How popular is the baby name Bill 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 Bill.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bill


Posts that Mention the Name Bill

Where did the baby name Gotham come from in 2015?

Title of the TV series "Gotham" (2014-2019)
“Gotham”

The name Gotham first emerged in the U.S. baby name data in 2015:

  • 2017: 37 baby boys named Gotham
  • 2016: 50 baby boys named Gotham
  • 2015: 46 baby boys named Gotham [debut]
  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted

It was the most impressive boy-name debut of the year, in fact.

Where did it come from?

The Batman-based TV series Gotham (2014-2019), which was set during Bruce Wayne’s teenage years.

The main protagonist wasn’t Bruce Wayne, though — it was Gotham City police detective (and future commissioner) James Gordon. In the very first episode, Jim met 12-year-old Bruce soon after Bruce’s parents had been murdered.

So…why is Batman set in a place called Gotham City?

“Gotham City” was first identified as Batman’s place of residence in the comic book Batman #4 (Winter 1940), which was actually published in January of 1941. Here’s how Batman co-creator Bill Finger chose the name:

Originally I was going to call Gotham City, Civic City. Then I tried Capital City, then Coast City. Then, I flipped through the phone book and spotted the name Gotham Jewelers and said, ‘that’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it. Of course, Gotham is another name for New York.

Why is Gotham another name for New York City?

It’s a tradition that was kicked off by writer Washington Irving, who referred to the city as Gotham in an 1807 issue of Salmagundi — a short-lived satirical magazine that lampooned NYC culture and politics.

He choose that name because of the medieval folktales about the English village of Gotham, the residents of which had a reputation for idiocy. (According to the tales, though, they were simply feigning madness in order to thwart King John.)

The name of the village (which is located in Nottinghamshire) is pronounced GOAT-um, and is derived from the Old English words gat, meaning “goat,” and ham, meaning “home.”

Getting back to the TV show, though…

The character Azrael from the TV series "Gotham" (2014-2019)
Azrael from “Gotham

Toward the end of season 2, corrupt mayor Theo Galavan — who’d been killed mid-season by Jim Gordon — was resurrected as “Azrael” by mad scientist Hugo Strange.

Azrael was only featured in two mid-2016 episodes of Gotham, but he is likely the reason why the rising usage of the baby name Azrael accelerated that particular year:

  • 2018: 150 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2017: 132 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2016: 113 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2015: 64 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2014: 56 baby boys named Azrael

Azrael, the name of the angel of death in both Islamic and Judeo-Christian tradition, is derived from the ancient Hebrew words ‘azar, meaning “to help,” and ‘el, meaning “God.”

Which name do you think is cooler: Gotham or Azrael?

Sources:

P.S. Ever wonder how Bruce Wayne was named? Here’s Bill Finger’s explanation: “Bruce Wayne’s first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock…then, I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne.”

Where did the baby name Cybill come from in 1972?

Actress Cybill Shepherd in the movie "The Last Picture Show" (1971).
Cybill Shepherd in “The Last Picture Show

The name Cybill first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1972, and it saw peak usage the very next year:

  • 1974: 10 baby girls named Cybill
  • 1973: 31 baby girls named Cybill [peak]
  • 1972: 8 baby girls named Cybill [debut]
  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Actress Cybill Shepherd, whose first two movies — The Last Picture Show (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972) — were box-office successes.

The name has disappeared from the data — that is, fallen below five instances of usage per year — several time since then. But it has also returned twice, and those returns can be attributed to other notable moments in Cybill Shepherd’s career.

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

The name first returned in 1985 thanks to the successful comedy-drama TV series Moonlighting (1985-1989), which co-starred Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives.

It returned a second time in 1995 with the sitcom Cybill (1995-1998), which starred Shepherd as a struggling actress in her 40s. (She said in her autobiography, “I’d given my name and much of my identity to the series, blurring the line between real life and fiction.”)

The name Cybill is pronounced like the name Sibyl — the word used in ancient Greece to refer to a female prophet — but the unique spelling has personal significance: “Cybill” was coined (several days after Shepherd was born) by combining the names of her grandfather, Cy, and her father, Bill.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Cybill?

Sources:

Baby born into Lear family, named Shanda

chandelier

Self-taught inventor and businessman William P. “Bill” Lear (1902-1978) is best remembered as the founder of Learjet, the first company to manufacture compact business jets.

In the world of baby names, though, he has an entirely different claim to fame: He named a daughter Shanda to create the pun-name Shanda Lear (read: chandelier).

So, what’s the story?

Bill met his fourth wife, Moya Olsen, in the mid-1930s. They met through Moya’s father, vaudeville comedian John “Ole” Olsen.

They had their first date (drinks at the Stork Club) in 1938, and tied the knot in early 1942.

Bill, who already had three children (Mary Louise, William, and Patti) from previous marriages, went on to have four more children with Moya.

Their first was a boy named John, born in December of 1942.

