Where did the baby name Bree come from in the early 1970s?

The character Bree Daniels (played by Jane Fonda) from the movie "Klute" (1971).
Bree Daniels from “Klute

The brief name Bree was trendy in the U.S. during the 1970s:

  • 1978: 236 baby girls named Bree [rank: 675th]
  • 1977: 273 baby girls named Bree [rank: 616th]
  • 1976: 241 baby girls named Bree [rank: 642nd]
  • 1975: 160 baby girls named Bree [rank: 841st]
  • 1974: 132 baby girls named Bree [rank: 937th]
  • 1973: 91 baby girls named Bree
  • 1972: 131 baby girls named Bree [rank: 938th]
  • 1971: 30 baby girls named Bree [debut]
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: unlisted

It debuted in the data in 1971 and broke into the top 1,000 the very next year. The 1977 usage remained the high-point overall until the early 2000s.

Graph of the popularity of the baby name Bree in the United States.
Usage of the baby name Bree

The variants Brie, Breigh, Bre, Brea, Bri, and Brei also debuted in the ’70s, as did similar names like Bria and Breea.

(I should mention that the male name Brian hit peak usage in 1972. No doubt this helped expectant parents appreciate the sound of “Bree” that much more.)

So…what kicked off the Bree-trend?

The 1971 crime-thriller movie Klute, which starred Jane Fonda as a New York call girl named Bree Daniels. Fonda’s performance won her the Oscar for Best Actress in early 1972.

Judging by the TV schedules, 1974 is when Klute started airing on television. This is what accounts for the name seeing a dip in usage in 1973, then rebounding in 1974.

The name Bree is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Bríghe, a contracted form of Brighid, meaning “exalted one.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Bree? Would you use it?

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