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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Union

Number of Babies Named Union

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Union

What’s Wrong with U? (7 Usable U-Names)

u names, ursa, upton, upson, umber, ukiah, unity, union

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”?

Hm…

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

*

Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia


Name Quotes for the Weekend #38

Another quote post! This installment includes a record number of ellipses. Very exciting.

From The Clintons ruined the name ‘Hillary’ for new parents by Christopher Ingraham:

It…looks like the popularity of first ladies’ names falls more sharply than the popularity of presidents’ names during their time in office. But again, it’s not clear just from these charts if that’s a true presidential spouse effect, or just a reflection of the natural long-term trajectory of those names.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about The Demise of the Baby Name Hillary.

From Keith Ng’s My last name sounds Chinese, in response to the erroneous claim by New Zealand politician Phil Twyford that Chinese people are buying up property in Auckland:

The subtext of this story is that people with Chinese-sounding names are foreigners full of cash who are buying all our houses and chasing hardworking Kiwis out of their homes. This is straight-up scapegoating, placing the blame for a complex, emotive problem at the feet of an ethnic group.

[…]

Phil Twyford, Labour, and the Herald – you are fueling racial division in this country. You are encouraging people to question whether ethnically Chinese people ought to be able to buy houses. You are saying that people with “Chinese-sounding names” are dangerous foreigners who will destroy the Kiwi way of life with real estate purchases.

From Royal Caribbean’s press release asking James Hand to name the next Royal Caribbean ship:

“The people of the United Kingdom know the name of a great ship when they see it,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand’s talent to name our next ship.”

The “name our next ship” part is an April Fools’ Day joke, but (as far as I can tell) the offer to send Hand on a free cruise is legit.

NERC’s Name Our Ship campaign ends tomorrow, btw.

From the Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. page of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park website:

Thomas Alva, Junior, was born on January 10, 1876. Since his sister Marion was nicknamed “Dot,” he was nicknamed “Dash.”

[…]

After selling the use of his name to advertise “quack” medicines and dubious inventions, his father asked Tom Junior to change his name. This he did, briefly going by the name of Thomas Willard.

The nicknames “Dot” and “Dash” are references to Morse Code.

From Why Do I Have to Call This App ‘Julie’? by Joanne McNeil (found via Nancy Friedman’s January Linkfest):

Imagine if the plug-in devices that made housework more efficient were, like Alexa, sold with women’s names and talked about with female pronouns. “Could you hand me the Amanda? She’s in the hall closet.”

[…]

I used Julie [a “virtual inbox assistant”] only once, sending an email to a friend, copying the app email, with a time and date to meet for coffee. Julie emailed back promptly confirming the appointment, and it added the meeting to my calendar. The product is an interesting idea and easy to use, but interacting with a fake woman assistant just feels too weird. So I shut “her” off. This Stepford app, designed to make my work more efficient, only reminds me of the gendered division of labor that I’m trying to escape.

From the abstract of the paper Unfortunate First Names: Effects of Name-Based Relational Devaluation and Interpersonal Neglect by Jochen E. Gebauer, Mark R. Leary and Wiebke Neberich:

Can negative first names cause interpersonal neglect? Study 1 (N = 968) compared extremely negatively named online-daters with extremely positively named online-daters. Study 2 (N = 4,070) compared less extreme groups—namely, online-daters with somewhat unattractive versus somewhat attractive first names. Study 3 (N = 6,775) compared online-daters with currently popular versus currently less popular first names, while controlling for name-popularity at birth. Across all studies, negatively named individuals were more neglected by other online-daters, as indicated by fewer first visits to their dating profiles. This form of neglect arguably mirrors a name-based life history of neglect, discrimination, prejudice, or even ostracism.

From What’s in a Necronym? by Jeannie Vanasco (found via Longreads):

I remember the day I first learned about her. I was eight. My father was in his chair, holding a small white box. As my mother explained that he had a dead daughter named Jeanne, pronounced the same as my name, “without an i,” he opened the box and looked away. Inside was a medal Jeanne had received from a church “for being a good person,” my mother said. My father said nothing. I said nothing. I stared at the medal.

[…]

Parsed from the Greek, necronym literally translates as “death name.” It usually means a name shared with a dead sibling. Until the late nineteenth century, necronyms were not uncommon among Americans and Europeans. If a child died in infancy, his or her name was often given to the next child, a natural consequence of high birth rates and high infant mortality rates.

The second Notwithstanding Griswold, born in 1764, was named for her deceased older sister.

A post about Union Banner Hunt by Andy Osterdahl of The Strangest Names In American Political History:

Union Banner Hunt was born in Randolph County on September 2, 1864, the son of Joshua Parker and Rachel Howell Hunt. His full birth name is listed as “Union Banner Basil Morton Hunt”, and the 1914 work Past and Present of Randolph County gives some interesting anecdotes as to how his unusual name came about: “At the time of his birth his brother was confined in the Confederate Prison in Andersonville, Ga., having been captured at the Battle of Chickamauga. Hence the name “Union Banner”. Basil (pronounced “Bazil”) is an old family name, and “Morton” is for the great war Governor of Indiana.” This same book mentions that Hunt was “not responsible” for his unusual name and “neither is he ashamed of it.”

That “great war Governor” was Oliver P. Morton.

From an interview with Winona Ryder by Celia Walden:

Ryder’s unconventional childhood has been exhaustively documented and occasionally used to explain the more disturbing events in her life, but the actress — christened Winona Laura Horowitz and named after the Minnesota city in which she was born — speaks fondly of the four years she spent in a commune in Elk, Northern California, from the age of seven.

Winona’s younger brother Uri, born in the 1970s, was named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Have you come across any interesting name-related quotes lately? Let me know!

Rare Names in Early Boston (1630-1805)

Embroidered by Rooksby Creese
Embroidered by Rooksby Creese, 1700s
Yesterday we looked at popular baby names in early Boston, so today let’s check out some rare names.

Those two books I discovered with the early Boston birth records also included lists of Boston baptisms, marriages and deaths. I scanned all of these lists to come up with the names below:

A: Admonition, Aftar, America, Amiable, Amorel/Amorill, Androse, Aniball, Angola, Annice, Anstis, Apfier, Archdale, Arimnel, Atterlanta, Avery, Avise, Azor

  • America, full name America House, was born in 1660. Could she have been the very first New World baby named America? I can’t find anything earlier…
  • Avery was a baby girl born in 1645. This could be the earliest girl-Avery I know of.

B: Bagwell, Bagworth, Bant, Barbary, Belcher, Benaniwell, Betteris, Bezaliell, Bickford, Blish, Bossenger, Boylston, Bozoun/Bozoon/Bozoune/Bozon/Boozone, Brattle, Broughton, Budd, Bulkely, Buny, Buttalph/Buttolph, Byfield

  • Bagworth‘s full name was the Hobbit-like Bagworth Endicutt.
  • One of the Belchers had the unfortunate full name Belcher Noyes.
  • The Bozoun-group refers mainly to one person: Capt. Bozoun Allen (d. 1652), an immigrant from England who was active in early Boston politics.

C: Caylance, Cazneau, Cerston, Chanterlin, Chuzziah, Civil, Cletord, Clorinda, Coneniah, Consider, Constancy, Cord, Crumil, Cumbey/Cumby, Custin/Custine, Cutting

  • Could Chuzziah be a version of Josiah?
  • Cord‘s full name was Cord Cordis.
  • Cutting‘s full name was Cutting Bean.

D: Decline, Delicia, Derlow, Dermin, Desire ye Truth, Dickery, Digory, Dinisha, Dionysia, Dixe, Dosithea, Dowsabell, Drewry

  • Desire ye Truth gave her daughter the exact same name in 1666. The “ye” here would have been pronounced “the,” as the letter y actually represents the letter thorn.
  • Here’s more on the derivation of Digory.
  • Dionysia‘s full name was the very romantic Dionysia Savage Ravenscroft. (Savage was her maiden name; Ravenscroft was her married name.)

E: Electa, Eleshaway, Eliphall/Elliphall, Ellener, Emmin, Emmorold, Estick, Ethlan, Evos, Exercise

  • Exercise‘s full name was Exercise Blackleech.

F: Fairbanck, Fathergone, Faur, Fearnot/Fearnott, Febee, Ffitz-John, Foreland, Fortescue, Fortune, Freeborn, Freegrace, Freelove, Frizzel

  • Here’s the story behind Fathergone.
  • Fearnot is a Puritan name that needs to make a comeback, I think.

G: Gartright, Gatliffe, Gedny, Gee, Gier, Goodith, Grafton, Gravingham, Griffyn, Grimstone, Grindall, Grizzel/Grizzell

  • Gartright could be a version of Gertrude.
  • Goodith is probably Judith.
  • Grimstone! I love any name that features the word “grim.” I remember Grimsley popping up in Idaho a few years back…

H: Habbakuck/Habbakuk, Habbiah, Hananeel, Hanniball, Harborne, Harbottle, Hazelelponi, Hazelpanah, Heiborne, Hennerina, Hopefor/Hoptfor, Huldy, Humilis, Humility, Huxtable

I: Ibroke, Indego, Ireland, Isanna

J: Jaleham, Jamina, Jarratt, Jeffs, Jehosebath/Johoshabeath/Josabeth/Joshabeth, Jolley, Jolliff, Joylieffe/Joyliffe

K: Kellon, Kinsman, Knight

L: Laomi, Lately, Leech, Lettysse, Lilingston, Love, Lucrana, Lucresia, Ludwick

M: Macartey, Mackworth, Mauditt, Maverick, Maybe, Meddlecot, Mehalaliell/Mahalaleel, Melatiah, Meribah, Metsathiell, Milam, Milcha, Mindwell, Minot, Mordica, Moremercy, Mungo

  • Maverick, born at the end of the 1600s, got his mother’s surname as a first name.

N: Nabby, Nebery, Neezer, Neverson, Newgrace, Niot/Nyott

  • I’m guessing Neezer was derived from Ebenezer.
  • Nyott‘s full name was Nyott Doubt.

O: Onner, Opportunity, Orchard, Oulando, Oxenbridge

  • Opportunity‘s full name was Opportunity Lane.

P: Palfrey, Palsgrove, Palti, Parnell, Parthenia, Pepperrell, Perciful, Perring, Phaline, Phesant, Philadelphia, Philippe/Philippi/Philippy/Phillipee/Phillippi, Pilgrim, Pittie, Pool, Posthumus, Pouning, Preserved, Pyam

  • Perciful looks like Percival under the influence of “merciful.”
  • A number of women had names like Phillippi, which is curious…
  • Posthumus was once kinda trendy.
  • Pilgrim, despite his name, had nothing to do with the Mayflower Pilgrims. (He’s buried at Granary, btw.)

R: Ranis/Ragnis, Recompense, Redemption, Redigon/Redgon/Reddigan/Redigun, Reforme, Rely, Rich-Grace, Ronas, Rooksby/Rooksbey/Rooksbee/Rookby, Roop/Roope, Ryal

  • The Redigon group represents one person (female).
  • The Rooksby group represents several people, all female. You can see embroidered chair seats sewn one of them, Rooksby Creese (1703-1742), at the MFA in Boston.

S: Salmagrave, Salphin, Sarahjah, Satisfaction, Savel/Savell/Savil, Scarborough, Scissilla, Seaborne, Secunda/Secundas, Sendall/Sendell, Shippie, Shoreborne, Shove, Shrimpton, Sibbella/Sibla, Sivil/Sivill, Skinner, Skipper, Smyth, Snell, Spiller, Story, Strange, Sucky, Supply, Sweet

  • Sucky is an regrettable rendering of Sukey, a diminutive of Susanna.

T: Tacey, Teasant, Torshel, Tregoweth, Tremble, Trine, Tristram, Trueworthy, Turfry, Tuttle

  • Tacey has the same root as Tacita: the Latin verb tacere, meaning “to be silent.”
  • Torshel was the twin of Harborne (see above).

U: Union, Unite

V: Verrin, Vigilant, Vsal

W: Waitawhile/Wayte-a-while, Wentworth, Wheelwright, Wigglesworth/Wigleworth, Winborn, Woodbery, Woodmansie, Woodward

  • Waitawhile (female) had the birth name Waitawhile Makepeace. Sounds like a 2-step process for conflict resolution, doesn’t it?

Y: Yelverton

Z: Zerubbabel, Zibiah, Zuriell/Zuryell, Zurishaddai

…So, which of the above names intrigue you the most?

Sources: Boston births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, 1630-1699, Boston births from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1800

43 Unique Noun-Names

I’m fascinated by personal names that, out of context, don’t appear to be names at all. Especially when said names are created from everyday nouns and proper nouns — places, foods, animals, objects, brands, ideas, events, institutions, organizations, qualities, phenomena, and so forth.

My fascination kicked into high gear after I wrote about noun-names earlier this year. Ever since, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for noun-names.

So far, I’ve collected hundreds. But it’s going to take me a while to blog about all of them. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d list some of the strangest ones I’ve already talked about:

  1. Bandit
  2. Cape Cod
  3. Captivity
  4. Celerie (celery)
  5. Danger
  6. Eclipse
  7. Emancipation Proclamation
  8. Emirates
  9. Eiffel Tower
  10. Facebook
  11. Fourth
  12. Freeway
  13. Funeral
  14. Golden Palace
  15. Halloween
  16. Helsinki
  17. Jeep
  18. Joker
  19. Key West
  20. Knuckles
  21. Legal Tender
  22. Metallica
  23. Oleomargarine
  24. Opera House
  25. Orbit
  26. Peaches
  27. Pebbles
  28. Peppermint
  29. Prohibition
  30. Rainbow
  31. Shotgun
  32. Skylab
  33. Soccer City
  34. Sou’Wester
  35. Strawberry
  36. Suffrage
  37. Tahiti
  38. Trooper
  39. Tsunami
  40. Union Jack
  41. Vick Vaporup (Vicks VapoRub)
  42. Wilmot Proviso
  43. Zeppelin

Did I skip any good ones? Let me know in the comments!

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Later additions…

  1. Sputnik, 10/4
  2. Nintendo, 10/22
  3. Annexation, 10/25
  4. Windchime, 11/9
  5. Oregon Territory, 11/22
  6. Gold Dust, 11/29

UK Baby Named Union Jack

A baby born in England on June 6 — just after the Jubilee celebrations — was named Union Jack after the flag of the UK.

The baby’s father, Kevin Smart, said: “I came up with the name Union and the middle name Jack. They were very fitting for the time of year.”

His mother, Becky Parker, said: “My immediate response was ‘no way’ but now I love it.”

Source: Would you name your baby Ferret?