How popular is the baby name Bob 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 Bob.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bob


Posts that Mention the Name Bob

Name change: Bob Miller to Ben Lexcen

Winged keel of the Australia II racing yacht, winner of the 1983 America's Cup
Winged keel of the Australia II

In 1936, Robert “Bob” Miller was born in the Australian outback — “in bone-dry Boggabri, a long day’s voyage from the sea.”

So it’s intriguing that, in his teens, Miller developed an interest in sailboat design. He went on to become a professional marine architect.

In the early 1960s, Bob Miller and his friend Craig Whitworth founded a boat-building and sail-making company called Miller & Whitworth in Sydney.

Miller continued doing his own design work on the side, though. Most notably, he began collaborating with Australian millionaire Alan Bond on a series of racing yachts in the late 1960s.

The most famous of these yachts was the Australia II, which, in 1983, became the first non-American yacht to win the America’s Cup. This was the cup that Thomas Lipton had failed to win 5 times in a row, from 1899 to 1930, and that Bond and Miller themselves had also failed to win 3 times previously, from 1974 to 1980.

Except…by 1983, Bob Miller wasn’t “Bob Miller” anymore. He was Ben Lexcen.

Why the name change?

Because, in the mid-1970s, Miller and Whitworth had had a falling-out:

Miller left the firm, but found he could not take his name with him. “I had had a great design business, a fantastic business, and I lost all that,” says Lexcen. “They were advertising everywhere, and all my mail was going to them. I tried to get the post office to change it. Noooo. I just had to do something, so I changed my name. Lexcen was one of my wife’s family names from way back. I had a friend who had a computer check it against the mailing lists of the Reader’s Digest and American Express to see if there was anybody with that name, and there wasn’t, at least not in Australia.” And Ben? “I wanted the same number of letters.”

But that’s not the only version of the name-change story.

In another variation, when the time came Lexcen borrowed a word from the project he was working on at the moment — Lexan hatch covers — and added it to the name of his recently deceased dog, Benjie.

Specifics aside, Ben Lexcen (formerly Bob Miller) and the other members of the Australia II team became national heroes following their historical victory. In fact, a baby born in Melbourne around the time of the win was named Charles Australia II John Bertrand Ben Lexcen.

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Winged Keel of Americas Cup Yacht Australia II by Ken Hodge under CC BY 2.0.

Name quotes #107: India, Arvid, Sahar

bobcat
NPS bobcat

From a recent National Park Service Instagram post:

Fun fact: The actual number of bobcats named Bob is fairly small.

Many actually prefer Robert.

From a 2020 Facebook post by The Pioneer Woman, Anne Marie “Ree” Drummond (found via Mashed):

Happy Father’s Day to my father-in-law, whom I love, my own dad, whom I adore, and my husband Ladd, pictured here with our first child (who was conceived on our honeymoon, btw…sorry if that’s TMI, we almost named her Sydney but changed our mind because we didn’t want her to have to explain it her whole life).

(They ended up naming her Alex.)

A 2017 tweet by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to the daughter of South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, India Rhodes (b. 2015), who was named in honor of the country:

Happy birthday to India, from India. :)

From the 2008 essay “What’s in a name?” by Arvid Huisman in the Daily Freeman-Journal:

As a first grader I wanted to be named Johnnie or Bobbie or Billie or Tommie — just about anything except Arvid.

By the time I was a young adult I realized that a unique name can be an asset and I continue to believe that. Once people commit an uncommon name to memory they don’t soon forget and that’s a good thing in business.

From a 1935 article about baby names in a newspaper from Perth, Australia:

After Amy Johnson (Mrs. J. A. Mollison) made her wonderful flight to Australia it seemed that every baby girl was being named “Amy.” They were comparatively lucky. “Amy” is rather a nice name, but what about the unfortunate boys who were called “Lindbergh” or “Lindy” in 1927 to commemorate the young American’s lone Atlantic flight?

Amy Johnson newspaper article 1935

(I don’t have any Australian baby name data that goes back to the late 1920s — Amy Johnson‘s solo flight from England to Australia was in 1930 — but, anecdotally, most of the Australian Amys I’m seeing in the records were born decades before the flight.)

From the 2012 op-ed “Weird names leave teachers scratching their heads” at China Daily:

In the past, rural children were named after animals because poor farmers hoped they would bring up their children as cheaply as raising pigs and puppies.

From the obituary of singer (and early ’60s teen idol) Bobby Rydell at New York Daily News:

He was so popular and tied to teen culture that Rydell High School in the stage and screen musical “Grease” was named for him.

“It was so nice to know that the high school was named after me,” he told the Allentown Morning Call in 2014. “And I said, ‘Why me?’ It could have been Anka High, Presley High, Everly High, Fabian High, Avalon High. And they came up with Rydell High, and, once again, total honor.”

(Dozens of baby boys were named after Rydell as well.)

