The ABC’s of #1 Names, 1880-2015

Have you ever wondered what the most popular name was for each letter of the alphabet?

Two years ago I began a mini-project to find that out for every year since 1880, the first year for which the Social Security Administration publishes birth data.  At some point I walked away from it and forgot about it, only to recall it last week.  So, two years later, I finally can visualize exactly how long Felicia was the number one ‘F’ name or how many times the letter ‘I’ changed hands between Isaac and Ira since the late 19th-century.

Below you’ll see every #1 name per letter for the past 136 years, according to the available SSA birth data.  The birth data is incomplete and not always accurate in the years before around 1937, but I’ve included those early years as well.  They still provide a general sense of the truly popular names, and you’ll spot some gems among the rarer letters.  Come on, who doesn’t get excited to see Zeno or Queenie at #1?


  • Anna (1880-1929), Alice (1930-1941, 1944), Ann (1942, 1943, 1945-1959), Angela (1960-1968), Amy (1969-1978), Amanda (1979-1983), Ashley (1984-1998, 2000, 2001), Alexis (1999, 2002), Abigail (2003-2005), Ava (2006-Present)
  • Arthur (1880-1904, 1906, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1920-1947), Albert (1905, 1907-1911, 1913-1916, 1919), Anthony (1948-1978, 2007), Andrew (1979-1994, 1997-2006), Austin (1995, 1996), Alexander (2008-Present)


  • Bertha (1880-1888, 1890-1893, 1895-1897, 1899, 1901, 1904, 1907-1912), Bessie (1889, 1894, 1898, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1905, 1906), Beatrice (1913-1916), Betty (1917-1934), Barbara (1935-1960), Brenda (1961-1974), Brandy (1975-1982), Brandi (1983), Brittany (1984-1996), Brianna (1997-2010), Brooklyn (2011-Present)
  • Benjamin (1880-1909, 2005-Present), Bernard (1910-1925), Billy (1926-1945), Bruce (1946-1956), Brian (1957-1983), Brandon (1984-2004)


  • Clara (1880-1905), Catherine (1906-1931), Carol (1932-1952), Cynthia (1953-1966), Christine (1967-1972), Christina (1973-1980, 1985-1988), Crystal (1981-1984), Courtney (1989, 1990, 1993-1999), Chelsea (1991, 1992), Chloe (2000-2012), Charlotte (2013-Present)
  • Charles (1880-1964), Christopher (1965-2013), Carter (2014-Present)


  • Daisy (1880, 1882, 1883), Dora (1881, 1884-1893), Dorothy (1894-1942), Donna (1943-1949, 1959-1967), Deborah (1950-1955), Debra (1956-1958), Dawn (1968-1975), Danielle (1976-1997), Destiny (1998-2012), Delilah (2013-Present)
  • David (1880-1897, 1899-1911, 1939-1984, 1986-1989), Dewey (1898), Donald (1912-1938), Daniel (1985, 1990-Present)


  • Emma (1880-1886, 2008-Present), Elizabeth (1887-1895, 1897-1991), Ethel (1896), Emily (1992-2007)
  • Edward (1880-1964), Eric (1965-1997), Ethan (1998-Present)


  • Florence (1880-1909), Frances (1910-1965), Felicia (1966-1994), Faith (1995-Present)
  • Frank (1880-1990), Francisco (1991-2005, 2007, 2012-2014), Fernando (2006, 2008-2011), Finn (2015/Present)


  • Grace (1880-1900, 1999-Present), Gladys (1901-1924), Gloria (1925-1953, 1960-1962), Gail (1954-1959), Gina (1963-1987), Gabrielle (1988-1998)
  • George (1880-1944), Gary (1945-1961), Gregory (1962-1993), Gabriel (1994-Present)


  • Hattie (1880-1884), Helen (1885-1963), Holly (1964), Heidi (1965, 1966), Heather (1967-1991), Hannah (1992-2009, 2011, 2012), Hailey (2010), Harper (2013-Present)
  • Henry (1880-1887, 1890, 1894-1914, 1952-1956, 1959-1991, 2012, 2014-Present), Harry (1888, 1889, 1891-1893), Harold (1915-1951, 1957, 1958), Hunter (1992-2011, 2013)


  • Ida (1880-1900), Irene (1901-1984, 1987-1989), India (1985, 1986), Isabel (1990, 1992, 1993), Iesha (1991), Isabella (1994-Present)
  • Isaac (1880, 1882, 1886, 1893, 1896, 1899, 1904, 1909, 2003, 2007-Present), Ira (1881, 1883-1885, 1887-1892, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1898, 1900-1903, 1905, 1907, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1937-1957, 1960), Irving (1906, 1908, 1910-1929), Ivan (1931, 1934-1936, 1958, 1959, 1961-1966), Ian (1967-1996), Isaiah (1997-2002, 2004-2006)


