How popular is the baby name Kamala in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Kamala.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kamala


Posts that Mention the Name Kamala

Name Quotes 93: Kenai, Vladimir, Annette

Letter about baby Kenai (via Rocky Mountain NP’s IG)

From a handwritten letter sent to Rocky Mountain National Park from “Shawn in Texas”:

My wife and I got to take our baby boy named Kenai (named after Kenai Fjords National Park) on his first National Park trip to Rocky Mountain National Park just right before the fires. This was a special trip for us seeing that this would make his first adventure before the many to come.

(The baby name Kenai has become increasingly popular recently. I don’t know what year this particular baby was born, but over 10% of the Kenais born in 2019 were also from Texas.)

Republican senator David Perdue intentionally mispronouncing the name of Democratic senator Kamala Harris at a Trump rally in October of 2020:

KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala? I don’t know. Whatever.

(Since then, Kamala has become vice president, and David has been voted out of office.)

From an article in the New York Post about the “Via Getty” confusion on social media:

Lefties fired up over protesters storming the US Capitol Building mistakenly believed one caught-on-camera rioter was named “Via Getty” — because of a photo credit for the media firm Getty Images.

Politico reporter Ryan Lizza had posted a photo on Twitter with the message “Via Getty, one of the rioters steals a podium from the Capitol.”

But online critics embarrassingly assumed “Via Getty” was the guy’s name — instead of attribution for one of the world’s largest visual media companies.

(Usage of the baby name Via is rising pretty swiftly right now — anyone know why? I’m stumped.)

From an article in The Athletic about babies being named after St. Louis Blues players:

When St. Louisans Alyssa and Dan Hoven call out the name of their 3-year-old son in public, the heads around them instinctively turn.

“Oh my God yeah, so many times,” Alyssa said. “If we’re out to eat, we’ll be like, ‘Vladi’ or ‘Vlad,’ and people are like, ‘Did you name him after Vladimir Tarasenko?’ It starts a ton of conversations, and when we tell them ‘Yes, we did,’ they get all excited and scream, ‘Let’s go Blues!'”

From a New York Times article about parents looking for “positive” baby names:

Some parents-to-be have been so distracted by the pandemic that they’ve skipped the deliberation and quickly picked a name. Amanda Austin of Erie, Pa., owner of an e-commerce store specializing in dollhouse miniatures, came up with her daughter’s name on a whim. “It was in March, when the whole world was shutting down,” she said. “Covid terrified me. My husband and his dad own a construction company and Pennsylvania had banned construction work.”

The name “Annette” popped suddenly into her mind. “I shared it with my husband and he loved it,” Austin said. “His reaction is a far cry from my other daughter’s naming process, where we went back and forth for months. I think we had so much going on with the pandemic that we didn’t have the mental bandwidth to dig deeper.” The name also reminded the couple of the 1950s, a “less complicated” time.

From a Sydney Morning Herald article by Dilvin Yasa about popular baby names in Australia in 2020:

While old-fashioned names carry a certain weight and history to them…it could also be that many of us are merely influenced by COVID-19 and life under lockdown.

“Our research showed that 52 per cent of Australians spent more time with their household members and listed this as a positive of social isolation,” says [Ashley Fell of McCrindle Research] who adds we’re more likely to be naming our children after our grandparents or asking for their input before making it official.

(I also appreciated the author’s opening line: “When you have a name like Dilvin, you spend an awful amount of time thinking about baby names and the role our monikers play in our lives.”)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Was Kamala Harris Named After an Actress?

With the presidential inauguration just two days away, now is a good time to take a closer look at the baby name Kamala.

Most Americans already know that Kamala Devi Harris’ first name is pronounced KAH-mah-lah (or “comma-la“). And I bet some also know that the Sanskrit name Kamala means “lotus,” and is sometimes used to refer to the Hindu deity Lakshmi.

But here’s an intriguing fact that isn’t very well known: usage of the baby name Kamala peaked in 1964 — the year that Kamala Harris was born.

  • 1967: 46 baby girls named Kamala
  • 1966: 51 baby girls named Kamala
  • 1965: 91 baby girls named Kamala
  • 1964: 105 baby girls named Kamala [rank: 1,064th]
  • 1963: 44 baby girls named Kamala
  • 1962: 20 baby girls named Kamala
  • 1961: 10 baby girls named Kamala

Here’s the graph:

What caused the spike?

I believe the influence was half-Indian, half-English actress Kamala Devi (birth name: Kamala Devi Amesur). She came to the U.S. from India around 1960, and over the course of the decade appeared in two U.S. films and on about ten TV shows (including My Three Sons).

The thing that put her name in the papers, though, was her 1963 marriage to actor Chuck Connors, her co-star in the 1962 film Geronimo. (You can see several press photos of the pair at one Chuck Connors fan site.) Here’s what Louella Parsons wrote about the couple in mid-1963:

The Brooklyn-born Irishman and the Bombay-born East Indian, married in April, are as unlikely a combination as you could dream up, but they seem ideally mated. Chuck and Kamala met when both played in “Geronimo.” She was the last actress to be interviewed for the lead opposite him. “I took one look at her,” says Chuck, “and that was it.”

