Friday, September 27, 2013

O Names: Then and Now

Not including U, O is the least likely vowel to be used at the beginning of names. In fact, there have been zero U names in the Top 100 since 1880. I have already looked at I names, and putting together posts on A names and E names are a daunting task at this point, so, without further ado, the O names!

In 1880, there were three O boy names in the Top 100: Oliver, Oscar and Otto. While Otto fell out after 1898 and Oliver became sporadic from 1897 until it fell out after 1903, Oscar stayed on top through 1925. Otis also made some appearances in 1899, 1905 and 1909, but from 1926 through 2001 there were no O boy names in the Top 100. In 2002, Owen appeared and remains so currently. Oliver returned to the Top 100 in 2009 and also remains.

As for the girls, in 1880 there was only one O name in the Top 100: Olive. Ollie showed up in 1885, 1887 and 1888, but did not stick around longer than that. Olive fell out in 1904, to be replaced by Opal in the same year. Opal lasted until 1920, and from 1920 until 1990 there were no girl O names in the Top 100. Olivia then jumped in and is now, still, the only O girl name on top.

So, from 1926 until 1990... for 64 years... there were no O names in the Top 100 at all!

If we analyze the beginning sounds of the O names, there is an obvious change in preference from the "ah" pronunciation to the "oh" pronunciation. The early names were Oliver, Oscar, Otto, Olive and Ollie. Otis made some brief appearances and then Opal showed up in 1904 when only Oscar was still up there for the boys. Currently, not including Oliver's reappearance, the top O names are Owen and Olivia. I know the preference is not exclusive, but the tide is still interesting to note.

Other O names currently in the Top 1000: Oscar, Omar, Olive, Orion, Orlando, Odin, Omari, Osvaldo, Otto, and Oakley (all boys except Olive).

What is your favorite O name? Can you see Oscar, Otto, Otis, Olive, Ollie and Opal returning to the Top 100 like Oliver did?



  1. I love quite a few "O" names for girls, Odessa, Ondine, Ophelia, Olive & Orla spring to mind.

    For boys, I like Oscar. Oliver is nice, but where I live everyone and their dog (literally) is called Oliver/Ollie.

  2. Yeah, I think so. Oakley is a name they use for girls around here. It was ranked 85th in the state of Utah in 2012, which means that 48 girls were named this. Oliver is even more popular here - ranked 20th, or 144 babies named this in 2012, and Owen, ranked 16th, or 156 babies. Oh, and Olivia is still at the top here - ranked 2nd, or 240 little girls named this last year.

    Like your other poster there are several O names (at least for girls) that I like. Besides what she mentioned, I like Oksana, Olga, Ophelie, Olivie, Odette, Odilia, Odilie, Octavia, and Olympia. Oh, and Oneida. I'm sure there are more. And I'm very happy that Oscar and Otto and Orion are becoming viable options, as those are my favorite o boy names.

  3. Yes, I can see all of those coming back! My favorite for a boy is Orion. I suggested it to my husband as a sibling for Atlas. I also like Opal and Octavia for girls.


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