American Names · Medieval Names · Modern names · Religious Names

The Many Ways to Spell Tiffany

Tiffany is an ancient name – it’s the medieval form of the Greek name Theophania (feminine for Theophanes, meaning “appearance of God”), and was traditionally given to girls born on January 6th, or Epiphany. Much more recently, Tiffany became popular in light of the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie or book, the story gets its name from the jewelry shop, not a character. 

As a trendy name becomes trendier, more spellings appear. From the time Tiffany entered the top 1000 in 1962 to its peak in 1988, and even afterwards, over 50 different ways to spell Tiffany appeared in the Social Security Administration’s birth data. I’ve tried to find them all.

Definite spellings:

  1. Teffani – debuts 1971 with 5 girls; only appearance. Might be influenced by variation of Stephanie.
  2. Teffanie – debuts 1969 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  3. Teffany – debuts 1966 with 8 girls, peak in 1977 with 16 girls. Last appearance 1993.
  4. Tephanie – debuts 1968 with 6 girls, peak in 1982 with 14 girls. Last appearance 1988. It’s just Stephanie without the ‘S!’
  5. Tifanee – debuts 1980 with 5 girls, peak in 1987 with 9 girls. Last appearance 1991.
  6. Tifani – debuts 1967 with 12 girls, peak in 1981 and 1988 with 39 girls. Last appearance 2010.
  7. Tifanie – debuts 1970 with 8 girls, peak in 1980 with 34 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  8. Tifanny – debuts in 1980 with 7 girls, peak in 2003 and 2007 with 12 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  9. Tifany – debuts in 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1982 with 66 girls. Last appearance 2013.
  10. Tiffaine – debuts in 1986 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  11. Tiffane – debuts in 1970 with 6 girls, peak in 1981 with 20 girls. Last appearance 1998.
  12. Tiffanee – debuts in 1969 with 8 girls, peak in 1988 with 43 girls. Last appearance 2002.
  13. Tiffaney – debuts in 1965 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 142 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  14. Tiffani – debuts in 1962 with 9 girls, peak in 1981 with 643 girls, 5 girls in 2021.
  15. Tiffanie –debuts in 1962 with 6 girls, peak in 1980 with 470. Last appearance 2020.
  16. Tiffannee – debuts in 1978; only appearance.
  17. Tiffanni – debuts in 1971 with 7 girls, peak in 1987 and 1994 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1997.
  18. Tiffannie – debuts in 1971 with 6 girls, peak in 1986 with 15. Last appearance in 1995. 
  19. Tiffanny – debuts in 1968 with 6 girls, peak in 1982 and 1984 with 21 girls. Last appearance 2006.
  20. Tiffany – debuts 1942 with 7 girls. Peak in 1988 with 18364 girls. Entered top 1000 in 1962, peaked 1982 and 1988 (with highest percentage in ’88). Current rank: #864 with 315 girls. 
  21. Tiffanye – debuts 1972 with 7 girls. Peak in 1980 with 10 girls. Last appearance 1985.
  22. Tiffeney – debuts in 1970 with 6 girls. Peak in 1982 and 1983 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1985.
  23. Tiffeny – debuts 1968 with 6 girls. Peak in 1989 with 31 girls. Last appearance 2003.
  24. Tifffany – debuts 1988 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  25. Tiffiani – debuts 1980 with 5 girls. Peak in 1980 and 1992 with 5 girls. Last appearance 1992.
  26. Tiffiany – debuts 1966 with 7 girls. Peak in 1982 with 50 girls. Last appearance 1999.
  27. Tiffinay – debuts 1971 with 5 girls. Peak in 1976 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1988. 
  28. Tiffine – debuts 1971 with 8 girls, peak in 1984 with 18 girls. Last appearance 1995.
  29. Tiffinee – debuts 1973 with 5 girls, peak in 1988 with 10 girls. Last appearance 1990.
  30. Tiffiney – debuts 1966 with 10 girls, peak in 1981 with 63 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  31. Tiffini – debuts 1964 with 7 girls, peak in 1980 with 71 girls. Last appearance 2007.
  32. Tiffinie – debuts 1967 with 8 girls, peak in 1981 and 1982 with 22 girls. Last appearance 1996.
  33. Tiffiny – debuts 1964 with 10 girls, peak in 1980 with 144 girls. Last appearance 2008.
  34. Tiffnay – debuts 1975 with 6 girls, peak in 1981 with 12 girls. Last appearance 1989.
  35. Tiffney – debuts 1962 with 7 girls, peak in 1980 with 66 girls. Last appearance 2002.
  36. Tiffni – debuts 1970 with 11 girls, peak in 1970 with 11 girls. Last appearance 1971.
  37. Tiffnie – debuts 1970 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  38. Tiffny – debuts 1972 with 7 girls. Peak in 1984 with 12 girls.  Last appearance 1988.
  39. Tiffoni – debuts 1972 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  40. Tiffonie – debuts 1971 with 5 girls. Peak in 1971, 1975, and 1976 with 5 girls.  Last appearance 1976.
  41. Tiffony – debuts 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 16 girls. Last appearance 1990.
  42. Tifini – debuts 1967 with 5 girls, peak in 1982 with 12 girls. Last appearance 1995.
  43. Tifinie – debuts 1971 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1980.
  44. Tifiny – debuts 1979 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1980.
  45. Tifney – debuts 1970 with 7 girls, peak in 1970 and 1977 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1982.
  46. Tifni – debuts 1980 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  47. Tifphanie – debuts 1976 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  48. Tiphanee – debuts 1995 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  49. Tiphani – debuts 1971 with 6 girls, peak in 1988 with 24 girls. Last appearance 2007.
  50. Tiphanie – debuts 1967 with 5 girls, peak in 1988 with 32 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  51. Tiphany – debuts 1968 with 5 girls, peak in 1993 with 15 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  52. Tyfani – debuts 1990 with 7 girls; only appearance.
  53. Tyffani – debuts 1980 with 7 girls, peak in 1987, 1993, and 1995 with 11 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  54. Tyffanie – debuts 1979 with 5 girls, peak in 1985 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1992
  55. Tyffany – debut 1975 with 7 girls, peak in 1989 with 13 girls. Last appearance 2000.

