How popular is the baby name Adolf in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Adolf.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Adolf


Posts that Mention the Name Adolf

King family name change: Michael to Martin Luther

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr., was not born with the name “Martin”?

Martin Luther King, Sr., was originally named Michael King. When he welcomed his second child (and first son) in early 1929, the baby was named Michael as well.

Several years later, in 1934, Rev. Michael King — a pastor in Atlanta — traveled overseas to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin. While there, he “witnessed the beginnings of Nazi Germany” under Germany’s new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which led to a split with the Catholic Church.

When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name and his son’s from Michael to Martin Luther, after the German Protestant leader.

The name on MLK Jr.’s birth certificate wasn’t officially changed from “Michael” to “Martin Luther” until 1957, when he was 28.

Source: Clanton, Nancy. “Why Martin Luther King Jr.’s father changed their names.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 15 Jan. 2021.

Name quotes #80: Jamie, Imogen, John

double quotation mark

Time for the latest batch of name-related quotations!

From a 1997 article in Jet magazine about how Jamie Foxx (born Eric Bishop) found success in comedy after changing his name:

Foxx, who was determined to make it as a stand-up comedian, went to Santa Monica “where nobody really knew who I was,” he reveals, “and changed my name to Jamie Foxx.” He remembers, “Three girls would show up and 22 guys would show up [at Amateur Night]. They had to put all the girls on who were on the list to break up the monotony. So when they look up and they see Tracey Green, Tracey Brown, and these unisex names I had written on the list, they picked Jamie Foxx. ‘Is she here?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Brother, right over here man,'” Foxx said in a deep, macho voice. “I’d go up and do my thing with the Cosby and Tyson (impersonations), and they were like ‘Who is this Jamie Foxx kid?'”

From an opinion piece asking scientists to stop naming species after awful people:

There’s even a beetle named after Adolf Hitler, and specimens have become a collectible item among neo-Nazis to the point that it’s actually affecting wild populations of the species.

From an Eater article about the delicious pork product Spam:

Although lore behind the name Spam varies, [George A.] Hormel himself claimed the product was named for a combination of the words “spice” and “ham,” despite the fact that neither ingredient appears in Spam. The confusion has led some to speculate that Spam is an acronym for “Shoulder of Pork And Ham,” but company line gives Kenneth Daigneau, the brother of a Hormel VP, credit for naming the product. As Hormel tells it, he launched a naming contest for the new product during a New Year’s Eve party, when Daigneau spit out “Spam” as if “it were nothing at all,” Hormel told Gill. “I knew then and there that the name was perfect.”

From an article about Amazon Alexa’s influence on the baby name Alexa:

About 4,250 Alexas are turning five in the U.S. this year. One of them is Amazon’s.

The voice-computing technology that can now control more than 85,000 different devices debuted Nov. 6, 2014.

[…]

In 2015, the year after Amazon Alexa debuted, Alexa was the 32nd most popular female baby name in the U.S., bestowed upon 6,052 newborns that year, according to Social Security Administration data.

Alexa as a baby name has since declined in popularity.

From a DMNES blog post announcing the publication of “Names Shakespeare Didn’t Invent“:

In this article, we revisit three names which are often listed as coinages of Shakespeare’s and show that this received wisdom, though oft-repeated, is in fact incorrect. The three names are Imogen, the heroine of Cymbeline; and Olivia and Viola, the heroines of Twelfth Night. All three of these names pre-date Shakespeare’s use. Further, we show in two of the three cases that it is plausible that Shakespeare was familiar with this earlier usage.

From an article about a surname mash-up in Australia:

Sydney couple Courtney Cassar, 31, and Laura Sheldon, 29, welcomed daughter Lyla Jill last month, but rather than using a hyphen between their family names, they bestowed the ‘mashed-up’ moniker ‘Casseldon’ on their baby girl instead.

From a Fader article about musician/rapper (and snappy dresser) Fonzworth Bentley:

That man was Derek Watkins, but he’d become known to millions as Fonzworth Bentley. His moniker was inspired in part by Bootney Lee Farnsworth, the underdog boxer from the 1975 Sidney Poitier-directed movie Let’s Do It Again.

