How popular is the baby name Ayatollah 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 Ayatollah.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Ayatollah


Posts that Mention the Name Ayatollah

Interesting One-Hit Wonder Baby Names

They came, they went, and they never came back!

These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).

There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more. (Names that aren’t links yet have posts coming soon!)

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As I discover (and write about) more one-hit wonders in the data, I’ll add names/links to this page. In the meanwhile, do you have any favorite one-hit wonder baby names?

P.S. If this content looks familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it before! I’ve just put it in a new spot. :)

The Arrival of Ayatollah

Ayatollah, TIME magazine
© 1979 Time

The Arabic word Ayatollah (ayatu-llah), which is a title for a Shiite religious leader in Iran, literally means “sign of god.”

Americans started hearing this word more often in the late ’70s, when Iran’s Ruhollah Khomeini, typically called “Ayatollah Khomeini” by the U.S. press, led the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (whose wives included Farah and Soraya).

From that point onward, Khomeini became the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The year the revolution ended and Ayatollah Khomeini took control of the country, we see the baby name Ayatollah appear in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time:

  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 6 baby boys named Ayatollah
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted

What are your thoughts on “Ayatollah” as a baby name?

Sources: Ayatollah – Online Etymology Dictionary, Ruhollah Khomeini – Wikipedia