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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Wanda

Number of Babies Named Wanda

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Wanda

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: W

willette kershaw
Willette Kershaw (1882-1960)
Time for more unusual female names from old films!

Here’s something I didn’t know until recently: many (most?) of the “Indian maiden” characters in early movies had names starting with W. As a result, about half of the names below refer to Native American characters specifically. I’m not sure how many of these Native American names are legit, though. If you can verify any of them, please leave a comment.

Wah-na-gi
Wah-na-gi was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Squaw Man’s Son (1917).

Wahnah
Wahnah was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Kidnapped by Indians (1914).

Wah-tah
Princess Wah-tah was a character played by actress Yvonne De Carlo in the film The Deerslayer (1943).

Wah-ta-wah
Wah-ta-wah was a character played by actress Aline Goodwin in the film serial Leatherstocking (1924).

Wahtonka
Wahtonka was a character played by actress Claire Du Brey in the film Dakota (1945).

Wahtunka
Wahtunka was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Brought to Justice (1914).

Walmura
Walmura was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film The Fate of a Squaw (1914).

Walpurga
Walpurga was a character played by actress Mrs. A. C. Marston in the short film On the Heights (1914).

Wamba
Wamba was a character name in multiple films, including Wamba, a Child of the Jungle (short, 1913) and Justice of the Far North (1925).

Wambi
Wambi was a character played by actress Lule Warrenton in the short film The Queen of Jungle Land (1915).

Wana
Wana was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Indian Maid’s Sacrifice (1911).

  • Usage of the baby name Wana.

Wanama
Wanama was a character played by actress Armida in the film Jungle Goddess (1948).

Wanana
Wanana was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film A Daughter of the Redskins (1914).

Wanda
Wanda Hawley was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1895. Wanda McKay was an actress who appeared in films mainly in the 1940s. She was born in Oregon in 1915. Wanda was also a character name in multiple films, including The One-Way Trail (1920) and Men Are Such Fools (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Wanda.

Wandi
Wandi was a character played by actress Mary Gale Fisher in the film One Million B.C. (1940).

Wanoka
Wanoka was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the film Grey Eagle’s Last Stand (1914).

Wan-o-mee
Wan-o-mee was a character played by actress Evelyn Axzell in the film The Hell Cat (1918).

Warda
Warda Lamont was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s.

  • Usage of the baby name Warda.

Watuma
Watuma was a character played by actress Phyllis Gordon in the film The Werewolf (1913) — possibly the first-ever werewolf film.

Wauteka
Wauteka was a character played by actresses May Foster and Lule Warrenton in the short film The Brand of His Tribe (1914).

Wawina
Wawina was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film The War Bonnet (1914).

Wenda
Wenda was a character played by actress Myrtle Tennehill in the short film When the Mind Sleeps (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Wenda.

Wendie
Wendie Holmes was a character played by actress Marjorie Riordan in the film Parachute Nurse (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Wendie.

Werta
Werta was a character played by actress Dorothy Dwan in the film The Devil Bear (1929).

Wetona
Wetona was a character played by actress Norma Talmadge in the film The Heart of Wetona (1919).

  • Usage of the baby name Wetona.

Wilda
Wilda Lanning was a character played by actress Frances Robinson in the film Forbidden Valley (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Wilda.

Wildeth
Wildeth Christie was a character played by actress Fay Wray in the film Shanghai Madness (1933).

Wildflower
Wildflower was a character played by Mona Darkfeather in the short film Indian Fate (1914).

Willametta
Willametta was a character played by actress Margaret Hamilton in the film Meet the Stewarts (1942).

Willette
Willette Kershaw was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Missouri in 1882.

Willowbud
Willowbud was a character played by actress Marin Sais in the short film The Big Horn Massacre (1913).

Willowdean
Willowdean French was a character played by actress Leila Hyams in the film Summer Bachelors (1926).

Wilma
Wilma was a character name used in multiple films, including Woman-Proof (1923) and Three Cheers for Love (1936).

  • Usage of the baby name Wilma.

Winona
Winona was a character name used in multiple films, including An Indian Ambuscade (short, 1914) and Reckless Courage (1925).

  • Usage of the baby name Winona.

Wowkle
Wowkle was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Girl of the Golden West (1915), by Neola May in The Girl of the Golden West (1930), and by Ynez Seabury in The Girl of the Golden West (1938). The film was based on the play The Girl of the Golden West (1905) by David Belasco, who found the name Wowkle in the writings of ethnographer Stephen Powers, who claimed the name meant “fox” among the Nisenan of California.

Wyllis
Wyllis Hyde was a character played by actress Pauline Starke in the film The Argument (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Wyllis.

Wynne
Wynne Gibson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in New York in 1898. Wynne was also a character played by actress Anita Louise in the film Lady Tubbs (1935).

  • Usage of the baby name Wynne.

Wynona
Wynona was a character name used in multiple films, including Wynona’s Vengeance (1913) and The Woman from Warren’s (short, 1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Wynona.

*

Which of the above names do you like best?


Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.

Names of the Boston Duck Boats

I’m in Boston right now visiting family, and earlier this week some of us went on a Duck Tour for the first time. The tour was pretty good — I’m on the fence about whether or not I’d recommend it to others — but one thing I did like was finding this list of duck boat names in the pamphlet they gave us:

Boston duck boats
Names of the Boston duck boats
  • Annie Aquarium
  • Arborway Alex
  • Back Bay Bertha
  • Beacon Hilda
  • Beantown Betty
  • Charlie River
  • Commonwealth Curley
  • Copley Squire
  • Dorchester Dottie
  • Espla Nadia
  • Faneuil Holly
  • Fenway Fanny
  • Frog Pond Lily
  • Haymarket Hannah
  • Kenmore Karla
  • Liberty Teresa
  • Longfellow Bridget
  • Miss Emma Science
  • Molly Molasses
  • North End Norma
  • Old Gloria
  • Olga Ironsides
  • Penelope Pru
  • Red Sox Nathan
  • South End Sara
  • Symphony Hal
  • Tub of the Hub
  • Waterfront Wanda

I especially like Espla Nadia and Molly Molasses — the first for the wordplay (a take on “Esplanade”) the second for the historical reference (the Great Molasses Flood).

Which of the above do you like best?

110+ Hidden Gems: Rare Baby Girl Names

gemstoneWant a girl name that’s not popular, but also not made-up?

I looked through the names at the bottom of SSA’s 2011 mega-list and found a bunch of hidden gems:

  1. Alberta (9 baby girls)
  2. Alexandrina (6)
  3. Amity (28)
  4. Apollonia (21)
  5. Augusta (31)
  6. Augustina (15)
  7. Avelina (34)
  8. Bernadine (6)
  9. Bertha (45)
  10. Bettina (8)
  11. Blanche (6)
  12. Bryony (5); Briony (16)
  13. Carlotta (20)
  14. Celestina (19)
  15. Celestine (7)
  16. Cicely (14)
  17. Claribel (19)
  18. Clarice (37)
  19. Clarity (17)
  20. Claudette (9)
  21. Claudine (9)
  22. Clementina (7)
  23. Constantina (5)
  24. Coretta (5)
  25. Corinna (37)
  26. Cornelia (17)
  27. Damiana (10)
  28. Davida (10)
  29. Delphine (26)
  30. Dinah (44)
  31. Dolores (39)
  32. Dorothea (15)
  33. Edwina (8)
  34. Eloisa (42)
  35. Enid (15)
  36. Ernestina (5)
  37. Eugenia (29)
  38. Eugenie (8)
  39. Eulalia (25)
  40. Euphemia (5)
  41. Evita (13)
  42. Fabiana (47)
  43. Faustina (21)
  44. Flavia (12)
  45. Floriana (6)
  46. Florina (6)
  47. Georgette (24)
  48. Gertrude (16)
  49. Gloriana (22)
  50. Golda (34)
  51. Goldie (37)
  52. Heloise (8)
  53. Henrietta (34)
  54. Hilda (40)
  55. Imelda (23)
  56. Io (9)
  57. Ione (26)
  58. Isidora (13)
  59. Jeanne (39)
  60. Josette (27)
  61. Junia (17)
  62. Linnaea (12)
  63. Lucette (7)
  64. Lucienne (43)
  65. Lucilla (12)
  66. Marietta (22)
  67. Maude (9)
  68. Mavis (38)
  69. Minerva (38)
  70. Nanette (8)
  71. Nell (32)
  72. Nella (38)
  73. Nicola (30)
  74. Nicoletta (19)
  75. Nicolina (29)
  76. Odette (48)
  77. Olympia (22)
  78. Orla (28); Orlagh (6)
  79. Phillipa (10)
  80. Philomena (41)
  81. Phyllis (20)
  82. Rhoda (28)
  83. Romana (6)
  84. Rosabella (46)
  85. Rosalba (17)
  86. Rosaline (20)
  87. Rosella (26)
  88. Rosetta (25)
  89. Rosette (5)
  90. Rosina (17)
  91. Rowena (15)
  92. Rubina (5)
  93. Rue (13)
  94. Sebastiana (5)
  95. Seraphine (19)
  96. Sigrid (15)
  97. Stephania (32)
  98. Sybilla (5)
  99. Talulla (5)
  100. Therese (47)
  101. Thomasina (6)
  102. Thora (19)
  103. Tova (43)
  104. Ulyssa (8)
  105. Ursula (25)
  106. Vashti (16)
  107. Verity (38)
  108. Violetta (46)
  109. Vita (36)
  110. Wanda (23)
  111. Winifred (30)
  112. Winona (20)
  113. Xanthe (7)
  114. Zenaida (36)
  115. Zenobia (22)
  116. Zillah (9)
  117. Zipporah (41); Tzipporah (12)

(In some cases, a different spelling of the name is more popular than what’s shown here. For instance, Isidora is rare, but Isadora is more common.)

Like any of these?

Did you spot any other great end-of-the-list names?

See the boys’ list, or check out the Rare Baby Names page.

Where Did Wanza Come From?

Wanza was a top newbie baby name of 1915. That year, at least 33 U.S. babies were named Wanza:

  • 1919: 8 baby girls named Wanza
  • 1918: 12 baby girls named Wanza
  • 1917: 7 baby girls named Wanza
  • 1916: 13 baby girls named Wanza
  • 1915: 33 baby girls named Wanza [debut]
  • 1914: unlisted

The name appeared on the SSA’s baby name list most years until the ’60s, but it never hit as high as 33 again.

Where did it come from?

I have no idea.

The name Wanda was on the rise from the late 1800s through the 1930s, and Wanda’s surge in popularity gave other Wan-names (e.g., Waneta, Wanita) a boost. This probably helped Wanza a bit. But it doesn’t explain why dozens babies were suddenly named Wanza in 1915.

I thought I’d found the answer in Mae Van Norman Long’s novel The Wonder Woman, which features a character named Wanza, but the book wasn’t published until 1917 — following the trend, not sparking it.

Any ideas on this one?