How popular is the baby name Gretchen 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 Gretchen.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Gretchen


Posts that Mention the Name Gretchen

Nomenclator: Ancient Roman name-rememberer

In ancient times, well-to-do Romans didn’t have to worry about remembering people’s names. Why? Because they had special name-remembering slaves to do the job for them.

These slaves were called nomenclators, from the Latin words nōmen, meaning “name,” and calō, meaning, “call together, summon.”

Essentially, a nomenclator was a social secretary. He accompanied his master in public and reminded him of the names and details of important individuals, such as business acquaintances. Nomenclators were particularly useful to politicians soliciting a votes in elections to public office.

The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum owns a 1st century epitaph for a guy named Aristarchus who worked as a nomenclator. (The name Aristarchus is based on the ancient Greek words aristos, meaning “best,” and archos, meaning “master.”)

Are you good at remembering names? Would you have made an efficient nomenclator?

Sources: nomenclator – Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Nomenclator – Wiktionary, ‘Working IX to V’ in Ancient Rome and Greece

P.S. I learned about this interesting ancient job from episode 51 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.

Popular baby names in Germany, 2015

According to data from the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (Association for German Language), the most popular baby names in Germany in 2015 were Mia and Jonas.

Here are the country’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl NamesBoy Names
1. Mia
2. Emma
3. Hanna/Hannah
4. Sophia/Sofia
5. Anna
6. Emilia
7. Mila
8. Lea/Leah
9. Lina
10. Lena
1. Jonas
2. Maximilian
3. Ben
4. Luca/Luka
5. Leon/Léon
6. Louis/Luis
7. Lukas/Lucas
8. Elias
9. Felix
10. Noah/Noa

In the girls’ top 10, Mila replaced Marie.

In the boys’ top 10, Elias replaced Paul.

Hanna/Hannah and Luis/Louis were the #1 names (and Jonas was down in 7th) in 2014.

One interesting baby name bestowed in Germany in 2015 was “Gretchen Schneewittchen,” or “Gretchen Snow White,” discovered by name researcher Knud Bielefeld. It may have been inspired by Grimm World, the Brothers Grimm museum that opened in Kassel, Germany, in 2015.

Finally, did you know that about 1,000 new baby names are approved in Germany every year?

Sources: GfdS (2015), Germans turn to Star Wars for baby names

Name quotes #34: Kareem, Ariel, Vogue

From the essay Why I converted to Islam by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor:

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

[…]

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

[…]

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

From an article about hipsters reviving long-lost English words:

Luu writes that words with “a nostalgic air, reflecting the cultural values and tastes of the speaker,” are suddenly popping up everywhere. These include: bespoke, peruse, dapper, mayhaps and bedchamber. You’ll also find that old-timey prepositions like amidst and amongst are back. The same goes for baby names that were long considered lost to the past, such as Silas and Adeline.

From a Graham Norton Show episode [vid] that aired in October, 2014, in which comedian Stephen Fry gives actor Robert Downey, Jr., a baby name suggestion:

Could you, just as a favor, cause I know that, you know, some stars like to give unusual names, could you call him or her Uppy? Uppy Downey?

Spoiler #1: Downey and his wife Susan welcomed a baby girl that November. But they didn’t name her “Uppy.” Her full name is Avri Roel Downey.

From Queer Mama for Autostraddle Episode Seven — Help Name Our Baby (thank you to the anonymous reader who sent me this link!):

When Simone and I were first considering names, we thought we should err towards the gender neutral side of the girl-name spectrum. We know a good number of masculine-identifying women and so many trans men who haven’t liked their more feminine given names. But that’s the problem with “gender neutral.” It mostly has just come to mean sort-of masculine. Lover of femininity that I am, was I really willing to write off all the beautiful feminine names because our kid might not be femme?

We decided no, we wouldn’t do that. Our kid can change her name if and when she wants, and in the meantime, we will call her a name we love, even if that’s feminine! In any case, I have friends who’ve later changed their names not because of gender at all, but just because they wanted to be called something else, so there really are no guarantees.

Spoiler #2: Haley and Simone’s baby girl was born in late August. Her full name is Juniper Everhart Jude [vid].

