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Popularity of the Baby Name Harry


Posts that Mention the Name Harry

“Year of the Dragon” Baby Names

Chinese Dragon at The Venetian, 2021

My husband and I visited Las Vegas recently, and the casinos were all decked out for Chinese New Year (which falls on February 12th this year). Decorations included lanterns, firecrackers, Chinese coins, red envelopes, oranges*, and dragons — so many dragons that I initially thought we must be coming up on the year of the Dragon.

Turns out I was wrong — it’ll be the year of the Ox — but I didn’t realize this until my husband consulted the internet. Which I’m glad he did, because he ended up spotting this intriguing paragraph:

There are typically marked spikes in the birth rates of countries that use the Chinese zodiac or places with substantial Overseas Chinese populations during the year of the Dragon, because such “Dragon babies” are considered to be lucky and have desirable characteristics that supposedly lead to better life outcomes. The relatively recent phenomenon of planning a child’s birth in the Dragon year has led to hospital overcapacity issues and even an uptick in infant mortality rates toward the end of these years due to strained neonatal resources.

So, if Dragon years are influencing babies, could they also be influencing baby names…?

To test this, we need to know two things: which years are Dragon years, and which baby names are likely to be more popular during Dragon years.

Recent Dragon years have coincided (for the most part) with the following calendar years:

  • 1952
  • 1964
  • 1976
  • 1988
  • 2000
  • 2012

(The start date varies, but always falls between January 21 and February 20, on the day of the new moon.)

As for names, the most obvious choice to me was, of course, the English word Dragon. But that’s because I don’t speak any Asian languages (beyond a few words of Cambodian, thanks to my husband’s family).

So I looked up the Chinese word for “dragon.” The correct transliteration is lóng — the ó has a rising tone — but the word is more likely to be rendered “long” or “lung” in Latin script.

Here’s what I found for Dragon, Long and Lung in the U.S. baby name data…

Dragon

The baby name Dragon debuted in 1988 (a Dragon year), saw a spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), and an even larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).

  • In 1988, 8 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 5 [63%] were born in California.
  • In 2000, 22 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 6 [27%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
  • In 2012, 24 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 5 [21%] were born in California.

I think the state data is notable here because California has a significant Asian American population.

Long & Lung

The baby name Long debuted in 1975, likely because of Vietnamese immigration, and saw a general increase in usage during the late ’70s and early ’80s. It saw an initial spike in 1976 (a Dragon year), which was followed by three more distinct spikes in 1988, 2000, and 2012 (the three most recent Dragon years).

  • In 1976, 47 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 13 [28%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
  • In 1988, 133 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • Long ranked 822nd nationally.
    • 53 [40%] were born in California, 20 in Texas, 5 in Oklahoma, 5 in Massachusetts.
  • In 2000, 101 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 30 [30%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 8 in Virginia, 7 in Washington, 6 in Massachusetts, 6 in Pennsylvania.
  • In 2012, 84 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 19 [23%] were born in California, 11 in Texas, 5 in Oregon.

The baby name Lung — a homograph of the English word for the internal organ, unfortunately — was a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 1988.

Thienlong

While looking at the data for Long, I spotted the name Thienlong — a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 2012. The Vietnamese name Thienlong, or “thiên long,” means something along the lines of “sky dragon” or “heavenly dragon.”

Same dragon, different angle

Seeing the crossover into Vietnamese names, I tried looking for other Asian words for “dragon” in the U.S. baby name data.

I didn’t have much luck until I tried one of the Japanese words for “dragon,” ryu (which should have a macron above the u, marking it as long). The word is typically rendered “ryu,” “ryo,” or “ryuu” in Latin script. (It can also have meanings other than “dragon” — just depends upon the kanji.)

Here’s what I found…

Ryu, Ryuu, Ryo

The baby name Ryu debuted in 1985, dropped out of the data, and returned in 1988 (a Dragon year). It saw a small spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), then a larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).

  • In 1988, 7 baby boys were named Ryu.
  • In 2000, 35 baby boys were named Ryu.
    • 12 [34%] were born in California.
  • In 2012, 129 baby boys were named Ryu.
    • 34 [26%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 9 in New York.

The baby names Ryuu and Ryo both saw peak usage in the Dragon year 2012.

Ryunosuke, Ryuki, Ryujin, etc.

