How popular is the baby name Willie 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 Willie.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Willie


Posts that Mention the Name Willie

The Appearance of Pashen (& Passion)

The baby name Pashen debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1974.

I’ve known for a while that the baby name Passion debuted impressively in 1974. Not as high as Nakia, but higher than Savalas.

  • 1976: 30 baby girls named Passion
  • 1975: 34 baby girls named Passion
  • 1974: 34 baby girls named Passion [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: unlisted

I occasionally looked for a reason, but never spent too much time on it because word-names are notoriously tricky to research.

Then I happened to discover something about the like-sounding name Pashen — which also debuted in ’74, and which I thought was merely a variant of Passion.

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 6 baby girls named Pashen
  • 1974: 9 baby girls named Pashen [debut & peak]
  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: unlisted

As it turns out, the blaxploitation movie Willie Dynamite, which was released nationally in early 1974, featured a female character named Pashen (played by Joyce Walker). Willie was a New York City pimp, and Pashen was one of his call girls. Here’s how Pashen’s name appears in the end credits:

pashen, spelling, willie dynamite, 1970s, movie

So: “Pashen” was the main form of the name, while “Passion” — despite being correctly spelled — was the variant form. (Other variant forms that also debuted in 1974 were Pashion and the one-hit wonder Pashun.)

Since then, though, “Passion” has emerged as the preferred spelling among expectant parents. Well over 2,000 baby girls have been named Passion since the mid-1970s, whereas only about two dozen baby girls have been named Pashen.

What are your thoughts on these names? Which spelling do you prefer?

Source: Willie Dynamite (1974) – IMDb

P.S. The actor who played Willie Dynamite, Roscoe Orman, was also Gordon on Sesame Street!

More Top Baby Name Drops

A couple of weeks a go we checked out the list of top raw-number rises in the U.S. baby name data, so today let’s balance things out with the list of top raw-number drops.

Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.

Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.

  • 1881: Mary, -146; William, -1,008
  • 1882: Lulu, -34; Garfield, -78
  • 1883: Mary, -136; William, -911
  • 1884: Mina, -33; Albert, -61
  • 1885: Sarah, -94; William, -853
  • 1886: Nancy, -35; Grover, -361
  • 1887: Minnie, -157; John, -916
  • 1888: Dorothea, -24; Rudolph, -17
  • 1889: Emma, -203; William, -933
  • 1890: Mollie, -53; William, -278
  • 1891: Mary, -375; John, -821
  • 1892: Jennie, -26; Enoch & Irving, -16 each (tie)
  • 1893: Mary, -390; John, -990
  • 1894: Ruth, -286; Grover, -171
  • 1895: Laura, -87; Charles, -155
  • 1896: Jessie, -197; John, -182
  • 1897: Anna, -431; John, -589
  • 1898: Sophie, -49; Hobart, -63
  • 1899: Mary, -1,234; William, -1,314
  • 1900: Manila, -24; Dewey, -154
  • 1901: Mary, -3,572; John, -2,931
  • 1902: Sophie, -45; Manuel, -32
  • 1903: Mary, -211; William, -305
  • 1904: Lillie, -121; Leo, -83
  • 1905: Florence, -94; Alton, -138
  • 1906: Minnie, -173; Theodore, -146
  • 1907: Bessie & Alice, -85 each (tie); Austin, -27
  • 1908: Evelyn, -178; Theodore, -69
  • 1909: Mae, -154; Ernest, -115
  • 1910: Allie, -35; Delmar & Bruce, -24 each (tie)
  • 1911: Annie, -220; Willie, -405
  • 1912: Dessie, -20; Lawyer & Blas, -12 each (tie)
  • 1913: Carrie, -62; Emerson, -28
  • 1914: Tomasa, -27; Woodrow, -547
  • 1915: Juana, -32; Kermit, -79
  • 1916: Mollie, -88; Willard, -476
  • 1917: Edna, -204; Woodrow, -239
  • 1918: Rose, -215; Frederick, -103
  • 1919: Helen, -2,447; John, -3,029
  • 1920: Sophie, -234; Woodrow, -1,033
  • 1921: Gertrude, -449; Willie, -391
  • 1922: Helen, -2,314; Warren, -3,315
  • 1923: Helen, -1,017; George, -321
  • 1924: Elizabeth, -512; Warren, -1,231
  • 1925: Mary, -2,910; John, -1,878
  • 1926: Mary, -2,773; William, -1,358
  • 1927: Helen, -1,582; William, -479
  • 1928: Mary, -3,756; William, -2,360
  • 1929: Mary, -3,361; John, -1,652
  • 1930: Ruth, -1,079; Herbert, -2,187
  • 1931: Dorothy, -3,884; John, -4,026
  • 1932: Betty, -1,688; Robert, -1,255
  • 1933: Mary, -4,381; Robert, -5,052
  • 1934: Dorothy, -761; Franklin, -1,209
  • 1935: Betty, -2,408; Franklin, -1,543
  • 1936: Shirley, -7,202; Donald, -1,025

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Shirley, -8,337; Donald, -771
  • 1938: Shirley, -3,048; Donald, -1,207
  • 1939: Shirley, -3,320; Robert, -2,630
  • 1940: Shirley, -2,573; Donald, -962
  • 1941: Betty, -1,172; Wendell, -533
  • 1942: Deanna, -408; Billy, -352
  • 1943: Carole, -1,900; Douglas, -3,001
  • 1944: Barbara, -4,242; Robert, -4,008
  • 1945: Mary, -3,184; James, -2,497
  • 1946: Victoria, -280; Victor, -492
    • Top 5 boy-name drops of ’46, in order: Victor, Truman, Franklin, Delano, Roosevelt/Homer (tie)
  • 1947: Carole, -793; Richard, -369
  • 1948: Patricia, -5,144; Richard, -7,570
  • 1949: Linda, -5,192; Ronald, -2,026
  • 1950: Linda, -10,549; John, -1,642
  • 1951: Linda, -6,553; Larry, -1,016
  • 1952: Linda, -6,808; Larry, -2,224
  • 1953: Linda, -5,819; Larry, -3,081
  • 1954: Linda, -5,884; Dennis, -2,860
  • 1955: Mary, -4,830; Gary, -3,499
  • 1956: Deborah, -4,476; David, -4,588
  • 1957: Deborah, -7,778; Gary, -2,286
  • 1958: Cynthia, -8,311; James, -5,502
  • 1959: Debra, -4,166; Michael, -5,209
  • 1960: Debra, -4,626; Richard, -3,619
  • 1961: Donna, -5,468; Richard, -2,432
  • 1962: Mary, -4,163; Mark, -4,234
  • 1963: Linda, -3,754; Mark, -4,150
  • 1964: Lori, -5,280; Mark, -4,073
  • 1965: Mary, -6,709; John, -10,972
  • 1966: Karen, -7,431; John, -6,519
  • 1967: Lisa, -4,483; James, -3,495
  • 1968: Mary, -3,592; David, -3,058
  • 1969: Lisa, -4,494; Timothy, -3,153
  • 1970: Lisa, -6,077; David, -1,953
  • 1971: Lisa, -6,053; David, -8,650
  • 1972: Lisa, -5,357; John, -8,340
  • 1973: Lisa, -4,883; David, -5,267
  • 1974: Lisa, -2,889; Robert, -1,681
  • 1975: Jennifer, -4,926; Brian, -3,864
  • 1976: Michelle, -3,116; Scott, -1,571
  • 1977: Amy, -4,613; Scott, -1,541
  • 1978: Amy, -3,509; Jason, -4,027
  • 1979: Kelly, -1,686; Kevin, -1,373
  • 1980: Melissa, -2,420; Jason, -2,203
  • 1981: Melissa, -3,623; Jason, -6,268
  • 1982: Brooke, -2,183; Jeremy, -2,643
  • 1983: Jennifer, -2,767; Jason, -5,512
  • 1984: Jennifer, -3,784; Jason, -5,167
  • 1985: Jennifer, -7,903; Jason, -3,905
  • 1986: Jennifer, -6,474; Joshua, -4,655
  • 1987: Jennifer, -3,483; Jason, -3,054
  • 1988: Ashley, -4,873; Jason, -3,441
  • 1989: Jennifer, -3,888; Jason, -3,292
  • 1990: Tiffany, -2,555; Adam, -2,216
  • 1991: Brittany, -7,446; Christopher, -5,219
  • 1992: Jessica, -5,047; Michael -6,409
  • 1993: Chelsea, -4,885; Michael, -4,821
  • 1994: Ashley, -4,571; Michael, -5,089
  • 1995: Jessica, -4,175; Michael, -3,060
  • 1996: Jessica, -3,752; Michael, -3,043
  • 1997: Jessica, -3,142; Cody, -2,660
  • 1998: Jessica, -2,816; Christopher, -2,104
  • 1999: Brittany, -1,903; Austin, -2,710
  • 2000: Brittany, -2,760; Austin, -4,824
  • 2001: Hannah, -2,366; Brandon, -2,445
  • 2002: Taylor, -2,220; Jacob, -1,968
  • 2003: Ashanti, -1,983; Austin, -2,850
  • 2004: Hannah, -2,034; Zachary, -1,832
  • 2005: Alexis, -1,503; Jacob, -2,059
  • 2006: Emily, -2,540; Ryan, -1,557
  • 2007: Emily, -2,050; Joshua, -1,664
  • 2008: Hannah, -3,738; Christopher, -2070
  • 2009: Emily, -2,084; Anthony, -2,099
  • 2010: Madison, -2,059; Joshua, -2,219
  • 2011: Isabella, -3,032; Jacob, -1,783
  • 2012: Chloe, -1,361; Jacob, -1,370
  • 2013: Isabella, -1,536; Ethan, -1,494
  • 2014: Sophia, -2,657; Jayden, -1,834
  • 2015: Isabella, -1,523; Jase, -1,459
  • 2016: Sophia, -1,311; Logan, -1,697
  • 2017: Sophia, -1,281; Mason, -1,728
  • 2018: Emily, -1,125; Matthew, -1,747

