The futuristic-sounding name Sylar debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2006:
2010: 76 baby boys named Sylar
2009: 91 baby boys named Sylar [peak]
2008: 47 baby boys named Sylar
2007: 38 baby boys named Sylar
2006: 9 baby boys named Sylar [debut]
(A smattering of baby girls have been named Sylar as well.)
What put this name on the onomastic map?
Sylar, the primary antagonist of the TV show Heroes (2006-2010). Played by Zachary Quinto, Sylar was a super-human serial killer with a strong desire to feel special and admired. So, he hunted down other people with super-human powers, killed them, and absorbed their abilities.
Sylar’s birth name was Gabriel Gray, and he was originally a watchmaker. Upon giving up his old way of life, he adopted an alter-ego and renamed himself Sylar, taken from a (fictitious) brand of watches. Here’s how one author described the name change:
In Sylar’s mind, Gabriel Gray [had] become “a name.” Unlike an anonymous watchmaker, who — despite the implications of his job title — does not really make watches, but in fact only repairs broken watches brought in by equally anonymous customers, Sylar [took] his name and thus his identity from an origin that [implied] both a certain level of activity and creativity — in that the brand really [did] produce watches — and [constituted] a brand thus signifying fame and achievement.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Sylar? (Do you like it more or less than the similar name Skylar?)
Caeners, Torsten. “”You’re Broken. I Can Fix You”: Negotiating Concepts of U.S. Ideology.” Investigating Heroes: Essays on Truth, Justice and Quality TV, ed. by David Simmons, McFarland & Company, 2012, pp. 130-143.
I publish a set of name rankings every week, but I don’t post many U.S. state-released rankings anymore. Why? Because the SSA’s yearly dataset always includes a state-by-state breakdown, and the SSA’s data tends to be basically equivalent to what each state releases.
Except for…Iowa! I totally forgot last year to check up on Iowa, the only state I know of to release full sets of baby name data. (Bravo, Iowa!) The last Iowa rankings I posted were for 2016, so, in this post, to catch up, I’ll be covering two years at once.
First up, 2017.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and Oliver.
Here are Iowa’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:
Girl Names, 2017
Emma, 175 baby girls
Amelia & Nora, tied, 127 each
Boy Names, 2017
Oliver, 219 baby boys
Owen & Wyatt, tied, 151 each
In the girls’ top 10, Scarlett and Elizabeth replace Addison and Grace. (The SSA’s data for 2017 was similar, but had Harper in first place.)
In the boys’ top 10, James and Logan replace Jackson.
And here are some of the names bestowed just once in Iowa in 2017: