How popular is the baby name Alex in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Alex and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Alex.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Alex

Number of Babies Named Alex

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Alex

Where Did the Baby Name Geddy Come From?

geddy lee, rush,
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2004

Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush.

Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:

“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”

So have any human pups ever been named for Geddy Lee? Yup–so many that we can see them in the data. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Rush was a fixture on the Billboard charts, Geddy started appearing on the U.S. baby name charts:

  • 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Since then, at least 175 U.S. babies have been named Geddy.

And that’s how a Canadian prog rock band turned “Geddy” — a Polish mispronunciation of Gary — into an American baby name. :)

(Kinda reminds me of the mondegreen Kasara…)

If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?

Sources: Toronto’s ‘capybaby’ triplets named after famous rock trio Rush, Geddy Lee: The Reluctant Rockstar (originally in Bass Frontiers Magazine)

P.S. Here’s that Leave it to Beaver story.


Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity, 2016

Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? And which ones decreased the most?

The U.S. SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I prefer to answer it by looking at raw number differences, and to take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…

Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, boy names, more popular

Rankings

1. Kylo, +2,368 spots — up from 3,269th to 901st
2. Creed, +370 spots — up from 1,352nd to 982nd
3. Benicio, +356 spots — up from 1,331st to 975th
4. Adonis, +307 spots — up from 701st to 394th
5. Fox, +288 spots — up from 1034th to 746th
6. Kye, +281 spots — up from 984th to 703rd
7. Hakeem, +256 spots — up from 1,161st to 905th
8. Shepherd, +242 spots — up from 1,105th to 863rd
9. Wilder, +238 spots — up from 961st to 723rd
10. Zayn, +222 spots — up from 643rd to 421st

Kylo was influenced by the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

Creed and Adonis were influenced by the movie Creed (2015).

Hakeem was influenced by the TV show Empire (2015-). So was Bryshere, which debuted last year.

Wilder could have been influenced by either Gene Wilder or by boxer Deontay Wilder, or both. (Or neither.)

Zayn was influenced by British singer/songwriter Zain “Zayn” Malik.

Raw Numbers

1. Mateo, +1,516 baby boys — up from 5,010 to 6,526
2. Oliver, +1,340 baby boys — up from 11,635 to 12,975
3. Bryson, +1,239 baby boys — up from 3,094 to 4,333
4. Lincoln, +1,094 baby boys — up from 5,982 to 7,076
5. Benjamin, +899 baby boys — up from 13,670 to 14,569
6. Grayson, +735 baby boys — up from 7,887 to 8,622
7. Theodore, +723 baby boys — up from 4,136 to 4,859
8. Greyson, +704 baby boys — up from 3,591 to 4,295
9. Leo, +678 baby boys — up from 4,582 to 5,260
10. Maverick, +675 baby boys — up from 2,265 to 2,940

Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Owen, Sebastian, Ezekiel, Lucas, Ezra, Leonardo, Santiago, Conor, Gael, Everett, Rhett, Jameson, Killian, Tobias, Arlo, Easton, Finn, Rowan, Elias, Asher, Calvin, Thiago, Bodhi, Legend, Lukas, River, Elliot, Harrison, Roman, Adriel, Paxton, Julian, Ace, Josiah, Waylon, Messiah, Nash, Ellis, Matias, George, Barrett, Connor, Wade, Kyrie, Milo, Amir, Bennett, Elliott, Silas, Matteo, and Axel.

Rowan is rising quickly for both boys and girls right now.

Kyrie, which was once given primarily to girls, is now being given primarily for boys thanks to basketball player Kyrie Irving.

Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016

baby names, boy names, less popular

Rankings

1. Jonael, -475 spots — down from 921st to 1,396th
2. Aaden, -239 spots — down from 784th to 1,023rd
3. Triston, -230 spots — down from 957th to 1,187th
4. Freddy, -222 spots — down from 993rd to 1,215th
5. Yaakov, -213 spots — down from 992nd to 1,205th
6. Braeden, -203 spots — down from 792nd to 995th
7. Chace, -202 spots — down from 935th to 1,137th
8. Brantlee, -176 spots — down from 777th to 953rd
9. Gannon, -173 spots — down from 533rd to 706th
10. Robin, -171 spots — down from 969th to 1,140th

The name Jonael got a lot of exposure in 2015 thanks to 11-year-old Puerto Rican singer Jonael Santiago, who won the 3rd season of La Voz Kids, which aired from March to June. It didn’t get as much exposure in 2016, which accounts for the drop in usage.

Raw Numbers

1. Logan, -1,697 baby boys (12,897 to 11,200)
2. Jacob, -1,498 baby boys (15,914 to 14,416)
3. Jayden, -1,455 baby boys (11,518 to 10,063)
4. Mason, -1,399 baby boys (16,591 to 15,192)
5. Ethan, -1,291 baby boys — down from 15,049 to 13,758
6. Aiden, -1,271 baby boys (13,429 to 12,158)
7. Alexander, -1,186 baby boys (14,507 to 13,321)
8. Jackson, -1,032 baby boys (12,242 to 11,210)
9. Brandon, -1,024 baby boys (5,100 to 4,076)
10. Blake, -951 baby boys (4,220 to 3,269)

blake, baby name, gender, switchUnlike Rowan, Blake is falling on the boys’ list, but rising on the girls’ list. In fact, the graph (right) makes a gender switch look inevitable. This is not something I would have anticipated a decade ago, before the emergence of Blake Lively.

Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Jase, Hunter, Brody, Brantley, Gabriel, Jonathan, Jordan, Tyler, Kevin, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Christian, Noah, Angel, Brayden, Iker, Chase, Nicholas, Austin, Dominic, Camden, John, Ayden, Michael, Colin, Bryan, Riley, Kyle, Hayden, Bradley, Nathaniel, Jake, Samuel, Luke, Cayden, Evan, Zachary, Steven, Kaden, Cooper, Marcus, Ryan, Tristan, Bryce, Ryder, Micah, Brady, Bentley, Kaleb, Levi, Alex, Conner, Jeremy, Isaac, Ian, Gage, Brian, Kayden, Jaden, Carlos, Sean, Jeremiah, Abel, Devin, Adrian, Giovanni, Garrett, and Adam.

Jase has seen a dramatic rise and fall over the last few years: big gains in 2012 and 2013, followed by big losses in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.

Similarly, Iker was on the rise for a while, with partcularly big leaps in 2011 and 2012, but usage is now on the wane.

Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please leave a comment.

(In 2015, the big winners were Oliver and Riaan, and the big losers were Jase and Arnav.)

Sources: Change in Popularity from 2015 to 2016, Emma and Noah Remain Social Security’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2016

Top Baby Names in Malta, 2015

Malta’s top baby names of 2015 have been out for months now, but the latest data still isn’t available on the government’s Naming Babies page, so I can’t give you the official rankings.

The best I can do is this quote from a recent Times of Malta article:

Amy, Ella, Leah, Maya, Valentina, Emma, Martina, Jade, Julia, Elisa and Elena are among the most popular for girls […] Luca, Matthias, Adam, Ben, Benjamin, Beppe, Alexander, Thomas, Zack, Liam, Luke and Noah are among the most popular for boys.

The article also mentioned many of the less common names bestowed in Malta in 2015, including:

  • Ajson
  • Alix (the Maltese version of Alex)
  • Bitania
  • Carleshian
  • Delyth (“which in Welsh means neat and pretty, but when read with a Maltese pronunciation it means, err, murder”)
  • Ebtisam
  • Izz
  • Jack Daniel (similar to this guy)
  • Kelzen
  • Massa (“after Felipe Massa, the Brazilian Formula One driver”)
  • Massabielle
  • Mixhal (the Maltese version of Michelle)
  • Neymar
  • Roksanda
  • Rancy
  • Shaznolee
  • Thisseanne
  • Tenishia (“after the internationally renowned Maltese DJ duo”)
  • Vuk
  • Xemx (the Maltese word for “sun,” pronounced shemsh)
  • Zashielle
  • Zeshinzer

Malta’s top names of 2014 were Elena and Luke (more or less).

Source: Hi, Jack Daniel, It’s me, Xemx – Malta’s list of baby names

Name Quotes #41 – Gaenor, Ransom, O’Shea

Now that Fridays are for Five-Name Friday posts, let’s bump the Name Quote posts over to Mondays, shall we?

Here’s the latest batch…

From the novel The Notorious Miss Lisle (1911) by Mrs. Baillie Reynolds:

“The notorious Miss Lisle had the most weird Christian name you ever heard of — let’s see now, what was it? Not Guinevere, nor Gwendolen — Oh, yes, I have it. Gaenor! G, a, e, n, o, r! Did you ever hear such a name as that?”

From “Do Weird Baby Names Indicate Selfishness Or Love? Yes” by Joy Pullmann of The Federalist:

Our first child has a rather weird name. Ransom is a genuine, old name, but the effects of choosing it actually made me determined not to make such an ethereal pick again. I’ve finally joined my husband on the plain-vanilla baby names bandwagon, just as everyone.s getting off it.

[…]

Our son’s name means a great deal to us because it in fact does signal our family’s ties to something greater than even each other. It’s an enduring mark of gratitude for a faith that kept me from killing a child I didn’t want. That faith and that child ransomed me from selfishness (or at least some selfishness). So it may be and is indeed likely that other people’s children, whatever their names, can and have performed similar acts of mercy even just by existing. And how would an onlooker know whether an unusual name signifies parental self-absorption or self-sacrifice?

They wouldn’t. But, all the same, our next baby will have a meaningful name that other people have heard before.

From “Why Google’s smart assistant doesn’t have a name like Siri, Alexa, or Cortana” by Jillian D’Onfro of Business Insider:

Assistant’s lack of personality was quite intentional, according to Jonathan Jarvis, a former creative director on Google’s Labs team.

[…]

“We always wanted to make it feel like you were the agent, and it was more like a superpower that you had and a tool that you used,” he tells Business Insider. “If you create this personified assistant, that feels like a different relationship.”

For that reason, Assistant likely won’t be telling you jokes or serving up sassy responses, either.

We also heard while at I/O that Google didn’t want to give its assistant a gender or make it seem too American.

From “The Difficulty of Names” by Mami Suzuki of the blog Tofugu:

My name “Mami” (pronounced mommy) is a good example of this. Mami is quite a common name in Japan and mostly means “true beauty” or “true”, but in English, it just sounds like mother. Therefore, I always feel embarrassed when I introduce myself, because I have to say, “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mami.” It’s pretty strange, isn’t it? “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Mother. Say my name.” Even my teachers and my bosses have to call me Mommy!

From “Bye-bye Berlin: Wheels for name change set in motion 100 years ago” about the Ontario town of Kitchener (formerly Berlin):

Meanwhile, 100 years after it was nixed, the Berlin name is enjoying a bit of a minor renaissance in Kitchener.

Two businesses prominently featuring the name have opened in recent months: The Berlin restaurant and the Berlin Bicycle Café.

Andrea Hennige, the restaurant manager at The Berlin, says the name was chosen with an eye toward the area’s history.

“It’s a nod to the people who settled the area, who probably laid the bricks in this building,” she said in an interview.

Town residents voted to drop the name Berlin in 1916, during WWI. The name change ballot included the following options: Adanac (Canada spelled backwards), Benton, Brock, Corona, Keowana, and Kitchener. Speaking of ballots…

From “Maine”s GOP governor, veto record-holder, names new dog Veto” in The Seattle Times:

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the state’s all-time veto champion, has named his new dog Veto.

LePage, who has earned renown for exercising his veto pen on bills he didn’t like, adopted a Jack Russell terrier mix from a shelter.

[…]

LePage chose the name Veto because his pet “is the mascot of good public policy, defender of the Maine people and protector of hardworking taxpayers from bad legislation,” his spokesman Peter Steele said.

Steele joked that the governor is going to train the dog to deliver vetoes from his office to legislative leaders.

From “Why There Are So Many More Names for Baby Girls” by Chris Wilson in TIME:

“The culture is much more accepting of out-there girls’ names,” says Matthew Hahn, a professor of biology and informatics at the University of Indiana who co-authored a 2003 study comparing baby name trends to evolutionary models. “The same goes for inventing new names.” For example, some formerly male-dominated names become predominantly female names, like Lindsey and Mckenzie, but it rarely goes the other way.

“The inventiveness in girl names has always led the boys,” says Alex Bentley, a professor in comparative cultural studies at the University of Houston and a co-author of the 2003 study, though he notes that, in the past decade, the rate at which people invent new boy names has caught up with the rate for girls.

From “Ever Wonder How Ice Cube Got His Name? Here’s Your Answer” by Angela Watercutter in Wired:

“My brother, he’s about nine years older than me, he used to have all kind of women calling the house and I would try to get at them,” the man known to the IRS as O’Shea Jackson says in this Google Autocomplete interview. “He got mad at that and said he was going to slam me in the freezer one day, and turn me into an ice cube. I said, ‘You know what? That’s a badge of honor.'”

What’s Your Cape Breton Nickname?

A few weeks ago I posted about the baby names Silver and Free Silver, which were bestowed by bimetallism buffs in the 1890s.

Decades later, in the 1930s, Canadian writer Silver Donald Cameron was born.

His name had nothing to do with monetary standards, though. He wasn’t even born a “Silver.” He was simply Donald Cameron until the early 1970s, when he decided to adopt the name Silver to set himself apart from all the other Canadian men named Donald Cameron.

How did he come up with Silver? He didn’t. A friend gave it to him:

“Lard Jasus, b’y,” said folk-singer Tom Gallant, “you need a proper Cape Breton nickname.” I know what he means: Black John MacDonald as distinguished from John The Piper MacDonald and Gimpy John MacDonald and John By-The-Church MacDonald. What are my own characteristics? I’m short: what about Donald The Runt? Or Brief Donald? No, no dignity: if he had called himself Clubfoot George would we remember Lord Byron?

Tom struck a chord in his Yamaha, gazed at me. “That hair,” he said. It’s my most striking feature, prematurely grey hair, set off by black eyebrows and moustache. Don’t ask me how I got that color scheme, ask God: He did it. Children stop me in the street to ask me if I’m wearing a wig. Adults chalk it up to noxious personal habits and secret vices.

“That hair,” said Tom. “That’s it. Silver Donald Cameron.”

Cameron refers to himself as “Silver Donald” all over his website, awesomely.

Nicknames have been a tradition on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, for hundreds of years. They’re particularly popular among the coal miners, and tend to fall into several broad categories: place names, occupational names, patronymics, physical features, and personality traits.

Other nicknames based on physical features don’t tend to be as complimentary as “Silver.” They include “Buffalo Head,” “Potato Nose,” “Saucer Eyes,” “Popeye,” and “Bandy Legs.”

“Alex the Clock” had one arm that was shorter than the other. “Waterloo Dan” had backed into a hot stove in his youth and thereafter sported the brand “Waterloo No. 2” (written backwards) on his bum.

People don’t get to choose their own nicknames on Cape Breton, but let’s pretend for a moment that you live there and you get to choose yours. What would it be?

Sources: