Mystery baby name: Theta

Back in 1907, the baby name Theta debuted on the SSA’s baby name list, making the top 1,000 for the first and only time:

  • 1909: 7 baby girls named Theta
  • 1908: 6 baby girls named Theta
  • 1907: 20 baby girls named Theta (rank: 868th) [debut]
  • 1906: unlisted
  • 1905: unlisted

Theta was not only the top debut name that year, but it was also one of the top debut names of the entire decade (tied with Rosevelt, a misspelling of Roosevelt that debuted in 1900 with 20 baby boys).

Here are the SSA and SSDI numbers side by side:

19097 Thetas13 Thetas
19086 Thetas21 Thetas
190720 Thetas36 Thetas
1906unlisted6 Thetas
1905unlisted8 Thetas

While neither set of data is perfect, both indicate that Theta saw increased usage in 1907. I can’t figure out why, though. Literature is often a good bet for this time period, but so far I’ve been unable to link Theta to a particular book or story.

Do you have any idea where Theta came from?

P.S. If you’d like to try a search and want to eliminate all the other Greek letters from your results, add this to your search string:

-alpha -beta -gamma -delta -epsilon -zeta -eta -iota -kappa -lambda -mu -nu -xi -omicron -pi -rho -sigma -tau -upsilon -phi -chi -psi -omega

2 thoughts on “Mystery baby name: Theta

  1. Hi,

    I actually think it may be connected to Greek letters. Alpha, Iota and Delta all had a spike in 1916, and Eta in 1922. Perhaps it was the first graduates of college fraternities, or something similar that caused all these names to become popular at a similar time?

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