How popular is the baby name Philemon 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 Philemon.
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Which boy names decreased in usage the most from 2021 to 2022?
Here’s a table of the fastest-falling boy names of 2022. On the left are the top 25 decreases in terms of absolute change (numbers of babies). On the right are the top 25 decreases in terms of relative change (percentages of babies).
*Also at -64% were Aceston, Akeel, Babyboy, Bran, Drey, Griff, Kysin, Naaman, and Nevaan.
And here are the boy names that saw the steepest dives out of the data (i.e., to below 5 instances of usage) in 2022:
Alvey was given to 23 babies in 2021
Gediz was given to 23 babies in 2021
Demetric was given to 20 babies in 2021
Hannibal was given to 18 babies in 2021
Soryn was given to 17 babies in 2021
Do you have thoughts/insights about any of the above names?
Looking for baby names that feature the appealing letter-pair PH?
I’ve collected 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:
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 PH
Top 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.”
Kristopher is a slightly simplified form of Christopher (perhaps influenced by the Scandinavian spelling, Kristoffer).
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).
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.
One variant form of the name is Daphna. The name is also sometimes spelled Daphnie, Daphney, or Daphni.
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.
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.”
Josephine comes from Joséphine, the French feminine form of Joseph.
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 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.
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.)
The name is also sometimes spelled Murphie, Murphee, or Murphey.
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.”
Ophelia is currently the 321st most popular girl name in the nation.
The French form of the name is Ophélie.
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.)
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.”
Phillip-with-two-L’s is a common variant of Philip.
Philip is currently the 451th most popular boy name in the nation, and Phillip (two L’s) ranks 523rd.
Other forms of the name include Philipp (German) and Philippe (French). Feminine forms include Philippa and Phillipa.
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.
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.
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.”
A while back, I stumbled upon a register of people who were associated with Oxford University in the late 1500s and early 1600s.
Interestingly, the author of the register decided to include a chapter dedicated to first names and surnames, and that chapter included a long list of male forenames and their frequency of occurrence from 1560 to 1621.
The author claimed that, for several reasons, these rankings were “probably…more representative of English names than any list yet published” for that span of time. One reason was that the names represented men from “different grades of English society” — including peers, scholars, tradesmen, and servants.
So, are you ready for the list?
Here’s the top 100:
John, 3,826 individuals
Peter (and Peirs/Pers), 175
Alexander, 98 (tie)
Arthur, 98 (tie)
Joseph, 78 (tie)
Lewis, 78 (tie)
Griffith (and Griffin), 60
Abraham, 54 (tie)
Leonard, 54 (tie)
Morris (and Maurice), 51
Bartholomew, 46 (3-way tie)
Oliver, 46 (3-way tie)
Timothy, 46 (3-way tie)
Martin, 44 (tie)
Rice, 44 (tie)
Toby (and Tobias), 34
Bernard, 28 (3-way tie)
Gregory, 28 (3-way tie)
Isaac, 28 (3-way tie)
Jasper (and Gaspar), 26 (3-way tie)
Josiah (and Josias), 26 (3-way tie)
Randall (and Randolph), 26 (3-way tie)
Austin (and Augustine), 22 (tie)
Jarvis (and Gervase), 22 (tie)
Matthias, 20 (tie)
Reginald (and Reynold), 20 (tie)
Joshua 18 (3-way tie)
Marmaduke, 18 (3-way tie)
Valentine, 18 (3-way tie)
Fulke, 17 (tie)
Sampson (and Samson), 17 (tie)
Clement, 16 (4-way tie)
Ferdinando, 16 (4-way tie)
Herbert, 16 (4-way tie)
Zachary, 16 (4-way tie)
Cuthbert, 15 (3-way tie)
Emanuel, 15 (3-way tie)
Vincent, 15 (3-way tie)
Adrian, 14 (3-way tie)
Elias, 14 (3-way tie)
Jonah (and Jonas), 14 (3-way tie)
Allan, 12 (6-way tie)
Ames, 12 (6-way tie)
Barnaby (and Barnabas), 12 (6-way tie)
Gerard (and Garret), 12 (6-way tie)
Lionel, 12 (6-way tie)
Mark, 12 (6-way tie)
Abel, 11 (3-way tie)
Erasmus, 11 (3-way tie)
Roderic, 11 (3-way tie)
Did the relative popularity of any of these names surprise you?
The author did note that “the more common names occur more frequently than they ought to…from the tendency to confuse less common names with them.”
For example, a person called ‘Edmund,’ if he is frequently mentioned in the Register, is almost certain to be somewhere quoted as ‘Edward,’ ‘Gregory’ as ‘George,’ ‘Randall’ or ‘Raphael’ as ‘Ralph,’ ‘Gilbert’ as ‘William,’ and so on.
Now here are some of the less-common names, grouped by number of appearances in the register: