What popularized the baby name Velvet?

Poster for the movie "National Velvet" (1944).
“National Velvet” movie poster

In the early 1900s, not many baby girls were named Velvet.

The 1935 publication of Enid Bagnold’s book National Velvet — which featured a 14-year-old main character named Velvet Brown — didn’t change the situation appreciably.

But when the book’s movie adaptation — which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney — was released at the very end of 1944, the baby name Velvet became more popular. In fact, it re-emerged in the U.S. baby name data rather impressively the following year:

  • 1947: 16 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1946: 33 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1945: 36 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: unlisted

The thing that really gave the name Velvet a boost, though? The television adaptation, which aired on NBC from 1960 to 1962 and starred Lori Martin as Velvet Brown.

  • 1965: 85 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1964: 117 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 988th)
  • 1963: 143 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 883rd)
  • 1962: 261 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 626th)
  • 1961: 331 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 542nd)
  • 1960: 74 baby girls named Velvet

Those four years (1961-1964) are the only years Velvet ranked among the 1,000 most popular baby girl names in the U.S.

(The name Lori saw peak usage in the early ’60s as well, and the name of Velvet’s sister Edwina also got a boost.)

Nowadays, the popularity of Velvet is close to what it was 100 years ago.

  • 2011: 9 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2010: 5 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2009: 9 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2008: 17 baby girls named Velvet

Do you like the name Velvet?

P.S. The word velvet can be traced back to the Latin word villus, meaning “shaggy hair” or “tuft of hair.”

One thought on “What popularized the baby name Velvet?

  1. I woke up this morning after dreaming that I had named my daughter Velvet – in my dream I named her for the feeling of her soft, downy newborn cheek. Mentioned it to my partner and it’s on the list now!

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