How popular is the baby name Dick in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Dick.

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Popularity of the baby name Dick

Posts that mention the name Dick

Where did the baby name Cavett come from in 1973?

Talk show host Dick Cavett (in 1971)
Dick Cavett

The surname Cavett made its first and only appearance in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1970s:

  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby boys named Cavett [debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

What put it there?

My guess is Dick Cavett, host of The Dick Cavett Show.

Different versions of Cavett’s Emmy-winning talk show were broadcast on television from the late ’60s to the early 2000s, but the most popular incarnation aired late-night on ABC — opposite Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show on NBC — from 1969 to 1974.

What differentiated Cavett from Carson? Cavett had a more intellectual approach to comedy, and also interviewed a wider range of guests — not just movie stars and musicians, but also filmmakers, athletes, authors, journalists, politicians, activists, scientists, artists, and so forth. Cavett’s guests included Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur C. Clarke, Bobby Fischer, Christiaan Barnard, Harland Sanders, Hugh Hefner, Jackie Robinson, Jacques Cousteau, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon (and Yoko Ono), Louis Armstrong, Muhammad Ali, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dalí.

Cavett’s Scottish surname was derived from a similar French surname, Cavet, which originally referred to either someone who worked with a cavet (a type of hoe) or someone who lived near or in a cave.

What are your thoughts on Cavett as a first name?


Image: Screenshot of The Dick Cavett Show

What gave the baby name Fabian a boost in 1959?

Fabian's single "Tiger" (1959)
Fabian single

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Fabian leapt into the boys’ top 1,000 in 1959:

  • 1961: 158 baby boys named Fabian [rank: 629th]
  • 1960: 186 baby boys named Fabian [rank: 575th]
  • 1959: 160 baby boys named Fabian [rank: 611th]
  • 1958: 41 baby boys named Fabian
  • 1957: 48 baby boys named Fabian


Because of mononymous Italian-American singer Fabian (pronounced FAY-bee-an), who was born Fabian Anthony Forte in South Philadelphia in 1943.

Spotted at the age of 14 by talent manager Bob Marcucci, the good-looking teenager was taught how to sing, how to dress, and how to behave. He was being groomed as a teen idol, and it worked.

He attained stardom in 1959, the year his three most successful songs came out. “Turn Me Loose” and “Hound Dog Man” each peaked at #9 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart (in May and December, respectively). Between them came his biggest hit, “Tiger,” which reached the #3 spot for two weeks in July.

Fabian also performed on television dozens of times in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Notably, he made seven appearances on The Dick Clark Show. He was even the mystery guest on an episode of What’s My Line? in November of 1959.

The name Fabian comes (via Fabianus) from the Roman family name Fabius, which was based on the Latin word faba, meaning “bean.”

What are your thoughts on the name Fabian?

P.S. Two other male pop stars of the era, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell, were also Italian-Americans who hailed from South Philadelphia.


Babies named for Horatio Alger

American author Horatio Alger (1832-1899)
Horatio Alger

During the last three decades of the 19th century, American author Horatio Alger (1832-1899) wrote dozens of young adult novels. All of them were about boys who overcame poverty — through honesty, hard work, “cheerful perseverance,” and a bit of luck — to attain wealth and respectability.

Alger’s most successful rags-to-riches tale was Ragged Dick (1868), about a quick-witted bootblack named Dick (who began to go by “Richard” after his position in society had improved).

His subsequent novels featured similar plots and protagonists. They had titles like Mark, the Match Boy (1869); Ben, The Luggage Boy (1870); and Dan, the Newsboy (1893). These stories “influenced several generations of young readers, future achievers, and memoir-writers, from Andrew Carnegie to Malcolm X.”

No doubt many baby boys in the U.S. were named after Alger’s various main characters, but I’ve also found a handful named after Alger himself. Some examples…

Several others were born conspicuously early:

The first one — just seven years younger than Alger, and born in the same town — must have been named in honor the author’s father, Unitarian minister Horatio Alger, Sr.

The next three may not have been named until they were several years old (à la Emancipation Proclamation). Or perhaps they were named as babies, but their parents were inspired by Alger’s earlier work. His poem “Gone to the War” appeared on the front page of a Minnesota newspaper in 1861, for instance, and his short story “Edward’s Temptation” ran in its entirety on the front page of an Ohio paper in 1864.

Interestingly, Charles Alger Hiss, whose father was “a great admirer of Horatio Alger,” was, in turn, the father of Alger Hiss — the U.S. State Department official accused of being a Soviet spy in the late 1940s. The Hiss case helped advance the careers of noted anti-communists Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy.


Image: Horatio Alger Jr.

What gave the baby name Christiaan a boost in 1968?

South African cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard (1922-2001)
Dr. Christiaan Barnard

The baby name Christiaan (pronounced KRIS-tee-ahn) — the Dutch and Afrikaans form of Christian — saw peak usage in the U.S. in two different years: 1968 and 1970.

  • 1972: 22 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1971: 30 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1970: 43 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1969: 24 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1968: 43 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1967: 8 baby boys named Christiaan
  • 1966: unlisted

The name’s 1968 upswing represents the second-steepest rise among baby boy names that year (after Dustin).

Here’s the graph:

Graph of the usage of the first name Christiaan in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the first name Christiaan

What was calling attention to the name Christiaan in the late ’60s and early ’70s?

South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, who made headlines worldwide after performing the first human heart transplant on December 3, 1967, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

Dr. Barnard led a team of 20 surgeons as they transplanted a heart from the body of donor Denise Darvall (a 25-year-old woman who’d been fatally injured in a car accident) into the body of recipient Louis Washkansky (a 55-year-old man terminally ill with heart disease).

The operation was considered a success, even though Washkansky died of pneumonia 18 days later.

The transplant attracted unprecedented media coverage, turning Dr. Barnard into an overnight celebrity:

Charismatic and photogenic, he appeared on magazine covers, met dignitaries and film stars, drawing crowds and photographers wherever he went.

Dr. Barnard performed a second human heart transplant on January 2, 1968 — just one month after the first. The second recipient, 59-year-old Philip Blaiberg, not only survived the operation, but lived for another 19 months and 15 days before dying of organ rejection in August of 1969.

The success of this second operation “secured the future of heart transplants.” It also likely caused the usage of Christiaan to peak again in 1970.

(That said, news about Dr. Barnard’s personal life may have also been a factor. He divorced his wife of twenty years, Aletta, in mid-1969 and married a 19-year-old Johannesburg socialite named Barbara Zoellner in early 1970.)

I’m not sure how many of the baby boys named Christiaan during the late ’60s and early ’70s were taught to pronounce their names KRIS-tee-ahn, as I couldn’t find any clips of U.S. newscasters using the Afrikaans pronunciation. Even talk show host Dick Cavett defaulted to the American pronunciation, KRIS-chen, when Dr. Christiaan Barnard appeared on The Dick Cavett Show [vid] in May of 1970.

What are your thoughts on the name Christiaan?


Image: Adapted from Professor Barnard photo by Jac. de Nijs via Nationaal Archief under CC0.