The Rise and Fall of Engla (in Sweden)

Last week I posted about the usage of the name Estelle in Sweden, and one of the sources I used for that post mentioned the intriguing case of Engla.

In the early 2000s, the name Engla was on the upswing in Sweden.

Then tragedy struck: a 10-year-old named Engla Juncosa Höglund was abducted in April of 2008. Days later, she was found brutally murdered. Controversially, Engla’s funeral was broadcast live on national TV in Sweden in May. The murderer was apprehended and his trial went on for months.

What happened to the baby name Engla as a result? In the U.S., I would have expected to see a continued rise in usage, thanks solely to the extra exposure. But in Sweden, the opposite occurred:

  • 2017: 20 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2016: 17 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2015: 29 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2014: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2013: 26 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2012: 37 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2011: 51 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2010: 40 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2009: 44 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2008: 169 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2007: 224 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2006: 209 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2005: 147 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2004: 105 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2003: 94 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2002: 75 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2001: 56 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 2000: 30 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 1999: 16 baby girls named Engla in Sweden
  • 1998: 11 baby girls named Engla in Sweden

Even more surprisingly (to me), the name never recovered.

Within a span of 20 years, the name went from being unpopular, to ranking in the top 100 for several years straight, to being unpopular all over again.

The name Engla can be traced back to the Germanic name element engel, which referred to the Angles (as in “Anglo-Saxon”).

Sources: Estelle ā€“ Reactions to a royal name-giving in Sweden (PDF), Name Statistics ā€“ Statistics Sweden, Live Engla Funeral Broadcast Debated, Engel – Nordic Names Wiki


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