The Emergence of Macaulay

The baby name Macaulay debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1990.

The wildly successful Christmas comedy Home Alone, released at the end of 1990, starred child actor Macaulay Culkin as a little boy (Kevin McCallister) mistakenly left at home by himself for the holidays while his family went on vacation.

Thanks to the movie, Macaulay Culkin became a household name virtually overnight. In fact, he was soon being called “the biggest child star since Shirley Temple.”

Unsurprisingly, the year the movie came out, the unique name Macaulay began appearing in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1995: 12 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1994: 5 baby girls + 25 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1993: 23 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1992: 36 baby boys named Macaulay [peak]
  • 1991: 10 baby girls + 16 baby boys named Macaulay
  • 1990: 5 baby boys named Macaulay [debut]
  • 1989: unlisted

Soon after, the variants Macauley, Mccauley, and Macauly (a one-hit wonder) popped up in the data as well.

Macaulay Culkin was born in 1980 and named for 19th-century English* historian Thomas Babington Macaulay. He was the third of seven children; his siblings are named Shane (m), Dakota (f), Kieran (m), Quinn (f), Christian (m), and Rory (m).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Macaulay? Do you like it better for boys or for girls?


*Speaking of England…usage of Macaulay spiked in Britain in 1995, which was weirdly late. Anyone know why?

Popular Baby Names in Michigan, 2017

According to Michigan’s Department of Health & Human Services, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and Liam.

Here are Michigan’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Emma, 546 baby girls
2. Ava, 537
3. Olivia, 514
4. Charlotte, 426
5. Amelia, 416
6. Evelyn, 407
7. Harper, 375
8. Sophia, 373
9. Isabella, 365
10. Grace, 284

Boy Names
1. Liam, 514 baby boys
2. Noah ,485
3. Oliver, 475
4. Lucas, 449
5. Mason, 438
6. Logan, 436
7. Benjamin, 435
8. Henry, 404
9. Wyatt, 391
10. William, 384

In the girls’ top 10, Grace replaces Abigail (now 13th).

In the boys’ top 10, Logan, Henry, Wyatt, and William replace James (now 11th), Owen (12th), Elijah (15th), and Carter (18th).

In 2016, the top two names were Ava and Noah.

The SSA’s 2017 rankings for Michigan are the same on the girls’ side, but slightly different for boys (including a tie for 10th place between William and James).

Source: Michigan Baby Names

Popular & Unique Baby Names in Idaho, 2017

According to Idaho’s Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and Oliver.

Here are Idaho’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Emma, 108 baby girls
2. Olivia, 102
3. Charlotte, 96
4. Evelyn, 91
5. Amelia, 78
6. Harper, 75 (tie)
7. Ava, 75 (tie)
8. Abigail, 71
9. Sophia, 67
10. Elizabeth, 60

Boy Names
1. Oliver, 114 baby boys
2. Liam, 102
3. William, 93
4. James, 87
5. Lincoln, 85
6. Samuel, 84
7. Mason, 80
8. Logan, 78 (3-way tie)
9. Jackson, 78 (3-way tie)
10. Henry, 78 (3-way tie)

In the girls’ top 10, Sophia replaces Emily (now 21st).

In the boys’ top 10, Samuel, Logan, and Jackson replace Wyatt (now 11th), Owen (15th), and Noah (16th). Interestingly, Samuel, which has been trending downward nationally, nearly doubled in usage in Idaho from 2016 to 2017.

The SSA’s 2017 rankings for Idaho include the same 20 names, but in slightly different order on both sides.

And finally, if you’re wondering about Idaho’s unusual baby names, here’s a selection from 2017…

  • Female names: Adventure, Embers, Epic, Evening, Flawless, Heartland, Helvetika, Island, Maleficent, Petal, Rapunzel, Solstice
  • Male names: Arseny, Banker, Calgary, Cuahuhtemoc, Desirejoy, Everest, Hiker, Obsidian, Sinister, Solaris, Venture, Zealous

Source: Annual Reports – Idaho Vital Statistics

The Latest on ABCDE

In late November, the baby name Abcde (pronounced AB-sih-dee) made national headlines after a 5-year-old El Paso girl named Abcde Redford was name-shamed by a Southwest Airlines gate agent at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

My original post on Abcde was written way back in 2010, so now that the name is being highlighted in the news (and on social media), it’s time for an update!

Here’s a graph of what the usage looks like so far:

usage of the baby name Abcde, graph, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, texas, hawaii, usa

And here are the grand totals (1990-2017):

  • Usage in the U.S.: at least 373 baby girls
    • Usage in Texas specifically: at least 225 baby girls
    • Usage in Hawaii specifically: at least 5 baby girls

(The state-specific SSA data, just like the national SSA data, has a five-baby threshold. So if a name is given to four (or fewer) babies in a certain state in a given year, that usage won’t be reported. The total counts, therefore, should be seen as minimums.)

Strangely, several sources (Vocativ, WaPo) keep repeating the claim that the name Abcde is “a primarily Hawaiian phenomenon.” While Hawaii was clearly an early adopter, Texas is where about 60% of all Abcdes have been born.

Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention the phonetic variant, Absidy:

usage of the baby name Absidy, graph, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, texas, usa

It’s interesting to note that Abcde is not a purely modern invention. Here’s a 19th-century woman named Abcde, for instance (discovered by It’s an Urban Legend). Abcde is also not the only letter-string personal name we have evidence of. And, going beyond names, there’s the letter-based Latin word abecedarius, “alphabetical,” and derived terms like abecedary and abecedarian (thank you to Frank for reminding me of this).

So now here’s the big question: Abcde’s usage has been petering out over the last few years…but will all this recent exposure, despite the mocking tone, end up giving the name a boost in 2018/2019?

Sources: SSA, OC Southwest gate agent mocks 5-year-old girl’s name, posts boarding pass on social media

Popular Baby Names in Ontario, 2017

According to the Government of Ontario, the most popular baby names in the province in 2017 were Olivia and Noah.

Here are Ontario’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Olivia
2. Emma
3. Charlotte
4. Ava
5. Amelia
6. Sophia
7. Evelyn
8. Abigail & Chloe (tie)
9. Ella
10. Emily

Boy Names
1. Noah
2. Liam
3. Benjamin
4. William
5. Logan
6. Lucas
7. Jacob
8. Ethan
9. Oliver
10. James

In the girls’ top 10, Evelyn, Chloe and Ella replace Mia and Isabella (which are now tied for 11th).

The boys’ list includes the same 10 names, though Noah replaces Benjamin as the new #1 name, and Logan has jumped from 10th to 5th.

Here are the 2016 rankings, if you’d like to compare.

Source: Ontario Celebrates a Century of Baby Names