  • Jennie (1880-1884, 1886-1889, 1891), Julia (1885, 1890, 1892-1898, 1900, 2008-Present), Josephine (1899, 1901-1920), Jean (1921-1929), Joan (1930-1938), Judith (1939-1949), Janet (1950-1957), Julie (1958-1965), Jennifer (1966-1984), Jessica (1985-2005), Jasmine (2006, 2007)
  • John (1880-1928, 1961-1965, 1968), James (1929-1960, 1966, 1967, 1969-1972), Jason (1973-1982), Joshua (1983-1994), Jacob (1995-Present)


  • Katherine (1880-1929), Kathleen (1930-1937, 1947-1950), Karen (1938-1946, 1951-1965), Kimberly (1966-1977, 1979-1987), Kelly (1978), Kayla (1988-2008), Kaylee (2009-2014), Kennedy (2015/Present)
  • Kenneth (1880, 1889-1958), Karl (1881-1888), Kevin (1959-1989, 2000-Present), Kyle (1990-1999)


  • Laura (1880-1887, 1982-1985), Lillian (1888-1923, 2013, 2014), Lois (1924-1937), Linda (1938-1960), Lisa (1961-1981), Lauren (1986-2006), Lily (2007-2012, 2015/Present)
  • Louis (1880-1931), Lawrence (1932-1934), Larry (1935-1983), Luis (1984-1994), Logan (1995-2010), Liam (2011-Present)


  • Mary (1880-1966), Michelle (1967-1974), Melissa (1975-1984), Megan (1985-1996), Madison (1997-2011), Mia (2012-Present)
  • Michael (1880, 1885-1922, 1935-2010), Martin (1881-1884), Melvin (1923-1926), Marvin (1927-1934), Mason (2011-Present)


  • Nellie (1880-1919), Norma (1920-1929), Nancy (1930-1969), Nicole (1970-2000), Natalie (2001-Present)
  • Nathan (1880, 1882, 1971-1977), Norman (1881, 1883-1966), Nicholas (1967-1970, 1978-2005), Noah (2006-Present)


  • Olive (1880-1903), Opal (1904-1939), Olivia (1940-1955, 1958, 1965, 1974-Present), Olga (1956, 1957, 1959-1964, 1966-1973)
  • Oscar (1880-1978, 1981-2001)), Omar (1979, 1980), Owen (2002-2013), Oliver (2014-Present)


  • Pearl (1880-1910), Pauline (1910-1923), Patricia (1924-1989), Paige (1990-2007), Peyton (2008-2013), Penelope (2014-Present)
  • Peter (1880-1885), Paul (1886-1982), Patrick (1983-2006), Parker (2007-Present)


  • Queen (1880-1883, 1885-1969), Queenie (1884), Quanda (1970), Quintina (1971-1974), Qiana (1975-1979), Quiana (1980-1987, 1989), Quinn (1988, 1992-Present), Quanisha (1990, 1991)
  • Quincy (1880-1883, 1885-1892, 1894-1903, 1905, 1907, 1909-1912, 1915, 1917, 1974-1981), Quince (1884), N/A (1893), Quentin (1904, 1908, 1913, 1914, 1916, 1918-1959, 1963-1973, 1982-1989, 1995-1998), Quinton (1906, 1990, 1990-1994), Quintin (1960-1962), Quinn (1999-Present)


  • Rose (1880-1890), Ruth (1891-1948), Rebecca (1949-1956, 1967-1983), Robin (1957-1965), Rhonda (1966), Rachel (1984-2006), Riley (2007-Present)
  • Robert (1880-1989), Ryan (1990-Present)


  • Sarah (1880-1920, 1977-1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999-2002), Shirley (1921-1940), Sandra (1941-1947), Susan (1948-1970), Stephanie (1971-1976), Samantha (1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2003-2005), Sophia (2006-Present)
  • Samuel (1880-1914, 1994-Present), Stanley (1915-1939), Stephen (1940-1949), Steven (1950-1961, 1964-1967, 1976-1993), Scott (1962, 1963, 1968-1975)


  • Theresa (1880-1897, 1941-1950), Thelma (1898-1940), Teresa (1951-1962), Tammy (1963-1973), Tracy (1974, 1975), Tiffany (1976-1991), Taylor (1992-Present)
  • Thomas (1880-1966, 1968-1975, 1982-1989, 2013-Present), Timothy (1967, 1976-1981), Tyler (1990-2012)


