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.]
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)
The 2016 Pop Culture Baby Name Game will run until mid-May, but it only covers last year — what about this year? Which baby names will see movement on the U.S. charts in 2017 thanks to popular culture?
Here are five possibilities:
Halley, for the baby born on the TV show Big Bang Theory in mid-December, 2016.
Eissa, for Janet Jackson’s baby boy (with Wissam Al Mana) born on January 3, 2017.
Valerian & Laureline, for the lead characters in the upcoming sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, set to be released in July of 2017.
Sonequa, for actress Sonequa Martin-Green, who will play the lead character in the TV series Star Trek: Discovery, set to be released in the fall of 2017.
In 1705, English astronomer Edmond Halley theorized that three historic comets (which had appeared in 1531, 1607, and 1682) were actually a single periodic comet that would return again in 1758.
He was correct–the comet returned in 1758, just as Halley had predicted. So it was named Comet Halley in his honor in 1759.
Since then, Halley’s Comet has flown through the inner Milky Way three times: in 1835, 1910 and 1986. How did these appearances affect the usage of the baby name Halley? Let’s take a look…
Halley’s Comet in 1835
It seems that people were well aware of the comet in 1835. Its appearance was even commemorated with a new type of jewelry — the comet brooch, which had a distinct head and a tail, just like the comet. Here’s an example:
But the SSA didn’t start collecting baby name data until 1880, and I haven’t had much luck with the census and other historical data, so I don’t know how many babies (if any) were named after Halley’s Comet this year.
Halley’s Comet in 1910
Halley appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time, both for boys and for girls, in 1910. In fact, it was the top debut name for boys.
1913: 5 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
1912: 6 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
1911: 5 baby boys named Halley, unlisted for baby girls
1910: 11 baby girls and 12 baby boys named Halley [debut x2]
1909: unlisted for both genders
1908: unlisted for both genders
But the SSA data didn’t start reflecting real numbers until the ’30s. So I checked the SSDI, which indicated that the total number of babies with the first name Halley were actually much higher:
1913: 6 babies named Halley
1912: 15 babies named Halley
1911: 8 babies named Halley
1910: 119 babies named Halley
1909: 14 people named Halley born
1908: 3 people named Halley born
Some of the Halleys named specifically for the comet include:
Halley Reed Palmer, boy, born on May 10, 1910, to Mr. and Mrs. John Palmer of Milton, Oregon.
Halley Comett Johnston, boy, born on April 13, 1910, to Jessie Johnston and Addie Webb of North Carolina.
Parents also used different spellings and placements of Halley. Here’s what happened to the first name Hallie in 1910, for instance, according to the SSDI:
1913: 280 babies named Hallie born
1912: 328 babies named Hallie born
1911: 385 babies named Hallie born
1910: 520 babies named Hallie born
1909: 392 babies named Hallie born
1908: 353 babies named Hallie born
I also found 1910 babies named Halie Comet Wood (boy), Estyr Halley Abrams (girl), Comet Halley Briggs (boy), and Aerial Comet Roath (boy).
Speaking of Comet…the SSDI tells me at least 10 people were named Comet in 1910, and that one of these 10 happened to have the surname Halley. Also born in 1910: a Comette, a Cometniss, a Cometa, and two Comettas.
Halley’s Comet in 1986
Halley was given another big boost by the comet in 1986:
1989: 56 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
1988: 71 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
1987: 69 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
1986: 332 baby girls and 21 baby boys named Halley
1985: 147 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Halley
1984: 25 baby girls named Halley, unlisted for baby boys
The surge in usage bumped Halley into the girls’ top 1,000 for the first (and only) time in 1986:
1987: Halley ranked 1,737th
1986: Halley ranked 581st
1985: Halley ranked 1,025th
The only Halley-baby I noticed in the newspapers this year was from Canada: Halley Marie Mullen, a baby girl born to Susan and Brendan Mullen of Ottawa on 4 January 1986.
And, again, there were plenty of alternative spellings. Here’s what happened to Hallie in 1986:
1989: 237 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
1988: 232 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
1987: 210 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
1986: 267 baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys
1985: 195 baby girls and 7 baby boys named Hallie
1984: 164 baby girls baby girls named Hallie, unlisted for baby boys