Wednesday, October 31, 2012


via Wikipedia

It's Halloween and my fellow name bloggers have done a superb job at blogging about Halloween names (check out the name blog list to the right)! So, what do I do? I list names that include the letters H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N:


That was fun! I'm sure there's more... can you see any I missed?

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Starbucks Conundrum

via Starbucks

I originally posted about this on Facebook, but I thought it would be fun to blog about it as well. It's called the Starbucks Conundrum. You give your order and your name to the barista and hope he/she gets the order right AND spells your name right. Or is that just me? As you can guess, my name is often misspelled. It doesn't damper my day because I'm used to it, but my day is definitely brightened when they get it right.

So, in comes Instagram. The online phone picture phenomenon is fun to participate in as well as look through. The other day, I typed "names" into the search box and found these goodies: #namespelledwrong, #namespeltwrong, and #namespelledright.  A lot of these pictures were of Starbucks cups. Little did the baristas know their mistakes would be broadcast around the world of Instagram. Here is what I've found in the "wrong" category (actual spelling is in parenthesis):

Megan (Meghan)
Sabastian (Sebastian)
Kyra (Kera)
Jeff (Geoff)
Danica (Danikka)
Sierra (Ciarra)
Tobas (Tobias)
Tricia (Trisha)
Kristin (Kristyn)
Jordan (Jordyn)
Caressa (Carissa)
Cathy (Kathi)
Marielle (Maurielle)
Shelbey (Shelbee)
Zoey (Zoe)
Emely (Emily)
Madeline (Madalyn)
Shelbie (Shelby)
Loure (Laura)
Candiace (Candace)
Kely (Kelly)
Jordan (Jourdan)
Lizzie (Lizzy)
Ellenor (Eleanor)
Christy (Christie)
Lyann (Leanne)
Alisha (Alycia)
Tarry (Terri)
Madolyn (Madeline)

You can't blame some of the baristas, but others probably just didn't care.

And the names of the people who had their day brightened:

It's interesting, right? I'm sure a lot of these are just flukes, but that's what makes it so special.

Oh, to work at Starbucks. Think of the plethora of names you would hear as a barista. Though, I would probably be fired after the first rush hour due to my asking each customer how to spell their name and then possibly asking them for their name story. ;)

Has your name been misspelled a lot? What are the most common mistakes?


Friday, October 26, 2012

Diverted by a Name: Hollis

Hollis, New Hampshire via Wikipedia

The town of Hollis, New Hampshire was named after Thomas Hollis, a wealthy benefactor of Harvard University. Actually, the town name has been Hollis exclusively since 1815... before that date, since its inception in 1746, it was Holles after Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle. Starting in 1775, it was both names, but Hollis eventually won out. Several other towns in the United States are named Hollis, and the surname is heard frequently.

What about Hollis as a given name? I admit when I was first asked to look into this name (a thanks goes to Jacque for the request!), I thought it was a girl name. Possibly because of the "holl" in the beginning that made me think of Holly. In fact, Hollis means "lives near holly bushes" so I wasn't too far off. But the name is both a masculine and feminine one, with a stronger history in the United States as a name for boys. It was in the top 1000 as a boy name from 1880 until 1974 (peaking at #292 in 1908), while it was only in the top 1000 as a girl name from 1948 until 1955 (peaking at #772 in 1953). As a boy name it remained in the 300s from the turn of the century until 1935, when it gradually began to fall in the rankings. In 2011, 101 boys were given the name Hollis versus 60 girls. All that to say, it seems to weigh on the side of masculine.

Hollace is an interesting variant that is similar to Wallace (whose variant Wallis was made famous by a female celebrity). Other alternatives include Holles, Holless, Holliss, Hollys, Hollyes, Hollies, Holleis, Holyss and even Hollister. Similar names would be Holly, Holland, Heloise, Haley, and Halsey.

Known Hollises:

Hollis Caswell - an American educator

Hollis Robbins - an American scholar

Hollis Mason - a fictional character, part of the Watchmen comic books

Hollis Woods - a fictional character, Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

What do you think of Hollis? Do you see it as a boy or girl name?


Info from and

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Famous Surnames

Joe DiMaggio via Wikipedia

As I was going through the list of names from 2011 for my post on boys with girl names, I noticed a lot of great "named after famous people" names! Of course, some of these kids could have been named after family members and not the famous people with the same name, or their parents just chose the name because they liked it and didn't know or care about the celebrity, but some can't help but think of the celebrity when hearing the name, so I thought I would take a look at them anyway.

Being a baseball fan, Dimaggio is a name that stuck out to me right away. The Baltimore Orioles are my team, which means I hate severely dislike the New York Yankees, but certain past and present Yankee players are highly respected in my book. Joe DiMaggio is one of them, and Lou Gehrig is another. Pat Neshek, relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, and his wife recently suffered the sudden loss of their newborn baby, a boy named Gehrig John. I may be a little biased, but I think baseball players provide some of the best honorary names for babies.

Other famous people (possibly) honored are authors, artists, musicians, models, athletes, designers, philosophers, newscasters, criminals, television and movie celebrities, and politicians (although I did skip President(ial) Names, since I already wrote on them). I also only took into account the names that were spelled exactly like the celebrity.

Here are a list of the names that caught my eye, along with the number of babies born with the name in 2011:

