I started posting on Instagram recently. Though I haven’t used the filters much, seeing them in the app reminded me of something: Babycenter.com claimed, back in late 2015, that Instagram filter names were influencing baby names. And the clickbaity claim was (of course) picked up by various media outlets: Time, People, Vanity Fair, US Weekly, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc.
But the BabyCenter.com folks (who still think Gollum is a baby name, amazingly) weren’t basing their claims on any sort of real-life baby name usage data. They were apparently just making assumptions based on their own website metrics.
In any case…it’s now 2019, and we do have access to usage data for 2015 (not to mention 2016, and 2017). So let’s use this data to determine whether or not their claim is true.
I analyzed the data for 44 names in total: 43 from filters — most current, several retired — plus the name “Lux,” which technically refers to a photo enhancement tool, not a filter. Zeroing in on usage from 2010 (the year Instagram was launched) to 2017, I noticed that…
28 filter names did not see higher usage as baby names:
20 had no SSA data to work with (1977, Crema, Charmes, Clarendon, Dogpatch, Early Bird, Gingham, Ginza, Hefe, Inkwell, Lo-Fi, Mayfair, Nashville, Poprocket, Skyline, Slumber, Stinson, Sutro, Toaster, X-Pro II)
So which, if any, of the 16 names above increased in usage because of Instagram?
Some of them, like trendy Hudson and Willow, were already on the rise by 2010. So it’s hard to know if these names were influenced at all by recent pop culture, let alone the app specifically. (Though that Juno-jump does seem significant.)
Others are associated with more than just a filter. Vesper was a Bond Girl, for instance, and Juno was a movie. So, even if Instagram was a factor, it was one of several. (BabyCenter.com’s original write-up from 2015 doesn’t even acknowledge this, e.g., “The Instagram-inspired name Lux…”)
In terms of filters actually influencing names, I think the strongest case can be made for Amaro. It wasn’t already on the rise in 2010, it did become more popular in the Instagram era, and the filter itself (as opposed to the Italian liqueur after which the filter was named) does seem to be the primary pop culture association these days.
On the other hand, Clarendon — despite being the first filter you see inside the app and, accordingly, the most-used filter overall — saw no corresponding uptick in usage on birth certificates, which is telling. (Though perhaps “Amaro” hits a stylistic sweet spot that “Clarendon” misses.)
My verdict? I’d say it’s possible that a handful of Instagram filters influenced real-life baby name usage…but I definitely wouldn’t declare that naming babies after filters was/is some sort of “hot trend,” as BabyCenter.com did.
What are your thoughts on all this? Have you ever met a baby named after an Instagram filter?
On the hunt for a rare girl name with a retro feel?
Here’s a big batch of uncommon female S-names that are associated in some way with early cinema (i.e., each is either a character name or an actress name).
For those that have had enough usage to appear in the national data, I’ve included links to popularity graphs.
Saba Raleigh was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1867. Her birth name was Isabel Pauline Ellissen. Saba was also a character played by actress Myrta Bonillas in the film The Claw (1927).
Sabra Sabra de Shon was an actress who appeared in one film in 1915. She was born in Massachusetts in 1850. Sabra was also a character name in multiple films, including Cimarron (1931) and A Man Betrayed (1941).
Salomy was a character name in multiple films, including Salomy Jane (1914) and Wild Girl (1932).
Salti was a character played by actress Beatie Olna Travers in the film A Romance of Old Baghdad (1922).
Samanthy was a character name in multiple films, including The Uneven Balance (short, 1914) and The Lonesome Heart (1915).
Samaran was a character played by actress Julia Faye in the film Fool’s Paradise (1921).
Sanchia Percival was a character played by actress Dorinea Shirley in the film Open Country (1922).
Sari Maritza (SHA-ree MAR-ee-tsa) was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in China in 1910. Her birth name was Patricia Detering-Nathan. Sari was also a character name in multiple films, including The Virgin of Stamboul (1920) and The Stolen Bride (1927).
Sigrid Holmquist was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Sweden in 1899. Sigrid was also a character name in multiple films, including Transatlantic (1931) and I Remember Mama (1948).
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
A couple of weeks ago, while my husband and I were on a short road trip to Dallas, I spotted a couple of interesting place names.
On the way there, we passed the town of Estelline (infamous for its speed traps). Estelline was established in the 1890s and named after Estelle de Shields, the daughter of an early settler.
While searching for the local pronunciation of Estelline (“ES tuh leen”), I found a pronunciation guide that concisely listed every Texas town, so of course I had to scan it for oddballs (e.g., Dime Box, Fair Play, Goodnight, Tarzan, Wink). And some of those weird town names also happen to be human names:
Brazoria: Beatrice Brazoria Mcleod, born in Texas in 1903.
Cotulla: Cotulla Ann Farr, born in Texas in 1982.
Flatonia: Jewell Flatonia Defoor, born in Texas in 1907.
Monthalia: Bertha Emma Monthalia Bahlmann, born in Texas circa 1899.
Splendora: Splendora, a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s list in 1923. (I don’t think this has anything to do with the town, though; the name Splendora is sometimes used in Italian families.)
Waxahachie: Waxahachie Arthur, born in Alabama in 1886. (But he was probably named after Alabama’s Waxahatchee Creek, not the Texas town.)
On the way back, we took a different route (through Oklahoma and Kansas). Near the Kansas/Colorado border, we passed a sign for the border town of Kanorado — a portmanteau created from the state names. I couldn’t find any humans with the name Kanorado, but I did track down people named for other border towns with portmanteau names:
Arkoma (Arkansas + Oklahoma), Oklahoma: Helena Arkoma Yost, born in Arkansas in 1908.
Calneva (California + Nevada), California: Calneva Wakeman, born in California in 1914.
Illmo (Illinois + Missouri), Missouri: Illmo Speer, born in Missouri circa 1907.
Kenova (Kentucky + Ohio + West Virginia), West Virginia: Virginia Kenova Woods, born in West Virginia in 1898.
Tennga (Tennessee + Georgia), Georgia: Tennga Conner, born in Georgia in 1914.