How popular is the baby name Will 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 Will.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Will


Posts that Mention the Name Will

Sheena: Jungle Queen & Baby Name

sheena, queen of the jungle, comic, 1940s, baby nameIf you meet someone in the U.S. named Sheena, chances are she was born in the 1980s. That’s when the usage of baby name Sheena spiked impressively thanks to Scottish singer Sheena Easton, whose first big hit was “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” and whose name was no doubt based on Sìne, the Scottish form of Jeanne.

But the name Sheena has been on the onomastic map (here in the U.S.) a lot longer than that. And I think the initial influence was a comic book character.

“Queen of the Jungle” Sheena, who always wore a skimpy, leopard-print outfit, started appearing in the adventure anthology comic book Jumbo Comics in 1938. She’d been created by artist Will Eisner as a female counterpart to Tarzan, and her name was inspired by H. Rider Haggard’s novel She: A History of Adventure.

By the second half of 1940, Sheena was being featured on the cover of Jumbo Comics regularly. And in the spring of 1942, Sheena became the first female character to star in her own comic book in the spin-off series Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. (The first issue of Wonder Woman didn’t appear until later in 1942.)

Around the same time, the baby name Sheena debuted in the SSA’s baby name data:

  • 1945: 14 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1944: 11 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Sheena [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

The next decade, Sheena got her own TV series. Sheena, Queen of the Jungle first aired from 1955 to 1956 and the title character was played by Nellie Elizabeth “Irish” McCalla. The show gave the name a boost in the mid-1950s:

  • 1958: 121 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1957: 163 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1956: 136 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1955: 34 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1954: 20 baby girls named Sheena

The name got another (lesser) boost in the late ’70s with the release of the Ramones song “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” (1977), but it was nothing like the rise that was to come a few years later thanks to Sheena Easton.

What are your thoughts on the name Sheena?

Sources: Sìne – Behind the Name, Eisner and Iger – WillEisner.com, First female character to star in her own comic book | Guinness World Records
Image from the Digital Comic Museum.

The Coming of Clu

The baby name Clu debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1962.

The curious name Clu first surfaced in the U.S. baby name data in 1962:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby boys named Clu [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

After that it never came back, making it a one-hit wonder.

Where did it come from?

William Martin “Clu” Gulager, an actor who appeared primarily on television during the early ’60s. Most notably, he co-starred in the NBC series The Tall Man (1960-1962) as a very fictionalized version of Billy the Kid. He could also be seen on shows like Wagon Train and The Virginian around that time.

Clu Gulager was born in Oklahoma in 1928, and was a member of the Cherokee Nation. “Clu” wasn’t a stage name — it was an inherited childhood nickname. He was named directly after his father’s older brother, William Martin “Clu Clu” Gulager, who served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1922 to 1930.

The nickname “Clu Clu” came from the Cherokee word clu-clu or tlu-tlu, which referred to the purple martin (a type of bird).

What do you think of the baby name Clu?

Sources:

P.S. One of Clu’s distanct relatives was fellow entertainer Will Rogers.

Name Quotes #61: Madeleine, Tim, Clara

It’s the first Monday of the month, so it’s time for some name quotes!

From a Vice interview with Jeff Goldblum:

Vice: Amazing. That’s Charlie Ocean right?

Jeff: Yeah that’s Charlie Ocean! And then our other son [with wife Emilie Livingston, a Canadian aerialist, actress, and former Olympian] who’s now 11 months old is River Joe.

Vice: Any musical streaks in either of them yet?

Jeff: I’ve always sat at the piano these last couple years with Charlie Ocean and he kinda bangs around. But I must say, River Joe, when I play or we put on music, boy he’s just standing up at this point, but he rocks to the music and bounces up and down. He seems to really like it so maybe he’s musical. I’d like to play with them.

(I am fascinated by the fact that the boys aren’t simply Charlie and Joe. Clearly the water aspect of each name requires emphasis every time.)

From the essay Forgetting the Madeleine, written by pastry chef Frances Leech:

In reality, I was named for two grandmothers: Jenny Frances and Lucy Madeleine. However, when I introduce myself at baking classes, I lie.

“My parents named me after the most famous pastry in French literature.”

It is a good name for a pâtissier, a pastry chef, and a good story to tell. The mnemonic sticks in my students’ minds, and after three hours and four cakes made together, they remember me as Madeleine and not Frances. Stories make for powerful anchors, even when the truth is twisted for dramatic effect.

From an article about chef Auguste Escoffier, who named his dishes after the rich and famous:

Escoffier came up with thousands of new recipes, many of which he served at London’s Savoy Hotel and the Paris Ritz. Some were genuine leaps of ingenuity, others a twist on a classic French dish. Many carry someone else’s name. In early dishes, these are often historical greats: Oeufs Rossini, for the composer; Consommé Zola, for the writer; Omelette Agnès Sorel, for the mistress of Charles VII. Later on, however, Escoffier made a habit of giving dishes the handles of people who, in their day, were virtual household names: An entire choir of opera singers’ names are to be found in Escoffier’s cookery books. The most famous examples are likely Melba toast and Peach Melba, for the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba, though there are hundreds of others.

An essay about the plight of people named Tim, by Tim Dowling:

A lot of baggage comes with the name Tim. I have not forgotten Martin Amis’s 20-year-old description of Tim Henman as “the first human being called Tim to achieve anything at all”. More recently Will Self wrote: “There’s little doubt that your life chances will be constrained should your otherwise risk-averse parents have had the temerity to Tim you.” This was in a review of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, the many faults of which Self put down to founder Tim Martin never being able “to escape the fact of his Timness”.

