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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Susan

Number of Babies Named Susan

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Susan

Unusual Irish Name: Breifne

Here’s an Irish name you might not know about: Breifne.

Just like Tara, Breifne is an old Irish place name. The medieval kingdom of Bréifne was where the ancestors of today’s O’Reilly and O’Rourke families lived. The kingdom later split into West Bréifne and East Bréifne, which eventually became County Leitrim and County Cavan (roughly).

The etymology of Breifne is uncertain, but that hasn’t stopped people with Irish roots from using it as a personal name, either in its original form or spelled various other ways. So far I’ve seen records for people named Breffne, Breffney, Breffni, Breffnie, Breffny, Brefney, Brefni, and Brefnie.

Some famous examples:

  • Brefni O’Rorke (1889–1946), Irish actor.
  • Breifne O’Brien, called “Ireland’s Bernie Madoff”
  • Breifne O’Reilly, Irish ambassador to Switzerland

And some not-so-famous examples:

Most of the historical usage I’ve seen is masculine, but I think modern Americans would be more likely to view it as feminine. Like an Irish answer to Daphne. :)

Do you like this name? Would you ever be tempted to use it?


Name Quotes #57: Gage, Ciku, Abigail Fortitude

George Clooney explaining why he and his wife Amal named their twins Alexander and Ella (People):

“[We] didn’t want to give them one of those ridiculous Hollywood names that don’t mean anything,” George told Paris Match in an interview published Saturday. “They’ll already have enough difficulty bearing the weight of their celebrity.”

Summary of a recent study on the practice of naming winter storms (WBIR):

The researchers presented their subjects with three mock tweets about an upcoming winter storm — either using names like “Bill,” “Zelus,” or no name at all — then asked them about their perceptions of the storm’s potential severity.

It turned out that the survey participants were equally likely to show concern for the storm regardless of whether common names such as Bill were used, rather than uncommon names, such as Zelus. This was a surprise to Rainear, who thought that more “Americanized” names might make people more wary.

On the origin of the name of the Slinky (New York Times):

[N]ext month the Toy Manufacturers of America will induct Betty James, 82, the retired toy maker who gave the Slinky its name, into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

Mrs. James came up with the name after deciding that Slinky best described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing. Slinky, of course, meaning sort of stealthily quiet. Mrs. James did not have sexy evening wear in mind; it was 1943, after all, and there was a war.

On changing name trends in Kenya (SDE Kenya):

It is so 1980 for modern Kenyan parents to name their children after biblical figures. Ati names like Grace, Hannah, Sarah, Magdalene or Jane for their daughters is now a no-no. For sons, naming them Abednego or Adonijah sounds like a bad Sunday school dream.

[…]

Names like Peter and Paul, Esther and Lois were fashionable in their grandparents’ time and today, girls are named Tasha, Tanya or Tiffany, while boys go by cooler ones like Cy, Kyle, Declan and Sherwin.

…The article also mentioned that many traditional names now have modernized forms:

  • Wangui -> Kui
  • Waithiageni -> Sheni
  • Wanjiku -> Ciku
  • Wanjiru -> Ciru
  • Wambui -> Foi
  • Wacera -> Cera

“Modern parents have no qualms having them appear like that in official documents. Welcome to baby names in 21st century Kenya.”

Onomastician Cleveland Kent Evans vs. the baby name Gage (Washington Post):

But right now, Evans is pondering the sudden, explosive rise of the male first name Gage. From out of nowhere. There’s no record of this name, nothing in the texts, nothing anywhere. And yet just in the last couple of years, it’s been popping up all around the country.

[…]

Finally, he asked his students at Bellevue College near Omaha. One student got the reference immediately: “Emergency!” he said. Meaning the short-lived 1970s TV series, of course. Turns out there was a character named John Gage on that show, and he was generally addressed as Gage.

[…]

Incredibly, “Emergency!,” which aired opposite “60 Minutes” for four years, was exceedingly popular among elementary-school children.

