Where did the baby name Ebba come from in 1888?

Princess Ebba Bernadotte (1858-1946)
Ebba Bernadotte

Way back in 1888, the name Ebba appeared for the very first time in the U.S. baby name data. It was the top debut name of the year, in fact.

According to the SSA, Ebba became the name of at least 18 U.S. baby girls in 1888:

  • 1890: 13 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1889: 13 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1888: 18 baby girls named Ebba [debut]
  • 1887: unlisted
  • 1886: unlisted

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) reveals that the actual number is closer to 50:

  • 1890: 51 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1889: 38 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1888: 51 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1887: 15 baby girls named Ebba
  • 1886: 11 baby girls named Ebba

Why the Ebba spike?

Because of Princess Ebba Bernadotte of Sweden.

Born Ebba Henrietta Munck to a noble family in 1858, she became a lady-in-waiting to the Crown Princess, Viktoria of Baden, as a young woman. (Viktoria would go on to become the queen of Sweden in 1907 when her husband, Gustaf, became king.)

Ebba and the future king’s little brother, Prince Oscar, met in 1885. They wanted to marry, but weren’t permitted to do so until several years later, as Ebba was a non-royal and Oscar’s parents wouldn’t consent.

They finally became engaged in January of 1888, and got married in March of 1888. Both events were mentioned in many U.S. newspapers.

By marrying Ebba, Oscar gave up both his royal title and his right of succession to the Swedish throne. By marrying Oscar, Ebba became Princess Ebba Bernadotte. (She couldn’t become an official Princess of Sweden, so her title was derived from the name of the royal House of Bernadotte.)

Where does Ebba’s name come from? It’s a feminized form of Ebbe, a diminutive of Germanic names like Eberhard. The element eber means “boar.”

What are your thoughts on the name Ebba?


One thought on “Where did the baby name Ebba come from in 1888?

  1. Sending this to my high school friend Ebba (who was probably born around 1983-1984).

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