How popular is the baby name Wilhelm 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 Wilhelm.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Wilhelm


Posts that Mention the Name Wilhelm

The Judd Family of Hawaii

The Judd family of Hawaii on the 1940 U.S. Census
The Judd family on 1940 U.S. Census

Hawaiian couple Raymond and Anna Judd had at least 8 children during the 1920s and 1930s.

On the 1940 U.S. Census, their children are listed as Raymond Jr., Louise, James, Maxwell, Lydia, Lehua, Reginald, and Nayland.

But their full names were really…

  • Raymond Murray Laniolaikapikoihiihilauakea (b. 1922)
  • Louise Julia Kalaninuiahilepalepa (b. 1923)
  • James Haulukaokeahienaena (b. 1924)
  • Maxwell Winfred Kuuleimamoulukapaehuokalani (b. 1927)
  • Lydia Anna Haleakala (b. 1928)
  • Marvelle Pauline Kaualililehua “Lehua” (b. 1930)
  • Reginald Wilhelm Kananinoheaokuuhomeopuukaimanaalohilohinokeaweaweulamakaokalani (b. 1936)
  • Nayland Clayton Kaleinaonalani (b. 1938)

At least two of these names ended up making the news.

The one that popped up in papers worldwide was Reginald’s Hawaiian name, which had 63 letters and was said to mean “the beautiful aroma of my home at sparkling diamond hill is carried to the eyes of heaven.” I don’t know how accurate this definition is, but I could find some of the corresponding Hawaiian words — like pu’u (meaning “hill”), kaimana (“diamond”), ‘alohilohi (“sparkling”), and maka (“eyes”) — in the name.

Clipping from the Daily Examiner in Australia (Oct. 12, 1936).
Daily Examiner (Australia), 1936

A decade earlier, Maxwell’s Hawaiian name was also in the news — at least locally.

Clipping from the Honolulu Advertiser (Jan. 12, 1927).
Honolulu Advertiser, 1927

I couldn’t find a translation of Maxwell’s Hawaiian name, or translations for any of the other Hawaiian names. (In fact, I’m not even 100% sure about the spellings of those names.) Regardless, here are some observations…

  • Raymond’s Hawaiian name, Laniolaikapikoihiihilauakea, seems to refer to the ‘ihi’ihilauakea — a fern endemic to Hawaii.
  • James’s Hawaiian name, Haulukaokeahienaena, seems to refer to a raging fire: ke (“the”), ahi (“fire”), ‘ena’ena (“glowing, red-hot, raging”).
  • Lydia’s Hawaiian name, Haleakala, was the middle name of her grandmother (Louise Haleakala, b. 1879) and the first name of her great-grandmother (Haleaka, b. 1847). The word means “house of the sun” and refers to the volcano on Maui.
  • Marvelle’s nickname, Lehua, from her Hawaiian name Kaualililehua, refers to the Lehua plant.

What are your thoughts on these names?

Sources:

The Top Baby Name Rises, 1881 to Today

Many years ago, I published a list of the top debut baby names. A few years after that, I posted a list of the top one-hit wonder baby names.

So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.

Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)

  • 1881: Isa, 240%; Noble, 333%
  • 1882: Clementine, 300%; Clarance, 300%
  • 1883: Malissa, 243%; Alf, 150%
  • 1884: Belva, 1,220%; Grover, 532%
  • 1885: Phebe, 220%; Bryant, 200%
  • 1886: Felicia, 180%; Thornton, 240%
  • 1887: Ossie, 240%; Aubrey, 240%
  • 1888: Bennie, 250%; Thurman, 414%
  • 1889: Diana, 233%; Grady, 267%
  • 1890: Easter, 238%; Isaiah, 215%
  • 1891: Lutie, 200%; Colonel, 217%
  • 1892: Lollie, 271%; Pierce, 340%
  • 1893: Annabell, 240%; Lindsay, 320%
  • 1894: Versie, 320%; Alvie, 233%
  • 1895: Glenn, 283%; Alma, 220%
  • 1896: Vernice, 217%; Hobart, 744%
  • 1897: Sigrid, 200%; Roswell, 183%
  • 1898: Manila, 1,386%; Dewey, 606%
  • 1899: Tula, 280%; Rogers, 220%
  • 1900: Rosia, 480%; Wilber, 417%
  • 1901: Dellie, 180%; Kermit, 183%
  • 1902: Lolita, 420%; Judge, 260%
  • 1903: Rafaela, 280%; Jordan, 250%
  • 1904: Amber, 314%; Adelbert, 260%
  • 1905: Orma, 300%; Armand, 222%
  • 1906: Ena, 456%; Sheldon, 240%
  • 1907: Lota & Tula, 240%; Quincy, 183%
  • 1908: Bernetta & Nila, 260%; Taft, 288%
  • 1909: Laverna & Nevada, 267%; Toney, 300%
  • 1910: Cleopatra, 240%; Arturo & Sammy, 283%
  • 1911: Maryellen, 280%; Vincenzo & Wyman, 320%
  • 1912: Marina, 420%; Woodrow, 1,423%
  • 1913: Carroll, 263%; Rosendo, 320%
  • 1914: Lucyle, 280%; Irvine, 333%
  • 1915: Zudora, 460%; Charlton, 320%
  • 1916: Aldena, 291%; Tatsuo, 850%
  • 1917: Liberty, 617%; Masami, 338%
  • 1918: Kazuko, 320%; Quentin, 567%
  • 1919: Verbie, 300%; Belvin, 360%
  • 1920: Marcene, 386%; Harding, 718%
  • 1921: Elwanda, 1,860%; Gareth, 560%
  • 1922: Carley, 320%; Colie, 340%
  • 1923: Eris, 1,313%; Coolidge, 820%
  • 1924: Janeth, 517%; Phyllis, 260%
  • 1925: Murlene & Normalee, 260%; Estell & Unknown, 214%
  • 1926: Ileana, 633%; Jarrell & Lenoard, 240%
  • 1927: Charmaine, 825%; Lindbergh, 867%
  • 1928: Jeannine, 1,147%; Hoover, 522%
  • 1929: Dorla, 800%; Davey, 889%
  • 1930: Arlayne, 317%; Derl, 1,060%
  • 1931: Marlene, 745%; Colbert, 280%
  • 1932: Harlene, 270%; Delano, 1,057%
  • 1933: Sharleen, 425%; Delano, 289%
  • 1934: Adriana, 283%; Kelvin, 360%
  • 1935: Norita, 1,171%; Darwyn, 458%
  • 1936: Shelba, 2,667%; Lonzie, 320%
  • 1937: Deanna, 2,009%; Tyrone, 788%

The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot more accurate starting in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…

