Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2020

Happy birthday, Elvis!

It’s hard to put into words just how bizarre 2020 was.

Despite this…people still had babies in 2020, and people still paid attention to pop culture in 2020. (In fact, thanks to quarantine, many people probably paid a lot more attention to pop culture than usual last year.) So, let’s put the seriousness of 2020 aside for a second and kick off the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

Of course, “pop culture” includes not just things like movies and music and social media, but also anything that was in the news — including COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the U.S. presidential election.

Which baby names will see higher usage — or appear for the very first time — in the 2020 SSA baby name data thanks to pop culture?

Here are some initial ideas (plus some context):

  • Aalam, DJ Khaled’s baby
  • Ahmaud, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
  • Amala, Doja Cat album
  • Azula, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (made available on Netflix in mid-2020)
  • Breonna, shooting of Breonna Taylor
  • Bryant, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Casme, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Catori, Chris Brown’s baby (suggested by alex)
  • Chadwick, death of Chadwick Boseman
  • Charli, singer Charli XCX
  • Corona, coronavirus
    • Not to mention the brand new Daddy Yankee song “Corona” [vid]…
  • Crozier, naval captain Brett Crozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Daisy, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s baby
  • Desz, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Doja, singer Doja Cat
  • Domhnall, Irish actor on (canceled) HBO series Run
  • Dua, singer Dua Lipa
  • Esty, character on the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox
  • George, killing of George Floyd
  • Gianna, death of Gianna Bryant
  • Greta, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
  • Isaias, hurricane
  • Jack, death of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s unborn baby
  • Kamala, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
  • Kamiyah, character in the Lifetime movie Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story*
  • Kaori, Kevin Hart’s baby
  • Katara, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Kobe, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Kraken, NHL expansion team (Seattle)
  • Larriah, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Laura, hurricane
  • Lenin, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez (suggested by elbowin)
  • Liberty, Meghan McCain’s baby
  • Lovella, singer Matt Bellamy’s baby
  • Lynika, death of Lynika Strozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Lyra, Ed Sheeran’s baby
  • McGivney, beatification of Fr. Michael McGivney
  • Neowise, comet (suggested by elbowin)
  • Onyx, Iggy Azalea’s baby
  • Raddix, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden’s baby
  • Rayshard, shooting of Rayshard Brooks
  • River, Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara’s baby
  • Robinette, President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden (suggested by elbowin)
  • Rona, coronavirus
  • Rue, Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert’s baby
  • Rumble, model Lucky Blue Smith’s baby
  • Ruth, death of RBG
  • Sovereign, Usher’s baby
  • Tchalla, death of Chadwick Boseman (who played T’Challa in 2018’s Black Panther)
  • Wenliang, Chinese doctor Li Wenliang (suggested by elbowin)
  • Willa, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s baby
  • Win, Ciara and Russell Wilson’s baby
  • Yara, actress Yara Shahidi
  • Zuko, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (here’s one Zuko from 2020)

Some of the names from the 2019 game could be applicable to the 2020 data as well.

Also, feel free to zoom out and consider name trends this year. Here are a few ways in which baby-naming may have been influenced by our collective experience of COVID-19, for instance:

  • “In my opinion this unprecedented situation will affect naming towards something “bolder” or “more badass” baby names and so you’ll probably see a spike of certain names like King, Major or Royal.” (Gheba)
  • “I’d bet on the rise of virtue names, or at least modern version of virtue names, like Brave/Bravery, Courage, Honor, etc. And I’d say names like Legend, Messiah, Legacy, Major, King, will probably rise some more too.” (Skizzo)
  • “I think it will also affect which media influence names this year. Eg we’ll miss out on names inspired by Olympic athletes, but might see even more from Netflix and YouTube.” (Clare)

What other names (or name trends) should we add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Just remember to make a note of the pop culture influence!

I’ll post the results as soon as I can after the SSA releases the 2020 data (in May of 2021, hopefully).

*Did you know that the actress who played Kamiyah in that Lifetime movie is named Rayven Symone Ferrell? Certainly a nod to Raven-Symoné

9 thoughts on “Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2020

  1. I think we could see some names inspired by Taylor Swift’s two albums from 2020, including Betty, Marjorie, Dorothea, maybe even Willow or Ivy.

  2. I agree with Randi. Add August and James to the list.
    There’s a weird coincidence in country music. Two rising stars who are both female Canadians are both named Tenille. They are Tenille Arts and Tenille Townes. Maybe a few more Tenilles born, since these ladies are taking off.
    I was actually going to respectfully request a post on the name Tenille including it’s popularity in both the U.S. and Canada.

  3. Like other commenters I’m definitely thinking Dorothea will get a boost from Taylor Swift. We should be on the lookout from all the names she had in her songs, including Estee which isn’t a title but a named character in a song.

    Hamilton names are more widely known now that the rest of us were finally able to watch Hamilton on Disney plus! Theadosia has a built in lullaby, I think that will go up.

    The middle name Dove from Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom seemed to strike a chord, I wonder if we’ll see more of that?

    Definitely people honoring those we lost in our families in 2020. It’s not something you can track, but I imagine more people than typical will name their babies after late cousins, uncles and aunts than usual. People who may normally reach for a grandparent or parent name may choose to honor a more recent loss in their extended family.

    Idk if Rubert Grint’s baby Wednesday will be the reason Wednesday will take off, or if it’s because people need help remembering the days of the week nowadays…

    I definitely expect Ruth to go up in usage, in honor of RBG.

  4. Love this list. I’m also anticipating a rise for Gianna and possibly Aalam, though I think it’ll have less impact than Asahd did a few years ago.

    A few ideas for this year (or possibly 2021), mostly from celebrities and their children:

    Zaya / Zaia (daughters of Dwyane Wade & Gabrielle Union and Stephen tWitch Boss)
    Naya (Rivera)
    Ehlani (daughter of Elsy Guevara)
    Avani (Tiktoker)
    Kaori (daughter of Kevin Hart)
    Sovereign (daughter of Usher)
    Anaiá (daughter of Rah Ali)
    Kobie (alternative spelling of Kobe, for Kobe Bryant)
    Ammika (girlfriend of Chris Brown)
    Giannina (reality star from Love Is Blind)
    Myka (disgraced YouTuber Myka Stauffer)
    Nakova (daughter of Myka Stauffer)

    Josey (son of Naya Rivera)
    Milan (honestly can’t remember why I put this one on the list)
    Steel (son of YouTubers The Ace Family)
    Win (son of Ciara and Russell Wilson)
    Zealand (son of YouTubers The Labrant Family)
    Giveon (R&B singer)
    Creed (son of Kail Lowry)
    Gervonta (boxer Gervonta Davis)
    Adonis (son of Drake)
    Ice (son of Gucci Mane and Keisha Kaoir — more likely in 2021)
    Saphir (son of Slick Woods)
    Slash (son of Amber Rose)
    Kobe (Bryant)
    Huxley (former adopted son of Myka Stauffer)
    Radley (son of Myka Stauffer)
    Tacoda (Tiktoker)
    Sakai (character from video game Ghost of Tsushima)
    Raditz (character from video game Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot)

  5. Ah, forgot to mention one of my big bets, Dalett! The new daughter of Larry and Kenia Hernandez. Older sisters Daleyza and Dalary had impressive debuts.

  6. Reality TV babies always seem to move the needle.

    Dove (used by both Katy Perry and RHOBH’s Teddi Mellencamp)
    Creed (used by Teen Mom 2’s Kailyn Lowry)
    Shai (used by a couple from 90 Day Fiance)
    Rell (used by “The Bachelor” runner-up Tenley Molzahn)
    Alessi (used by “The Bachelor” Arie Luyendyk Jr and his wife in mid-2019, used again in 2020 by a couple from MTV reality series Siesta Key)

  7. @Emily A – I had a post on Tennille scheduled to be published in late 2021, so I moved it up to next week, and I’ll add a link to your comment on Tenille. :)

    It’s fascinating that there are two Canadian country singers with that name! Not just that, both were born in prairie provinces (Townes in Alberta, Arts in Saskatchewan), and both were born during 1994.

    Canada doesn’t put out baby name data covering the whole country, and Saskatchewan’s online data only goes back to 2010. But Alberta’s data goes back to 1990, so here’s the usage of Tenille in Alberta during the 1990s:

    • 1999: 1 baby girl named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1998: 2 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1997: zero baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1996: 3 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1995: 2 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1994: 3 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1993: 1 baby girl named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1992: 3 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1991: 5 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta
    • 1990: 4 baby girls named Tenille in Alberta

    I didn’t research it thoroughly, but, based on what I did see, “Tenille” seemed to be the most popular spelling.

    Notably, these numbers aren’t too far off from the U.S. numbers for Tenille — even the populations of the two regions were (and still are) vastly different. In 1996, for instance, Alberta had under 3 million people while the U.S. had over 269 million.

    • 1999: 16 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1998: 11 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1997: 23 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1996: 7 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1995: 10 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1994: 13 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1993: 11 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1992: 15 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1991: 21 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.
    • 1990: 17 baby girls named Tenille in the U.S.

    If anyone out there can offer insight into the Canadian usage of the name Tennille/Tenille, please leave a comment!

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