  • Una (1880-1904, 1906-1908, 1910-1922, 1924-1926, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1938, 1940), Ursula (1905, 1909, 1923, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1933, 1935-1937, 1939, 1941-1945, 1960-1988), Unknown* (1946-1959, 1989-1991, 1995), Unique (1992-1994, 1996-Present)
  • Ulysses (1880-1948, 1962-1988), Unknown (1949-1961, 1989, 1991), Uriel (1990, 1992-Present)


  • Viola (1880-1906), Virginia (1907-1953), Vicki (1954-1958), Valerie (1959-1968), Victoria (1969-1971, 1989-Present), Veronica (1972-1978), Vanessa (1979-1988)
  • Victor (1880-1906, 1908-1910, 1918, 1942-1945, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1974-1987, 1992-2009), Virgil (1907), Vincent (1911-1917, 1940, 1941, 1946-1953, 1955, 1958-1973, 1988-1991, 2010-Present), Vernon (1919-1939)


  • Willie** (1880-1920, 1922, 1923), Wilma (1921, 1924, 1925), Wanda (1926-1959), Wendy (1960-1983, 2001-2007), Whitney (1984-2000), Willow (2008-Present)
  • William (1880-Present)


  • N/A*** (1880-1893, 1896, 1898-1911, 1922, 1924, 1936-1938, 1940, 1942-1944, 1951, 1953, 1957), Xenia (1894, 1895, 1897, 1912-1921, 1923, 1925-1935, 1939, 1941, 1945-1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1968), Xochitl (1955, 1967, 1971-1977, 1979), Xiomara (1958, 1960-1964, 1969, 1970, 1978, 1980-1995, 1999, 2000), Xan (1965, 1966), Xena (1996-1998), Ximena (2001-Present)
  • N/A (1880-1885, 1887-1889, 1891-1893, 1895, 1898-1906, 1908-1911), Xavier (1886, 1890, 1894, 1896, 1897, 1907, 1912-Present)


  • Yetta (1880, 1884-1891, 1896), N/A (1881), Yvonne (1892-1895, 1897-1966), Yolanda (1967-1986), Yesenia (1987-2003), Yasmin (2004-2009), Yaretzi (2010-Present)
  • Young (1880-1887, 1889-1892, 1895-1899, 1901-1904, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1935, 1936, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1955), York (1888, 1905), Yee (1893, 1894), Yancy (1900, 1958-1975), Ysidro (1906, 1933, 1937, 1940, 1941, 1943-1946, 1953, 1956), Yale (1908, 1939, 1942, 1951, 1952), Ygnacio (1910, 1934), Yoshio (1913-1930, 1932), Yukio (1931), Yvonne (1938), Yolanda (1949), Yul (1957), Yusef (1976), Yisroel (1977, 1984, 1997), Yusuf (1978, 2015/Present), Yoel (1979-1983), Yosef (1985, 1988-1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001), Yaakov (1986, 1987), Yehuda (1995), Yousef (2000), Yahir (2002-2014)


  • Zella (1880-1898, 1890), Zelma (1899, 1901-1951, 1954), Zoe (1952, 1957, 1958, 1970, 1973-2010), Zelda (1953, 1955, 1956, 1959-1962, 1968), Zina (1963-1967), Zandra (1969, 1971, 1972), Zoey (2011-Present)
  • Zack (1880-1901, 1903, 1905-1915, 1918-1921), Zeno (1902), Zeb (1904), Zigmund (1916, 1917), Zane (1922-1946, 1948), Zachary (1947, 1949-Present)

*I doubt anyone was actually named Unknown – it’s more likely a designation for people whose original names are somehow unknown. 

**Willie is shaded blue because it was stricly masculine in 2015.  A hundred years ago, it was very much unisex.

***N/A indicates that there were no names starting with that letter for a year. 

Do any of these names stand out to you?  Let me know and stay posted for my analysis and predictions!

Below the top 1000, Part 25 (Girls)

Hi everyone!  This week’s batch of rare names is rather large, and since this is only a selection of some names from the 20-22 range of the extended data…there are plenty more.  You’ll find many more girls’ names towards the bottom of the barrel than you will boys’ names.  Parents tend to be more creative when naming their daughters than their sons.  While the below names are currently far too rare for the American top 1000, the Social Security Administration notes that 78.81% of males born in 2015 were accorded names in the top 1000; only 67.90% of females born last year were also given top 1000 names. 

Anyways, enjoy!  And if any of you are participating in NaNoWriMo need character names, I hope this can be a resource to you. 🙂

  • 22: Adaliz, Aixa, Alabama, Albany, Arora, Ashleen, Avalene, Benita, Cleopatra, Cyan, Dalexa, Daviana, Dreya, Dru, Filomena, Inga, Ixchel, January, Jaylianna, Jeanelle, Jennavieve, Kadiatou, Kathlyn, Koralyn, Mable, Mamie, Montgomery, Munachimso, Nalaya, Nayelis, Noriah, Parnika, Persia, Phyllis, Riva, Rosabelle, Ruchy, Safari, Savvy, Tamsin, Tennyson, Thora, Winnifred, Yulia, Zaidee, Zoila, Zuly, Zunaira
  • 21: Aaralynn, Aissata, Amada, Analis, Aolani, Arcadia, Arella, Avital, Bergen, British, Ciel, Darling, Delfina, Devany, Elka, Ellanore, Erina, Fae, Frimet, Gurnoor, Harleyquinn, Idalia, Isolde, Joya, Kallista, Laramie, Lazaria, Liat, Lilou, Melaina, Neda, Niharika, Saffron, Solveig, Vanity, Viridiana, Willamina, Zuleika
  • 20: Aasiya, Adair, Adithi, Aella, Aerith, Allure, Aluna, Anberlin, Anoushka, Aveya, Beaux, Blue, Breslin, Camry, Chidera, Cosima, Deyanira, Dionne, Domenica, Evangelia, Evolette, Fatimata, Fawn, Ginny, Gracia, Isidora, Island, Isyss, Jalayla, Jood, Jovana, Kindle, Latoya, Lorenza, Loxley, Mccartney, Menucha, Rosey, Ruqayyah, Saylah, Sneha, Swayzee, Tynleigh, Vasilisa, Zamzam, Zoella, Zuzu

Thoughts on these names?  I’m curious about the origin of Zamzam, myself. 

If you’d like to see more rare names, here are the last five posts in this series:

Below the Top 1000, Part 24 (Boys)

Hi everyone, happy Halloween!  11 AM and struggling not to doze off, even with espresso.  Stayed up late last night to watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)…I have to say, it’s like watching Scooby Doo in black and white!  There was a lot of running from Dracula, mostly within an eerie castle upon the sea.

Anyway, it’s been a week since my last “below the top 1000” post!  This selection includes names given to 20, 21, or 22 boys in the U.S. in 2015.  If you’re tuning in for the first time, welcome!  I write these posts weekly; next week will include girls’ names in the same range.  The data comes from the Social Security Administration, which publishes America’s most popular baby names every year, plus rare names down to 5 uses.

  • 22: Adonijah, Avenir, Bao, Carmen, Chukwuemeka, Edmundo, Erasmo, Franklyn, Gehrig, Gustav, Han, Ioannis, Jezreel, Juandiego, Kadarius, Kashtyn, Koi, Krithik, Marino, Maxximus, Nero, Quintus, Rune, Rupert, Trinidad, Vir, Walton, Wellington, Wrigley, Yeshaya, Zalman
  • 21: Argenis, Aristotle, Artemio, Ashraf, Brave, Celso, Cheskel, Copper, Creedence, Crixus, Delbert, Dillinger, Garland, Haakon, Heinrich, Jaaziel, Jeanpierre, Legion, Menashe, Noach, Pharoah, Philippe, Poseidon, Prentice, Prosper, Quill, Reno, Stavros, Strider, Taft, Tyberius, Wilhelm, Winslow
  • 20: Abdimalik, Abenezer, Aceson, Alarik, Auguste, Dacari, Enrico, Ericson, Falcon, Ferdinand, Feynman, Giles, Hamish, Hart, Helios, Jeanluc, Justis, Kanoa, Kona, Kosta, Lord, Misha, Naman, Nashton, Norris, Oluwadarasimi, Rohaan, Rumi, Thelonious, Tilden, Xadrian, Zadkiel, Zeeshan

What do you think of these names?  Let me know in the comments!  Have a safe and fun holiday. 🙂

Previous 5 posts in this series:

Uncommonly Tiny Names

Do you love the brevity of Max and Ada, but think they’re too popular?  Here’s a list of rare, tiny names comprising only two or three letters!    

Aj – 71 boys, 7 girls in the U.S. in 2015.  (Numbers come from Social Security Administration)

Aja – 84 girls.

Ale – 5 girls.  In case you really like your beer…

Aoi – 8 girls.  This is a Japanese name. 

Axe – 8 boys.  Hopefully the kind Gimli offers to Frodo and not the body spray.  Either way, it’s a weapon!

Bay – 58 girls, 11 boys.  Include this with other spice names like Cayenne and Paprika; Old Bay is delicious.

Bea – 25 girls.

Blu – 14 boys, 9 girls.  When Blue isn’t blunt or artsy enough. 

Bly – 5 girls.  Nellie Bly was a famous investigative journalist.

Bob – 14 boys.  Nowadays this is more of a meme than a name because of how generic it is.  That, and Bob the Builder.

Bow – 17 boys. 

Cub – 7 boys. 

Cy – 60 boys.  A nickname for Cyrus that personally sounds more like the Greek letter “psi.” 

Dat – 9 boys.  Dat name tho. 

Dev – 105 boys.  It seems that “Game Dev” gives us the latest professional name, joining Taylor and Sailor.   

Dov – 107 boys.  Hebrew name meaning “bear.”

Dua – 33 girls.

Emi – 166 girls.  Standalone Japanese name, but could also be a nickname for Emily.

Ewa – 9 girls.

Fox – 193 boys, 6 girls.  Makes me think of Joe Fox and his bookstore from You’ve Got Mail

Gal – 6 girls.  If Guy has a twin sister, I think we’ve found her.  Though, I bet you could make Gal short for Galadriel

Gem – 8 girls.  A literal gem name, or maybe a nickname for Gemma

Gus – 163 boys. 

Guy – 153 boys.

Fia – 25 girls.

Han – 22 boys, 19 girls.  Considering how blatantly Star Wars this name is, it’s really surprising that so many girls have the name.

Ida – 159 girls.  Once in the top 10, Ida hasn’t even been in the top 1000 since the 1980s.  Here’s hoping for a revival! 

Ibn 16 boys.  Arabic word meaning “son,” precedes a man’s father’s name.  Equivalent of Latin “filius,”  Hebrew “ben,” or Welsh “ap.”  I wonder whether any parents of Ibn’s actually intended it as a first name.

Ike – 93 boys.  “I like Ike” is a famous presidential campaign slogan. 

Io – 6 boys, 5 girls.  According to mythology, Io was transformed into a cow because Zeus took her as a lover.  Naturally, the quintessential problem in all Greek myth is Zeus’ romantic escapades.

Ion – 11 boys.  Ion is a good choice if you like particles or Plato. 

Ira – 196 boys, 97 girls.  Biblical name!

Ivo – 15 boys.  I play enough Crusader Kings II to be reminded of an obscure 11th-century Norman named Ivo de Taillebois.  Needless to say, Ivo is an old name.  Depending on the origin, it’s related to either Yves or Ivan.

Jad – 168 boys. 

Jo – 27 girls.  Jo March is a character in Alcott’s Little Women.

Job – 87 boys.  Something we all need.  As a name, this probably references the Bible character, and is pronounced more like the name Joe with a ‘b’ at the end. 

Jr – 29 boys.  Jr, Jr.  Uh oh…unexpected Jar Jar Binks! 

Kal – 55 boys.  Not like Cal or Calvin…more like actor Kal Penn.

Kc – 27 boys, 15 girls.  Usually this stands for something.  I don’t know what KC is these days, but when I was in high school and college the ‘c’ almost always stood for Casey, regardless of gender.

Kia – 15.  Car names! 

Kim – 71 girls, 11 boys. 

Kip – 46 boys. 

Koi – 22 boys, 18 girls.  I never thought of fish as a namesake, unless you count Marlin and Nemo.

Lex – 67 boys.  Although Lex is traditionally short for Alexander, most people probably think of Lex Luthor.

Lux – 99 girls, 32 boys.  Latin word for “light.”

Md – 27 boys.  I initially thought about doctors when I saw this, but now I wonder if this is shorthand for Mohammad.  Traditionally, common men’s names had truncated written versions; i.e., William was sometimes Wm, Jonathan was Jno, etc. 

Neo – 80 boys. 

Nil – 10 girls, 5 boys.  A tad nihilistic, don’t you think?

Nox – 15 boys.  Latin word meaning “night” – therefore equivalent of NyxNox is also a spell in Harry Potter, which is used to end a Lumos charm…that is, to put out the light. 

Nyx – 16 girls.  Nyx is the Ancient Greek personification (goddess) of Night.  Perfect for Halloween? 

Om – 86 boys. 

Oz – 24 boys. 

Paw – 17 girls.  Genuinely interesting…wonder where this comes from?

Pax – 63 boys, 6 girls.  Latin for “peace.” 

Pia – 73 girls.

Poe – 9 boys.  Not too long ago I would have assumed Edgar Allan Poe was the namesake, but now Poe Dameron is a possibility! 

Ra – 9 boys.  Egyptian sun god. 

Rae – 94 girls. 

Ram – 30 boys.  As in the animal or RAM space? 

Ren – 71 boys, 12 girls. 

Rye – 39 boys, 8 girls.  Could be a nickname for Ryan that’s influenced by Kai, but it undeniably reminds me of delicious rye bread.  Hmm…scratch off “Reuben Rye” and “Rye Reuben” from the list of usable name combos. 

Sir – 54 boys.  “Yes, sir.” 

Su – 15 girls.

Tam – 10 boys, 9 girls.

Tom – 67 boys.  “It was…Tom Bombadil!”

Uri – 29 boys. 

Vir – 22 boys.  Vir is the Latin word for “man.”

Von – 45 boys.  I’m just imagining a trip to a German-speaking country and having to explain that Von isn’t the first part of a surname. 

Vy – 27 girls.  Short for Viola or Violet?

Win – 5 boys.  Could be used as a nickname for Winston or Winslow.

Xoe – 26 girls.

Zia128 girls.  Italian word for “aunt,” but as a name might be a variation of Sia or Xia.

Zo – 14 girls.  Basically, Zoe without the invisible umlaut.     

What do you think of these names?  Let me know in the comments!

Below the Top 1000, Part 23 (Girls)

Hi everyone!  I realize I haven’t written one of these posts in a couple of weeks.  Luckily  there are so many names here that I think they cover the gap!

Here are some of the names given to American baby girls in 2015, according to extended data from the Social Security Administration.  The following first names are quite rare, and were only used between 23 and 26 times. 

  • 26: Adilee, Alexiana, Alvina, Amiliana, Atziri, Aubreyanna, Augustine, Baylei, Callahan, Celestina, Christabel, Dianne, Ellasyn, Era, Faustina, Florencia, Freedom, Genesys, Gertrude, Gypsy, Hartlee, Ione, Irlanda, Jenicka, July, Kaori, Kassia, Katara, Kerry, Loreal, Lucienne, Madigan, Mathilde, Medina, Nevada, Nizhoni, Odalis, Quetzaly, Ravenna, Rona, Rue, Sunday, Svetlana, Zuzanna
  • 25: Amerika, Anjolaoluwa, Apollonia, Arbor, Barrett, Bea, Cady, Charm, Chiamaka, Daija, Darcie, Elizaveta, Fanta, Fay, Fia, Galilee, Jerrica, Jerzey, Kahlani, Keniyah, Lisandra, Maelani, Milagro, Nixie, Nona, Oliviana, Quinlan, Seraphine, Sigrid, Siri, Twyla, Xia, Yuritzi, Zephyr
  • 24: Aamina, Adabelle, Adama, Alyric, Angelic, Bethlehem, Breeze, Brixton, Catalia, Cylie, Dulcemaria, Eevee, Evaline, Jezebel, Joanie, Kaavya, Lee, Mairead, Maison, Malania, Margeaux, Mattea, Maybree, Nakiya, Richelle, Sagan, Teal, Verona, Wanda, Winslow, Zaryiah
  • 23: Afia, Aiko, Ameliana, Amorette, Ashby, Avaline, Ayumi, Basma, Blessin, Bruchy, Ceanna, Eleena, Evaluna, Finnleigh, Infinity, Jadzia, Kashmir, Kynedi, Legaci, Lielle, Maimouna, Maryalice, Max, Merari, Mulan, Oceana, Rhythm, Shaindel, Sophiah, Trudy, Xandria, Zaire, Zen, Zowie

What do you think of these names?  I think my personal favorites are Celestina, Florencia, and Gertrude

The previous five posts in this series:

Venerable Vinicius


I’ve just come across Vinicius in the extended data!  7 baby boys were named this in the U.S. in 2015.  That’s down from previous years, but I suspect that number’s going to rise in 2016.  This Ancient Roman moniker belonged to the mascot of this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio. 

Vinicius the mascot was named after a famous Brazilian poet, Marcus “Vinicius” de Moraes.  Coming from a classical studies background, I’d just like to take a moment and swoon at the amazing first-middle combo that is Marcus Vinicius!  OK, moment over.  Vinicius de Moraes co-wrote a song most have heard at some point or another: “The Girl from Ipanema.” Supposedly it’s the second-most rerecorded song ever, after the Beatles’ “Yesterday.”  Anyway, there were actually at least two men named Marcus Vicinius in Ancient Rome, who both held the role of Consul at some point or another.  One even married the granddaughter of Emperor Tiberius.  Perhaps the poet was named after one of them?

There’s also the form Vinicio, which was given to 9 boys in the U.S. last year.  I found a “name duel” on a Portuguese site (called Nomes e mais Nomes; translation: Names and More Names) between Vinicio and Benicio.  According to the information on Vinicio, Vinicius is the popular form in Brazil, but doesn’t comply with Portugal’s naming laws.  Vinicio is the legal Portuguese form, but it’s extremely rare.  Here in the U.S., Vinicio is more common, but that may be because it’s also the Spanish version.

What do you think of ViniciusVinicio?  I find it baffling that a Portuguese-language name would be illegal in Portugal, but I can’t make any assumptions why.

P.S.  If you check out Nomes e mais Nomes and don’t already know Portuguese, please understand that Google Translate is imperfect.  It translated the names Ana to “dwarf,” Amélia to “long-suffering wife,” Iria to “would go,” and Ema to “emu.”  Use the translation tool to understand the paragraphs, but read the name lists in the original Portuguese.

