How popular is the baby name Lynn 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 Lynn.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lynn


Posts that Mention the Name Lynn

Name quotes #94: Guy, Penn, Lynn

quotation marks

Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s the latest batch of name quotes…

From a 2016 article recounting the time the BBC mistook one guy named Guy for another guy named Guy:

It’s now more than a decade since Congolese job hopeful Guy Goma found himself offering his not-so-expert analysis of a legal dispute between Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and Apple Corp, The Beatles’ record label, over trademark rights.

Goma, after arriving at the BBC’s West London headquarters for an interview for a job in the IT department on May 8, 2006, was mistaken for a studio guest, British technology journalist Guy Kewney, and ushered all the way into a live BBC News 24 studio.

This was Guy Goma’s unplanned TV appearance:

[The mix-up happened just a couple of months after I started this name blog, incidentally.]

From a 1979 People article about the “eerie similarities” between two Ohio men who discovered, at age 39, that they were twins separated at birth:

Curiously, both had been christened James by their adoptive parents [who lived 40 miles apart]. As schoolboys, both enjoyed math and carpentry — but hated spelling. Both pursued similar adult occupations: Lewis is a security guard at a steel mill, and Springer was a deputy sheriff (though he is now a clerk for a power company). Both married women named Linda, only to divorce and remarry — each a woman named Betty. Both have sons: James Alan Lewis and James Allan Springer.

Penn Jillette, speaking to contestant Paul Gertner during a mid-2020 episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us:

You gave me this pen. And you gave me the pen with a joke — a joke about my name. You said, “Here’s a pen, Penn.”

When I was in grade school, it would be, “Hey Penn, got a pencil?” “Hey Penn, how’s pencil?” I should have an index of all those pen jokes that were told to me. I’d have over fifty, maybe more than that. It was amazing.

On the name of activist/environmentalist MaVynee Betsch (1935-2005):

Even her name, pronounced “Ma-veen,” requires a politically charged translation. Christened Marvyne, Betsch added an extra e for the environment, and dropped the r in the 1980s to protest the environmental policies of the Reagan administration.

From the New York Times Magazine essay “Celebrate Your Name Day” by Linda Kinstler:

My family had chosen “Linda” in part because it sounded incontrovertibly American to their Soviet ears, practically an idiom of assimilation unto itself. According to a 2018 study, it is the “trendiest” name in U.S. history, having experienced a sharp rise and precipitous fall in popularity amid the postwar baby boom. By naming me Linda, my parents hoped they were conferring an easy American life upon me, a life free of mispronunciations and mistakes. For them, such a life would be forever out of reach.

[…]

Most of the Lindas I have encountered in my age group are also millennial daughters of immigrants; our name is a reminder of our parents’ aspirations and of the immense promise with which our name is laden.

On the experience of being a male Lynn, from a BBC piece about people with unfashionable names:

As a 61-year-old man, I have suffered all my life with the name Lynn. My mother simply named me after a little-known celebrity of the early 50s because she wanted a name that was not capable of being shortened. For a while I had people such as Welsh long jumper Lynn Davies to allay the perpetual claims that “it was a girl’s name”. But this led others to believe that it had to be of Welsh derivation. But there are no new male “Lynns” to correct either opinion. All this despite the fact that in the 1930s and 1940s, I believe that Lynn was more popular as a man’s name – especially in America. ~Lynn Jonathan Prescott, Birmingham

From the 2009 book Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity by Leigh H. Edwards:

In [the autobiography] Cash, he explicitly addresses how he represents his identity differently in different contexts, noting how he uses different names for the different “Cashes” he played in different social settings, stating that he “operate[s] at various levels.” He stages a struggle between “Johnny Cash” the hell-rais[ing], hotel-trashing, pill-popping worldwide star and “John R. Cash,” a more subdued, adult persona.

What turned Sway into a baby name?

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Jaynie come from?

The character Jaynie Stevens from the movie "Orchestra Wives" (1942).
Jaynie Stevens from “Orchestra Wives

Baby names like Janie, Janey, and Jayne have been in the U.S. baby name data since the 1800s, but the spelling “Jaynie” didn’t appear until 1942 specifically:

  • 1944: 9 baby girls named Jaynie
  • 1943: 6 baby girls named Jaynie
  • 1942: 6 baby girls named Jaynie [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The 1942 musical Orchestra Wives, a movie about the behind-the-scenes drama that occurs when a swing band (and all their wives) go out on tour together.

The band’s vocalist was a character named Jaynie Stevens, played by actress Lynn Bari — one of the most popular pin-up girls of WWII.

The band itself was the the real-life Glenn Miller band, led by Glenn Miller, but the name in both cases was changed to “Gene Morrison” (to retain the monogram).

Do you like the spelling of Jaynie, or do you prefer a different spelling of the name?

Source: Orchestra Wives – AFI

Neva, not named for Nevada

neva patterson

Actress Neva Patterson, mentioned in yesterday’s post about Diana Lynn, was born in 1920 on a farm near Nevada (pronounced neh-VAY-duh), Iowa.

So she must have been named for her birthplace, right?

Nope. Neva, called “Nevada’s gift to acting” by the Des Moines register, “spent much of her life explaining that she really wasn’t named for her hometown.” Instead, she was named after one of her mother’s friends. (Her parents were named Marjorie and George, btw, and she also had a brother named Harlon.)

Do you like the name Neva? How would you pronounce it?

Source: Famous Iowans – Neva Patterson – DesMoinesRegister.com

Where did the baby name Dianalynn come from?

Actress Diana Lynn on the cover of "Life" magazine (May 5, 1952).
Actress Diana Lynn

The baby name Dianalynn has been in the SSA data just twice, debuting in 1951, then popping up a second time in 1963.

The influence was surely American actress Diana Lynn (1926-1971), whose birth name was Dolores “Dolly” Loehr. But the reason the name debuted in that particular year — if there even is a reason — is hard to pin down.

In 1951 she co-starred with future president Ronald Reagan in the chimp movie Bedtime for Bonzo, which did well at the box office. But this was nothing new; she’d been appearing in well-received movies throughout the 1940s.

Also around 1951 she started appearing on TV, but, as LIFE mentioned in a mid-1952 article featuring Diana Lynn and five other leading ladies of television, “their faces are probably better known than their names. In the billings their names flash by so quickly that the audience is generally unable to identify them.” (The other five featured actresses were Stella Andrew, Rita Gam, Grace Kelly, Felicia Montealegre, and Neva Patterson.)

What are your thoughts on the name Dianalynn?

Sources:

Image: © 1952 Life