Amadeus 35 (Not his surname, but still very linked to Mozart.)
Aniston 179
Arden 175, 72
Aristotle 23
Armani 516, 377
Austen 147, 28 (Could be a variant of Austin, but I choose to think some of these are after the author Jane, especially the girls.)
Beckham 356, 5
Berra 6
Brando 53
Brinkley 71
Brolin 13
Bronte 13
Browning 9
Cagney 5
Capone 5
Cheney 5 (Do you think this is possibly another spelling for Shanae?  If so, could be a reason to stay away from variant spellings, especially if you wouldn't like people to think your daughter is named after the former VP.)
Chesney 66, 6
Clancy 14, 13
Coltrane 13
Crawford 33
Crockett 8
Crosby 301, 24
Cruise 11
Daly 10
Darwin 291, 5
Dempsey 67, 25
Dillinger 36
Dimaggio 8
Dorsey 5
Fielder 6
Fitzgerald 7
Gable 7
Gabor 5
Garland 21, 6
Garner 12
Gehrig 27
Getty 5
Grisham 6
Guthrie 12
Hanson 39
Harlow 462, 13
Hendrix 200, 14
Hogan 29
Hughes 11
Huston 18
Hutton 16, 6
Iverson 20
Jenner 50
Jeter 37
Jolie 367
Joplin 14
Keaton 802, 57
Kepler 7
Kingsley 196, 33
Kipling 8
Lambert 6
Landry 284, 212
Larson 51
Lennon 302, 112
Lennox 262, 44
Lofton 10
Lovell 17
Macarthur 10
Maguire 21, 5
Malone 7, 5
Manning 22
Marino 16
Mattingly 23, 6
Mays 7, 5
Mccartney 13, 7
Monet 55
Monroe 141, 42 (I am including this due to Marilyn Monroe, not the president, especially since the majority are girls.)
Napoleon 20
Newman 6
Newton 14
Nobel 9
Olivier 77
Olsen 10
Patterson 11
Patton 50, 7
Powell 6
Presley 1384, 123
Ptolemy 6
Reeve 33
Reeves 12
Reiner 5
Rembrandt 5
Reynolds 7, 5
Reznor 14
Ricci 5
Ripken 9
Ritter 11
Robinson 48
Rollins 7
Romano 8
Romney 5
Rooney 43, 6
Rourke 9
Sanders 14
Sandler 5
Shaffer 5
Slater 57
Socrates 7
Spartacus 6
Stiles 11
Stockton 45
Swayze 26, 5
Tennyson 34, 15
Thatcher 164
Theron 87
Thurman 10
Tierney 89
Tyson 1370, 5
Wagner 5
Whitaker 18
Whitman 24
Wilder 62
Wyland 11
Zeppelin 20

Other baseball notables: Catcher 11Dodger 7Fenway 5; Shea 171, 148; Wrigley 25, 14; Yogi, 7. And I wouldn't be a loyal Orioles fan if I didn't mention Camden. Most non-baseball fans wouldn't see a connection, but if your name is Camden and you are from the Baltimore area, you were most likely named after the Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Which famous surname would you use?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Romancing Miss Brontë

I'm on vacation! It's a beach vacation, which means I can sit and read a book. The book I chose to read is Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, and of course it has inspired me to write about names.

Romancing Miss Brontë is historical fiction about Charlotte Brontë and her sisters, Emily and Anne. After doing some research on the Brontë family, I found that Emily is the only one listed that had a middle name, Jane. The three sisters also had two older sisters who died from tuberculosis, and their names were Maria and Elizabeth. A great sibset of sisters if I have ever heard one. Their brother's name was Patrick Branwell, which was their father's name and their mother's maiden name (they called him Branwell).

While the names of the siblings are alone perfectly blog-worthy, what really caught my eye was the nickname Charlotte's sisters called her: Tally. I am not sure if this is the author's creation, or if the sisters really called her Tally... if anyone knows I would love to hear! I had never heard that as a nickname for Charlotte. Charlie, Lottie, Lotta, Carly, Carla are the ones I can come up with, but never Tally. Tally, besides being a name in its own right, could be a nickname for Tallulah, Thalia, Talicia, or even Natalie.

That leads me to pronunciation. Are they pronouncing it like the word tally or like taw-lee, which would go with the sound of that last syllable in Charlotte? Like Lottie but switching the "t" and the "l"? I wonder, but the spelling makes it seem like they are saying it like the word tally. Again, not really sure how that came about, but definitely an interesting tidbit.

Besides the sisters, there are the males in Charlotte's life.  Her father, Patrick (who is Irish), and her two love interests, Arthur and George. Wonderfully common names for England in the 1800s. But another set of interesting names are the girls' pen names: Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. They are surnames that use their same initials: Charlotte was Currer (the name she used to publish Jane Eyre), Emily was Ellis (the name she used to publish Wuthering Heights), and Anne was Acton (the name she used to publish Agnes Grey). Currer is a variant of Currier, a tradesname from one who curries leather. Ellis is a name we are familiar with, as it is currently ranked #723 in the United States, and it is similar in root to the name Elijah. Acton means "oak tree settlement" and would be related to the name Oakley.

I love how books (and real life characters) make me delve into names that I would not have considered otherwise. If I were not on vacation, I might try to delve a little more, but I'll leave it to you for now. As a side question, I've often wondered what pen name I would create to publish fabulous novels. Do you know?


Friday, October 19, 2012

Boys with Girl Names - 2011

"A Boy Named Sue", by Johnny Cash via Wikipedia

The story told in the song "A Boy Named Sue" is a moving one. The boy named Sue is angry at his father, who gave him the name and then left him when he was young. He grew up wanting vengeance. When he found his father, his father explained that he knew he wasn't going to be there for his son, so he named him Sue in order to make him strong and able to withstand anything. The two then reconcile. Wikipedia also talks about a real-life man named Sue, who was named after his mother when she died in childbirth.

Whether it's to toughen up a son, for sentimental reasons, or something completely different, some boys are named girl names. I understand that there shouldn't be a difference between using boy names on girls and using girl names on boys, but we all know there is. A girl wouldn't necessarily be embarrassed if someone was expecting a boy after only seeing her name. If it's not for sentimental reasons, which could also be done using a male name with the same meaning or a similar sounding name, I can't help but wonder what the parents of these boys were thinking. Did they just love the name so much they wanted to use it no matter what the gender?

Here is a list and the number of girl-named baby boys in 2011:

Abigail 21
Aileen 5
Alison 6
Alyssa 5
Amara 8
Amelia 6
Amy 5
Anna 7
Brianna 7
Clara 7
Elizabeth 19
Emily 11
Emma 31
Faith 9
Gianna 6
Grace 8
Hailey 8
Hannah 5
Isabella 26
Jennifer 6
Jessica 9
Karen 7
Katelyn 5
Katherine 5
Kayla 5
Kristen 8
Leah 10
Lily 7
Molly 7
Mya 6
Natalie 11
Olivia 16
Sarah 5
Sienna 5
Sophia 22
Stephanie 6
Vanessa 6
Victoria 5
Zoe 13

Some of these, like Faith, Grace and Lily are words and not specifically deemed to be names for girls only, but they are dominantly female and that's why I included them.

Do you know a boy with a female name? Are there any girl names that you think would fit a boy?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Name Madness Prep

If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I am prepping for the next installment of Name Madness! For those of you new to NameFreak!, Name Madness is a tournament that starts with 36 girl names and 36 boy names put into brackets and you, the reader, vote each round until we reach a winner.  It's inspired by March Madness, a college basketball tournament in the United States, which uses 64 teams (I add an extra 8 names, just because, and use them in a play-in round) and several rounds to determine the annual champion. NameFreak! will use several rounds to determine the boy name "champion" and the girl name "champion" and then do a battle of the sexes for the champion of them all.

I've decided to do a theme of sorts, using characters from books, movies, or television. I need your help! Leave a comment with some of your favorites, or some of those more interesting names that would go great in a tournament!

Once I have the 72 names, I will randomly place them in the bracket and the tournament will begin. Remember though... participation is key! I will need votes in order to declare a winner. Reminders will be put on Facebook, but you can also keep checking back to the blog, or put the blog on your reader, so you can vote in each round. Thank you!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Diverted by a Name: Hortense

Hortense de Beauharnais, step-daughter of Napoleon I, via Wikipedia

My sister-in-law requested I do name-studies on random names. I have thought about doing this as well, but several name bloggers do it (and do it well), and I was a bit hesitant. But I find it's unavoidable, especially since my interest lies in names and the history of them. I actually already did one when I got stuck on Wallis last week, and therefore I already have a name for the series: Diverted by a Name. And thank you, Daisha, for giving me a name to study: Hortense.

Hortense is a French name.  It is probably not one American parents often use due to the look of the first three letters and the word it represents, but Hortense is actually pronounced or-TAWNS. According to Behind the Name, it is the French form of the Roman name Hortensia, which is the feminine form of the name Hortensius.

First, let's look at some famous Hortenses:

Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837) - the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon I. She married Napoleon's brother and was Queen of Holland from 1806 until 1810.

Hortense Mancini (1646-1699) - a mistress of Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland and the fourth of five beautiful sisters from Italy. She was born Ortensia, and her sisters were Laure, Olympe, Marie and Marie Anne. She also had three brothers: Paul, Philippe, and Alphonse.

Hortense Calisher (1911-2009) - author of In the Absence of Angels.

Hortense Powdermaker (1900-1970) - an anthropologist.

Hurricane Hortense - a category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic in 1996. As I've researched, when a storm is severe enough, the name is retired. The name Hortense has been retired as a hurricane name.

Hortense McDuck - fictional Disney character, sister to Scrooge McDuck and Matilda McDuck, mother to Donald and Della Duck (twins), and grandmother to Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Hortense Briggs - fictional character from An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser.

Mademoiselle Hortense - fictional character from Bleak House, by Charles Dickens.

The name is derived from the Latin for "garden" and has the meaning "gardener". If you are looking for a nature name, Hortense may be an option you haven't considered. More directly related would be Hortensia (or-TEHN-syə), which is the common name for the flowering plant Hydrangea.

Hortense seems to be consistently used in France, where it ranked #338 (132 babies) in 2010. Not surprisingly though, it is not currently in the Top 1000 in the United States. In 1894 and 1903, it was #378 (55 and 49 babies, respectively), which is the highest it ranked since 1880. It fell off the list in 1941, and the last time it was recorded was in 1976, when 6 girls were given the name. Hortensia, on the other hand, has been recorded as recently as 1995, when 5 girls were given the name. It has been ranked twice, once in 1928 when 66 girls were named Hortensia and it was ranked #909. It was ranked #929 the previous year, with 65 babies given the name.

The Spanish spelling, Hortencia, has been more widespread than both Hortense and Hortensia, but never ranked as high as Hortense. It ranked from 1922 until 1942, peaking in 1931 when it ranked #748 (81 babies), and is still used currently, as 8 babies were given the name in 2011.

Other alternates recorded in the United States throughout the years but never ranked: Hortence, Ortensia, and Ortencia.

If you love the sound of the name but are worried about the way people who speak English would pronounced it, you could use the Italian alternate spellings Ortense, Ortensia, Ortencia or Ortensa. Famous Ortensias include a Disney character as well as an Australian race horse. If you like names with "z" in them, you could also go with Hortenzia (Hungarian) or Ortenzia (Italian). Ortenzia Borre is an Australian newscaster.

And finally, possible nicknames could be Tawny, Tenny, Tenzy. Cute!

What do you think of Hortense? I did not think the name was attractive until this study, although I would probably go with a variant spelling if I had to use it. Do the spelling and possible pronunciation totally turn you off or do you see a hidden beauty?

Side note: Feel free to contact me with a name or two to divert me!  I like to be diverted.  :)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baby Shower Name Game: Favorites

I played this game on my old blog, and like most baby shower name games, it's a lot of fun. Why not do it again, especially since some of my answers have changed and I made an addition.  :)

The goal of this game, and most baby shower name games, is to give the future mom some ideas for her baby's name. The results are mostly silly, of course, but you never know what could come up! For this game, you make first and middle name combinations by filling in your favorites. Here are mine:

Favorite actor / Favorite character he played
Nathan Malcolm – (Nathan Fillion / Malcolm Reynolds – Firefly)

Favorite actress / Favorite character she played
Kate Marianne – (Kate Winslet / Marianne Dashwood - Sense & Sensibility)

Favorite author / Favorite character from your favorite book
Jane Darcy - (Jane Austen / Mr. Darcy – Pride & Prejudice)

Favorite singer / Favorite band
Sarah Journey – (Sarah McLachlan / Journey)

Favorite Disney character / Favorite TV show character
Flynn Troy  – (Tangled / Community)

Favorite Flower / Favorite City
Lily Berlin

What would be your answers?


Friday, October 12, 2012

A Case for the Letter: W

After working on the Case for the Letter B, I was perusing names and decided to work on the letter W next. Actually, it was the name Wealthy that caught my eye. I continue to be amazed at the names people give their children. Not in a judgmental way, of course. Just an amazement at the creativity and gumption some parents have. And they are not alone since the names that make the list are those given to at least five babies in a given year. I will be going through the alphabet doing these Case for the Letter posts slowly but surely.  It will be fun to see what names pop up.

Top W Names Per Decade
The following are lists of the most popular W names in the top 200 for each decade since the 1880s. I make observations after each decade of the differences between that decade and the one prior. Taking a quick look at them, you can see that the top girl W name goes from Willie to Whitney and the top boy W name never changes.

89 Willie
161 Winifred
190 Winnie

2 William
13 Walter
26 Will
30 Willie
95 Warren
106 Willis
118 Wesley
134 Wallace
144 Willard
147 Wilbur
183 Wiley
195 Wilson

Would you have guessed that the most popular girl W name at the turn of the century was Willie? Probably named after her father or grandfather William, Willie was in the top 100 for the decades of the 1880s through the 1920s. William has been the top W name for boys ever since the 1880s, with no contender really coming close. Will, Willie, Willis, Willard, Wilbur and Wilson all have the same first syllable as William, while the "Win" syllable starts two of the three top girl names. Names that begin with W have been and continue to be more popular to use on boys than girls; no more than four names that begin with W make up the top 200 for girls in each decade.

75 Willie
175 Winifred
183 Winnie

2 William
13 Walter
18 Willie
40 Will
115 Warren
120 Wesley
123 Willis
130 Willard
135 Wallace
138 Wilbur

Wiley and Wilson fall off the list for the boys.  The rest remains the same from the previous decade.

61 Willie
147 Wilma
183 Winifred

2 William
12 Walter
14 Willie
77 Will
117 Wilbur
119 Willard
124 Warren
128 Wesley
130 Wallace
146 Willis
168 Wayne

We trade Winnie for Wilma on the girls' side, and add Wayne to the boys' side.

66 Willie
90 Wilma
150 Wanda

2 William
11 Walter
26 Willie
67 Woodrow
96 Wilbur
97 Warren
98 Wayne
122 Wallace
134 Wesley
138 Willis
145 Wilson
171 Wilbert
177 Wilfred

Winifred drops in favor of Wanda for the girls. Wilson, Wilbert and Wilfred make the list, while Will and Willard fall out. But the biggest movement comes from Woodrow, who made a huge jump onto the field at #67. Looking at individual years, Woodrow rose from #234 in 1911 to #46 in 1912 and remains in the top 100 until 1920. Probably not coincidentally, Woodrow Wilson won the presidential election in 1912 and was President of the United States until 1921. You may also note this as a reason Wilson re-enters the top 200.

68 Wilma
72 Willie
76 Wanda
180 Winifred

4 William
16 Walter
28 Willie
51 Warren
73 Wayne
92 Wallace
97 Willard
114 Wilbur
135 Wesley
142 Willis
175 Wilbert
193 Wilfred

Wilma takes over the top stop for the girls, and Winifred re-enters.  Woodrow and Wilson drop completely from the top 200, and Willard re-enters.

50 Wanda
75 Wilma
104 Willie

4 William
22 Walter
33 Willie
49 Wayne
101 Warren
128 Wallace
131 Willard
146 Wesley
164 Wilbur
173 Willis

Wanda now takes over the top spot and remains there until the 1960s. Winifred falls again. The number of top 200 boy W names begins to fall with both Wilbert and Wilfred exiting the list.

56 Wanda
129 Wilma
148 Willie

4 William
27 Walter
33 Wayne
38 Willie
107 Warren
161 Wesley
166 Wallace
172 Willard
197 Wendell

Nothing really changes for the girls. Wendell enters the top 200 at the expense of Wilbur and Willis.

59 Wanda
102 Wendy

6 William
43 Wayne
51 Walter
53 Willie
132 Warren
165 Wesley

Wendy makes an entrance, and Wilma and Willie leave the top 200 on the girls' side. Wallace, Willard and Wendell all exit on the boys' side.

48 Wendy
81 Wanda

7 William
63 Wayne
82 Walter
92 Willie
162 Wesley
165 Warren

Wendy takes over the top spot for the girls. No real change for the boys.

36 Wendy
197 Wanda

9 William
105 Walter
112 Wayne
117 Willie
121 Wesley

Another uneventful move into a new decade, with Warren being the only change and that was to leave the field.

64 Whitney
135 Wendy

15 William
97 Wesley
159 Walter
163 Willie
181 Wayne

Whitney comes out of no where to take the top spot from Wendy, and Wanda moves off the girls' top 200 list. The SSA records a jump for Whitney from #124 in 1984 to #73 in 1985, and then up to #32 in 1986. The most famous Whitney I know (besides Eli Whitney) is Miss Houston. Whitney Houston's debut album was released in February 1985, and topped the Billboard charts in 1986. Nothing really changes for the boys except Wesley moving up from the last top W name to the second.

99 Whitney

18 William
127 Wesley
180 Wyatt

Wendy drops out of the top 200 for the girls. As for the boys, Wyatt makes his entrance as Walter, Willie and Wayne make their exits. Interestingly, Wyatt jumped from #375 in 1993 to #197 in 1994; 1994 was when the movie Wyatt Earp staring Kevin Costner was released.

No top 200 names for girls

10 William
84 Wyatt
184 Wesley

And finally, not one girl W name makes the top 200. No names enter or exit on the boys' side, but Wyatt jumps quite a bit from #180 to #84.

If you would like to see the birth numbers of these top 200 names, click here.

A Top 5 W Name?
Not surprisingly, William was in the top 5 quite a bit. He was #2 from 1880 through 1920 (with a brief stint at #3 in 1910), #3 through 1925, and #4 through 1949. William then left the top 5 until it was #5 in 2009 and 2010 and #3 in 2011. There were no girl W names in the top 5.

Unique Names
There are a lot of interesting names on this list, a lot of nouns and tradesmen names. But what I observed the most are the surnames. Winthrop, Wellington, Wentworth, Westmoreland, Whitaker, and Whitman are just some of the examples of surnames starting with W that are used as first names.


Waverly (M)
Wm (for William?)
Woodie, Woody



Wavie, Wavy





Windsor, Winsor













Nothing found

W for Twinkies
In a recent episode of Castle, there were twins named Wendell and Wendy. Wow. Not sure how many times those names have been used for twins, but here are some other W names that were used frequently in 2011: William and Elizabeth 8 (boy/girl), William and Benjamin 12, and William and Henry 12.

The Numbers
I calculated the number of W names used as a percentage of total names and their various spellings used per year (that's all names recorded by SSA, given to five or more babies). I'm calling this the Percentage of W Names Used. The most W names were used in 1881 with 3.57%. The least W names were used in 2006 with 0.62%. Looking at those numbers, you can definitely see a decrease in the use of W names since the 1880s. It has been a gradual decrease, which is no surprise after seeing the top W names per decade. A look at all of the numbers can be seen here.

The total number of babies with W names as a percentage each year is called the Percentage of W-Named Babies. This number does vary from the previous number I mentioned. For instance, in 2011, the Percentage of W Names Used was 0.65% and the Percentage of W-Named Babies was 1.15%.

Thank you for reading my Case for the Letter W! Please share any thoughts or observations you may have, along with your favorite W name of all time.


Jane Austen Heroes

Captain Frederick Wentworth from Persuasion (2008)

Last week I covered the names of Jane Austen's heroines. Now we will look at her captivating heroes.

