What gave the baby name Quentin a boost in the late 1910s?

Presidential son Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918)
Quentin Roosevelt

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Quentin saw a significant increase in usage at the end of the 1910s:

  • 1921: 233 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 401st]
  • 1920: 337 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 312nd]
  • 1919: 567 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 220th]
  • 1918: 480 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 243rd]
  • 1917: 72 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 736th]
  • 1916: 53 baby boys named Quentin [rank: 869th]

Quentin was the fastest-rising baby name of 1918, in fact.

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Quentin in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Quentin

The name’s sudden trendiness also gave a boost to similarly spelled names, such as Quinton, Quinten, Quenton, and Quenten (which debuted in 1918).

What was behind the rise?

The death of Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest son of then-president Theodore Roosevelt.

Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, a pilot in the U.S. Army, was killed in action during World War I. He was shot down behind German lines on July 14, 1918.

His three older brothers — Theodore III, Kermit, and Archibald — also served during WWI, but all three survived. Quentin remains the only child of a sitting U.S. president to have died in combat.

One of Quentin’s 1919 namesakes was his own nephew, born to his eldest brother (Ted) in November of that year.

One of his non-human namesakes was the town of Quentin, Pennsylvania. It was formerly called Bismarck, after German statesman Otto von Bismarck, but the town’s residents wished to “remove the odium of [that] Teutonic name” after the U.S. entered the war against Germany.

Quentin, Pennsylvania

In his letter of thanks to the town, Theodore Roosevelt noted:

The name, by the way, is pronounced, in English fashion, exactly as it is spelt.

What are your thoughts on the name Quentin?


Top image: Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, 95th Aero Squadron

2 thoughts on “What gave the baby name Quentin a boost in the late 1910s?

  1. I love how his own nephew was named after Quentin Roosevelt.

    I looked at the visual and think the 1990’s saw an interesting increase as well! Quentin (Tarantino), who was given a terribly outdated name in 1963. I wonder if he ever realized he didn’t just influence the world with his movies, but with his “old man” name too! Reservoir Dogs came out in 1992: an immediate effect.

    Interestingly Theo/Theodore and Archie/Archibald are back in fashion too, so now let’s wait for Kermit :)

    NB In the Netherlands Quentin never caught on; it’s closer associated with Roald Dahl’s illustrator Quentin Blake than with the filmmaker to begin with. Quinten however was a super popular name in the early 2000’s, starting to rise at around the same time Quentin became popular in the US. This had nothing to do with Quentin Taratino (or Quentin Roosevelt), but everything with the main character in a (Dutch) bestseller book/movie called The Discovery of Heaven.

  2. Good call regarding the influence of Quentin Tarantino in the ’90s! That’s definitely it.

    Kermit will come back eventually. Who knows when, though. No doubt it’s hard for parents to look past the overriding association with the Muppet. It would help if there were a pop star or a movie star named Kermit — some newer, cooler association to revive the name.

    Incidentally, I’ve got a post about Kermit Roosevelt scheduled for tomorrow. :)

    I had no idea that Quinten was particularly trendy in the Netherlands at that time! Thank you for that explanation — very cool! (If anyone is curious about the book, here’s the Wikipedia page for The Discovery of Heaven.)

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