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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ava

Number of Babies Named Ava

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Ava

The Top Baby Names in Maryland in 2011?

Maryland’s Open Data website includes a single table of Maryland baby name rankings (2011) broken down by race/ethnic group. This is cool because New York City does the exact same breakdown, and we happen to have the equivalent NYC baby name rankings (2011). So we ought to be able to compare and contrast the two sets of rankings, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought…until I started looking more closely at Maryland’s data.

According to the SSA, these were the top 10 boy names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Mason
  2. Jacob
  3. Michael
  4. Ethan
  5. Ryan
  6. William
  7. Alexander
  8. Noah
  9. Daniel
  10. Aiden (tied for 10th)
  11. Jayden (tied for 10th)

But according to the state of Maryland, the top 10 boy names were quite different:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Aiden Aiden Jaiden Christopher Lucas
2 Christopher Lucas Aiden Anthony Mason
3 Jayden Alexander Christopher John Jackson
4 Mason Muhammed Cameron Alexander Jacob
5 Lucas Ethan Elijah Daniel John
6 Jacob Nathan Jeremy Matthew Aiden
7 Alexander John Michael Brian Alexander
8 Nathan Andrew Isaiah Justin Liam
9 Michael Justin Mason Jaiden William
10 Ethan Jacob Caleb Kevin Ryan

It isn’t totally implausible that Aiden and Jayden might have ranked 1st and 3rd in 2011, but Christopher in 2nd? Maybe if this were a dataset from thirty years ago, but not five years ago. The SSA indicates that Christopher ranked closer to 18th in the state that year.

And what’s with the two different spellings of Jayden/Jaiden?

Plus there are some sizable raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Aiden: 588 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Christopher: 584 babies (MD data) vs. 256 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Jayden: 498 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Mason: 463 babies (MD data) vs. 432 babies (SSA data for MD)

And now the girl names. According to the SSA, these were the top 10 girl names in Maryland in 2011:

  1. Sophia
  2. Olivia
  3. Isabella
  4. Madison
  5. Ava
  6. Emma
  7. Abigail
  8. Chloe
  9. Emily
  10. Elizabeth

According to the state of Maryland, though, the top 10 girl names in the state were these:

Rank OVERALL Asian &
Pacific Isl.
Black Hispanic White
1 Sophia Sophia Chloe Sophia Sophia
2 Isabel Chloe London Emily Isabel
3 Chloe Isabel Layla Allison Abigail
4 Ava Caitlin/Kate Madison Isabel Olivia
5 Madison Hannah Kennedy Ashley Ava
6 Olivia Olivia Aaliyah Angelina Riley
7 Emily Sara(h) McKenzie Natalie Madison
8 McKenzie Abigail Zoe(y) Genesis Emily
9 Abigail Emily Payton Gabrielle McKenzie
10 Riley Lillian/Lily Taylor Kimberly Chloe

Not only does Isabel magically replace Isabella in the Maryland data, but McKenzie and Riley rank 8th and 10th — even though the SSA says they should be closer to 77th (!) and 28th.

Not to mention the raw number discrepancies, such as:

  • Sophia: 503 babies (MD data) vs. 367 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • McKenzie: 325 babies (MD data) vs. 71 babies (SSA data for MD)
  • Riley: 298 babies (MD data) vs. 118 babies (SSA data for MD)

Intriguing parallels between the MD data and the NYC data do exist. In both locations, Elijah and Isaiah were in the top 10 for African-American boys only, and London, Aaliyah, and Taylor were in the top 10 for African-American girls only.

But if we can’t trust the data, we can’t draw any meaningful conclusions.

Labels like “Caitlin/Kate,” “Sara(h),” “Zoe(y)” and “Lillian/Lily” suggest that variant names were combined here and there. I suspect this is also what happened with Isabel/Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, Aiden, Jayden, MacKenzie, Riley, and maybe even Christopher (perhaps Maryland merged all the “Chris-” names). What are your thoughts on this?


Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2015

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year were (again) Amelia and Oliver.

Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Amelia, 5,158 baby girls
2. Olivia, 4,853
3. Emily, 3,893
4. Isla, 3,474
5. Ava, 3,414
6. Ella, 3,028
7. Jessica, 2,937
8. Isabella, 2,876
9. Mia, 2,842
10. Poppy, 2,816
1. Oliver, 6,941 baby boys
2. Jack, 5,371
3. Harry, 5,308
4. George, 4,869
5. Jacob, 4,850
6. Charlie, 4,831
7. Noah, 4,148
8. William, 4,083
9. Thomas, 4,075
10. Oscar, 4,066

In the girls’ top 10, Ella and Mia replace Lily (now 13th) and Sophie (now 11th).

In the boys’ top 10, Noah (the top name in the U.S. right now) replace James (11th).

In the girls’ top 100, Penelope, Mila, Clara, Arabella, Maddison and Aria replace Lydia (now 103rd), Faith (104th), Mollie (105th), Brooke (107th), Isabel (110th) and Amy (117th).

In the boys’ top 100, Jaxon, Roman, Reggie and Carter replace Owen (now 101st), Robert (105th), Joey (117th) and Finlay (123rd).

Here are some of last year’s rare baby names, each given to either 3, 4 or 5 babies:

Rare Girl Names Rare Boy Names
Aarzoo, Autumn-Lily, Boglarka, Comfort, Edna, Enxi, Euphemia, Flourish, Fozia, Gabia, Jupiter, Lady, Lleucu, Llio, Merveille, Nectaria, Pebbles, Peony, Prisca, Purity, Quorra, Reisel, Sloka, Tuba, Venice, Vimbainashe, Ylva Alffi, Bam, Bright, Crimea, Cuthbert, Efezino, Elimelech, Fyfe, Ghyll, Gryff, James-Dean, Jamesdean, Kushagra, Ignatius, Marmaduke, Math, Mio, Osagie, Otso, Pip, Przemyslaw, Sherlock, Swayley, Ringo, Testimony, Thierno, Zephyrus

(Crimea is intriguing, isn’t it? It was used as a baby name in the 1850s, during the Crimean War, but this is the first time I’ve seen it on a modern name list.)

And what about Welsh names?

Welsh Girl Names Welsh Boy Names
  • Seren (“star”) ranks 17th in Wales
  • Ffion (“foxglove”), 20th
  • Megan, 27th
    • & 76th overall
  • Mali, 45th
  • Alys, 66th
  • Carys (“love”), 72nd
  • Efa, 73rd
  • Cadi, 82nd
  • Lili, 85th
  • Lowri, 88th
  • Eira (“snow”), 92nd
  • Ela, 97th
  • Elin, 97th
  • Dylan ranks 13th in Wales
    • & 38th overall
  • Osian, 25th
  • Harri, 27th
  • Jac, 33rd
  • Rhys, 34th
  • Evan, 37th
  • Tomos, 47th
  • Cai, 51st
  • Ioan, 56th
  • Morgan, 67th
  • Elis, 66th
  • Hari, 82nd
  • Gethin (“swarthy”), 88th
  • Iestyn, 88th
  • Macsen, 92nd
  • Owain, 92nd
  • Ifan, 96th

Finally, if you’d like to go back another year, here are the England and Wales rankings for 2014.

Source: Baby names in England and Wales: 2015

Popular Baby Names in Sonoma County, CA, 2015

Sonoma_County
According to Sonoma County’s data site SoCo Data, the most popular baby names in 2015 were Ava and Olivia (tie) and Mateo and Daniel (tie).

Here are the county’s top 5 girl names and top 5 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Ava and Olivia (tie), 28 baby girls
2. Camila, 25
3. Isabella, Mia and Emma (3-way tie), 23
4. Charlotte and Sophia (tie), 21
5. Alexa, 20
1. Mateo and Daniel (tie), 28 baby boys
2. Jackson, 27
3. Sebastian, 25
4. Benjamin, 24
5. Julian, Jayden and Noah (3-way tie), 22

In 2014, the top names in the county were Emma and Logan.

Of the 1,204 girl names bestowed last year, 811 (67%) were used just once. A smaller proportion of the 919 boy names — 549 (60%) — were bestowed once. Here are a few of those single-use names:

Unique Girl Names Unique Boy Names
Amarilla, Antimony, Edelweiss, Ember, Fanny, Lluvia, Lovely Estrella, Mae Pearl, Magnolia, Nkirote, Reminisce, Rosalene, Rurapenthe*, Summit Attimus, Banyan, Cypress, Cyprus, Destry, Ernestor, Fogatia, Iknav, Montgomery, Mercury, Orion, Quintil, Thornhill, Zinley

*Looks like Rurapenthe is based on “Rura Penthe,” the name of a planetoid used as a Klingon penal colony (!) in the Star Trek universe. Its name is a nod to Rorapandi, a penal colony island in the Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Rorapandi was invented by Disney; it did not appear in the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Source: SoCo Data

Popular Baby Names in Alberta, 2015

According to data from the government of Alberta, the most popular baby names in the province in 2015 were Olivia and Liam.

Here are Alberta’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Olivia, 294 baby girls
2. Emma, 275
3. Emily, 252
4. Sophia, 205
5. Ava, 201
6. Chloe, 179
7. Ella, 167 [tie]
7. Abigail, 167 [tie]
9. Avery, 155
10. Amelia, 142
1. Liam, 301 baby boys
2. Noah, 256
3. Ethan, 233
4. Benjamin, 221
5. Lucas, 218
6. William, 217
7. Oliver, 209
8. Mason, 203
9. Logan, 196
10. Alexander, 193

In the girls’ top 10, Chloe, Avery, and Amelia replace Isabella, Charlotte, and Hannah.

In the boys’ top 10, Mason and Alexander replace Jacob and Carter.

Baby names that were bestowed only once last year include…

Unusual Girl Names Unusual Boy Names
Alastrine, Anarchy, Annayancy, Archa, Black-Feather, Breitling, Christivie, Costandina, Daylight, Drolma, Eallaf, Ehhuphoe, Esquire, Everra, Frozenda, Heledana, Isabeau, Jupiter, Kah, Loklyee-Snow, Lúthien, Mercyfavor, Mixx, Mornin-Starr, Mraeven, Nations, Nelanora, Obsolete, Oromia, Ovee, Patvabelle, Pluriana-Bella, Razbee, Reznor, SaQueira, Soda, Starlight, Sparrows, Surrender, Tayt-Lynn, Temperley, Uairirira, Umnia, Vhylix, Wynstelle, Xyrelle, Yeabkal, Yllethea, Yvriellebon, Zarabeen, Zayabella Ararso, Athanasius, Axtion, Bayou, Boxuan, Bry, Calyx, Clifflen, Coho, Den-Mark, Denzworth, Dezus, Eero, Eisenhower, Fnan, Fortress, Frotan, Galvin, Igloiel, Indus, JMaxx, Jomonosi, Kenardo, Knoll, Knoxin, Larxaniel, Memo, Mercer, Mugsy, Nazarus, Nexland, Nimona, Nuno, Nusetor, Okooc, Orges, Parx, Poncho, Psalmer, Qumbi, Ray-Pio, Reacher, Rook, Ryxer, Sky-Light, Sleem, Snowden, StylesJunior, Turbo, Uzuvira, Vanderjak, Vince-Gil, Wen-Ray, Wrightkin, Yngwie, Yogi, Zackharry, Zaylex, Zyller

Finally, here’s a link to Alberta’s top names of 2014.

Source: Frequency and Ranking of Baby Names by Year and Gender

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA

Popular Baby Names in New Jersey, 2015

According to New Jersey’s Department of Health, the most popular baby names in the state in 2015 were Isabella and Liam.

Here are New Jersey’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Isabella
2. Olivia
3. Sophia
4. Emma
5. Mia
6. Ava
7. Abigail
8. Emily
9. Madison
10. Charlotte
1. Liam
2. Michael
3. Jacob
4. Noah
5. Mason
6. Matthew
7. Dylan
8. Joseph
9. Benjamin
10. Alexander

(The SSA data agrees about Liam being New Jersey’s top boy name, but says the top girl name is actually Emma.)

In the girls’ top 10, Charlotte replaces Sofia. In the boys’ top 10, Mason, Dylan, and Benjamin replace Daniel, Ethan, and Anthony.

Here are NJ’s 2014 rankings. For more sets of U.S. rankings, check out the U.S. name rankings subcategory.

Source: Take a look at the top N.J. baby names of 2015

Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.