The male characters of her novels have a variety of alluring characteristics, making some more attractive than others.  Captain Wentworth and Mr. Darcy are often the favorites, and their last names might be a favorable alternative to their first, especially in Fitzwilliam's case. In any case, as with her heroines, Miss Austen's heroes are the perfect group of classic names that will stand the test of time.

Edmund (Bertrum) - Mansfield Park is probably my least favorite novel by Miss Austen. I'm not sure if that has an influence on my feelings about the names of the main characters of the book or vice versa. ;) But Edmund is a strong name and one that should be used more than it is.

Edward (Ferrars) - Edward is my least favorite leading male character (Sense and Sensibility), but he is respectable and the name is a true classic with several nicknames to choose from: Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted, Teddy, Ward.

Fitzwilliam (Darcy) - Ahhhh, Darcy. The hero of Pride and Prejudice. His last name is great, especially as a girl's name.  Fitzwilliam could be too much for a boy to carry off today, but parents could always go with William if they want to honor this distinguished character.

Frederick (Wentworth) - Captain Wentworth is definitely the most swoon-worthy of the heroes. The letter he wrote to Anne in Persuasion is by far the most romantic thing ever written. "You pierce my soul." What girl wouldn't want to hear that? As I've written before, Wentworth is an enchanting first name candidate, and Frederick is a sound choice as well. Freddy is an adorable nickname.

George (Knightley) - Mr. Knightley knew how to put Emma in her place, and he's one of my favorites for being so adept. I personally love the name George and it's steady in the rankings. Not to put a damper on it though, George was also the first name of Mr. Wickham in P&P.

Henry (Tilney) - Mr. Tilney doesn't stick out as a romantic hero in Northanger Abbey, but he has wonderful humor and personality. The name Henry is slowly rising the charts as it should. Miss Austen again puts a great first name on a hero as well as a less-than-stellar character: Henry was also the first name of Mr. Crawford in MP.

And the supporting gentlemen:

Charles - Bingley, Jane's love interest in P&P; Musgrove, Anne's brother-in-law in Persuasion.

Christopher - Brandon, Marianne's suitor in S&S.

Frank - Churchill, possible love interest for Emma in Emma.

James - Morland, Catherine's brother in NA; and Benwick, possible love interest for Anne in Persuasion.

John - Willoughby, Marianne's love interest and Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne's half-brother in S&S; Thorpe, Isabella's brother in NA. NOTE: Willoughby has also been seen often throughout the years as a given name.

Philip - Elton, rejected by Emma in Emma.

Robert - Ferrars, Edward's brother in S&S.

Tom - Bertram, Edmund's brother in MP.

Walter - Elliot, Anne's father in Persuasion.

William - Collins, rejected by Elizabeth in P&P.

Which of these would you use?


Monday, October 8, 2012

Diverted by a Name: Wallis

Wallis Simpson in 1936, via Wikipedia

As I was going through names that begin with W for my next "Case of the Letter", I came across a lot of female Wallaces. A female Wallace? What a masculine name for a baby girl! But, then I remembered the most famous female Wallace... that is Wallis Simpson, the American socialite with whom the King of England fell so in love that he abdicated the throne (she was twice divorced, which was a no-no for court). What a crazy and romantic story, and I love that there is an interesting name in the middle of it.

Her given name was Bessie Wallis Warfield, and she was named after her aunt Bessie and her father, Teackle Wallis Warfield. She was called Bessie Wallis for several years until the Bessie was dropped completely at some point in her younger days. From then on, she was Wallis Warfield.  If you just saw that name in print, would you think male or female?

Wallace is a surname, and Behind the Name says that it was originally used as a given name to honor the Scottish hero William Wallace. The Wallis spelling does feminize it a bit in my eye, but there were many male Wallises as well as female Wallaces in the 20th century. The first female Wallace showed up on the SSA list in 1898 and became more prevalent in the 1910s. There were 18 female Wallaces in 1924, the most of any year. The female Wallace started disappearing in the 1970s but was still present in the 1990s. As for Wallis, the male Wallis started showing up in the 1910s with the female Wallises appearing in the 1930s.  Not surprisingly, the name jumped from six occurrences in 1936 (its first appearance as a female name) to 33 in 1937, the year Mrs. Simpson married the former king. That was the most baby girls named Wallis in a year, but the name stayed pink until 1962, stayed blue until the 1970s, and then came back solely as a girl name in the 1980s before disappearing again in 2006.  As you may have guessed, there are still little boy Wallaces being born every year.

The more I look into the history of naming, the more I see current trends applicable to the past.  It may be more prevalent now, but parents were using male names for their daughters long ago. I would guess that it was mostly to honor a male relative, but there were probably trendy parents setting the stage as well. And we only need to look at Wallis Simpson to see the influence a celebrity can have on naming trends. How many female Maxwells do we anticipate seeing in the coming years?


Friday, October 5, 2012

Jane Austen Heroines

Jane Austen, via The Jane Austen Society of North America

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who wants to name their child a great name should look to Jane Austen.

I'm being silly of course, because there are tons of wonderful names out there. But those of us who love traditional and classic names can never go wrong turning to the novels of Jane Austen. First, let's take a look at the heroines:

Anne - The heroine from one of the most loved novels, Persuasion. Anne, the name, is simple and sweet... and with an "e". There is also an Anne in Sense and Sensibility (the sister of Lucy Steele), called Nancy, and in Emma (Emma's governess).

Catherine - The name of the main character in Northanger Abbey, as well as a younger Bennett sister in Pride and Prejudice (called Kitty). Catherine is also the name of Lady de Bourgh in P&P.

Elinor - A variant spelling of Eleanor and the main character in Sense and Sensibility. I wonder why Miss Austen chose the variant spelling (oh the questions I would ask her), especially since she uses the Eleanor spelling for Tilney's sister in Northanger Abbey. I love it either way. I also love the way it is pronounced in England... more like Ellen-uh.

Elizabeth - Miss Austen's most memorable character has the most usable name. She is called both Eliza and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth is also Anne's sister in Persuasion.

Emma - The only character to also be the title of an Austen book, Emma. A favorite of mine for years, and then Ross and Rachel used it for their baby girl on the TV show Friends. It has been in the top five ever since.

Fanny - This heroine name, from the novel Mansfield Park, is probably the least used currently. Maybe it has something to do with its unfortunate use as an alternate name for our backside. Or maybe it's just considered an old fuddy duddy. But it must have been pretty popular in England in the early 1800s as Miss Austen uses it in Sense and Sensibility (Fanny Dashwood) and as minor characters in other novels.