While looking at the data for Ryu, I found several Ryu-based names with usage patterns that seem to correlate to Dragon years:

And here’s an interesting fact: Japan’s most famous short story writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “was named Ryunosuke, “dragon-son,” because he was born in the hour of the dragon, in the month of the dragon, in the year of the dragon.” (His birth-date was March 1, 1892.)

And, finally, one more…

Draco

After looking up “dragon” in many different languages, I decided to check the Latin version, Draco — yes, as in Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy — just in case.

The name did see usage increases in the Dragon years 2000 and 2012, but these increases don’t seem impressive next to the steep rise of the last couple of years (which could be due to the 2017 song “Draco” by Future…?).

2024

The next year of the Dragon year will start in early 2024. Do you think dragon-related names will get another boost that year? If so, which ones?

And, do you know of any other dragon-related names that we should be keeping an eye on?

*Why oranges? Because the Cantonese word for mandarin orange, kam, sounds a lot like the Cantonese word for gold. (Another interesting fact: the word kumquat comes from the Cantonese words kam, “gold” or “golden,” and kwat, “orange.”)

Sources:

P.S. Want to read about another periodic baby name? Try the comet-inspired Halley

Popular Baby Names in South Australia, 2019

According to the Government of South Australia, the most popular baby names in the state in 2019 were (again) Charlotte and Oliver.

Here are South Australia’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Charlotte, 119 baby girls
  2. Ava, 112
  3. Olivia, 103
  4. Grace, 93
  5. Amelia, 86 (tie)
  6. Willow, 86 (tie)
  7. Isla, 83
  8. Ivy, 79 (tie)
  9. Sophie, 79 (tie)
  10. Mia, 69

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 152 baby boys
  2. Leo, 106
  3. William, 102
  4. Jack, 101 (tie)
  5. Noah, 101 (tie)
  6. Henry, 99
  7. Charlie, 94
  8. Oscar, 90
  9. Harvey, 81 (tie)
  10. Mason, 81 (tie)

In the girls’ top 10, Ivy replaces Harper.

In the boys’ top 10, Oscar, Harvey and Mason replace Harrison, Lucas and Harry. Notably, Oscar’s usage increased by three dozen baby boys, and Harvey’s usage increased by 20.

Source: Popular Baby Names – Data.SA

Popular Baby Names in Ireland, 2019

According to data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were — yet again! — Emily and Jack.

Here are Ireland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Emily, 452 baby girls
  2. Grace, 426
  3. Fiadh, 334
  4. Sophie, 330
  5. Hannah, 321
  6. Amelia, 315
  7. Ava, 313 (tie)
  8. Ellie, 313 (tie)
  9. Ella, 292
  10. Mia, 289

Boy Names

  1. Jack, 677 baby boys
  2. James, 534
  3. Noah, 502
  4. Conor, 427
  5. Daniel, 399
  6. Adam, 345
  7. Liam, 334
  8. Tadhg, 318
  9. Luke, 317
  10. Charlie, 316

Jack has been the top boy name since 2007 (with the exception of 2016) and Emily has been the top girl name since 2011.

In the girls’ top 10, Hannah returned and Emma dropped out.

In the boys’ top 10, Liam and Tadhg (pronounced tyeg, like the first syllable of “tiger”) replaced Harry and Michael.

The fastest-rising names in the top 100 in terms of numbers of babies were:

  • Éabha (+57 baby girls), Caoimhe (+36), Molly (+32), Erin (+31), Sadhbh (+31)
  • Rían (+69 baby boys), Bobby (+50), Senan (+46), Darragh (+38), Tadhg (+38), Theo (+38)

And the fastest-rising in terms of rank were:

  • Alexandra (+25 spots), Heidi (+20), Hollie (+20), Bonnie (+19), Éabha (+19)
  • Odhrán (+41 spots), Odhran (+39), Eli (+37), Kayden (+30), Ruairí (+27)

Source: Irish Babies’ Names 2019 – CSO


Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2019

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year were, yet again, Olivia and Oliver.

Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 4,082 baby girls
  2. Amelia, 3,712
  3. Isla, 2,981
  4. Ava, 2,946
  5. Mia, 2,500
  6. Isabella, 2,398
  7. Sophia, 2,332
  8. Grace, 2,330
  9. Lily, 2,285
  10. Freya, 2,264

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 4,932 baby boys
  2. George, 4,575
  3. Noah, 4,265
  4. Arthur, 4,211
  5. Harry, 3,823
  6. Leo, 3,637
  7. Muhammad, 3,604
  8. Jack, 3,381
  9. Charlie, 3,355
  10. Oscar, 3,334

In the girls’ top 10, Lily and Freya replace Emily and Ella. The boys’ top ten includes the same ten names as in 2018.

