How popular is the baby name Anna 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 Anna.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Anna


Posts that Mention the Name Anna

Common Amish names: Jacob, Malinda, Benuel, Naomi

Amish man in a buggy

Which names are the most common among the Amish?

The simplest answer is “Biblical names,” but that’s not the full answer.

Because certain Biblical names are preferred over others, and Biblical names aren’t used exclusively.

Plus, the prevalence of a name could vary depending upon the specific Amish settlement you’re talking about.

I’ve gathered about 100 of the most common Amish names below. Before we get into specifics, though, here’s a bit of background on the Amish…

Who are the Amish?

The Amish are an Anabaptist group that intentionally maintain a degree of separation from the wider world. They wear plain clothing, eschew modern conveniences (like cars), and partake in traditional occupations such as farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, and (for women) homemaking.

The Anabaptist movement began in Europe in the 1520s, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists were particularly known for the practice of adult baptism. They were also opposed to war, and they believed in the separation of church and state.

Considered radicals, the Anabaptists were widely persecuted.

In 1693, the Swiss branch of the Anabaptist movement (a.k.a., the Swiss Brethren) experienced a schism. Those who followed reformer Jacob Amman came to be known as the Amish, whereas those who did not came to be known as the Mennonites (after Dutchman Menno Simons, one of the original Anabaptist leaders).

In the early 1700s, many Amish (and Mennonites) immigrated to the New World — specifically to the Province of Pennsylvania, which had been founded upon the principle of religious freedom.

Today, over 367,000 Amish live in the U.S., and roughly two-thirds of them reside in three states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Amish men and women.

Common Amish names

The most comprehensive source of Amish names I came across was also the oldest, so let’s go through all the sources chronologically.

In 1960, researcher Elmer L. Smith published data on the most common male and female names among the Amish of southeastern Pennsylvania from 1890 to 1956.

The 1,337 Amish males in the study shared a total of just 72 different first names. Over a quarter of the males had one of the top three names (John, Amos, or Jacob), and over 81% had one of the top 20 names.

The 1,356 Amish females in the study shared even fewer first names: only 55. Over a quarter of the females had one of the top three names (Mary, Sarah, or Annie), and over 88% had a top-20 name.

According to Smith’s research, these were the 20 most common names per gender (plus their frequency of usage):

Amish female namesAmish male names
1Mary, 10.0%John, 11.9%
2Sarah, 7.9%Amos, 7.3%
3Annie, 9.1%*Jacob, 6.5%
4Katie, 7.1%David, 6.4%
5Lizzie, 6.4%Samuel, 6.2%
6Rebecca, 6.1%Christian, 6.1%
7Fannie, 5.3%Daniel, 5.5%
8Barbara, 5.1%Benjamin, 3.8%
9Rachel, 5.1%Levi, 3.7%
10Lydia, 4.9%Aaron, 3.1%
11Emma, 3.8%Jonas, 3.0%
12Malinda, 3.5%Elam, 2.8%
13Susie, 3.2%Stephen, 2.8%
14Sadie, 2.5%Isaac, 2.5%
15Leah, 1.9%Henry, 2.4%
16Hannah, 1.5%Jonathan, 1.8%
17Naomi, 1.4%Eli, 1.7%
18Mattie, 1.3%Gideon, 1.6%
19Lavina, 1.1%Moses, 1.5%
20Arie, 1.1%Joseph, 1.1%
*Annie was ranked below Sarah in the research paper, but this seems to be a typo, given the percentages.

Smith also wrote the following:

Other given names for males may reflect the important place the martyred forefathers hold in the minds of the sect members. The given name Menno is frequently found; this honors Menno Simmons [sic] an early leader of the plain sects. Ammon is also quite common, and is traced to Jacob Amman for whom the Amish sect is named; otherwise given names are from the Bible.

(Menno, a form of the Dutch name Meine, can be traced back to the Old High German word magan, meaning “strength.” The occupational surname Amman(n), which was derived from the German word amtmann, originally referred to someone employed as an official or administrator.)

A couple of years after Smith’s study came out, Dr. William Schreiber (a professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio) published a book about the Amish of east-central Ohio. In one paragraph, he mentioned some of the names he’d encountered:

One learns here that the good old biblical names are still common with the Amish but are in competition with modern or more euphonious ones. The names of the children of large families are often a study in contrasts. In one family there are, for example, Benjamin, Samuel, Isaac, Stephen, John, Israel, Christ, Barbara, Mary, Hannah, Annie, Mattie, and Lizzie. Another family has chosen these names for its children: Sarah, Lizzie, Samuel, Benjamin, John, Annie, Marie, Daniel, David, Enos, Sylvia, and Malinda. Then there are three Amish brothers named Isaac, Levi, and Elmer. One wonders how Vesta, Delila, Dena, Saloma, Drusilla, or Verba, or boys’ names like Junie, Venus, or Aquilla came into strict Christian families?