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.

More Top Baby Name Rises

Having déjà vu?

A couple of months ago, we looked at a long, year-by-year list of the top baby name rises. A month after that, we saw the corresponding list of top drops.

On that second post, Frank B. left a comment in which he asked about absolute rises and drops — because the lists only covered relative movement within the data. So I thought two more posts were in order: top raw-number rises, and top raw-number drops.

We’ll start with the rises again. Just keep in mind that the SSA numbers don’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t quite reflect reality.

Here’s the format: Girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the numbers represent single-year rises in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, the usage of the girl name Ethel increased by 155 babies and the usage of the boy name Chester increased by 106 babies.

  • 1881: Ethel, +155; Chester, +106
  • 1882: Mary, +1,229; John, +788
  • 1883: Bertha, +173; Grover, +71
  • 1884: Mary, +1,205; Grover, +675
  • 1885: Helen, +148; Willie, +36
  • 1886: Mary, +762; John, +270
  • 1887: Ethel, +208; Harold, +55
  • 1888: Mary, +1,866; William, +1,235
  • 1889: Ruth, +223; Russell, +52
  • 1890: Mary, +430; Charlie, +112
  • 1891: Ruth, +662; Theodore & Herbert, +34 (tie)
  • 1892: Mary, +1,471; John, +1,358
  • 1893: Esther, +558; Claude, +41
  • 1894: Marie, +437; John, +189
  • 1895: Anna, +385; James, +225
  • 1896: Helen, +369; William, +470
  • 1897: Thelma, +159; Dewey, +95
  • 1898: Mary, +994; Dewey, +957
  • 1899: Mildred, +188; Kenneth, +24
  • 1900: Mary, +3536; John, +2,840
  • 1901: Retha, +25; Theodore, +21
  • 1902: Mary, +1,350; John, +1,009
  • 1903: Dorothy, +371; Jack, +88
  • 1904: Mary, +687; John, +499
  • 1905: Mary, +1,105; Charles, +201
  • 1906: Alice, +581; Robert, +225
  • 1907: Mary, +1,211; James, +799
  • 1908: Mary, +1,085; William, +622
  • 1909: Helen, +813; James, +582
  • 1910: Mary, +3,589; John, +1,860
  • 1911: Dorothy, +1,551; John, +1,995
  • 1912: Mary, +7,910; John, +11,140
  • 1913: Mary, +4,342; John, +4,738
  • 1914: Mary, +8,705; John, +8,621
  • 1915: Mary, +12,842; John, +9,634
  • 1916: Mary, +3,246; Robert, +3,004
  • 1917: Mary, +2,847; Robert, +3,474
  • 1918: Dorothy, +3,179; Robert, +5,409
  • 1919: Betty, +1,304; Willie, +409
  • 1920: Mary, +5,141; Robert, +7,656
  • 1921: Betty, +3,618; Robert, +4,096
  • 1922: Betty, +3,259; Richard, +1,165
  • 1923: Betty, +5,097; Robert, +2,300
  • 1924: Betty, +4,605; Robert, +4,685
  • 1925: Gloria, +2,835; Richard, +2,034
  • 1926: Barbara, +1,917; Richard, +1,864
  • 1927: Mary, +2,787; Donald, +2,935
  • 1928: Dolores, +2,843; Herbert, +3,049
  • 1929: Joan, +3,806; Donald, +1,456
  • 1930: Joan, +3,812; Richard, +2,602
  • 1931: Joan, +3,633; Ronald, +1,086
  • 1932: Barbara, +4,514; Ronald, +4,411
  • 1933: Carol, +1,650; Franklin, +2,603
  • 1934: Shirley, +8,523; James, +3,124
  • 1935: Shirley, +19,514; David, +1,664
  • 1936: Carol, +2,785; Robert, +1,968