Jane - Elizabeth's sister in P&P and Jane Fairfax in Emma (as well as Jane's aunt). My favorite name of all time. It's interesting to me that Miss Austen uses her own name in her novels, especially for two such different characters.

Marianne - The sensibility to Elinor's sense in S&S. The only name on this list for which the character changes my impression of the name. Marianne seemed a bit boring to me at first, however Austen's Marianne is anything but.

There are some more goodies in the list of side characters:

Augusta - Mr. Elton's wife in Emma.

Caroline - Bingley's sister in P&P.

Charlotte - Elizabeth's friend in P&P.

Georgiana - Darcy's sister in P&P.

Harriet - Emma's friend in Emma.  Catherine's sister in NA.

Henrietta - Musgrove's sister in Persuasion.

Hetty - Jane Fairfax's aunt in Emma.

Isabella - Catherine's "friend" in NA.

Julia - Edmund's sister in MP.

Louisa - Bingley's sister in P&P and Musgrove's sister in Persuasion.

Lucy - Edward's fiancée in S&S.

Lydia - Elizabeth's sister in P&P.

Margaret - Elinor and Marianne's sister in S&S.

Maria - Charlotte's sister in P&P and Edmund's sister in MP. Pronounced Ma-rye-uh, not Ma-ree-uh.

Mary - Elizabeth's sister in P&P, Henry Crawford's sister in MP, and Anne's sister in Persuasion.

Penelope - a character in Persuasion.

Sally/Sarah - Catherine's sister in NA.

Selina - Augusta Elton's sister in Emma.

Sophia - Willoughby's wife in S&S and Wentworth's sister in Persuasion.

I am also going to mention the name Cassandra. It is not a character in any of Miss Austen's novels, although it is in her juvenlia. I mention it because it was her sister's name, and her sister was very dear to her.  Plus, it's a cool name.

Which of these cast of characters would you use?

We will take a look at Miss Austen's heroes next week.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wentworth: From Rare Inspiration

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen by reihayashi via Flickr

Wentworth Miller, the actor from the former hit show Prison Break, has a very distinctive name. He is a third, after his father and grandfather, and he may share his name with a few others in the world, but his first name is by no means a mainstream one. Jane Austen fans recognize it immediately, and the fact is the three Wentworth Millers were named after the hero of her novel Persuasion, Captain Wentworth. According to IMDB, it was his great-grandmother's idea, and what a great one it was. Such formal names may not be obviously considered as first names, but why not branch out?

Wentworth has a deep history as a surname in England and has a meaning of "pale man's settlement" or "village of the white people." In Old English, it can be drawn from the words for "winter" and "enclosure." writes that it could have referred to a settlement only inhabited in the winter. It is also a place name. We can only guess what drew Miss Austen to the name, but no matter what that was, Wentworth was assigned to a character who became the inspiration for a baby boy's name.

Miller was born in England in 1972. As far as I know, there's no way for me to see if there were any other Wentworths born in England (where Miss Austen is from as well). I checked the names of babies born in the United States in the 1970s and since it is nowhere to be seen, we know there were no more than five babies named Wentworth during that time. Nor was it found in the 2000s when Prison Break was a hit. It seems to be a truly unique name (in the States at least).

(Addendum: While looking at W names historically, I have found the following instances of baby Wentworths: 1917 (6), 1919 (5), 1921 (10), 1923 (6), 1924 (5), 1926 (6), 1935 (5), and 1947 (7). I would still call that rare.) :)

I know there are many parents out there who want that "one and only" name for their child. Are there any other character surnames in literature that could be an inspiration for them? Concentrating on possible boy names, here are several that caught my eye and ear:

Copperfield - From Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. Yes, this is a big name to carry and might be more suitable as a middle name. But a character considered to be influenced by the author himself might be inspirational enough to some parents willing to take a truly unique route. Also, Copper would be a great nickname.

Crusoe - From Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. The adventurer could inspire some parents to be adventurous themselves... with their son's name that is. If Cruz is acceptable, why not Crusoe?

Gatsby - From F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. While the character himself is not one to create inspiration, the sound of it is not too far from other two syllable names that end in -y.

Higgins - From George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. I can't help but think this is a name a little boy can pull off. Of course, I also can't get Magnum P.I. out of my head.

Holmes - From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels. Everyone would know who is honored by this first name, and I don't think anyone could deduce a reason to object. Watson is another name from these stories that warrants consideration... and did inspire the parents of 42 baby boys in 2011.

Joad - From John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Not exactly from a happy story, but Joad could pass for a little boy's name... a little like Joel, or a shortened form of Jody.

Knightley - From Jane Austen's Emma. Mr. Knightley has tremendous character from which to draw inspiration. It sounds like a name of nobility with a little cuteness mixed in.

Thornton - From Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. At least nine sets of parents agree that this would be a great first name, since that is how many baby boy Thorntons were born in 2011. So while it may not be completely unique, it is still one to be considered for its strong and masculine sound (and a great nickname in Thor).

Tilney - From Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. This name sounds like the feminine Tilly, however the "n" does give it some harshness appropriate for a boy. And the charismatic and romantic character of Tilney makes it a wonderfully different option for parents.

There are a lot of situations where people are called by their last names... in the military, in service (Branson on Downton Abbey is one that comes to mind), and on sports teams. And the concept of using surnames to name children is definitely not foreign. So while it may take some deep love of a novel to use any of the names mentioned above, it only takes a brave set of parents to go with their heart and possibly start a trend.

What character surnames might inspire you to take this step?


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Case for the Letter: B

I love the history of naming. What names were popular in the late 1800s? (Actually, I would ask even further back than that, but the Social Security Administration only started keeping track of names in 1880.) How have trends changed since then? Has there been a return of certain names? When did certain names enter our environment? To answer these questions, I will attempt to make a case study and present information for us all to analyze.

The SSA has conveniently published the popularity of the top 200 names in each decade. This makes my job a little easier. As much as I would love to go through the top names in each year, doing it by decade cuts the work down significantly. I've also decided to concentrate on one letter at a time. We will begin with B!

Top B Names Per Decade
First we will look at the top names of each decade. It is fascinating to see the gradual change from Bertha to Brianna and Benjamin to... well, Benjamin stayed near the top most of the time, but Bert is definitely not as popular as it once was.

Take a look for your self. The following are lists of the most popular B names in the top 200 for each decade since the 1880s.  I make observations after each decade of the differences between that decade and the one prior.

8 Bertha
13 Bessie
53 Blanche
103 Beulah
107 Belle
130 Beatrice
135 Barbara
145 Betty
162 Bettie
168 Birdie
171 Bertie
175 Bess
183 Bernice

32 Benjamin
53 Ben
64 Bert
92 Bernard

Benjamin is still a very common name so there is no real mystery why it's at the top in the 1880s. But what made Bertha such an attractive option during this time? Nowadays it seems like a drastic choice and not very "pretty" (I can't help but think of the word "birth" which is not the most glamorous of pictures), but it does have a great meaning (bright, famous). It doesn't disappear from the top 200 until the 1950s. Some say the name really started to decrease in popularity after WWI when the Germans named their cannon "Big Bertha," but it was still in the top 100 until the 1930s. It's a similar situation for the name Bert (in sound and meaning), but the harsh sound seems more appropriate for a boy. In any case, it leaves the top 200 in the 1920s. Another note right off the bat: I mistakenly assumed that changing the spellings of names was something of a recent fad. While I think the number of creative spellings has definitely increased and there are many seen below the top 200, it was interesting to see the variations in Betty/Bettie and Birdie/Bertie here.

12 Bertha
14 Bessie
56 Blanche
71 Beatrice
78 Beulah
114 Bernice
136 Betty
154 Barbara
162 Belle

47 Benjamin
63 Ben
82 Bernard
109 Bert
169 Bennie
191 Bill

The addition of Bill and Bennie to the mix shows, along with Ben, Bessie, and Betty, the use of traditional nicknames as first names. The variant spelling of Bettie falls from the top 200 girl names, as do Birdie, Bertie, and Bess.

20 Bertha
22 Bessie
47 Beatrice
63 Blanche
73 Bernice
77 Beulah
86 Betty
148 Barbara
194 Bonnie

65 Benjamin
75 Bernard
81 Ben
144 Bill
147 Bennie
161 Bert

Bonnie makes an appearance on the girls side at the expense of Belle, but there are no drastic differences among the rest of the girls nor the boys.

37 Betty
38 Beatrice
42 Bernice
43 Bertha
55 Bessie
76 Barbara
87 Blanche
95 Beulah
177 Bonnie

48 Bernard
74 Benjamin
118 Ben
148 Bill
163 Bennie
166 Bruce
200 Bert

New top names for those beginning with B! Down go Benjamin and Bertha for Bernard and Betty. Betty would stay at the top of the B names until the 1940s, while Bernard has a shorter reign that ends with the 1930s. Betty is a nickname for the name Elizabeth and remains in the top 200 until the 1970s. Both Betty and Bernard stay consistently in the top 200 until the 1970s, when the Br- names take over. The rest of the names are the same, except for the addition of the mighty Bruce among the boys.

4 Betty
18 Barbara
46 Bernice
53 Beatrice
70 Bertha
89 Bessie
92 Beverly
115 Bonnie
135 Blanche
138 Beulah
139 Billie
169 Bette
195 Bettie

47 Bernard
48 Billy
87 Bill
91 Benjamin
129 Bobby
130 Bob
133 Bruce
151 Ben
160 Billie
170 Bennie

Welcome back, Bettie (and Betty is #4 for the entire decade)! Let's also add Beverly, Billie, and Bette to the girls and the William/Robert nicknames Billy, Billie, Bobby, and Bob to the boys! Notice that Billy is more popular than Bill and Bobby is more popular than Bob. The only nickname name in the top 200 for boys that wasn't more popular than its stem was Bennie. Notice also that Billie is in the top 200 for both boys and girls (the first B name to do so). Oh, and Bert quietly slips out of the top 200.

2 Betty
3 Barbara
20 Beverly
66 Bonnie
87 Bernice
105 Beatrice
107 Billie
116 Bertha
126 Bobbie
132 Bessie

20 Billy
27 Bobby
62 Bill
64 Bernard
81 Bruce
85 Bob
121 Benjamin
153 Billie
168 Bennie
170 Ben
190 Benny
195 Barry

I think it's something to note that Betty is the #2 girl name for the decade... the highest a B name would ever make.  Barbara is close behind at #3. The girl Bobbie comes into play in the 1930s, while Blanche and Beulah fall out. Bettie also disappears from the top again, while Bette ends her short stay. Billy takes over the top boy B name, and Benny and Barry enter the picture. I've always thought that the -ie ending of a name made it more feminine than -y, so it always seems strange to see Billie and Bennie so prominent for the boys historically.

3 Barbara
11 Betty
26 Brenda
31 Beverly
33 Bonnie
153 Bernice
156 Billie
157 Bertha
159 Bobbie
166 Beatrice

39 Bruce
42 Billy
48 Bobby
75 Bill
82 Barry
97 Bernard
112 Brian
114 Bob
135 Benjamin
188 Benny
196 Bennie

Barbara overtakes Betty, but still remains #3. Brenda comes out of nowhere to enter the top 50 of the decade, and Bessie fall out. I checked the name Brenda individually, and there was a jump in her ranking between 1938 at #243 and 1939 at #86,  and during the 1940s she rose from #42 to her peak in 1949 at #13. Brenda was also very popular through the 1950s and into the 1960s when it then gradually started to fall. The main thing socially I can find that could have exposed the name during this time is the American debutante Brenda Frazier (the first "celebutante") who was on the cover of Life magazine when she made her debut in 1938. As for the boys, Billie and Ben fall out of the top 200, Brian debuts, and Bruce takes the top spot from Billy.

6 Barbara
18 Brenda
35 Betty
36 Beverly
50 Bonnie
125 Beth
148 Becky
166 Belinda

32 Bruce
34 Brian
67 Billy
72 Barry
75 Bobby
115 Bradley
126 Bernard
136 Bill
137 Benjamin
148 Bryan
174 Brad
191 Brent

While the top names for boys and girls remains the same, there is quite a bit of turnover in the 1950s. We say bye-bye to Bernice, Billie, Bertha, Bobbie and Beatrice and hello to Beth, Becky and Belinda! We say ta-ta to Bob, Benny and Bennie and hi to Bradley, Bryan, Brad and Brent (the Br- names are really starting to seeping in)!

19 Brenda
21 Barbara
66 Beth
85 Beverly
87 Bonnie
102 Betty
135 Becky
165 Belinda

16 Brian
47 Bruce
61 Bryan
72 Bradley
73 Billy
80 Barry
81 Bobby
124 Brent
128 Brett
130 Benjamin
131 Bill
151 Brad
168 Bernard
196 Bob

Brenda is now at the top for the girl B names, and Brian takes over for the boys. The girl names switch order but stay the same, and there is only the return of Bob and the addition of Brett that change for the top 200 boy names. The Brian/Bryan combination will be in the top 100 throughout the 2000s decade.