Speaking of east-central Ohio, Barbara Yoder Hall — who was born in 1940 and grew up with ten siblings in the Amish community of Holmes County — recalled in her book Born Amish (1980) the following first names:

First names for girls are usually Cora, Mattie, Annie, Lizzie, Barbara, Fannie, Katie, Mary, Naomi, Emma, Jemima, Ella, Sarah, Levina and Mandy.

First names for boys are John, Mose, Ferdinand, Dannie, Sam, Amos, Albert, Emanual, Levi, Rudy, Enos, Eli, Jacob and Joseph.

Amish men in a wagon.

Now for a pair of sources from the digital age…

The website Amish America, run by Erik Wesner (who is not Amish, but has visited Amish communities in 15 different states), lists the following names as being common among the Amish. He found many of the male names in Raber’s Almanac, which “contains a listing of Amish church ministers,” while many of the female names came from various church directories.

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Elizabeth
Emma
Fannie
Hannah
Katie
Linda
Lizzie
Lovina/Lavina
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Rebecca
Ruby
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Waneta
Abram
Amos
Atlee
Eli
Elmer
Harley
Isaac
Jacob
John
Lavern
Leroy
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Samuel
Vernon
Wayne
Willis

Some of Erik’s commentary…

  • Eli: “You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.”
  • Leroy: “Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities.”
  • Lizzie: “Lizzie is a popular form in some Pennsylvania communities.”
  • Naomi: “Amish, at least in Lancaster County, pronounce this ‘Nay-oh-mah.'”
  • Ruby: “Quite a few Rubies in northern Indiana.”
  • Vernon: “[P]retty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”

Finally, according to the blog Amish Heritage, written by a woman named Anna (who grew up Amish in Pennsylvania), common Amish names include…

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Amanda
Anna/Annie
Barbara
Betty
Clara
Edna
Elizabeth
Esther
Fannie
Hannah
Lavina
Lena
Lydia
Malinda
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Priscilla
Rachel
Rebecca
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Susie
Aaron
Abner
Abram
Amos
Benuel
Christian/Christ
Daniel
David
Eli
Elmer
Emmanuel
Henry
Isaac
Jacob
John
Jonas
Leroy
Lloyd
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Moses
Omar
Paul
Samuel
Steven/Stephen
Vernon

Both websites noted that some Amish communities (particularly New Order Amish communities) have recently started giving their children less traditional first names.


So how do these lists square with what we’ve observed in the U.S. baby name data?

It’s hard to tell with historically popular names like Mary and John, but we can see some interesting things when we focus on relatively rare names.

For instance, the names Atlee, Benuel, Delila, Dena, Lavina, Menno, Saloma, and Willis have all been mentioned recently in my posts about names with a high degree of state specificity (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). As you’d expect, they were associated with the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and/or Indiana. (Benuel, in fact, has only ever appeared in the Pennsylvania data — going all the way back to the 1940s.)

Several of the other names — including Amos, Elam, Fannie, Malinda, and Mervin — saw higher usage in Pennsylvania than in any other state in 2021.

I was surprised that none of my sources listed the name Barbie. Most of them mentioned Barbara (one of them was even named Barbara), and all of them included nicknames (like Lizzie). But Barbara’s diminutive form was curiously absent — even though most of its usage occurs in Pennsylvania:

Girls named Barbie, U.S.Girls named Barbie, Penn.
20213722 (59%)
20202617 (65%)
20193320 (61%)
20182113 (62%)
20172916 (55%)
20162814 (50%)

Rhoda and Mahlon are two more names that I somewhat expected to see.

Ammon is a very interesting case, because the name also has significance to an entirely different religious group: the Mormons. (The Book of Mormon features two prominent figures named Ammon.) From the 1910s to the 1960s, the name Ammon — much like Benuel — only appeared in the Pennsylvania data. Since the 1980s, though, the state with the largest number of baby boys named Ammon has been Utah.


What are your thoughts on the first names used by the Amish? Which of the above do you like the most?

And, for anyone out there with close ties to an Amish family/community: What other names would you add to this list?

