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Opal


Gender: Feminine
Language
: English
Etymology:
Opal is an English word for a certain type of precious stone. It comes from Greek “opallios,” from Sanskrit “upala” meaning “stone,” or “jewel.”

History:
Opal is one of the many “jewel” names that came into vogue at the end of the Victorian Era. During this time many “dainty” names fell into fashion for girls, especially flower names (Rose, Lily, etc.) but also jewel names (Pearl, Ruby, etc.) and diminutives (Essie, Minnie, Nellie, etc.).

Opal appeared rather suddenly on the charts in the 1880s, and peaked in the 1910s. The gemstone Opal is the birthstone for the month of October, and at one time it was not unusual for girls born in October to be named Opal.

The name Opal continued to be common throughout the early 20th century, but had become “old-fashioned” by the 1960s, and has since become rare.


Pronunciation: oh-pal.

Alternates: Opaline.

Popularity:
Percentage from the 1990 U.S. Census:
0.050 % of females named Opal

Popularity of Opal:
Popularity (for newborns):
In the United States...
1880: 836th most popular.
1881: 447th most popular.
1882: 507th most popular.
1883: 480th most popular.
1884: 377th most popular.
1885: 365th most popular.
1886: 406th most popular.
1887: 338th most popular.
1888: 333rd most popular.
1889: 293rd most popular.
1890: 280th most popular.
1891: 282nd most popular.
1892: 255th most popular.
1893: 236th most popular.
1894: 209th most popular.
1895: 216th most popular.
1896: 204th most popular.
1897: 182nd most popular.
1898: 177th most popular.
1899: 161st most popular.
1900: 140th most popular.
1901: 126th most popular.
1902: 117th most popular.
1903: 106th most popular.
1904: 100th most popular.
1905: 99th most popular.
1906: 95th most popular.
1907: 87th most popular.
1908: 84th most popular.
1909: 82nd most popular.
1910: 87th most popular.
1911: 81st most popular. - Peak!
1912: 85th most popular.
1913: 86th most popular.
1914: 89th most popular.
1915: 90th most popular.
1916: 91st most popular.
1917: 95th most popular.
1918: 94th most popular.
1919: 98th most popular.
1920: 101st most popular.
1921: 103rd most popular.
1922: 108th most popular.
1923: 114th most popular.
1924: 121st most popular.
1925: 129th most popular.
1926: 130th most popular.
1927: 141st most popular.
1928: 146th most popular.
1929: 150th most popular.
1930: 156th most popular.
1931: 170th most popular.
1932: 180th most popular.
1933: 182nd most popular.
1934: 199th most popular.
1935: 219th most popular.
1936: 231st most popular.
1937: 254th most popular.
1938: 262nd most popular.
1939: 263rd most popular.
1940: 272nd most popular.
1941: 314th most popular.
1942: 326th most popular.
1943: 341st most popular.
1944: 343rd most popular.
1945: 383rd most popular.
1946: 424th most popular.
1947: 430th most popular.
1948: 506th most popular.
1949: 496th most popular.
1950: 589th most popular.
1951: 583rd most popular.
1952: 620th most popular.
1953: 643rd most popular.
1954: 708th most popular.
1955: 689th most popular.
1956: 808th most popular.
1957: 811th most popular.
1958: 966th most popular.
1959: 973rd most popular.
1960: 916th most popular.
1961-2004: N/A




Selected Sources:
A Dictionary of First Names, Hanks and Hodges, 1990
The Penguin Dictionary of First Names, Pickering, 1999
The Wordsworth Dictionary of First Names, Mcleod and Freedman, 1995

The Social Security Administration Actuarial Note 139 (www.ssa.gov) - For popularity stats 1880-Present
The 1880 U.S. Census- For popularity stats 1850-1880, and other information (it is available on-line at www.familysearch.org)



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