How popular is the baby name Orchid 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 Orchid.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Orchid


Posts that Mention the Name Orchid

Baby names associated with purple: Violet, Tyrian, Zi

plums

Looking for baby names that are associated with purple — including baby names that mean “purple”?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected dozens of options for you in this post.

Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color purple represents…

Symbolism of purple

What does the color purple signify?

In Western cultures in particular, purple can be symbolic of:

  • Royalty
  • Nobility
  • Wisdom
  • Luxury
  • Imagination
  • Mystery
  • Spirituality

The color came to be identified with royalty and nobility during ancient times. In those days, creating purple dye for fabric was laborious and time-consuming, so the dye was very expensive. As a result, only the wealthy could afford to wear purple-colored clothing.

Top baby names associated with purple

Determining the top names in a category isn’t difficult when you’re working with a well-defined category, like PH names. When it comes to names that have a connection to the color purple, however, we need to account for the fact that certain names have a stronger connection than others.

With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color purple:

  1. Violet
  2. Iris
  3. Violeta
  4. Violette
  5. Amethyst

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

Violet

The word violet refers to any flowering plant of the genus Viola — particularly the fragrant species Viola odorata — or to any similar-looking flowering plant. By extension, it also refers to the bluish-purple color of these flowers.

Violet is currently the 35th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Iris

The word iris can refer to several things, including flowering plants of the genus Iris, the name of which comes from the ancient Greek word for “rainbow.” The showy blooms of these plants come in a variety of colors (as the name suggests), though we often think of irises as being shades of purple.

For instance, did you know that all of the irises in Vincent van Gogh’s various paintings were once purple? His irises now appear blue only because the red pigment he used to create the purple has faded over time.

Iris is currently the 107th most popular girl name in the nation.

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

Violeta

The name Violeta is a form of Violet used in Spanish, Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and other languages.

Violeta is currently the 893rd most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

Violette

The name Violette is a form of Violet used in French.

Violette is currently the 1,033rd most popular girl name in the nation.

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

Amethyst

The word amethyst refers to a purple variety of the mineral quartz. (The ancient Greeks thought that amethyst — perhaps due to its wine-like color — would prevent drunkenness, so they called it amethustos, meaning “not intoxicating.”) By extension, the word also refers to the purple color of these crystals.

Amethyst will only form in quartz that: (a) contains trace amounts of iron, and (b) is exposed to low-level gamma radiation. The radiation will oxidize the iron, and thereby change the crystal’s color from clear to purple.

Amethyst is currently the 1,148th most popular girl name in the U.S.

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

More names associated with purple

Ready for the rest?

All the names below are associated with the color purple. The names range from traditional to unusual, and their associations range from strong to slight.

Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.