From the BBC article “Afghan women campaign for the right to reveal their names” by Mahjooba Nowrouzi (found via Clare’s Name News):

Using a woman’s name in public is frowned upon and can be considered an insult. Many Afghan men are reluctant to say the names of their sisters, wives or mothers in public. Women are generally only referred to as the mother, daughter or sister of the eldest male in their family, and Afghan law dictates that only the father’s name should be recorded on a birth certificate.

The problem starts early, when a girl is born. It takes a long time for her to be given a name. Then when a woman is married her name does not appear on her wedding invitations. When she is ill her name does not appear on her prescription, and when she dies her name does not appear on her death certificate or even her headstone.

I also liked the last two paragraphs:

Sahar, an Afghan refugee in Sweden who used to be a freelance journalist but now works in a nursing home, told the BBC she had been a distant but staunch supporter of the campaign since it began. When Sahar first heard about the idea, she decided to post a message on social media.

“I am proud to write that my name is Sahar,” she wrote. “My mother’s name is Nasimeh, my maternal grandmother’s name is Shahzadu, and my paternal grandmother’s name is Fukhraj.”

Where did the baby name Senta come from?

Actress Senta Berger in the movie "The Victors" (1963).
Senta Berger in “The Victors

The name Senta first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1960s:

  • 1966: 18 baby girls named Senta
  • 1965: 12 baby girls named Senta
  • 1964: 12 baby girls named Senta [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted

The source?

Austrian actress Senta Berger, who moved to Hollywood in the early ’60s and was appearing regularly in movies and on TV by 1964.

Around that time, for instance, she could be seen in the movie The Victors (released in late 1963), the TV anthology series Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (Mar. 1964), and the TV spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Nov. 1964).

Perhaps the most interesting thing she was in, from a historical perspective, was NBC’s See How They Run (Oct. 1964), which involved orphaned siblings being chased by spies. The show was marketed as the very first made-for-TV movie. One contemporary reviewer said “that even if the execution of the idea was not exceptional–it came out the way Walt Disney might have written the Ian Fleming books–the experiment was still extremely worthwhile.”

The name Senta is a diminutive of the German name Kreszentia, which ultimately comes from the Latin name Crescentius. The root word is the verb crescere, meaning “to grow.”

Do you like the name Senta?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Esai come from in 1987?

Esai Morales as Bob Morales in La Bamba (1987)
Esai Morales as Bob Morales in “La Bamba”

The uncommon name Esai debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:

  • 1990: 22 baby boys named Esai
  • 1989: 34 baby boys named Esai
  • 1988: 33 baby boys named Esai
  • 1987: 14 baby boys named Esai [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Actor Esai (pronounced ee-sie) Morales, who was one of the stars of the 1987 movie La Bamba.

The movie was a biopic of rock and roll pioneer Richard Valenzuela, popularly known as Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips). Esai played Ritchie’s brash older brother, Bob Morales. (The characters had different fathers, which accounts for the different surnames.)

Esai Morales, born in New York and of Puerto Rican descent, inherited his first name from his own father. The name is thought to be based on Esaias, which is a form of the Biblical name Isaiah (meaning “Yahweh is salvation” in Hebrew).

Interestingly, the character’s surname being “Morales” like his own was a factor in Esai’s decision to take the part. At the time, he was trying to choose between the role in La Bamba and a role in the Steven Spielberg movie Batteries Not Included, which he assumed would be an “instant hit.”

And I just thought to myself, there’s the commercial-looking success thing, but then there’s this thing that tugs at my heart. It made me cry. I read the story and, like, I had tears streaming down my face. […] And I saw a character with my name on it. Literally, it had my name on it. You don’t see great roles oftentime with Latino names, much less your own. You know, so I was like, you know, I’m gonna roll the dice with this one. And I think I made the right decision.

What do you think of the name Esai?

Sources: Esai Morales – Wikipedia, Esai Morales on his decades-long career in Hollywood – BEONDTV

P.S. Despite having a very short recording career, Ritchie Valens scored several hit singles, including “Donna.”

Baby name story: Justice

Bob Marley album
Bob Marley album

Reggae legend Bob Marley (born Robert Nesta Marley) died in mid-1981 of cancer.

Marley didn’t leave a will, so what followed was a ten-year battle over his estate, which was worth tens of millions of dollars. The estate’s court-appointed administrator was apparently “a conservative lawyer who had not liked Marley when he was alive and who […] seemed bent on taking as much as possible from those who had been closest to the deceased.”

On December 9, 1991, the Jamaican Supreme Court ruled in favor of Marley’s widow Alpharita Constantia “Rita” Marley, his 11* recognized children, and his record company.

As luck would have it, the very same day, Marley’s adult son Ziggy (born David Nesta Marley) welcomed a baby girl. Her name? Justice, “in honor of the court decision.”

*Only three of the children — Cedella, Ziggy, and Stephen — were both Bob’s and Rita’s biologically.

Sources: