Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 17, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MORNING QUIZ....In what order have these colors been placed?

  • Brown

  • White

  • Green

  • Gray

  • Black

  • Rose

  • Blue

  • Tan

  • Gold

  • Teal

  • Lavender

Answer below the fold.

It's the order of their popularity as a surname in the United States according to the Census Bureau. Brown is the #4 name, Lavender is #4,340. Drum, sadly, doesn't break the top 5,000. Full list here.

Kevin Drum 12:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

Interesting. Don't think I would have gotten that in several million years.

Posted by: thisiscmt on November 17, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

"You're my boy, Blue!!!"

Posted by: Fighting Words on November 17, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The proper link is: here

Posted by: mecki on November 17, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Is "Rose" really a color?

And what about "Greene"? Or "Braun" and "Weis"?

I think your analysis may be flawed.

Posted by: Bill B. on November 17, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Is "Rose" really a color?"

Yes.

Posted by: Petey on November 17, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Really? There's more Blues than Golds? The only Mr. Blue I've ever heard of was in Reservoir Dogs. There's Ari Gold in Entourage, Bruce Gold in Heller's Good as Gold... Gold is a very common name in Imaginationland.

Posted by: Wagster on November 17, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

'"Is "Rose" really a color?"

Yes.'

Oh, really. Then what's this?

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/butterflies/butterfly-gallery/pages/YellowRoseNacogdoches3.html

Posted by: drinkof on November 17, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

This article shows that hispanish names have finally broken the top ten.

If that doesn't frighten you, nothing will.

Posted by: egbert on November 17, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Eggie, old chap, do not dispair - Herspanish names still lag far behind.

Posted by: bert on November 17, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Eggy, but I call bull*BLEEP* for two reasons.

1) A lot of those Garcias and Martinezes are more than likely AMERICAN CITIZENS. Long time, and at the least, American residents.

2) Not all of them are actually hispanic. A good chunk of those at the least are likely Filipino (I should know considering...well, I have such a 'hispanic' name and am....you're getting the idea here, right?)

Posted by: Kryptik on November 17, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Said article also makes a very good point, in that many of those who might strike fear in the hearts of Tancredoites and such very well might not bear the mark of a scary hispanic name, considering how many early immigrants Anglicized their surnames.

Posted by: Kryptik on November 17, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's a conspiracy!

Ham at #2103
Burger at #1668
and Fries at # 3913

Lunchtime!

Posted by: Greg in FL on November 17, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the number of Jews from Russia who Anglicized their names in order to leave Ellis Island.

Good friend of mine was named Butler - Said her grandfather was told by a guard at Ellis that the fastest way to leave was to change his name - Showed him how to spell Butler.

Posted by: bert on November 17, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

My name is surprisingly popular.

Posted by: Bob HeadUpMyAss on November 17, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Tan, Teal, Lavender? I've got to get out more often.

Egfart, spaghetti noodles are now a more popular hotdish base than elbow maccaroni. If that doesn't frighten you, nothing will.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 17, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

What about Goldstein and Brownstein and Frankenstein? Hmmm?

Posted by: craigie on November 17, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Tan is a Chinese name. Think of novelist Amy Tan.

Teal and Lavender I don't understand either, unless they're way down on the list. I haven't figured out which link gets me a list that goes beyond 1,000, so I can't check. Hard for me to believe that Grey doesn't rank higher than #4,340. Or maybe Kevin omitted it since he already counted Gray?

Kryptik's complaint against Egbert makes no sense. Egbert never said anything about whether the Garcias and Martinezes are American citizens, or even whether they're Hispanic at all. He only said they are Hispanic ("Hispanish") names, which they surely are.

And, combining the themes, Moreno ranks #171, just behind Rose.

Posted by: mdl on November 17, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

#25 Clark
#26 Lewis

Awesome

Posted by: doublen on November 17, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

My spouse's surname isn't even on the list (downloadable from the Census site) of the 151671 names borne by 100 or more people. Which means my child's hyphenated surname is quite likely unique.

Posted by: idlemind on November 17, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody remembers Vida Blue?

Posted by: Ackroyd on November 17, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Egb*,

Actually, I do find you pretty scary.

Posted by: capitalistimperialistpig on November 17, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody remembers Ben Blue?

Posted by: MR. Bill on November 17, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

How can there be more people named Blue than Tan? That doesn't seem possible.

Posted by: desmoinesdem on November 17, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that "Red" is beneath "Blue" only demonstrates the liberal bias of this list.

Posted by: Bill O'Reilly on November 17, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yes! I guessed it. Mostly because I read that NYT article today, so I was in that frame of mind.

Posted by: Pat Smith on November 17, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Gay is dropping like a rock. Down from 774 to 974 in ten years. Come on Gay people, start having more kids!

Posted by: asdf on November 17, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Blue?

or whaddabout Vida?

(Charlie Finney, the owner of the A's - a man who also had his hockey team the Seals wearing gold skates - offered him a bonus if he'd change his name to 'True.' True.)

Posted by: snicker-snack on November 17, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh, according to that poll Bush is more popular than Clinton. Who knew?

... oh ... it's not a poll?

never mind :-}

Posted by: anon on November 17, 2007 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

i don't understand why 4 million last names are held by only ONE person and another 1 million names are held by 2-4 people. Don't they have relatives???

Of course there are going to be errors but not 80% of the last names.

Posted by: thicken on November 17, 2007 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

For many years the Philadelphia Eagles had a defensive back named Joe Lavender.

Posted by: jerophonic on November 18, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

"i don't understand why 4 million last names are held by only ONE person and another 1 million names are held by 2-4 people. Don't they have relatives???"

The answer, in one word - typos.

Posted by: Randy on November 18, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

I recall reading in Secrets of Microsoft Windows 3.1 that Microsoft brought us gray. Prior to that it was grey. That was for modifying color schemes in command.com.

Posted by: bidrec on November 18, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Orange is below Lavender, at 7,612? Until last year, here in DC 3 of the 13 city council members had color surnames: Kwame Brown, Vincent Gray, and Vincent Orange. Orange is gone now, and no new color came in to replace him, though I was rooting for a couple of Greens who were running. We did have a Mike Brown elected as shadow senator.

Bidrec, what are you talking about? Americans were spelling it "gray" before there was a Microsoft.

Posted by: KCinDC on November 18, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

I got it, but only because I had already read the article, this morning, you linked to, which had "brown" near the top- the strangest things stick in your head with you never consciously being aware of it.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on November 18, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I don't really get "lavender" and "teal" either. They almost sound like names people deliberately changed to sometime in the past, and who prolifically procreated.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on November 18, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

FYI: Christ is 4645. Maybe Dan Brown was right...

Posted by: Bret on November 18, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Do people use surnames based upon popularity?

Posted by: Rusty Scalf on November 18, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

They were all guys working for Joe Cabot on various "jobs" around town. Also, Mr. Blonde and Mr. Pink. And Mr. Purple - he was on a different "job."

Posted by: Toby Chew on November 19, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Vida Blue should have replied, "No, but I'll give up half my salary if you change your last name to 'Ninney'."

(I originally typed "my whole salary," but Blue probably would have recognized that Finney would be crazy and cheap enough to do it for that price. Half might be cutting it close, too, come to think of it.)

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on November 19, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Q: What does this set have in common: Blue, Gray, Green, Brown?

Posted by: alex on November 19, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Not only did my last name make the list, so did my first.
Never thought either was especially common.

Posted by: Ralph Geiger on November 19, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be damned, ALL FOUR of my names.

Posted by: Ralph Albert Stuart Geiger on November 19, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK
i don't understand why 4 million last names are held by only ONE person and another 1 million names are held by 2-4 people. Don't they have relatives?

Quite possibly not living relatives with the same surname in the United States. Not all relatives share surnames (marriage is a factor here, and people do changing their surname for other reasons, too) or live in the same country, and people do, after all, die.


Posted by: cmdicely on November 19, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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