How popular is the baby name Penny 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 Penny.

The graph will take a few moments to load. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take 9 months!) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the baby name Penny

Posts that mention the name Penny

Where did the baby name Anfernee come from in 1992?

Basketball player Anfernee Hardaway
Anfernee Hardaway

The curious name Anfernee debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1992 and reached peak usage in 1996:

  • 1998: 102 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1997: 171 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 838th]
  • 1996: 300 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 597th]
  • 1995: 246 baby boys named Anfernee [rank: 669th]
  • 1994: 84 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1993: 42 baby boys named Anfernee
  • 1992: 21 baby boys named Anfernee [debut]
  • 1991: unlisted

This corresponds to the rise of Tennessee-born basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

He played for two seasons at Memphis State before being selected third overall in the 1993 NBA draft.

As a professional, Anfernee spent his first six seasons with the Orlando Magic. During that time, he was voted an NBA All-Star four times in a row, from 1995 to 1998.

So how did he come to be called “Anfernee”? Here’s how his mother, Fae, explained it:

When I was in school at Lester High, there had been a boy named Anfernee. I always thought it was such a beautiful name. People think I don’t know how to spell Anthony. His nickname, Penny? That came from Mama. She called him Pretty, but in the country, that comes out ‘Pweddy.’ People just took it from there.

(Anfernee was raised largely by Fae’s mother, Louise, a former sharecropper.)

Among Anfernee Hardaway’s namesakes are baseball player Anfernee Grier (born in 1995), basketball player Anfernee Simons (b. 1999), and football players Anfernee Jennings (b. 1996) and Anfernee Orji (b. 2000).

What are your thoughts on the name Anfernee?


Image: Anfernee Hardaway trading card

What popularized the baby name Rosanna in 1982?

Toto single "Rosanna" (1982)
Toto single

According to the U.S. baby name data, the baby name Rosanna more than doubled in usage in 1982:

  • 1984: 367 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 527th]
  • 1983: 488 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 435th]
  • 1982: 492 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 438th] (peak usage)
  • 1981: 194 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 821st]
  • 1980: 202 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 804th]

Here’s a visual:

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

Other spellings of the name (such as Roseanna, Rosana, Rozanna, Roseana, and the one-hit wonder Rosezanna) also saw higher usage that year.

What’s the reason?

The Grammy-winning song “Rosanna” by Los Angeles-based rock band Toto.

It was released in March of 1982 as the first single from the album Toto IV, which also featured the band’s biggest hit, “Africa.”

“Rosanna” peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart for five consecutive weeks during July. (The final two weeks, it was second to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”)

Here’s the music video:

(Fun fact: The woman who played Rosanna in the video, Cynthia Rhodes, went on to play Penny in Dirty Dancing five years later.)

So what’s the story behind the song?

Toto’s David Paich said that he wrote it “about a high school love, one of my first loves.” Around the time he was writing it, another band member, Steve Porcaro, started dating actress Rosanna Arquette. Rosanna’s name happened to “fit perfectly” in the song Paich was writing, so he decided to use it.

So it’s got her name on it, but it’s really about another high school sweetheart, which is how songs happen sometimes.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Rosanna? (How would you spell it?)

Sources: Roseanna (song) – Wikipedia, David Paich of Toto: Songwriter Interviews – Songfacts, SSA

Quotes about the names of politicians

U.S. President John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)
John Quincy Adams

From the National Park Service’s biography of 6th U.S. president John Quincy Adams:

Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Abigail gave birth to her son two days before her prominent grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, died so the boy was named John Quincy Adams in his honor.

(Quincy, Massachusetts, was also named after Colonel John Quincy.)

From the humorous remarks given by U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in October of 2008:

Many of you — many of you know that I got my name Barack from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for “that one.” And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president.

(In truth, Obama’s first name a form of Barak, which means “blessing” in Arabic.)

From a 2010 article about Virginia political candidate Krystal Ball, who was asked about her name during her congressional campaign:

The answer: Her father has a doctorate in physics and did his dissertation on crystals.

So after her mother named older sisters Heidi and Holly, it was dad’s turn.

Ball said she doesn’t mind the questions, though, or the jokes.

And she’ll certainly be hoping a lot of people remember that name now that she’s running for Congress.