P.S. This post is dedicated to my delightful commenters alex and Andrea. :)

Sources:

Images by Chris Chow from Unsplash, Amyd from Pixabay, and Clark Young from Unsplash

Popular baby names in Belgium, 2021

Belgium

According to data from Statistics Belgium, the country’s most popular baby names last year were Olivia and Noah.

Here are Belgium’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 580 baby girls
  2. Emma, 500
  3. Louise, 455
  4. Mila, 435
  5. Alice, 416
  6. Camille, 403
  7. Lina, 394
  8. Sofia, 359
  9. Ella, 352
  10. Juliette, 346
  11. Nora, 342
  12. Mia, 325
  13. Marie, 317
  14. Lucie, 314
  15. Anna, 303
  16. Jade, 296
  17. Elena, 281
  18. Eva, 280
  19. Julia, 279
  20. Noor, 263
  21. Nina, 256
  22. Léa, 252
  23. Victoria, 249
  24. Chloé, 244
  25. Alix, 235
  26. Lou, 232
  27. Elise, 220
  28. Zoé, 215
  29. Giulia, 212
  30. Ellie, 210 (tie)
  31. Luna, 210 (tie)
  32. Liv, 209
  33. Renée, 207
  34. Amélie, 204
  35. Inaya, 202
  36. Rose, 194
  37. Charlotte, 191
  38. Jeanne, 188 (tie)
  39. Lily, 188 (tie)
  40. Lena, 187
  41. Sara, 176
  42. Manon, 171
  43. Julie, 170
  44. Mona, 160
  45. Alba, 159
  46. Livia, 155
  47. Billie, 154 (tie)
  48. Sophia, 154 (tie)
  49. Amira, 146
  50. Clara, 144 (tie)
  51. Stella, 144 (tie)

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 627 baby boys
  2. Arthur, 584
  3. Louis, 558
  4. Liam, 537
  5. Jules, 526
  6. Adam, 474
  7. Lucas, 426
  8. Gabriel, 422
  9. Victor, 416
  10. Oscar, 336
  11. Leon, 310
  12. Mathis, 294 (tie)
  13. Mohamed, 294 (tie)
  14. Finn, 289
  15. Léon, 275
  16. Matteo, 264
  17. Lewis, 251
  18. Hugo, 245
  19. Nathan, 238
  20. Luca, 234
  21. Elias, 225
  22. Raphaël, 223
  23. Théo, 221
  24. Amir, 217 (tie)
  25. Eden, 217 (tie)
  26. Rayan, 209
  27. Lou, 208
  28. Milo, 205
  29. Yanis, 204
  30. Achille, 201
  31. Otis, 194
  32. Sacha, 191 (tie)
  33. Vic, 191 (tie)
  34. Felix, 190
  35. Marcel, 187
  36. Basile, 185
  37. Aaron, 179
  38. Léo, 178
  39. Maurice, 174
  40. Alexander, 173
  41. Maël, 171
  42. Emiel, 168 (tie)
  43. Georges, 168 (tie)
  44. Jack, 167 (tie)
  45. William, 167 (tie)
  46. Emile, 163 (tie)
  47. Vince, 163 (tie)
  48. Samuel, 161
  49. Gaston, 159
  50. Oliver, 158

If Leon and Léon had been counted as a single name, their combined total (585) would have been enough to edge Arthur (584) out of second place on the boys’ list.

And the gender-neutral name Lou managed to pop up on both lists in nearly the same spot: 26th for girls, 27th for boys.

Map of the three regions of Belgium
Belgium’s three regions

The top baby names within each of Belgium’s three regions were…

Girl NamesBoy Names
Flanders
(57.6% of the population)
Language: Dutch
1. Olivia, 328
2. Ella, 303
3. Marie, 275
4. Mila, 266
5. Nora, 261
1. Noah, 399
2. Arthur, 321
3. Jules, 311
4. Leon, 288
5. Louis, 284
Wallonia
(31.8% of pop.)
Language: French/German
1. Emma, 204
2. Olivia, 203
3. Louise, 190
4. Alice, 188 (tie)
5. Lucie, 188 (tie)
1. Gabriel, 266
2. Louis, 235
3. Liam, 233
4. Arthur, 208
5. Jules, 191
Brussels-Capital
(10.6% of pop.)
Languages: Dutch/French
1. Lina, 89
2. Sofia, 83
3. Emma, 60 (tie)
4. Nour, 60 (tie)
5. Olivia, 49
1. Mohamed, 118
2. Adam, 112
3. Gabriel, 82
4. Amir, 70
5. Noah, 62

