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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Veronica

Number of Babies Named Veronica

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Veronica

The Rise of the Baby Name Cheryl

Cheryl Walker, Stage Door Canteen (1943)
© LIFE

It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the name Cheryl (Cherie + Beryl? Cherry + Beryl?) but it’s clear that the name saw a drastic rise in popularity during the first half of 20th century. Cheryl went from a rarity in the early 1900s to one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. by the mid-1950s.

I doubt Cheryl could have achieved this kind of popularity without a series of pop culture boosts — two caused by the same person, interestingly.

The first (and smallest) boost happened in 1938:

  • 1940: 285 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 408th] – 42 in CA
  • 1939: 289 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 390th] – 49 in CA
  • 1938: 397 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 312th] – 76 in CA
  • 1937: 145 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 563rd] – 16 in CA
  • 1936: 94 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 688th] – 10 in CA

Many of these babies were born in California specifically.

The cause?

A 19-year-old from Pasadena named Cheryl Walker. In late 1937, she was selected as the 1938 Queen of the Tournament of Roses. Local newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times) talked about Cheryl quite a bit during the last month of 1937 and the first few months of 1938.

She signed a film contract with Paramount around that time, but didn’t have much success in the entertainment industry until five years later.

That’s when she played the romantic lead in the wartime hit Stage Door Canteen, released in the middle of 1943. Dozens of major celebrities — including Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, George Jessel, Gertrude Lawrence, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Mary Pickford, and Johnny Weissmuller — had cameos in the film, which was one of the highest-grossing of the year.

(Notably, several months before Stage Door Canteen came out, LIFE magazine published a series of photos of the actress along with a short article subtitled “Cheryl Walker rises from stand-in for Veronica Lake to stardom.”)

In both 1943 and 1944, the number of babies named Cheryl increased significantly:

  • 1945: 8,150 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 32nd]
  • 1944: 7,970 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 36th]
  • 1943: 2,878 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 102nd]
  • 1942: 590 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 280th]
  • 1941: 439 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 311th]

The name of Cheryl’s character, Eileen, also saw increased usage, as did many variants of Cheryl (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
Cheryl 590 2,878 7,970 8,150 11,525
Sheryl 324 588 949 1,055 1,632
Sherrill 202 207 263 206 250
Cheryle 27 80 176 184 238
Sherryl 49 71 104 140 203
Cheryll 11 41 69 98 120
Sheryle 12 19 26 31 52
Cherryl 9 19 59 58 104
Sharelle** 28* 10
Charyl 24* 27 17 21
Scheryl 11* 11 7 5
Cherril 6 6 7
Sherral 6 6 8
Sherelle 6*
Sheril 5 11 6 9
Chyrl 5* 8 7 10
Cheril 6* 7
Cherl 6* 5 8
Sherryll 5 6 5
Cherill 5*
Cheyrl 5* 5 9
Chyrel 7* 10
Cheryal 6* 5
Cherryle 5*
Sherell 5*
Sherrille 5*
Chryl 9*
Sherryle 7*
Cherel 5*
Cherle 5*
Cherryll 5*
Chyral 5*
Shyrel 5*

**Sharelle was the top debut name of the year in 1943.

Usage of the name Cheryl plateaued in the late ’40s and early ’50s, then began to rise again in 1954:

  • 1956: 21,280 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 18th]
  • 1955: 19,100 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 19th]
  • 1954: 15,000 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 22nd]
  • 1953: 12,271 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 28th]
  • 1952: 12,197 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 31st]

Why?

It wasn’t Cheryl Walker — she’d retired from acting by this time.

Instead it was a short-lived TV show called Waterfront (1954-1956). The central character, John Herrick, was the captain of a San Pedro Harbor tugboat called the “Cheryl Ann.”

The show also gave a boost to the compound names Cherylann, Cherylanne and Sherylann.

[EDIT, 6/10 – Diana reminded me about Mouseketeer Cheryl, who was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1956 to 1958. No doubt she contributed to the name’s popularity as well in the mid-to-late ’50s!]

Cheryl became one of the top 20 baby names in the country in 1955, and it remained in the top 20 until 1961, peaking at 13th in 1958.

After that, usage began to decline. Cheryl fell out of the top 50 in 1972, then out of the top 100 in 1980. (This despite a late-1970s uptick inspired by actress Cheryl Ladd, singer Cheryl Lynn, and/or model Cheryl Tiegs.)

[EDIT, 7/7 – Cheryl M. reminded me to include Cheryl Ladd.]

And in 1998, exactly 40 years after nearly reaching the top 10, Cheryl fell out of the top 1,000 entirely.

What are your thoughts on the name Cheryl?

Do you like it more or less than Cherrill?

Sources:

P.S. Other WWII-era names: Dorie, Jesse Roper, Sea Bee, MacArthur, Swoosie, Roger, Adolf Hitler.


The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Final Round

80s name-song tournament, final round

We’re down to the final 2 songs!

You can vote in the ultimate round of the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament from now until Saturday, but you can only pick one song this time, so choose wisely!

I’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 6th.