One mom’s positive experience with revealing her son’s name during pregnancy (Popsugar)

One reason why people don’t reveal the baby’s name is to ward off other people’s opinions. I could tell there were a couple of my friends who didn’t like the name, but just like I didn’t get pregnant to please them, I’m wasn’t going to change his name for them either. Most people that I talked to had enough common sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

My son’s name […] is special to me. I didn’t stop feeling that way once I told it to people — if anything, it made the pregnancy a whole lot easier.

From the script for Mother Is a Freshman (1949), about a 35-year-old widow, Abigail, who starts attending the college that her daughter Susan goes to:

Abigail: I mean about the Abigail Fortitude Memorial Scholarship.
Susan: The one they give to any girl whose first two names are Abigail Fortitude?
Abigail: Yes.
Susan: Clara Fettle says no one’s applied for it since 1907, and there’s zillions piling up.
Abigail: And you never told me!
Susan: Of course not.
Abigail: It never occurred to you that my first names are Abigail Fortitude–that I’ve had to put up with them all my life!
Susan: I know, Mom. It must have been awful.
Abigail [struck by thought]: Maybe that’s why my mother gave me those names. Maybe she know about the scholarship.

…Turns out the scholarship had been set up by Abigail’s grandmother, also named Abigail Fortitude.

*

Want to see more quotes about names? Check out the name quotes category.

Initials that Spell Names

initials that spell names, gus, zoe, eli, seb

In June of 1982, the Toledo Blade ran a short article about two local brothers who “enjoy the distinction of having initials which spell their names.” One was Thomas Owen Matzinger (T.O.M.), the other was James Irvin Matzinger (J.I.M.). Their dad Mike said it was “just as well” that he didn’t have any more kids, because he couldn’t think of any other sets of names to fit the pattern.

My guess is that Mike was joking, because there are several other sets of initials that could work with an M-surname like Matzinger, one of which, T.I.M., is just a letter away from T.O.M.

In fact, there are at least a couple of combinations that would work with every type of surname.

So today, in honor of the Matzingers of Toledo, I’ve come up with a long list of name-spelling initials. They’re sorted by third initial (that is, the first letter of the last name) so you can scroll straight to the set that matches up with your own surname.

Enjoy!

Initials that Spell Names & Nicknames

Surname starts with: Potential full initials (& example combo):
A A.D.A. (Adelaide Diane A.)
A.N.A. (Anastasia Nadine A.)
A.S.A. (Asa Scott A.)
A.V.A. (Ava Virginia A.)
B.E.A. (Beatrix Elaine A.)
E.V.A. (Eva Veronica A.)
G.I.A. (Gia Idonea A.)
I.D.A. (Idabelle Daria A.)
I.N.A. (Ina Nigella A.)
I.R.A. (Ira Ralph A.)
I.S.A. (Isabel Simone A.)
K.I.A. (Kia Ianthe A.)
L.E.A. (Leah Elizabeth A.)
M.I.A. (Mia Imelda A.)
N.I.A. (Nia Ilona A.)
O.D.A. (Odalys Delfina A.)
O.R.A. (Ora Ruth A.)
U.M.A. (Uma Magnolia A.)
U.N.A. (Una Normina A.)
B D.E.B. (Deborah Ethel B.)
J.E.B. (Jeb Evan B.)
L.I.B. (Libbie Ione B.)
R.O.B. (Robert Orville B.)
S.E.B. (Sebastian Everly B.)
S.Y.B. (Sybil Yvette B.)
T.A.B. (Tabitha Araminta B.)
Z.E.B. (Zebulon Ezekiel B.)
C B.E.C. (Becky Eowyn C.)
M.A.C. (Mackenzie Anne C.)
N.I.C. (Nicole Isabelle C.)
V.I.C. (Victor Ivan C.)
Z.A.C. (Zackary Arlo C.)
D J.E.D. (Jedidiah Easton D.)
R.O.D. (Rodney Orrin D.)
T.E.D. (Theodora Eugenia D.)
Z.E.D. (Zedekiah Ezra D.)
E A.B.E. (Abraham Benjamin E.)
A.C.E. (Ace Corbin E.)
E.V.E. (Eve Violet E.)
F.A.E. (Fae Adina E.)
I.K.E. (Isaac Keith E.)
J.O.E. (Joseph Owen E.)
L.E.E. (Lee Ethan E.)
M.A.E. (Maebelle Alice E.)
M.O.E. (Morris Oscar E.)
R.A.E. (Raelene Alicia E.)
S.U.E. (Susan Ursula E.)
Z.O.E. (Zoe Ocean E.)
F A.L.F. (Alfred Leonard F.)
D.U.F. (Duffy Ultan F.)
J.E.F. (Jeffrey Elliott F.)
G M.E.G. (Megan Emiliana G.)
P.E.G. (Peggy Elise G.)
R.E.G. (Reggie Elmo G.)
R.O.G. (Roger Olav G.)
H A.S.H. (Ashton Samuel H.)
I A.B.I. (Abigail Bailey I.)
A.L.I. (Alison Layla I.)
A.M.I. (Ami May I.)
A.R.I. (Ariana Rafaela I.)
A.V.I. (Avi Vincent I.)
E.D.I. (Edith Daisy I.)
E.L.I. (Elijah Logan I.)
E.V.I. (Evie Venetia I.)
J.O.I. (Joi Olivia I.)
K.A.I. (Kai Alexander I.)
O.L.I. (Oliver Lennox I.)
J R.A.J. (Rajesh Ajay J.)
K M.A.K. (Makayla Ashley K.)
O.A.K. (Oakley Atlas K.)
L C.A.L. (Callum Audley L.)
D.E.L. (Delaney Estelle L.)
G.I.L. (Gilbert Ishmael L.)
H.A.L. (Harry Archibald L.)
L.I.L. (Lillian Iva L.)
M.A.L. (Malcolm Angus L.)
M.E.L. (Melanie Eloisa L.)
M.O.L. (Molly Odette L.)
S.A.L. (Sally Angelica L.)
S.O.L. (Solomon Osborn L.)
V.A.L. (Valerie Annette L.)
W.I.L. (Willy Ingo L.)
Z.E.L. (Zelda Erin L.)
M C.A.M. (Cameron Aidan M.)
D.O.M. (Dominic Orson M.)
J.E.M. (Jemima Eleanor M.)
J.I.M. (James Irvin M.)
K.I.M. (Kimberly Imogene M.)
L.E.M. (Lemuel Emerson M.)
P.A.M. (Pamela Alys M.)
R.A.M. (Ramsey Archer M.)
S.A.M. (Samuel Aaron M.)
S.I.M. (Simon Isidore M.)
T.A.M. (Tammy Anita M.)
T.I.M. (Timothy Isaac M.)
T.O.M. (Thomas Owen M.)
N A.N.N. (Annie Nuala N.)
B.E.N. (Benjamin Ellis N.)
C.Y.N. (Cynthia Yelena N.)
D.A.N. (Daniel Avery N.)
D.O.N. (Donovan Oliver N.)
F.I.N. (Finley Ivor N.)
J.A.N. (Janice Andrina N.)
J.O.N. (Jonathan Octavian N.)
K.E.N. (Kenneth Eric N.)
L.E.N. (Leonard Earl N.)
L.Y.N. (Lynnette Yasmin N.)
N.A.N. (Nancy Azalea N.)
R.E.N. (Renato Elian N.)
R.O.N. (Ronald Ormond N.)
V.A.N. (Vanessa Athena N.)
W.I.N. (Winifred Inez N.)
Z.E.N. (Zenobia Evelyn N.)
O F.L.O. (Florence Lily O.)
L.E.O. (Leo Elton O.)
P C.A.P. (Caprice Amity P.)
K.I.P. (Kip Indigo P.)
Q J.A.Q. (Jaquan Anthony Q.)
R.A.Q. (Raquel Alaiah Q.)
R G.A.R. (Gareth Alfie R.)
S C.A.S. (Caspian Atticus S.)
G.U.S. (Gustavo Ulises S.)
J.E.S. (Jessica Esther S.)
L.E.S. (Lester Edward S.)
R.U.S. (Russell Upton S.)
W.E.S. (Wesley Elwood S.)
T A.R.T. (Arthur Roland T.)
C.A.T. (Catherine Aveline T.)
D.O.T. (Dorothy Olive T.)
M.A.T. (Matthew Alastair T.)
N.A.T. (Nathan Arnold T.)
P.A.T. (Patricia Ainsley T.)
U L.O.U. (Louisa Ophelia U.)
P.R.U. (Prudence Rhoda U.)
S.T.U. (Stuart Tucker U.)
T.R.U. (Trudie Rose U.)
V B.E.V. (Beverly Evangeline V.)
L.I.V. (Livia Indiana V.)
N.E.V. (Neville Eldon V.)
V.I.V. (Vivian Ingrid V.)
W L.A.W. (Lawson Amos W.)
L.E.W. (Lewis Edgar W.)
X B.A.X. (Baxter Andrew X.)
D.A.X. (Dax Alec X.)
D.E.X. (Dexter Edison X.)
J.A.X. (Jaxon Antony X.)
L.E.X. (Lexie Eliza X.)
M.A.X. (Maximus Alvin X.)
P.A.X. (Pax Amelia X.)
R.E.X. (Rex Elias X.)
R.O.X. (Roxanna Opal X.)
T.E.X. (Tex Emmanuel X.)
Y A.M.Y. (Amy Michelle Y.)
G.U.Y. (Guy Urban Y.)
I.V.Y. (Ivy Verity Y.)
J.A.Y. (Jay Adam Y.)
J.O.Y. (Joyce Ondina Y.)
K.A.Y. (Katherine Addison Y.)
M.A.Y. (May Augusta Y.)
R.A.Y. (Raymond Adrian Y.)
R.O.Y. (Royce Oberon Y.)
S.K.Y. (Skylar Kerry Y.)
Z H.E.Z. (Hezekiah Ellery Z.)
J.E.Z. (Jezebel Eulalia Z.)
L.I.Z. (Lizzie Iris Z.)
K.I.Z. (Kizzy Isla Z.)
R.O.Z. (Rosalind Olga Z.)