60 Brenda
76 Barbara
81 Brandy
106 Brandi
110 Beth
153 Bridget
171 Bonnie
186 Brooke
189 Becky

8 Brian
44 Benjamin
46 Bryan
51 Brandon
57 Bradley
82 Brent
84 Billy
93 Bobby
94 Brett
123 Brad
132 Bruce
154 Barry

The 1970s are when Br- took over. Five of the nine girl names and eight of the 12 boy names in the top 200 begin with Br-. Brenda is the only carryover from the girl side, which also adds Brandy, Brandi, Bridget, and Brooke. Beverly, Betty, and Belinda leave to make room for them. Bill, Bernard and Bob fall out of the top 200, and Brandon jumps in. Brandon is another quick riser in the early 1970s, but I cannot really find anything that could have sparked its rise.

21 Brittany
63 Brandy
66 Brandi
83 Brooke
93 Brittney
99 Bethany
124 Brenda
154 Barbara
165 Brianna
166 Bridget
183 Beth

16 Brian
17 Brandon
31 Benjamin
51 Bryan
54 Bradley
77 Brett
95 Brent
116 Blake
126 Bobby
133 Billy
182 Brendan
185 Bruce
191 Brad

Not only does Brittany enter the girls' top 200 B names list for the first time, it takes the top spot! A variant also enters in Brittney. Bonnie and Becky fall while Bethany and another Br- name in Brianna rise. When I checked the individual years, Brittany jumps quite a bit in the early 1980s and reaches its peak in 1989-1991 at #3. But I cannot find any particular reason as to why Brittany caught on so much. On the boys' side, Barry leaves to make room for Blake and another Br- name in Brendan.

7 Brittany
26 Brianna
54 Brooke
83 Briana
87 Brittney
88 Breanna
101 Bailey
113 Bianca
117 Bethany
128 Brenda
142 Brandi
198 Brandy

11 Brandon
30 Benjamin
36 Brian
62 Bryan
80 Bradley
84 Blake
106 Brett
123 Brendan
135 Bryce
191 Brent
196 Brady

Briana, Breanna, Bailey and Bianca enter the scene while Bridget, Barbara and Beth make an exit. Besides Brooke, the top six B names in the 1990s are either a Brianna or a Brittany. Brandon takes over the top spot on the boys' side, Bryce and Brady rise, and Bobby, Billy, Bruce, and Brad fall. No more B nickname names in the top 200.

18 Brianna
47 Brooke
89 Bailey
90 Brooklyn
116 Briana
119 Breanna
180 Bianca
190 Brittany

21 Brandon
25 Benjamin
62 Brian
70 Bryan
85 Brayden
86 Blake
105 Bryce
119 Brady
153 Brody
162 Brendan
171 Braden
173 Bradley
199 Bryson

In the 2000s, six of the top eight girl names and 11 of the top 13 boy names begin with Br-. Add Brooklyn to the mix and subtract Brittney, Bethany, Brenda, Brandi and Brandy and you have the top girl B names. Did the Brittany/Brittney's fall so hard because of Miss Spears (who spells it Britney)? I wonder. Brayden, Brody, Braden and Bryson are now present. Brett and Brent are gone. The Br-version of an -ayden name, Brayden (as well as Braden), made a big jump in the 2000s as I'm sure most -ayden names did.

If you would like to see the birth numbers of these top 200 names, click here.

A Top 5 B Name?
I looked at the top 5 names for every individual year to see how high a B name ranked. One was never the top name, but Betty and Barbara made it to the #2 spot over several years. Betty was in the top 5 from 1923 until 1940 (#2 from 1928-1934) and Barbara was in the top 5 from 1831 until 1951 (#2 from 1937-1944). There have not been any boy B names in the top 5.

Unique Names
Now for the interesting names. I didn't go into the awesome amount of spellings given (some creative spellings may have made the list), but here are the names that caught my eye. I listed them under the decade where I first noticed them appear, and I apologize if there are any repetitions. Keep in mind that the list the SSA gives out provides the names given to at least five babies of the gender. A lot of these are names that are also words, two names pushed together, or just those I thought were fascinating.

Bama, Bamma
Berdie, Bertie, Birdie, Birtie, Byrde, Byrdie
Bird, Byrd

Beverly (was first on the list as a boy name, started showing up on the girl side in 1893)
Bird, Byrd





Bettijane, Bettyjane

Boise, Boysie



Barbaraann, Barbarann





Baldo (could be a nn for Baldomero)
Brain (not a typo)

Belkis, Belkys
Buffy, Buffey, Buffi, Buffie

Bouvier (1963)



Blimie, Blimy
Bobbiejo, Bobbijo, Bobbiejo
Bobbiesue, Bobbisue


Bg (Babygirl?)

Bb (Babyboy?)

Brighten (another spelling of Brighton, which was also used for girls, or the word?)




Makes you wonder how many other words that begin with B could be names.

B for Twinkies
There a few B names that were chosen for twins in 2011. Those instances were: Blake and Brooklyn 7 (boy/girl), Brandon and Bryan 15, Benjamin and Alexander 20, Benjamin and Andrew 18, Benjamin and Samuel 17, Benjamin and William 12, and Brianna and Arianna 14.

The Numbers
If you love statistics, this is for you. I calculated the number of B names used as a percentage of total names and their various spellings used per year (that's all names recorded by SSA, given to five or more babies). I'm calling this the Percentage of B Names Used.  The most B names were used in 1884 with 5.22%. The least B names were used in 1978 with 3.28%. The 1970s definitely have the least amount of B names used, while more B names were used in the 1880s with some years from the first half of the 20th century sporadically placed. A look at all of the numbers can be seen here.

I may attempt to go into the total number of babies with B names as a percentage each year. I'm calling this the Percentage of B-Named Babies. This number does vary from the previous number I mentioned. For instance, in 2011, the Percentage of B Names Used was 4.07% and the Percentage of B-Named Babies was 4.87%. Which of these numbers do you like?  I guess it depends on how you want to look at the popularity of a letter... would you get a better idea of how popular a letter is by the number of babies with names beginning with a that letter or the number of names used that begin with that letter? There may be major differences between those numbers when doing certain letters, so I might look at it just the same... it will just take more work.  :)

When I do more Cases for the Letter, we can compare the numbers to see which letters are preferred the most and if there are any drastic changes in preferences over time.

Thank you for reading my Case for the Letter B! Please share any thoughts or observations you may have, along with your favorite B name of all time.