How popular is the baby name Peggy in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Peggy.
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From 1955 to 1965, Donna was a top-ten baby name in the United States. But, in 1959, it saw a steep rise in usage that boosted it all the way up to 5th place:
1961: 28,668 baby girls named Donna [ranked 7th]
1960: 34,132 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th]
1959: 36,465 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th] – peak usage
1958: 26,949 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]
1957: 28,039 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]
Why the rise?
I think the primary reason was the song “Donna” by California teenager Ritchie Valens. It was released in December of 1958 and became Valens’ highest-charting single, reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in February of 1959.
Sadly, Valens died in the same plane crash that killed The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue“) several weeks before “Donna” reached peak popularity.
Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela in Pacoima, California, in 1941. He’d written “Donna” as a tribute to his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig. (They’d stopped dating about year before the song was released.)
A secondary influence on the name Donna might have been The Donna Reed Show, which began airing in September of 1958 — though the show didn’t achieve peak popularity until the early 1960s. It featured already-famous actress Donna Reed as fictional middle-class housewife Donna Stone.
Do you like the name Donna? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?
From the 2000 book Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius by Barbara Belford:
“How ridiculous of you to suppose that anyone, least of all my dear mother, would christen me ‘plain Oscar,'” Wilde later said. “When one is unknown, a number of Christian names are useful, perhaps needful. As one becomes famous, one sheds some of them…I started as Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. All but two of the five names have already been thrown overboard. Soon I shall discard another and be known simply as ‘The Wilde’ or ‘The Oscar.'”
[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn’t just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation.
From a 2019 article about names by journalist Josanne Cassar in Malta Today:
In my case it can be mildly tiring because I am constantly having to explain that there is no “i” in Josanne, (simply because the most common spelling and pronunciation is Josianne) – one person had even asked me if I was sure I was spelling it right and asked me to check my own ID card. True story.
So when I signed up for my son’s preschool, I told them my name was Penelope Trunk. My husband had a fit. He told me I was starting our new life in Madison as an insane person and I cannot change my name now.
But I explained to him that it would be insane not to change my name now. I am way better known as Penelope than Adrienne. And my career is so closely tied with the brand Penelope Trunk, that I actually became the brand. So calling myself Penelope Trunk instead of Adrienne Greenheart is actually a way to match my personal life with my professional life and to make things more sane.
At first it was a little weird. For example, we were driving in the car one day and my son said, “Mom, who’s Penelope Trunk?”
But now it feels good to be Penelope Trunk. No more having to figure out what name to give where. No more pretending to be someone, sometimes. No more long explanations and short memories of who calls me what.
My first photograph…or the first photograph of me…was taken, by my father, when I was 36 hours old. My name was different then. They had named me Sena, for my Norwegian grandmother, and that was my name until she was notified; then she sent a telegram insisting that they give me an American name, and so I was renamed Lois Ann for my father’s two sisters.
From the book Maya Angelou (2009) by Harold Bloom:
From that local bar she moves on to the Purple Onion, one of the most popular nightclubs on the entire West Coast. It is here that she is encouraged to replace the “s” in her last name with a “u”. She will now also need an exotic first name. This is when she remembered, “My brother has always called me Maya. For ‘Marguerite.’ He used to call me ‘My sister,’ then he called me ‘My,’ and finally, ‘Maya’.” Marguerite Johnson Angelos becomes Maya Angelou, and shortly thereafter she has more job offers than she is able to accommodate.
My name is Tsh Oxenreider, and no, my name is not a typo (one of the first things people ask). It’s pronounced “Tish.” No reason, really, except that my parents were experimental with their names choices in the 70s. Until my younger brother was born in the 80s, whom they named Josh, quite possibly one of the most common names for people his age. Who knows what they were thinking, really.
I can only hope all the real Robert Galbraiths out there will be as forgiving as the real Harry Potters have been. I must say, I don’t think their plight is quite as embarrassing.
I chose Robert because it is one of my favourite men’s names, because Robert F Kennedy is my hero and because, mercifully, I hadn’t used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or ‘The Casual Vacancy’.
Galbraith came about for a slightly odd reason. When I was a child, I really wanted to be called ‘Ella Galbraith’, and I’ve no idea why. I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself L A Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea.
Odder still, there was a well-known economist called J K Galbraith, something I only remembered by the time it was far too late. I was completely paranoid that people might take this as a clue and land at my real identity, but thankfully nobody was looking that deeply at the author’s name.
From an 2009 New York Times article about Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:
You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.
(The movie made the baby name Lara quite trendy during the second half of the 1960s, in fact.)
JG: In the new book, you explain that all Bengalis have private pet names and public “good names.” But the main character in “The Namesake” is given only one name: Gogol, after the Russian writer.
