Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G!

Thanksgiving Tray

I did this with HALLOWEEN a couple of years ago and thought it would be fun to do again. So... how many names can you find in THANKSGIVING? The rule is you can use only the letters in Thanksgiving and you can only use them the amount of times they show up in the word. Here's what I came up with...

Ani
Avi
Gia
Gigi
Han
Hank
Hans
Higgins
Ian
Ivan
Kat
Khan
Kia
King
Nat
Nia
Niki
Savi
Stan
Sting
Tina
Van
Vin
Ving

Not very easy! Can you find any more?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Name Madness 2014 - Submit Names for Consideration Now!


I'm a little late this year, but it's time to start the third annual Name Madness!

In 2012, we found out that Claire and Henry were the best character names from TV, books and movies. In 2013, we discovered that Matilda and Callum were the best European names. What will we discover in 2014?

Actually, since I started so late, we won't find out the winners until 2015. But the premise is still the same... each week, you will vote in a tournament bracket style (think March Madness) until we dwindle down to the top two names of the year.

And, without further ado, the theme for Name Madness 2014 is...

Hollywood Names!

Think Greta, Gable, and Greer. Think Angelina, Audrey, and Alec. Think Harlow, Harrison, and Hudson. We have been producing motion pictures since the 1910s, and actors and actresses have always been a part of them, so we have about 100 years of names to choose from. What do you think are some of the greatest names of Hollywood actors and actresses?

With that question in mind, I couldn't just come up with the contenders myself... I want help from you! So, throw some Hollywood names my way. They can be the actor's real name or stage name (both Norma Jeane and Marilyn would be acceptable). They can be first or last names (using the same example, both Marilyn and Monroe would be acceptable). A total of 64 total names (32 boys and 32 girls) is necessary for the tournament, so please comment with your suggestions!

The first round will be posted on Monday, December 1. I don't know about you, but I can't wait!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Decades List - 1900s


Let's continue the series...

These names made the list for the 1900s 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.


Boys

Alton - Alton was in the Top 100 for only one year. It reached #78 in 1904, which also happens to be the year Alton Parker ran for President against Theodore Roosevelt. It fell out of the Top 1000 almost 100 years later.

Cecil - Cecil hit is height at #65 in 1902. It stayed fairly popular for several decades before gradually falling away and out of the Top 1000 after 1997. However, the feminine form of Cecilia is currently on the rise.

Clyde -  While Clyde's highest rank was at #50 in 1883, its highest percentage of use was in 1905 when it was ranked #52. Interestingly, it returned to the Top 1000 in 2013 at #999 after 14 years of absence.

Eddie - Eddie was extremely sporadic in terms of popularity during the turn of the century. It was consistently in the Top 100 from 1930 through 1958, but it was at its peak in 1910 at #59. Even though it may be seen more as a nickname for such names as Edward, Edwin, Edgar, and Edmond, it is still ranked in the 600s in the United States as a given name.

Everett - Currently a name increasing in popularity, Everett reached as high as #81 in 1906. It seemed to be on a downward path until the 1990s when it turned around and has been consistently rising since.

Floyd - Did you know Floyd is actually a variant of Lloyd (which reached its height in the 1910s)? Floyd seems to have been a decade or so ahead of its base name, as it peaked in 1905 at #44, 14 years before Lloyd did and seven ranks higher than Lloyd reached, but did not last as long in the Top 1000.

Herman - Herman was used more in the 1900s than any other decade since 1880. However, it ranked highest in 1886 and 1893 at #44 and had the highest percentage of use in 1893. I think we can safely say that even though it is currently ranked high in Norway, in the United States, Herman had its heyday over the turn of the century and has since fallen away.

Jessie - While we may see Jessie more as a nickname for Jessica, it is also a popular variant of the name Jesse for boys. Reaching #69 in 1900 (and its highest percentage of use in 1910), Jessie was not too far from the original Jesse's 1900 rank of #50. Even though its usage is decreasing now, in 2013, Jessie was given to 320 boys (versus 477 girls) and ranked at #720.

Joe - Joe was a steady presence in the Top 100 from 1880 through 1970. Its highest rank was #20 in 1880, but its highest percentage of use was in 1910. It is a fairly steady nickname name that still holds a place in the Top 1000.

Johnnie - With John being #1 from 1880 through 1923, it is no surprise that its nicknames also peaked in the Top 100. Johnnie reached as high as #74 in 1910, many ranks lower and many years prior to counterpart Johnny. It has also disappeared from the Top 1000, while Johnny is still in the 200s.

Leo - Leo reached its pinnacle in 1903 at the rank of #38. It was an early peaker compared to its associates Leon and Leonard, and is currently on its way back into the Top 100.

Leslie - Leslie is now considered a girl's name, but it was once dominated by boys. The takeover happened during the 1940s when the boy Leslie started a gradual decline in popularity. In 1902, however, Leslie reached its highest percentage of use (it reached its highest rank in 1895 at #81), when girl Leslie was in the lower half of the Top 1000.

Otis - Otis only entered the Top 100 three times (1899, 1905, and 1909) and never really got extremely high in rank, only reaching #94 in 1899 (was #99 the other two years). It fell out of the Top 1000 after 1994, but has recently started an upswing that could possibly be aided by the fact that celebrity Olivia Wilde used it on her son in 2014.

Roosevelt - There is no wonder as to the root of Roosevelt's popularity. It was in the Top 100 from 1903-1905, the years Theodore Roosevelt ran for President and won his second term (after taking over for McKinley following his assassination). It peaked in 1905 at #91. Interestingly, there was another peak in the raw numbers in 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt became President, but the rank at that time only rose to #132.

Theodore - No doubt due to the previously mentioned President, Theodore peaked in percentage of use in 1904, when it also reached its highest rank at #30. It had a steady presence in the Top 100 (1880-1944, 1949-1952), and is currently on the rise again (#170 in 2013).

Willie - A very popular name for both boys and girls in the 1900s, Willie was probably used to honor a special William, Willard or Wilbur in the family's life. Boy Willie reached as high as #11 in 1910, when it was given to almost 14 out of every 1,000 boys born, and it is still in the Top 1000 today.

Girls

Beulah - While the name does not attract very many people nowadays, Beulah was once ranked as high as #72 in 1903 and 1904, and held a place in the Top 100 for 30 years. It was once used in the Bible as a reference to Israel.

Esther - A Biblical name that has a different fate is Esther. Peaking at #27 in 1896, Esther had its highest usage in the 1900s and after falling only into the 300s in rank over time, it is currently on the rise.

Gladys - Gladys made it all the way to #11 in 1901. In that year, about one girl out of a hundred were given the name. From there, Gladys has slowly moved towards disappearance from use.

Hilda - Hilda was never any higher than it was in 1899 at #87, but it remained a part of the Top 100 for several years around the turn of the century. It is currently used even less than Gladys in the United States, but is one of the top 100 names in Sweden.

Leona - Like the aforementioned Leo, Leona reached its height in the 1900s and after a decrease in usage is currently on the rise. It peaked in 1905 at #69, fell out of the Top 1000 in 1982, re-entered in 2009, and then shot up to #734 in 2013.

Lillian - Lillian may be ranked pretty high right now (#26 in 2013), but it was as high as #10 from 1898 through 1901. During the 1900s, 1 out of every 100 girls was named Lillian. While that number may not be reached again, reaching the Top 10 again is highly possible.

Lola - Lola was only in the Top 100 in 1904 at #99. So, while it did not hold as much muster as most other names on this list, it still held up well on its own as it is usually a diminutive for Dolores. Lola re-entered the Top 1000 in 2002 after a 20-year absence and is continuing to slowly rise.

Marie - Marie is the French form of Maria and variation of Mary. It is no big surprise then that it peaked pretty high at #7 in 1901, 1903 and 1904. In 1899, almost 13 out of every 1,000 girls were named Marie. Ever since then, however, the name is on an extremely slow downslide.

Rose - Like Marie, Rose may be more commonly heard as a middle name nowadays, but back in 1911 and 1913, it was ranked as high as #14 as a first name. Rose reached it's highest percentage of use in 1908 and while it went down from there, it may be currently making a turn for the better.

Vera - Vera made it as high as #65 in 1915 and 1919, although it had its most percentage of use in the 1900s. It dropped out of the Top 1000 in 1984, but has since made a huge comeback, re-entering in 2009 and increasing to #422 in five short years.

Viola - Believe it or not, Viola was more popular at its highest than Violet ever has been. In 1908, Viola ranked at #42, while Violet has just reached its highest ranking at #69 in 2013. It is very different from Violet now, however, as its come back has not been as dramatic and quick. But with increasing numbers in recent years, Viola is definitely another "old" name that is making a move.

Willie - It is fascinating that Willie reached its height as a boy's name and as a girl's name in the same decade. Although, for girls, it did not achieve the same pinnacle. Girl Willie peaked at #54 in 1909 and fell out of the Top 1000 after 1972. In fact, it has almost fallen out of favor completely, as it was only given to five girls in 2013 and was not recorded at all in the previous three years.

Which of these names that peaked in the decade of the 1900s is your favorite? Would you like to see more of any of them? My faves would have to be Otis and Viola!


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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Bellas


Isabella was #1 for 2009 and 2010 and has been in the Top 10 since 2004. Elizabella reached the mainstream with the birth of Alyssa Milano's daughter, and Arabella is also in the news again after another celebrity birth.

Is it the "bella" factor that makes these names on the rise? Is it the fact that "bella" means "beautiful" in Italian? Or is it just the feminine sound?

Whatever it is, it's a hit. Let's take a look at some -bellas...

Annabella - A combination of Anna and Bella or a form of Annabel, Annabella has slowly made its way up in the Top 1000 since breaking in in 2001. Interestingly, it is related to the name Amabel, and Amabella has just started showing up in the United States in the past few years.

Arabella - Arabella also has a connection to Amabel and Annabella, and in that way (Latin) it means "yielding to prayer." In the German, it means "eagle heroine." It is also the name of a comedic opera written by Richard Strauss in 1933. Arabella had brief stints in the Top 1000 in the late 1800s, but firmly broke into the ranks in 2005 and has only been on the rise since.

Bella - The name itself has risen a lot since it re-entered the Top 1000 back in 2000 after almost 70 years of absence. No doubt aided by the Twilight craze, it reached as high as #48 in 2010, but has leveled a bit in the past few years.

Christabella - A varient of Christabel, or possibly even a combination of Christina and Bella, Christabella has religious roots as it means "beautiful Christian." It is a rare name in the United States, given to a handful of girls mostly since 2002.

Elizabella - Before Alyssa Milano chose this name for her daughter, many may not have heard of it. It looks like a combination of Elizabeth and Bella and may very well be that. It could often get confused with the more popular Isabella. The earliest recording of this name being used in the United States is 2004 and there were 35 girls given the name in 2013, the highest number so far.

Isabella - The name is huge, but since you can't go anywhere but down from the top, it is probably over the hump now and on its way back down while other -bella names are on the rise. After about a 40 year absence from the Top 1000, Isabella re-entered the ranks in 1990 and was well on its way to the top when Twilight helped the inevitable. Isabella is a variation of Isabel, which is the Spanish form of Elizabeth. Izabella is also a pretty popular spelling, ranking at #179 in 2013, and Ysabella is another consideration.

Mirabella - Mirabella is a form of Mirabelle, which means "wonderful." Its use in the United States was first recorded in 1991 and surprisingly has not been given to more than 60 girls in a year (2011). One question though... do you pronounce it mee-rah-bel-la or my-rah-bel-la?

Rosabella - The meaning for Rosabella is very clear; it is Italian and means "beautiful rose." Another name that I am surprised is not used more in the States, although it is slowly increasing, reaching its height so far in 2013 at 83 girls (first recorded in 1997).

Sabella - Its first recorded use in the States was in 1986 and it has increased to 82 uses in 2013. What does this beautiful name mean? I'm probably the only one who had to do a double-take when I looked it up... it's a shortened form of Isabella. The lack of "I" really threw me for a loop and makes it sound fresher than the popular long form. Can also be spelled Zabella for a fun choice.

Are you in favor of the increase in -bellas? What is your favorite -bella?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From Betty to Lizzi... Elizabeth Nicknames as Given Names


Elizabeth is the only girl name that has been in the Top 100 every year since 1880. It's no wonder though, as it is a classic name with an abundance of nicknames to create some uniqueness to each special girl. But what about the girls who have the nickname on their birth certificate? They are related to the name by custom alone and may have to explain to people that their name is not actually Elizabeth. These girls have parents who simply loved the diminutive more than the full name. And the popularity of these nicknames-as-given-names is pretty grand.

I consulted with my name sums database (all given names since 1880 totaled) and picked out the names that have been in the Top 100, as well as any commonly spelled names that are well known nicknames for Elizabeth. I did not include all possible spellings of each nickname, such as Elleigh or Alyzah.

*Has been in the Top 100

The top names are not a curiosity. Betty was a powerhouse name in the 1920s and 1930s, when up to 3 out of 100 girls were given the name each year, so it is no surprise that it is the most popular Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-name overall. Lisa held the #1 spot for the majority of the 1960s, so that is no shock either.

I guess the only thing that had me pause was how "low" Lizzie is. It seems as though Lizzie is more often heard as a nickname than a given name, but the fact that it was in the Top 100 made me think it would be higher. Further digging however, shows that Lizzie was in the Top 100 in the 1880s and 1890s when there weren't as many babies born and/or recorded. Even more interesting is that there have been only seven girls given the name Lizzi since 1880. Seven!? That's not even an "outrageous" spelling of the name. Or maybe it's just weird to someone named Kelli? ;) There have been many other spellings of several of the Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-names that have been given to much more and even less than Lizzi... this one just stuck out to me as surprisingly low.

Many Elizabeth nicknames can hold their own quite well. To me, Lisa and Lillian sound more substantial as a given name, probably because they do not have the -ee ending most nicknames possess. I am also a huge fan of Elise for this reason. It is a fantastic option to those wanting to honor an Elizabeth without sounding too nicknamey.

There are several nicknames that have not been given as names. My personal favorite is Busy (could also possibly be spelled Bizzy), but I also know a young Elizabeth called Dizzy, which I absolutely adore. Others include Tibby, Zibby, and Tetty.

How would these Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-names rank against each other in 2013?

Fascinatingly, the majority of the names that start with B filter towards the bottom of the list (Betty still being the tops of the Bs) and the E names take over. In fact, all but 4 of the top 15 are E names (the 4 being L names) and the bottom 24 are all B and L names.

In the end, the main joy from this post is seeing all together so many wonderful names with roots from one of the best names of all time. I would have to say that I wish I heard more girls named Betty nowadays, but I probably prefer Elizabeth over any of her nicknames as a given name. That way, I can pick and choose which nickname to go with, or even go with several.

Here's an interesting question... Would your favorite Elizabeth-nickname-as-a-given-name be different from the nickname you would call your daughter named Elizabeth? Or is your favorite Elizabeth nickname the main one you would consider as a given name?

Last but not least... how many suspect Elsa will rise significantly in the coming years? {Raises hand.}

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