About Names: Once big, Deborah had a fall from grace

Debra Messing co-starred as Grace Adler on NBC’s “Will & Grace” from 1998 to 2006. Her name in all its forms — Deborah, Debra, Debbie, Deb — once dominated the baby boomer names lists. / Associated Press

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 15 column, he looks at the history of the name Deborah.

The name Debra is just as amazing. It’s an alternate spelling of Deborah, which is derived from the Hebrew word for “bee.” The name wasn’t used by Christians until after the Reformation. Then parents searching the Old Testament discovered it.

In England, Deborah first joined the top 50 names in 1610, peaking at 24th in the 1660s. The name was even more popular with Puritans and Quakers of colonial New England and Pennsylvania.

When yearly baby names data start in 1880, Deborah ranked 499th. It bottomed out at 892nd in 1912, and barely rose until 1928. What happened to Deborah after that? Read on to find out more about Deborahs in history!