JL: That happened to me. My name, Jhumpa, which is my only name now, was supposed to be my pet name. My parents tried to enroll me in school under my good name, but the teacher asked if they had anything shorter. Even now, people in India ask why I’m publishing under my pet name instead of a real name.
JG: What does Jhumpa mean?
JL: Jhumpa has no meaning. It always upset me. It’s like jhuma, which refers to the sound of a child’s rattle, but with a “p.” In this country, you’d never name your child Rattle. I actually have two good names, Nilanjana and Sudeshna. My mother couldn’t decide. All three are on the birth certificate. I never knew how to write my name.
From a 2020 lecture on creative writing given by author Brandon Sanderson [vid], an aside about the name Brandon:
When I grew up in Nebraska, I was the only Brandon, like, in my school. It was a really original, interesting name. I’m like, ‘My parents came up with this great, original, interesting name.’ And then I moved to Utah to go to BYU and there were five in my freshman dorm. And then I realized: It’s a Mormon name! Who would have thought? It’s not in any of the scriptures but it totally is a Mormon name. There’s a ton. Brandon Flowers, right? Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson. There’s a lot of Brandons out there with an LDS background. Who knew?
(Brandon Flowers is the lead singer of The Killers, while Brandon Mull — like Sanderson — writes fantasy. Brandon Sanderson is behind the debuts of the baby names Kaladin and Sylphrena, btw.)
From the book A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis (2013) by Devin Brown:
Although born and baptized as Clive [Staples Lewis], Lewis soon took a disliking to the name his parents had given him. Sometime around the age of four, he marched up to his mother and, pointing at himself, declared that he was now to be known as “Jacksie.” This name, later shortened to Jacks and then to just Jack, became the only name he would answer to. In his book Jack’s Life, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, provides the following background on why Lewis chose this name: ‘It was actually because of a small dog that he was fond of that he picked the name Jacksie, which was what the dog was called. It was run over (probably by a horse and cart as there were almost no cars in the time and place where he was a child), and Jack, as he later became known just took the name for himself.’
From a 2014 article by journalist Kerry Parnell in The Daily Telegraph:
[W]hen I was born and my parents proudly announced my name to the family, my great-grandma was disgusted and informed them Kerry was a dog’s name.
She never wavered from this conviction until one day, when I was about five, we visited her to see her new poodle puppy.
“What’s his name?” I asked. “Kerry,” she replied, stony faced. There was a long, awkward silence and no one ever mentioned it again.
Ironically, great-grandma went by the name of “Pete”, which, unless I am very much mistaken, is a man’s name.
One day, I vow, I will get a dog just so I can call it Pete, for revenge.
From the book Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew (1997) by Christine Wallace:
In the autumn of 1938 came the first conception. Peggy’s pregnancy was easy, with little more than queasiness. But the labor was long and difficult. The baby, a girl, was bruised around the head from the traumatic delivery and arrived in floods of blood as Peggy hemorrhaged from a retained placenta. The baby was named Germaine, with no middle initial to interrupt the elegant alliteration with Greer. According to Peggy, it was the name of a minor British actress she found in an English magazine Reg had brought home from work. In Germaine’s version, her mother was reading George Sand’s The Countess of Rudolstadt when she fell pregnant, and drew the name from one of its characters, the Comte de Saint-Germain — ‘because she liked the sound of it, I reckon.’ It was the height of the last Australian summer before the war: 29 January 1939.
From the book Here at The New Yorker (1975) by Brendan Gill:
Indeed, there are writers remembered not for their novels but for their names: Mazo de la Roche, Ouida, Warwick Deeping.
There is hardly an account of Greenwich Village in the ’20s in which she does not prominently figure. Yet her roots in the neighborhood preceded even her fame. The poet’s unusual middle name came from St. Vincent’s Hospital on 12th St. Millay’s uncle was nursed back to health there after a sailing accident, and her mother wished to show her gratitude by naming her first-born child after the place.
And another about Millay from What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay (2001) by Daniel Mark Epstein:
She preferred the triumphant-sounding title to plain “Edna” (Hebrew for “rejuvenation”) and asked to be called “Vincent,” which somehow rubbed the school principal, Frank Wilbur, the wrong way. He made sport of calling her by any woman’s name beginning with a V: Vanessa, Viola, Vivian, anything but Vincent. “Yes, yes, Mr. Wilbur,” she would answer, with weary patience, “but my name is Vincent.”
From Duncan McLaren’s Evelyn Waugh website, an interesting fact about the English writer and his first wife, also named Evelyn:
Although I call the couple he- and she-Evelyn in my book, Alexander [Evelyn Waugh’s grandson] has mentioned that at the time [late 1920s] they were called Hevelyn and Shevelyn.