From Kenneth Whyte’s book Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (2017), which describes the naming of Herbert Hoover (who was born in 1874 to Quaker parents Jesse and Hulda Hoover):

Hulda had shown [her sister] Agnes a bureau drawer full of handmade clothes prepared for the baby, all of them suited for a girl, to be named Laura. Several decades later Agnes recalled that the newborn, a boy, was “round and plump and looked about very cordial at every body.”

Naming the child was a problem as Laura, obviously, would not do, and the mother had no alternative in mind. Another sister reminded Hulda of a favorite book, Pierre and His Family, a Sunday school martyrology set among the Protestant Waldenses of Piedmont. The hero of the story is a spirited boy named Hubert who is dedicated to his Bible and longs to become a pastor. Hulda’s sister remembered Hubert as Herbert, and the baby was called Herbert Clark Hoover. He shared his father’s middle name.

(Discovered via a Midwest National Parks Instagram post.)

From Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom:

Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means “pulling the branch of a tree”, but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be “troublemaker.” I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future, but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered.

From a 2022 article about British politician Penelope “Penny” Mordaunt (b. 1973):

It was a position she was well cut out for, given her strong military background — her father was a parachuter and she was a member of the Royal Navy from 2010 to 2019, making her the only woman MP currently who is a navy reservist. … (Fun fact: Penny was named after the Royal Navy frigate HMS Penelope.)

On the origin of Harry S. Truman’s given names, from the book Truman (1992) by David McCullough:

In a quandary over a middle name, [parents] Mattie and John were undecided whether to honor her father or his. In the end they compromised with the letter S. It could be taken to stand for Solomon or Shipp, but actually stood for nothing, a practice not unknown among the Scotch-Irish, even for first names. The baby’s first name was Harry, after his Uncle Harrison.

(Ulysses S. Grant likewise had a single-letter middle.)

From a 2020 CNN article about how to pronounce Sen. Kamala Harris’s name:

Harris wrote in the preface of her 2019 memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” “First, my name is pronounced ‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark. It means ‘lotus flower,’ which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.”

From a 2019 article about how to pronounce the name of presidential candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke:

He was named after his grandfathers. His mother Melissa O’Rourke said on the campaign trail during his U.S. Senate run that “Robert” — her father’s name — didn’t seem to fit when he was a baby.

The family has deep roots in El Paso, Texas, and “Beto” is a common shortening of the name “Roberto,” or “Robert.” If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced BEH-toe and O’Rourke is oh-RORK.

Image: John Quincy Adams (1858) by George P. A. Healy

[Latest update: Oct. 2023]

Popular baby names in Ireland, 2020

Flag of Ireland
Flag of Ireland

According to data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), the most popular baby names in the country in 2020 were Grace and Jack.

Here are Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2020:

Girl Names

  1. Grace, 410 baby girls
  2. Fiadh (pronounced fee-ah), 366
  3. Emily, 329
  4. Sophie, 328
  5. Ava, 297
  6. Amelia, 275
  7. Ella, 265 (tie)
  8. Hannah, 265 (tie)
  9. Lucy, 261
  10. Mia, 251

Boy Names

  1. Jack, 597 baby boys
  2. James, 495
  3. Noah, 447
  4. Daniel, 359
  5. Conor, 345
  6. Finn, 331
  7. Liam, 329
  8. Fionn, 323
  9. Harry, 311
  10. Charlie, 305

In the girls’ top 10, Lucy replaced Ellie.

In the boys’ top 10, Finn, Fionn and Harry replaced Adam, Luke and Tadhg.

The fastest-rising names in the top 100 in terms of numbers of babies were:

  • Éabha (+56 baby girls), Bonnie (+46), Fiadh (+32), Ada (+31), Croía (+24)
  • Finn (+75 baby boys), Benjamin (+33), Fionn (+32), Rían (+23), Tommy (+23)

Notably, Éabha was the fastest-rising name in 2019 as well.

And the fastest-rising in terms of rank were:

  • Croía (+67 spots), Cora (+37), Nina (+36), Elsie (+35), Bonnie/Penny (tied at +31)
  • Rian (+33 spots), Eoghan (+29), Benjamin (+25), Shane (+24), Sonny (+22)

The modern name Croía is based on the Irish word croí, meaning “heart,” “core,” “sweetheart.” The recent trendiness can be attributed to Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who welcomed a baby girl named Croía in January of 2019.

Sources: Irish Babies’ Names 2020 – Babies’ Names 2020 Tables, Press Statement Irish Babies’ Names 2020, Croía – Behind the Name, Croí – Wiktionary

Image: Adapted from Flag of Ireland (public domain)