How popular is the baby name Gayle 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 Gayle.

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Popularity of the baby name Gayle


Posts that mention the name Gayle

Name quotes #81: Nephi, Robin, Morven

double quotation mark

It’s a new month — time for a new batch of name-related quotations!

From an article and a blog post about the naming of Wendy’s:

When it came to deciding what to call the chain, [Dave Thomas] tried out the names of all five of his children before he settled on the nickname for his daughter, Melinda, which was Wendy.

Before my dad left us [in 2002], we had a long conversation about him naming the restaurant Wendy’s. It was the first time we’d ever had this conversation. He said, “You know what? I’m sorry.” I asked him what he meant. He explained, “I should’ve just named it after myself, because it put a lot of pressure on you.”

From a 2017 LDS Living article about Mormon names:

Jennifer Mansfield, a current graduate student in the Folklore Program at Utah State University, identified six different types of Mormon names: religious (Moroni, Nephi, Brigham), combination (Taylee, Mandylyn), invented (Kaislen), creatively spelled (Kady, Taeler), ancestral (Freestone, Jenkin), and themed (Monson, Hinckley, Kimball).

From CUNY linguist Leonard R. N. Ashley (via Futility Closet):

I once had a student named Usmail, which I at first thought was some Hispanic version of Ishmael. It transpired that he had been named for the only contact his family in a remote Puerto Rican village enjoyed with the outside world, the red-white-and-blue truck that came frequently and had painted on its side US Mail.

(Here are more names like Usmail.)

From the obituary of Art Ginsburg, founder of Art’s Deli in Los Angeles:

Using family recipes and an investment of $3,000, he opened Art’s Deli — “where every sandwich is a work of Art” — on June 22, 1957.

From the 2013 New York Times obituary of Pitcairner and Bounty mutineer descendant Tom Christian:

There are no automobiles on Pitcairn, and the island’s rocks and cliffs bear names redolent of long-ago tragedies: “Where Dan Fall,” “Where Minnie Off,” “Oh Dear.”

[…]

Besides his daughter Jacqueline, Mr. Christian’s survivors include his wife, the former Betty Christian, whom he married in 1966 (like many Pitcairn couples, they are distant cousins); three other daughters, Raelene Christian, Sherileen Christian and Darlene McIntyre; and six grandchildren.

From a Stir post about “Teen Mom” Leah Messer and her new baby Adalynn:

[S]he is spending the whole week correcting every media report out there on how to spell the baby’s name. Whoops!

The problem started when US Weekly spelled the little girl’s name with two “d”s instead of one, and just spiraled from there. Leah has had to turn to social media to make the correction.

Sounds like the Teen Mom just got a taste of what happens when you decide you need your baby’s name to be insanely “unique.”

From Summer Pierre’s blog post about her name:

I grew up in what I have learned since then, is considered an ALTERNATIVE environment. I went to a hippie school, and my classmates had names that included Andromeda, Boreas, Vitali, Oak, and Rolly (pronounced Role-e) (hi guys!). Considering the roll call, I was kind of the “Jane Smith” of the group. However, regardless of the pillows on the floor, and meetings where we had to discuss our feelings, I still got teased on the playground and called names.

[…]

Then, I moved to the East Coast. East coast people find it a very funny name. This morning, as it would happen, two co-workers discussed my name in front of me, and one said, “I didn’t think it was your real name.” I get that a lot. Maybe it’s because there aren’t any hippies left here. I know the cultural consciousness happened on the east coast, because I’ve met people that had hippies for parents, but it seems that east coast hippies have moved on to academic postings or documentary filmmakers, and they seem to name their kids Amos or Noah, and not after seasons or other natural occurrences.

From a 2019 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 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 an Us Weekly piece about Oprah‘s BFF Gayle King:

I changed my name from Gail to Gayle in seventh grade because I liked to make a loopy y.

From the essay “The Joy of Being Called Morven Crumlish” by the awesomely named Morven Crumlish (via British Baby Names):

I like having an unusual name. The Morven part is not so uncommon in Scotland – most people I meet know another Morven, and I know at least half a dozen. I once ended up in the pub with two other Morvens, which got funnier as the night wore on. Added to the Crumlish, though, my name is, I think, unique. “There can’t be more than one Morven Crumlish!” is something I hear a lot, when the different parts of my life accidentally collide, which makes it difficult to misbehave. In the past my name has become an abstraction. “So this is what a Morven Crumlish looks like,” said the porters who wheeled me down to get my tonsils removed, reducing me to an indefinite object.

