How popular is the baby name Jean 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 Jean.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Jean


Posts that Mention the Name Jean

Where did the baby name Zhane come from in 1993?

The Zhané album "Pronounced Jah-Nay" (1994)
Zhané album

The name Zhane first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1993. It saw peak usage the very next year:

  • 1995: 203 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 934th]
  • 1994: 391 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 584th]
  • 1993: 69 baby girls named Zhane [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

Here’s a visual:

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

The sudden trendiness of Zhane gave boosts to similar names (like Zana) and produced a crop of sound-alike names, such as…

1992199319941995
Jhane.12*6337
Zhana.8*4826
Zhanae..14*8
Jhanae..10*10
Zhanee..10*.
Jhanee..5*5
Zhanea..5*.
*Debut

It also inspired parents to create Zhane-based names, including Dazhane, Dezhane, Azhane, Daizhane, Tazhane, Auzhane, Dayzhane, Razhane, Ajhane, Dezhanae, Dejhanae, Zhania, and Zhanaya.

So, what was influencing all of these names?

R&B duo Zhané (pronounced zhah-NAY), made up of vocalists Jean Norris and Renée Neufville.

Zhané’s biggest hit, the catchy “Hey, Mr. D.J.,” was released in August of 1993 and reached #6 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Their next-biggest hit, “Groove Thang,” came out early the following year.

Both songs were included on the duo’s 1994 debut album, the cleverly titled Pronounced Jah-Nay.

So how did the two singers — who met while attending Temple University in Philadelphia in the early 1990s — come up with the name “Zhane”? Here’s what Norris told Soul Train about a decade ago:

For our name, Renée had the idea of using the French pronunciation of our names Jean and Renée, which sounded like “Jahnay”. We added a Z for a little flavor and we came up with Zhané.

What are your thoughts on the name Zhane?

Sources:

P.S. The duo’s success may have had an influence on the similar-sounding name Dijonnaise as well…

Where did the baby name Claudinette come from in 1960?

Beauty queen Claudinette Fouchard on the cover of JET magazine (Feb. 1960)
Claudinette Fouchard

The name Claudinette was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1960:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 7 baby girls named Claudinette [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Haitian beauty Claudinette Fouchard, who was declared “Miss Haiti” early in 1960, and soon after won the title of “World Sugar Queen” in Cali, Colombia. (Haiti put her image on postage stamps following that second accomplishment.)

More importantly in terms of American baby names, Claudinette appeared on the covers of both Ebony and Jet during 1960. Here’s how Jet described her:

The shapely (36-24-36) beauty speaks five languages, has attended Georgetown U., and the Sorbonne, majoring in art, music.

She was the daughter of Jean Fouchard, a diplomat and scholar who had once been Haiti’s ambassador to Cuba. Her mother’s name was Claudette.

I don’t know what kind of influence Claudinette had on Haitian baby names, but I do know that the Haitian-American wife of musician Wyclef Jean, formerly of The Fugees, is named Marie Claudinette Jean. (And their adopted daughter Angelina has the middle name Claudinelle.)

Do you like the name Claudinette?

Sources:

  • “The Beauty who Doesn’t Want to Be Queen.” Ebony Jul. 1960: 110-114.
  • “Haiti Queen.” Jet 14 Jan. 1960: 31.

Top gender-neutral baby names of 2021: Parker, River, Charlie

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Looking for baby names that work for both genders?

Actually, let me rephrase that: Do you want to see which names are being given to sizeable numbers of baby boys and baby girls in the U.S. right now?

I wanted to ask the question in a more specific way because I think the details matter. Names can be gender-neutral in theory, but that doesn’t mean they’re being given to babies of both genders in practice.

It’s the difference between Evelyn and Everest.

Gender identity is a big topic of conversation these days, so it’s not surprising that an ever-growing number of parents are searching for baby names that aren’t strongly associated with one gender or the other.

To know what’s happening with baby names in real life, though, we need to focus on the data. That’s why I didn’t consider anything but data when I created the list below.

These names were culled from the 2021 U.S. baby name data (provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration). Each one saw usage that was at least one-third female and at least one-third male, making all of them relatively gender-neutral among today’s newborns.

