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Language Origins of Popular First Names

We investigated the origins of the top 50 male and female names in the United States. From which languages are these names originally derived?
Name popularity based on people born 1936-2015
Name etymology based on Wiktionary with some guesswork
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: November 10, 2017
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First submittedNovember 10, 2017
Times taken18,091
Average score60.0%
Rating3.76
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# Names
Language
31
Hebrew
23
Ancient Greek
15
Latin
11
English / Old English
8
Germanic / Proto-Germanic /
Old High German
# Names
Language
5
Irish / Old Irish /
Proto-Celtic
3
Old Norse
2
Scottish Gaelic
1
Aramaic
1
Old French
45 Comments
+9
Level 87
Nov 10, 2017
Since Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are related, surely they are both derived from "proto-Celtic"?
+18
Level ∞
Nov 11, 2017
If we used that logic, we'd probably go back to proto Indo-European for every answer. The language given is meant to be the language in which it became a name. So, for example, the name William was formed by combining two words in Old High German. But those words, like all words, derive from earlier languages. The answer is Old High German.
+25
Level 66
Nov 17, 2017
And I thought William derived from Will.I.Am.

Stupid me.

+6
Level 65
Apr 2, 2018
Everyone is Proto-Celtic on St. Patrick's Day
+1
Level 65
Apr 3, 2018
I'm pretty sure Bill Russell was a proto-Celtic
+5
Level 77
Nov 11, 2017
Only reason I didn't guess Aramaic was that I didn't really know what it was called in English. Or the Irish because it didn't show up with "Gaelic", so I figured I'd already guessed that language.
+2
Level 55
Apr 3, 2018
Same problem with Aramaic. I tried Aramea, Arameac, Aramean and a few other versions, but couldn't come up with that one.
+1
Level 82
Nov 11, 2017
Fascinating stuff
+4
Level 77
Nov 11, 2017
Dang it...are we talking first names here? I did the whole quiz thinking last names and wondering why I couldn't come up with the top answer.
+5
Level ∞
Nov 11, 2017
Added the word "first" to the title.
+3
Level 70
Nov 12, 2017
May you allow "nordic" for "old norse", to be in line with "irish" etc.
+2
Level 82
Mar 31, 2018
That was the only one I had missing. I had already guessed Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and some other variations. Doesn't take too long to run down a list of all possibilities and I was getting frustrated so opened up the comments and found the answer.
+4
Level 68
Mar 31, 2018
Me too. I tried Danish, Norwegian, Swedish without success. If English works to include Old English, seems to me those should pick up Old Norse.
+1
Level 68
Jan 16, 2019
same, without the frustration and looking at the comments part. Also tried scandinavian
+1
Level 71
Mar 31, 2018
No Spanish?
+4
Level 66
Mar 31, 2018
I'd say most Spanish first names ultimately come from Hebrew and Greek anyway. (e.g. Pedro, Juan)
+2
Level 74
Nov 19, 2018
More likely because Latin is on here so the names pre-date Spanish.
+1
Level 44
Mar 31, 2018
The numbers add up to more than 50? I dont understand
+2
Level 48
Mar 31, 2018
The numbers add up to 100.

Quizmaster took the 50 most popular mens PLUS the 50 most popular womens names.

+1
Level 71
Mar 31, 2018
They add to 100 because it's the top 50 male and female names.
+3
Level 72
Mar 31, 2018
It would be interesting to see a more modern version of this quiz (most popular names from last 10 years, perhaps). I imagine there'd be at least 1 Arabic and a lot more Spanish.
+4
Level 82
Mar 31, 2018
I think Hispanic names would stem from latin
+4
Level 82
Mar 31, 2018
Mostly Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic etc- all the Biblical names. Juan (John), Pedro (Peter), Maria (Mary), Jesus (Jesus/Joshua), and so on.
+1
Level 71
Mar 31, 2018
accept 'Scots' for Scottish Gaelic
+3
Level 59
Apr 1, 2018
Scots is a Germanic language very close to English, it is not the same as Scottish Gaelic.
+1
Level 81
Mar 26, 2019
But Scottish Gaelic is often known as Scots Gaelic, so it might still be a reasonable type-in.
+1
Level 69
Mar 31, 2018
Where can i find which are those names?
+1
Level 76
Mar 31, 2018
Try a search engine with words "top 50 male and female names in the United States". Or a couple of variations of the same. That should do it.
+5
Level 59
Apr 1, 2018
Weird quiz. Germanic is one category (lumped in with Old High German and Proto-Germanic, which have quite a few centuries separating them), whilst (Old) English, which is a Germanic language, has its own category. The historical linguist in me finds this all rather a mess.
+2
Level 74
Nov 19, 2018
Agreed. I told my inner linguist to take a coffee break while I did this quiz :)
+1
Level 68
Jan 16, 2019
agreed
+1
Level 66
Apr 2, 2018
Any chance you could accept more type-ins?
+1
Level 57
Apr 2, 2018
Great quiz!
+1
Level 38
Apr 6, 2018
Didn't know how to write "Aramaic", I thought it was Aramean for some reason. Oh well...
+1
Level 45
Apr 6, 2018
Scottish Gaelic/Irish Gaelic both derive from Middle Irish which derives from Old Irish ..... please update
+1
Level 28
Apr 7, 2018
I answered Nordic and was thinking what other words can I use (with 10 seconds left so I mis-spelt Scandinavian) but did not get Norse!
+1
Level 48
Sep 29, 2018
How about Nordic...
+4
Level 68
Jan 16, 2019
Weird divisions are made. Not placing english with the germanic languages for instance, or old norse for that matter. And not having scottish gaeilic showing up for celtic ( or gaeilic I believe, but that was just before the time ran out so I could ve been too late).

If you are gonna use divisions and subdivions all at the same time (different levels of the "familylanguage-tree"). You should atleast make it clear in the the description. Because if you have guessed one language family, naturally you think you are done with that one and do not need to name the languages that are contained in that specific group individually.

It is like using different rules all at once. (Like in an animal quiz, for some answers accepting mammal, or fish, while for others requiring the exact subspecies) From your previous comment I get you choose where a name first showed up. But it makes for a very inconsistent quiz. And I think most people will run into this problem.

+1
Level 68
Jan 16, 2019
Love the idea though. Am curious what the names are. (But I guess they are left out to avoid endless discussion about the origins? There a so many variations of names that it can get messy)
+1
Level 51
May 8, 2019
Can you accept Viking for old norse
+2
Level 89
Feb 7, 2020
I tried "made up" for most of the common names now but it didn't take.
+1
Level 54
Dec 7, 2021
My stupid brain didn't think about Hebrew, Latin, or Greek
+1
Level 79
Feb 7, 2022
Tried Swedish, Viking, Norwegian, Danish, Scandinavian... one of those should have worked for Old Norse!
+1
Level 79
Oct 30, 2022
Weird how these are categorized in this quiz. I'm probably just ignorant...but Isn't English a Germanic language? And we're going all the way back to Latin instead of Spanish, etc? You at least need to put more in the description box to kind of give people an idea of what you're looking for.
+1
Level 70
Apr 3, 2023
Interesting how the number of names is very close to the Fibonacci Sequence;

0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34, etc.