Below the Top 1000, Part 22 (Boys)

Hi everyone!  Ready for some rare names?

If you’re new to my site, welcome!  Once a week, I pick out some of the names in a particular range to present here.  The data comes from the Social Security Administration, which releases the top 1000 most popular American baby names every year plus an extended list including every name down to 5 uses that’s at least 2 letters long.  Today’s selection includes boys’ names used between 23 and 26 times in 2015.  Names colored blue are overwhelmingly male in usage, purple are unisex, and magenta are overwhelmingly female.

  • 26: Adonias, Amaru, Ashley, Azarias, Becker, Bray, Carrick, Dex, Dontavious, Dublin, Flavio, Freeman, Gunther, Jetson, Jotham, Kanye, Kiefer, Kingdavid, Lazer, Mister, Newton, Oswald, Rooney, Vladislav
  • 25: Amor, Arnoldo, Bosco, Captain, Clemente, Cleveland, Dirk, Elgin, Ellington, Giacomo, Gryphon, Hawthorne, Huckleberry, Jabez, Jupiter, Kepler, Laramie, Loic, Reeves, Rocket, Rogue, Sylvan, Tito, Vasilios, Vishnu, Wilton, Zadyn
  • 24: Amadeo, Artur, Baltazar, Banyan, Becket, Champion, Clancy, Coulter, Dimas, Exodus, Harbor, Hillel, Jurgen, Karthikeya, Khylan, Lion, Otoniel, Oz, Quincey, Richmond, Severin, Sharif, Shneur, Stirling, Taggart, Tavaris, Wyland
  • 23: Alphonse, Amory, Azazel, Bellamy, Boy, Braddock, Cato, Dreyden, Ernie, Escher, Evangelos, Gershon, Horace, Huston, Ismaeel, Jacinto, Kessler, Laszlo, Odysseus, Santonio, Styles, Talmage, Tysean, Wilfred, Yafet, Zeno

Thoughts on any of these?  Laszlo has always been one of my favorites. 

The last few weeks’ posts:


Below the Top 1000, Part 21 (Girls)

Hey all!  Time for some rare baby names. 🙂

If you’re just tuning into this series, let me explain.  Once a week, I select some rare but totally real American baby names and post them.  The data comes from the Social Security Administration, which publishes a top 1000 list every May plus an extended set for research and hobby purposes. 

Below are just some of the first names given to 27, 28, or 29 baby girls in the U.S. last year: 

  • 29: Acelyn, Aishwarya, Angelita, Annastyn, Aurea, Azura, Bushra, Dorcas, Elektra, Etty, Everest, Getsemani, Hafsah, Jasmina, Joshlyn, Julienne, Kamri, Kollins, Laiklyn, Lindley, Marelyn, Marygrace, Matilde, Miraya, Mykenzie, Paradise, Quincey, Sachi, Sari, Shanice, Soledad, Svea, Tula, Wilma, Zerenity
  • 28: Aissatou, Alexie, Anyssa, Arlie, Ayomide, Braxton, Carmina, Chance, Cherokee, Cornelia, Debbie, Eliette, Freja, Habiba, Issa, Jumana, Kansas, Kit, Lakayla, Leidy, Lizzy, Lovina, Lucina, Lyllian, Magdalen, Muriel, Rainy, Rayann, September, Shanty, Sheena, Weslyn, Yumi, Zailynn, Zlata
  • 27: Aayla, Alida, Bahar, Betzaida, Bibiana, Breya, Cecile, Celestine, Chrislynn, Deirdre, Doreen, Favor, Glenda, Gwendolen, Hayat, Jacinda, Jo, Kirby, Leda, Loyal, Mahala, Mahnoor, Makeda, Marietta, Meryem, Nashly, November, Oliva, Pranavi, Radha, Railey, Roisin, Rumi, Safiyyah, Shia, Thelma, Unity, Xylia, Zaydee

What do you think of these names?  I have a couple of my own comments:

  • I’m not usually a fan of unique spellings – especially not for real words – but Zerenity has an edge to it that Serenity doesn’t have.  Zerenity is seriously cool.
  • Regarding Carmina: it’s too bad there’s no data on middle names.  Hopefully at least one of them has Burana in that second slot!  😀

The last few posts in this series:


Concentration 64…of Sorts.

I recently conducted this exercise in men’s names.  The rules: 1) One name per letter of the alphabet. 2) Each name must have ranked below the American top 1000 at last counting – 2015. 3) Most importantly, it has to be the first rare name that enters the mind. 

Here’s my list of the women’s names!  What would your list be? 

A: Amaryllis – 69 girls.  Amaryllis is a plant name (think lilies), though my primary association is poetry (Virgil). 

B: Beatrix – 209 girls.  Beatrix Potter, anyone? 

C: Carlotta – 16 girls.  Interestingly, the Italian form of Charlotte hasn’t done too well lately. 

D: Daenerys – 82 girls.  Khaleesi could not have made this list because it’s a popular baby name (#814).  Daenerys on the other hand….

E: Elowen – 36 girls.  More on the name Elowen here.

F: Flora – 173 girls.  In my current Crusader Kings II campaign (PC game), I had my character (king of England) marry a genius Scottish noblewoman named Flora Mac Áeda.  As a result, Flora is the top rare ‘f’ name on my mind. 

G: Georgiana – 117 girls.  I’ve written a more complete profile on Georgiana, which you can read here

H: Harriet – 179 girls.  I wonder if Harriet will reenter the top 1000 when Harriet Tubman replaces Jackson on the $20.  That would be awesome. 

I: Isadora – 169 girls.  Curiously, Isadore was my answer for ‘I’ in the men’s names exercise. 

J: Jezebel – 24 girls.  The letter ‘J’ produces so many names, both rare and popular…yet this came up.  Hmm.

K: Kateri – 45 girls.  ‘K’ similarly effuses names.  Anyway, I’ve always found this an interesting name because St. Kateri is the Native American to be canonized as a saint! 

M: Margo – 188 girls.  Margot is a more popular form (503 uses) which ranks at #592.

N: Noemia – Unknown usage.  Portuguese version of Naomi

O: Olivine – 5 girls.  I wasn’t sure if this was even a name, but it turns out that olivine is a mineral (the gemstone for which is the peridot). 

P: Parthenia – 10 girls.  Parthenia is an old family name!

Q: Quintella – Unknown usage…currently, anyway.  It used to appear in SSA birth data, and for some reason it’s stuck with me more than any other rare ‘Q’ name.  Quinn would have probably made the list if it weren’t popular (#97 for girls, #354 for boys). 

R: Rabia – 11 girls.  Shout out to Rabia at Fairly Literary!  Your name appears to be Arabic, originally. 🙂

S: Saadia – 12 girls.  The movie Saadia was produced in the 1950s, which is when the name first appeared in SSA data.  I always wondered about that. 

T: Terpsichore – Unknown usage.  The dancing Muse.

U: Ursula – 40 girls.  There aren’t that many ‘U’ names…and doesn’t everyone think of a certain evil octopus? 

V: Valeriana – Unknown usage.

W: Wilhelmina – 132 girls.  Feminine form of William, or rather, German Wilhelm

X: Xanthe – 6 girls.  Amazingly, I spotted a Xanthe last week!!! 

Y: Yadira – 75 girls.  My next ‘Y’ name would have been YolandaYadira sounds Arabic, and usage-wise is considered Latin American.  I don’t think many people know know much about it, though…

Z: Zenobia – 41 girls.  From everything I hear, Queen Zenobia was not someone you’d want to mess with. 

Wise William

William is one of the most popular names around!  In America, it ranks #5 nationally, but ranks #1 in D.C., Utah, Montana, and every Southern state except Florida.  Interestingly Liam, an Irish nickname for William, ranks even higher on the national level.  Liam comes in at #2, and ranks #1 in more states than the overall #1, Noah (which is probably only first because of California and Texas).  William also ranks highly in other English-speaking countries, and is currently the most popular boys’ name in all of Scandinavia.  That tidbit is especially curious when you consider that Scandinavian languages share their own form of the name (Vilhelm), yet speakers apparently prefer the English cognate! 


William the Conqueror at center

Besides near-universal popularity, the name William also boasts longevity.  The Normans brought it from France to England in 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded and became king.  However, the name predates even that date.  One earlier William that comes to mind is William of Septimania, born in 826 AD.  He’s not particularly important on his own, but his mother Dhuoda addressed a book to him (incidentally, she’s the only female writer of the Carolingian era whose work survives!).  Nor was he the first William in his family.  Ultimately, this name has existed for at least 1200 years!

Those 1200 years of Williams are continuous and plentiful.  The name belongs to four U.S. Presidents, four (eventually five) English kings and more PMs, Shakespeare, saints, writers, actors, athletes, etc.  You will encounter Williams in every profession.  In America at least, William is popular in every age group too; it’s never been outside the top 20. 


Why use a name that’s popular in every age group?  William certainly is ubiquitous and wizened.  But, parents, let me say this: William is timeless; tried-and-true.  He never sounds too old-fashioned or too new.  The only thing that really changes with age is the freshness of the nicknames that accompany William.  Few children will answer to Bill or Willie, I think.  The young Williams I know are mostly called William or LiamMaybe Will or Billy

What do you think of the name William