The names in bold are the ones that were still being given to babies in 2016.

Uncertain spellings:

  • Taffani – debuts 1972 with 5 girls, peaks in 1972 and 1992 with 5 girls. Last appearance 1992. Sounds more like Daphne.
  • Taffany – debuts 1967 with 6 girls, peaks 1988 with 24 girls.  Last appearance 1994.
  • Taffney – debuts 1970 with 5, peaks 1970 and 1974 with 5 girls.  Last appearance 1974.
  • Tiffancy – debuts 1975 with 5 girls, peak in 1986.  Last appearance 1988.
  • Tiphaine – debuts 1976 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  • Tippany – debuts 1982 with 6 girls; only appearance.

Names Inspired by Tiffany:

  • Latiffany – debuts 1974 with 6 girls, peak in 1987 with 22 girls. Last appearance 1994.
  • Tiffanique – debuts 1992 with 5 girls, peak in 1993 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1993.
  • Tiffaniamber – debuts 1993 with 6 girls, peak in 1997 with 9 girls. Last appearance 1997.
  • Tiffanyamber – debuts 1994 with 8 girls, peak in 1994 and 1998 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1999.
  • Tiffanyann – debuts in 1981 with 7 girls.
  • Tiffanymarie – debuts 1987 with 5 girls.
  • Tiffay – debuts 1974 with 6 girls, peak in 1987 with 28 girls. Last appearance 1988.
  • Tiffin – debuts 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1968, 1977, and 1980 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1982.
  • Tiffy – debuts 1974 with 5 girls, peak in 1981 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1981.

There are only two spellings of Tiffany parents still give their daughters (that we know of), but once-upon-a-time it was a hip name. The Tiffany you find on the playground today is probably a mom, not her child. Give it another couple of generations or a resurgence in medieval baby names and it’s sure to return!  

Do you have a favorite spelling of Tiffany? Have you met someone with an unusual spelling of this name, even one that didn’t make this list? Let me know!


Analysis · Medieval Names


With the increasing popularity of Otto in the U.S. (currently ranked #527), will some parents start choosing Odo for their baby’s name? The two names are related (deriving from a Germanic word meaning “wealth” or “fortune,” though Odo is pronounced more like Oh-doe than Ought-o or Odd-o. A relative’s Star Trek binge-watching planted this obscure name in my mind. To me, Odo evokes images of handsome medieval knights and polite, stern space aliens.

