How popular is the baby name Joseph 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 Joseph.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Joseph


Posts that Mention the Name Joseph

Common Amish names: Jacob, Malinda, Benuel, Naomi

Amish man in a buggy

Which names are the most common among the Amish?

The simplest answer is “Biblical names,” but that’s not the full answer.

Because certain Biblical names are preferred over others, and Biblical names aren’t used exclusively.

Plus, the prevalence of a name could vary depending upon the specific Amish settlement you’re talking about.

I’ve gathered about 100 of the most common Amish names below. Before we get into specifics, though, here’s a bit of background on the Amish…

Who are the Amish?

The Amish are an Anabaptist group that intentionally maintain a degree of separation from the wider world. They wear plain clothing, eschew modern conveniences (like cars), and partake in traditional occupations such as farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, and (for women) homemaking.

The Anabaptist movement began in Europe in the 1520s, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists were particularly known for the practice of adult baptism. They were also opposed to war, and they believed in the separation of church and state.

Considered radicals, the Anabaptists were widely persecuted.

In 1693, the Swiss branch of the Anabaptist movement (a.k.a., the Swiss Brethren) experienced a schism. Those who followed reformer Jacob Amman came to be known as the Amish, whereas those who did not came to be known as the Mennonites (after Dutchman Menno Simons, one of the original Anabaptist leaders).

In the early 1700s, many Amish (and Mennonites) immigrated to the New World — specifically to the Province of Pennsylvania, which had been founded upon the principle of religious freedom.

Today, over 367,000 Amish live in the U.S., and roughly two-thirds of them reside in three states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Amish men and women.

Common Amish names

The most comprehensive source of Amish names I came across was also the oldest, so let’s go through all the sources chronologically.

In 1960, researcher Elmer L. Smith published data on the most common male and female names among the Amish of southeastern Pennsylvania from 1890 to 1956.

The 1,337 Amish males in the study shared a total of just 72 different first names. Over a quarter of the males had one of the top three names (John, Amos, or Jacob), and over 81% had one of the top 20 names.

The 1,356 Amish females in the study shared even fewer first names: only 55. Over a quarter of the females had one of the top three names (Mary, Sarah, or Annie), and over 88% had a top-20 name.

According to Smith’s research, these were the 20 most common names per gender (plus their frequency of usage):

Amish female namesAmish male names
1Mary, 10.0%John, 11.9%
2Sarah, 7.9%Amos, 7.3%
3Annie, 9.1%*Jacob, 6.5%
4Katie, 7.1%David, 6.4%
5Lizzie, 6.4%Samuel, 6.2%
6Rebecca, 6.1%Christian, 6.1%
7Fannie, 5.3%Daniel, 5.5%
8Barbara, 5.1%Benjamin, 3.8%
9Rachel, 5.1%Levi, 3.7%
10Lydia, 4.9%Aaron, 3.1%
11Emma, 3.8%Jonas, 3.0%
12Malinda, 3.5%Elam, 2.8%
13Susie, 3.2%Stephen, 2.8%
14Sadie, 2.5%Isaac, 2.5%
15Leah, 1.9%Henry, 2.4%
16Hannah, 1.5%Jonathan, 1.8%
17Naomi, 1.4%Eli, 1.7%
18Mattie, 1.3%Gideon, 1.6%
19Lavina, 1.1%Moses, 1.5%
20Arie, 1.1%Joseph, 1.1%
*Annie was ranked below Sarah in the research paper, but this seems to be a typo, given the percentages.

Smith also wrote the following:

Other given names for males may reflect the important place the martyred forefathers hold in the minds of the sect members. The given name Menno is frequently found; this honors Menno Simmons [sic] an early leader of the plain sects. Ammon is also quite common, and is traced to Jacob Amman for whom the Amish sect is named; otherwise given names are from the Bible.

(Menno, a form of the Dutch name Meine, can be traced back to the Old High German word magan, meaning “strength.” The occupational surname Amman(n), which was derived from the German word amtmann, originally referred to someone employed as an official or administrator.)

A couple of years after Smith’s study came out, Dr. William Schreiber (a professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio) published a book about the Amish of east-central Ohio. In one paragraph, he mentioned some of the names he’d encountered:

One learns here that the good old biblical names are still common with the Amish but are in competition with modern or more euphonious ones. The names of the children of large families are often a study in contrasts. In one family there are, for example, Benjamin, Samuel, Isaac, Stephen, John, Israel, Christ, Barbara, Mary, Hannah, Annie, Mattie, and Lizzie. Another family has chosen these names for its children: Sarah, Lizzie, Samuel, Benjamin, John, Annie, Marie, Daniel, David, Enos, Sylvia, and Malinda. Then there are three Amish brothers named Isaac, Levi, and Elmer. One wonders how Vesta, Delila, Dena, Saloma, Drusilla, or Verba, or boys’ names like Junie, Venus, or Aquilla came into strict Christian families?

Speaking of east-central Ohio, Barbara Yoder Hall — who was born in 1940 and grew up with ten siblings in the Amish community of Holmes County — recalled in her book Born Amish (1980) the following first names:

First names for girls are usually Cora, Mattie, Annie, Lizzie, Barbara, Fannie, Katie, Mary, Naomi, Emma, Jemima, Ella, Sarah, Levina and Mandy.

First names for boys are John, Mose, Ferdinand, Dannie, Sam, Amos, Albert, Emanual, Levi, Rudy, Enos, Eli, Jacob and Joseph.

Amish men in a wagon.

Now for a pair of sources from the digital age…

The website Amish America, run by Erik Wesner (who is not Amish, but has visited Amish communities in 15 different states), lists the following names as being common among the Amish. He found many of the male names in Raber’s Almanac, which “contains a listing of Amish church ministers,” while many of the female names came from various church directories.

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Elizabeth
Emma
Fannie
Hannah
Katie
Linda
Lizzie
Lovina/Lavina
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Rebecca
Ruby
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Waneta
Abram
Amos
Atlee
Eli
Elmer
Harley
Isaac
Jacob
John
Lavern
Leroy
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Samuel
Vernon
Wayne
Willis

Some of Erik’s commentary…

  • Eli: “You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.”
  • Leroy: “Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities.”
  • Lizzie: “Lizzie is a popular form in some Pennsylvania communities.”
  • Naomi: “Amish, at least in Lancaster County, pronounce this ‘Nay-oh-mah.'”
  • Ruby: “Quite a few Rubies in northern Indiana.”
  • Vernon: “[P]retty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”

Finally, according to the blog Amish Heritage, written by a woman named Anna (who grew up Amish in Pennsylvania), common Amish names include…

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Amanda
Anna/Annie
Barbara
Betty
Clara
Edna
Elizabeth
Esther
Fannie
Hannah
Lavina
Lena
Lydia
Malinda
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Priscilla
Rachel
Rebecca
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Susie
Aaron
Abner
Abram
Amos
Benuel
Christian/Christ
Daniel
David
Eli
Elmer
Emmanuel
Henry
Isaac
Jacob
John
Jonas
Leroy
Lloyd
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Moses
Omar
Paul
Samuel
Steven/Stephen
Vernon

Both websites noted that some Amish communities (particularly New Order Amish communities) have recently started giving their children less traditional first names.


So how do these lists square with what we’ve observed in the U.S. baby name data?

It’s hard to tell with historically popular names like Mary and John, but we can see some interesting things when we focus on relatively rare names.

For instance, the names Atlee, Benuel, Delila, Dena, Lavina, Menno, Saloma, and Willis have all been mentioned recently in my posts about names with a high degree of state specificity (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). As you’d expect, they were associated with the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and/or Indiana. (Benuel, in fact, has only ever appeared in the Pennsylvania data — going all the way back to the 1940s.)

Several of the other names — including Amos, Elam, Fannie, Malinda, and Mervin — saw higher usage in Pennsylvania than in any other state in 2021.

I was surprised that none of my sources listed the name Barbie. Most of them mentioned Barbara (one of them was even named Barbara), and all of them included nicknames (like Lizzie). But Barbara’s diminutive form was curiously absent — even though most of its usage occurs in Pennsylvania:

Girls named Barbie, U.S.Girls named Barbie, Penn.
20213722 (59%)
20202617 (65%)
20193320 (61%)
20182113 (62%)
20172916 (55%)
20162814 (50%)

Rhoda and Mahlon are two more names that I somewhat expected to see.

Ammon is a very interesting case, because the name also has significance to an entirely different religious group: the Mormons. (The Book of Mormon features two prominent figures named Ammon.) From the 1910s to the 1960s, the name Ammon — much like Benuel — only appeared in the Pennsylvania data. Since the 1980s, though, the state with the largest number of baby boys named Ammon has been Utah.


What are your thoughts on the first names used by the Amish? Which of the above do you like the most?

And, for anyone out there with close ties to an Amish family/community: What other names would you add to this list?

P.S. This post is dedicated to my delightful commenters alex and Andrea. :)

Sources:

Images by Chris Chow from Unsplash, Amyd from Pixabay, and Clark Young from Unsplash

How did The Jackson 5 influence baby names in the early 1970s?

The Jackson Five on the cover of Jet magazine (Aug. 6, 1970)
The Jackson 5

The Jackson 5, whose “bubblegum soul” sound made them remarkably successful in the early 1970s, consisted of five musically gifted brothers out of Gary, Indiana. Their names were:

  • Sigmund Esco “Jackie” Jackson, b. 1951
  • Toriano Adaryll “Tito” Jackson, b. 1953
    • Records suggest that Tito’s first name was actually “Tariano,” but the press typically spelled it “Toriano.”
  • Jermaine LaJuane Jackson, b. 1954
  • Marlon David Jackson, b. 1957
  • Michael Joe Jackson, b. 1958

The brothers began performing together in the mid-1960s, but Jacksonmania didn’t hit until 1970, with the success of songs like “I Want You Back” (1969), “ABC” (1970), “The Love You Save” (1970), and “I’ll Be There” (1970) — all four of which hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

At the height of their fame, the boys even had a Saturday morning cartoon show called “The Jackson 5ive” (1971-1972).

The animated version of the Jackson brothers in the cartoon series "The Jackson 5ive" (1971-1972).
“The Jackson 5ive”

So how did the Jacksons’ celebrity affect U.S. baby names in the early 1970s? Let’s go brother by brother…

Jackie

Jackie Jackson couldn’t stop the name Jackie from trending downward, and he didn’t do much for the unusual name Esco, but the name Sigmund did see a distinct uptick in usage in 1971.

Fun fact: Jackie dated Debraca Foxx during the early ’70s.

Tito

Tito Jackson not only popularized his nickname, Tito, but he boosted both Toriano and Adaryll into the data for the first time. In fact, Toriano was the top debut name of 1970, and it still ranks as one of the top boy-name debuts of all time. (It also likely influenced the car name Torino.) The name Adaryll didn’t surface until 1972.

TitoTorianoAdaryll
197499†61.
197362807
197276135†9*†
19715477.
19703962*.
196933..
*Debut, †Peak

Tito’s first son, Toriano Adaryll “Taj” Jackson, Jr. (b. 1973) — whose nickname was derived from his initials — gave the name Taj a boost. His second son, Taryll (b. 1975), was behind the debut of the name Taryll (also mentioned here).

Jermaine

Jermaine Jackson, the co-lead vocalist of the group (with Michael), brought so much attention to the name Jermaine that it not only entered the top 1,000, but nearly cracked the top 100 as well:

  • 1974: 1,628 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 151st]
  • 1973: 2,039 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 127th]
  • 1972: 1,966 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 135th]
  • 1971: 1,015 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 233rd]
  • 1970: 171 baby boys named Jermaine [rank: 622nd]
  • 1969: 5 baby boys named Jermaine

Jermaine was the fastest-rising boy name in the U.S. in both 1970 and 1971 — two years in a row, impressively.

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

On the heels of Jermaine’s rise, several variant spellings of the name either saw similarly increased usage or appeared for the first time in the boys’ data:

19691970197119721973
Jermaine51711,0151,9662,039†
Germaine.2995157†146
Jermain.13*329494
Jamaine..42*4038
Jarmaine..16*1319
Germain..112721
Jermine.9*1716
Jeremaine..8*714
Jermane..7*2033
Jemaine..7*913
Jermanie..7*78
Jermon..6*812
Jarmain..6*..
Jermayne...17*†17†
Jermone...119
Jerman...8*7
Jamain...8*†5
Jamane...8*†.
Jermyn...7*7
Germane...5*7†
Jermanine...5*.
Germayne...5*†.
Jermiane....8*†
*Debut, †Peak usage

Jermaine’s middle name, LaJuane, also debuted (in 1971).

Jermaine had a total of nine children, one of whom was named (rather infamously) Jermajesty.

Marlon

Marlon Jackson was the main reason that the name Marlon saw peak usage in 1972. (But he had some help from Marlon Brando, whose movie The Godfather came out the same year.)

Michael

Michael Jackson — who was still a decade away from releasing his massively popular solo album Thriller — couldn’t ultimately reverse the decline of the name Michael. But the combined influence of Michael Jackson and other famous Michaels (like basketball star Michael Jordan, and TV star Michael Landon) did help the name’s usage level out somewhat during the 1970s and ’80s.

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

Which Jackson 5 name is your favorite? (And, if you were around during Jacksonmania: Which group member was your favorite?)

While you ponder these questions, check out the group’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in December of 1969:

Sources:

Images: © 1970 Jet, © 1971 Videocraft International Limited

Baby names with PH: Phoenix, Ophelia, Joseph

pheasant

Looking for baby names that feature the appealing letter-pair PH?

I’ve collected a hundreds of options for you in this post!

Before we get to the names, though, let’s get one big question out of the way…

Why does PH sound like “F”?

In English, PH is a digraph, which means that it’s a pair of letters that make a single sound. (It’s interesting that the word “digraph” contains a digraph, isn’t it?)

Most of the English words that have PH were derived from Greek — specifically, from Greek words that included the Greek letter phi:

Greek letter phi (uppercase)
Phi (uppercase)

In ancient times, the Greek letter phi made an aspirated p-sound. (The unaspirated p-sound, on the other hand, was made by the Greek letter pi.)

When Greek was transliterated into Latin, the letter phi was written as “ph” to denote this aspiration — that is, to signal that the letter “p” was accompanied by a brief puff of air.

So, what happened?

In the first several centuries A.D., the pronunciation of the Greek letter phi changed. It slowly evolved from an aspirated p-sound into an f-sound.

As a result, the letter-pair “ph” underwent a corresponding (though somewhat illogical) pronunciation change. It, too, came to represent an f-sound — and still does to this day.

Now, back to the names!

Top baby names with PH

Let’s begin with the most popular names with PH (including a few names that start with PH):

Top girl names with PHTop boy names with PH
Sophia
Josephine
Sophie
Phoebe
Daphne
Phoenix
Ophelia
Stephanie
Murphy
Persephone
Joseph
Christopher
Phoenix
Memphis
Philip
Phillip
Raphael
Kristopher
Ephraim
Murphy

Now here are the same names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).

Christopher + Kristopher

The name Christopher was derived from a pair of ancient Greek words: christos, meaning “Christ” or “anointed one,” and phoros, meaning “bearing” — hence, “Christ-bearing.”

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

Kristopher is a slightly simplified form of Christopher (perhaps influenced by the Scandinavian spelling, Kristoffer).

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

Christopher is currently the 52nd most popular boy name in the nation, and Kristopher ranks 936th.

Other forms of the name include Christoph (German) and Christophe (French).

Daphne

The name Daphne was derived from the ancient Greek word daphne, meaning “laurel.”

In Greek myth, Daphne was a naiad who was saved from the advances of the god Apollo by being transformed into a laurel tree.

Daphne is currently the 288th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

One variant form of the name is Daphna. The name is also sometimes spelled Daphnie, Daphney, or Daphni.

Ephraim

The name Ephraim is the Biblical Greek form of a Hebrew name meaning “fruitful.” It’s pronounced a variety of ways: EHF-rum, EEF-rum, EHF-fray-um, etc.

Ephraim is currently the 978th most popular boy name in the nation.

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

The name is also sometimes spelled Ephram or Ephrem.

Joseph + Josephine

The name Joseph is based on Ioseph, the Biblical Greek form of a Hebrew name meaning “he adds.”

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

Josephine comes from Joséphine, the French feminine form of Joseph.

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

Joseph is currently the 28th most popular boy name in the U.S., whereas Josephine ranks 72nd for girls.

The Dutch form of Joseph is Josephus. Other feminine forms include Josepha (German) and Josephina.

Memphis

Memphis was the Greek form of the ancient Egyptian city-name Men-nefer, which meant “his beauty.” (The nefer element is also evident in the Egyptian name Nefertiti.)

The Egyptian city is long gone, but a city in Tennessee was named Memphis in the 1820s.

Memphis is currently the 404th most popular boy name in the nation.

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

Murphy

The Irish surname Murphy was derived from a medieval Irish given name comprised of the elements muir, meaning “sea,” and cath, meaning “battle.”

Murphy is currently the 716th most popular girl name in the U.S. (It’s also sitting just outside the top 1,000 for boys.)

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

The name is also sometimes spelled Murphie, Murphee, or Murphey.

Ophelia

The name Ophelia was derived from the ancient Greek word opheleia, meaning “aid, help, succor.”

It’s not a name found in Greek myth, but William Shakespeare used it for a character in his play Hamlet around the year 1600. And, much more recently, the Lumineers featured the name in their 2016 song “Ophelia” [vid].

Ophelia is currently the 321st most popular girl name in the nation.

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

The French form of the name is Ophélie.

Persephone

The etymology of the Greek name Persephone (pronounced per-SEH-fuh-nee) isn’t known for certain, but one modern theory suggests that it means “she who threshes ears of corn.”

In Greek myth, Persephone was the daughter of Demeter (the goddess of agriculture) and Zeus.

Persephone is currently the 778th most popular girl name in the U.S. (It entered the top 1,000 for the first time in 2019.)

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

The name is also sometimes spelled Persephonie or Persephony.

Philip + Phillip

The name Philip was derived from a pair of ancient Greek words: philos, meaning “beloved, loving,” and hippos, meaning “horse” — hence, “lover of horses.”

Graph of the usage of the baby name Philip in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Philip (one L)

Phillip-with-two-L’s is a common variant of Philip.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Phillip in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Phillip (two L’s)

Philip is currently the 451th most popular boy name in the nation, and Phillip (two L’s) ranks 523rd.

Both spellings are typed entirely with the right hand on a standard QWERTY keyboard, which is interesting.

Other forms of the name include Philipp (German) and Philippe (French). Feminine forms include Philippa and Phillipa.

Phoebe

The name Phoebe was derived from the ancient Greek word phoibos, meaning “pure, bright, radiant.”

Many characters in Greek myth had this name, including a Titaness who was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia. This particular Phoebe was the grandmother of the sun god Apollo and the moon goddess Artemis.

Phoebe is currently the 247th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

The spelling Phebe (used in certain translations of the Bible) was more prevalent in previous generations. Among the babies born in the city of Providence in 1868, for instance, we find four girls named Phebe, but none named Phoebe.

Phoenix

The name Phoenix was derived from the ancient Greek word phoinix, meaning “crimson” or “purple.

In Greek and Egyptian myth, the phoenix was a bird that periodically self-immolated and then rose again from its own ashes.

In fact, the capital of Arizona was named “Phoenix” because early settlers, in the 1860s, noticed archaeological evidence of the previous Native American inhabitants and recognized that “the new town would spring from the ruins of a former civilization.”

Phoenix, a relatively gender-neutral name, currently ranks 248th for boys and 308th for girls.

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

Raphael

Raphael — the name of a Biblical archangel, Renaissance painter, and a Ninja Turtle — is based on a Hebrew name meaning “God heals.”

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

Raphael is currently the 538th most popular boy name in the nation.

Feminine forms of the name include Raphaela (German) and Raphaëlle (French).

Sophia + Sophie

The name Sophia was derived from the ancient Greek word sophos, meaning “wisdom,” “sound judgment,” “skilled.”

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

Sophie is the French form of Sophia.

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

Sophia is currently the 6th most popular girl name in the U.S., and Sophie ranks 76th.

Stephanie

The name Stephanie was derived from the ancient Greek word stephanos, meaning “crown” (or, more precisely, “that which surrounds”).

Stephanie is currently the 455th most popular girl name in the nation.

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

One variant form of the name is Stephania. The name is also sometimes spelled Stephany or Stephani.

More names with PH

So, what other names have PH in them?

Here are some less-common choices (that are still seeing usage in the U.S. these days):

  • Aleph
  • Alpha
  • Alphonse, Alphonso
  • Aphrodite
  • Apphia
  • Asaph
  • Cephas
  • Cypher
  • Delphi
  • Delphina, Delphine
  • Gryphon
  • Hephzibah
  • Humphrey
  • Japheth, Japhet, Yaphet
  • Morpheus
  • Mustapha, Moustapha
  • Naphtali
  • Nephi
  • Ophira
  • Phaedra
  • Pharaoh
  • Pharrell
  • Phelan
  • Philemon
  • Philo
  • Philomena
  • Philopateer, Philopater
  • Phineas, Phinehas
  • Prophet
  • Phyllis
  • Ralph, Ralphie
  • Randolph
  • Rapha
  • Rudolph
  • Saphina
  • Saphira, Sapphira, Saphyra
  • Sapphire
  • Sephira
  • Sephiroth
  • Sephora
  • Seraph
  • Seraphim
  • Seraphina, Saraphina, Seraphine
  • Shiphrah
  • Sophina
  • Sophonie
  • Sophronia
  • Sylphrena
  • Sypha
  • Symphony
  • Theophilus
  • Triumph
  • Zephaniah, Zephan
  • Zephyr, Zephyra, Zephyrus

Finally, here are some very rare names with PH — some of which haven’t seen any usage in the U.S. in recent years, others of which never appeared in the U.S. data at all.

Girl names:

Alpharetta, Amphirho, Amphithea, Aphaea, Alphonsa/Alphonsine, Aphra (e.g., Aphra Behn), Cleopha/Cléophée, Christophine, Delpha/Delphia, Dymphna, Elpha, Elaphia, Eugraphia, Euphrasia/Euphrasie, Glaphyra, Iphigenia, Nephele, Nephthys, Ophrah, Orpha/Orphia, Phaenna, Pharaildis, Philia, Philena/Philene, Philina/Philine, Philinda, Phillis, Philomela/Philomel, Philotera, Phoenicia, Photina/Photine, Phronsie, Phryne, Phyllida, Ralphine, Seraphia, Sophilia, Sophonisba, Theophila/Theophilia, Theophania, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Zelpha, Zephyria/Zéphyrine, Zilpha/Zilphia

Boy names:

Alphaeus, Alphonsus, Amphion, Caliph, Cephus, Cleophas/Cleophus, Delphin/Delphinus, Demophon, Dolph/Dolphus, Eliphalet/Eliphelet, Eliphas/Eliphaz, Ephesius, Epiphanius, Eugraphius, Euphemius, Euphranor, Euphrasius, Hephaestus, Ildephonse, Jehoshaphat/Josaphat, Jephthah/Jephtha, Naphtali/Nephtali, Nicéphore, Onuphrius, Ophir, Orpheus, Pamphilus, Phaedrus, Phanuel, Pharamond, Pharez, Phelan, Phelim, Philbert/Philibert, Phileas, Philemon, Philetus, Philon, Photius, Porphyrius, Rodolph, Rolph, Seraphin, Sophron/Sophronius, Télesphore, Theophanes, Theophilus, Tryphon, Xenophon

Options that work for both genders include Alphie, Iphis, and Seraph.


Which of the PH names above to do you like most? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. If you’d like to see popularity graphs for any of the more common names in this post, just check below for the long list of tags. Each tag is a name, so find the name you’re interested in and click through. The graph will take 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 and historical U.S. usage.

Sources:

Image by Jan Temmel 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?

Sources:

Babies named for the Battle of Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815)
Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo — which marked the final defeat of Napoleon and the end of the Napoleonic Wars — took place on June 18, 1815, near the village of Waterloo (located south of Brussels).

Fighting against Napoleon were two forces: a British-led coalition that included Germans, Belgians, and Dutch (all under the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley) and an army from Prussia (under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher).

Hundreds of babies were given the name “Waterloo” — typically as a middle — during the second half of the 1810s. Most of them were baby boys born in England, but some were girls, and some were born elsewhere in the British Empire (and beyond).

  • William Wellington Waterloo Humbley*, b. 1815, in England
  • Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon †, b. 1815, Belgium
  • John Waterloo Todd, b. 1815, England
  • Fredrick Waterloo Collins, b. 1815, Wales
  • Jubilee Waterloo Reeves (née Davis), b. 1815, England
  • Dent Waterloo Ditchburn, b. 1815, England
  • Joseph Waterloo Hart, b. 1815, England
  • Henry Waterloo Nickels, b. 1815, England
  • Sophia Waterloo Mills, b. 1815, England
  • Henry Waterloo Prescott, b. 1815, England
  • Richard Waterloo Renny, b. 1815, England
  • John Waterloo Posthumous Brittany, b. circa 1815, England
  • Charlotte Waterloo Grapes, b. circa 1815, England
  • Louisa Waterloo France, b. circa 1815, Belgium
  • James Waterloo Clark, b. 1816, England
  • Henry Waterloo Johnson, b. 1816, England
  • George Waterloo Holland, b. 1816, England
  • Charles Waterloo Wallett, b. 1816, England
  • John Waterloo Wilson, b. circa 1816, Belgium
  • Frederick Waterloo Jennings, b. 1817, England
  • William Waterloo Horford, b. 1817, England
  • George Mark Waterloo Smith, b. 1817, England
  • Edward Waterloo Lane, b. 1817, England
  • Robert Waterloo Cook, b. 1817, England
  • Eleanor Waterloo Whiteman, b. 1817, England
  • Ann Waterloo Barlow, b. 1818, England
  • Wellington Waterloo Teanby, b. circa 1818, England
  • William Wellington Waterloo Jackson, b. circa 1819, England

Interestingly, babies were still being named Waterloo long after the battle was over. Many more Waterloos were born from the 1820s onward:

The place-name Waterloo is made up of a pair of Middle Dutch words that, together, mean “watery meadow.” Since the battle, though, the word Waterloo has also been used to refer to “a decisive or final defeat or setback.” (It’s used this way in the 1974 Abba song “Waterloo” [vid], for instance.)

The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) followed the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-c.1802), which followed the French Revolution (1789-1799), which gave rise to a number of revolutionary baby names in France.

Sources:

*William Wellington Waterloo Humbley was born on the day of the battle (while his father, an army officer, was abroad taking part). He was baptized the following summer, and the Duke of Wellington himself stood godfather. Several years after that, in 1819, his parents welcomed daughter Vimiera Violetta Vittoria Humbley — named after the battles of Vimeiro (1808) and Vitoria (1813).

† Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon’s father, Thomas, had been wounded in the previous battle (Quatre Bras, on the 16th). Her mother, Martha — who was traveling with the army — searched the battlefield for him all night. Eventually she discovered that he’d been transported to Brussels, some 20 miles away, so she walked there with her three young children. (Through a 10-hour thunderstorm, no less.) She reached Brussels on the morning of the 18th, located her husband, and gave birth to Isabella on the 19th.