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Barbara, +3,230; David, +3,493
  • 1938: Judith, +4,729; James, +2,526
  • 1939: Judith, +5,748; David, +2,366
  • 1940: Linda, +7,657; John, +3,739
  • 1941: Linda, +5,355; James, +4,262
  • 1942: Linda, +7,882; James, +10,450
  • 1943: Linda, +6,831; James, +3,072
  • 1944: Cheryl, +5,092; Gary, +2,192
  • 1945: Linda, +3,065; Michael, +3,179
  • 1946: Linda, +11,239; Robert, +14,194
  • 1947: Linda, +46,978; David, +11,381
  • 1948: Deborah, +5,409; Mark, +2,503
  • 1949: Deborah, +7,953; Michael, +7,417
  • 1950: Deborah, +9,877; Michael, +5,220
  • 1951: Deborah, +12,954; Michael, +7,531
  • 1952: Debra, +9,782; David, +7,043
  • 1953: Debra, +10,015; Michael, +5,172
  • 1954: Debra, +9,029; Mark, +6,899
  • 1955: Debra, +4,653; David, +6,653
  • 1956: Karen, +6,843; Mark, +6,596
  • 1957: Cindy, +10,268; Mark, +4,020
  • 1958: Tammy, +5,618; Timothy, +4,011
  • 1959: Donna, +9,517; Mark, +4,260
  • 1960: Lisa, +8,013; Jeffrey, +2,564
  • 1961: Lisa, +8,983; Todd, +4,005
  • 1962: Lisa, +3,394; Scott, +6,790
  • 1963: Lisa, +9,951; Paul, +2,884
  • 1964: Dawn, +4,196; John, +3,900
  • 1965: Lisa, +5,990; Rodney, +5,013
  • 1966: Michelle, +10,937; Christopher, +3,228
  • 1967: Melissa, +4,114; Matthew, +2,778
  • 1968: Jennifer, +8,612; Matthew, +2,253
  • 1969: Jennifer, +6,858; Jason, +9,346
  • 1970: Jennifer, +12,455; Jason, +10,788
  • 1971: Jennifer, +10,626; Jason, +6,897
  • 1972: Jennifer, +6,820; Christopher, +3,954
  • 1973: Heather, +3,032; Jason, +9,236
  • 1974: Heather, +3,836; Jason, +8,082
  • 1975: Amanda, +5,177; Joshua, +2,968
  • 1976: Jamie, +8,306; Jeremy, +4,940
  • 1977: Jessica, +6,467; Joshua, +5,205
  • 1978: Crystal, +2,865; Nicholas, +10,274
  • 1979: Amanda, +11,406; Joshua, +5,921
  • 1980: Tiffany, +6,614; Justin, +9,355
  • 1981: Jessica, +8,602; Brandon, +6,048
  • 1982: Ashley, +5,971; Christopher, +8,995
  • 1983: Ashley, +18,435; Kyle, +4,161
  • 1984: Ashley, +5,478; Joshua, +3,551
  • 1985: Ashley, +8,242; Andrew, +4,252
  • 1986: Whitney, +5,699; Andrew, +3,682
  • 1987: Kayla, +5,917; Justin, +4,874
  • 1988: Brittany, +4,594; Justin, +3,545
  • 1989: Brittany, +10,969; Ethan, +3,162
  • 1990: Taylor, +3,188; Jordan, +5,257
  • 1991: Shelby, +6,703; Dylan, +5,349