Top gender-neutral baby names

Let’s start with a quick rundown of the 20 most popular gender-neutral baby names in the U.S. right now:

  1. Parker
  2. River
  3. Charlie
  4. Blake
  5. Hayden
  6. Emerson
  7. Amari
  8. Finley
  9. Remington
  10. Phoenix
  11. Oakley
  12. Dakota
  13. Tatum
  14. Rory
  15. Ari
  16. Alexis
  17. Armani
  18. Remy
  19. Reign
  20. Milan

Now here’s the same list again, but this time around I’ve added more information: data, rankings, popularity graphs, and definitions.

Parker (#1)

Last year, the name Parker was given to 6,229 babies. Of these babies, 2,406 (38.63%) were girls and 3,823 (61.37%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Parker placed 115th for girls and 93rd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Parker in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Parker

Parker is an English surname that originally referred to someone who was employed as the keeper of a hunting park.

River (#2)

Last year, the name River was given to 5,317 babies. Of these babies, 1,862 (35.02%) were girls and 3,455 (64.98%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, River placed 151st for girls and 110th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name River in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name River

River, the English word that refers to a flowing body of water, was derived from the Latin word ripa, meaning “riverbank” or “seashore.”

Charlie (#3)

Last year, the name Charlie was given to 4,190 babies. Of these babies, 2,202 (52.55%) were girls and 1,988 (47.45%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Charlie placed 127th for girls and 189th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Charlie in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Charlie

Charlie is a diminutive of the male name Charles, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Karl, which meant “freeman” (i.e., not a serf or slave).

Interestingly, Charlie is a top-10 name for boys in some regions (like New Zealand and Ireland) and a top-10 name for girls in others (like Quebec).

Blake (#4)

Last year, the name Blake was given to 3,337 babies. Of these babies, 1,497 (44.86%) were girls and 1,840 (55.14%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Blake placed 199th for girls and 205th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Blake in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Blake

Blake is an English surname that can be traced back to either of two Old English words that happen to have opposite meanings — one being “black,” the other being “white.”

Hayden (#5)

Last year, the name Hayden was given to 3,283 babies. Of these babies, 1,096 (33.38%) were girls and 2,187 (66.62%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Hayden placed 290th for girls and 176th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Hayden in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Hayden

Hayden is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In many cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “hay” and “hill.” (Depending upon the location, though, the first element sometimes meant “fence enclosure,” and the second element sometimes meant “valley.”)

Emerson (#6)

Last year, the name Emerson was given to 2,952 babies. Of these babies, 1,729 (58.57%) were girls and 1,223 (41.43%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Emerson placed 167th for girls and 279th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Emerson in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Emerson

Emerson is an English surname that originally referred to the son of someone named Emery.

Amari (#7)

Last year, the name Amari was given to 2,880 babies. Of these babies, 972 (33.75%) were girls and 1,908 (66.25%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Amari placed 333rd for girls and 199th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Amari in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Amari

Amari is a modern name that doesn’t seem to have a specific origin or meaning.

Finley (#8)

Last year, the name Finley was given to 2,705 babies. Of these babies, 1,407 (52.01%) were girls and 1,298 (47.99%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Finley placed 211th for girls and 265th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Finley in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Finley

Finley is based on the Gaelic name Fionnlagh, which is made up of elements meaning “white” and “warrior.”

Remington (#9)

Last year, the name Remington was given to 2,475 babies. Of these babies, 890 (35.96%) were girls and 1,585 (64.04%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Remington placed 348th for girls and 231st for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Remington in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Remington

Remington is an English surname that originally referred to someone from the town of Rimington, in Lancashire. (It’s also an American gun brand.)

Phoenix (#10)

Last year, the name Phoenix was given to 2,454 babies. Of these babies, 1,032 (42.05%) were girls and 1,422 (57.95%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Phoenix placed 308th for girls and 248th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Phoenix in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Phoenix

Phoenix, the word that refers the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes, was derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “crimson” or “purple.”

Oakley (#11)

Last year, the name Oakley was given to 2,292 babies. Of these babies, 1,524 (66.49%) were girls and 768 (33.51%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Oakley placed 193rd for girls and 403rd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Oakley in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Oakley

Oakley is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In all cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “oak” and “clearing.”