And here’s a selection of names from the other end of the spectrum — names that were given to just 5 babies each in Belgium last year:

Rare Girl NamesRare Boy Names
Anabia, Believe, Caro, Dea, Elaïa, Fallone, Gaby, Heike, Iluna, Jennifer, Kessy, Lyssia, Mahsa, Nihal, Otice, Puck, Queen, Ramla, Siloé, Toos, Vlera, Wassila, Yseult, ZuriAloys, Brandon, Celle, Doruk, Erion, Fedde, Gustav, Hazar, Ilyass, Jip, Karsten, Lothar, Maksim, Nellis, Obi, Paulin, Qays, Riff, Silvio, Tille, Vidar, Wiebe, Yavuz, Zjef

(I’m a little surprised that as many as 5 baby girls in Belgium got the English word “believe” as their first name. I wonder if something specific was influencing that usage…?)

This time around, Belgium also highlighted the girl and boy names that saw the largest increases and decreases in usage over the last decade (2011-2021). The top 5 in each category were…

  • Girl names
    • Largest increases: Alba, Ellie, Ellis, Alya, Cilou
    • Largest decreases: Lisa, Laura, Julie, Lotte, Anaïs
  • Boy names
    • Largest increases: Georges, Lio, Gaston, Otis, Lyam
    • Largest decreases: Maxime, Thomas, Simon, Wout, Nathan

Finally, here’s a link to Belgium’s 2020 rankings, if you’d like to compare.

Sources: First names for boys and girls | STATBEL, Demographics of Belgium – Wikipedia

Map: Adapted from Regions of Belgium by Ssolbergj under CC BY 3.0.

Popular and unique baby names in Zurich, 2021

zurich

According to the government of Zurich, the most popular baby names last year in the German-speaking Swiss city were Olivia and Noah.

Here are Zurich’s top girl names and top boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 28 baby girls
  2. Emma, 25
  3. Anna, 24 (tie)
  4. Ella, 24 (tie)
  5. Mia, 22 (3-way tie)
  6. Sofia, 22 (3-way tie)
  7. Sophia, 22 (3-way tie)
  8. Elena, 20
  9. Charlotte, 19
  10. Lina, 18
  11. Sophie, 17
  12. Yara, 16
  13. Nora, 15
  14. Clara, 14 (3-way tie)
  15. Lea, 14 (3-way tie)
  16. Zoe, 14 (3-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 27 baby boys
  2. Leo, 24
  3. Louis, 22
  4. Theo, 20
  5. Levi, 18 (3-way tie)
  6. Luca, 18 (3-way tie)
  7. Mateo, 18 (3-way tie)
  8. Luis, 17 (tie)
  9. Maximilian, 17 (tie)
  10. Felix, 16 (4-way tie)
  11. Finn, 16 (4-way tie)
  12. Leonardo, 16 (4-way tie)
  13. Liam, 16 (4-way tie)
  14. Daniel, 15 (4-way tie)
  15. Elias, 15 (4-way tie)
  16. Jan, 15 (4-way tie)
  17. Vincent, 15 (4-way tie)

Though I’ve posted rankings for Switzerland before, I’ve never looked at the rankings for Zurich specifically, so I don’t have any past sets of rankings to compare this set to.

But — because Zurich’s rankings included everything from the top names down to the single-use names — I can give you a sampling of the baby names that were bestowed just once last year in Switzerland’s largest city:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Aola, Belangie, Cybèle, Diola, Elfida, Flurina, Gresa, Heja, Illiyeen, Jenaja, Kumru, Leviah, Milaine, Nissy, Odine, Proxima, Quimey, Reisel, Shiffra, Tabia, Ursina, Vennila, Wilma, Yelira, ZoélieAstérion, Bodo, Corvin, Doruk, Ezriel, Falko, Giordano, Henning, Ilyas, Jaromir, Koshin, Leart, Mazlum, Nahuel, Orfeo, Pavle, Qiheng, Rikuto, Solan, Tanju, Umor, Viggo, Wybe, Yonah, Zaam

Sources: Vornamen-Verzeichnis 2021 – Stadt Zürich, The most popular baby names in Zurich in 2021, Zurich – Wikipedia

Popular baby names in Northern Ireland, 2021

Northern Ireland

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), the most popular baby names in Northern Ireland last year were Grace and Jack.