In the girls’ top 100, Lara and Mabel replace Aisha and Francesca. In the boys’ top 100, Alfred, Chester, Hudson, Ibrahim and Oakley replace Alex, Dexter, Dominic, Kai, Sonny and Tobias.

The fastest risers within the top 100 were Hallie (on the girls’ list) and Tommy (on the boys’).

Several names that saw increased usage due to pop culture were…

  • The girl name Dua, now at an all-time high thanks to English pop singer Dua Lipa, whose parents were Kosovar refugees.*
  • The boy name Kylo, thanks to the Star Wars sequel trilogy. (Kylo debuted in 2015, the year the first film was released.)
  • The boy name Taron, likely due to actor Taron Egerton, featured in the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman.

Here are the top ten lists for England and Wales separately, if you’d like to compare the regions…

England’s top ten…Wales’s top ten…
Girl NamesOlivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, Mia, Isabella, Grace, Sophia, Lily, EmilyOlivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, Freya, Willow, Mia, Ella, Rosie, Elsie
Boy NamesOliver, George, Arthur, Noah, Harry, Muhammad, Leo, Jack, Oscar, CharlieOliver, Noah, Charlie, Jacob, Theo, George, Leo, Arthur, Oscar, Alfie

Finally, here are some of the rare baby names from the other end of the rankings. Each one was given to exactly 3 babies in England and Wales last year.

Rare Girl NamesRare Boy Names
Aiste, Bella-Blue, Cosmina, Dolcieanna, Elliw, Floella, Gurveen, Harerta, Iffah, Jainaba, Kalsoom, Lussy, Mallie, Nellie-Beau, Otterly, Primavera, Reevie, Saffanah, Tuppence, Venba, Winter-Lily, Yidis, ZeemalAuburn, Boycie, Cybi, Dawsey, Eason, Folarin, Glyndwr, Hadrian, Isaa, Johnjo, Kaniel, Lazo, Madani, Now, Olgierd, Pijus, Rakai, Smit, Taqi, Veselin, Wilby, Yilmaz, Zarel

Cybi, pronounced “kubby,” is the (Welsh) name of a 6th-century Cornish saint.

Sources: Baby names in England and Wales: 2019, Baby names for boys in England and Wales (dataset), Baby names for girls in England and Wales (dataset)

*Kosovar refugees are also mentioned in the posts on Amerikan and Tonibler.

The Emergence of Makeba

miriam makeba, singer, baby name, 1960s
Miriam Makeba

The baby name Makeba started appearing in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1960s:

  • 1966: 8 baby girls named Makeba
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 5 baby girls named Makeba
  • 1963: 5 baby girls named Makeba
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Makeba
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

It saw peak usage in the early 1970s.

What launched the name?

South African singer Miriam Makeba, who was born near Johannesburg in 1932 to a Xhosa father and a Swazi mother.

Her birth name was actually Zenzile, nickname Zenzi. (The English name Miriam was adopted later for career purposes.) According to Makeba, the name Zenzile means “you have no one to blame but yourself” or “you have done it to yourself.”

But “Zenzile Makeba” wasn’t her full name. Her full name was Zenzile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufun Ubajabulisa Ubaphekcli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Kkabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi.

Why so long?

The reason for its length is that every child takes the first name of all his male ancestors. Often following the first name is a descriptive word or two, telling; about the character of the person, making a true African name somewhat like a story. This may sound most unusual to Americans, but it is the custom of my people.

Miriam Makeba began singing professionally in the early 1950s. In the late ’50s she met famous Jamaican-American singer Harry Belafonte, who introduced her to American audiences. Her fame grew (both in the U.S. and in Europe) during the ’60s, and she became “the first African artist to globally popularize African music.”

I haven’t had any luck tracking down the etymology of Makeba, but I know the name came from Miriam’s mother, Nomkomendelo Christina Makeba. The name Nomkomendelo means “the one whose father was commandeered” (as she was born on the day her father was forced to join the British army to help fight the Second Boer War).

Do you like the name Makeba?

Sources:

Image: from the movie Come Back, Africa (1959)

P.S. Here are a few more names inspired by the Second Boer War