Their second, born in 1944, was a girl — and she was indeed named Shanda. Years later, Moya recounted:

My father said if you have a girl, her name has to be Shanda. S-H-A-N-D-A. Shanda Lear. And if it’s a boy, you name it Gonda and if you’re not sure, it’s Lava.

Their last two children were named David (b. 1948) and Tina (b. 1954).

During an interview in 2007, Shanda Lear mentioned her name while describing her father, who she said was a “quixotic, outspoken and charismatic man who had a great sense of humor. He thought it was quite funny naming me Shanda Lear.”

What are your thoughts on this name?

Sources:

Image by Fabio Tura from Unsplash

Name quotes #103: Doug, Armand, Galusha

double quotation mark

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s kick things off with some name quotes…

From a 2009 article about Microsoft executive J Allard in Boston University’s alumni magazine Bostonia:

Allard still loves video games (his all-time favorite is “Robotron”). And even his name (legally changed from James) is an homage to computers. In the late 1980s, he explains, “it was my log-in on all of the computer systems at school, and it stuck.”

From a BBC article about Doug Bowser becoming president of Nintendo of America in 2019:

In what is surely one of the most charming cases of nominative determinism ever, it has been announced the new head of Nintendo of America will be a man named Doug Bowser.

Bowser, as Nintendo fans will know all too well, has long been Super Mario’s main nemesis — a foe who, for more than three decades now, routinely kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend, Princess Peach.

Mr. Bowser will take over in April from retiring Reggie Fils-Aime, a highly popular figure among Nintendo fans.

“With a name like Bowser, who better to hold the keys to the Nintendo castle?” Mr. Fils-Aime said about his successor in a video message posted on Twitter on Thursday.

From an AP news story about the origin of Armand Hammer’s name:

Industrialist Armand Hammer often said he was named after Armand Duval, the hero in Alexandre Dumas’ play “Camille.”

But he conceded later that his father, a socialist, also had in mind the arm-and-hammer symbol of the Socialist Labor Party.

For years, people erroneously thought Hammer was connected to the company that makes Arm & Hammer baking soda.

From an essay about Island Cemetery (on Block Island, in Rhode Island) by Martha Ball:

The cemetery, our own City on a Hill, has always been a place of enchantment, holding stones lacking uniformity even within the same lot, bearing names alien to our time; Philamon Galusha, Icivilli, Darius. It is enhanced by an awareness of the sheer physical accomplishment it embodies, a steep slope terraced long before we had today’s array of earth moving equipment.

[Neither Darius Rucker nor I would agree that the name Darius is “alien to our time.” Looking over the other names at Island Cemetery, I saw all the expected Biblical entries (Peleg, Obed, Barzilla; Zilpah, Huldah, Hepzebah), plenty of fanciful feminines (Lucretia, Cordelia, Sophronia), and a few references to current events: a Martin VanBuren born in 1839, a Cassius Clay born in 1854, an Elsworth (middle name) born in 1861, an Ambrose Everett born in 1862, and a Ulysses born in 1868.]

From an article about early Soviet film director Dziga Vertov at Russia Beyond:

Vertov’s real name was David Kaufman, which unambiguously points to his Jewish origin. But the desire of the talented youth from Bialystok (at the time part of the Russian Empire, today Poland) to change his surname upon arrival in Moscow was unlikely to have been due to anti-Semitism — in the 1920s it was not as developed as in the 1950s. Vertov, like many avant-garde artists, probably just chose a new name to herald “a new life.”

In Ukrainian dziga means whirligig, spinning top, while vertov comes from the verb vertet (to spin). The two form something like “the spinning whirligig,” a name that was entirely fitting for the man who bore it.

From a recent interview with Chrishell Stause of the reality TV show Selling Sunset at Vulture.com:

I was not born in a Shell station. I hate to disappoint people that think I was. My mom was getting car work done, and an attendant at the station was helping her and keeping her calm. Obviously she couldn’t drive to the hospital then, so the ambulance came. I made it to the hospital, but she wanted to name me after him. He worked at the Shell station, so she just thought “Chris, shell” — let’s stick them together. And you know, Chrishell was born, quite literally.

From a short article called “Americana: Zany Zach” published in Time magazine in 1979:

Move over, Zeke Zzzypt of Chicago and Vladimir Zzzyd of Miami. Few have proved more zealous in trying to be the last personal name in a local telephone book than Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra, who has brought up the rear of San Francisco’s directory for eight of the past 15 years. Several years ago, when he was just plain Zachary Zzzra, Zzzzzzzzzra discovered to his sorrow that he had been zapped from last place by Zelda Zzzwramp, and so he added another z to his name. Last year, as Zzzzra, he was infuriated when he lost put to Vladimir Zzzzzzabakov. This year, tie outztripped all rivals by becoming Zzzzzzzzzra and once again won the last word.

“Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra” was actually a painting contractor named Bill Holland. He used “his telephone name as an advertising gimmick, telling potential customers to look him up in the back of the book in stead of handing out business cards.”