[Here are some other very Scottish names.]

From a 2013 article in The Atlantic about the names of NPR reporters:

Neda Ulaby’s first name means “dew” and is fairly common in Syria. (“It’s also the name of the heroine of an opera called Pagliacci who is literally killed by a clown,” she told me over email.)

[…]

A few years ago, a pair of hardcore NPR listeners invited Neda Ulaby to their wedding, sending along a picture of their car’s license plate, which reads “OOLABEE.” “Apparently they’d developed the creepy habit of referring to each other as ‘my little Ulaby.’ So I became a mating call,” she explained.

…And another quote from the same article:

Robert Smith of Planet Money told me by email that the only reason to change his name “would be so that I could be more famous. You would remember it better if I ended by reports with, ‘I’m Mobius Tutti.'” But at the same time, he says, “I’m in this business to tell other people’s stories, and not to promote myself or my own name. Being a Robert Smith is always a good reminder that you aren’t that different than the people you cover.”

For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

Contrarian baby names: Cliff, Janet, Steve, Wanda…

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“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.

If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.

But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.

If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.

Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.

Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.

Contrarian Baby Names: Girls

Alberta
Anita
Ann
Annetta
Annette
Bambi
Becky
Benita
Bertha
Bessie
Beth
Betty
Beverley
Beverly
Blanche
Bobbie
Bobby
Bonita
Candy
Caren
Carlene
Carol
Carole
Cary
Caryn
Cathleen
Cathy
Charla
Charlene
Charmaine
Cheri
Cherie
Cheryl
Chris
Christi
Cindy
Claudette
Coleen
Colleen
Connie
Dale
Danette
Danita
Darlene
Dawn
Dawna
Deanne
Debbie
Debora
Debra
Deirdre
Delores
Denice
Denise
Diane
Dianna
Dianne
Dollie
Dolores
Dona
Donna
Doreen
Dori
Doris
Dorthy
Eddie
Edwina
Ernestine
Ethel
Gail
Gayle
Gena
Geralyn
Germaine
Gilda
Glenda
Glenna
Harriett
Jackie
Janet
Janice
Janis
Jayne
Jean
Jeanette
Jeanie
Jeanine
Jeanne
Jeannette
Jeannie
Jeannine
Jeri
Jerri
Jerry
Jill
Jimmie
Jo
Joan
Joann
Joanne
Jodi
Jody
Joellen
Joni
Juanita
Judi
Judy
Juli
Kandi
Karin
Kathie
Kathy
Kay
Kaye
Kerrie
Kerry
Kim
Kimberley
Kitty
Kris
Kristi
Ladonna
Laureen
Lauretta
Laurie
Lavonne
Lee
Leesa
Lois
Lorene
Lori
Lorie
Lorinda
Lorna
Lorraine
Lorrie
Lou
Louann
Lu
Luann
Luanne
Lucretia
Lupe
Lyn
Lynda
Lynn
Lynne
Madonna
Marcia
Marcy
Margie
Mariann
Marianne
Marla
Marsha
Maryjo
Maureen
Meg
Melba
Melinda
Melva
Michele
Migdalia
Mitzi
Myrna
Nanette
Nelda
Nicki
Nita
Norma
Pamela
Patrice
Patsy
Patti
Patty
Pauline
Peggy
Pennie
Phyllis
Randy
Reba
Rene
Rhonda
Rita
Robbie
Robbin
Roberta
Robin
Rochelle
Ronda
Rosanne
Roseann
Roxane
Roxann
Sandy
Saundra
Sharon
Sheila
Shelia
Shelley
Shelly
Sheri
Sherri
Sherry
Sheryl
Shirley
Sondra
Sue
Susanne
Suzan
Suzanne
Tammie
Tammy
Tena
Teri
Terri
Terry
Thelma
Theresa
Therese
Tina
Tonia
Tonya
Tracey
Traci
Tracie
Tracy
Treva
Trina
Trudy
Velma
Verna
Vicki
Vickie
Vicky
Wanda
Wendy
Willie
Wilma
Yolanda
Yvonne

Contrarian Baby Names: Boys

Adolph
Al
Alford
Alphonso
Arne
Arnie
Arnold
Artie
Barry
Barton
Bennie
Bernard
Bernie
Bert
Bill
Billie
Bob
Bobbie
Brad
Bradford
Brent
Bret
Britt
Bud
Buddy
Burl
Burt
Butch
Carey
Carleton
Carlton
Carmen
Carroll
Cary
Cecil
Chester
Chuck
Clarence
Claude
Cletus
Cleveland
Cliff
Clifford
Clifton
Columbus
Curt
Curtiss
Dale
Dan
Dana
Dannie
Darrel
Darryl
Daryl
Dave
Davie
Del
Delbert
Dell
Delmer
Denny
Derwin
Dewey
Dirk
Don
Donnie
Donny
Doug
Douglass
Doyle
Duane
Dudley
Duwayne
Dwain
Dwaine
Dwane
Dwight
Earl
Earnest
Ed
Edsel
Elbert
Ernie
Farrell
Floyd
Fred
Freddie
Fredric
Gale
Garland
Garry
Garth
Gene
Geoffrey
Gerard
Gerry
Gilbert
Glen
Glenn
Greg
Gregg
Greggory
Grover
Guy
Hal
Haywood
Herbert
Herman
Homer
Horace
Howell
Hubert
Irwin
Jackie
Jame
Jeff
Jefferey
Jeffry
Jerald
Jerold
Jess
Jim
Jimmie
Jodie
Jody
Johnie
Johnnie
Karl
Kelly
Ken
Kenney
Kennith
Kent
Kermit
Kerry
Kim
Kirk
Kraig
Kurt
Laurence
Lawrance
Len
Lenard
Lennie
Les
Leslie
Lester
Lindell
Lindsay
Lindsey
Linwood
Lloyd
Lonnie
Lonny
Loren
Lorin
Lowell
Loyd
Lynn
Marion
Marty
Matt
Maxie
Mel
Merle
Merrill
Mickel
Mickey
Millard
Milton
Mitch
Mitchel
Monty
Neal
Ned
Nicky
Norbert
Norman
Norris
Orville
Perry
Pete
Phil
Ralph
Randal
Randel
Randell
Randolph
Rayford
Rick
Rickey
Rickie
Rob
Robby
Robin
Rock
Rodger
Rogers
Rojelio
Rolf
Ron
Roosevelt
Rudolfo
Rudolph
Rufus
Russ
Rusty
Sal
Sammie
Sandy
Sanford
Scot
Sherman
Sherwood
Skip
Stan
Stanford
Steve
Stevie
Stewart
Stuart
Sylvester
Tad
Ted
Terence
Thurman
Tim
Timmothy
Timmy
Tod
Todd
Tom
Tommie
Toney
Tracey
Tracy
Val
Vernell
Vernon
Waymon
Wendell
Wilbert
Wilbur
Wilford
Wilfred
Willard
Willis
Winfred
Woody

Interestingly, thirteen of the names above — Bobbie, Cary, Dale, Jackie, Jimmie, Jody, Kerry, Kim, Lynn, Robin, Sandy, Tracey, Tracy — managed to make both lists.

Now some questions for you…

Do you like any of these names? Would you be willing to use any of them on a modern-day baby? Why or why not?

Baby names that debuted most impressively in the U.S. data, 1881 to today

lotus bud

Though most of the baby names in the SSA’s annual datasets are repeats, each dataset does contain a handful of brand-new names.

Below are the most popular debut names for every single year on record, after the first.

Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing explanations tied to historical people/events. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.

Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)

  • 1881: Adell & Celeste, 14; Brown & Newell, 14
  • 1882: Verda, 14; Cleve, 13
  • 1883: Laurel, 12; Brady, Festus, Jewell, Odell & Rosco, 8
  • 1884: Crystal & Rubie, 11; Benjamen, Jens, Oakley & Whitney, 9
  • 1885: Clotilde, 13; Arley & Terence, 9
  • 1886: Manuelita, 10; Terrence, 10
  • 1887: Verlie, 13; Myles, 11
  • 1888: Ebba, 18; Carlisle, Hughie & Orvel, 9
  • 1889: Garnett, 12; Doyle, 9
  • 1890: Verena, 11; Eduardo & Maggie, 10
  • 1891: Gayle, Idabelle & Zenia, 9; Sheridan, 14
  • 1892: Astrid, Dallas & Jennett, 9; Corbett, 23
  • 1893: Elmyra, 12; Estel, Mayo, Shelley & Thorwald, 8
  • 1894: Beatriz, Carola & Marrie, 9; Arvel, Erby & Floy, 8
  • 1895: Trilby, 12; Roosevelt, 12
  • 1896: Lotus, 11; Hazen, 11
  • 1897: Dewey, 13; Bryon, Frankie, Mario & Rhoda, 7
  • 1898: Manilla, 35; Hobson, 38
  • 1899: Ardis & Irva, 19; Haven, 9
  • 1900: Luciel, 14; Rosevelt, 20
  • 1901: Venita, 11; Eino, 9
  • 1902: Mercie, 10; Clarnce, 9
  • 1903: Estela, 11; Lenon & Porfirio, 7
  • 1904: Magdaline, 9; Adrain, Arbie, Betty, Desmond, Domenic, Duard, Raul & Severo, 8
  • 1905: Oliver, 9; Eliot & Tyree, 9
  • 1906: Nedra, 11; Domenico & Ryan, 10
  • 1907: Theta, 20; Taft, 16
  • 1908: Pasqualina, 10; Robley, 12
  • 1909: Wilmoth, 9; Randal & Vidal, 9
  • 1920: Dardanella, 23; Steele, 11
  • 1921: Marilynne, 13; Norberto, 14
  • 1922: Evelean, 14; Daren, 35
  • 1923: Nalda, 15; Clinard & Dorland, 9
  • 1924: Charis, 14; Melquiades, 13
  • 1925: Irmalee, 37; Wayburn, 11
  • 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 14
  • 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • 1929: Jeannene, 25; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1990: Isamar, 446; Dajour, 26
  • 1991: Emilce, 30; Quayshaun, 93
  • 1992: Akeiba, 49; Devanta, 41
  • 1993: Rosangelica, 91; Deyonta, 37
  • 1994: Ajee, 185; Shyheim, 168
  • 1995: Yamilex, 130; Alize, 30
  • 1996: Moesha, 426; Quindon, 67
  • 1997: Erykah, 279; Cross, 43
  • 1998: Naidelyn, 78; Zyshonne, 26
  • 1999: Verania, 62; Cauy, 32
  • 2000: Kelis, 108; Rithik, 22
  • 2001: Yaire, 184; Jahiem, 155
  • 2002: Kaydence, 70; Omarian, 31
  • 2003: Trenyce, 88; Pharrell, 67
  • 2004: Eshal, 38; Jkwon, 100
  • 2005: Yarisbel, 30; Jayceon, 48
  • 2006: Lizania, 35; Balian, 24
  • 2007: Leilene, 81; Yurem, 206
  • 2008: Aideliz, 91; Yosgart, 72
  • 2009: Greidys, 186; Jeremih, 87

I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!

Source: U.S. SSA

Image: Adapted from LotusBud0048a (public domain) by Frank “Fg2” Gualtieri

[Latest update: May 2024]

Where did the baby name Crystalgayle come from?

The Crystal Gayle album "We Must Believe In Magic" (1977).
Crystal Gayle album (1977)

The compound name Crystalgayle was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1981:

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 5 baby girls named Crystalgayle [debut]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

The source, of course, is country singer Crystal Gayle.

The timing of the debut has less to do with her career, though, than with the sudden trendiness of the name Krystle, thanks to TV character Krystle Carrington (from the prime-time soap opera Dynasty).

But the name Crystal — without the Gayle — does seem to have been given a boost by Crystal Gayle’s best-known hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” which came out in mid-1977. It was already on the rise in the ’70s, but that rise accelerated in ’77 and ’78:

  • 1979: 13,467 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 18th)
  • 1978: 12,592 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 18th)
  • 1977: 9,728 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 25th)
  • 1976: 6,947 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 36th)
  • 1975: 6,244 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 43rd)

Crystal Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb in 1951. She was the youngest of eight; her siblings were named Melvin, Loretta, Herman, Willie, Donald, Peggy, and Betty.

Brenda was ready to start her singing career as soon as she was done with high school. At that point, her sister Loretta — nearly 19 years her senior — had already turned herself into famous country singer Loretta Lynn. So Brenda signed with Loretta’s recording label, Decca.

As the label already had Brenda Lee, a change of name was needed and, when they drove past a sign for Krystal hamburgers, Lynn said, ‘That’s your name. Crystals are bright and shiny, like you.’

(The founders of the fast food chain Krystal were keen on cleanliness, so they chose the name “Crystal” to evoke the idea of a crystal-clean restaurant, but decided to spell it with a “K” to make it distinctive.)

What are your thoughts on the name Crystal? What’s your preferred spelling of the name?

Sources:

  • Crystal Gayle – Wikipedia
  • Hogan, David G. Selling ’em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food. NY: New York University Press, 1999.
  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5th ed. London: Omnibus Press, 2011.
  • Shearer, John. “75 Years Of Krystal.” Chattanoogan.com 8 Oct. 2007.
  • SSA