suggestions you would offer Greg?