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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Val


Posts that Mention the Name Val

Contrarian baby names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

corn

“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

How did “Willow” influence baby names in the late 1980s?

The character Sorsha from the movie "Willow" (1988).
Sorsha from “Willow

The movie Willow was released in May of 1988 — exactly 30 years ago this month. It didn’t do a thing for the baby name Willow, which hadn’t become trendy yet, but it did affect a couple of other character names: Sorsha and Elora.

Sorsha

The character Sorsha (played by Joanne Whalley) was the red-haired princess/soldier who was the daughter of the evil queen. She was also the love interest of Madmartigan (played by Val Kilmer). She started out as a bad guy, but changed sides mid-movie and was a good guy by the end.

The baby name Sorsha debuted in the U.S. data right on cue in 1989:

YearUsage of SorshaUsage of Sorcha
19925 baby girls5 baby girls
19915 baby girls5 baby girls
1990.6 baby girls
19895 baby girls [debut]5 baby girls [debut]
1988..
1987..

Curiously, parents opted for the spelling Sorcha as often as they opted for Sorsha. Why?

I couldn’t find any typos in contemporary sources — newspapers all used the more logical “Sorsha” — so my best guess is the baby name books.

Expectant parents wanting to know the definition of Sorsha would have instead encountered the Irish name Sorcha in those books. They would have learned the meaning (“bright”), but probably not the pronunciation, which is unfortunate because Sorcha isn’t pronounced SOR-sha. It’s more like SUR-kha. (Irish names that sound more like Sorsha include Saoirse, SEER-sha, or even the male name Seoirse, SHOR-sha.)

Elora

The character Elora Danan from the movie "Willow" (1988).
Elora Danan from “Willow

The character Elora Danan was the adorable read-haired baby at the center of the action. Her birthmark identified her as the one destined to depose Queen Bavmorda, so of course the queen wanted her found and destroyed. It was Willow’s job to deliver Elora Danan safely to those who would raise her.

The baby was given a good amount of screen time. Film critic Roger Ebert even complained about it: “One of the crucial problems…is that we see so much of this baby.”

As a result, the baby name Elora re-emerged in the data in 1988 and saw a distinct jump in usage in 1989/1990. The rise of Alora was even greater.

YearUsage of EloraUsage of Alora
199234 baby girls72 baby girls
199163 baby girls84 baby girls
199091 baby girls108 baby girls
198987 baby girls103 baby girls
198830 baby girls11 baby girls
1987..

Many similar-sounding names (like Ellora) also got a boost, and several (like Alaura and Allora) appeared for the first time in the data in the late ’80s. And I spotted even more spelling variants when I did records searches.

Speaking of the records…they revealed (unsurprisingly?) that many of the babies with these various Elora-like first names also had Danan-like middles. “Danan” was the most common spelling, but another I saw repeatedly was “Dannon” — possibly influenced by the yogurt brand being advertised on TV during those years.

…What are your thoughts on the baby names Sorsha and Elora? Which one would you be more likely to use for a baby girl?

Sources: Willow (film) – Wikipedia, “Willow” Review by Roger Ebert

40 pairs of baby names for girl-boy twins

girl-boy twins

A few weeks ago, The Stir posted a list of 20 pairs of baby names for girl-boy twins.

The problem with their list? Each matchy-matchy name-pair started with the same first letter.

Yes, most parents gravitate toward patterns when it comes to naming twins.

But should they?

If you’re in the “no” camp, here’s an alternative list. I’ve separated the pairings and given each of the 40 names a new, non-matchy partner — different first letter, different ending, different number of syllables.

Original pairing1st new pairing2nd new pairing 
Hazel & Hugo
Emma & Evan
Madison & Mason
Taylor & Tyler
Vivienne & Val
Ava & Alexander
Chloe & Caleb
Sophia & Samuel
Eva & Ethan
Penelope & Pax
Savannah & Sebastian
Lily & Luke
Dylan & Dean
Naomi & Noah
Imogen & Isaac
Juliette & James
Christina & Christian
Grace & Gavin
Avery & Aiden
Claire & Clive
Hazel & Benjamin
Emma & Charles
Madison & Liam
Taylor & Grant
Vivienne & Phillip
Ava & Carl
Chloe & Gabriel
Sophia & Owen
Eva & Jack
Penelope & Duncan
Savannah & Zane
Lily & Cash
Dylan & Matthias
Naomi & Joseph
Imogen & Grey
Juliette & Simon
Christina & Thomas
Grace & Dominic
Avery & Beau
Claire & Julian
Hugo & Adelaide
Evan & Sabrina
Mason & Aria
Tyler & Addison
Val & Edie
Alexander & Daphne
Caleb & Lydia
Samuel & Hannah
Ethan & Amelia
Pax & Kira
Sebastian & Gemma
Luke & Maya
Dean & Harper
Noah & Abigail
Isaac & Johanna
James & Tabitha
Christian & Veronica
Gavin & Bree
Aiden & Katrina
Clive & Odette

What are your favorite non-matchy baby names for girl-boy twins?

Source: 20 Pairs of Baby Names for Twins of the Opposite Sex
Image: Adapted from Kinley and Liam Photos (18) by love_K_photo under CC BY 2.0.

Baby names with L-O-V-E (letter sequence spelling “love”)

"Love" spelled with scrabble letters

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Looking for a baby name that makes you think of love? Here’s a list of names with “love” — names that literally contain the letter sequence L-O-V-E — and links to their popularity graphs:

So do you “love” any of the above? :)

P.S. Two real-life Valentine’s Day babies for you: Valerie Valentine (b. 1951) & Val N. Tines (b. 1953).