  • 1992: Taylor, +4,696; Dylan, +5,298
  • 1993: Taylor, +6,318; Austin, +6,125
  • 1994: Alexis, +2,208; Austin, +5,616
  • 1995: Madison, +3,516; Austin, +2,714
  • 1996: Madison, +3,632; Noah, +3,360
  • 1997: Hannah, +1,993; Jacob, +2,237
  • 1998: Emma, +2,700; Noah, +4,137
  • 1999: Grace, +3,460; Seth, +1,718
  • 2000: Trinity, +2,803; Ethan, +3,783
  • 2001: Isabella, +2,587; Logan, +2,973
  • 2002: Isabella, +3,334; Ethan, +4,143
  • 2003: Emma, +6,170; Aidan, +3,108
  • 2004: Ava, +2,364; Aiden, +1,472
  • 2005: Ava, +4,959; Landon, +2,070
  • 2006: Addison, +4,595; Aiden, +2,492
  • 2007: Addison, +4,328; Jayden, +5,596
  • 2008: Peyton, +1,954; Aiden, +2,472
  • 2009: Isabella, +3,667; Liam, +2,582
  • 2010: Sophia, +3,680; Mason, +4,139
  • 2011: Harper, +2,032; Mason, +4,650
  • 2012: Harper, +2,496; Liam, +3,286
  • 2013: Sadie, +2,031; Jase, +3,410
  • 2014: Olivia, +1,308; Oliver, +2,116
  • 2015: Alexa, +1,786; Oliver, +2,181
  • 2016: Adeline, +1,700; Mateo, +1,516
  • 2017: Luna, +1,657; Logan, +2,748
  • 2018: Mila, +2,162; Theodore, +1,070

Some of these names I’ve written about already, and others I plan to write about in the future. If you can give explanations for any of those others right now, though, feel free! Just leave a comment…

What Would You Name the Catfish-Riding Boy?

little boy, large catfish, old photo, texas, 1940s

This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.

The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.

The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.

So let’s turn this into a name game!

First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:

  • What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
  • What would you have named him?

Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:

Albert
Arthur
Carl/Charles
Clarence
Daniel
David
Don/Donald
Edward/Eddie
Ernest
Frank
Fred
Gary
Gene/Eugene
George
Gerald
Harold
Henry
Jack
James
Jerry
Jesse
Jesus
Jimmie/Jimmy
Joe/Joseph
John/Johnny
Jose
Juan
Kenneth
Larry
Louis
Manuel
Melvin
Paul
Raymond
Richard
Robert/Bobby
Ronald
Roy
Thomas/Tommy
Walter

For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)

(If you like this game, here’s a similar one from years ago: What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?)