Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Spellings of Katherine

As we read in Name-alytics, there are three spellings of Katherine that have been in the Top 100... Catherine, Katherine and Kathryn (the Big 3). Catherine reached its peak in 1914, Katherine reached its peak in 1988, and Kathryn reached its peak in 1951. That alone is quite fascinating to those interested in the history of name popularity, but it is not enough to satisfy my detail-specific thirst.

How have each of these spellings fared over the years in comparison to each other as well as to other spellings of the name? The graph below shows each spelling's percentage of use from 1938 through 2013. (My database only has the percentage of use information from 1938 onward because the raw data from the SSA is not available prior to that year.)

If I only wanted to prove that the Big 3 were and are the dominant spellings over the years, you can see it here. But even more interestingly, you can see where exactly the spelling preference changed from Catherine to Katherine. In 1973, parents made the switch from C to K, which probably goes along with the trends of the time.

Another impressive pattern you can recognize in the graphic are the two humps. In the 1940s and 1950s, there is a swelling of usage for all of the Big 3, with Catherine taking the lead, followed by Kathryn, and then Katherine. The 1960s and 1970s brought a decrease in usage, and then another boom occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s, this time with Katherine taking the lead, followed by Kathryn, and then Catherine, who only seemed to go down from its peak in the 1950s.

To take this observation even further, I present the next graph. Because they are Top 100 names and therefore subjects of my Name-alytics research, I have the percentage of usage data for the Big 3 from 1880 through 1937...

Do you see the slight hump in the 1910s? And Catherine and Katherine may very well be coming down from another hump occurring off-graph prior to 1880. You can also see exactly how popular Catherine was at its peak... 8 out of every 1,000 girls were named Catherine in the mid-1910s. Catherine was more popular at its height than Katherine or Kathryn ever were at theirs.

But let's move on. Referring back to the first chart, starting in the late 1990s, and continuing currently, you can see the trend is moving away from Katherine, no matter how you spell it. Katherine is still the most popular of the Big 3, but Catherine overtook Kathryn at the turn of the century.

As for the non-Big 3 spellings, the upswing of Katherine and Kathryn in the 1980s helped Katharine have a rise in popularity during that time as well. Katharine still has the highest popularity out of the rest, followed by Katheryn, Cathryn, Catharine, and Catheryn. (There are plenty of other spellings of Katherine that have been used... I just chose to concentrate on these for the purposes of this post.)

So, what does all of this mean? Well, Katherine has shown to be quite a roller-coaster of a name. Making this discovery leads me wonder if the wave will continue and another influx of Katherines will appear in the next decade or so. If so, I wonder which spelling will take control then? What do you think? Will Catherine join the trend towards older favorites and come back into the forefront?


Friday, January 2, 2015

Name Madness 2014 Winners!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to the post announcing the winners of Name Madness 2014! As we may have surmised from the entire tournament, one matchup was a blowout, while the other was tremendously close. Forty-five of you voted, and the results are...

Vivien 67%
June 33%

Rhys 49%
Harrison 51%

Congratulations to Vivien and Harrison!

Vivien continued her dominance, wiping out June the same way she did against Annette, Angelina, Viola, and Dorothy.

Only one vote separated Rhys and Harrison. Harrison also beat Hugh, Heath, Gable, and Dean on his path to glory.

So the Hollywood Names battle ended with a 1930s-1950s starlet name and a 1930s-1950s star surname/modern action star given name as the victors. Is this how you would have predicted the outcome? Are you happy or disappointed with the results?

One sidenote... do you like the spelling of Vivien? Interestingly, Vivien Leigh's birth name was Vivian. The spelling was changed when she started acting.

Thank you so much for making this tournament and fun success! Onto the 2015!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Name Madness 2014 - FINAL ROUND


Can you believe it's time for the final? Just in time for the last week of the year. We started out with 64 names and now we are down the final 4 (2 boy names and 2 girl names). What are the final matchups? Let's take a look at the results from Round 4...

Vivien 70%
Dorothy 30%

June 53%
Greta 47%

Rhys 53%
Quinn 47%

Dean 42%
Harrison 59%

Vivien seems to be unstoppable, as she has defeated her opponents quite convincingly each week. Does June have a chance against her?

And while Harrison won with a higher percentage in Round 4, Rhys has been mightier in the previous rounds. It seems to be anyone's game.

Did you have any idea these names would be in the final? If you did, you surely had a leg up on me!

Let's get to it! You have until Thursday, January 1, 2015 to vote. Please vote only once and for only one name in each match. Winners of Name Madness 2014 should be published on Friday, January 2, 2015. Have fun!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Name Madness 2014 - Round 4


Thank you to the 63 people who voted in Round 3! We are getting closer and closer to the final, so let's waste no more time and get to the results...

Vivien 68%
Viola 32%

Bette 49%
Dorothy 51%

Marlene 21%
June 79%

Greta 60%
Ingrid 40%

Alec 30%
Rhys 70%

Quinn 62%
Colin 38%

Dean 63%
Laurence 37%

Gable 48%
Harrison 52%

While some were quite convincing wins, check out Bette/Dorothy and Gable/Harrison! Those two matches were close the entire time the polls were open. In other news, Vivien continues to overpower her opponents and June trampled poor Marlene. Now onto the Elite Eight!

What do you think of these matchups? Vivien/Dorothy... two names that were huge in the 1920s (although Vivian was bigger than Vivien). June/Greta... the month name and the Swedish nickname for Margaret. Rhys/Quinn... Welsh versus Irish. Dean/Harrison... battle of the monikers that are famous as both first and last names. I'm not sure how you are going to choose!

You have until Thursday, December 25 to vote. I know it's a holiday week, but there are only four matches, so please set aside the short seconds it will take to fill out a ballot! Vote only once and for only one name in each match. Winners of Round 4 and the ballot for Round 5 should be published on Friday, December 26. Have fun!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Decades List - The Boys of the 1910s

Continuing our Decades List series... These are the Top 100 names historically that made the list for the 1910s decade because the average percentage of use for these names in that ten year period was the highest out of all of the decades. Meaning, this is the decade in which these names were used the most since 1880.

I will need to split the rest of the series into boys and girls because there are too many names to put in one post. So, let's look at the boys of the 1910s!

Carl - Peaking in 1915, Carl reached as high as #22 and was a steady presence in the Top 100 from 1880 through 1979. As a variant of the popular Charles, it is still one of the top 600 names in the US, but slowly slipping in the ranks.

Chester - Even though it left the Top 1000 after 1995 and continues to show decreasing numbers, Chester was a top name for almost 50 years around the turn of the century. It attained the rank of #53 in 1919.

Clifford - Clifford's popularity was at its height in 1918, although its highest rank was #57 in 1909. While Clifford no longer ranks in the Top 1000 and its nickname Cliff may not bring too many to its side, can we consider the up-and-comer Ford? That option could make the name more attractive to those wanting to honor a special Clifford in their lives.

Edwin - Speaking of honor, Edwin is a name present on both sides of my family and was therefore one of the first names on my radar. It ranked as high as #52 in 1919, but had its highest percentage of use in 1915. Edwin is still one of the top 300 names in the United States and is the real first name of astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Francis - A very popular saint name, Francis ranked at #29 in 1915. Its female counterpart, Frances, soared during the same decade, topping out at #8 in 1918. Needless to say, there were a lot of baby Francis/Franceses around in the 1910s/1920s. A new wave of Francis/Franceses may be on the horizon however, as both names have recently made the turn in the ranks from downward to upward.

Howard - Howard may have only fell out of the Top 1000 after 2012, but it actually ranked as high as #24 in 1919 and 1920. If it were to ever make a comeback, one of the main reasons would have to be the adorable nickname Howie.

Irving - Irving only got as high as #93 in 1911 and was only in the Top 100 for 3 years. The most interesting factoid about the name is that it was popular among Jews as an "American-sounding form of Hebrew names beginning with I such as Isaac, Israel, and Isaiah." (behindthename.com)

Joseph - Joseph is a powerhouse, having been in the Top 100 for every year since 1880. In the 1910s, more than 2 boys per 100 were named Joseph. It was ranked at #5 for 6 of the decade's years. Currently, it is tied for the second lowest rank it has ever been at #20 (lowest rank was #22 in 2011).

Julius - A name that jumped off and on the Top 100 list between 1880 and 1912, Julius reached its highest rank in 1883 at #88, but had its highest percentage of use in 1912. Its usage has slowly decreased in subsequent years, and currently remains in the Top 400.

Lester - While it was a pretty steady presence in the Top 100 for almost 50 years, Lester never got above #52 in the ranks and that was in 1906. Its highest percentage of use for the decades was in the 1910s however, and it has only gone down from there, falling out of the Top 1000 after 1999.

Lloyd - Lloyd attained its highest popularity in 1918 when it ranked #51. It has since left the Top 1000 (after 2002), but is hanging around a bit as it hasn't dropped too far below it.

Louis - The regal Louis had its highest ranking in 1882 at #18, but its peak percentage of use was in 1914. It has decreased in usage since then, but has never fallen below #353 and is currently on a slight upswing.

Maurice - The saint name Maurice and its counterpart, Morris, both peaked in the 1910s. Maurice reached #94 in 1914 and still ranks among the top 600 names in the United States.

Milton - Milton reached its pinnacle at #64 in 1912. Seemingly considered an "old guy" name, it hasn't ranked since 2008, but is still considered popular in Sweden.

Morris - As mentioned above, Morris rose along with Maurice, climbing to #82 in 1912. Even though Morris ranked higher than Maurice, the French version of the name still ranks, while Morris fell out of the Top 100 after 1994.

Russell - Russell's highest percentage was in 1914, while its highest rank was #48 in 1904. It still remains one of the top 500 names in the US.

Sidney - Like Francis, Sidney has a female equivalent. Unlike Francis, Sidney for boys was popular many years before Sydney was for girls and never ranked as high. Sidney reached its height in 1912 at #80. It is also still in the Top 1000, but just barely.

Stanley - Stanley peaked at #34 in the mid-1910s. While it has become a top 100 name in England, it is slowly falling away in the States, ranking at #679 in 2013.

Victor - Victor has one of the most, if not the most, irregular record when it comes to the Top 100. Between 1885 and 2003, the name entered and left the Top 100 18 times. It reached its pinnacle at #63 in 1918. Currently, Victor is #142, the lowest rank it has ever had.

Vincent - Another very irregular record is the one held by Vincent. Between 1910 and 1994, Vincent entered and left the Top 100 nine times. Oddly enough, and as proof of its weird track, it reached its highest percentage of use and highest rank (#58) in the 1960s but had its highest use in a decade in the 1910s. Even now, it is possibly on its way back into the top rankings as it sits at #101 after falling to #123 in 2002.

Virgil - Virgil was present in the Top 100 for several years between 1904 and 1922, but never ranked higher than #93 (1907). It fell out of the Top 1000 after 1991.

Wilbur - Wilbur was only in the Top 100 for nine years, mostly in the 1910s. It peaked at #91 in 1913, which happens to closely coincide with the death of Wilbur Wright in 1912. Not sure if there really was an influence there, but other than the pig in Charlotte's Web, Mr. Wright is probably the most famous Wilbur out there.

Willard - Another "Will" name, Willard reached #58 in 1915 and slid down from there, exiting the Top 1000 after 1989.

Woodrow - There is no question where the popularity of Woodrow came from. Woodrow Wilson ran for President in 1912, the same year the name Woodrow entered the Top 100 (it ranked at #234 in 1911). It remained in the Top 100 for the majority of his two terms in office, peaking at #44 in 1913 and has since decreased in use by a large amount.

Wow! What a great list! I especially love Victor and Vincent and wonder why their popularity wavers so much. It surprised me to find that Maurice still ranked while Morris did not. Is it the French twist to the name that makes Maurice more popular or is it the link to the cat in the 9Lives commercials that makes Morris less popular? I personally would love to see Morris rise again, but the numbers do not show that possibility any time soon.