How popular is the baby name Ralph 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 Ralph.

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 Ralph


Posts that Mention the Name Ralph

What gave the baby name Madalynne a boost in 1921?

Newspaper photo of accused murderer Madalynne Obenchain (nee Conner).
Madalynne Obenchain (née Conner)

In 1921, the baby name Madalynne saw a curious spike in usage:

  • 1923: 8 baby girls named Madalynne
  • 1922: 25 baby girls named Madalynne
  • 1921: 39 baby girls named Madalynne
  • 1920: 10 baby girls named Madalynne [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

Why?

Because of 28-year-old society beauty and femme fatale Madalynne Obenchain, who was accused of murder that year.

Born Madeline Connor in Wisconsin in 1893, she changed the spelling of her first name to “Madalynne” sometime before heading off to college at Northwestern University. There, at least two classmates fell in love with her. After college, while living in Los Angeles with her mother, she gained yet another admirer. The three men were:

  • Arthur C. Burch
  • J. Belton Kennedy
  • Ralph R. Obenchain

All three wanted to marry her. Finally, in 1919, she made her decision: it would be Obenchain (who was, by then, working as an attorney in Chicago).

But the marriage didn’t stop her from seeing Kennedy on the side. After a few months, Madalynne decided she preferred Kennedy, and her “extremely understanding husband allowed her to divorce him, gave her $80 a month in alimony and blank checks as needed.”

Madalynne and Kennedy had a tumultuous relationship, though, and Madalynne became frustrated by Kennedy’s refusal to commit. At some point in the summer of 1921, she wired Burch, who, himself recently divorced, “hopped on the next train [from Illinois] to Los Angeles to aid the woman he called his “goddess.””

On August 5, 1921, Kennedy “was found shot to death on the stairs of his cabin on Beverly Glen Boulevard, in a then-rustic neighborhood near the Los Angeles Country Club.”

A few days later, both Madalynne and Burch were charged with first-degree murder.

Obenchain, the generous ex-husband, left his job in Chicago to come to Madalynne’s defense.

Over the course of 16 months, five trials were held — two for Madalynne, three for Burch. The public — fascinated by the idea of these “cultivated, college-bred folk in the grip of overwhelming passions” — followed along via the newspapers.

Here’s one paper’s summary of the goings-on during Madalynne’s second trial (in July of 1922):

“Dream Girl” Accused of Perjury Plot! — Madalynne Obenchain, whose love brought death to one man, divorce to another and prison to a third, is now, during her own trial for murder, embroiled in charges of conspiracy by which it is said she tried to lure a fourth man to commit perjury that she might be free.

(This fourth guy to come under Madalynne’s spell was Paul Roman.)

All five of the trials ended in hung juries. “Legal experts interviewed at the time theorized that the male jurors who voted for acquittal in Madalynne’s trial were all in love with her.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Madalynne? (Do you like this spelling?)

Sources:

P.S. The debut of the name one year earlier may be due to unnamed baby girls born in 1920 finally being named “Madalynne” after Madalynne Obenchain became a fixture in the news in mid-1921. Delayed baby-naming wasn’t uncommon in the early 20th century.

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

Baby born into June family, named April May

calendar

In March of 1995, Richard and Lorine June of Florida welcomed their third child — another baby girl.

Their first daughter was named Nicole, and their second was named Brooke. For the third, they went with “April May” to create the full legal name “April May June.”

The idea first occurred to them when Nicole was born. [Lorine] recounted that her husband said, “Wouldn’t that be funny?”

“And I said, “No, we better not do that,'” she recalled.

A couple of babies later, though, they changed their minds. “It gets harder to think of names as you go on,” Lorine admitted.

Richard’s father Ralph believed it was inevitable. “With a name like June, it was bound to happen sooner or later,” he said.

Source: Clendening, Roger. “Her parents love their little calendar girl.” Tampa Bay Times 17 Apr. 1995.

Popular baby names in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1868

19th-century Providence, Rhode Island
19th-century Providence

Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.

Let’s start with some stats:

  • 1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
  • 1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
  • 284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.

And now, on to the names!

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:

Top baby girl namesTop baby boy names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Sarah
4. Ellen
5. Margaret
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