Odo has never appeared in the Social Security Administration‘s extended name data. In order for that to happen, a name has to be given to at least five same-gendered babies in a year. Thankfully, the SSA’s “Popular Baby Names” isn’t the only database available to search for baby name histories. You can also glance at the Social Security Death Index* for clues. The SSDI is especially useful for researching names in the late 19th century and early 20th century, because it doesn’t seem to have minimal popularity restrictions (which are in place for the birth data to protect the privacy of presumably living citizens). Also, sometimes if you see a “popular” 19th century name in the birth data, you’ll find a higher number of them in the death data. No idea why *that* is, but it is another reason why the SSDI is such a valuable tool. Finally, you can sometimes see the names of people born before 1880 in the death index; the birth index starts at 1880.

While I never found Odo in the birth data, I did find over sixty Odo‘s in the death index. The earliest two were born in 1874 (in Wisconsin and Texas), and the last in 1946 (South Carolina). The youngest was probably the son of another Odo who was born in 1915 in the same SC town; overall, the last Odo born before the youngest (that has died, anyway) was born in 1938. According to the death index, no more than three Odo‘s were born each year nationally. While there might be a handful still living, this paucity suggests the possibility that Odo never reached SSA’s minimal popularity threshold of 5 uses even accounting for incomplete/inaccurate name info before 1937. The other possibility is that even if five Odo‘s were born in a single year after 1879, at least two weren’t recorded because they died early or worked in the wrong employment sector.

Despite Odo‘s status as an extremely rare name in 21st century America, it isn’t exactly obscure. Nowadays, Odo mostly appears in pop culture and video games. The book Fellowship of the Ring mentions a minor character named Odo Proudfoot, who is a cousin to Bilbo Baggins. An Odo is also referenced in Harry Potter through song. Star Trek’s Odo is probably better known than the examples above, though. In Deep Space Nine, Odo is the station’s shape-shifting, Quark-hating security guard. That Odo is a major character, and I’m honestly surprised the name didn’t breach the extended data at least once during the show’s run in the 1990s.  Odo isn’t exactly a sci-fi creation; it’s a historical name!

From left: Bishop Odo, King William, and their brother Robert

Did I mention history? Famous early bearers include King Odo of France (also known as Eudes) and Saint Odo of Cluny. William the Conqueror also had a maternal half-brother named Odo who was Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux. If you’ve ever played “Crusader Kings II” as I have, you may have interacted with this character (whose surname is “de Conteville”). In real life, he wasn’t the only Odo in England. The 1086 Domesday Book records several individuals named Odo and even one Odolina.

What do you think of Odo? Is it too weird or pretentious for modern usage, or is it like a book just waiting to be dusted off and read? Would *you* use it? Let me know in the comments! 

*If you’d like to access the SSDI and don’t have a subscription to, you can do as I did and go on Family Search, which offers it for free. 

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Medieval Names

The “Ric” Element

“Ric” is a Germanic element which means “rule” or “power.” Some of my favorite classic and pretentiously archaic (I mean that in a good way!) names belong to this category. The classics of the list are kingly, but evoke understated elegance and responsibility. The archaic gems are like dusty tomes and their old-book aroma – either utterly enchanting or utterly off-putting to people, but the enchanted will treasure and keep them. I’m excited because some of the more obscure names are starting to spread in usage or conversation!

For this post, I’ve looked for names containing this element, their meanings, and their rankings in both the U.S. and England and Wales.  Behind the Name is my source for definitions and the U.S. rankings (which in turn come from the Social Security Administration – sometimes I prefer the formatting on BtN, but it’s the same info). The British rankings came from the Office of National Statistics.  I also used the name directory at Nancy’s Baby Names to check the trends of rarer names.

Henry – #29 in U.S., #13 in England and Wales; rising. Henry is one of those names that’s never even left the top 200 yet somehow feels fresh and renewed. According to Behind the Name, Henry derives from a name meaning “home ruler.”

Henry VIII – The most famous Henry?

Richard – #155 in U.S., #256 in England / Wales; falling in U.S. but rose in England and Wales between 2014 and 2015. Another royal name, meaning: “brave power.” Honestly, I want to see this name make his comeback. If Arthur and Walter are returning, why can’t Richard? I grant that a certain unfortunate nickname is a hindrance, but apparently not enough to throw Richard out of the U.S. top 200 just yet.

Derek – #210 in U.S.  Only 15 boys in England and Wales. According to Behind the Name, Derek ultimately derives from Theodoric (see below).

Frederick – #576 in U.S., #76 in England / Wales; rising. Meaning: “peaceful ruler.” I haven’t written on Frederick, but I have a profile on his lovely feminine counterpart Frederica.

Emery – #731 for boys (U.S.); only 4 boys in E/W. Far more popular as a boys’ name, this derives from the older name Emmerich, which BtN suggests derives from multiple ancient “ric” names.  

Roderick – 185 boys in 2015; 3 boys in E/W. In U.S., rose slightly between 2014 and 2015.  Meaning: “Famous power.”

Alaric – 181 boys in 2015 (U.S.); 4 boys in E/W. Alaric is rising in U.S.  Meaning: “Ruler of all”

Aubrey – 147 boys; #779 in E/W (41 boys).  In U.S., rose slightly from 2014-2015. Aubrey the men’s name and Aubrey the women’s name have different origins. If a masculine name, it comes from Alberich.  If feminine, it comes from Alberada…which is most decidedly not a “ric” name!

Godric – 40 in 2015 (U.S.); rising.  Meaning: “power of God.” Godric Gryffindor is the namesake most people think of, though there’s also the never-canonized “Saint” Godric of Finchale.

Edric – 39 in 2015 (U.S.); rising but volatile.  Variation of Anglo-Saxon Eadric. The element “ed” refers to wealth, so this name should mean something akin to “wealthy rule.”

Emeric – 27 in 2015; Down one from 2014, but the general trend is still upwards. Like Emery, Emeric derives from Emmerich.

Ulrich – 16 in 2015; rising. Derives from Odalric; BtN defines “odal” as an element meaning “heritage.”

Oberon / Auberon – 11 boys were named Oberon in the U.S; rising. 6 American boys were named Auberon in 2015 (debut!) and 3 in E/W.  These names are closely related to Aubrey.

Aldrich / Aldric – 9 boys named Aldrich, 8 named Aldric; both spellings are all over the place, neither up nor down continuing for many years.  “Ald” means old; Aldric = “old + power/rule.” Aldrich Killian was the antagonist in Iron Man 3.

Æthelric / Ethelric / Adalric – Means “noble power.” Who else is up for a revival of the letter “Æ?” 

Alberich – Meaning: “elf power.” If you played any of the Harry Potter video games in the early 2000s, you might remember the name Alberic Grunnion. This name also has a mythological history.

Baldric – Can mean “bold rule.” A baldric is special kind of belt.  

Leofric – This means something like “dear power.” A famous bearer is Lady Godiva’s husband, Leofric of Mercia.

Wulfric – “Wolf + power/rule.” Harry Potter fans will remember this is one of Dumbledore’s middle names (Full name: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore)

Theodoric – Means “ruler of the people.” With Derek deriving from this, and Theodore becoming wildly popular…can we give a little love to Theodoric? Not that Theodoric is even related to Theodore

While I’ve always loved Frederick and Henry, I think my current favorite “ric” names are Wulfric, Leofric, and Godric.

Do you have a favorite “ric” name? Let me know if it’s not on the list! And which ones do you think will become more popular?      

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Medieval Names

Wise William

William is one of the most popular names around!  In America, it ranks #5 nationally, but ranks #1 in D.C., Utah, Montana, and every Southern state except Florida.  Interestingly Liam, an Irish nickname for William, ranks even higher on the national level.  Liam comes in at #2, and ranks #1 in more states than the overall #1, Noah (which is probably only first because of California and Texas).  William also ranks highly in other English-speaking countries, and is currently the most popular boys’ name in all of Scandinavia.  That tidbit is especially curious when you consider that Scandinavian languages share their own form of the name (Vilhelm), yet speakers apparently prefer the English cognate! 

William the Conqueror at center

Besides near-universal popularity, the name William also boasts longevity.  The Normans brought it from France to England in 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded and became king.  However, the name predates even that date.  One earlier William that comes to mind is William of Septimania, born in 826 AD.  He’s not particularly important on his own, but his mother Dhuoda addressed a book to him (incidentally, she’s the only female writer of the Carolingian era whose work survives!).  Nor was he the first William in his family.  Ultimately, this name has existed for at least 1200 years!

Those 1200 years of Williams are continuous and plentiful.  The name belongs to four U.S. Presidents, four (eventually five) English kings and more PMs, Shakespeare, saints, writers, actors, athletes, etc.  You will encounter Williams in every profession.  In America at least, William is popular in every age group too; it’s never been outside the top 20. 


Why use a name that’s popular in every age group?  William certainly is ubiquitous and wizened.  But, parents, let me say this: William is timeless; tried-and-true.  He never sounds too old-fashioned or too new.  The only thing that really changes with age is the freshness of the nicknames that accompany William.  Few children will answer to Bill or Willie, I think.  The young Williams I know are mostly called William or LiamMaybe Will or Billy

What do you think of the name William



American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Medieval Names


Henry is a classic boys’ name that is recovering from a mid-century lull.  He’s lucky to be a member of the minuscule club of names that has never been out of the top 1000 since 1880, the year in which the SSA name popularity data begins.  Still, he remained outside the top 100 between 1970 and 2005. 

As of 2015, Henry ranks #29 nationally.  If you live in Minnesota or Nebraska, he’s actually the #1 boys’ name, and he’s #2 in Washington D.C. and Oregon.  And it isn’t just this side of the pond that’s experiencing a revival of the name.  I fully expect Henry to enter the England & Wales top 10 within the next couple of years.  20 years ago, this name ranked #58 there, but in 2013 he entered the top 20 at #18 and in 2014 he ranked #15.  Henry has also recently debuted in the Irish and Scottish charts.  This name trendy all over the English-speaking world, and even Sweden apparently loves this name now (#56 in 2015, up from #76 in 2014).  

For the longest time, Henry VIII has been the prime association for millions.  He’s the English king who married six times and split from the Roman Catholic church (and started the Episcopal/Anglican church) to obtain a male heir.  As the wife mnemonic goes: “Divorced, Executed, Died, Divorced, Executed, Survived.”  Henry VIII has even inspired “disappearing wives” mugs where you pour a hot liquid in and their portraits fade to white (I have one – I’m a monarchy nerd).  There’s also a great, very catchy pop song from the 60s by Herman’s Hermits called “I’m Henery the Eighth, I am” that’s actually about a guy who’s the eighth in a line of men named Henry to have married some widow.  According to the song, “she wouldn’t have a Willie nor a Sam.”  Also, I have indeed seen the TV series The Tudors starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers…historically inaccurate in so many ways, though who doesn’t enjoy that show and that Henry VIII portrayal?

Henry VIII

Henry VIII aside, there were seven other English kings named Henry before him (including Henry V, who has his own Shakespeare play and a Kenneth Branagh movie!); not to mention, other kingdoms had their fair share of Henrys too.  France had several named Henri, Castile had a number of rules named Enrique…This is a very royal name.  Perhaps Henry‘s meaning, “home ruler,” makes this even more fitting.

Why is Henry becoming so popular again?  I’m not sure, but I can think of a few possibilities:

  1. Prince Harry (he’s actually a Henry)
  2. Harry Potter.  Okay, I know his name isn’t actually Henry.  But a) Harry is commonly a nickname for Henry, b) Harry’s great-grandfather was named Henry Potter “Harry”, and c) Henry has become a much more popular name since the books and movies started coming out. 
  3. Once Upon a Time, which is a popular ABC series which takes storybook/fairy tale/Disney/whatever characters and puts them into a modern day town in real-world Maine called “Storeybrook.”  Henry is the name of a main character.
  4. Old names are generally trendy at the moment. 

What do you think of the name Henry?  And why do you think it’s becoming so popular again? 

Sources for popularity data:

Medieval Names


You’ve probably never met one in person, but perhaps you’ve encountered an Ermengarde in books, movies, history, or video games. 


Ermengarde is a character (and chapter!) in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess and is also the second love of the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s Eleonora.  Both are at least somewhat obscure as references, though the former is probably better known.  A Little Princess is a widely-read children’s classic and has several movie renditions (my personal favorite is the 1990s version that Alfonso Cuarón directed).  As far as character names go, Ermengarde isn’t unheard of.

There were a number of Ermengardes through medieval European history, as well.  William the Lion (Scottish king) married Ermengarde de Beaumont in the 12th century.  Centuries earlier, Ermengarde of Hesbaye was the first wife of Louis the Pious (son of Charlemagne).  There were even more in years between.  Funnily enough, this name must have been common enough that whenever I play Crusader Kings II (a medieval history PC sandbox game with extensive genealogies of actual royal and noble families…not always accurate, but definitely fun for name enthusiasts), I see female characters named  Ermengarde all over the French or Frankish section of the map.  I’ve even seen Hélie-Ermengarde used in-game…

As to modern usage, I’m really not aware of any.  Ermengarde is an extremely rare name that has never once appeared in the SSA birth data.  And despite a long recorded history, Behind the Name doesn’t even give Ermengarde her own page (but there’s a fairly decent user-submitted description).  The name means “universal protection” … lovely, isn’t that?  The ‘ermen’ part is the very same root that gives us mega-popular Emma, which would make a really good nickname for an Ermengarde.  There is also the adorable Ermentrude

What do you think of Ermengarde?  Could it work today?