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.}


Friday, October 17, 2014

Decades List - 1890s

One of the features of Name-alytics that I loved putting together is the Decades List. This is a list of every Top 100 name listed according to the decade in which they were the most popular (by percentage). It turns out to be a fascinating glimpse of the history of our top names. I thought it would be fun to go through each decade to see if anything special jumps out!

I am going to skip the 1880s because there is no way to tell if the names included in it were actually the most popular in that decade or decades prior. Now, I realize that there is no certainty of any of these lists being perfect since we don't have the data before 1880 and the data is questionable at times. But given what we have, it is even more uncertain for the 1880s names, so I will start this series with the 1890s.

As a reminder, these names made the list for the 1890s 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.


Archie - Archie's highest rank was only at #79 in 1890-91 and after falling out of the Top 100, it kept falling to hardly any use currently. It is one of those names that is highly popular in England/Wales, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, but just can't find a footing in the United States anymore.

Clarence - Clarence had a very strong run for quite a while in the 1890s and early 1900s, reaching #17 in several of those years. It is still more popular than Archie, but it is very slowly falling away.

Dewey - As I write in the book, Dewey seems to have capitalized on the success of Admiral George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War in 1898. It was only in the Top 100 for the 3 years after the battle, but jumped to #19 in 1898 from the previous year's #111. Interestingly, 1898 was also a standout year for girls named Dewey...  104 girls were given the name that year, compared to 13 the previous year and nothing even close to that since then.

Earl - This royal title name went as high as #20 in 1894 and was in the Top 100 until 1954. It is still being used today, but gradually decreasing in use with each passing year.

Elmer - While Elmer remained in the Top 100 until the early 1930s, its strong years were definitely in the 1890s when it reached its highest rank of #32. Over 100 boys are still given the name each year.

Ernest - Ernest reached its highest rank in 1885 at #21, however it had the most percentage of use in 1895 and in the 1890s. We know of one specific Ernest born in the 1890s... Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899.

Homer - Homer has almost completely disappeared from use despite the famous Greek poet with the same name. It reached its highest rank of #64 in 1893.

Lee - Lee has been regularly used for both genders, but continues to be more popular on boys (girls are more often given the Leigh spelling). It actually peaked in 1900 for percentage of use and rank at #39, but its percentage of use for decades place it in the 1890s.

Mack - Like Lee, Mack peaked in 1900 but had its highest percentage of use in the 1890s. In fact, Mack was only in the Top 100 for the year 1900, when it ranked #96. It is currently involved in an upswing, as the number of boys given the name has increased over the past several years.

Percy - Percy is another name that was barely in the Top 100. It reached #98 in the years 1893 and 1897, and has not been ranked at all since the 1980s. Any influence the popular Percy Jackson series had is minuscule.

Ray - Ray is a steady name that reached its peak before its even more popular counterpart Raymond, which reached #14 in 1919. Ray's highest rank was #49 in 1891. An ever-present name in the Top 1000, Ray continues to shine.

Roy - I can't help but compare the names because they are separated by one letter, but personally, I prefer Ray to Roy. While they both peaked at the same time, Roy has consistently been the more popular of the two and reached its height #18 for six years in the late 1880s and early 1890s.

Walter - Walter may be labeled as an old-guy name at times, but it continues to be a consistent name in the Top 500. The old-guy connotation could come from the fact that while it peaked at #10 in 1914, it was at the lowest #13 from 1880 through 1920, meaning there were a lot of Walters born in that span of 40 years. Walter's highest percentage of use was in the 1890s, when almost 16 of every 1,000 boys were given the name.


Agnes - Peaking at #37 in 1899, Agnes is a name that is fairly considered an old-lady name. But, possibly with the help of Despicable Me and her charming costars Margo and Edith, it seems to be making a slight upturn in recent years.

Alma - Alma is a name that stuck around for quite a bit in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but never got any higher than #51 as it did for three years in the 1890s. It is also the Spanish word for "soul", which could be the reason it is still given to more than 300 girls each year.

Edna - Edna is an old powerhouse, ranking as high as #11 in 1899. It was given to about 1 in every 100 girls born in the 1890s. That number has definitely shrunk over the years, however.

Elsie - As one of the many nicknames for Elizabeth, Elsie achieved its highest ranking in 1896 and 1897 at #31. While it fell away for quite a while, it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2005 and is only getting stronger.

Ethel - If Edna can be considered a powerhouse back in the day, then Ethel was nuclear. While it is currently less popular than Edna, at its height Ethel was #6 in 1896 and was in the Top 10 from 1888 through 1903.

Eva - Eva is another "old" E name that is on the rise, coming back into the Top 100 in 2009 after over 70 years of absence. It peaked at #31 back in 1889.

Florence - Florence was right along side Ethel as another strong name from around the turn of the century, and probably even more substantial. It soared as high as #6 for five years during the 1890s and was in the Top 10 from 1887 through 1904.

Gertrude - Oh, Trudy. One of the classic names that people consider a little too rough around the edges for today's standards. At its height, however, Gertrude was #22 in 1906 and had its best percentage of use in 1896.

Hazel - Whatever Gertrude currently lacks, Hazel has it in spades. Hazel may very well reach its 1897 ranking of #18 in another decade or so.

Mabel - "Mothers Always Bring Extra Love." That is the reasoning behind the Buchman's naming their daughter Mabel on the hit show Mad About You in 1997. While the show didn't have a direct impact on the name's popularity, it has caught some steam in the past several years. Not sure it will reach its 1891 ranking of #15 again, however.

Mae - Somewhat related to Mabel is the simple Mae. Mae never achieved the heights that Mabel did, as it only got to #52 in 1892 and 1895, but it is currently given to more girls and is still on the rise.

Marguerite - This French form of Margaret got as high as #78 for several years in the 1890s and 1910s. Its dominant decade was the 1890s though and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere but down from there.

Myrtle - Myrtle is one of the two names (Nannie is the other) that have been in the Top 100 but are currently not being used at all (by more than 4 in a given year). Definitely not the reason any name wants to stand out, but we can remember Myrtle for the #27 rank it had in 1894 and its steady presence in the Top 100 from 1880 through 1925.

Pearl - After peaking at #24 in 1889, 1890, and 1900, Pearl eventually fell out of the Top 1000 in the 1980s only to return in 2007. It has jumped several hundred spots since then and continues to increase in use.

Would you use any of the names that peaked in the 1890s? I would love to see more Archie and Mae!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Buy Name-alytics with Paypal!

It has come to my attention that some of you have wanted to buy Name-alytics, but weren't able to because there was no Paypal option available. Well, now you have that option! Just click the following link and you can have your very own copy of Name-alytics in less than a minute!


Thank you all for your continued interest and support. I am still so excited about this project and hope you are too!

For more information on this book, you can read a synopsis at the Name-alytics tab above and/or read a review by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain here! (The giveaway is over, but you can read her remarks in the post.)


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


My Baltimore Orioles are heading to the American League Championship Series this weekend. For those of you who do not know or care about baseball, this series determines who plays in the World Series for the American League. You can imagine my excitement. :) The last time the Orioles were in the World Series was when they won it all in 1983.

  • I turned 8.
  • M.A.S.H. ended its 11-year stint on television; the finale was the highest rated episode in history.
  • Swatch introduced its first watches.
  • Sally Ride became the first woman in space.
  • Vanessa Williams became the first African-American woman to become Miss America.
  • Martin Luther King Day was created by President Ronald Reagan.
  • McNuggets were first introduced at McDonald's.
  • Hot music included Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and "Billie Jean", Toto's "Africa", Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax", and Police's "Every Breath You Take".
  • The A-Team and Fraggle Rock made their TV debut.
  • Return of the Jedi, Terms of Endearment, Flashdance, Mr. Mom, Risky Business, Scarface, and The Outsiders were all released into theaters.
  • The Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl over the Miami Dolphins.
  • The New York Islanders won the Stanley Cup.
  • John McEnroe and Martina Navrátilová won the men and women singles tournaments at Wimbledon.
  • The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series.

Needless to say, 1983 was a pretty cool year. I'm hoping 2014 is just as cool, but that will have to be determined in a few weeks.

That's nice and all, but isn't this a name blog? Oh. Ok. Let's talk about names.

In 1983, Jennifer and Michael ruled the roost as they had for many years prior. Other top names included: Jessica, Amanda, Ashley, and Sarah; Christopher, Matthew, David, and Joshua. But are there any gems from the bottom? I took a look at the names that were given to only 5 girls or 5 boys in the year 1983 and found the following...


Delphina - Delphina is a Late Roman name and the feminine form of Delphinus. It has hardly been used at all in the United States, which stumps me a bit. I can't help but see Fina as an adorable nickname for this elegant name.

Harper - So, Harper wasn't always ranked #16 for girls? This recent Top 20 hit did not hit its stride until the 2000s and then just skyrocketed. It is interesting to see a time when it was rare to hear.

Landis - This name has been used on more boys than girls, but it jumped out at me as a charming alternative for a girl. If Landry is a growing trend for girls, why not Landis?

Lettie - More girls were named Lettie in the 1910s and 1920s than any other time. While several names from that time are currently hitting it big (Ruby, June, Violet, Vivian), Lettie is not. But if it's not chosen as a given name, it could be a cute nickname for one of those names... Violet.

Micaiah - Micaiah is a Biblical name that has hardly been used to its full potential. Not to be confused with Micah, it has several pronunciations out there, but the one I prefer is mi-KY-ah. There are both male and female Micaiah's in the Bible and means "who is like Yahweh" in Hebrew. It lends itself to cute nicknames such as Mickey and Caia.

Oona - Very popular in Finland, Oona has Irish roots and a certain glamour about it that I can't explain. I love it. Oona has found small success as a given name in the United States in the 2000s, reaching its height at 47 girls in 2011.

Persephone - Persephone is a Greek mythology name that is currently on the rise, perhaps due to the similar tone it has with Penelope. It could also be considered a "seasonal" name, as the mythological Persephone was associated with vegetation and the spring.

Tamsyn - It hurts to spell it this way (I prefer Tamsin), but I love the name so much I had to include it. It is a feminine form of Thomas and more often heard in England than anywhere else. While Tamsin has been used more than Tamsyn, it has still not found very much favor in the United States. This pains me so.

Tempest - Instead of going straight for the anticipated "Storm" your daughter will surely cause in your life, why not go for the refined and Shakespearean Tempest? It just sounds better. :)

Zanna - A diminutive of Suzanna, Zanna is a quirky alternative to the popular Anna and Hannah.


Aiden - Remember when Aiden wasn't a thing? Believe it or not, Aiden wasn't even a glitch on the radar until 1970. Like Harper for the girls, it is just fun to imagine a time when you did not hear of an Aiden (there were only 27 Aidans in 1983 as well).

Atlas - A Greek mythology name, Atlas was the Titan who had to hold up the celestial spheres on his shoulders as punishment. As most other mythological names, Atlas is currently a baby name on the upswing.

Briggs - I'm really not sure why this name jumped out at me, but it did. It seems to have made a statement to other parents as well, as it has been given to more boys in recent years than ever before.

Fitz - I have already written about names that begin with Fitz, so it's no surprise that I am drawn to this name. It has hardly been used at all in the United States and may still be better as a nickname to those fabulous Fitz- names I went over in my post.

Gaius - Ever since the new version of Battlestar Galactica came out in 2004, I have loved this name... not because I loved the character, but because it was the first time I had really heard it. It is a Roman name and the first name of Julius Caesar. Gaius has barely been used in the United States, and if its stately manner scares you off, you could go with the related Kai.

Lachlan - While fairly popular in Australia, New Zealand and England, this Scottish name finally broke into the Top 1000 here in the United States in 2013.

Ronan - Ronan is an Irish name that has recently caught fire in the States. It entered the Top 1000 in 2001 and has kept rising since.

Theon - Before Theon Greyjoy of Game of Thrones existed (1991), there were several Theons from early centuries found in my quick internet search, most notably one who was a Greek philosopher and mathematician. Even with the popular TV show based on the books, Theon is still scarcely used.

Truett - Truett has barely been around since the early 1900s, but started catching on just a bit recently. Maybe the popularity of Chick-fil-A (which was founded by S. Truett Cathy) helped get the name out there. Cathy himself was named after the baptist preacher George W. Truett.

Vander - We have Xander and Zander, so why not Vander? It could be a shortened version of Evander, which is a name from Greek and Roman mythology (he founded the town that was to become Rome). Vander is a heroic name with a modern twist.

Did any of these names catch your eye? If not, I hope you at least enjoyed some 80's trivia. :) You can see more 80's history here.

Let's Go O's!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The *Jo*s Have It!

My middle name is Joyce. I absolutely love it, not only because it is after my beloved grandmother, but also because it is lovely, versatile, and has a delightful meaning. And while I think it is perfectly splendid as a first name, as many parents in the 1930s and 1940s did, I personally love it in the middle spot. It is short, sweet and lends itself to be even shorter for nicknames... Sammy Jo, Sarah Joy, D.J., etc.

My family has loved to play around with it as a middle name. Grandma was born Natalie Joyce, but her name was changed to Maxine after she was adopted. My great-grandparents kept Joyce as her middle name because she brought them joy. She was actually named after my great-grandfather, Max, but ended up going by Joyce her entire life. My mom is Debra Joyce, but has been called Debby Jo by family, and almost exclusively Jo or Joey by her siblings (and therefore subsequently called Aunt Jo by my cousins). I am often called Kelli Jo or K.J. by family. My daughter is Rachel Joyce, and while she is not around my extended family often, she is getting used to being referred to as Ray Jo when she is around them.

Enough about me.

Maybe because of my experience though, I have always seen Joe/Jo as a truly unisex name. It is simply masculine as well as beautifully tomboyish. As seen in the above clip from Name-alytics, Jo is the shortest name to ever be in the girls' Top 100; it reached #51 in 1947 and the highest in its popularity in the 1950s. Joe, on the other hand, reached its highest rank at #20 in 1880 and the highest in its popularity in the 1900s. Jo has been given to boys and Joe has been given to girls, so they are not mutually exclusive.

For the purposes of this post, however, I am going to concentrate on the girl Jo's. In looking at the names given over the years, there is a lot of love for the *jo*s. Let's take a look at the options out there!

Beyond Jo

There are several names that can be shortened to Jo:


Names Ending in Jo (or cases when Jo can be given as a middle name)

There have been many names in the SSA database that have ended in "jo", but we would more commonly see them as a combo or hyphenated name...


Other Great Combos

These are some first and middle combos that I've heard or thought sounded sweet...

Ada Joy
Alexa Joy
Arabella Joy
Clara Joyce
Elsie Jo
Everly Joyce
Finley Joy
Harper Joy
Hattie Jo
Isla Jo
Lorelei Jo
Louisa Joyce
Mila Joy
Molly Jo
Nora Joyce
Penelope Joyce
Stella Joyce
Summer Joy
Thea Joy
Violet Joyce
Vivian Joy
Wilhelmina Jo

If you are interested in celebrities who have used the wonderful Jo as a middle name for their babies, American volleyball player Gabrielle Reece has a daughter named Brody Jo, and musician John Cougar Mellencamp has a daughter named Teddi Jo.

What do you think of Jo? Would you use it by itself? Would you prefer to use any of its forms as a first name or a middle name?


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oct* Names

Happy October!

The name October was originally given to the eighth month on the Roman calendar and remained the name of the tenth month when January and February were added. As we are all aware, Oct- is the prefix given to words associated with "eight", and that does not change when it comes to names as they were/are sometimes given to the eighth child.

Did you know that only girls have been named after the month of October? At least that is what the SSA data shows us. There have been 620 girls named October since the first recorded case in 1969, and October's most popular year so far was 2008 with 72 girls. I always thought October would be a very wearable name for a boy, especially with the nickname Toby.

What about other names beginning with Oct-?

The most popular Oct- name in the United States, by far, is Octavia, the feminine form of Octavius. A total of 14,769 girls have been given the name since the data has been collected (1880). Its most popular year was 1987, when 446 girls were given the name. 139 boys have also been given the name between 1920 and 1994.

The next most popular Oct- name is Octavio, the Spanish form of Octavius. Between its first record in 1908 and 2013, 9,697 boys were named Octavio. Its most popular year was 2003, when 437 boys were given the name. Five girls were given the name in 1986.

Behind Octavio is the "original", the ancient Roman name Octavius. From 1911 through 2013, Octavius was given to 2,835 boys, and 1991 was its most popular year, when 126 boys were given the name. Fifteen girls were also given the name between 1981 and 1990.

Other Oct- names given over the years:

Octa - total of 160 girls between 1885 and 1941
Octabio - total of 7 boys in 1980
Octava - total of 41 girls between 1894 and 1931
Octave - total of 443 boys between 1880 and 1969
Octavian - total of 862 boys between 1970 and 2013
Octaviana - total of 11 girls in the years of 1925 and 2008
Octaviano - total of 657 boys between 1914 and 2009
Octavie - total of 176 girls between 1883 and 1926
Octavien - total of 23 boys between 1997 and 2008
Octavion - total of 158 boys between 1990 and 2013
Octavious - total of 1,381 boys and 5 girls between 1917 and 2013
Octavis - total of 283 boys between 1973 and 2006
Octavus - total of 5 boys in 1989
Octayvia - total of 38 girls between 1992 and 2001
Octivia - total of 68 girls between 1976 and 2000

Do you have a favorite Oct- name?