  • 1938: Danielle, 878%; Dion, 355%
  • 1939: Brenda, 308%; Hall, 280%
  • 1940: Scarlett, 743%; Clemmie, 257%
  • 1941: Jerilyn, 1,250%; Rulon, 250%
  • 1942: Michal, 1,520%; Macarthur, 2,740%
  • 1943: Shaaron, 456%; Suzanne, 240%
  • 1944: Dorinda, 568%; Kennedy, 280%
  • 1945: Lauren, 709%; Dorian, 220%
  • 1946: Jacalyn, 740%; Cornel, 533%
  • 1947: Jolinda, 388%; Brock, 364%
  • 1948: Sharman, 275%; Kevan, 260%
  • 1949: Lorry, 360%; Hanson, 240%
  • 1950: Vallorie, 717%; Brion, 400%
  • 1951: Krystal, 588%; Denise, 350%
  • 1952: Pandora, 1,100%; Corby & Wilhelm, 240%
  • 1953: Angelique, 1,157%; Shane, 392%
  • 1954: Sheree, 756%; Dain, 360%
  • 1955: Sabrina, 711%; Davy, 509%
  • 1956: Venetia, 543%; Cheyenne, 680%
  • 1957: Tammy, 1,591%; Tammy, 467%
  • 1958: Keely, 1,100%; Bret, 680%
  • 1959: Torri, 411%; Efrem, 963%
  • 1960: Lisha, 1,096%; Stephon, 1,200%
  • 1961: Marisol, 481%; Parrish, 1,460%
  • 1962: Penne, 447%; Chance, 350%
  • 1963: Tamiko, 1,440%; Tal, 617%
  • 1964: Deneen, 7,191%; Temple, 420%
  • 1965: Fontella, 880%; Branden, 340%
  • 1966: Tabatha, 9,900%; Heath, 1,070%
  • 1967: Anisa, 1,600%; Garrison, 320%
  • 1968: Coretta, 2,485%; Dustin, 778%
  • 1969: Lalena, 640%; Jeromy, 514%
  • 1970: Shiloh, 540%; Jermaine, 3,320%
  • 1971: Ashli, 1,900%; Jermaine, 494%
  • 1972: Catina, 9,033%; Demond, 3,920%
  • 1973: Cicely, 1,827%; Caine, 780%
  • 1974: Nakia, 16,100%; Rashad, 1,100%
  • 1975: Rasheda, 988%; Jamaal, 688%
  • 1976: Rhiannon, 1,713%; Seneca, 1,429%
  • 1977: Shawntae, 686%; Lavar, 5,480%
  • 1978: Aja, 3,407%; Dequan, 988%
  • 1979: Renada, 780%; Yoel, 525%
  • 1980: Genese, 1,920%; Rayshaun, 440%
  • 1981: Krystle, 1,623%; Cavin, 833%
  • 1982: Jere, 1,000%; Colt, 1,620%
  • 1983: Ciji, 2,950%; Remington, 657%
  • 1984: Santana, 3,467%; Ryne, 424%
  • 1985: Kayleigh, 2,914%; Jaymes, 769%
  • 1986: Kyrie, 3,180%; Orry, 789%
  • 1987: Janay, 1,168%; Jareth, 400%
  • 1988: Whitley, 916%; Nico, 860%
  • 1989: Audriana, 3,467%; Alexande, 4,917%
  • 1990: Alannah, 1,583%; Tevin, 4,569%
  • 1991: Tanairi, 820%; Devante, 1,356%
  • 1992: Darian, 703%; Jalen, 3,980%
  • 1993: Coraima, 4,320%; Savon, 2,457%
  • 1994: Aaliyah, 6,495%; Romario, 1,940%
  • 1995: Iridian, 1,845%; Tristin, 747%
  • 1996: Alanis, 1,047%; Json, 880%
  • 1997: Yulisa, 2,729%, Ennis, 620%
  • 1998: Jazsmin, 960%; Denilson, 900%
  • 1999: Tionne, 1,100%; Sincere, 647%
  • 2000: Litzy, 1,189%; Elian, 2,413%
  • 2001: Nevaeh, 1,111%; Jaheim, 5,440%
  • 2002: Lashanti, 2,060%; Omarion, 8,260%
  • 2003: Azeneth, 1,913%; Andon, 2,200%
  • 2004: Betzaida, 1,233%; Jakwon, 1,260%
  • 2005: Mikalah, 1,906%; Talan, 2,130%
  • 2006: Bethzy; 2,636%; Dereon, 1,217%
  • 2007: Jaslene, 9,920%; Leonidas & Renner, 700%
  • 2008: Dayami, 3,464%; Barack, 940%
  • 2009: Baya, 1,020%; Dhani, 520%
  • 2010: Collins, 1,557%; Bentlee, 733%
  • 2011: Thaily, 1,400%; Neymar, 900%
  • 2012: Cataleya, 2,182%; Long, 740%
  • 2013: Daleyza, 1,055%; Jaiceon, 1,057%
  • 2014: Aranza, 1,297%; Jameis, 720%
  • 2015: Vail, 700%; Rhydian, 667%
  • 2016: Kehlani, 571%; Kylo, 580%
  • 2017: Westlynn, 600%; Oseias, 1,080%
  • 2018: Maleni, 950%; Atreus, 1,888%
  • 2019: Yalitza, 1,490%; Ermias, 3,360%
  • 2020: Ehlani, 2,100%; Omere, 460%
  • 2021: Thyri, 1,033%; Calian, 914%

(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…

Name Quotes #28: Keira, Delta, Irmelin

Keira Knightley quote

From an interview with Keira Knightley in Elle (UK):

Keira also revealed that she was never intended to be called Keira.

‘I was meant to be named “Kiera”, after a Russian ice skater who was on the TV one day. My dad fancied her and nicked her name for me. But it was my mum who went to register my birth, and she accidentally spelled “ei” instead of “ie” because my mum’s crap at spelling.

‘Apparently, when she came back he said: “WHAT THE F*CK? You’ve spelt her name wrong!” What were they going to do, though? Once it’s on the piece of paper, it’s on the piece of paper. And that’s me. A spelling error.’

[The skater was likely Kira Ivanova, who won a bronze medal for the USSR at the 1984 Winter Olympics.]

From There’s Something About Nutella (about the French parents who tried to name their baby Nutella) by lawyer Wes Anderson:

If only the parents lived in the United States, then they may likely have realized their dream. While many European countries place various restrictions on baby names, American parents may generally use a trademark as a personal name, so long as it is a word mark and both parents consent to the name. Brand loyalty may have some limits abroad, but the courts on our shores would hardly object to baby Nutella.

From Parents seek unique names for their children in The Japan News:

Under the Family Registration Law, about 3,000 kanji can be used for a person’s name, including joyo kanji (kanji designated for common use) and kanji exclusively used for people’s names. Hiragana and katakana can be used as well. However, there are no rules regarding how a kanji character should be read in a name or how long the name can be.

In recent years, more and more variations are showing up in children’s names with nonstandard pronunciations apparently becoming prominent. For example, the kanji “kokoro” (heart) is often read “ko” these days, while “ai” (love) is read “a.”

[…]

At one kindergarten in Kanagawa Prefecture, teachers write down the phonetic readings of all the new pupils’ names on the roll before the entrance ceremony to check how they should be read.

“It’s a shock for parents to hear their children’s names read out incorrectly,” a staff member of the kindergarten said.

Tamago Club, a magazine for expecting mothers published by Benesse Corp., is calling on readers to avoid names whose kanji readings are too different from the norm.

From the book The Leonardo DiCaprio Album by Brian J. Robb:

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles on 11th November 1974 to burnt-out hippie parents who named him after the Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci. His mother, German-born Irmelin Indenbirken, chose her son’s name after feeling him kicking in the womb as she stood in front of a Da Vinci painting in the Uffizi Gallery in Venice, Italy.

From Why We Like Boys Better Than Girls (Or At Least Their Names) by Laura Wattenberg:

Our modern naming age sees lots of names flowing around the gender divide. Some traditional male names, like Micah and Riley, are showing up more and more on the girls’ side. Other names with no traditional gender link, like word names, place names, and surnames, are flipping back and forth or remaining unisex. But even in this fluid, creative naming culture, I challenge you to find a traditionally female name that is given to boys. Much as a reference to running or fighting “like a girl” is taken as an insult, so do we shrink from any hint of girliness in our boys’ names. As a result, the move toward androgyny in baby names turns out to look an awful lot like masculinization.

[…]

Names have enormous symbolic power. They send messages. What message would it send to girls if the women of the U.S. Supreme Court were named Raymond, Simon and Elliot instead of Ruth, Sonia and Elena? Just as we may wish for a future where “running like a girl” means “running as fast and long as you can,” I’m rooting for a future where a little Leia is considered just as bold and confident as a girl dressed — or named — like Han.

From the Survivor Wiki page about Neleh Davis, the runner-up from Survivor: Marquesas (2002):

Neleh Dennis was born in Heber City, Utah, and is one of eight siblings (five brothers, Tom, John, Devin, Nathan, and Landon, and two sisters, McKenna and Robyn). She was named after her maternal grandmother, Helen. Same name, only spelled backwards.

From an interview with Dax Shepard [vid] on Ellen:

Ellen: Where does the name Delta come from, was that something you had thought of before?

Dax: So Delta actually–it was a joke, because our first daughter’s name is Lincoln, which is very masculine, so a friend of mine teasingly texted me, “Oh great, what’s this one gonna be, Navy Seal? Delta Force? Green Beret?” And I was reading this text out loud to Kristen, I’m like, “Oh listen to how funny this is, Steve said, what if we named her Delta Force” and I was like…Delta! Delta Bell Shepard, that’s it! And that’s it.

Have a nice weekend, all!

The 20 children of Johann Sebastian Bach

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
Johann Sebastian Bach

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) had a total of 20 children.

He had seven with his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach (who was his 2nd cousin). Four of these children survived to adulthood.

  1. Catharina Dorothea (1708-1774)
  2. Wilhelm Friedemann (1710-1784)
  3. Maria Sophia [twin] (1713)
  4. Johann Christoph [twin] (1713)
  5. Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788)
  6. Johann Gottfried Bernhard (1715-1739)
  7. Leopold Augustus (1718-1719)

The other 13 he had with his second wife, Anna Magdalena Wilcke. Six survived to adulthood.

  1. Christiana Sophia Henrietta (1723-1726)
  2. Gottfried Heinrich (1724-1763)
  3. Christian Gottlieb (1725-1728)
  4. Elisabeth Juliana Friderica (1726-1781)
  5. Ernestus Andreas (1727)
  6. Regina Johanna (1728-1733)
  7. Christiana Benedicta Louisa (1730)
  8. Christiana Dorothea (1731-1732)
  9. Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732-1795)
  10. Johann August Abraham (1733)
  11. Johann Christian (1735-1782)
  12. Johanna Carolina (1737-1781)
  13. Regina Susanna (1742-1800)

Do you like any of these names? If so, which ones?

Sources:

  • David, Hans T., Arthur Mendel and Christoph Wolff. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.
  • Schulenberg, David. Bach. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Where did the name Wilbrod come from?

Statue of St. Willibrord in Luxembourg
St. Willibrord

A reader named Sam sent me a great question several days ago:

I remember my late great-grandfather very fondly and have been thinking about passing on his name as a middle name for a son. However, there’s one catch: his name was Wilbrod, and I don’t know a thing about the name. I’ve never met any other Wilbrods, and what little I’ve been able to dig up is that it’s the name of a street in Ottawa and a rare but not entirely unheard of first and last name in certain francophone groups (historically) and in East Africa (currently). My great-grandfather was himself Canadian, of predominantly Ojibwe and partly either French or Belgian heritage. I’d love to know a little about the name’s history and meaning, if you have any information about it.

I can see why this one would be hard to research. Not only is it rare, but the historical figure who popularized it goes by a different spelling.

The name Wilbrod can be traced back to St. Willibrord (658-739), an Anglo-Saxon missionary who became the first Bishop of Utrecht in 695. Today he’s considered the patron saint of the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

According to one source, “Wilbrod” is a specifically French form of the name. Other forms include Wilbrord, Wilebrode, Wilibrord, Willbrord, Willebrode and Willibrode.

What does it mean?

Well, like many Germanic names, it contains two elements.

The first element comes from the word willa, meaning “will, wish, desire.” We can see this element in various Anglo-Saxon words, such as:

  • wilboda, meaning “welcome messenger”
  • wildæg, meaning “wished-for day”
  • wilgæst, meaning “welcome guest”
  • wils?ð, meaning “desired journey”
  • willspell, meaning “good tidings”
  • wilðegu, meaning “agreeable food”

We can also identify it in several modern names/surnames, including:

  • William/Wilhelm, a combination of “will, desire” and “helmet, protection”
  • Wilbert, “will, desire” and “bright”
  • Wilfred/Wilfried, “will, desire” and “peace”
  • Willard, “will, desire” and “brave, hardy”
  • Wilmer, “will, desire” and “fame”

The second element in Willibrord is the word brord, meaning “a prick or point, a lance, javelin, the first blade or spire of grass or corn.”

Though it’s tempting to merge the definitions of the two elements into a phrase like “desired lance,” it may be more accurate not to, as compound Germanic names were not always constructed with meaning in mind. Name elements were sometimes simply passed down from one generation to the next, for instance. (The first part of St. Willibrord’s name likely came from the name of his father, Wilgils.)

P.S. Wilbrod Street in the Sandy Hill district of Ottawa was named for one of the sons of former landowner Louis-Théodore Besserer.

Sources:

  • Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary
  • Ferguson, Robert. The Teutonic Name-System Applied to the Family Names of France, England, & Germany. London: Williams & Norgate, 1864.
  • Latham, Edward. A Dictionary of Names, Nicknames and Surnames of Persons, Places and Things. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1904.
  • Orel, Vladimir. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden: Brill, 2003.
  • Smith, William and Henry Wace. A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines. London: John Murray, 1887.
  • Stevenson, W. H. “The Christian Name William.” Notes and Queries 3 Apr. 1886: 272.
  • Willibrord – Wikipedia

Image: Adapted from Echternach Statue Willibrord by Palauenc05 under CC BY-SA 4.0.