Popular and Unique Baby Names by State, 2018

Sampling of baby names that appeared in the SSA state-specific baby name data for one state only.

We know what the top names in the country were last year, but what about the top names in each state? Here’s the list, released just yesterday by the SSA. I’ve also included each state’s most popular unique names (i.e., names that only appeared in the data for that particular state).

StateTop Names (f & m)Top Unique Names (f & m)
AlabamaAva & WilliamCrimson & Kendarius, Walton (tie)
AlaskaAurora & Oliver(none) & Paxson
ArizonaEmma & LiamSedona & Yadier
ArkansasAva & Noah(none) & Timber
CaliforniaEmma & NoahAni & Aram
ColoradoOlivia & LiamVail & Redding
ConnecticutOlivia & Noah(none) & (none)
DelawareAva & Liam(none) & (none)
D.C.Ava & William(none) & (none)
FloridaIsabella & LiamAbigaelle & Miron
GeorgiaAva & WilliamKaylei & Taylin
HawaiiEmma & LiamMahina & Kaimana
IdahoOlivia & LiamQuincey & Roczen
IllinoisOlivia & NoahJamaya & Laron
IndianaEmma & OliverDawt, Elma (tie) & Jamin
IowaHarper & OliverHuxley & Kinnick
KansasOlivia & LiamMacklyn & Creighton, Whit (tie)
KentuckyEmma & WilliamAnnlee, Terri (tie) & Jansen
LouisianaAva & NoahJaicee, Jersi (tie) & Colston
MaineOliver & Charlotte(none) & (none)
MarylandAva & LiamAnjolaoluwa & Adon, Murtaza (tie)
MassachusettsEmma & BenjaminVittoria & Henrique
MichiganOlivia & NoahLayal & Eldon
MinnesotaEvelyn & HenryMaida & Muhsin
MississippiAva & JohnSwayze & Jadarius
MissouriOlivia & LiamCharlea & Daxten, Zebulun (tie)
MontanaHarper & Liam(none) & (none)
NebraskaOlivia & Liam(none) & (none)
NevadaEmma & Liam(none) & (none)
New HampshireOlivia & Oliver (none) & (none)
New JerseyEmma & LiamTzipora & Binyomin
New MexicoIsabella & Noah(none) & (none)
New YorkEmma & LiamGitty & Mendel
North CarolinaAva & NoahHolden & Nahmir
North DakotaOlivia & Oliver(none) & (none)
OhioAva & LiamWilma & Grayden
OklahomaEmma & LiamDim, Jadyn (tie) & Thang
OregonEmma & OliverRuna & (none)
PennsylvaniaEmma & LiamBarbie, Surah (tie) & Joniel
Rhode IslandAmelia, Olivia (tie) & Liam(none) & (none)
South CarolinaAva & WilliamEmmagrace, Mills (tie) & Drayton, Mills (tie)
South DakotaHarper & Grayson, Henry, Liam (3-way tie)(none) & Ryken
TennesseeEmma & WilliamAnnaclaire, Caylen, Eulalia, Jakyra, Kamri, Parthenia, Tamari, Tylee (8-way tie) & Neyland
TexasEmma & LiamJessi & Eliud
UtahOlivia & OliverMable & Ammon
VermontHarper & Oliver(none) & (none)
VirginiaAva & WilliamTyasia & Alexi, Javonte, Mckinley (3-way tie)
WashingtonOlivia & LiamCallista & Ruvim
West VirginiaEmma & Mason(none) & Bransen
WisconsinEvelyn & Oliver(none) & Broxton, Kelby (tie)
WyomingAmelia, Emma (tie) & Oliver(none) & (none)

A few final thoughts…

  • I love that Aurora is now #1 in Alaska. :)
  • What’s up with Wilma in Ohio? Nine baby girls is nearly a quarter (23%) of the total national usage. Interesting.
  • One of the other unique Utah boy names was Kaladin, which comes from a character in the Stormlight Archive book series by Utah-based fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson.

How about you — what are your thoughts/observations?

Babies Named for Fort Sumter

Bombardment of Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter — the sea fort near Charleston, South Carolina — wasn’t fully built yet in the spring of 1861 when the Battle of Fort Sumter kicked off the Civil War. The Second Battle of Fort Sumter, two years later, reduced the never-finished fort to rubble. (It has since been restored and is now a National Park.)

As with the Battle of Gettysburg, the two Fort Sumter battles had a small influence on baby names. I found about a dozen U.S. babies — all male, all born in the South — named “Fort Sumter”:

  • Fort Sumter Williamson (North Carolina, c1861)
  • Fort Sumter Roebuck (Virginia, c1861)
  • Fort Sumter Richards (South Carolina, 1861)
  • Fort Sumter Earle (Alabama, 1864)
  • Fort Sumter Sparrow (Alabama?, 1867)
  • Fort Sumter Liscomb (Texas, 1869) — but buried as a “John
  • Fort Sumter Brooks (Georgia, 1877)
  • Fort Sumter Sumter (Louisiana, 1881) — yes, Sumter twice
  • Fort Sumter Black (Georgia?, 1881)
  • Fort Sumter Cannon (Georgia, 1884)
  • Fort Sumter Everett (Virginia, 1900)
  • Fort Sumter Falls (North Carolina, 1910)

Notice how only half of them were born in the 1860s. A few — like “Fort Sumter Cannon” and “Fort Sumter Falls” — may have gotten the name simply because of the play on words.

Source: Battle of Fort Sumter – Wikipedia

The Ephemeral Marpessa

marpessa dawn, actress
© 1959 Ebony

The baby name Marpessa was a mere one-hit wonder in the data, back in 1960:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 8 baby girls named Marpessa [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The inspiration was a half-black, half-Filipino actress named Marpessa Dawn. She was American, but spent most of her adult life in Europe.

It was her starring role in the 1959 Portuguese-language film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) that brought her to the attention of American audiences. The film was based on the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, but set in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in mid-1959, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1960, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film in 1960.

But Marpessa wasn’t able to capitalize on this brief period of fame, so she (and her name) soon fell out of the spotlight.

Marpessa’s name, like her most memorable film, has ancient Greek roots. The mythical Marpessa in Homer’s Iliad was an Aetolian princess who had been seized from her mortal lover Idas by the sun god Apollo. The name, accordingly, is based on an ancient Greek verb meaning “to seize.”

Do you like the name Marpessa? Would you use it?

Sources:

  • “America’s Dawn Comes Up in France.” Life 14 Mar. 1960: 57-59.
  • Nelson, Eric. The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Image: Ebony, Nov. 1959 issue

Popular and Unusual Baby Names in Ireland, 2018

According to data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), the most popular baby names in the country in 2018 were again Emily and Jack.

Here are Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Emily
  2. Grace
  3. Emma
  4. Sophie
  5. Amelia
  6. Ella
  7. Ellie
  8. Mia
  9. Ava
  10. Fiadh (pronounced fee-ah)

Boy Names

  1. Jack
  2. James
  3. Noah
  4. Conor
  5. Daniel
  6. Harry
  7. Luke
  8. Michael
  9. Adam
  10. Charlie

In the girls’ top 10, Ella, Ellie, and Fiadh replace Hannah (now 11th), Lucy (13th), and Chloe (16th). The Irish name Fiadh* comes from the word fia, which means “wild” — in a “wild animal” or “wild deer” sense specifically. (Many sources oversimplify the definition by reducing it to “deer.”)

In the boys’ top 10, Charlie replaces Sean (now both 13th & 74th — see below for an explanation).

New entrants to the girls’ top 100 were Ada, Bella, Bonnie and Ivy. Ada and Ivy were the fastest climbers.

New entrants to the boys’ top 100 were Frankie, Freddie and Theodore. Theodore and Frankie were the fastest climbers.

Something else new to the rankings in 2018? The síneadh fada — an important Irish diacritic that indicates a long vowel. (In Irish, the word síneadh means “stretching” or “prolongation” and the word fada means “long.”) This is what pushed longtime top-five name Sean out of the top 10 entirely in 2018. “Sean” and “Seán” are now being counted as separate names. Currently, Seán ranks 13th while fada-less Sean is way down in 74th place.

Speaking of names with relatively low placement on the list, baby names bestowed just three times each in Ireland last year included…

  • Rare girl names: Aodhla, Erris, Fódla, Rahela, Seoda, Ugne, Xenia
  • Rare boy names: Connla, Iarfhlaith, Liam Óg, Lughaidh, Seánie, Sionnach, Zente

Sources: Irish Babies’ Names 2018: Introduction, Babies’ Names 2018 Tables, CSO baby names list features síneadh fada for first time
Image: © 2019 CSO

*The name Fiadh debuted in the U.S. data in 2018.

Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2018: Results!

Here are the results of Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2018! For the pop culture context of any of these names, just click back over to the original game post.

Rises

Names that saw higher usage in 2018:

No Change

Names that saw no change in usage in 2018.

Drops

Names that saw lower usage in 2018:

Absent

Names that were absent from the SSA data in 2018:

  • Did not debut: Avicii, Carvena, Chevel, Coco (as a boy name), Cullinan, Ella Mai, Kaavia, Kulture, Mahomes, Majeste, Maquia, Marsai, Nafessa, Osaka, Pineapple, Qira, Ramirez (as a girl name), Reileen, Sanni, Velar, Venom, Villanelle, Xolo, Yanny, Zaxai
  • Did not re-emerge: Cress, Gio, Joji, Jumanji, T’challa

Late Bloomers

Names that were “absent” from the 2017’s results, now in 2018:

Plus: Rumi finally rose, and Sircarter unexpectedly surfaced.

What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?

[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated, and some were no doubt influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.]