Early ’80s Finalist: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

  • “Come on Eileen” reached #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 in April, 1982.
  • In this tournament, “Come on Eileen” beat “Gloria,” “Jack and Diane,” “Rosanna” and “Valerie” in Round 1a and semi-finalists “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Billie Jean” and “Oh Sherrie” in Round 2.

Late ’80s Finalist: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

  • “Rock Me Amadeus” reached #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 in March, 1986.
  • In this tournament, “Rock Me Amadeus” beat “Sara,” “Oh Sheila,” “Nikita” and “Suzanne” in Round 1b and semi-finalists “You Can Call Me Al,” “Luka” and “Veronica” in Round 2.

Which of these songs should be crowned the Ultimate '80s Name-Song?

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (60%, 12 Votes)
  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (40%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Round 2

80s name-song tournament, round 2

We’ve advanced to Round 2 in the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament!

In this round, we’ll narrow the pool down from 8 semifinalists to 2 finalists: one from the early ’80s, one from the late ’80s.

As usual, the round begins early Monday and ends early Saturday (so you have exactly 5 days to vote) and you can select up to 2 answers per poll.

Let the Round 2 battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 1

WINNER: “Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners

This battle will determine the name-song finalist representing the early ’80s (Round 1a). The contestants:

  • Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes
    • ‘Bette Davis’ refers to actress Bette Davis (1908-1989).
  • Come on Eileen” (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners
    • ‘Eileen’ refers to the first girlfriend of vocalist Kevin Rowland.
  • Billie Jean” (1983) by Michael Jackson
    • ‘Billie Jean’ refers to a real person, but in the song it’s symbolic of groupies in general.*
  • Oh Sherrie” (1984) by Steve Perry
    • ‘Sherrie’ refers to Sherrie Swafford, former girlfriend of Steve Perry.

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Come on Eileen" (1982) by Dexys Midnight Runners (36%, 14 Votes)
  • "Billie Jean" (1983) by Michael Jackson (31%, 12 Votes)
  • "Bette Davis Eyes" (1981) by Kim Carnes (26%, 10 Votes)
  • "Oh Sherrie" (1984) by Steve Perry (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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Battle 2

WINNER: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

This battle will determine the name-song finalist representing the late ’80s (Round 1b). The contestants:

  • Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco
    • ‘Amadeus’ refers to composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
  • You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon
    • ‘Al’ and ‘Betty’ are based on ‘Paul’ (Simon) and ‘Peggy’ (Simon’s first wife).
  • Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega
    • ‘Luka’ refers to a real person, but in the song it refers to a victim of child abuse.**
  • Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello
    • ‘Veronica’ refers to Costello’s grandmother (not sure if it’s her real name).

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (41%, 15 Votes)
  • "You Can Call Me Al" (1986) by Paul Simon (22%, 8 Votes)
  • "Luka" (1987) by Suzanne Vega (19%, 7 Votes)
  • "Veronica" (1989) by Elvis Costello (19%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Anyone care to guess which of the name-songs above will be crowned the winner in a couple of weeks?

*”Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. […] They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there.” -MJ, via MTV

**”Where did you get the name from?” “A 9-year-old boy who lives in my building. Who is not abused, by the way. I like the name Luka, it’s universal. It could be a girl or boy and it could be any nationality.” -SV, via NYT

The Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament: Round 1b

80s name-song tournament, round 1b

Round 1a is over, so now it’s time for Round 1b! Which of the songs below are awesome enough to advance in the Ultimate ’80s Name-Song Tournament?

This round ends on Saturday, so you have exactly 5 days to submit your answers.

The four winning songs from this week and last week will compete against each other in round 2, which starts next Monday.

Let the battles begin!

The battles are over! Check below for the winners.

Battle 5

WINNER: “Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco

The contestants:

  • Sara” (1985) by Starship
    • Sara, Sara, storms are brewin’ in your eyes
  • Oh Sheila” (1985) by Ready for the World
    • Oh oh Sheila, let me love you till the morning comes
  • Nikita” (1986) by Elton John
    • Hey Nikita is it cold, in your little corner of the world
  • Rock Me Amadeus” (1986) by Falco
    • Come and rock me Amadeus
  • Suzanne” (1986) by Journey
    • Remember Suzanne, those summer nights with me

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Rock Me Amadeus" (1986) by Falco (33%, 10 Votes)
  • "Sara" (1985) by Starship (20%, 6 Votes)
  • "Nikita" (1986) by Elton John (20%, 6 Votes)
  • "Oh Sheila" (1985) by Ready for the World (13%, 4 Votes)
  • "Suzanne" (1986) by Journey (13%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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Battle 6

WINNER: “You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon

The contestants:

  • Venus” (1986) by Bananarama
    • I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire
  • Jimmy Jimmy” (1986) by Madonna
    • Where you goin’ boy, I see your legs twitchin’, Jimmy Jimmy, oh Jimmy Jimmy
  • Who’s Johnny” (1986) by El DeBarge
    • Who’s Johnny, she said, and smiled in her special way
  • For Rosanna” (1986) by Chris de Burgh
    • This is for Rosanna, sweet girl of mine, a song for the baby who changed my life
  • You Can Call Me Al” (1986) by Paul Simon
    • I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "You Can Call Me Al" (1986) by Paul Simon (38%, 12 Votes)
  • "Venus" (1986) by Bananarama (34%, 11 Votes)
  • "For Rosanna" (1986) by Chris de Burgh (13%, 4 Votes)
  • "Jimmy Jimmy" (1986) by Madonna (9%, 3 Votes)
  • "Who's Johnny" (1986) by El DeBarge (6%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Battle 7

WINNER: “Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega

The contestants:

  • Amanda” (1986) by Boston
    • I’m gonna take you by surprise and make you realize, Amanda
  • Carrie” (1987) by Europe
    • Carrie, Carrie, things they change my friend
  • Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega
    • My name is Luka, I live on the second floor
  • Sheila Take a Bow” (1987) by The Smiths
    • Sheila take a, Sheila take a bow, boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear
  • Dirty Diana” (1988) by Michael Jackson
    • Dirty Diana, let me be!

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Luka" (1987) by Suzanne Vega (41%, 12 Votes)
  • "Amanda" (1986) by Boston (21%, 6 Votes)
  • "Dirty Diana" (1988) by Michael Jackson (21%, 6 Votes)
  • "Carrie" (1987) by Europe (10%, 3 Votes)
  • "Sheila Take a Bow" (1987) by The Smiths (7%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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Battle 8

WINNER: “Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello

The contestants:

  • Lucretia, My Reflection” (1988) by The Sisters of Mercy
    • Lucretia, my reflection, dance the ghost with me
  • Roni” (1988) by Bobby Brown
    • The truth about Roni, she’s a sweet little girl
  • The Ballad of Jayne” (1989) by L.A. Guns
    • What a shame, what happened to Jayne
  • Veronica” (1989) by Elvis Costello
    • These days I’m afraid she’s not even sure if her name is Veronica
  • Angelia” (1989) by Richard Marx
    • Angelia, where you running to now

(Links open music videos in a new window.)

Which song(s) do you like best? Choose up to 2:

  • "Veronica" (1989) by Elvis Costello (52%, 12 Votes)
  • "Lucretia, My Reflection" (1988) by The Sisters of Mercy (22%, 5 Votes)
  • "Angelia" (1989) by Richard Marx (17%, 4 Votes)
  • "Roni" (1988) by Bobby Brown (4%, 1 Votes)
  • "The Ballad of Jayne" (1989) by L.A. Guns (4%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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If you’re having fun voting in this tournament, please spread the word by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thanks!

Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, E/W, 2013

I’ve got a post on the top names in England and Wales scheduled for Monday, but until then here are a couple of “biggest changes” analyses. We’ll do the girl names today and the boy names tomorrow.

The tables below include two versions of each list. On the left are the top raw-number differences, taking all names into account. On the right are the top ranking differences, taking only the top 1,000 names (roughly) into account.

Biggest Increases in Popularity

Raw Numbers (all names) Rankings (top 1,000)
  1. Sienna, +586 babies
  2. Scarlett, +395
  3. Elsie, +293
  4. Sofia, +274
  5. Thea, +241
  6. Ivy, +234
  7. Poppy, +219
  8. Evelyn, +193
  9. Willow, +182
  10. Alice, +172
  1. Reeva, +4951 spots
  2. Esmay, +844
  3. Bea, +761
  4. Khaleesi, +711
  5. Neriah, +703
  6. Keeva, +690
  7. Siyana, +650
  8. Milan, +643
  9. Isla-Mae, +574
  10. Dahlia, +566

Eleanor “Elea” Nickerson of British Baby Names mentioned the rise of Reeva yesterday on Facebook, attributing it to Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend Oscar Pistorius allegedly murdered. That sounds like a good explanation to me. In fact, the murder early last year (and the ongoing news coverage) might explain why Oscar itself saw such a big increase in 2013.

Can you think of explanations for any of the other names? (Well, besides Khaleesi. I think we all know where that one comes from at this point.)

Biggest Decreases in Popularity

Raw Numbers (all names) Rankings (top 1,000)
  1. Amelia, -1491 babies
  2. Lily, -919
  3. Jessica, -658
  4. Mia, -531
  5. Evie, -513
  6. Sophie, -483
  7. Lola, -436
  8. Maisie, -393
  9. Holly, -391
  10. Grace, -389
  1. Gemma, -402 spots
  2. Lilly-Mai, -364
  3. Krystal, -360
  4. Star, -320
  5. Sian, -297
  6. Tayla, -286
  7. Bo, -271
  8. Veronica, -256
  9. Zaina, -246
  10. Tahlia, -240

Top Debut Name

Everly.

Fewer than 3 baby girls got the name in 2012, but 21 baby girls were named Everly in 2013. Everley, Everleigh and Everlyn have been on the list before, but never Everly. (I only have the full England and Wales baby name lists going back to 2007, though.)

Here are the U.S. girl names that changed the most in popularity in 2013, if you’d like to compare.

Source: Baby Names, England and Wales, 2013 – ONS