What Made the Baby Name Malaysia So Trendy?

Malaysia - Baby Name Popularity Graph
“Malaysia” doubled in popularity in 2012. Why?

I recently noticed that the baby name Malaysia nearly doubled in popularity from 2011 to 2012.

In 2011, 265 baby girls were named Malaysia. This was enough for the name to reach 963rd on the SSA’s top 1,000. But in 2012, usage suddenly shot upward — 510 baby girls got the name, and the ranking increased nearly 400 spots to 569th.

What’s with the jump? I haven’t been able to figure it out.

I can tell you that the name is particularly popular in the south — Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi — but this might not be a useful clue.

Do you have any idea why the baby name Malaysia is now on the rise?

P.S. The country name Malaysia was coined in the 19th century by British geographers. It’s a combination of the word Malay and the Latinate suffix –ia.

UPDATE: Becca has the answer!

6 thoughts on “What Made the Baby Name Malaysia So Trendy?

  1. This probably doesn’t have anything to do with it, but there was a video that went viral in 2012 of a woman in Malaysia beating her eight month old. It was horrific. No names were attached to it, but child deaths or abuse that get media hype can increase the use of the child’s name for a moment…maybe it gave Malaysia a boost? It’s a current sound anyway. As far as I know the little girl in the video was saved and placed in foster care and is doing well now…

  2. Thanks for the ideas!

    @Rachel – Interesting point about Asia. The ad campaign is a good theory. Wikipedia is telling me that it began in 1999, which was a while ago, but who knows — maybe a new set of commercials came out in the US in 2012 or something…?

    @Jaime – Wow, I hope she’s okay. You’re right — horrific stuff like that really does grab people’s attention, and can certainly influence the baby name charts (e.g. Kyron, Trayvon, Caylee, Natalee).

  3. My guess? Malaysia Pargo of reality show Basketball Wives LA, which starting airing in August 2011.

  4. I bet that’s it! Reality TV has such a huge influence on baby names nowadays.

    The show is new to me, so here’s the Wikipedia page for Basketball Wives LA.

    Another name from the show that also happened to double in usage from 2011 to 2012: Draya.

    Thanks Becca!

  5. As someone who recently went to Malaysia it’s not a place I would like to be named after. The truly asia ads are quite nice (they don’t air in Australia but they did in Malaysia). The reality TV thing would be why its not popular anywhere but the US.

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