All Girl Names

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 39
  3. Sarah, 38
  4. Ellen, 31
  5. Margaret, 28
  6. Elizabeth, 25
  7. Alice, 24
  8. Anna, 20
  9. Ann, 16
  10. Emma, 14
  11. Eliza, 13
  12. Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
  13. Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
  14. Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
  15. Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
  17. Anne, Carrie, Hattie, Ida, Mabel & Nellie, 6 each (6-way tie)
  18. Eva, Joanna, Lydia & Rosanna, 5 each (4-way tie)
  19. Abby, Charlotte, Emily, Jessie, Josephine, Lillian, Lizzie, Louisa, Louise, Marion, Phebe, Rosella & Theresa, 4 each (13-way tie)
  20. Anastasia, Bertha, Edith, Gertrude, Isabella, Nettie, Pearl, Rebecca & Susanna, 3 each (9-way tie)
  21. Ada, Almira, Edna, Fannie, Flora, Frances, Helen, Henrietta, Inez, Laura, Lelia, Lillie, Lottie, Maud, Priscilla & Virginia, 2 each (16-way tie)
  22. Addie, Adelaide, Adelicia, Adeline, Agatha, Allene, Amanda, Amy, Angelica, Antoinette, Arabella, Augusta, Aurelia, B.*, Belle, Bessie, Betsey, Catharine, Celia, Claudia, Della, Eleanor, Eleanora, Estella, Estelle, Esther, Eudavelia, Eulalie, Evelyn, Francenia, Genevieve, Georgia, Honora, Imogene, Jesse, Juliette, Kate, Leonora, Lilla, Lillias, Lorena, Luella, Luetta, Magdalena, Marian, Marietta, Matilda, Mercy, Minerva, Miriam, Myra, Myrtis, Nanoan, Nora, Pauline, Reberta, Rhoda, Roberta, Rosa, Rose, Ruth, Sabrina, Sophia, Stella & Winifred, 1 each (65-way tie)

*What do you think the “B.” might have stood for?

All Boy Names

  1. John, 112 baby boys
  2. William, 68
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 52
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 37
  7. Frederick, 25
  8. Henry, 23
  9. Joseph, 22
  10. Edward, 19
  11. Daniel & Patrick, 18 each (tie)
  12. Robert, 17
  13. Frank, 16
  14. Francis, 15
  15. Walter, 13
  16. Michael, 11
  17. Albert, 10
  18. Arthur, 9
  19. Benjamin, Peter & Samuel, 7 each (3-way tie)
  20. Freddie, Harry, Herbert & Stephen, 6 each (4-way tie)
  21. Edwin, Lawrence, Lewis, Martin & Timothy, 5 each (5-way tie)
  22. Bernard, Edmund, Eugene, Louis, Philip & Richard, 4 each (6-way tie)
  23. Alfred, Augustus, Christopher, Eben, Horace, Howard, Hugh, Jeremiah, Matthew & Willard, 3 each (10-way tie)
  24. Abel, Barney, Byron, Dennis, Edgar, Ferdinand, Gilbert, Luke, Max, Nathaniel, Owen, Roger, Solomon & Victor, 2 each (14-way tie)
  25. Alden, Alexis, Allen, Alrick, Amos, Andrew, Ansel, Anson, Archibald, Asa, Ashby, Bartholomew, Calvin, Carlos, Clarence, Clark, Clarke, Clement, Clifford, Collyer, Crolander, Darius, David, Earl, Elisha, Ellis, Eri, Ernest, Erwin, Eusebe, Everett, Felix, Forrest, Foster, Franklin, Fred, Gardner, Jacob, Jason, Jerome, Jireh, Joaneto, Josiah, Jubal, Justin, Lawson, Lodovic, Louis, Lucien, Lyman, Major, Malachi, Manuel, Melbourne, Monroe, Morey, Morris, Myron, Nelson, Nicholas, Olney, Orville, Oscar, Pendleton, Ralph, Reuben, Rolfe, Rowland, Rufus, Simeon, Simon, Steven, Stewart, Theodore, Ulysses*, Volney, Warren, Whiting, Willie & Winchester, 1 each (80-way tie)

*Ulysses was likely named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, who was elected president in 1868.

Twins

Finally, nineteen sets of twins were born in Providence in 1868. (All of these twin names are accounted for in the rankings above.)

Girl-girl twinsGirl-boy twinsBoy-boy twins
Caroline & Harriet
Lucy & Lydia
Mary & Rosanna
Margaret & Mary
Lizzie & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Anne & Thomas
Emma & Charles
Florence & William
Hannah & Josiah
Ida & John
Isabella & John
Jennie & Horace
Charles & William
Francis & Robert
George & John
James & John
James & Stephen
(blank) & (blank)

Have any thoughts about these rankings, or about any of the specific names above?

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of the Names of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence. Number three. Providence: Millard & Harker, 1870.

Name change: Lydia to Lidian

Lydia "Lidian" Emerson (1802-1892), second wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lydia “Lidian” Emerson (with son Edward)

Transcendentalist writer and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson proposed to his second wife, Lydia Jackson, via letter in January of 1835.

We do not have Lydia’s reply to the proposal, but it came swiftly. […] Within a week he was calling her Lidian (though he continued for a while to write Lydia on the envelope) and they began planning a life together. It has been suggested that Emerson called her Lidian in order to head off the inevitable New England pronunciation of her married name as Lydiar Emerson, but all that we know for certain is that he remarked to a cousin at the time that “the philistines baptized her Lydia, but her name is Lidian.”

Ralph married Lydia/Lidian later the same year, in September.

In her correspondence, she signed herself “Lidian” when the letters went to her husband or to individuals within the Emerson circle; to her sister, she remained “Lydia.”

On her gravestone, her name is written “Lidian Emerson.”

Which name do you like more, Lydia or Lidian?

Sources: