How popular is the baby name Velvet in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Velvet.

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Popularity of the baby name Velvet

Posts that mention the name Velvet

Where did the baby name Weena come from in 1962?

The character Weena from the movie "The Time Machine" (1960).
Weena from “The Time Machine

The peculiar name Weena popped up in the data a few times in the 1960s and 1970s, starting in ’62:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Weena [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted


My best guess is the movie The Time Machine, an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi story The Time Machine (1895). The movie was released mid-1960, so this is a slightly late debut, but the baby name matches up perfectly with the name of the primary female character, Weena (played by Yvette Mimieux).

The protagonist is an English time traveler who jumps hundreds of thousands of years into the future and discovers that humans have split into two species: the childlike Eloi, who live above ground, and the barbaric Morlocks, who live below ground.

name weena, time machine

He befriends a female Eloi, and eventually learns that her name is “Weena.”

Here’s the quote from the book:

Then I tried talk, and found that her name was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it meant, somehow seemed appropriate enough.

And here’s the scene from the film:

TT: “Well, what’s your name?”
W: “Wee-nah.”
TT: “Weena?”
W: (nods)
TT: “How do you spell it?”
W: “…Spell?”
TT: “Spell. Write. Can’t you write?”
W: (blank stare)
TT: (writes WEENA in the dirt)

I don’t think Wells left a record of how he came up with the name Weena for his Eloi character, but he may have been inspired by the name Edwina, which was more common in Victorian England than it is in modern America. (It’s the feminine form of the Old English name Edwin, meaning “wealth” + “friend.”)

Speaking of Edwina…the baby name Edwina happened to see a usage spike in in 1962, and the short form Wina appeared in the data in 1961 and 1962 (only). But I don’t think Weena from Time Machine had much to do with it — I think these spellings point to the character Edwina Brown from the TV show National Velvet (1960-1962), which also boosted the name Velvet to peak usage in 1961.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Weena? How about Edwina?

Sources: The Time Machine – Wikipedia, The Time Machine (1960) –

The baby names Shevawn and Siobhan

Actress Siobhan McKenna on the cover of LIFE magazine (Sept. 10, 1956)
Siobhán McKenna

Tara, Maeve, and many of the other Irish names used in the U.S. today weren’t introduced and popularized by Irish immigrants. Instead, they gained traction (among the descendants of Irish immigrants) after being introduced to the U.S. public via movies, television, and other types of pop culture.

Siobhan is no different. But it’s also a special case, because Americans heard about the name before they saw it written down. The result? The traditional Irish spelling made a splash on the U.S. baby name charts…but only after an anglicized spelling variant had made a similar splash. In fact, the misspelled version and the correctly spelled version were consecutive top girl name debuts in the mid-1950s.

So who’s the person behind the launch of Siobhan? Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923-1986).

In 1955, McKenna was nominated for a Tony for her role as Miss Madrigal in the play The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold (who had written National Velvet two decades earlier). The same year, the name Shevawn debuted in the U.S. data:

  • 1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
  • 1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

The spellings Shevon, Shevonne, Chavonne, and Chevonne also debuted in ’55.

The next year, Siobhán McKenna impressed audiences with her portrayal of Joan of Arc in the George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan. Her popularity in this role earned her the cover of LIFE magazine in September. Next to her image was her name, Siobhan, spelled correctly (but missing the fada). Right on cue, the name Siobhan debuted in the data:

  • 1958: 54 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1957: 67 baby girls named Siobhan
  • 1956: 58 baby girls named Siobhan [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

Once U.S. parents learned how to spell “Siobhan,” the alternative spellings became less common, though they remained in use.

Siobhan was boosted into the top 1,000 in 1979 and remained popular during the 1980s thanks to the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, which introduced a character named Siobhan in 1978.

It’s rather fitting that Siobhán McKenna was best known for playing Saint Joan, as both “Siobhán” and “Joan” were derived from the name Jeanne, which is French feminine form of John (meaning “Yahweh is gracious”).

How do you feel about the name Siobhan? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Update, 3/2018: Here’s some new info on Shevawn!

Sources: Siobhán McKenna – Wikipedia, SSA
Image: © 1956 Life

What popularized the baby name Velvet?

Poster for the movie "National Velvet" (1944).
“National Velvet” movie poster

In the early 1900s, not many baby girls were named Velvet.

The 1935 publication of Enid Bagnold’s book National Velvet — which featured a 14-year-old main character named Velvet Brown — didn’t change the situation appreciably.

But when the book’s movie adaptation — which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney — was released at the very end of 1944, the baby name Velvet became more popular. In fact, it re-emerged in the U.S. baby name data rather impressively the following year:

  • 1947: 16 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1946: 33 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1945: 36 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: unlisted

The thing that really gave the name Velvet a boost, though? The television adaptation, which aired on NBC from 1960 to 1962 and starred Lori Martin as Velvet Brown.

  • 1965: 85 baby girls named Velvet
  • 1964: 117 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 988th)
  • 1963: 143 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 883rd)
  • 1962: 261 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 626th)
  • 1961: 331 baby girls named Velvet (ranked 542nd)
  • 1960: 74 baby girls named Velvet

Those four years (1961-1964) are the only years Velvet ranked among the 1,000 most popular baby girl names in the U.S.

(The name Lori saw peak usage in the early ’60s as well, and the name of Velvet’s sister Edwina also got a boost.)

Nowadays, the popularity of Velvet is close to what it was 100 years ago.

  • 2011: 9 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2010: 5 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2009: 9 baby girls named Velvet
  • 2008: 17 baby girls named Velvet

Do you like the name Velvet?

P.S. The word velvet can be traced back to the Latin word villus, meaning “shaggy hair” or “tuft of hair.”