purple flowers (Aubrieta)
Aubrieta
  • Amaranth flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Amaranthus is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words amarantos, meaning “unfading,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
  • Aster flowers are often purple. The genus name Aster, derived from the ancient Greek word aster, meaning “star,” is a reference to the shape of the flower head.
  • Aubrieta flowers are commonly purple. The genus Aubrieta was named in honor of French botanical artist Claude Aubriet.
  • Banafsha is a Persian feminine name meaning “violet.”
  • Betony flowers are usually purple. “Betony” is the common name of plants in the genus Stachys.
  • Bíbor (pronounced BEE-bor) is a Hungarian masculine name based on the word bíbor, meaning “purple.”
    • Bíborka is a feminine form of Bíbor.
  • Bora is a Korean feminine name meaning “purple.” (Though the name has appeared in the U.S. data, this probably reflects the usage of the identical Albanian name, which means “snow.”)
  • Fjóla (pronounced FYOH-lah) is an Icelandic and Faroese name meaning “violet.”
    • Fjólar is the masculine form of Fjóla.
  • Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes purple. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
The Jimi Hendrix album "Are You Experienced" (1967)
Jimi Hendrix album
  • Haze (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “Purple Haze” [vid] — the title of the song by Jimi Hendrix. “Purple Haze” was the opening track of the iconic album Are You Experienced (1967).
  • Heather flowers are usually purple. “Heather” is the common name of plants in the genus Calluna.
  • Honesty (besides being a vocabulary word) is also the common name of the plant species Lunaria annua, which has flowers that are frequently purple. The common name is likely a reference to the translucence of the seed pods.
  • Hyacinth flowers are often purple. The genus Hyacinthus was named for the plant’s association with the myth of Hyacinthus (who was one of the lovers of Apollo in Greek mythology).
    • Giacinta is the Italian feminine form of Hyacinth.
    • Giacinto is the Italian masculine form of Hyacinth.
    • Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese feminine form of Hyacinth.
    • Jacinto is the Spanish and Portuguese masculine form of Hyacinth.
  • Ianthe, which means “violet flower,” is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words ion, meaning “violet,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
    • Iantha is a variant of Ianthe.
  • Iole (pronounced IE-oh-lee) is based on the ancient Greek word ion, meaning “violet.” In Greek myth, Iole was one of Heracles’ many objects of desire.
    • Iola is a variant of Iole.
  • Ione (pronounced ie-OH-nee) is also based on the ancient Greek word ion, meaning “violet.”
    • Iona could be considered a variant of Ione, though more often it’s a reference to the Scottish island of Iona.
  • Jacaranda flowers are purple. The genus name Jacaranda is derived from a Tupi-Guarani word meaning “fragrant.”
  • Lavender flowers are typically purple. “Lavender” is the common name of plants in the genus Lavandula. The genus name is derived from the Latin word lividus, meaning “bluish,” and/or the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash” (due to aromatic lavender being used in washing and bathing).
  • Lilac flowers are frequently purple. “Lilac” is the common name of plants in the genus Syringa.
    • Lila is the Swedish form of Lilac, though the name also has other possible meanings (e.g., “play” in Sanskrit, “night” in Arabic).
    • Liila is the Finnish form of Lilac.
  • Lupine flowers are often purple. The genus name Lupinus is derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning “wolfish” (from lupus, “wolf”).
  • Magenta is a reddish-purple color. A French chemist first synthesized magenta-colored dye in the late 1850s, and the color was eventually named “Magenta” in honor of the French-Sardinian victory at the Battle of Magenta (1859).
  • Murasaki is a Japanese feminine name meaning “purple.” Originally it referred to the gromwell plant, the root of which was used to make purple dye.
  • Orchid flowers are sometimes purple. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
  • Phoenix refers to the mythical bird, but the name of that bird was based on the ancient Greek word phoinix, meaning “purple” or “crimson.”
  • Plum fruits are commonly purple. Plum trees are part of the genus Prunus.
  • Porphyrios was an ancient Greek name derived from the word porphyra, meaning “purple dye, purple.”
    • Porphyrius is the Latinized form of Porphyrios.
    • Porfirio is the modern Spanish masculine form of Porphyrios.
    • Porfiria is the modern Spanish feminine form of Porphyrios.
    • Porfiriy is the modern Russian masculine form of Porphyrios.
  • Purple, which can also be traced back to the ancient Greek word porphyra, is rarely used as a given name…though I did spot a girl named Purple in Los Angeles’ baby name data a few years back.
rebeccapurple
  • Rebecca is part of “rebeccapurple” — the name of the shade of purple with the hex value #663399. The color name pays tribute to Rebecca Meyer, the daughter of web design pioneer Eric Meyer. Rebecca, whose favorite color was purple, passed away on her 6th birthday (in mid-2014). The biblical name Rebecca is ultimately derived from the Semitic root r-b-q, meaning “to tie” or “to secure.”
  • Sigalit is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “violet.”
  • Sumire (pronounced soo-mee-reh) is a Japanese name that can mean “violet,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
  • Temenuzhka is a Bulgarian feminine name meaning “violet.”
  • Thistle flowers are usually purple. “Thistle” is the common name of various prickly plants, most of which are in the Asteraceae family.
  • Twila may be based on the English word “twilight.” During twilight, the sky can turn various shades of purple.
    • Twyla is a variant of Twila.
  • Tyrian (pronounced TEE-ree-uhn) is part of “Tyrian purple” — the name of the expensive purple dye used during ancient times that I mentioned earlier. The source of the dye was a type of sea snail found in the Mediterranean, near the city of Tyre (now part of Lebanon). The city name can be traced back to the Hebrew word tsor, meaning “rock,” as the settlement was originally built upon a rocky formation.
twilight
  • Verbena flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Verbena is derived from the Latin word verbena, which referred to the leaves, twigs, and branches of specific plants (like laurel, olive, and myrtle) that were used during religious ceremonies.
  • Vernonia flowers are typically purple. The genus Vernonia was named in honor of English botanist William Vernon.
  • Viola is based on the Latin word viola, meaning “violet.” In fact, the genus Viola includes many (though not all) violet flowers.
    • Ibolya is a Hungarian form of Viola.
    • Violia is an elaboration of Viola.
    • Violanda is another elaboration of Viola.
    • Viorica is a Romanian form of Viola.
  • Violett is a variant of Violet.
  • Violetta is an Italian and Hungarian form of Violet.
  • Wisteria (pronounced wuh-STEE-ree-uh) flowers are frequently light purple. The genus Wisteria was named in honor of American physician and anatomist Caspar Wistar.
  • Yolanda may have been derived from the medieval European feminine name Violante, which was based on the Latin word viola, “violet.”
    • Yolande is the French form of Yolanda.
    • Jolanda is the Dutch form of Yolanda.
    • Iolanda is the Portuguese and Italian form of Yolanda.
    • Iolanthe may be a variant of Yolanda influenced by the name Ianthe.
  • Yukari is a Japanese feminine name that can mean “purple,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
    • Yukariko is a Japanese name that can include the element Yukari.
  • Zi (third tone) is a Chinese name that can mean “purple,” depending upon the glyph being used to write the name.
    • Ziming is a Chinese name that can include the element Zi.
    • Ziyang is another Chinese name that can include the element Zi.
  • Zinnia flowers are sometimes purple. The genus Zinnia was named in honor of German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn.