[…]

Amis and Self believe the poor showing of Tims is the result of nominative determinism: the name Tim carries expectations of inconsequentiality that anyone so christened will eventually come to embody. Gallingly, research suggests they may be right.

From an article about Spanish babies being named after soccer players’ babies:

This was clearly shown when Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s first son Thiago was born to partner Antonella Roccuzzo in November 2012. That year the name Thiago did not appear in the Top 100 boys names given to babies in Spain, according to Spain’s National Statistics Agency [INE].

[…]

Something similar happened when Mateo Messi was born in Sep 2015. In just 12 months Mateo climbed from 14th to 9th most popular name among Spanish parents. Ciro Messi, born in March this year, will surely see the originally Persian name break into the top 100.

From an article about UC Berkeley student (and mom) Natalie Ruiz:

Doe Library’s North Reading Room became Ruiz’s haven. “It was one of the few quiet places where I felt I could focus,” she says. “That season of my life was extremely dark; I didn’t know if I’d make it to graduation, or how I could possibly raise a baby at this time.”

One day at the library, she noticed light shining down on her growing belly, right over the university seal on her T-shirt and the words “fiat lux.” She and Blanchard had considered Lillian or Clara as baby names, but now the choice was made.

“I felt my daughter kick, and it occurred to me that clara in Spanish means ‘bright,’ and I imagined the way that this baby could and would be the bright light at the end of this dark season,” says Ruiz, who gave birth to Clara on May 15, 2014.

From an interview with entrepreneur Eden Blackman:

For many entrepreneurs, starting a business often feels like bringing new life into the world. It’s not every day though, that your endeavours result in a baby named in your honour.

“That’s the pinnacle for me, it’s simply mind-blowing,” says Eden Blackman, founder of online dating business Would Like to Meet and namesake of young Eden, whose parents met on the site several years ago. “That is amazing and quite a lot to take on but it’s a beautiful thing.”

From the article Do You Like Your Name? by Arthur C. Brooks (found via Nameberry):

I cringe a little whenever I hear someone say my name, and have ever since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is of a lady in a department store asking me my name and bursting out laughing when I said, “Arthur.”

Before you judge that lady, let’s acknowledge that it is actually pretty amusing to meet a little kid with an old man’s name. According to the Social Security Administration, “Arthur” maxed out in popularity back in the ’90s. That is, the 1890s. It has fallen like a rock in popularity since then. I was named after my grandfather, and even he complained that his name made him sound old. Currently, “Arthur” doesn’t even crack the top 200 boys’ names. Since 2013, it has been beaten in popularity by “Maximus” (No. 200 last year) and “Maverick” (No. 85).

One thing I constantly hear from people I meet for the first time is, “I imagined you as being much older.” I don’t take this as flattery, because at 54, I’m really not that young. What they are saying is that they imagined someone about 100 years old.

To see more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

Do We Need to Talk About Kevin?

kevin, home aloneHave you heard of “Kevinism”? It’s Europe’s bias against people who have first names that are “culturally devalued” like Kevin, Chantal, Mandy and Justin — names that were popularized by American pop culture, typically.

In the case of Kevin, actors like Kevin Costner and Kevin Bacon — not to mention the very successful 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone, in which the lead character was a young Kevin — made the name very trendy overseas in the early 1990s. In fact, it hit #1 in several European countries, including France and Switzerland.

But after the trend cooled off, the backlash began. And it’s so bad now that, just a few years ago, a German schoolteacher told researchers that Kevin is “not a name, but a diagnosis.”

Which makes this recent observation by Andrew Gruttadaro of The Ringer all the more interesting: “Of the scripted shows on the four major [U.S.] networks that currently include a first name in the title–Kevin Can Wait, Young Sheldon, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Bob’s Burgers, Will & Grace, and Marlon–33 percent of them feature a Kevin.”

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition. Kevin has apparently hit some sort of nostalgic sweet-spot for American TV audiences, and, at the same time, it’s so disliked overseas that an entirely new word has been coined to describe the prejudice.

I wonder if those American shows are being seen in Europe and, if so, whether they’ll affect Kevinism. Will they exacerbate it? Eradicate it? Hm…

Where do you live, and how do you feel about the name Kevin?

Sources: Kevin, Chantal among worst names for online dating, We need to talk about Kévin: Why France fell in (and out of) love with a name, Why Are There So Many Kevins on TV?

Five-Name Friday: Girl Name for Will’s Sister

five name friday, girl name

It’s an unseasonably warm day, so you decide to take a walk around the neighborhood. At one point you encounter a nice lady with a little boy in a stroller. As the two of you chat, the lady mentions that she and her husband are now expecting a baby girl, but they aren’t sure what to name her. Here’s the gist of the situation:

We are naming baby number 2, our son’s name is William “Will” Michael. I like Annabel, Linley & Ava but he likes McKenna, Keira & Campbell.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions on the spot. But her young son is starting to get cranky, so you decide to stick to five baby name suggestions so the lady can get on with her day.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with, you get to press a magical “pause” button, think for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer him the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in public?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

We are naming baby number 2, our son’s name is William “Will” Michael. I like Annabel, Linley & Ava but he likes McKenna, Keira & Campbell.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]