Here are the Northern Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Grace, 182 baby girls
  2. Emily, 150
  3. Fiadh, 149
  4. Olivia, 148
  5. Isla, 138
  6. Sophie, 128
  7. Aoife, 122
  8. Ella, 111
  9. Anna, 106
  10. Sophia, 102

Boy Names

  1. Jack, 193 baby boys
  2. Noah, 191
  3. James, 173
  4. Charlie, 155
  5. Oliver, 131
  6. Theo, 119
  7. Leo, 117
  8. Cillian, 116
  9. Finn, 115
  10. Harry, 114

In the girls’ top 10, Aoife and Anna replaced Amelia, Lucy and Freya. (Two replaced three because there was a tie for tenth last year.)

In the boys’ top 10, Leo replaced Thomas.

And on the other side of the spectrum…

Northern Ireland’s downloadable data only goes down to names given to 3 babies, technically, but this batch of data — like the 2020 batch — included two extra alphabetized sets of names at the end. I believe these sets of names were the ones given to 2 babies and 1 baby, respectively. With that theory in mind, here’s a sampling of names from the second set:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Aodhla, Bediha, Caodhla, Darbie, Edera, Farbhlaidh, Gullandama, Harryanna, Izzy, Jersey, Khalessee, Lasairfhiona, Moya-Grace, Nollaig, Otter, Pupa, Qismina, Rozerin, Samhradh, Toireasa, Ugne, Venba, Wanda, Xanthe, Yarra, ZarkaAstraeus, Brogain, Chulainn, Dubhlainn, Edico, Finnian, Gerard-Og, Holiness, Iollan, Jefaldo, Kestrel, Laochrainn, Murdo, Nivonio, Orin, Padraic, Quevin, Riocht, Struan, Tuathal, Uisce, Vinny, Wai, Xayah, Yeats, Zeyue

Explanations/associations for some of the above…

  • Farbhlaidh – Irish for “overlord, ruler.”
  • Lasairfhiona – Irish for “flame of wine” — lasair meaning “flame,” fhíona meaning “of wine.” (The Irish word for “wine” is fíon.)
  • Nollaig – Irish for “Christmas.”
  • Samhradh – Irish for “summer.”
  • Chulainn – a reference to Cú Chulainn of Irish mythology.
  • Riocht – Irish for “kingdom.”
  • Tuathal – both a legendary conqueror of Ireland (Túathal Techtmar) and the Irish word for “counterclockwise.”
  • Uisce – Irish for “water.” (Also the word upon which “whiskey” was based!)
  • Yeats – a reference to W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet.

Finally, here are the 2020 rankings for Northern Ireland, if you’d like to compare.

Sources: Baby Names – NISRA, Irish Names and Surnames, Wiktionary

How did Virna Lisi influence baby names in the 1960s?

Italian actress Virna Lisi (1936-2014)
Virna Lisi

When Italian actress Virna Lisi started appearing in American films in the mid-1960s, American audiences took notice.

How do we know? Well, the baby name Lisi appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first time in 1965, and, the same year, the baby name Virna re-emerged in the data (after a decades-long absence) with its highest-ever usage.

Girls named VirnaGirls named Lisi
196721.
1966115
196538†8*
1964..
1963..
*Debut, †Peak usage

(It should be noted, of course, that Lisa was the #1 baby name in the nation from 1962 to 1969. No doubt this made the similar — but much rarer — name Lisi sound rather stylish during that decade.)

Virna Lisi was born Virna Lisa Pieralisi in Ancona, Italy, in 1936.

Her father had wanted to call her Siria (“Syria”), but that country’s colonial ruler, France, was at loggerheads with Mussolini and the births registrar accordingly refused to accept the name. The exasperated Pieralisi then made up Virna on the spot.

She started acting as a teenager in Italy, and her success in Italian films eventually led to a brief Hollywood career. She appeared in How to Murder Your Wife (1965) with Jack Lemmon, Not With My Wife You Don’t (1966) with Tony Curtis, and Assault on a Queen (1966) with Frank Sinatra.

But Lisi disliked her “sex symbol” image in America. So she decided to leave. She turned down the lead role in Barbarella, terminated her Hollywood contract, and returned to Europe to play a wider range of characters.

What are your thoughts on the names Virna and Lisi? Which one would you be more likely to use on a modern-day baby?

Sources:

P.S. Italian actress Anna Maria Pierangeli — better known as Pier Angeli — also had a surname that began with “Pier,” the Italian form of Peter.