Can you think of any other names that have a connection to the color purple?

Sources:

First, second, and last images by congerdesign from Pixabay, Hans from Pixabay, and Chapman Chow from Unsplash

Popular and unique baby names in Iowa, 2016

I love that the Social Security Administration releases so much baby name data to the public. But I’ve always had mixed feelings about that 5-baby threshold for inclusion. (Due to privacy concerns, the government doesn’t release names given to fewer than 5 babies per gender, per year.)

Part of me appreciates the threshold. For instance, I like that it adds significance to the pop culture-inspired debut names I’m always posting about, as these names had to hit a certain minimum level of usage in order to register in the data.

But the other part of me? The other part just really, really wants to see those rare/crazy names at the bottom of the list.

So I get excited when I find U.S. data from an official source that does go down to single-instance usage. Up until recently, I only knew about Sonoma County and Los Angeles County, but recently I discovered that Iowa (an entire state!) also releases down-to-1 baby name data. Yay!

But before we get to the rare names, let’s look at the state of Iowa’s top baby names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Olivia, 203 baby girls
2. Emma, 181
3. Charlotte, 158
4. Harper, 156
5. Ava & Evelyn, 148 each (2-way tie)
6. Amelia, 125
7. Nora, 123
8. Sophia, 112
9. Addison, 101
10. Grace, 96

Boy Names
1. Oliver, 197 baby boys
2. Owen, 178
3. William, 174
4. Wyatt, 170
5. Henry, 165
6. Liam, 159
7. Noah, 149
8. Benjamin, 148
9. Jackson, 144
10. Lincoln, 123

  • In the girls’ top 10, Addison and Grace replaced Avery.
  • In the boys’ top 10, Benjamin and Lincoln replaced Mason and Elijah.
  • In 2015, the top two names were Emma and Liam.

(The SSA rankings for Iowa are similar, but not exactly the same. One notable difference on is that the SSA ranks Grayson 10th on the boys list, and puts Lincoln down in 13th.)

And now for the rarities!

