How popular is the baby name Phaedra 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 Phaedra.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Phaedra


Posts that Mention the Name Phaedra

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

Obscene, but Obscure: Yea or Nay?

While working on the Phaedra post from earlier this week, I came across the fact that Greek playwright Euripides had two wives: Melite and Choerine.

The name Melite I recognized as coming from the Melissa/Melitta/Melita family. All these names can be traced back to the Greek word meli, meaning “honey.”

But the name Choerine didn’t ring a bell, so I went off in search of a definition.

Before tracking it down, I happened to find this enticing little snippet:

“Choerine” is an attested Athenian name, but it could easily be used for obscene puns.

Obscene puns?!

After more digging, I discovered that Choerine (and the male equivalent Choerus) were based on the Greek word choiros, meaning “pig.” And that the equivalent word in Latin, porcus, had given rise to the names Porcius and Porcia/Portia.

But “pig” isn’t he obscene part:

In classical Latin the word porcus was occasionally used as an informal term for the vulva (Greek choiros, ‘young pig,’ was employed similarly).

Here’s more:

Porcus (pig) was apparently a Roman nursery word for the external pudenda of girls […] Perhaps the allusion is to a perceived resemblance between the part in question and the end of a pig’s snout.

In fact, this obscene sense of porcus is precisely how porcelain came to be named. The word porcelain can be traced back to the Italian word for the cowrie shell, porcellana (“young sow”), which was named in reference to its vulva-like shape.

Now for the question of the day: Would information like this (i.e., obscene-but-obscure associations) ever dissuade you from choosing a particular baby name?

Sources:

  • Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Harvard University Press, 1990, p. 270.
  • Porcelain – Online Etymology Dictionary
  • “Pork.” Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, Merriam-Webster, 1991, p. 371.
  • Scodel, Ruth. “The Euripidean Biography.” A Companion to Euripides, ed. by Laura K. McClure, John Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp. 27-41.

Where did the baby name Phaedra come from in 1963?

phaedra, movie, 1960s, baby name

The ancient name Phaedra was the highest-debuting baby name of 1963:

  • 1966: 22 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1965: 32 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1964: 29 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1963: 70 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

Because of the film Phaedra, released in late 1962. It was a flop at the U.S. box office, but had a big impact on U.S. baby names nonetheless.

The title character Phaedra (played by Greek actress Melina Mercouri, who’d played Ilya in the hit Never on Sunday) was the second wife of a wealthy man named Thanos. She initiated a forbidden romance with her husband’s adult son, Alexis, and then both of them had to suffer the consequences.

The movie is one of the many modern versions of the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides.

In the film, the name Phaedra (based on an ancient Greek word meaning “bright”) is pronounced FEH-dra, with a short E. (Say “Ephedra” without the initial vowel.) Looking at online discussions about the name, though, it’s clear that people use various pronunciations, including FAY-dra and FEE-dra.

What are your thoughts on the name Phaedra? Which pronunciation do you prefer?

Source: Phaedra (1962) – TCM

Top girl-name debuts of all time in the U.S. baby name data (41-50)

pink bow

For years now I’ve been talking about baby name debuts. But one thing I keep forgetting to blog about is the biggest baby name debuts of all time.

So this week I’m going to fix that oversight.

Well, half of it.

I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular girl name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (The boys’ list I’ll do another week.)

You’d think this would be 50 names, right? But I decided not to break ties, so the list actually contains 67 names.

I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, though a number of them are still mysteries to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

So here’s 50 to 41:

Yatzari, #50

  • Yatzari debuted with 65 baby girls in 2000.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.

Brieanna, Fanta & Kherington, 3-way tie for #49

  • Brieanna debuted with 66 baby girls in 1979.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Fanta debuted with 66 baby girls in 1977.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Fanta, a character on the TV miniseries Roots.
  • Kherington debuted with 66 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Kherington Payne, a contestant on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance.

Chantay, Charde & Laryssa, 3-way tie for #48

  • Chantay debuted with 67 baby girls in 1960.
    Inspired by Chantay, a character on the TV western Lawman.
  • Charde debuted with 67 baby girls in 1985.
    Inspired by singer Sade [shah-DAY].
  • Laryssa debuted with 67 baby girls in 1968.
    Inspired by Laryssa Lauret, an actress on the soap opera The Doctors.

Jennavecia & Laquita, 2-way tie for #47

  • Jennavecia debuted with 68 baby girls in 2008.
    Inspired by Jennavecia Russo, a cast member on the reality TV show The Bad Girls Club.
  • Laquita debuted with 68 baby girls in 1930.
    Inspired by…I’m not sure what.

Zhane, #46

  • Zhane debuted with 69 baby girls in 1993.
    Inspired by the R&B duo Zhane.

Kaydence, Phaedra & Shalawn, 3-way tie for #45

  • Kaydence debuted with 70 baby girls in 2002.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Cadence, a character from the movie Shallow Hal. (Thank you Angela!)
  • Phaedra debuted with 70 baby girls in 1963.
    Inspired by Phaedra, a character in the movie Phaedra.
  • Shalawn debuted with 70 baby girls in 1974.
    Inspired by Shalawn (b. 1974), baby of O’Jays singer Walter Williams.

Tyechia, #44

  • Tyechia debuted with 71 baby girls in 1982.
    Inspired by orphaned toddler named Tyechia who had been in the news.

Adilene, #43

  • Adilene debuted with 72 baby girls in 1987.
    Inspired by the song “Adilene” by Los Yonics.