From an article about a 21-year-old Ariel (pronounced “are-e-elle,” not “air-e-elle” like the Disney mermaid):

“I mean, it’s annoying when people say ‘Ariel’ because that’s not my name,” Malloy said. “But it’s great because they’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re a princess,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re right.'”

From an article about Irish TV personality Vogue Williams:

“Everyone thinks I made up my name or I changed it at some stage and I’m actually called Joanne. But I like having a different name. Brian and I squabble all the time over baby names – because I want to give any children we have an equally mad name as the one I was given.

“Our friends in Australia had a baby girl about four years ago when we were living there and they called her Sailor. Now Liv Tyler has had a boy and she’s named him Sailor. So that’s top of the list at the moment.”

Finally, two of the comments on Haleema Shah’s post What’s in a Name? Reflections on Who We are and What We are Called.

First one is from Lesley Woodward:

I was born in 1937 to an American mother and a naturalized German father. I was named “Gretchen” which was a mistake since war with Germany was looming and there was a lot of anti-German sentiment. Anything German was stigmatized, even innocent little daschund dogs were kicked and hated for their German origin. I was referred to as “the little Nazi” in the neighborhood and school because of my name and my father’s heavily accented English. We moved when I was about 12 years old, and I took the opportunity to change my name, dropping “Gretchen” and insisting on being called by my middle name “Lesley.” My parents knew nothing of this, and were confused when the neighborhood children came to the door and asked for “Lesley.” It took a lot of self control not to respond to “Gretchen” or even acknowledge the someone had spoken to me, but gradually I morphed into “Lesley” and have since legally dropped my birth name.

Second one is from Lloret de Mar Pelayo:

I cringe when people ask me my name. In Spanish it sounds beautiful, even in it’s native Catalan accent, but in English it sounds dreadful.

Lloret De Mar is a city north of Barcelona, a beach town. The double L can be pronounced like a Y or a J. But in English everyone and I mean everyone sounds out the double L like the L in laughter. I feel terrible correcting people because they immediately question whether I spelled my own name wrong (“You know there’s two Ls right?”) And I politely smile and have to further explain…

My father is Catalan and he and my mother (who is Puerto Rican) wanted a name that reflected Catalan ancestry and therefore Lloret was what they picked. I absolutely love the history of the name and its ties to Catalan culture…I just wish they had spelled it with a Y or a J so it’d be easier to pronounce in English!

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Lloret de Mar, which is on the Mediterranean coast.

Starlet names from the early 1900s

WAMPAS baby stars 1928

Ever heard of the WAMPAS Baby Stars?

They were young actresses on the cusp of movie stardom back in the 1920s and 1930s.

About 13 Baby Stars were selected by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers every year from 1922 to 1934 (minus 1930 and 1933).

Some of those young women did indeed achieve stardom. Among the Baby Stars were Clara Bow (’24), Mary Astor (’26), Joan Crawford (’26), Fay Wray (’26) and Ginger Rogers (’32).

I thought the names of the Baby Stars — the oldest of whom were born in the final years of the 1800s, the youngest of whom were born in the mid-1910s — would make an interesting set. But I wanted birth names, not stage names, so I tracked down as many birth names as I could. Here’s the result, sorted by frequency (i.e., seven women were named Dorothy).

  • 7: Dorothy
  • 6: Helen
  • 4: Elizabeth
  • 3: Frances, Ruth, Virginia
  • 2: Anita, Ann, Barbara, Betty, Clara, Doris, Dorothea, Eleanor, Evelyn, Gladys, Gwendolyn, Hazel, Jacqueline, Katherine, Laura, Louise, Lucille, Margaret, Maria, Marian, Marie, Marion, Mary, Patricia, Violet
  • 1: Adamae, Alberta, Alma, Anne, Audrey, Augusta, Blanche, Carmelita, Caryl, Constance, Derelys, Dolores, Duane, Edna, Eleanor, Ena, Enriqueta, Ethel, Ethlyne, Evalyn, Flora, Gisela, Gloria, Gretchen, Hattie, Helene, Ina, Ingeborg, Jacquiline, Jean, Joan, Jobyna, Josephine, Juanita, Julanne, Kathleen, Kathryn, Kitty, Launa, Laurette, Lena, Lenore, Lilian, Lola, Lu Ann, Lucile, Madeline, Marceline, Martha, Mildred, Myrna, Natalia, Natalie, Nellie, Neoma, Olive, Olivia, Patsy, Rita, Rochelle, Rose, Sally, Suzanne, Sidney, Toshia, Vera, Vina

And here are the leftover stage names:

  • 5: Sally
  • 4: Mary
  • 3: Joan, June
  • 2: Betty, Jean, Judith, Pauline
  • 1: Alice, Bessie, Boots, Claire, Colleen, Dolores, Dorothy, Elinor, Evelyn, Fay, Frances, Gigi, Ginger, Gladys, Gloria, Gwen, Iris, Janet, Joyce, Julie, Karen, Kathleen, Lila, Lina, Lois, Lona, Loretta, Lucille, Lupe, Marian, Molly, Mona, Natalie, Patricia, Sue

(Often stage names were the real-life middle names of these women.)

Finally, a few interesting details:

  • “Derelys” was Derelys Perdue, whose first name at birth was actually Geraldine. I’m not sure how she came up with her stage name, but, in March of 1923, her film studio (FBO) tried to re-rename her “Ann.” (They’d sponsored a name contest in a magazine called Film Fun. The winner got $50.) Derelys brought an injunction against the studio in April to prevent the name change from happening, and the story ended up in the newspapers. This extra visibility is likely what boosted the name Derelys into the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time in 1924.
  • “Jobyna” was Jobyna Ralston, who was named for actress Jobyna Howland, daughter of a man named Joby Howland. The name Jobyna debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1927.
  • “Lina” was Lina Basquette, who I mentioned in last week’s name quote post.
  • “Sidney” was Sidney Fox, a female who was given the name Sidney long before the name (in particular, the spelling Sydney) became trendy for baby girls.

Which of all the names listed above do you like best? Why?

Sources:

Girl names for parents who don’t like girl names

Some parents see names like Angelina, Isabella, and Olivia and think, “I’m not going to bother weeding through these dainty little sissy-names on the off chance I find a good one. Forget it. I’m gonna flip ahead to the boy names.”

What these parents might not realize, though, is that there are plenty of strong, non-frilly girl names out there. Here are three types I’ve come up with:

Girl Names with Boyish Nicknames
A boy name wrapped in a girl name — the best of both worlds. Most of the full names below are based on boy names, so they simply shorten to the same pet forms.

Alex – Alexandra
Andy – Andrea, Miranda
Bernie – Bernadette
Cal – Calista, Calla
Clem – Clementine
Dan – Danielle
Ernie – Ernestine
Frank – Frances
Gerry – Geraldine
Gus – Augusta
Jack – Jacqueline
Jo – Josephine, Johanna
Max – Maxine
Mo – Monique, Maureen
Nick – Nicole, Monica, Veronica
Rick – Erica
Rob – Roberta
Sal – Salome, Sarah
Tony – Antonia
Will – Wilhelmina

Girl Names with Lots of Consonants
Girl names with at least as many consonants as vowels tend to sound much more serious than vowel-laden girl names. Especially if they end with a consonant (or a consonant-sound).

Adele*
Agnes
Alice
Ardith
Astrid
Blanche
Bridget
Brooke
Carmen
Claire*
Edith
Eleanor*
Elizabeth
Enid
Esther
Gertrude
Gretchen
Harriet
Helen
Hester
Imogene*
Ingrid
Jane
Janet
Jill
Joan
Judith
Katherine
Laurel
Mabel
Margaret
Marion
Maude*
Megan
Meredith
Nadine
Rachel
Ruth
Sibyl
Tamar

*Technically, these names have more vowels than consonants. But it doesn’t sound like they do, and that’s the important part.

Girl Names with Unusual Letters/Sounds
Unusual things command your attention. They may seem odd, but, because they stand out, they also tend to seem bold.

Beatrix
Beulah
Eugenia
Eunice
Gwyneth
Hazel
Izora
Maeve
Tirzah
Tallulah
Ursula
Violet
Winifred
Winona
Yolanda
Zelda
Zenobia
Zillah

What other types of girl names would you add to this list?