(Evelyn Waugh’s first name was pronounced EEV-lyn, so “Hevelyn” and “Shevelyn” would have been HEEV-lyn and SHEEV-lyn.)
From Nina Sankovitch’s memoir Tolstoy and the Purple Chair (2011):
For my father, the consequences of war brought him far from home, and eventually across an ocean, to start over in a new world. My parents tell me I was named after the members of the corps de ballet of the Bolshoi, most of whom were named Nina. They went to see a performance of the Bolshoi just days before I was born. But I also know that my name is another ripple effect of the war, coming from my father’s sister Antonina, who was murdered that night in 1943.
(Three of her Belarusian father’s siblings — Sergei, Antonina, and Boris — were killed one night during WWII.)
From a 2012 interview with Somali British poet Warsan Shire:
Warsan means “good news” and Shire means “to gather in one place”. My parents named me after my father’s mother, my grandmother. Growing up, I absolutely wanted a name that was easier to pronounce, more common, prettier. But then I grew up and understood the power of a name, the beauty that comes in understanding how your name has affected who you are. My name is indigenous to my country, it is not easy to pronounce, it takes effort to say correctly and I am absolutely in love with the sound of it and its meaning. Also, it’s not the kind of name you baby, slip into sweet talk mid sentence, late night phone conversation, whisper into the receiver kind of name, so, of that I am glad.
From a 2012 New York Magazine article about author Toni Morrison, born Chloe Wofford, who “deeply regrets” not putting her birth name on her books:
“Wasn’t that stupid?” she says. “I feel ruined!” Here she is, fount of indelible names (Sula, Beloved, Pilate, Milkman, First Corinthians, and the star of her new novel, the Korean War veteran Frank Money), and she can’t own hers. “Oh God! It sounds like some teenager–what is that?” She wheeze-laughs, theatrically sucks her teeth. “But Chloe.” She grows expansive. “That’s a Greek name. People who call me Chloe are the people who know me best,” she says. “Chloe writes the books.” Toni Morrison does the tours, the interviews, the “legacy and all of that.”
Caitlin isn’t really her name. She was christened ‘Catherine.’ But she saw ‘Caitlin’ in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was thirteen and thought it looked exciting. That’s why she pronounces it incorrectly: ‘Catlin.’ It causes trouble for everyone.
From Little Failure: A Memoir (1996) by Gary Shteyngart (born Igor Steinhorn):
I have clearly spent thirty-nine years unaware that my real destiny was to go through life as a Bavarian porn star, but some further questions present themselves: If neither Gary nor Shteyngart is truly my name, then what the hell am I doing calling myself Gary Shteyngart? Is every single cell in my body a historical lie?
From a 2020 article about baby names by journalist Dilvin Yasa in the Sydney Morning Herald:
When you have a name like Dilvin, you spend an awful amount of time thinking about baby names and the role our monikers play in our lives. Will little Exoduss ever spearhead a Fortune 500 company? Can Bambi push through our collective prejudice and go on to become a respected neurosurgeon? Had my parents named me Deborah, Sally or Carolyn, would I really be a CEO by now instead of a writer, as a famous LinkedIn survey suggests?
He adored Melville, Mozart, and Mickey Mouse (and would have noted the alliteration with pleasure — he wrote in different places about the mysterious significance he attached to the letter M, his own first initial and that of many of his characters, beginning with Max of Where the Wild Things Are).
From The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography (2012) by Lois Potte:
Though contemporary sonneteers populated their world with lovers called Astrophil, Parthenophil, Stella, Delia, and Idea, the only names that appear in Shakespeare’s sonnets are Adonis, Helen, Mars, Saturn, Philomel, Eve, Cupid, Diana, and Time — and the one non-mythological figure, the author, “Will.”
From a 1911 newspaper article about writers such as Georgia writer Corra Mae Harris (1869-1935):
Mrs. Harris finds much trouble in impressing the fact that her name is “Corra” and not “Cora” — the word being a family name.
(I quoted the same source in this post about author Zane Grey.)
For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.
Ohio-born author Maravene Thompson, whose short stories were being published in magazines like McClure’s, The American Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Harper’s Weekly in the 1910s. She also put out several books, including The Woman’s Law (1914) and Persuasive Peggy (1916).
Some of her written works were made into movies. Persuasive Peggy, for instance, was adapted for the screen in 1917. She also wrote screenplays specifically, such as the ones for the (now lost) silent films Heredity (1918) and The Heart of a Girl (1918).
What are your thoughts on the baby name Maravene? Which name do you prefer, Maravene or Marvene?
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.