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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Atchafalaya

Posts that Mention the Name Atchafalaya

Prytania – Possible Baby Name?

My husband and I found ourselves in New Orleans again recently, but only for a matter of hours, so we weren’t able to have as many adventures as last time. While taking a Lyft through an uptown area of the city, though, I did spot an intriguing street name: Prytania.

Had any NOLA residents ever been named Prytania? I did some research, but couldn’t find any. In fact, the only Prytania I managed to track down was a 12-year-old Texas girl named Prytania Chambers on the 1880 U.S. Census:

Prytania isn’t even as common as Atchafalaya!

The street itself has an interesting name-story, though.

Not long after the sale of New Orleans to the United States in 1803 — part of the massive Louisiana Purchase* — some residents of the city devised an ambitious plan to construct a Roman-style collesée (colisseum) that would host public games and assemblies. It was never built, but the name lives in “Coliseum Street” and ” Coliseum Square.”

Similarly, these residents also wanted to establish a prytanée — a sort of people’s university — based on like-named schools in France. The French schools had been named after the ancient Greek prytaneum, or town hall. The university was going to be located on what was originally called the Rue des Prytanées. But, like the coliseum, the school was never built, and the street name eventually evoled to become “Prytania.”

The first syllable of prytaneum is based on the ancient Greek word pur, meaning “fire.” Ancient Greek prytaneums were dedicated to Hestia, goddess of the hearth, and within each one a perpetual fire was kept burning.

Coliseum and Prytania Streets run parallel to one another, and, in the area where the collesée and the prytanée were going to be built, the cross streets are named after the nine Greek muses: Urania, Thalia, Euterpe, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Melpomene, Terpsichore, and Polyhymnia. (Here’s a WGNO video about the pronunciations of several of these muse/road names.)

What are your thoughts on “Prytania” as a potential baby name? Usable?


*Also a baby name! Here’s more about Louisiana Purchase O’Leary.

Some Names from New Orleans

beignet, food, new orleans
Beignets at Café Beignet

My husband and I hung out in New Orleans for about 48 hours in mid-December. It rained almost the entire time, but we still managed to get out and spot a few interesting names!

First, an unexpected food name: Beignet (pron. ben-YAY), which literally means “bump” in French. In terms of food, it’s fried dough with sugar on top. In terms of names, though, it’s been bestowed as a middle at least three times, according to the records I’ve seen. These human Beignets were all girls born in the ’80s and ’90s in Texas and Oklahoma.

We briefly visited the New Orleans Jazz and Jean Lafitte National Historical Parks, where we learned about people like…

  • Fate Marable, African American jazz pianist/bandleader (“Fate” could be short for Lafayette)
  • Cloaner Smith, African American quilter
  • Mrs. Louisianaise Daigle, Cajun healer

We also learned about various locations, including Atchafalaya.

Speaking of locations…while wandering around the city, we spotted ghost signs for Antoine’s Restaurant (which I mentioned in the Caresse post) and Uneeda Biscuits (I discovered the name “Uneeda” on a trip to Kansas City):

uneeda, new orleans, baby name

Aboard the Steamboat Natchez we noticed that the two boilers are named Thelma and Louise.

And finally, how about the name “New Orleans” itself? In the records I found dozens, including New Orleans Taylor, a 13-year-old girl living with her family in Louisiana at the time of the 1930 U.S. Census:

new orleans taylor, 1930, census

[Want more travel names? See my posts on Alaska, the Czech Republic, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Yellowstone.]

Here’s a Name I Wasn’t Expecting: Atchafalaya

Atchafalaya basin
© Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
My husband and I drove through several Southeastern states via I-10 last week. Admittedly I slept through most of the trip, but during the moments I was awake I managed to spot two intriguing place names: Tchoutacabouffa and Atchafalaya.

Tchoutacabouffa refers to a river in southern Mississippi. The name means “broken pot” in Biloxi, a Siouan language.

Atchafalaya refers to a wetland area in southern Louisiana. The name was derived from the Choctaw term hacha falaia, meaning “long river” (hacha is river, falaia is long).

Of course I had to know if Tchoutacabouffa and Atchafalaya had ever been used as human names. I didn’t find anyone named Tchoutacabouffa, but I did track down several people named Atchafalaya:

  • Atchafalaya “Chaffa” Grace, née Gregory (b. 1845, Florida)
  • Achafalaya Holstein (b. 1874, West Virginia)
  • Atchafalaya Clizer, née Starnes (b. 1876, Missouri)
  • M. Atchafalaya Ziler (b. 1876, West Virginia)
  • Athafalaya Lilly (b. 1880, West Virginia)
  • Atchafalaya Hall, nee Presher (b. 1870-1880, Missouri)
  • Atchafalaya Knorr (b. 1892, Pennsylvania)
  • Atchafalaya Smith (b. 1905, West Virginia)

Curiously, none of these Atchafalayas (and none of their parents, as far as I could tell) came from Louisiana.