Illya All Over Again

The baby name Illya debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1965.

The name Illya double-debuted in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1960s:

 YearBoys Named IllyaGirls Named Illya
196755 [rank 980th]10
196678 [rank 828th]11
196535 [debut]5 [debut]
1964unlistedunlisted
1963unlistedunlisted

Illya was the #1 debut name for boys in 1965. In fact, it ended up becoming one of the top boy-name debuts overall, and it reached the top 1000 twice.

So where did it come from?

The influence wasn’t the movie that gave yesterday’s name Ilya a boost, but the Cold War-era spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which premiered on TV in 1964 and ran until 1968. (U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”)

The main characters were CIA agent Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and KGB agent Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin (played by David McCallum). Illya, a Slavic form of Elijah, was spelled out in the opening credits.

The name Napoleon may have also gotten a slight boost from the show, though it’s hard to tell.

Do you like the name Illya?

(Other dual-gender debuts I’ve posted about include Chaffee, Dasani, Dondi, Rikishi, and Sundown.)


2 thoughts on “Illya All Over Again

  1. I love Illya! I know, that kids may make an “ill” joke, but I really don’t think it is that big a deal. I love unique versions of biblical names, such as Joaquin for Joachim.

  2. It’s a *very* big stretch – probably impossible – to claim that “Ilya” and “Illya” are different names.

    It does make good sense that parents’ use of the one-L spelling or the two-L spelling are often inspired by different sources – but still, they’re just minor spelling variations on the same name.

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