How popular is the baby name Steve 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 Steve.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Steve


Posts that Mention the Name Steve

Where did the baby name Journey come from in the 1980s?

The Journey album "Escape" (1981)
Journey album

Back in 1981, Journey popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

Girls named JourneyBoys named Journey
198476
198356*
1982..
19817*.
1980..
1979..
*Debut

What gave the noun-name a boost that year?

My guess is the influence of the rock band Journey, which was fronted by vocalist Steve Perry during that era.

The group had been putting out music since 1973, but 1981 is the year Journey released its most successful album, Escape — the one with the hit singles “Who’s Crying Now,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Open Arms.”

And the album was promoted, of course, by an equally successful tour:

Full-page advertisement for Journey tour in the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 4, 1981)
Full-page newspaper ad, 1981

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the name returned to the data in 1983, the year the band released its second most successful album, Frontiers — the one with the hit singles “Separate Ways”, “Faithfully”, and “Send Her My Love.”

What are your thoughts on Journey as a given name? Would you use it?

Sources: Escape (Journey album) – Wikipedia, Frontiers (Journey album) – Wikipedia, SSA

Where did the baby name Cymande come from in 1973?

Cymande's self-titled debut album (1972).
Cymande album

The unique name Cymande has shown up in the U.S. baby name data just once so far, in the early 1970s:

  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 9 baby boys named Cymande [debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Why?

Because of the influence of eclectic British funk band Cymande, made up of nine Caribbean-born, London-based musicians. The band “weld[ed] together the diverse strands of reggae and Rastafarian rhythms with funk, soul, R&B, jazz, rock, African music and West Indian folk.”

Their first album, the self-titled Cymande (1972), featured their biggest single: “The Message,” which reached 48th on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in March of 1973.

So where did the name “Cymande” come from?

Many sources repeat the claim that it was derived from a Calypso word meaning “dove” (the band’s emblem). That’s not quite the story, though. Two of the band members discussed the origin of the name with Rolling Stone in 2016:

[Steve] Scipio: The dove represents peace and love and for us, with our Caribbean heritage, it’s also connected with a very popular calypso song [“Dove and Pigeon”] that had a dove as a central character.

[Patrick] Paterson: The hook was “coo-coo-coo-coo-fan-cy-mandy.”

Scipio: “Fan-cy-mandy!” That’s where we got the name, Cymande from.

The song “Dove and Pigeon” [vid] was written by Tobagonian musician Lord Nelson and released in 1963. The line they’re referencing is hard to make out (one music blogger transcribed it “coo coo coo-coo bansimande”), but the last three syllables sound like see-mahn-dee.

At the start of the 1974 Cymande song “Promised Heights” [vid], one of the band members pronounces the band name sih-mahn-day (roughly).

What are your thoughts on the name Cymande?

Sources: Cymande, London’s Greatest Funk Band, on Return to Stage, Interview: British Funk Icons Cymande, Cymande “The Message” Chart History – Billboard, Dove and Pigeon (song) – Guanaguanare: The Laughing Gull

Name quotes #109: Golan, O-Lan, Cale

double quotation mark

Happy fourth of July! Here’s the latest batch of name quotes…

From one of Abby’s recent Sunday Summary posts:

I remember watching the first Iron Man movie in the theater way back in 2008, and I’ve seen — and enjoyed — every movie since.

In the beginning, the Avengers were mostly men, mostly white. Heroes, of course. But they were from a familiar mold. Steve and Tony and Bruce.

But it didn’t stay that way. And I’ve [been] thrilled to see heroes slowly shift to look like the whole, wide world – and beyond. T’Challa. Wanda Maximoff. Valkyrie.

And now Kamala Khan. Soon Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, will debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

From an article about brothers Cale and Taylor Makar, both of whom play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche:

Cale was named after Cale Hulse, who played for the Calgary Flames when [their father] Gary was doing some business with the team. Taylor is named after Colonel George Taylor of the Planet of the Apes movies, a take charge guy, portrayed by Charlton Heston, who was thrust into a leadership role. (Just for the record, Heston’s politics and ardent support of the National Rifle Association are not shared by the Makar family. “Oh my god, that’s the opposite of us,” Gary said.)

[Another source clarifies that Cale’s first name is short for Caleb. Cale noted in this interview [vid] that he was nearly named “Kurt Russell Makar, after the actor. […] I dodged a bullet there, I think.”]

From a 2015 interview with James Taylor at Stereogum:

Stereogum: Speaking of another powerful woman, Taylor Swift is probably the biggest pop star in the world right now, and she’s named after you! How do you feel about being connected to her in that way?

Taylor: It’s hugely flattering and was a delightful surprise when she told me that. We did a benefit together, I think it was focused on teenage pregnancy, before Taylor really took off. But she was playing guitar and singing her songs and I knew how remarkable she was. She told me that her mom and dad had been really, deeply into my music and I got a real kick out of the fact that she’d been named after me. Obviously it wasn’t her choice, it was her mom and dad, but nonetheless a great connection I think.

From a recent article about how to choose a Chinese name in the Guardian:

Don’t name yourself after a celebrity

In China, it is considered extraordinarily immodest to name a child after a famous person, a taboo that has roots in imperial laws that forbade citizens from having the same name as the emperor.

From a 2001 article about actress O-Lan Jones in the Los Angeles Times:

Jones’ mother, Scarlett Dark, named her after the character O-lan in Pearl S. Buck’s 1931 novel, “The Good Earth.” The “O” part, Jones said, means “profound,” and the “lan” means “wildflower.” Her mother, ever an original, chose to celebrate the wildflower part with a capital L.

Two from a recent opinion piece, “Every Jewish name tells a Jewish story,” in the Jerusalem Post:

[I]n Judaism after a near-death experience, it is traditional to add a name and change a name. The name Haim, which means “life” is often added, as is the name Alter, a blessing for “long days.” It is a Jewish insurance policy for an improved future for the name bearer.

…and:

After the 1967 Six Day War, Israelis created names that were lovely and filled with hope. Tal, Elizur, Sharona were born. And names of cities and towns became first names – Sinai, Golan, Eilat are a few. The ’67 war was a watershed for hope in Israel and it was reflected in these new names.

From the article “Amazon Killed the Name Alexa” by Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic:

“We don’t usually think about the individuals who are already born when this happens, but the impact on their lives is real as well,” Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, told me. Sharing a name with a robot can be tiresome. “‘OMG, Siri like the iPhone,’ should be engraved on my tombstone,” complained Siri Bulusu, a journalist, in a 2016 piece about her name. And name overlaps have led to sitcom-style misunderstandings, like when, as The Wall Street Journal reported, one dad asked his daughter Alexa for some water, and their robot Alexa responded by offering to order a case of Fiji water for $27.

Where did the baby name Adlai come from in the 1890s?

Politician Adlai E. Stevenson I (1835-1914)
Adlai E. Stevenson I

The interesting name Adlai first appeared in the U.S. baby named data in the early 1890s:

  • 1893: 9 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 706th)
  • 1892: 17 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 480th)
  • 1891: 6 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 841st) [debut]
  • 1890: unlisted
  • 1889: unlisted

That 1892 spike in usage remained Adlai’s high-point until the 1950s.

But, because many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, the earliest decades of the SSA data tend to under-count actual usage. The following numbers, from the Social Security Death Index, should be more accurate:

  • 1893: 34 people named Adlai
  • 1892: 91 people named Adlai
  • 1891: 8 people named Adlai
  • 1890: 3 people named Adlai
  • 1889: 1 person named Adlai

So, what inspired this sudden interest in the name Adlai?

Adlai Ewing Stevenson, who served as the 23rd Vice President from 1893 to 1897 under President Grover Cleveland. (They were called “Cleve and Steve” during the campaign, adorably.)

He’d served as assistant postmaster general during Cleveland’s first term, and, before that, he’d served twice as a U.S. Representative from Illinois (1875-77; 1879-81).

The slightly elevated usage of “Adlai” in 1891 — a year before the campaign/election — could be due to the fact that many babies were not named at birth during that era. So, some 1891 babies likely weren’t given names until well into 1892.

Going through the records, I found dozens of people with the first-middle name combo “Adlai Stevenson.” Here are a few examples from 1892 specifically:

(The handful of older “Adlai Stevensons” I found were all born in Illinois in the 1870s and 1880s.)

Other folks got different versions of the name, such as Stevenson Adlai and Adlai Ewing.

Even better, I found a bunch of people named after the “Cleve and Steve” Democratic ticket, such as Adlai Cleveland, Adlai Grover, Cleveland Adlai, Cleveland Stevenson, Grover Adlai, and Grover Stevenson.

The name Adlai comes from the Bible, but no one knows for sure what it means. Guesses include “my witness; my ornament” (Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary, 1869) and “lax, weary” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1939).

What are your thoughts on the name Adlai? Would you use it?

Sources: SSA, SSDI, Adlai Stevenson I – Wikipedia, Adlai Stevenson – Britannica

Where did the baby name Petehn come from in 2017?

Pe’Tehn, age 3, early 2015

So far, the baby name Petehn has only appeared in the U.S. baby name data a single time, in 2017:

  • 2019: unlisted
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: 5 baby girls named Petehn [debut]
  • 2016: unlisted
  • 2015: unlisted

What was the influence?

A little girl from Chicago named Pe’Tehn Jackson, whose first name is pronounced “pey-ten.”

In early 2015, when she was 3, she recited the poem “Hey Black Child” by Useni Eugene Perkins on local Chicago talk show Windy City Live (vid). A year later, in March of 2016, she performed the same poem for a national audience via the NBC show “Little Big Shots.” Several months later, in September, as a 5-year-old, Pe’Tehn made an appearance on Steve Harvey’s talk show to recite a poem written by her parents called “Affirmations” (vid).

What do you think of the name Pe’Tehn?

Source: Princess Pe’Tehn