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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Trilby

Number of Babies Named Trilby

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Trilby

What Do You Think of Altruria?

sunset-islandThe names Dorcasina, Malaeska, and Trilby were inspired by characters from 19th-century novels. Altruria also comes from a 19th-century novel, but not from a character.

A Traveler from Altruria (1894) by William Dean Howells was first published in installments in Cosmopolitan in 1892-1893. The protagonist is Aristides Homos, a visitor to America from the fictional island of Altruria, “a Utopian world that combined the foundations of Christianity and the U.S. Constitution to produce an “ethical socialism” by which society was guided.”

The fictional place-name Altruria is a play on the word “altruism,” which was coined relatively recently (circa 1830) by French philosopher Auguste Comte.

Though A Traveler from Altruria isn’t well-remembered today, it was influential during the 1890s. Altrurian Clubs started sprouting up across the country. A short-lived commune called Altruria was established in Sonoma County, California, in the mid-1890s. And at least two babies were given the (middle) name Altruria:

  • Carrie Altruria Evans, born in 1900 in Van Wert, Ohio
  • Lester Altruria Eby, born in 1895 in Des Moines, Iowa

The official history book of the Van Wert Altrurian Club even mentions Carrie by name:

Carrie Altruria Evans, born 1900 in Ohio
Carrie Altruria Evans, b. 1900

What do you think of Altruria as a baby name? Do you think it could be an alternative to the fast-rising Aurora (which broke into the top 100 last year)?

Sources: Science fiction The 19th and early 20th centuries – Encyclopedia Britannica, Altrurian Club History – Ohio Memory Collection, Altruism – Online Etymology Dictionary


The Baby Name Ramona

Ramona, movie
Dolores del Rio as Ramona
in Ramona (1928)
Actress Dolores del Rio was the star of not one but two silent films with theme songs that influenced the baby name charts.

In 1926 she played Charmaine in What Price Glory?, and two years later she played the titular character in Ramona, which was based on the book Ramona (1884) by Helen Hunt Jackson.

The book is a tragic romance set in mid-19th century Southern California, and the protagonists are Ramona, a mixed-race Scottish–Native American orphan, and her lover Alessandro.

Like Trilby a decade later, Ramona was a bestseller that inspired many namesakes: schools, streets, freeways, even towns (such as Ramona, California). The number of human namesakes is harder to gauge, though the U.S. Census of 1900 indicates that there was a moderate increase in the number Ramonas in 1884.

Still, the book’s impact on baby names can’t compare to the impact of its most successful film adaptation, Ramona (1928)…thanks in large part to the music.

The song “Ramona” was commissioned for the film in 1927, and released later that year — long before the film came out in May of 1928, interestingly. It was a big hit with more than two million copies sold and two different versions reaching #1 on the Billboard charts in 1928: first the Paul Whiteman version for 3 weeks, then the Gene Austin version for 8 more weeks.

This song, the first to borrow a film’s title, became the most successful movie theme song of the decade, and greatly enhanced the success of the film. Its popularity gave Hollywood producers much food for thought about how to publicize movies.

Usage of the baby name Ramona, already on the rise in the late 1920s, increased so much in 1928 that the name nearly reached the top 100:

  • 1931: 1,130 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 164th]
  • 1930: 1,410 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 149th]
  • 1929: 2,036 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 120th]
  • 1928: 2,237 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 117th]
  • 1927: 567 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 277th]
  • 1926: 467 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 307th]
  • 1925: 450 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 313th]

So where does the name Ramona come from?

Ramona and its masculine form, Ramón, are the Spanish versions of Raymond, which is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and mund, meaning “protection.”

Do you like the name Ramona? Would you use it?

Source: MacDonald, Laurence E. The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History. Lanham, MD: Ardsley House, 1998.

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:

The Top Baby Name Debuts, 1881 to Today

the top U.S. baby name debuts

Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.

Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.

Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So not only is this a list of names, but it’s also a list of stories.

Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)

  • 1881: Adell & Celeste, 14; Brown & Newell, 14
  • 1882: Verda, 14; Cleve, 13
  • 1883: Laurel, 12; Brady, Festus, Jewell, Odell & Rosco, 8
  • 1884: Crystal & Rubie, 11; Benjamen, Jens, Oakley & Whitney, 9
  • 1885: Clotilde, 13; Arley & Terence, 9
  • 1886: Manuelita, 10; Terrence, 10
  • 1887: Verlie, 13; Myles, 11
  • 1888: Ebba, 18; Carlisle, Hughie & Orvel, 9
  • 1889: Garnett, 12; Doyle, 9
  • 1890: Verena, 11; Eduardo & Maggie, 10
  • 1891: Gayle, Idabelle & Zenia, 9; Sheridan, 14
  • 1892: Astrid, Dallas & Jennett, 9; Corbett, 23
  • 1893: Elmyra, 12; Estel, Mayo, Shelley & Thorwald, 8
  • 1894: Beatriz, Carola & Marrie, 9; Arvel, Erby & Floy, 8
  • 1895: Trilby, 12; Roosevelt, 12
  • 1896: Lotus, 11; Hazen, 11
  • 1897: Dewey, 13; Bryon, Frankie, Mario & Rhoda, 7
  • 1898: Manilla, 35; Hobson, 38
  • 1899: Ardis & Irva, 19; Haven, 9
  • 1900: Luciel, 14; Rosevelt, 20
  • 1901: Venita, 11; Eino, 9
  • 1902: Mercie, 10; Clarnce, 9
  • 1903: Estela, 11; Lenon & Porfirio, 7
  • 1904: Magdaline, 9; Adrain, Arbie, Betty, Desmond, Domenic, Duard, Raul & Severo, 8
  • 1905: Oliver, 9; Eliot & Tyree, 9
  • 1906: Nedra, 11; Domenico & Ryan, 10
  • 1907: Theta, 20; Taft, 16
  • 1908: Pasqualina, 10; Robley, 12
  • 1909: Wilmoth, 9; Randal & Vidal, 9
  • 1910: Ellouise, 12; Halley, 12
  • 1911: Thurley, 12; Colie, 16
  • 1912: Elynor, Glennis, Mariann, 12; Woodroe, 25
  • 1913: Wilba, 18; Vilas, 24
  • 1914: Floriene, 14; Torao, 17
  • 1915: Wanza, 33; Audra, 18
  • 1916: Tatsuko, 14; Verdun, 14
  • 1917: Nerine, 43; Delwyn, 14
  • 1918: Marne, 24; Foch, 58
  • 1919: Tokie, 12; Juaquin, 11
  • 1920: Dardanella, 23; Steele, 11
  • 1921: Marilynne, 13; Norberto, 14
  • 1922: Evelean, 14; Daren, 35
  • 1923: Nalda, 15; Clinard & Dorland, 9
  • 1924: Charis, 14; Melquiades, 13
  • 1925: Irmalee, 37; Wayburn, 11
  • 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 14
  • 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • 1929: Jeannene, 25; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9
  • 1935: Treasure, 16; Haile, 11
  • 1936: Shelva, 89; Renny & Shelva, 9

This is where the numbers start becoming more accurate. Why? Because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.” (SSA)

Now back to the list:

  • 1937: Deeann, 18; Gaynell, 11
  • 1938: Sonjia, 19; Daivd, 9
  • 1939: Thanna, 17; Brenda, 19
  • 1940: Sierra, 32; Willkie, 13
  • 1941: Jerilynn, 56; Saford, 11
  • 1942: Dwala, Gerilyn & Rise, 15; Mcarther, 23
  • 1943: Sharelle, 28; Howie, 10
  • 1944: Deatra, 29; Kipp, 9
  • 1945: Sherida, 26; Vickie, 10
  • 1946: Suzzette, 17; Sung & Tyronne, 8
  • 1947: Rory, 41; Eliezer, 11
  • 1948: Vickii, 30; Ridge, 10
  • 1949: Rainelle, 46; Ezzard, 21
  • 1950: Monalisa, 35; Broderick, 30
  • 1951: Debralee, 19; Cregg, 10
  • 1952: Terria, 17; Faron & Gevan, 12
  • 1953: Trenace, 32; Caster, 21
  • 1954: Corby, 39; Durk, 17
  • 1955: Shevawn, 36; Anothony & Erol, 10
  • 1956: Siobhan, 58; Trace, 17
  • 1957: Tierney, 46; Maverick, 32
  • 1958: Tamre, 63; Hoby, 30
  • 1959: Torey, 102; Rowdy, 22
  • 1960: Leshia, 76; Cully, 31
  • 1961: Lavoris, 36; Jefre, 21
  • 1962: Lafondra, 30; Thadd, 10
  • 1963: Phaedra, 70; Medgar, 25
  • 1964: Djuna, 198; Janssen, 16
  • 1965: Latrenda, 89; Illya, 35
  • 1966: Indira, 43; Jarred, 17
  • 1967: Cinnamon, 40; Clayt, 13
  • 1968: Laryssa, 67; Jemal, 47
  • 1969: Omayra, 42; Tige, 28
  • 1970: Shilo, 38; Toriano, 62
  • 1971: Ayanna, 194; Diallo, 54
  • 1972: Cotina, 109; Jabbar, 77
  • 1973: Yajaira, 55; Yohance, 44
  • 1974: Shalawn, 70; Nakia, 611
  • 1975: Azure, 121; Viet, 23
  • 1976: Tynisa, 79; Delvecchio, 27
  • 1977: Kizzy, 1,115; Levar, 523
  • 1978: Enjoli, 35; Mychal, 59
  • 1979: Chimere, 78; Jorel, 22
  • 1980: Lerin, 35; Tou, 33
  • 1981: Fallon, 232; Taurean, 90
  • 1982: Tyechia, 71; Eder, 48
  • 1983: Mallori, 35; Jonerik & Marquita, 20
  • 1984: Nastassja, 40; Eldra, 17
  • 1985: Sade, 392; Rishawn, 25
  • 1986: Myleka, 38; Cordero, 173
  • 1987: Jaleesa, 116; Teyon, 25
  • 1988: Jalesa, 77; Kadeem, 52
  • 1989: Alexandr*, 301; Christop*, 1,082 [Audreanna, 80; Khiry, 158]
  • 1990: Isamar, 446; Dajour, 26
  • 1991: Emilce, 30; Quayshaun, 93
  • 1992: Akeiba, 49; Devanta, 41
  • 1993: Rosangelica, 91; Deyonta, 37
  • 1994: Ajee, 185; Shyheim, 168
  • 1995: Yamilex, 130; Alize, 30
  • 1996: Moesha, 426; Quindon, 67
  • 1997: Erykah, 279; Cross, 43
  • 1998: Naidelyn, 78; Zyshonne, 26
  • 1999: Verania, 62; Cauy, 32
  • 2000: Kelis, 108; Rithik, 22
  • 2001: Yaire, 184; Jahiem, 155
  • 2002: Kaydence, 70; Omarian, 31
  • 2003: Trenyce, 88; Pharrell, 67
  • 2004: Eshal, 38; Jkwon, 100
  • 2005: Yarisbel, 30; Jayceon, 48
  • 2006: Lizania, 35; Balian, 24
  • 2007: Leilene, 81; Yurem, 206
  • 2008: Aideliz, 91; Yosgart, 72
  • 2009: Greidys, 186; Jeremih, 87
  • 2010: Tynlee, 42; Vadhir, 55
  • 2011: Magaby, 50; Jionni, 62
  • 2012: Kimbella, 52; Naksh, 28
  • 2013: Vanellope, 63; Jaceyon, 89
  • 2014: Dalary, 215; Llewyn, 38
  • 2015: Kehlani, 48; Gotham, 46

I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!

*If you ignore the Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989, the top debut names of 1989 are actually Audreanna and Khiry.

One-Hit Wonder Baby Names from the 1890s

Girls

  • 1890 – Ethie, Fleeta, Jessye, Jetta, Sibbie
  • 1891 – Idabelle, Lulla, Olar, Sylva
  • 1892 – Versa
  • 1893 – Allena, Cannie, Cliffie, Clotilda, Elmyra, Josefita, Lurena
  • 1894 – Elfreda
  • 1895 – Adel, Alleen, Trilby (influence: the book Trilby)
  • 1897 – Zela, Zeta
  • 1898 – Manilla (influence: Spanish-American War), Vara
  • 1899 – Irva

Boys

  • 1890 – Almus, Conard, Guilford, Neely, Polk, Rance, Red
  • 1891 – Algot, Alphons, Barnard, Burk, Berkley, Iverson, Job, Powell, Vick
  • 1892 – Burleigh, Con, Ebert, Murdock, Nolen, Willaim
  • 1893 – Aubra, Avon, Bolden, Link, Thorwald
  • 1894 – Alston, Audy, Donat, Emmons, Erby, Esley, Hebert, Hezzie, Hughey, Oddie, Vinton, Zed
  • 1895 – Alwin, Evander, Gaither, Grafton, Guthrie, Ovila
  • 1896 – Acy, Aloys, Arthor, Boysie, Cam, Hale, Lisle, Offie, Silver, Virgel, Willy
  • 1897 – Dabney
  • 1898 – Adams, Arba, Collier, Ewart, Gladstone, Schley, Shafter (influence: Spanish-American War)
  • 1899 – Baker, Bynum, Colvin, Elizah, Griffith

Each of the above names (and near-names, like Aloys and Willaim) only managed to rank among the 1,000 most popular U.S. baby names a single time — hence the “one-hit wonder” label. :)

All one-hit wonder lists: 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s.