Can you come up with other good ones? If so, please leave a comment!

Source: “So Named.” Toledo Blade 29 Jun. 1982: P-1.

How Do You Say-Zoo “ZaSu”?

zasu pitts, say zoo, pronunciationComic actress ZaSu Pitts may be best remembered these days for her curious name.

How was it pronounced? Say-zoo.

This pronunciation may seem illogical given the placement of the consonants, and yet it’s what ZaSu herself said in her cookbook Candy Hits published in 1963 (the year she passed away).

The name ZaSu was invented by her mother. It was based upon the names of Zasu’s maternal aunts Eliza and Susan.

Many sources claim that ZaSu’s birth name was actually “Eliza Susan,” but all the records I’ve seen (going back to the 1900 U.S. Census) call her “Zasu” — or something pretty close. This makes me think that ZaSu wasn’t merely a nickname, but her actual legal name.

When she was a child, her peers (predictably) teased her about her unusual name, calling her things like “Zoo-Zoo,” “Zoo-Loo,” “Zay-Zoo,” “Jazz-Su,” “Hey You,” and “ZuZu Gingersnaps.”

Incidentally, her daughter (b. 1922) was legally named “ZaSu Ann,” but always called Ann.

Source: Stumpf, Charles. ZaSu Pitts: The Life and Career. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010.

[Other posts about pronunciation: Risë, Ove, Jacqueline.]

Name Quotes for the Weekend #34

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar quote

From the essay Why I converted to Islam by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor:

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

[…]

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

[…]

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

From an article about hipsters reviving long-lost English words:

Luu writes that words with “a nostalgic air, reflecting the cultural values and tastes of the speaker,” are suddenly popping up everywhere. These include: bespoke, peruse, dapper, mayhaps and bedchamber. You’ll also find that old-timey prepositions like amidst and amongst are back. The same goes for baby names that were long considered lost to the past, such as Silas and Adeline.

From a Graham Norton Show episode [vid] that aired in October, 2014, in which comedian Stephen Fry gives actor Robert Downey, Jr., a baby name suggestion:

Could you, just as a favor, cause I know that, you know, some stars like to give unusual names, could you call him or her Uppy? Uppy Downey?

Spoiler #1: Downey and his wife Susan welcomed a baby girl that November. But they didn’t name her “Uppy.” Her full name is Avri Roel Downey.

From Queer Mama for Autostraddle Episode Seven — Help Name Our Baby (thank you to the anonymous reader who sent me this link!):

When Simone and I were first considering names, we thought we should err towards the gender neutral side of the girl-name spectrum. We know a good number of masculine-identifying women and so many trans men who haven’t liked their more feminine given names. But that’s the problem with “gender neutral.” It mostly has just come to mean sort-of masculine. Lover of femininity that I am, was I really willing to write off all the beautiful feminine names because our kid might not be femme?

We decided no, we wouldn’t do that. Our kid can change her name if and when she wants, and in the meantime, we will call her a name we love, even if that’s feminine! In any case, I have friends who’ve later changed their names not because of gender at all, but just because they wanted to be called something else, so there really are no guarantees.

Spoiler #2: Haley and Simone’s baby girl was born in late August. Her full name is Juniper Everhart Jude [vid].

From an article about a 21-year-old Ariel (pronounced “are-e-elle,” not “air-e-elle” like the Disney mermaid):

“I mean, it’s annoying when people say ‘Ariel’ because that’s not my name,” Malloy said. “But it’s great because they’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a princess,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re right.'”

From an article about Irish TV personality Vogue Williams:

“Everyone thinks I made up my name or I changed it at some stage and I’m actually called Joanne. But I like having a different name. Brian and I squabble all the time over baby names – because I want to give any children we have an equally mad name as the one I was given.

“Our friends in Australia had a baby girl about four years ago when we were living there and they called her Sailor. Now Liv Tyler has had a boy and she’s named him Sailor. So that’s top of the list at the moment.”

Finally, two of the comments on Haleema Shah’s post What’s in a Name? Reflections on Who We are and What We are Called.

First one is from Lesley Woodward:

I was born in 1937 to an American mother and a naturalized German father. I was named “Gretchen” which was a mistake since war with Germany was looming and there was a lot of anti-German sentiment. Anything German was stigmatized, even innocent little daschund dogs were kicked and hated for their German origin. I was referred to as “the little Nazi” in the neighborhood and school because of my name and my father’s heavily accented English. We moved when I was about 12 years old, and I took the opportunity to change my name, dropping “Gretchen” and insisting on being called by my middle name “Lesley.” My parents knew nothing of this, and were confused when the neighborhood children came to the door and asked for “Lesley.” It took a lot of self control not to respond to “Gretchen” or even acknowledge the someone had spoken to me, but gradually I morphed into “Lesley” and have since legally dropped my birth name.

Second one is from Lloret de Mar Pelayo:

I cringe when people ask me my name. In Spanish it sounds beautiful, even in it’s native Catalan accent, but in English it sounds dreadful.

Lloret De Mar is a city north of Barcelona, a beach town. The double L can be pronounced like a Y or a J. But in English everyone and I mean everyone sounds out the double L like the L in laughter. I feel terrible correcting people because they immediately question whether I spelled my own name wrong (“You know there’s two Ls right?”) And I politely smile and have to further explain…

My father is Catalan and he and my mother (who is Puerto Rican) wanted a name that reflected Catalan ancestry and therefore Lloret was what they picked. I absolutely love the history of the name and its ties to Catalan culture…I just wish they had spelled it with a Y or a J so it’d be easier to pronounce in English!

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Lloret de Mar, which is on the Mediterranean coast.

And here’s a link to the names quotes category, if you’d like to see past posts like this one.