According to the SSA, the most popular baby names in the U.S. territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa — all four regions combined — in 2018 were Olivia and Sophia (tied) and Lucas and William (tied).
Here are the top girl names and top boy names for the four regions:
The influence wasn’t the movie that gave yesterday’s name Ilya a boost, but the Cold War-era spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which premiered on TV in 1964 and ran until 1968. (U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”)
The main characters were CIA agent Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and KGB agent Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin (played by David McCallum). Illya, a Slavic form of Elijah, was spelled out in the opening credits.
The name Napoleon may have also gotten a slight boost from the show, though it’s hard to tell.
When Ilya first popped up in the SSA’s baby name data, it appeared as a girl name in 1961:
1961: 5 baby girls named Ilya [debut]
Because the Greek romantic comedy Never on Sunday was released in October of 1960. It starred Greek actress Melina Mercouri as a free-spirited prostitute named Ilya.
The movie was a big hit, and Melina Mercouri was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (she lost to Elizabeth Taylor). The film earned four other nominations as well, but only won the Best Song category.
Interestingly, the trailer for the film starts with a string of names: “On Monday, it’s Tonio. On Tuesday, Boris. Wednesday is Spiro the fisherman’s day. And on Thursday, Jorgo’s the lucky fellow. Friday is devoted to Homer…”
Most sources classify the name Ilya and similar names (Iliya, Illya, Ilia, etc.) as male names — specifically, as forms of Elijah/Elias. So my best guess on the character name is that it was a nickname for Iliana, the feminine form of the Greek name Ilias (yet another form of Elijah/Elias).
Do you like the name Ilya? Do you prefer it as a girl name or as a boy name?
Meghan was the fastest rising girls’ name, moving 701 spots to number 703 from number 1,404 in 2017. This jump speaks to the popularity of Meghan Markle, an American who joined the royal family when she married Prince Harry in 2018. Tune in next year to see how newborn Archie influences Moms and Dads in 2019. The name Archie actually reappears in the top 1,000 in 2018 for the first time since 1988, and he will likely continue climbing up the list after the latest royal news.
Winter is coming for “Game of Thrones” fans. The name Yara voyaged 314 spots from number 986 in 2017 to number 672 in 2018 on the girls’ side. Followers of the hit HBO show know this probably is due to Yara Greyjoy, a character on the popular series.
For the boys, Genesis is the fastest rising name for 2018, shuffling his way 608 spots to number 984 from number 1,592 in 2017. There has been a resurgence of classic names in the top 10 baby names in recent years, so perhaps Genesis is a harkening back to the classic English rock band led by Phil Collins. Speaking of Genesis, award winning Grammy singer and coach on “The Voice,” Alicia Keys named her son Genesis after his birth.