Leshia & Riann, 2-way tie for #42

  • Leshia debuted with 76 baby girls in 1960.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Lisha Steele, a character on the soap opera Young Doctor Malone. (Thank you m4yb3_daijirou!)
  • Riann debuted with 76 baby girls in 1977.
    Inspired by the song “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.

Jalesa, #41

  • Jalesa debuted with 77 baby girls in 1988.
    Inspired by Jaleesa Vinson, a character on the TV sitcom A Different World.

Do you have any ideas about where Kaydence, Fanta, Brieanna, or Yatzari might have come from?

More of the top 50 baby name debuts for girls: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1

[Latest update: 7/2021]

Popular and unique baby names in Idaho, 2010

idaho

The state of Idaho recently released its 2010 annual report, and the report includes some baby names.

First, here are Idaho’s most popular baby names of 2010. (More or less the same as what SSA has listed for Idaho that year.)

Popular Boy NamesPopular Girl Names
1. William (119)
2. Samuel (116)
3. Logan (115)
4. Ethan (101)
5. Jacob (95)
6. Aiden (92)
7. Mason (89)
8. Noah (82)
9. Alexander (81)
10. James (79)
1. Olivia (122)
2. Emma (103)
3. Sophia (99)
4. Ava (88)
5. Abigail (85)
6. Elizabeth (83)
7. Emily (78)
8. Isabella (77)
9. Ella (71)
10. Addison & Brooklyn (65 each)

Now on to the bizarre stuff!

In the report, Idaho included a selection of unique names:

Unique Boy NamesUnique Girl Names
Bear, Character, Dagger, Freighter, Genghis, Hatchet, Hemi, Ice-T, Jethreaux, Justify, King Tiberius, Laugh, Nightsky, Permisius, Raysyn, Ripken, Saw, Scythe, Skeeter, Sourish, Theory, Truth, W’dbin, Wisdom, ZytareonArrehli, Aoife, Balou, Bronwyn, Dawnlight, Dixi, Espn, Hickory, Kalifornia, Koal, Legacy, Little Noah, Meeka Bella, Mhyrrauzhe, Moneeq, Moserratt, Omolola, Oo, Rootsy, Saphron, Sparkle, Sunset, Tietsie, Virtue, Xoko

Some thoughts:

Since Idaho’s annual reports for 2006-2010 are all available online, lets look at the selections of unique names from years past, shall we?

2009:

Unique Boy NamesUnique Girl Names
“Champion” Reese, Civic, Cougar, Domonique, Eleven, Evol, Hopper, Huckleberry, Irish, Jah Kobi, Jaxxon, Kastle, K-Den, Major Jack, Nixon, Noall, Oz, Pledger, Reef, Sabyr, Shade, Shadow, Skeet, Taft, ZebedeeArlington, August Star, Beatriz, Byrkli, Charm, Clarixxa, Daiquiri, Fayte, Goldie-Moon, Gyzzelle, Jubilee, Kanyon, Lala, Love, Montana, Nirvana, Pepper, Prairie, Poppy, Soul, Tottie, Tundra, Zipporah

2008:

Unique Boy NamesUnique Girl Names
Adjrick, Andronicus, Arrow, Blazer, Brayke, Buzz, Casino, Chamillionaire, Dacx, Driggs, Gamble, Heman, Klete, Kodiak, Kroten, Krue, Link, Mitt, Pheonix, Ransom, Rodee, Silynce, Summit, ZzyzxAngelic, Beautifull, Boisen, Byainett, Calloway, Celestial, Ecstacy, Eeleceya, Hadies, Heaven, Infiniti, Integrity, Jewleah, Kaskade, Kozmo, Maplejo, Mishalyn, Remmington, Season, Symphony, Thyme, Ugonna, Xerenity, Zepplyn

2007:

Unique Boy NamesUnique Girl Names
Aodhan, Braestyn, Buell, Champ, Dazryn, Elisjsha, Enveus, Grimsley, Hayze, Holdem, Kamero, Kay-Sin, Khonnerk, Lowgin, Makaijden, Mickyle, Nykolaus, Painter, Praze, Sander, Shadrack, Solo, Space, Tlaloc, TrackinArbor, Auktober, Blessin, Brizzbin, Brookenzie, Cabella, Clarity, Denym, Eos, Epiphany, Honesty, Kwincee, Lavender, Lybburtie, Miami, Modiesty-Star, Mysticque, Peaches, Perfect, Rebel-Ann, Seattle, Shy, Uneike, Vegas, Zoigh
  • Casino and Gamble in 2008, Holdem and Vegas in 2007…do I detect a pattern here?

2006:

Unique Boy NamesUnique Girl Names
Akhilles, Backtash, Blend, Bronco, Chalk, College, Colquohn, Daily, Gid, Hampton, Howdy, Jameraquoi, Karona, Lake, Packer, Polo, Razor, Rythmik, Sacramento, Spur, Trask, Tucson, Winn, Wracer, XzavvyerAllyvia, Anakalia, Aptisam, Aveda, Blayde, Bristol, Cedee, Dorcas, Fall, Heziachiah, Kalispell, Klowie, Lexington, Little Summers, Navy, Northstar, Nutaliay Harmoney, Pennilane Meadow, Phaedra, Russia, Tacheranai, Tragen, Tsunami, Viktoriya, Yochabelle

P.S. In the 2006-2009 reports, the heading of the unique names section was “Selected Unique Names, Yewneek Spellings.” For 2010, it was lengthened to “Selected Unique Baby Names, Yewneek Baybee Spellings.” I happen to love these headings, but aren’t they a bit snarky for an official state document…?