Update, Feb. 2022: Here are some extra names that happen to contain all the letters of “love”…

Name quotes #13: Val, Constance, Duvae

Val Kilmer quote

From an interview with Val Kilmer in Interview Magazine:

UKLANSKI: Your childhood was a while ago. And of course these are your memories, and yet you are bringing this up. Is it when you look back at your life, it’s cliché?

KILMER: I don’t think of my life as a cliché, but I’m a cliché eccentric. Complete with a strange name — I mean, who’s named Val? How many Vals do you know? I mean, really?

From an interview with GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons in The Baltimore Sun:

Q: Do a lot of people register their own names with you? [Full disclosure: I did.]

A: That’s a phenomena that’s starting to actually grow, but I would say it’s still a minority. What I would say is we’ve noticed a trend of baby names. Parents will purchase the dot-com name for their baby. We have been aware of some instances where somebody didn’t name their child a particular name because the dot-com wasn’t available.

From an article by Veronica Agard at PolicyMic:

My parents couldn’t have known that my peers of color would tease me and say, “That’s such a white girl name.” My parents couldn’t know that I would be approached by people of color, after we corresponded electronically, and be told, “I thought you were white.”

From an article about baby-naming in GQ by Drew Magary (who I’ve also quoted here and here):

Think about the kid and not yourself. Are you giving this kid a one-of-a-kind name because you’re fishing for cheap compliments? Do you want friends and family to be dazzled by your creativity? That’s probably what’s going on here, even if you can’t admit it. A name shouldn’t make a person. A person should make a name for himself. He has to go and earn it by fighting bears and seducing the wives of dictators. On his own. Without your help. So before you fill out that birth-certificate application, think hard about the person who’s gonna be carrying around this name for life. Put yourself in the kid’s shoes, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have the balls not to name her Brixie.

From an interview with poet Warsan Shire (discovered via A Mitchell):

KJR: Your names are Warsan Shire. What do your names mean? Who gave you these names? Back on February 25, 2011, you wrote “the birth name”. In this piece you wrote, “give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue” and “my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.” Can you discuss these two lines?

WS: Warsan means “good news” and Shire means “to gather in one place”. My parents named me after my father’s mother, my grandmother. Growing up, I absolutely wanted a name that was easier to pronounce, more common, prettier. But then I grew up and understood the power of a name, the beauty that comes in understanding how your name has affected who you are. My name is indigenous to my country, it is not easy to pronounce, it takes effort to say correctly and I am absolutely in love with the sound of it and its meaning. Also, it’s not the kind of name you baby, slip into sweet talk mid sentence, late night phone conversation, whisper into the receiver kind of name, so, of that I am glad.

From Michelle Nickolaisen’s website:

I have a Shiba Inu named Rain, which everyone thinks is a reference to actual precipitation. However, the fact is that I named her after Reynard, but didn’t want to spell the shortened version of her name as “Reyn” because then I would feel like a pretentious douchebag.

Two quotes from an article about name stories in the San Jose Mercury News. 1st:

When I was a teenager, my father and I were out walking in the garden, and he pointed out a rose bush he had just planted underneath my bedroom window. He told me that this was my rose bush, a literal “rose of Sharon.”

He then proceeded to tell me that when I was born, he had wanted to name me Rose of Sharon after the character in the John Steinbeck novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” My father was born in 1918, in Ada, Okla., and, I think he must have seen a lot of his own family’s struggles in that book. It meant a lot to him. However, my mother wouldn’t hear of it, and I was eventually named just Sharon.

-Sharon Virginia Starns, 64, Hollister

…2nd:

I was born during the Great Depression. In those hardscrabble days, men like my dad, a college graduate, worked wherever they could find a job. His was digging ditches for the WPA. Needless to say, he was very tired after a day’s work.

In the meantime, Hollywood was doing its part to lift people’s spirits. The movies, according to my mother, changed every day in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Mom cajoled and cried and convinced Dad that they needed to go to the movies to keep up their (her) spirits.

At that time, there were two movie stars named Constance: Constance Moore and Constance Bennett. I was named after them. In those days, most people were named for relatives, usually wealthy ones. So my middle name is Louise, which was my paternal grandmother’s middle name as well. It was that grandmother who took me to church to be baptized as Agnes Louise Mooney (her name). No Hollywood movie star’s name for her granddaughter.

-Constance Louise Langford, 80, San Jose

From a blog post about an episode of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress:

Duvae, a 19-year-old bride from Utah, explained to consultant JB that her namesake is “duvet” because her parents knew she’d be a comforter in their lives.

[For reference: Duvet.]

From an article about bizarre names in The Courier-Mail (Australia):

One teacher who had worked in Logan for more than 20 years said she had seen names become more bizarre over the years.

“It’s like a competition as to who can come up with the most unique, bizarre name,” she said.

“We don’t see John Smith or Mark Brown anymore – those names are long gone.”

The teacher said while many children in Year 1 often had difficulty learning to spell their own name, no one batted an eyelid during roll call.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of taking a deep breath and trying not to laugh.

“These children do have to grow up to be adults and most of the ones with unusual names will have to spell them out for the rest of their lives.”

[Names of schoolkids in the Logan City area include Alareal, Australasia, Bravado, De ja Vu, Gorgeous, Heritage, Jezzer, Kalaize, Khaileb, L-Car (pronounced “Ledashcar”), Narvasha, Psalmz, Sambo, Shizia, Styles, Taylay and Twinkle.]