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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bear

Number of Babies Named Bear

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bear

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2017

Here are the results of Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2017!

To streamline the results post this year, I didn’t include detailed descriptions of the pop culture influences. For the specifics, just click the above link.

On to the names!

Rises

Baby names that saw increased usage from 2016 to 2017.

  • Logan (movie), +2,748 baby boys (also +248 baby girls)
  • Dream (celebrity baby), +198 baby girls (also +22 baby boys)
  • Maren (music), +172 baby girls
  • Amaya (tv), +133 baby girls
  • Alessia (music), +129 baby girls
  • Winston (movie), +129 baby boys
  • Renata (tv), +107 baby girls
  • Callum (movie), +79 baby boys
  • Harvey (event/news), +76 baby boys
  • Asahd (celebrity baby), +58 baby boys (the top debut name for boys in ’17)
  • Brennley (tv), re-entered the data with 56 baby girls
  • Kenzo (celebrity baby), +55 baby boys
  • Ivanka (politics), +52 baby girls
  • Sunny (event), +52 baby girls (but -12 baby boys)
  • Hayes (celebrity baby), +46 baby boys (also +42 baby girls)
  • Barron (politics), +40 baby boys (and Baron rose as well)
  • Kensli (celebrity baby), +39 baby girls
  • Poppy (music), +39 baby girls
  • Kamaiyah (music), +34 baby girls
  • Tala (tv), +33 baby girls
  • Sally (news), +32 baby girls
  • Chosen (celebrity baby), +30 baby boys (also +15 baby girls)
  • Jones (celebrity baby), +28 baby boys (also +5 baby girls)
  • Tommy (movie), +23 baby boys
  • Solana (music), +20 baby girls
  • Mika (tv), +17 baby girls
  • Eissa (celebrity baby), +16 baby boys
  • Moon (event), +15 baby girls
  • Valkyrie (movie), +15 baby girls
  • Zaya (movie), +15 baby girls
  • Kelsea (music), +12 baby girls
  • Shadow (tv), +11 baby boys (also +4 baby girls)
  • Grover (tv), +10 baby boys
  • Halley (tv), +10 baby girls
  • Bear (celebrity baby), +9 baby boys
  • Gal (movie), +9 baby girls
  • Jyn (movie), debuted in the data with 9 baby girls
  • Eleven (tv), debuted in the data with 7 baby girls
  • Thor (movie), +7 baby boys
  • Hela (movie), +6 baby girls
  • Lyric (celebrity baby), +6 baby boys (but -77 baby girls)
  • Sturgill (music), debuted in the data with 6 baby boys
  • Zari (tv), +6 baby girls
  • Eclipse (event), debuted in the data with 5 baby girls
  • Eniko (celebrity spouse), debuted in the data with 5 baby girls
  • Poe (movie), +4 baby boys
  • Sir (celebrity baby), +4 baby boys
  • Dory (movie), +2 baby boys
  • Sire (celebrity baby), +2 baby boys

Same

Baby names that saw no movement from 2016 to 2017.

  • Revel (celebrity baby), no movement as a boy name
  • Rumi (celebrity baby), no movement as a girl name
  • Sovereign (celebrity baby), no movement as a girl name

Falls

Baby names that saw decreased usage from 2016 to 2017.

  • Chance (music), -1 baby boy
  • Irma (event), -1 baby girl
  • Via (tv), -1 baby girl
  • Gypsy (tv), -2 baby girls
  • Julien as a girl name (music), -3 baby girls
  • Loki (movie), -3 baby boys
  • Lux (tv), -3 baby boys
  • Soleil (event), -4 baby girls
  • J’onn (tv), dropped out of the data
  • Ned (movie), -5 baby boys
  • Saoirse (movie), -5 baby girls
  • Topaz (movie), dropped out of the data
  • Jacinda (news), -8 baby girls
  • Bea (rumored celebrity baby), -10 baby girls
  • Moxie (book), -13 baby girls
  • Gareth (movie), -16 baby boys
  • Shayla (internet), -30 baby girls
  • Fatima (news), -33 baby girls
  • Kendrick (music), -54 baby boys
  • Shawn (rumored celebrity baby), -121 baby boys
  • Carter (celebrity baby), -415 baby boys (also -103 baby girls)

Absent

Baby names that were not in the SSA data in either 2016 or 2017.

Amilyn, Antiope, Asperitas, Bilquis, Bixby, Cardi, Creeley, Darci Lynne, Fenty, Gravity, Issa Rae, Jumanji, Kygo, Ladybird, Laureline, Libratus, Mahershala, Maisel, Merlyn, Midge, Ovince, Pence, Ragnarok, Saffie, Sonequa, Strummer, Sza, Tenney, Themyscira, Tommen, Totality, Trump, Valerian, Wiseau, Yulin, Zelle

Reactions

Some initial reactions…

I was so surprised that Rumi saw no upward movement as a girl name. Remi is rising fast, Rooney is inching upward, and then Rumi — a name that sounds like a mix between the two — gets the stamp of approval from Queen Bey herself. And still it doesn’t budge. I’m scratching my head over this one.

I’m always fascinated to see how name usage is influenced by events/people that are perceived as negative. Sometimes the associations drag them down, but sometimes the mere exposure lifts them up. In the case of Harvey, we had not one but two negative things: a destructive storm and a sexual predator. And yet, the name continued to rise.

It was neat to see Eclipse debut in the data. We already knew that a few babies got the name thanks to the news, but apparently there were a few more–just enough to nudge the name up to that 5-baby threshold. I wonder how much the August solar eclipse contributed to the rise of the names Luna, Moon, and Shadow in 2017.

How about you? Did the movement (or non-movement) of any of these names surprise you?

[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated, and some were no doubt influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.]


Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2017

pop culture baby name game 2017

It’s time for the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

This year we’re kicking things off January 8th, the birthday of Elvis Presley! (He was born in 1935 and would have been 83 today.)

So how do you play the game? Just brainstorm for baby names that could have gotten a boost in usage in 2017 thanks to the influence popular culture: movies, music, television, social media, video games, sports, politics, products, trends, and so forth.

Here are the names we’ve come up with so far:

  • Amilyn – movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi (stolen from Abby)
  • Antiope – movie Wonder Woman
  • Asahd – son of DJ Khaled (suggested by alex)
  • Asperitas – a new type of cloud (suggested by elbowin)
  • Bea – rumored Beyoncé baby name
  • Bear – son of Liam Payne
  • Bilquis – TV show American Gods
  • Callum – move Assassin’s Creed
  • Cardi – rapper Cardi B
  • Carter – son of Beyoncé and Jay-Z (suggested by elbowin)
  • Chance – Chance The Rapper
  • Creeley – TV show Damnation
  • Darci Lynne – winner of America’s Got Talent
  • Eclipse – August solar eclipse
  • Eissa – son of Janet Jackson
  • Eleven – TV show Stranger Things
  • Fatima – 100th anniversary of Marian apparitions
  • Fenty – Rihanna’s company Fenty Beauty
  • Gal – actress Gal Godot
  • Gravity – daughter of fashion models Lucky Blue Smith (male) and Stormi Bree (female)
  • Grover – fictional baby born on TV show Girls
  • Halley – fictional baby born on TV show Big Bang Theory
  • Harvey – hurricane
  • Hela – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Irma – hurricane
  • Issa Rae – actress Issa Rae
  • Jacinda – New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern
  • Jumanji – movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Jyn – movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Kelsea – singer Kelsea Ballerini
  • Kendrick – rapper Kendrick Lamar
  • Kensli – daughter of Chance the Rapper (suggested by alex)
  • Kenzo – son of Kevin Hart
  • Laureline – movie Valerian
  • Libratus – artificial intelligence (suggested by elbowin)
  • Mahershala – actor Mahershala Ali
  • Maren – singer Maren Morris
  • Mika – news presenter Mika Brzezinski (suggested by alex)
  • Ovince – MMA competitor Ovince Saint Preux
  • Poppy – singer Poppy
  • Ragnarok – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Revel – son of actors Matthew and Renee Morrison
  • Rumi – daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  • Saffie – victim of Manchester bombing (suggested by elbowin)
  • Sally – former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates
  • Saoirse – actress Saoirse Ronan
  • Shadow – TV show American Gods
  • Shawn – rumored Beyoncé baby name
  • Shayla – beauty influencer Shayla Mitchell
  • Sir – son of Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  • Sonequa – actress Sonequa Martin-Green
  • Sovereign – daughter of Cam Newton
  • Strummer – son of Julia Stiles
  • Sturgill – musician Sturgill Simpson
  • Sza – singer SZA
  • Tenney – doll/character Tenney Grant (full name: “Tennyson Evangeline”)
  • Totality – August solar eclipse
  • Valerian – movie Valerian
  • Valkyrie – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Yulin – San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (suggested by elbowin)
  • Zaya – movie Gods of Egypt (stolen from Maybe it is Daijirō)
  • Zelle – payment app

Have any additions to make? Comment below! Just don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.

The SSA will release the next batch of baby name data in May, so I will post the results to the game a few days after that 2017 data becomes available.

If you don’t want to miss the results post, please subscribe to NBN by entering your email address into the “Get New Posts via Email” form in the sidebar.

P.S. Have some ideas for 2018? Comment with those too — I’ll add them to next year’s game. One addition I just made: Grayson, for the winter storm. (Here’s a Massachusetts baby named Grayson, and a Maine baby possibly named Grayson.)

What’s Wrong with U? (7 Usable U-Names)

u names, ursa, upton, upson, umber, ukiah, unity, union

What’s wrong with U?

No, I don’t mean you. I mean the letter U.

If 1 is the loneliest number, then U is definitely the loneliest letter. Because, ever since I started looking at first letter frequency in baby names, U has always been the least-used.

Currently just four U-names are in in the boys’ top 1,000, and exactly zero are in the girls’ top 1,000. And those four boy names — Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, and Urijah — make up a sizable chunk of what little U-usage there happens to be.

Does this anti-U trend signify something about modern society, do you think?

We’re more individualistic than ever before — some say more narcissistic. And we do see this individualism reflected in the rise of unusual names, particularly ones that glorify the self, like Amazing, Awesome, Celebrity, Epic, Famous, Gorgeous, Handsome, King, Messiah, President, and Prodigy.

So is this individualism also being reflected in first the letters/sounds we choose? After all, a handful of I-names (Isabella/Isabelle/Isabel, Isla, Isaac, Isaiah) have become prominent lately. So have a pair of “me” names (Mia, Mila).

Meanwhile, the humble U remains at the bottom of the heap. Is it because no one wants to open a name with a letter that reminds them of “you”?

Hm…

If you’re interested in giving U-names a boost, here are 7 under-the-radar options to consider:

Ursa

We’re all familiar with Ursula. She’s a sea-witch, a Bond girl, and a Catholic saint. In other words, Ursula has some strong associations.

Not so with Ursa, the word upon which Ursula was based. Ursa doesn’t have any strong human/character associations — just a couple of celestial ones: Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa is based on the Latin word ursus, meaning “bear.” (Bear is itself a trendy choice among celebs these days.) And even though four-letter, vowel-bounded girl names (like Emma, Ella, Aria, Isla, Ayla, and Elsa) are trendy right now, Ursa remains rare.

Upton & Upson

Many toponymic surnames — from Milton and Clifton 100 years ago to Easton and Ashton today — have gone on to become popular baby names. But not Upton and Upson, which are uncommon despite their optimistic sound (up!).

The surnames stem from any of several similar place names that, in most cases, can be traced back to a pair of Old English words meaning “upper, above” (in terms of either altitude or status) and “farm, settlement.”

The most famous Upton was muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair, whose best-known work, a 1906 exposé of the meatpacking industry called The Jungle, led to the passage of both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (which, eventually, gave rise to the FDA).

Umber

We all know an Amber. Maybe even an Ember. But how many of us know an Umber? Probably not many of us, as the name is so rare that it’s only appeared in the SSA data one time (in 1995, when 5 baby girls were named Umber).

You know how ombre hair color is fashionable right now? The words ombre and umber are related — both can be traced back to the Latin word umbra, meaning “shadow.”

Along with Ochre and Sienna, Umber is an “earth pigment” — a naturally occurring mineral used by humans since prehistoric times (i.e., for coloring cave walls, clothing, tools, even skin). The color ranges from brown to reddish-brown. Many famous historical artists, including Caravaggio and Rembrandt, used umber in their paintings.

Ukiah

(yoo-KYE-uh)

Uriah is a Biblical name. So are Josiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and many other names with that telltale “-iah” ending. Sounds like Ukiah should be part of this group, right? But it isn’t.

Ukiah is the name of a place in California. It’s based on Yokaya, which comes from Rancho Yokaya — the name of the mid-19th century Mexican land grant that encompassed what is now the Ukiah Valley. The word yokaya means “south valley” in the language of the Pomo people, the original inhabitants of the region.

In 1973, the California-based band The Doobie Brothers released a song about Ukiah.

Though Ukiah has always been rare as a baby name, usage has picked up slightly since the turn of the century.

Unity & Union

Unique is the most self-focused U-name I’m aware of. And now that thousands of people have been named Unique, well, the name just isn’t very unique anymore.

Want to really stand out in the world of baby names today? Choose a name that emphasizes the oneness of the whole as opposed to the oneness of the self.

The names Unity and Union could be seen as opposites of the name Unique. And yet all three are ultimately derived from the same Latin word: unus, meaning “one.”

Unity is given to a couple dozen baby girls per year these days, but Union hasn’t appeared in the SSA data since the 1920s.

*

Do you like any of the U-names above? What other U-names would you recommend?

Sources: Upston – Surname DB, Ukiah, California – Wikipedia

Rawr! Here Come the Bears…

bear, baby name, boy name

The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).

Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:

  • 2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
  • 2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
  • 2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
  • 2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
  • 2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice

In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:

  • 2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
  • 2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
  • 2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
  • 2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
  • 2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
  • 2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]

The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:

  • 2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
  • 2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
  • 2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
  • 2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
  • 2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]

But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.

Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?

*I assigned rankings to the E/W names the same way the SSA assigns rankings — breaking ties by assigning rank in alphabetical order.

Name Quotes #51: Fox, Bear, Sarah, Michael

quote, name, blake lively, stage name, real name

From a 2006 interview with Blake Lively:

Q: I’ve got to say, “Blake Lively” sounds almost too cool to not be a stage name…

A: People are always like, “Blake Lively! Okay, what’s your real name?” It’s kind of embarrassing to tell people, because it sounds like a really cheesy stage name.

Q: Is there a story behind the first part?

A: Actually, my grandma’s brother’s name was Blake, and my sister wrote it down when she was reading a family tree. And they said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Blake, and if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Blakely.” And everybody thought I was going to be a boy, and then I came out and I was a girl. And they had already been calling me Blake for months because they were positive I was going to be a boy. And they had been calling me Blake for so long, they just [kept it].

[The surname “Lively” came from Blake’s mother’s first husband. Blake’s mother kept it after the divorce, and Blake’s father — her mother’s second husband — liked it enough to take as his own when they married.]

[I mentioned Blake Lively in this year’s Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity post. Speaking of the latest batch of baby names…]

From “From Alessia to Zayn, Popular Baby Names on the Rise!” on the Social Security Matters blog:

Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category include Benicio and Fox for boys. […] As for Fox, did anyone ever figure out what the fox said?

[I love that the SSA made a reference to “What Does the Fox Say?” in a baby name post.]

From Baby Kylo: ‘Star Wars’ Names Raced Up the Charts in 2016 at Live Science:

“What dad wants to name his son after a son who kills his dad?” said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg, who analyzed the latest data on Babynamewizard.com. “It doesn’t seem like the most auspicious choice.”

From an E! News article about Liam Payne:

The One Direction singer-turned-solo artist explained the origin of son Bear Payne’s name during a Total Access radio interview, which he said was decided upon by mom Cheryl Cole.

“It was an internal battle,” Liam reflected. “I wanted a more traditional name and she wanted a name that was more unusual. “The reason she chose Bear was because Bear is a name that when you leave a room, you won’t forget.”

“And I like that,” the U.K. native decided eventually.

From The psychological effects of growing up with an extremely common name by Sarah Todd at Quartz:

If the purpose of a name is to signify an object, a very common first name seems like a pretty ineffective signifier. When people on the street say my name, I often don’t bother to turn around, knowing that there are probably other Sarah’s in close proximity. And so I think of “Sarah” less as a name that’s specific to me and more as a general descriptor—another word for “woman” or “girl,” or something else that applies both to me and to a lot of other people, too.

[Found via Appellation Mountain.]

From Why Coke Is Adding Last Names to ‘Share a Coke’ in Ad Age:

As for first names, Michael is No. 1, according to Coke.

[Found via Name Nerds.]

From Why Your Name May Be Ruining Your Life

Two University of Colorado economists found compelling evidence that the first letter of your last name does matter quite a bit—especially when you’re young.

Professor Jeffrey Zax and graduate student Alexander Cauley analyzed data on the lives of more than 3,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools 2 in 1957. They found that those with surnames further back in the alphabet did worse in high school, in college, and in the job market early in their careers. […] While correlation isn’t necessarily causation, the researchers firmly believe there’s a connection.

[Found via Nameberry.]

[I’m slightly surprised we haven’t seen Zax in the data yet. Zaxton is a regular these days, though.]

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.