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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sylvester

Number of Babies Named Sylvester

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Sylvester

Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1867

providence baby names 1867The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.

I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:

  • 1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
  • 1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
  • 254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.

And now, on to the names…

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

Girl Names

Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.

  1. Mary, 138 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 46
  3. Ellen, 37
  4. Margaret, 34
  5. Sarah, 31
  6. Annie, 19
  7. Elizabeth, 16
  8. Alice, 15
  9. Florence, 14
  10. Ann, Emma & Ida, 12 each (3-way tie)
  11. Minnie, 11
  12. Harriet & Julia, 9 each (2-way tie)
  13. Anna, Caroline, Carrie, Jennie, Joanna & Louisa, 8 each (6-way tie)
  14. Cora & Eliza, 7 each (2-way tie)
  15. Agnes, Clara, Edith, Rosanna & Theresa, 6 each (5-way tie)
  16. Bertha, Grace, Hannah, Hattie, Jane, Lillian, Maria, Martha, Nellie & Susan, 5 each (10-way tie)
  17. Eleanor, Fannie, Gertrude, Helen, Isabella, Lucy & Rosa, 4 each (7-way tie)
  18. Anne, Bridget, Ella, Emily, Esther, Eva, Lizzie, Mabel, Matilda & Ruth, 3 each (10-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amelia, Charlotte, Dora, Eleanora, Elvira, Henrietta, Jessie, Josephine, Kate, Louise, Lydia, Maggie & Rosella, 2 each (14-way tie)
  20. Abby, Addie, Adelaide, Adelia, Almina, Almira, Amanda, Amey, Amy, Anastasia, Angelie, Annis, Antoinette, Augusta, Aurelia, Bethiah, Cecelia, Celia, Clarissa, Clementina, Corielynn, Cornelia, Drusilla, Effie, Emeline, Estella, Ethelin, Fanny, Florentina, Frances, Gelie, Genevieve, Georgiana, Georgianna, Helena, Honora, Irene, Isabel, Issie, Juliann, Julietta, Katie, Laura, Leah, Leonora, Lillie, Lillis, Lily, Lottie, Luella, Margaretta, Margery, Margret, Marietta, Maude, May, Millie, Myra, Nelly, Phebe, Robie, Rosalthe, Rose, Selina, Sophia, Susanna, Susannah, Vienna, Viola, Vira, Virginia & Winifred, 1 each (72-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. John, 87 baby boys
  2. William, 75
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 50
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 40
  7. Joseph, 30
  8. Walter, 21
  9. Edward, 16
  10. Francis & Michael, 14 each (2-way tie)
  11. Patrick, 13
  12. Arthur & Robert, 12 each (2-way tie)
  13. Frank, Frederick & Henry, 11 each (3-way tie)
  14. Albert, 9
  15. Daniel & Peter, 8 each (2-way tie)
  16. David, Eugene, Howard & Samuel, 6 each (4-way tie)
  17. Alexander, Louis & Stephen, 5 each (3-way tie)
  18. Harry, Herbert, Hugh & Martin, 4 each (4-way tie)
  19. Carl, Edgar, Everett, Jeremiah & Willie, 3 each (5-way tie)
  20. Abraham, Alfred, Clarence, Cornelius, Dennis, Ernest, Ezra, Franklin, Freddie, Jacob, Jesse, Lewis, Luke, Nicholas, Philip, Sylvester, Theodore, Timothy, 2 each (18-way tie)
  21. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Amos, Andrew, Appleton, Archibald, Ashel, August, Benjamin, Benno, Bernard, Bertram, Burt, Byron, Clifford, Davis, Dexter, Dunlap, Edmund, Edwin, Elmer*, Embert, Forrest, Freddy, Gustav, Herman, Isaac, Jeffrey, Jerome, Josiah, Lucian, Malcolm, Matthew, Maurice, Milton, Nathan, Nehemiah, Nelson, Oren, Oscar, Otto, Owen, Paul, Ralph, Reginald, Richard, Sanford, Seth, Shirley, Sullivan, Terence, Theobald, Victor, Wanton, Warren, Weston, Wheelan, Wilford, 1 each (59-way tie)

*Elmer, who had the middle initial “E.,” was likely named after Civil War casualty Elmer E. Ellsworth.

Twins & Triplets

Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g) Triplets
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah

I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).

Sources:


Have a Lovely Silvester!

Pope SilvesterI recently watched a YouTube video in which the speaker, who was German, offhandedly mentioned that New Year’s Eve is called “Silvester” in Germany.

I was intrigued by this little fact, so I set out to learn why.

Turns out Silvester (the holiday) takes its name from Pope Sylvester I, later known as St. Sylvester.

St. Sylvester died on December 31, 335, but his feast day (Dec. 31) wasn’t consistently the last day of the year until the Gregorian calendar was introduced in the late 1500s.

At that point, the name Sylvester became synonymous with New Year’s Eve — so much so that, today, people in Germany and several other countries (including Italy, France and Poland) simply call New Year’s Eve “Silvester” (or whatever the local variant of Silvester is).

What does the name Silvester mean? It comes from Latin and means “woody, sylvan, rural.” Silvester (with an i) is the original form; Sylvester (with a y) is a variant spelling used in English.

Sources: Celebrating Silvester in Germany, Silvester | Word of the Week, Sylvester – Online Etymology Dictionary

Unique, Strong Boy Name Needed

A reader named Kristy is expecting her first baby, a little boy, in mid-May. Kristy writes:

[W]e are now on the hunt for a baby’s name that is unique – it has to be paired with Johnston,* after all – but not so unique that it is unpronounceable! Also, being a romantic traditionalist, I am not interested in any “fad” or trendy names (i.e. No names in the current top 100 or even rapidly rising through the ranks). I am looking for a good, strong, perhaps “classic” name that will withstand the test of time without being shared with millions of others. (My husband and I both had to share our first names with many classmates growing up! I would like to avoid that plight for our child.)

*The surname isn’t Johnston, but it’s close.

My husband’s current favorite is Felix Milo. While I really like the name Felix – it’s unique and full of character, while being classic enough that there are a few notable Felix-es throughout history – it lacks the “romantic luster” that I somehow have my heart set on…

My current favorite is Zedekiah. It’s from Hebrew meaning “Jehovah/God is just”. I just love the way it sounds and that it’s Hebrew-based. He could go by nicknames of Zed, Z, Kiah, or even Zeke. Zedekiah Michael sounds lovely to me…

We also both like the name Raphael, but are really struggling with a good nickname (Rafi?) and a fitting middle name, for that matter…

They’d also like to include some family names, “but it’s been tough to get the names to mesh quite right.” Here are the family names they’re considering:

Michael Douglas
Terry Milo
Douglas Edward (see below)
Clarence Moore (he went by “Bud”)
Woodward Jay (he went by “Tom”)
Lester Raymond
Otis Clifford

Note that Edward is already taken by another grandchild, Tom’s my brother’s name, and the name “Douglas” sounds terribly dismal to me… which leaves us with a rather questionable lot… (but family’s family ;-))

Michael Douglas? :)

I really like the current shortlist. Zedekiah, Felix, Raphael…names with a lot of personality. Very cool.

I think I’d shorten Raphael to Raph, à la the Ninja Turtles. Just seems like the most logical nickname option to me.

As far as name suggestions go, the first to come to mind was Zephaniah, which is a lot like Zedekiah but has an internal ph like Raphael. Here are some other ideas:

Abraham
Alister
Arthur
Auberon
Balthazar
Damian
Evander
Fabian
Gideon
Giles
Hadrian
Hezekiah
Horatio
Ignatius
Lazarus
Lucian
Malachi
Marius
Maximilian
Nigel
Percival
Simon
Sinclair
Solomon
Sylvester
Thaddeus
Theodore
Timon
Tobias
Vincent

It’s not easy to choose a middle without a first already in place, but, of all the family names, I’m partial to Michael. You can pair Michael with nearly any first name and it will sound good. It’s like the boy-name equivalent of Marie.

Which of the above names do you like best? What other names would you suggest to Kristy?

64 Baby Boys Were Named After Rambo

Rambo movie posterThis one is the MacGyver-topper, you guys. I thought it might be Cheetara, but no. It’s definitely Rambo.

Rambo as in vengeful Vietnam veteran John Rambo, the fictional character created by author David Morrell and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the movies First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988), and Rambo (2008). The cultural impact of the character was so great that “Rambo” is now found in dictionaries. Random House Dictionary, for instance, tells us that the noun Rambo refers to “a fanatically militant or violently aggressive person.”

How many baby boys in the U.S. were named Rambo after the movies started coming out? At least 64, according to the Social Security Administration:

  • 1990: 6 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1989: 6 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1988: 9 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1987: 7 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1986: 13 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1985: 18 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1984: 5 baby boys named Rambo [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Believe it or not, babies were named Rambo before the 1980s. For these Rambos, the name was likely a family surname. The surname, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, is “an old one in N.J. and Pennsylvania colonies of the U.S., originally Swedish, sometimes said to represent Swed. place name Ramberget, or to be from Fr. Huguenots who took refuge in Sweden.”

How did David Morrell discover the name? By eating a piece of fruit:

One afternoon while I was writing, my wife came home from a grocery store and said that she’d found a new kind of apple that she thought was delicious. Apples were the farthest thing from my mind while I struggled to find that character’s name, but politely I took a bite of the apple and discovered that it was in fact delicious. “What’s it called?” I asked. “Rambo,” she replied. This was in Pennsylvania, where the Rambo type of apple is grown and appreciated. Instantly, I recognized the sound of force.

But in his novel First Blood (1972), he didn’t give us a Rambo of Swedish extraction. Instead, he said the name came from Rambo’s Navajo father. Strange, because the Navajo (Diné) language doesn’t seem to include an r-sound. Artistic license, I suppose. :)

Baby Name Needed – Boy Name for Lucy’s Brother

A reader named Kate, who has a daughter named Lucy, is expecting a baby boy and would like some name suggestions. Here’s what she says:

We want what a lot of people probably want – timeless, classic, slightly vintage and old fashioned, an ‘accepted’ name in the sense it’s known, but hopefully he is not one of three kids in class to have it.

So far, Kate and her husband like five names: William, Henry, Oliver, Duncan and Charles (nn Charlie). (She also likes the girl names Abigail, Alice, Clara and Hope.)

The baby’s middle name will be Hawkins, and his surname will begin with the letter t.

Here are some names that came to mind:

Abraham
Adam
Alfred (Alfie)
Arthur
Blake
Clarence
Clark
Claude
Clement
Conrad
Dominic
Douglas
Eugene
Felix
Frank
Frederick
George
Giles
Gordon
Graham
Gregory
Harvey
Howard
Hugh
Malcolm
Maxwell
Miles/Milo
Mitchell
Otis
Patrick
Paul
Philip
Quentin
Roman
Sebastian
Simon/Simeon
Stephen
Sylvester
Theodore
Thomas
Timothy
Tobias
Vincent
Walter

I stayed away from the current top 50 (and names that looked like they might be headed that way soon).

Which of the names above to you like best for Lucy’s brother? What other name suggestions can you come up with for Kate?

How to Find a Boy Name that Won’t Become a Girl Name

Are there any boy names out there that aren’t at risk of becoming girl names?

This may not be the answer you want to hear, but: nope. There’s simply no way to guarantee that a boy name won’t suddenly become trendy for girls. (A movie mermaid was all it took for the name Madison — a name with the word “son” right in there — to become a girl name.)

No boy names are girl-proof, but some are certainly girl-resistant. Which ones? Here are five types I’ve come up with:

1. Boy names with unstylish elements, such as “bert” and “stan.” If a boy name isn’t fashionable enough to be popular for boys, it shouldn’t be too tempting to use for girls either.

Albert
Archibald
Bernard
Bertrand
Donald
Irwin
Gilbert
Leopold
Maynard
Rudolph
Stanford
Woodrow

2. Boy names with few vowels. They tend to sound more masculine than other names.

Bryant
Chad
Charles
Clark
Desmond
Grant
Kenneth
Mark
Ralph
Scott
Seth
Trent

3. Boy names with length. Most of today’s popular unisex names stop at two syllables.

Abraham
Alexander
Augustine
Balthazar
Benedict
Barnaby
Benjamin
Emmanuel
Ferdinand
Mortimer
Reginald
Sylvester

4. Boy names with hard endings, such as D, K and T. Many of the boy names being used by girls end with softer consonants like L, N and R.

Bennett
Caleb
Conrad
Craig
Derek
Emmett
Garrick
Isaac
Jared
Patrick
Stuart
Wyatt

5. Boy names with well-known feminine forms. If there’s a readily available girl-version, doesn’t it seem silly to use the masculine form for a female?

Brian (Brianna)
Carl (Carla)
Erik (Erika)
Gerald (Geraldine)
George (Georgia)
Henry (Henrietta)
Joseph (Josephine)
Martin (Martina)
Paul (Paula)
Robert (Roberta)
Theodore (Theodora)
Victor (Victoria)

As I mentioned, there’s never a guarantee. (A female Scrubs character is named Elliot — will that be the next to go? How about Blake, thanks to Blake Lively?) But I think boy names that fit into the above categories are relatively safe bets.

Are there any other types of names you’d add to the list?

Baby Name Needed, Part 2 – Middle Name for Ivan

Back in March, a reader named Pam wrote to me regarding the names of her twins. Several days ago, she sent me an update.

She still likes the names Alexander, Ivan and William…but not in the same order as before. One twin will now be Alexander William, the other will have the first name Ivan, and Pam would appreciate some middle name suggestions for Ivan.

Pam writes:

We would like something “strong” like Ivan Alexander, but don’t want to use Alex for a first name and a middle name.

Makes sense. :)

One thing that struck me about Alexander William was its length (6 syllables). I feel like the boys’ full names should be on par with one another, so I focused on finding longish middles for Ivan.

I still like these options from the original post:

Dominic
Gregory
Joseph
Lawrence
Oliver
Patrick
Sebastian
Sylvester
Thomas

And I also think these names could work:

Abraham
Anthony
Benjamin
Broderick
Christopher
Demetrius
Emmanuel
Gabriel
Gregory
Jeremiah
Matthias
Raphael
Roderick
Samuel
Solomon
Theodore
Timothy
Tobias
Xavier
Zachary

What other names would you suggest to Pam as a middle for Ivan?