How popular is the baby name Ursula 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 Ursula.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ursula


Posts that Mention the Name Ursula

How did “Money Heist” influence baby names?

The character Nairobi from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
Nairobi from “Money Heist”

Eight thieves — six men and two women — all dressed in red jumpsuits, all donning Salvador Dalí masks — break into the Royal Mint of Spain (in Madrid) with the aim of printing 2.4 billion in Euros over 11 days, then making a clean getaway.

That’s what happens at the start of the Spanish-language crime drama series Money Heist, which became a worldwide hit in 2018, thanks to Netflix.

Upon the success of the first two seasons of the show (which had originally aired on Spanish TV in 2017), Netflix renewed Money Heist — producing and releasing three more seasons over the next three years.

Impressively, Money Heist: Part 3, Money Heist: Part 4, and Money Heist: Part 5 currently rank 5th, 3rd, and 2nd (respectively) on Netflix’s list of most popular non-English TV series of all time.

So…what does this have to do with U.S. baby names?

Characters from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
The eight robbers of “Money Heist”

Well, to maintain their anonymity, the eight thieves went by city-inspired code-names: Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Nairobi, Rio, Denver, Helsinki, and Oslo.

While Moscow and Helsinki have never appeared in the U.S. baby name data, the six other city names have — and each one saw higher usage after Money Heist premiered on Netflix.

Let’s start with the biggest boosts…


Nairobi

(female character, played by Alba Flores)

Female usage of the baby name Nairobi began accelerating in 2018. (That massive jump in 2020 corresponds to a tragic Part 4 plot-twist.) Right now, the name is sitting just outside the girls’ top 1,000.

  • 2021: 241 baby girls named Nairobi [rank: 1,044th]
  • 2020: 215 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2019: 65 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2018: 37 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2017: 23 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2016: 21 baby girls named Nairobi
Graph of the usage of the baby name Nairobi in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Nairobi

Rio

(male character, played by Miguel Herrán)

Male usage of the baby name Rio has risen significantly since 2018:

  • 2021: 396 baby boys named Rio [rank: 672nd]
  • 2020: 303 baby boys named Rio [rank: 776th]
  • 2019: 193 baby boys named Rio
  • 2018: 171 baby boys named Rio
  • 2017: 132 baby boys named Rio
  • 2016: 134 baby boys named Rio
Graph of the usage of the baby name Rio in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Rio

Denver

(male character played by Jaime Lorente)

The baby name Denver, which was already on the rise for boys, began rising even faster in 2018:

  • 2021: 577 baby boys named Denver [rank: 505th]
  • 2020: 540 baby boys named Denver [rank: 526th]
  • 2019: 422 baby boys named Denver [rank: 638th]
  • 2018: 370 baby boys named Denver [rank: 674th]
  • 2017: 273 baby boys named Denver [rank: 821st]
  • 2016: 268 baby boys named Denver [rank: 840th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Denver in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Denver

Oslo

(male character, played by Roberto García Ruiz)

Male usage of the baby name Oslo has been rising steadily since 2018:

  • 2021: 49 baby boys named Olso
  • 2020: 38 baby boys named Olso
  • 2019: 29 baby boys named Olso
  • 2018: 22 baby boys named Olso
  • 2017: 14 baby boys named Olso
  • 2016: 12 baby boys named Olso
Graph of the usage of the baby name Oslo in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Oslo

Tokyo

(female character, played by Úrsula Corberó)

The baby name Tokyo, which had appeared in the data as a boy name a couple of times, finally debuted as a girl name in 2019:

  • 2021: 10 baby girls named Tokyo
  • 2020: 15 baby girls named Tokyo [peak usage]
  • 2019: 7 baby girls named Tokyo [gender-specific debut]
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: unlisted
  • 2016: unlisted

Berlin

(male character, played by Pedro Alonso)

Male usage of the baby name Berlin increased slightly in 2019 and 2020:

  • 2021: 26 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2020: 29 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2019: 17 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2018: 11 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2017: 9 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2016: 5 baby boys named Berlin

Which of the above names to you like best? What other city names do you think work well as human names?

Sources:

P.S. Why were city names used as code-names on Money Heist? Álex Pina, the show’s creator, explained during an interview in 2018 that he’d been trying to come up with a theme for the code-names when, “one day, someone turned up with a T-shirt bearing the word Tokyo and that’s how it all began.”