From an article about the most common names among students at Michigan’s conservative Hillsdale College, which has about 1,500 undergraduates:

The most popular names at Hillsdale are John, with 22 carrying the name; Hannah, appearing 20 times; and Andrew, Emma, and Jacob, which all appear 19 times. Other popular names include Jacob [sic], Michael, Joseph, Matthew, Nicholas, Sarah, and Emily.

Several of these names are popular nationwide, but Hillsdale bucks certain national trends. Many of these students are namesakes to biblical or family figures. 

[…]

The majority of Hillsdale students are between the ages of 18 and 22, with a large portion born in the early 2000s.

Baby name story: Sam

Uncle Sam army poster

On July 9, 1943, the Allies invaded the island of Sicily. Within six weeks they had expelled the Axis entirely, opening up Mediterranean sea lanes for Allied ships and setting the stage for the invasion of mainland Italy.

But before the battle was over, in early August, two American servicemen — 1st Lt. Lawrence Taylor (who was a doctor) and Sgt. Milton Spelman — helped a Sicilian woman give birth a baby boy amid the chaos.

As a thank-you to the American doctor, she decided to name the baby Sam after Uncle Sam.

“The shells were landing all about,” Taylor recalled, “but we got through the delivery okay. The mother, who lived in New York once, told us her husband was with an Italian combat unit near Rome and believed in fascism. But she didn’t. Spelman and I became little Sam’s god-fathers.”

So how did Uncle Sam get his name? The Library of Congress says that the origin of the term “Uncle Sam” is obscure, but “[h]istorical sources attribute the name to a meat packer who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812” — Samuel Wilson (1766-1854) of Troy, New York. According to the story, the soldiers who knew of “Uncle Sam” Wilson began to associate his nickname with the “U.S.” stamp on packaged meats, and over time the nickname simply became associated with anything marked “U.S.”

The name Samuel comes from the Hebrew name Shemuel/Shmuel and is typically defined as “name of God” (shem + el). Another possible definition is “heard of God” (shama + el).

Sources:

More WWII baby names: Adolf Hitler, Dorie, Fifinella, Hai-Hu, Irene, Jesse Roper, Linda Ann, Linda, Roger, Tunisia, Vee

NYC baby named “Adolf Hitler” promptly renamed

Adolf Hitler Mittel, born in 1943 in Queens

Remember when 3-year-old birthday boy Adolf Hitler Campbell caught everyone’s attention back in 2008 for being named after the most infamous dictator of all time?

Believe it or not, a similar thing happened way back in 1943 — right in the middle of World War II.

Joseph and Bertha Mittel of Astoria, Queens, welcomed their seventh child in January of 1943 and decided to name him Adolf Hitler Mittel.

Joseph said that “the whole thing started as a joke. Before the baby was born, I bet my wife that she would have triplets and that if she didn’t I’d name the baby Adolf Hitler. And I did.”

Bertha didn’t care for the name, “but [she] named the other kids and [she] thought he ought to have his say this once.”

Adolf Hitler Mittel became front-page news across the country. Here’s some of what Joseph told the press:

“Yes, sir, the baby’s name is Adolf Hitler and it’s not a joke.” declared the father, an unemployed woodworker.

“The real Adolf Hitler doesn’t mean anything to me, but I’m of German-Austrian descent and that’s one reason why I picked the name. I don’t think the name will be a handicap, because after all there are lots of people named after persons in the same class as Hitler, such as Napoleon, Caesar and others.

“He’ll grow up and be a good man despite the name.”

Needless to say, the public was not supportive.

And, almost immediately, Joseph announced that he was willing to change it. “I certainly don’t want to hurt the little guy’s future. Judging from the riding the papers and the public are giving us, the only thing to do is to find him another name.”

That new name? The very patriotic Theodore Roosevelt Mittel.

Mother Mittel said she always liked the name Theodore; Father Mittel said she always admired Theodore Roosevelt–and they filed the name forthwith with the Jamaica office of the board of health.

Dr. Ernest L. Stebbins, New York City’s Commissioner of Health at the time, called the name change a “humanitarian move.”

Sources:

  • “Dad Willing to Change Name of Son, ‘Adolf Hitler’ Mittel.” Evening News [Tonawanda, NY] 10 Feb. 1943: 6.
  • “Now It’s Theodore Roosevelt, Not Adolf H.” Deseret News 10 Feb. 1943: 3.
  • “This World We Live In.” Prescott Evening Courier 10 Feb. 1943: 1.

The colorful names of Meghalaya, India

meghalaya. india

The small, remote Indian state of Meghalaya has long been known for the colorful names of its residents.

The state typically makes international headlines during election years. Actual candidate names have included…

  • Adolf Lu Hitler Rangsa Marak
  • Billy Kid A. Sangma
  • Boldness Nongum
  • Bombersingh Hynniewta
  • Clever Marak
  • Darling Wavel Lamare
  • Fairly Bert Kharrngi
  • Field Marshal Mawphniang
  • Frankenstein W. Momin
  • Friday Lyngdoh
  • H. Britain War Dan
  • Highlander Kharmalki
  • Hilarious Dhkar
  • Hispreachering Son Shylla
  • Hopingstone Lyngdoh
  • J. Ulysses Nongrum (He has sisters named England, New Zealand, Finland and Switzerland.)
  • Jhim Carter Sangma
  • John Manner Marak
  • Kenedy Marak
  • Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem
  • Laborious Manik S. Syiem
  • Moonlight Pariat
  • Oral Syngkli
  • Process T. Sawkmie
  • Rain Augustine Lyngdoh
  • Rockfeller Momin
  • Romeo Phira Rani
  • Sevenson Dhar
  • Stafing Jove Langpen Pdahkasiej
  • Teilang Star Blah
  • Tony Curtis Lyngdoh
  • VeecareNicia Lamare
  • Zenith M. Sangma

Here’s what Adolf Lu Hitler Rangsa Marak (who was born in the late 1950s) had to say about his name:

“Maybe my parents liked the name and hence christened me Hitler,” he recently told the Hindustan Times newspaper.

“I am happy with my name, although I don’t have any dictatorial tendencies.”

Reporters have been writing about the names in Meghalaya for at least a decade, but the strange names have been around a lot longer than that. “My erstwhile escort explained that Khasi parents are fond of naming children after great personalities of the West,” said the author of a 1956 article about Meghalaya’s names. (The article also mentioned Khasi sisters named Million, Billion and Trillion.)

So, why are strange names the norm in Meghalaya? I’ve found various explanations.

One travel article suggests the roots are religious. The names are the “legacy of the missionaries’ work,” it says, though “children now are just as likely to be named after the latest gadget as a saint.” (About 70% of the state is Christian, which is notable, as India overall is only about 2% Christian.)

Another source blames Britain:

The region’s unusual names stem from the state’s close historical links with Britain, explains Agence France-Presse: in colonial times, missionaries and soldiers would visit the hilly state’s capital Shillong, known as the “Scotland of the East,” to escape the overbearing heat of much of the country, and its residents began naming their children with random English words as a nod to that influence.

“Often they don’t know the background of the names. They get attracted to these names for their quest of modernity,” Sanjeeb Kakoty, a history professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, told AFP.

Yet another source adds two more possibilities. First, that people try to “sound knowledgeable by naming their children after great leaders.” Second, that the names are “part of a culture where laughter is considered important.”

Meghalaya’s three major tribes, the Khasis, the Garos and Jaintias all have Laugh Clubs. Giving their children whacky [sic] names is part of the fun.

“We share the most brazen of jokes at these clubs,” says local historian Milton Sangma.

Which might explain why one of the candidates is Tony Curtis, better known as a Hollywood legend.

“We believe if we laugh heartily at least once or twice a day, we will live long.”

(Laughter clubs have only been around since the mid-1990s.)

Which of the names on the list above do you like best?

Sources:

Image: Seema Agarwal

Related post: Soviet-Inspired Baby Names in Kerala, India