Dakota (#12)

Last year, the name Dakota was given to 2,090 babies. Of these babies, 1,147 (54.88%) were girls and 943 (45.12%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Dakota placed 270th for girls and 344th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Dakota in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Dakota

Dakota, the name of a Native American tribe, means “friendly” or “allied” in the Siouan language of the Dakota people.

Tatum (#13)

Last year, the name Tatum was given to 1,959 babies. Of these babies, 1,125 (57.43%) were girls and 834 (42.57%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Tatum placed 279th for girls and 385th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Tatum in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Tatum

Tatum is an English surname that originally referred to the homestead of someone named Tata.

Rory (#14)

Last year, the name Rory was given to 1,919 babies. Of these babies, 789 (41.12%) were girls and 1,130 (58.88%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Rory placed 396th for girls and 295th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Rory in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Rory

Rory is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Ruaidhri, which is made up of elements meaning “red” and “king.”

Ari (#15)

Last year, the name Ari was given to 1,598 babies. Of these babies, 649 (40.61%) were girls and 949 (59.39%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Ari placed 478th for girls and 342nd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Ari in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Ari

Ari has several potential definitions, including: “lion” in Hebrew, “brave” in Armenian, and “eagle” in Icelandic.

Alexis (#16)

Last year, the name Alexis was given to 1,569 babies. Of these babies, 940 (59.91%) were girls and 629 (40.09%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Alexis placed 341st for girls and 472nd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Alexis in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Alexis

Alexis comes directly from the ancient Greek (male) name Alexis, which meant “helper” or “defender.”

Armani (#17)

Last year, the name Armani was given to 1,540 babies. Of these babies, 661 (42.92%) were girls and 879 (57.08%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Armani placed 469th for girls and 369th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Armani in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Armani

Armani is an Italian surname that originally referred to the child of someone named Armano. (It’s also an Italian fashion brand.)

Remy (#18)

Last year, the name Remy was given to 1,451 babies. Of these babies, 550 (37.90%) were girls and 901 (62.10%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Remy placed 550th for girls and 357th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Remy in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Remy

Remy, written Rémy in French, is based on the Latin name Remigius, which meant “oarsman.”

It’s interesting that both Remy and Remington are on this list. Remy is a stand-alone name…but it could also be used as a nickname for Remington.

Reign (#19)

Last year, the name Reign was given to 1,338 babies. Of these babies, 884 (66.07%) were girls and 454 (33.93%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Reign placed 349th for girls and 608th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Reign in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Reign

Reign is an English word that can be traced back to the Latin word regnum, meaning “royal power” or “kingdom.”

Milan (#20)

Last year, the name Milan was given to 1,278 babies. Of these babies, 452 (35.37%) were girls and 826 (64.63%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Milan placed 655th for girls and 388th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Milan in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Milan

Milan is a Slavic name based on the element milu, meaning “dear, sweet.” (It’s also a city in northern Italy.)

More gender-neutral baby names

What other gender-neutral names made the cut?

Here are the names that were used a bit less often than the twenty above…

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Shiloh1,24561.69%38.31%
Legacy1,08666.30%33.70%
Salem97062.99%37.01%
Briar95562.20%37.80%
Denver94138.68%61.32%
Skyler93058.92%41.08%
Drew91337.13%62.87%
Jamie84748.41%51.59%
Bellamy81245.44%54.56%
Justice81246.92%53.08%
Azariah79447.23%52.77%
Layne76143.63%56.37%
Chandler75839.97%60.03%
Ocean67345.77%54.23%
*Male and female usage added together

All of the above ranked among both the top 1,000 girl names and the top 1,000 boy names last year. Two of the below (Robin and Landry) did as well.

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Quincy65333.38%66.62%
Murphy61065.25%34.75%
Tru60836.02%63.98%
Kingsley59437.71%62.29%
Robin54653.11%46.89%
Amiri50234.46%65.54%
Landry48955.01%44.99%
Ira46535.91%64.09%
Kacey42548.94%51.06%
Joey42441.75%58.25%
Campbell41450.72%49.28%
True40553.09%46.91%
Everest38534.55%65.45%
Arden38558.70%41.30%
Harlem37937.20%62.80%
Shea37963.85%36.15%
Sol37563.47%36.53%
Bowie37036.76%63.24%
*Male and female usage added together

Most of the above appeared in at least one top-1,000 list last year. The exceptions were Kacey, Campbell, True, Arden, Shea, and Sol.

None of the names from this point onward reached the top 1,000 for either gender.

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Hollis36245.03%54.97%
Yael34839.37%60.63%
Joan34045.59%54.41%
Laken31556.19%43.81%
Gentry30245.36%54.64%
Lux29636.15%63.85%
Sidney29355.29%44.71%
Kasey28456.34%43.66%
Kadence28066.43%33.57%
Ever27840.65%59.35%
Camdyn27036.67%63.33%
Jael27048.15%51.85%
Dominique26033.46%66.54%
Montana26057.69%42.31%
Kodi25856.20%43.80%
Ramsey25447.24%52.76%
Perry25342.69%57.31%
Storm24557.14%42.86%
Ashtyn24360.91%39.09%
Honor24047.92%52.08%
Kit23344.64%55.36%
Brighton23246.98%53.02%
Isa22733.48%66.52%
Armoni21050.00%50.00%
Merritt20860.58%39.42%
Jupiter20662.62%37.38%
Arrow20338.42%61.58%
Laine20363.55%36.45%
Jules20143.78%56.22%
*Male and female usage added together

Here are the gender-neutral baby names that saw overall usage ranging from 100 to 199 babies (in descending order):

Yuri, Arie, Ridley, Kobi, Jean, Channing, Linden, Shannon, Indiana, Marlo, Taylin, Divine, Cypress, Iman, Daylin, Aris, Wynn, Jelani, Halston, Rumi, Camari, Jackie, Austen, Azari, Issa, Lake, Huntley, Amen, Loren, Eastyn, Sora, Everette, Timber, Kaylen, Johnnie, Nikita, Ryver, Lexington, Reilly, Hudsyn, Charleston, Aven, Akari, Koi, Dru, Lou, Kylar, Payson, Finlee, Cove, Halen, Bryar, Royale, Tracy, Eliyah, Larkin, Amarii, Mecca, Britton, Emari, Nazareth, Kamani, Valentine, Ellington, Tenzin, Ryley, Kaidence, and Kirby.

And, finally, here are the gender-neutral names that saw overall usage ranging from 50 to 99 babies (in descending order):

Soul, Gracen, Daelyn, Wisdom, Conley, Arley, Evren, Rogue, Rhythm, Peace, Mykah, Blue, Masyn, Lowen, Golden, Callaway, Phoenyx, Blu, Lael, Rainn, Tommie, Bleu, Jadyn, Alexi, Bennie, Lennix, Choyce, Amaree, Atley, Rei, Crimson, Tristyn, Maeson, Declyn, Honest, Ilya, Amory, Rawlings, Jianni, Jensyn, Teigen, Lynden, Weslee, Maze, Graycen, Zaelyn, Paxtyn, Tennessee, Davey, Marvel, Joud, Rhylan, Deniz, Azure, Davy, Desi, Rhen, Breeze, Arlie, Harlo, Roux, Riven, Lakota, Airam, Denym, Jae, Tayler, Bostyn, Adair, Ciel, Namari, Kodie, Quinlan, Salah, Drue, Kamoni, Kayan, Jordin, Carrington, and Sakari.


Most of the names above don’t have a long history of usage in the U.S., so they aren’t anchored one gender or the other — making them good options for expectant parents who want names that work for both genders.

Note that many fall into a handful of categories, including: nature names, place names, surnames, color names, and virtue names. It may be worthwhile to focus on categories like these as you continue your search, as they’ll tend to naturally contain a good proportion of gender-neutral names.

If you’d like to see popularity graphs for any of the names in this post, check below for the long list of tags. Each tag is a name, so just find the name you’re interested in and click through. The graph will need a moment to load — it’s grabbing a lot of data — but it will allow you to see at a glance the name’s current gender-balance (and make an informed guess about its near-future gender-balance, given the current trajectories).

Sources:

Top image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Babies named for Napoléon Bonaparte

Portrait of French Emperor Napoleon I (1769-1821)
Napoléon Bonaparte (circa 1812)

French military leader Napoléon Bonaparte may have spent his life trying to conquer a continent, but that life began and ended on islands.

He was born (as “Napoleone Buonaparte”) on the Mediterranean island of Corsica in 1769 — the same year that France took Corsica from the Republic of Genoa (now part of Italy). He died while in exile on the remote South Atlantic island of Saint Helena in 1821.

In between, Napoléon: attended military school on the mainland, began serving in the French Army, rose to prominence during the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars, became the de facto leader of France in 1799, declared himself Emperor in 1804, and proceeded to build a vast empire via the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

Needless to say, a large number of babies all over the world have been named “Napoleon” since that time.

I don’t want this post to get too crazy, though, so I’ve decided to collect namesakes from just two locations — France and the U.S. — and to stick to the years during which Napoléon was active.

Portrait of First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Napoléon Bonaparte (circa 1803)

Napoléon’s namesakes in France

Thousands of French babies were named in honor of Napoléon from the mid-1790s to the mid-1810s.

In contrast with namesakes in other countries (like the U.S. and England), most of his French namesakes were given only his first name — not both names — and it was typically combined with one or more traditional French names (e.g., “Louis Napoléon,” “Jean Baptiste Napoléon”).

With that in mind, I went out of my way to find combinations that were a bit more varied…

  • Napoléon Baillot, b. 1793 in France
  • Jacques Napoléon Desiré Campa, b. 1795 in France
  • Napoléon Stéphanie Joseph Therin, b. 1797 in France
  • Napoléon Joseph Buttin, b. 1799 in France
  • Napoléon-Jean Demeester, b. 1800 in France
  • Napoléon Nicolas Senelar, b. 1801 in France
  • Guillaume Napoléon Pelletier, b. 1802 in France
  • Willebrod Napoléon Désiré Degrave, b. 1803 in France
  • Charlemagne Napoléon Lambert, b. 1804 in France
  • Napoléon Louis François Richounne, b. 1805 in France
  • Napoléon Parfait Furpille, b. 1806 in France
    • parfait means “perfect” in French
  • Bienaimé Napoléon Le Cagneux, b. 1807 in France
    • bienaimé means “beloved” in French
  • François Desiré Prosper Napoléon Loiseau, b. 1808 in France
  • Napoléon La Paix Lemasson, b. 1809 in France
    • la paix means “peace” in French
  • Gustave Napoléon Fichet, b. 1810 in France
  • Esprit Napoléon Houdry, b. 1811 in France
    • esprit means “spirit” in French
  • Napoléon Bonaventure Dusautier, b. 1812 in France
  • Auguste César Napoléon Decoene, b. 1813 in France
  • Napoléon-Etienne Vernoni, b. 1814 in France
  • Fructueux Napoléon Artigue, b. 1815 in France
    • fructueux means “successful” in French

Almost all of the namesakes in this group were boys, but a handful were girls with feminized forms of the name (like Napoléonne, Napoléonide, and Napoléontine).

Several dozen more boys — most of them born early on — were given only the surname:

  • Jacques Dominique Bonaparte Venkirch, b. 1796 in France
  • Augustin Bonaparte Joseph Galle, b. 1797 in France
  • Jean Baptiste Bonaparte Mollard, b. 1798 in France
  • Séraphin Adolphe Bonaparte Decorne, b. 1799 in France
  • Alexis Sébastien Bonaparte Poirée, b. 1801 in France

Napoléon had usually been called “General Bonaparte” or “citizen Bonaparte” before mid-1802, when the people of France went to the polls to decide: “Should Napoléon Bonaparte be consul for life?” Millions voted yes, and, after that, “he was generally known as Napoléon rather than Bonaparte.”

Napoléon’s namesakes in the U.S.

Napoléon didn’t wage any wars on North American soil (though he did sell a lot of that soil in 1803, when he let go of the Louisiana Territory for $15 million). Nonetheless, U.S. newspapers paid close attention to him:

French plebiscite mentioned in U.S. newspaper (July, 1802)
The “consul for life” vote mentioned in a Virginia newspaper, 1802

Americans were clearly impressed by Napoléon’s achievements, judging by the hundreds of U.S. namesakes born in the late 1790s and first decades of the 1800s. Many of these babies received both his first name and his surname:

Others were given only his first name:

And a good number simply got his surname:

  • Buonapart Manly Towler, b. 1796 in New York
  • Buonaparte Bennett, b. 1797 in Maryland
  • Buonaparte Mann, b. 1798 in Rhode Island
  • William Bonaparte Wood, b. 1799 in Massachusetts
  • Charles Bonapart Hunt, b. 1800 in Maine
  • George Washington Bonaparte Towns, b. 1801 in Georgia
  • Louis Bonaparte Chamberlain, b. 1802, probably in Mississippi
  • Lucion Bonaparte Keith, b. 1803 in Massachusetts
  • Consul Bonaparte Cutter, b. 1804 in Massachusetts
    • Napoléon Bonaparte served as Premier consul from 1799 to 1804
  • John Bonaparte Dixon, b. 1805 in North Carolina
  • Erastus Bonaparte White, b. circa 1806 in Rhode Island
  • Socrates Bonaparte Bacon, b. 1807 in Massachusetts
  • Bonaparte Crabb, b. 1808 in Tennessee
  • Madison Bonaparte Miller, b. 1809 in Vermont
    • James Madison served as 4th U.S. president from 1809 to 1817
  • Bonaparte Hopping, b. 1810 in New Jersey
  • Israel Bonaparte Bigelow, b. 1811 in Connecticut
  • Joseph Bonaparte Earhart, b. 1812 in Pennsylvania
  • Ampter Bonaparte Otto, b. 1813 in New York
  • William Bonaparte Steen, b. 1814 in South Carolina
  • Leonard Bonaparte Williams, b. 1815 in Virginia

A few of the people named Bonaparte (but not Napoléon) did have other given names — like Lucien, and Jerome — that could have been inspired by other members of the Bonaparte family. I found a Josephine Bonaparte Evans (b. 1815), for instance, who was probably named after Napoléon’s first wife.

Another of the relatively few females in this group was Federal Anne Buonapart Gist (b. 1799), the daughter of Joshua Gist, who served in the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Defining “Napoléon” and “Bonaparte”

Other famous men named Napoléon Bonaparte (including Napoleon III) also had namesakes, but it was the original Napoléon Bonaparte who put these two unusual names on the map.

So…what do they mean?

The Italian forename Napoleone has obscure origins, so the meaning isn’t known for certain. One popular theory is that it’s made up of the elements Neapolis, the original name of Naples, and leone, meaning “lion.” When Bonaparte was born in 1769, the name was “relatively common around Genoa and Tuscany,” though it was spelled a variety of ways (e.g., Nabulio, Nabulione, Napulione, Napolionne, Lapulion). The name had been used in his family before; his father’s uncle, for instance, was also named Napoleone.

The Italian surname Buonaparte, on the other hand, is much more straightforward: it’s made up of the elements buona, meaning “good,” and parte, meaning “part, share, portion.”

Was anyone in your family tree named after Napoléon?

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Where did the baby name Bocephus come from in 1986?

Hank Williams, Jr., presenting "Bocephus" on a chalkboard in the "My Name is Bocephus" music video (1987).
From the “My Name is Bocephus” music video

The unusual name Bocephus first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1986:

  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 7 baby boys named Bocephus [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The 1986 song “My Name Is Bocephus” (pronounced boh-SEE-fuss) by Hank Williams, Jr.

Billboard described the song as “Muddy Waters-style blues” in its review of Hank’s album Montana Cafe, which reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart in September. The song was also released as the B-side to the single “Mind Your Own Business,” which hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart later the same year.

“My Name Is Bocephus” apparently became popular enough on its own, though, to warrant the making of a music video. That video, which came out in early 1987, ended up winning the CMA’s Music Video of the Year award.

So…why would a guy named Hank write a song declaring that his name is “Bocephus”?

Because Bocephus was his childhood nickname. And a rather public one at that.

Hank, Jr., was born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to country music legend Hiram “Hank” Williams and his first wife Audrey. Hank, Sr., nicknamed his son Bocephus after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy.

Hank, Sr., died on the first day of 1953, when his son was three-and-a-half. During the short time they had together, though, he would end his radio performances with a message to his son — something like “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” In this Feb. 1951 “Mother’s Best” radio show, for instance, you can hear Hank say “Bocephus, see you directly son” at 27:09.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Bocephus?

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P.S. Hank, Sr.’s second wife was Billie Jean Horton.