Initials that spell names

In June of 1982, the Toledo Blade ran a short article about two local brothers who “enjoy the distinction of having initials which spell their names.” One was Thomas Owen Matzinger (T.O.M.), the other was James Irvin Matzinger (J.I.M.). Their dad Mike said it was “just as well” that he didn’t have any more kids, because he couldn’t think of any other sets of names to fit the pattern.

My guess is that Mike was joking, because there are several other sets of initials that could work with an M-surname like Matzinger, one of which, T.I.M., is just a letter away from T.O.M.

In fact, there are at least a couple of combinations that would work with every type of surname.

So today, in honor of the Matzingers of Toledo, I’ve come up with a long list of name-spelling initials. They’re sorted by third initial (that is, the first letter of the last name) so you can scroll straight to the set that matches up with your own surname.

Enjoy!

Initials that Spell Names & Nicknames

Surname starts with:Potential full initials (& example combo):
AA.D.A. (Adelaide Diane A.)
A.N.A. (Anastasia Nadine A.)
A.S.A. (Asa Scott A.)
A.V.A. (Ava Virginia A.)
B.E.A. (Beatrix Elaine A.)
E.V.A. (Eva Veronica A.)
G.I.A. (Gia Idonea A.)
I.D.A. (Idabelle Daria A.)
I.N.A. (Ina Nigella A.)
I.R.A. (Ira Ralph A.)
I.S.A. (Isabel Simone A.)
K.I.A. (Kia Ianthe A.)
L.E.A. (Leah Elizabeth A.)
M.I.A. (Mia Imelda A.)
N.I.A. (Nia Ilona A.)
O.D.A. (Odalys Delfina A.)
O.R.A. (Ora Ruth A.)
U.M.A. (Uma Magnolia A.)
U.N.A. (Una Normina A.)
BD.E.B. (Deborah Ethel B.)
J.E.B. (Jeb Evan B.)
L.I.B. (Libbie Ione B.)
R.O.B. (Robert Orville B.)
S.E.B. (Sebastian Everly B.)
S.Y.B. (Sybil Yvette B.)
T.A.B. (Tabitha Araminta B.)
Z.E.B. (Zebulon Ezekiel B.)
CB.E.C. (Becky Eowyn C.)
M.A.C. (Mackenzie Anne C.)
N.I.C. (Nicole Isabelle C.)
V.I.C. (Victor Ivan C.)
Z.A.C. (Zackary Arlo C.)
DJ.E.D. (Jedidiah Easton D.)
R.O.D. (Rodney Orrin D.)
T.E.D. (Theodora Eugenia D.)
Z.E.D. (Zedekiah Ezra D.)
EA.B.E. (Abraham Benjamin E.)
A.C.E. (Ace Corbin E.)
E.V.E. (Eve Violet E.)
F.A.E. (Fae Adina E.)
I.K.E. (Isaac Keith E.)
J.O.E. (Joseph Owen E.)
L.E.E. (Lee Ethan E.)
M.A.E. (Maebelle Alice E.)
M.O.E. (Morris Oscar E.)
R.A.E. (Raelene Alicia E.)
S.U.E. (Susan Ursula E.)
Z.O.E. (Zoe Ocean E.)
FA.L.F. (Alfred Leonard F.)
D.U.F. (Duffy Ultan F.)
J.E.F. (Jeffrey Elliott F.)
GM.E.G. (Megan Emiliana G.)
P.E.G. (Peggy Elise G.)
R.E.G. (Reggie Elmo G.)
R.O.G. (Roger Olav G.)
HA.S.H. (Ashton Samuel H.)
IA.B.I. (Abigail Bailey I.)
A.L.I. (Alison Layla I.)
A.M.I. (Ami May I.)
A.R.I. (Ariana Rafaela I.)
A.V.I. (Avi Vincent I.)
E.D.I. (Edith Daisy I.)
E.L.I. (Elijah Logan I.)
E.V.I. (Evie Venetia I.)
J.O.I. (Joi Olivia I.)
K.A.I. (Kai Alexander I.)
O.L.I. (Oliver Lennox I.)
JR.A.J. (Rajesh Ajay J.)
KM.A.K. (Makayla Ashley K.)
O.A.K. (Oakley Atlas K.)
LC.A.L. (Callum Audley L.)
D.E.L. (Delaney Estelle L.)
G.I.L. (Gilbert Ishmael L.)
H.A.L. (Harry Archibald L.)
L.I.L. (Lillian Iva L.)
M.A.L. (Malcolm Angus L.)
M.E.L. (Melanie Eloisa L.)
M.O.L. (Molly Odette L.)
S.A.L. (Sally Angelica L.)
S.O.L. (Solomon Osborn L.)
V.A.L. (Valerie Annette L.)
W.I.L. (Willy Ingo L.)
Z.E.L. (Zelda Erin L.)
MC.A.M. (Cameron Aidan M.)
D.O.M. (Dominic Orson M.)
J.E.M. (Jemima Eleanor M.)
J.I.M. (James Irvin M.)
K.I.M. (Kimberly Imogene M.)
L.E.M. (Lemuel Emerson M.)
P.A.M. (Pamela Alys M.)
R.A.M. (Ramsey Archer M.)
S.A.M. (Samuel Aaron M.)
S.I.M. (Simon Isidore M.)
T.A.M. (Tammy Anita M.)
T.I.M. (Timothy Isaac M.)
T.O.M. (Thomas Owen M.)
NA.N.N. (Annie Nuala N.)
B.E.N. (Benjamin Ellis N.)
C.Y.N. (Cynthia Yelena N.)
D.A.N. (Daniel Avery N.)
D.O.N. (Donovan Oliver N.)
F.I.N. (Finley Ivor N.)
J.A.N. (Janice Andrina N.)
J.O.N. (Jonathan Octavian N.)
K.E.N. (Kenneth Eric N.)
L.E.N. (Leonard Earl N.)
L.Y.N. (Lynnette Yasmin N.)
N.A.N. (Nancy Azalea N.)
R.E.N. (Renato Elian N.)
R.O.N. (Ronald Ormond N.)
V.A.N. (Vanessa Athena N.)
W.I.N. (Winifred Inez N.)
Z.E.N. (Zenobia Evelyn N.)
OF.L.O. (Florence Lily O.)
L.E.O. (Leo Elton O.)
PC.A.P. (Caprice Amity P.)
K.I.P. (Kip Indigo P.)
QJ.A.Q. (Jaquan Anthony Q.)
R.A.Q. (Raquel Alaiah Q.)
RG.A.R. (Gareth Alfie R.)
SC.A.S. (Caspian Atticus S.)
G.U.S. (Gustavo Ulises S.)
J.E.S. (Jessica Esther S.)
L.E.S. (Lester Edward S.)
R.U.S. (Russell Upton S.)
W.E.S. (Wesley Elwood S.)
TA.R.T. (Arthur Roland T.)
C.A.T. (Catherine Aveline T.)
D.O.T. (Dorothy Olive T.)
M.A.T. (Matthew Alastair T.)
N.A.T. (Nathan Arnold T.)
P.A.T. (Patricia Ainsley T.)
UL.O.U. (Louisa Ophelia U.)
P.R.U. (Prudence Rhoda U.)
S.T.U. (Stuart Tucker U.)
T.R.U. (Trudie Rose U.)
VB.E.V. (Beverly Evangeline V.)
L.I.V. (Livia Indiana V.)
N.E.V. (Neville Eldon V.)
V.I.V. (Vivian Ingrid V.)
WL.A.W. (Lawson Amos W.)
L.E.W. (Lewis Edgar W.)
XB.A.X. (Baxter Andrew X.)
D.A.X. (Dax Alec X.)
D.E.X. (Dexter Edison X.)
J.A.X. (Jaxon Antony X.)
L.E.X. (Lexie Eliza X.)
M.A.X. (Maximus Alvin X.)
P.A.X. (Pax Amelia X.)
R.E.X. (Rex Elias X.)
R.O.X. (Roxanna Opal X.)
T.E.X. (Tex Emmanuel X.)
YA.M.Y. (Amy Michelle Y.)
G.U.Y. (Guy Urban Y.)
I.V.Y. (Ivy Verity Y.)
J.A.Y. (Jay Adam Y.)
J.O.Y. (Joyce Ondina Y.)
K.A.Y. (Katherine Addison Y.)
M.A.Y. (May Augusta Y.)
R.A.Y. (Raymond Adrian Y.)
R.O.Y. (Royce Oberon Y.)
S.K.Y. (Skylar Kerry Y.)
ZH.E.Z. (Hezekiah Ellery Z.)
J.E.Z. (Jezebel Eulalia Z.)
L.I.Z. (Lizzie Iris Z.)
K.I.Z. (Kizzy Isla Z.)
R.O.Z. (Rosalind Olga Z.)

Can you come up with other good ones? If so, please leave a comment!

Source: “So Named.” Toledo Blade 29 Jun. 1982: P-1.

Just Beyond Julia: Lulia, Sulia, Tulia, Zulia…

julia variants, baby names

Remember that “Julia Guglia” punchline from The Wedding Singer? It came up in conversation the other day, and it made me wonder: what other -ulia names are out there?

I don’t mean familiar Julia-variants like Giulia, Yulia, and Iulia. We already know that these exist. I mean new names coined by adding a different first letter to the tail -ulia — the same way all those different -ayden names cropped up during the -ayden craze.

So have there been -ulia names that aren’t related to Julia? Sure have. Here are the ones I found in the SSA data:

  • Eulia. Eulia pops up most often in the 1920s, which is when Eu- names like Eunice, Eugenia, Eula and Eulalia were relatively popular.
  • Kulia. This one is a borderline case. Kulia is technically a Julia-variant, being a Hawaiian form of Julia, but the initial sound is totally different. (There’s no J-sound in Hawaiian.)
  • Lulia. Like Eulia, Lulia saw usage in the early 1900s when similar names like Lula and Lulu were common. Unlike Eulia, Lulia has since returned to the charts, no doubt thanks to the current trendiness of Lily and the like. This name is also a Hawaiian form of Lydia.
  • Sulia. Sulia, which reminds me of Sula, short for Ursula, popped up once in 1991.
  • Tulia. Tulia, which reminds me of Tulip, has been on the charts several times since turn of the century.
  • Zulia. Like Sulia, Zulia has only appeared in the data once so far.

Ulia by itself has also been used as a name before, though it’s never been in the data. Going back to Hawai’i one last time, Ulia is both a Hawaiian form of Uriah and a Hawaiian word meaning “accident.”

And here are even more obscure-but-real variants I’ve gathered from the U.S. Census: Aulia, Blulia, Brulia, Bulia, Chulia, Clulia, Crulia, Culia, Drulia, Dulia, Flulia, Frulia, Fulia, Ghulia, Glulia, Grulia, Gulia, Hulia, Llulia, Mulia, Nulia, Oulia, Phulia, Plulia, Prulia, Pulia, Qulia, Rulia, Schulia, Sculia, Shulia, Smulia, Snulia, Spulia, Stulia, Thrulia, Thulia, Trulia, Uulia, Vulia, Whulia, Wulia, Xhulia, Xulia, and Zhulia.

Which of the above -ulia names above do you like best?

What’s wrong with “u”? (7 usable u-names)

letter U

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”…?

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

*

Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia

Names from Boston Burials: Huamy, Waitstill, Mehitable

My husband and I got back from Boston nearly a week ago, but I wanted to mention one more thing about the trip…

While there, we walked Boston’s Freedom Trail, which includes two historical cemeteries.

I could have spent the entire day in either one, but only got about 10 minutes in each. (My 5-year-old nieces didn’t have much interest in a field full of dead people. Go figure.)

The only bizarre name I managed to spot was Huamy in King’s Chapel Burying Ground (est. 1630).

Huamy headstone at Kings Chapel Burying Ground

Half of her stone is underground, but a mid-19th century book called Memorials of the Dead in Boston offers the full inscription:

Huamy Edridge Martin, died 1721 at 32 years old

Curiously, there was something between the “hu” and the “amy” on the stone — it could have been damage/wear, but it did look a lot like a hyphen. (Could “Hu-Amy” have been short for something? Huldah-Amy?)

The book also included all of the other King’s Chapel inscriptions, which was great, as I got to see so few of them while there.

According to the Memorials of the Dead in Boston, most of the people buried in King’s Chapel had names you’d expect: John, Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary, Nathaniel, Hannah, Samuel, Martha, etc.

But a handful others were named Eliather, Elishua, Freelove, Gilam, Grizzelle, Hopestill, Obadiah, Relief and Waitstill. (There’s also a Goderee that wasn’t listed in the book.)

I counted 6 women named Mehetabel, though the biblical spelling wasn’t used on any of the inscriptions. Instead, their names were written “Mehetable,” “Mehitable” or “Mehitabel.”

Speaking of variant spellings, I also spotted a Millesent, a Bartholomey, a Ledia, a Returne, and an Urssileur (Ursula).

…And that’s all I’ve got for King’s Chapel. At some point I’ll also post about the names at the Old Granary Burial Ground (the Freedom Trail’s other graveyard) but for now I’ll leave you with this gratuitous shot of one of my impish nieces:

niece scraping mud off headstone
My niece scraping mud off a headstone.

Source: Bridgman, Thomas. Memorials of the Dead in Boston. Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey & Co., 1853.