Iowa’s website offers interactive baby name usage graphs that include all names bestowed at least once from 2000 to 2016. Here’s a sampling of rare baby names in Iowa (2000-2016 usage):

Girl NamesBoy Names
Arabia (1)
Bishop (1)
Currency (1)
Dream (3)
Eros (1)
Fairy (1)
Gatsby (1)
Heritage (1)
Irish (5)
Jasper (1)
KeyEssence (1)
Lisbon (1)
Michigan (1)
Nirvana (3)
Orchid (1)
PairoDice (1)
Qy (1)
Reminisce (1)
Scully (1)
Tear (1)
Unity (4)
Veruca (1)
Windy (2)
Xanadu (1)
Yawh (1)
Zinnia (1)
Arcade (1)
Banksy (1)
Cactus (1)
Denali (2)
Elvis (18)
Fonzy (1)
Galaxy (1)
Helium (1)
Indigo (2)
Jeep (3)
Kal-El (3)
Lightning (1)
Mowgli (1)
Notorious (1)
Opttimus (1)
Player (1)
Quest (3)
Racer (3)
Sanctify (1)
Tavern (1)
Universe (1)
Vegas (1)
Winner (4)
Xyn (1)
Young-Sky (1)
Zealand (1)

If you decide to dig through the data, leave a comment and let me know what you spot!

And if you’re friends with any expectant parents in Iowa, tell those lucky ducks that they have access to full sets of baby name rankings for their state. Either send them a link to this post or to one of the pages below…

Sources: Top Baby Names – Iowa Department of Public Health, Baby Names Popularity Over Time – Iowa Department of Public Health

Update, 2020: The above links no longer work; here’s an updated link to the Iowa baby names.

Do you name your orchids?

orchid

My husband and I went to a baseball game on Friday night, and one of the women sitting behind us spent time talking with her friends about the orchid in her office. And you know what? That orchid had a name: Octavia. The woman went on to say that she knew of another office orchid with a name (Desdemona) and that she thought all orchids deserved names because they’re so hard to take care of.

(I swear I’m not a creepy eavesdropper. I couldn’t help but overhear this stuff.)

Giving names to plants is nothing new, but her last point made me wonder if people are more likely to give names to finicky orchids than to plants that don’t take as much effort to grow.

Have you been introduced to any named orchids lately? More importantly, what name would you give an orchid?

P.S. In terms of baby names, both Orchid and the Spanish version Orquidea remain rare in the U.S. The fact that they stem from the Greek word for “testicle” (orkhis) could have something do with it.

P.P.S. The man-eating plant named Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors may have been inspired by a man-eating orchid from a 1950s Arthur C. Clarke story, which in turn may have been inspired by an man-eating orchid from a 1890s H.G. Wells story. Disappointingly, neither of these two carnivorous orchids had names.

Where did the baby name Orchid come from in 1926?

The character Orchid (played by Gloria Swanson) in the movie "Fine Manners" (1926).
Orchid from “Fine Manners

The flower name Orchid first appeared in the U.S. baby name the data in the mid-1920s:

  • 1928: 6 baby girls named Orchid
  • 1927: 7 baby girls named Orchid
  • 1926: 12 baby girls named Orchid [debut]
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: unlisted

One dozen baby girls remained Orchid’s peak usage for nearly a century (until the record was tied in 2017, then topped in 2020).

Here are the SSDI’s numbers for the same span of time:

  • 1928: 1 person with the first name Orchid
  • 1927: 2 people with the first name Orchid (and 1 with Orchid as a middle)
  • 1926: 9 people with the first name Orchid (and 1 with Orchid as a middle)
  • 1925: 2 people with the first name Orchid
  • 1924: 4 people with the first name Orchid

Why were expectant parents suddenly interested in the name Orchid in 1926?

Because of a silent film called Fine Manners, which was released in August of that year.

Dialogue intertitle featuring the name Orchid from the silent film "Fine Manners" (1926).
Dialogue intertitle from “Fine Manners

It starred Gloria Swanson as a vivacious-yet-unrefined New York chorus girl named Orchid Murphy. Orchid falls in love with a millionaire named Brian Alden, but, right after Brian asks Orchid to marry him, he learns that he will be traveling abroad on business. During the months of his absence, his Aunt Agatha teaches Orchid about social etiquette (e.g., “a lady never makes a vulgar display of her emotions”).

The consequence is that Brian is deeply disappointed when he returns to find a blasé little Orchid. He scolds his Aunt for having robbed the girl of her vivacity and spark.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Orchid? Would you use it?

P.S. Gloria Swanson’s The Love of Sunya — released less than a year after Fine Manners — also had an influence on U.S. baby names…

Sources: