Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 8.44.27 PM

Happy International Louie Louie Day!  “Louie Louie” is a famous rock song that was written in 1955 by Richard Berry (1935-1997), whose birthday was today, April 11th.  The Kingsmen recorded the best-known version of the song in 1963.  The FBI actually investigated their cover because people thought it had dirty lyrics, but the singing is so hard to understand that nothing ever came of that.  It did become a pop culture standard, though; it’s appeared in many movies, including Animal House (1978).

The name Louie is primarily a nickname for Louis, though it can also serve as a phonetic spelling for parents who prefer the French pronunciation over the English.  Louie returned to the American top 1000 in 2015 after an absence of over 20 years; his current/2016 rank is #916, representing 233 boys.  7 girls were also named Louie, which can reflect both its rising popularity among boys and the recent returns of Louise and Louisa to the top 1000.  Louis is slowly rising again, too.

What do you think of the name Louie?  Do you prefer it as a nickname, or do you like it by itself?  And how do you like the song?

The Most Interesting Compound Girls’ Names in the U.S.

A compound name is one name that includes at least two names.  There are a few common types of compound names:

  1. Double-barrel, or when two names are connected by a hyphen.  Example: Lily Rose -> LilyRose.
  2. Double name, or when someone goes by two names separated by a space.  This can either be a result of having two first names or using both a first and middle together.  Example: Billy Bob.
  3. Combination, or as I sometimes like to call it, the “stream of consciousness.”  Example: Mary + Elizabeth = Maryelizabeth.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. there’s no official data distinguishing between different compound types.  There’s no way to tell whether there’s a dash, space, extra capital, apostrophe, or any other marks you can imagine because the SSA doesn’t acknowledge them!  Officially, MaryAnne exists as Maryanne, and will find herself in a list with women who actually are named Maryanne...which is why I’m not writing a list of double-barrel names right now.  The United Kingdom does recognize hyphenated names, and indeed, they’re much more popular there than here.  If you’re interested in reading more on the British double-barrel phenomenon, check out two posts about that country’s hyphenated girls’ and boys’ names by a fantastic new name blog called Onomastica!

Here are some of the most interesting compound names for girls from the U.S., all found scattered through the Social Security Administration‘s baby name data.  There are so many fascinating and distinctive compound names (mostly related to pop culture) that I will publish the boys’ names in a separate post.

  • Avemaria: Literally meaning “Hail Mary,” this is a prayer that has been transformed into several famous pieces of music.  According to the Social Security Administration, 5 girls were named Avemaria in 2016.
  • Barbaraann: Barbara Ann is a song immortalized by the Beach Boys, though the original version was recorded under the title “Barbara-Ann.”  Barbara was an extremely popular name between the 30s and 50s; indeed, the name Barbaraann precedes the song, and appears in the birth data as early as 1934.  Her last appearance was in 1996 with 5 girls.
  • Billiejean: Although perpetually rare, this name received a mild boost twice; first in 1973, after tennis player Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match; and secondly, after the 1983 Michael Jackson song.
  • Briarrose: In the 1959 Disney movie Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora was renamed Briar Rose when she went to live with the fairies.  18 girls were named Briarrose in 2016.
  • Caramia: The most famous version of the song “Cara Mia” was recorded by Jay and the Americans in 1965.  The name first appeared in 1966 with 6 girls, peaked in 2006 with 20 girls, and last appeared in 2015 with 8 girls.  “Cara Mia” means “my dear” or “my beloved” in Italian.
  • Chakakhan: Chaka Khan is a funk musician from the 70s and 80s.  The name itself only charted in 1975 and 1976.
  • Cindylou: From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the character Cindy Lou Who.  This combo appeared in the late 50s (around the time the book was written).
  • Dannielynn: After the daughter of Anna Nicole Smith (1967-2007), who was born in 2006.  5 girls were named Dannielynn in 2016.
  • Dellareese: Della Reese (1931-2017) was a singer in the 50s – that’s when her name debuted – and later, an actress.  Interestingly, the resulting compound name Dellareese is very close to her birth name, Delloreese.
  • Harleyquinn: After the DC comics villain.  20 girls were named Harleyquinn in 2016.
  • Heavenlyjoy: 11 girls received this religious name in 2016.
  • Jeannedarc: Appeared in the early 1920s after the canonization of St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), or Jeanne d’Arc in French.


    St. Joan of Arc inspired the compound name Jeannedarc after her 1920 canonization.

  • Lauraashley: While the names Laura and Ashley were both pretty trendy in the mid-to-late 80s, Laura Ashley was a fashion designer who died in 1985.  The name appeared in 1987.
  • Marajade: Fairly obscure Star Wars reference.  Mara Jade was a character in the extended universe before Disney bought the rights and made Force Awakens.  According to the SSA, 6 girls were named Marajade in 2016.
  • Maryjane: “Mary Jane” can refer to a few things – 1) a street name for marijuana, 2) a shoe style, or 3) a type of penny candy.  A shocking 216 girls were named Maryjane (or some variation thereof) in 2016!  It’s even been in the top 1000 within the last decade.
  • Marysue: A “Mary Sue” is a type of Original Character in fan fiction stories who exhibits self-inserted qualities of the fan fiction writer.  5 girls received this compound name in 2016, which is the first year since the early 1970s that it’s appeared in the data!
  • Ninasimone: Nina Simone (1933-2003) was a famous African-American musician.  This combo appears in the data twice, in 2000 and 2015.  Two documentaries about her came out in ’15, which may explain the name’s appearance in the data that year.
  • Normajean: From the Elton John song “Candle in the Wind,” which is about Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962); her birth name was Norma Jeane.  7 girls were named Normajean in 2016, which is impressive considering that only 86 girls were named Norma.
  • Peggysue: From two Buddy Holly songs, “Peggy Sue” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.”  The latter is also the name of a cute 1980s movie.  Any uses of the double-barrel name probably come from the first Peggy Sue song, which came out in 1957.  Nancy (of Nancy’s Baby Names) has written more extensively on the name Peggysue.
  • Ravensymone: After the actress and commentator on The View, Raven-Symoné.  Ravensimone also appears in the data.  Her name first appeared in SSA data in 1990, while she was on The Cosby Show.
  • Pennylane: From the Beatles song “Penny Lane.”  Though the song came out in the 1960s, the name didn’t appear in SSA data until 2008!  5 girls received this name in 2016.

What do you think of these compound names?  Do you have a favorite, perhaps one that isn’t listed here?  What’s your favorite type of compound?  Let me know, and stay tuned for the boys’ names!

Classic Rock Baby (Sur)names

I listen to a lot of classic rock.  By that, I mean rock music that came out between 1965 and 1977-ish, with a few exceptions.  Considering that that the Oldies (music from the 50s and 60s) enjoyed a massive proportion of my childhood music preferences, I’m baffled that 80s and early 90s rock is now considered “classic!”  Sure, it’s influential…but every time I think about this, I ask myself where the time went.  Maybe it’s because I was born in the early 90s, but I have a hard time processing the idea that Nirvana is “classic rock” now (or will be very soon).  Elvis and Chuck Berry don’t even receive that distinction!


But *this* is a gneiss, classic rock.  Photo Credit: By Huhulenik – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15036586

My 1965-1977 parameters for classic rock are admittedly a bit arbitrary and fuzzy.  I say 1965 for the beginning because that’s when the Beatles released Rubber Soul and the Stones sang “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  I decided on the 1977-ish bookend because that’s when the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours came out.  Again, “classic rock” means something very particular to me, and it might mean something different for you!  However – until Van Halen gets the Guardians of the Galaxy treatment, I’m not including related baby names in a “classic rock” posting.


Yes, I have it on vinyl.

Going even just by my standards for classic rock, there are plenty of rocker baby names in circulation!  For this post, I’ve decided to focus on the surnames.  

Bowie – David Bowie died early last year, and I think many of us in the community of name enthusiasts expect a serious boost to the name in the 2016 data.  In 2015, 53 boys and 41 girls were named Bowie.

Cooper – School might not be out for the summer, but this week it was out for the snowstorm.  Alice Cooper lends his adopted name to thousands of boys and hundreds of girls in the U.S.  In 2015, Cooper ranked #77 for boys.

Derringer – This one might be a bit more obscure.  Rick Derringer was responsible for the song “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo.”  Before that, he sang “Hang on Sloopy” for the McCoys.  8 boys were named Derringer in 2015.

Harrison – The Beatles have always been my favorite band, so when it comes to famous rock guitarists I’m rather partial to George Harrison (funnily enough, “Here Comes the Sun” popped up on my Pandora as I was typing this).  Looking at the stats, Harrison‘s popularity seems more closely tied to Harrison Ford, since Star Wars saved the name from falling out of the top 1000.  Indeed, Harrison hasn’t ever been out of the top 1000!  That’s the definition of a timeless name.  Current rank: #119.

Henley – Before his solo career, Don Henley was a member of the Eagles.  Henley is a far more popular baby name for girls than it is for boys.  Current rank: #553 (girls), and 104 boys. 

Jagger – A rather jagged name, don’t you think?  The data certainly says so.  Just take a look at the popularity graph on Behind the Name or the numbers on Nancy’s Baby Names.  It also makes me think of “jäger” – the German word for “hunter,” though it’s pronounced more like “yay-grr” than “Jagger.”   Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) is the probable namesake for the 389 boys and 9 girls named Jagger in 2015.  Current rank: #657 (boys).

Lennon – The SSA birth data suggests that American men have been given the first name Lennon since the early 20th century, but 1981 was the first time Lennon appeared as a girls’ name.  John Lennon died in December of 1980, and in 1981 the Grammy Awards accorded his last record (Double Fantasy) “Album of the Year.”  Lennon remained a rare name for both genders until 2008, when it entered the top 1000 for boys.  In 2012, it entered as a girls’ name.  Interestingly, 2015 saw Lennon become more for girls than boys!  A rapid-riser, Lennon currently ranks #515 for girls and #609 for boys.   

Lynne – Jeff Lynne is the genius behind ELO (Electric Light Orchestra).  Lynne was a top 1000 women’s name from 1931 to 1983, though only 9 girls were named Lynne in 2015.

McCartney – You’re more likely to encounter a female McCartney than male.  The SSA recorded 20 girls and 5 boys named Mccartney (yes, that’s how it’s rendered) in 2015.  I’ve noticed that when it comes to the Beatles and baby names, their surnames usually now veer feminine (see Lennon and Starr).  Harrison is the overwhelmingly masculine exception.

Mercury – 9 girls and 5 boys were named Mercury in 2015.  Whether they’re named after Freddie Mercury or in keeping with astrology is unknown, though other babies were named Aries, Taurus, and Gemini

Nash Graham Nash was a member of the Hollies and subsequently Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  Current rank: #343.

Page Jimmy Page was the guitarist for Led Zeppelin.  17 girls were named Page in 2015.

Rafferty – Gerry Rafferty was a member of Stealer’s Wheel, the band that sang “Stuck in the Middle With You.”  He also had a solo career.  Only 12 American boys were named Rafferty in 2015, though the name is much more popular in England and Wales (current E/W rank: #289). 

Santana Santana was briefly popular as a girls’ name in the 80s and is now a popular boys’ name.  I don’t think Carlos Santana is the namesake for most of them (I hear there’s a Glee character?), but there were definitely more babies named Santana after Woodstock.  Current rank: #867 for boys, though 119 girls also received the name in 2015.

Seger – I admit: I don’t listen to much Bob Seger (“Against the Wind,” anyone?), but I noticed his surname towards the bottom of the 2015 data.  10 boys were named Seger at last count. 

Starr – Ringo’s adopted surname was actually a top 1000 girls’ name before the Beatles were popular.  Starr went out in the 50s and then returned for brief periods in the 70s and 90s.  Only 74 girls were named Starr last year, and considering she’s trending downwards, I don’t think the 20-year cycle will apply this decade. 

Tyler – Steven Tyler is still a member of Aerosmith!  Tyler is still (barely) a top 100 name in the U.S., ranking #87 in 2015. 

What do you think?  Are there any names you’d add to this list?  Do you agree with my classic rock parameters? 

P.S. Curiously, I didn’t find any Claptons in the data.  Eric Clapton definitely influenced baby naming; his 1970 song “Layla” led to Layla‘s first foray into the top 1000 (circa 1972).  To be fair, that wasn’t a solo song; the band name was Derek and the Dominos.

P.P.S. I didn’t notice any Springsteens either. 

Whispering Windy

Wind captures the human imagination.  Some romanticize the sound of chimes or bristling of the leaves.  Others fear it, knowing a storm’s approach.  Most simply respect it.  


Wind turbine

Like many facets of nature, the wind has inspired baby names.  While you probably won’t encounter anyone named Wind, there are hundreds of people in the U.S. named Windy.  The vast majority of women named Windy were born in the 1960s and 1970s, when other weather-related names like Misty and Sunshine were at peak usage.  Windy‘s initial popularity came separately from a nature trend, however.  In the year she entered the top 1000, the Associations’ song “Windy” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Parents hardly name their children Windy anymore.  According to data from the Social Security Administration, Windy hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1980, when it was given to 153 girls.  For perspective, peak usage was in 1975, when Windy was bestowed on 310 girls.  Fast forward 40 years to 2015: last year, only 7 girls were named Windy

Other weather-names fair better.  Misty and Sunshine are both hovering around 50 uses, and Stormy was given to 124 girls last year.  Even Rainy registered 28 times.  So why isn’t Windy doing better?  That brings me to my last point – that not all Windy‘s are named for the weather.  Some of my friends with stronger Southern or Appalachian twangs seem to pronounce the name Wendy as Windy.  This suggests to me that at least some Windy‘s were named using a regional phonetic spelling.  Wendy, barely still a top 1000 name in 2015, peaked in the top 30 back in the 1970s…the same period in which Windy was the most popular.  Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that while the song sent Windy into the top 1000, Americans had already been using the name for almost 20 years. 

What do you think of the name Windy, and do you think she could make a comeback?  I think it might make a decent nickname for up-and-coming Windsor.  On the other hand, wind does invoke thoughts of tornadoes and other terrible tempests.