So, now, back to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

I have never seen anything that explicitly connects Kamala Devi Harris to Kamala Devi, but the fact that Harris’ middle name is Devi (which means “goddess”), and the fact that she was born in 1964, makes me think Harris’ parents were probably influenced by the actress — whether they were aware of it or not.

(Her parents, Donald Harris of Jamaica and Shyamala Gopalan of Tamil Nadu, met as graduate students in California in the fall of 1962. They married in July of 1963 and welcomed their first daughter, Kamala, the following year in October. Their second daughter, Maya Lakshmi, was born in early 1967.)

What are your thoughts on this?

Sources:

Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2020

Happy birthday, Elvis!

It’s hard to put into words just how bizarre 2020 was.

Despite this…people still had babies in 2020, and people still paid attention to pop culture in 2020. (In fact, thanks to quarantine, many people probably paid a lot more attention to pop culture than usual last year.) So, let’s put the seriousness of 2020 aside for a second and kick off the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

Of course, “pop culture” includes not just things like movies and music and social media, but also anything that was in the news — including COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the U.S. presidential election.

Which baby names will see higher usage — or appear for the very first time — in the 2020 SSA baby name data thanks to pop culture?

Here are some initial ideas (plus some context):

  • Aalam, DJ Khaled’s baby
  • Ahmaud, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
  • Amala, Doja Cat album
  • Azula, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (made available on Netflix in mid-2020)
  • Breonna, shooting of Breonna Taylor
  • Bryant, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Casme, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Catori, Chris Brown’s baby (suggested by alex)
  • Chadwick, death of Chadwick Boseman
  • Charli, singer Charli XCX
  • Corona, coronavirus
    • Not to mention the brand new Daddy Yankee song “Corona” [vid]…
  • Crozier, naval captain Brett Crozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Daisy, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s baby
  • Desz, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Doja, singer Doja Cat
  • Domhnall, Irish actor on (canceled) HBO series Run
  • Dua, singer Dua Lipa
  • Esty, character on the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox
  • George, killing of George Floyd
  • Gianna, death of Gianna Bryant
  • Greta, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
  • Isaias, hurricane
  • Jack, death of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s unborn baby
  • Kamala, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
  • Kamiyah, character in the Lifetime movie Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story*
  • Kaori, Kevin Hart’s baby
  • Katara, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Kobe, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Kraken, NHL expansion team (Seattle)
  • Larriah, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Laura, hurricane
  • Lenin, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez (suggested by elbowin)
  • Liberty, Meghan McCain’s baby
  • Lovella, singer Matt Bellamy’s baby
  • Lynika, death of Lynika Strozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Lyra, Ed Sheeran’s baby
  • McGivney, beatification of Fr. Michael McGivney
  • Neowise, comet (suggested by elbowin)
  • Onyx, Iggy Azalea’s baby
  • Raddix, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden’s baby
  • Rayshard, shooting of Rayshard Brooks
  • River, Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara’s baby
  • Robinette, President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden (suggested by elbowin)
  • Rona, coronavirus
  • Rue, Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert’s baby
  • Rumble, model Lucky Blue Smith’s baby
  • Ruth, death of RBG
  • Sovereign, Usher’s baby
  • Tchalla, death of Chadwick Boseman (who played T’Challa in 2018’s Black Panther)
  • Wenliang, Chinese doctor Li Wenliang (suggested by elbowin)
  • Willa, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s baby
  • Win, Ciara and Russell Wilson’s baby
  • Yara, actress Yara Shahidi
  • Zuko, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (here’s one Zuko from 2020)

Some of the names from the 2019 game could be applicable to the 2020 data as well.

Also, feel free to zoom out and consider name trends this year. Here are a few ways in which baby-naming may have been influenced by our collective experience of COVID-19, for instance:

  • “In my opinion this unprecedented situation will affect naming towards something “bolder” or “more badass” baby names and so you’ll probably see a spike of certain names like King, Major or Royal.” (Gheba)
  • “I’d bet on the rise of virtue names, or at least modern version of virtue names, like Brave/Bravery, Courage, Honor, etc. And I’d say names like Legend, Messiah, Legacy, Major, King, will probably rise some more too.” (Skizzo)
  • “I think it will also affect which media influence names this year. Eg we’ll miss out on names inspired by Olympic athletes, but might see even more from Netflix and YouTube.” (Clare)

What other names (or name trends) should we add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Just remember to make a note of the pop culture influence!

I’ll post the results as soon as I can after the SSA releases the 2020 data (in May of 2021, hopefully).

*Did you know that the actress who played Kamiyah in that Lifetime movie is named Rayven Symone Ferrell? Certainly a nod to Raven-Symoné

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2019

Which of the names in the 2019 pop culture baby name game saw increases in usage last year? And which did not? All the results are below!

Here are the names that increased in usage from 2018 to 2019:

  • Alita (f) increased by 554%.
  • Banks (f) increased by 267%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Posie (f) increased by 143%. Suggested by alex.
  • Psalm (m) increased by 129%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Maelyn (f) increased by 91%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Navy (f) increased by 85%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Archie (m) increased by 82%, and re-emerged as a girl name in the data as well.
  • Asante (m) increased by 80%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hart (m) increased by 73%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ciro (m) increased by 70%. Suggested by alex.
  • Alaiya (f) increased by 66%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myracle (f) increased by 51%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Boomer (m) increased by 45%. Suggested by Aya.
  • Billie (f) increased by 42%, and increased as a boy name as well.
  • Valentine (m) increased by 38%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Kamala (f) increased by 30%.
  • Birdie (f) increased by 29%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rosalia (f) increased by 28%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myles (m) increased by 26%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Rue (f) increased by 24%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rami (m) increased by 24%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
    • Incidentally, the usage of Malek also increased. :)
  • Jed (m) increased by 23%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hayes (m) increased by 19%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ace (m) increased by 16%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Elsa (f) increased by 16%. Suggested by elbowin.
  • Maverick (m) increased by 14%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Brixton (m) increased by 14%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Lucca (m) increased by 13%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Phoebe (f) increased by 11%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Valentino (m) increased by 8%. Suggested by alex.
  • Dorian (m) increased by 3%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Gloria (f) increased by 3%.
  • Roux (f) increased by 3%, but decreased as a boy name. Suggested by alex.
  • Adeya debuted with 22 baby girls.
  • Marsai was a double-debut: 10 baby girls, 5 baby boys.
  • Kaavia debuted with 15 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Eryss re-emerged in the data with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Embrii debuted with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.

Here are the names that did not increase in usage from 2018 to 2019:

Abril, Aeko, Arendelle, Asahd, Avani, Catori, Charli, Deckard, Donna, Eilish, Garima, Gil, Gilmher, Gima, Greedy, Greta, Huckleberry, Idina, Iduna, Kelleth, Lia, Lisann, Lizzo, Luce, Maleficent, Malone, Marli, Megan, Miren, Nadia, Nipsey, Post, Riyaz, Sameeksha, Sanni, Sansa, Saybie, Shaed, Shahadi, Sulwe, Taeyang, Wick

(These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.)

Here are the late bloomers (i.e., names that were part of the 2018 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2019):

  • Kulture double-debuted with 17 baby girls and 5 baby boys.
  • Chevel debuted with 17 baby girls.
  • Zaxai debuted with 14 baby boys.
  • Qira debuted with 13 baby girls.
  • Story increased by 40 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Dash increased by 25 baby boys (but fell for girls).
  • Akash increased by 14 baby boys.
  • Storm increased by 10 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Kiki increased by 4 baby girls.

Finally, two more things…

  • While the name Nipsey didn’t debut in 2019, Nispey Hussle’s legal first name, Ermias, was the fastest-rising boy name of 2019 (in terms of relative increase).
  • Dua, one of the rising names in last year’s game, stayed perfectly level this time around — exactly 72 baby girls in both ’18 and ’19. (In the UK, on the other hand, Dua’s usage increased quite a bit.)

What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?

[The usual disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In each case, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]

Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2019

pop culture baby name game, 2019

Time for the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

But first: Happy birthday, Elvis Presley! (He would have been 85 today.)

So now, think back to 2019. Think of all the pop culture that caught your attention. Think of movies, music, TV shows, social media, sports, video games, news, politics, products, and so forth.

Which of these things had an influence on U.S. baby names last year, do you think? Which baby names will see higher usage (or appear for the very first time) in the 2019 data thanks to 2019 pop culture?

Here are some names to start with:

  • Adeya – from celebrity baby Adeya (born in March to Kehlani)
  • Alita – from the movie Alita: Battle Angel
  • Archie – from royal baby Archie (born in May to Harry & Meghan)
  • Billie – from singer Billie Eilish
  • Brixton – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
  • Deckard – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
  • Dorian – from hurricane Dorian
  • Eilish – also from singer Billie Eilish
  • Gloria – from the St. Louis Blues anthem “Gloria
  • Greedy – from NFL player Andraez Montrell “Greedy” Williams
  • Greta – from environmental activist Greta Thunberg
  • Lizzo – from rapper/singer Lizzo (originally a Melissa)
  • Luce – from the movie Luce
  • Maleficent – from the movie Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • Nipsey – from the late rapper Nipsey Hussle
  • Post – from rapper Post Malone
  • Psalm – from celebrity baby Psalm (born in May to Kim & Kanye)
  • Saybie – from newsworthy baby Saybie
  • Shaed – from the band Shaed (“Trampoline”)
  • Sulwe – from the book Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
  • Wick – from the movie John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

A few names from the 2018 game (Kamala? Kelleth? Sanni? Marsai?) might still be applicable as well.

What other names should we add to the list? Let me know by commenting below. Please don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence!

I’ll be posting the game results in May of 2020, a few days after the SSA releases the 2019 baby name data. If you don’t want to miss the results post, just subscribe to NBN!