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 #109: Golan, O-Lan, Cale

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Happy fourth of July! Here’s the latest batch of name quotes…

From one of Abby’s recent Sunday Summary posts:

I remember watching the first Iron Man movie in the theater way back in 2008, and I’ve seen — and enjoyed — every movie since.

In the beginning, the Avengers were mostly men, mostly white. Heroes, of course. But they were from a familiar mold. Steve and Tony and Bruce.

But it didn’t stay that way. And I’ve [been] thrilled to see heroes slowly shift to look like the whole, wide world – and beyond. T’Challa. Wanda Maximoff. Valkyrie.

And now Kamala Khan. Soon Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, will debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

From an article about brothers Cale and Taylor Makar, both of whom play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche:

Cale was named after Cale Hulse, who played for the Calgary Flames when [their father] Gary was doing some business with the team. Taylor is named after Colonel George Taylor of the Planet of the Apes movies, a take charge guy, portrayed by Charlton Heston, who was thrust into a leadership role. (Just for the record, Heston’s politics and ardent support of the National Rifle Association are not shared by the Makar family. “Oh my god, that’s the opposite of us,” Gary said.)

[Another source clarifies that Cale’s first name is short for Caleb. Cale noted in this interview [vid] that he was nearly named “Kurt Russell Makar, after the actor. […] I dodged a bullet there, I think.”]

From a 2015 interview with James Taylor at Stereogum:

Stereogum: Speaking of another powerful woman, Taylor Swift is probably the biggest pop star in the world right now, and she’s named after you! How do you feel about being connected to her in that way?

Taylor: It’s hugely flattering and was a delightful surprise when she told me that. We did a benefit together, I think it was focused on teenage pregnancy, before Taylor really took off. But she was playing guitar and singing her songs and I knew how remarkable she was. She told me that her mom and dad had been really, deeply into my music and I got a real kick out of the fact that she’d been named after me. Obviously it wasn’t her choice, it was her mom and dad, but nonetheless a great connection I think.

From a recent article about how to choose a Chinese name in the Guardian:

Don’t name yourself after a celebrity

In China, it is considered extraordinarily immodest to name a child after a famous person, a taboo that has roots in imperial laws that forbade citizens from having the same name as the emperor.

From a 2001 article about actress O-Lan Jones in the Los Angeles Times:

Jones’ mother, Scarlett Dark, named her after the character O-lan in Pearl S. Buck’s 1931 novel, “The Good Earth.” The “O” part, Jones said, means “profound,” and the “lan” means “wildflower.” Her mother, ever an original, chose to celebrate the wildflower part with a capital L.

Two from a recent opinion piece, “Every Jewish name tells a Jewish story,” in the Jerusalem Post:

[I]n Judaism after a near-death experience, it is traditional to add a name and change a name. The name Haim, which means “life” is often added, as is the name Alter, a blessing for “long days.” It is a Jewish insurance policy for an improved future for the name bearer.

…and:

After the 1967 Six Day War, Israelis created names that were lovely and filled with hope. Tal, Elizur, Sharona were born. And names of cities and towns became first names – Sinai, Golan, Eilat are a few. The ’67 war was a watershed for hope in Israel and it was reflected in these new names.

From the article “Amazon Killed the Name Alexa” by Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic:

“We don’t usually think about the individuals who are already born when this happens, but the impact on their lives is real as well,” Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, told me. Sharing a name with a robot can be tiresome. “‘OMG, Siri like the iPhone,’ should be engraved on my tombstone,” complained Siri Bulusu, a journalist, in a 2016 piece about her name. And name overlaps have led to sitcom-style misunderstandings, like when, as The Wall Street Journal reported, one dad asked his daughter Alexa for some water, and their robot Alexa responded by offering to order a case of Fiji water for $27.

Inconspicuous anagram baby names: Blake/Kaleb, Hale/Leah

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I recently updated my old anagram baby names post to make it much more comprehensive. As I worked on it, though, I noticed that many of those sets of names had obvious similarities, such as the same first letters and/or the same rhythm.

So I thought I’d make a second, shorter list of anagram names that were less conspicuously similar. Specifically, I wanted the second list to feature sets of names with different first letters and different numbers of syllables.

And that’s what you’ll find below — pairs of anagram names that are relatively distinct from one another. So much so that, at first glance (or listen), some might not even strike you as being anagrammatic at all. :)

Click on any name to check out its popularity graph…

Most of the names above have a clear number of syllables, but a few do not. (I categorized them according to my own interpretation/accent.) So, if you’re interested in using any of these pairings, just remember to test the names out loud first!

Which of the pairs above do you like best?

Pop culture baby name game results, 2020

Which of the names in the 2020 pop culture baby name game saw higher usage last year?

The following names increased in usage from 2019 to 2020. They’re ordered by relative size of increase.

NameActionIncrease’19 to ’20 usageSugg. by
Dalettdebuted2,250%, at least? to 94 baby girlsalex
Ehlaniincreased2,100%5 to 110 baby girlsalex
Alessiincreased418%11 to 57 baby girlsLeah
Gianninaincreased400%5 to 25 baby girlsalex
Breonnaincreased211%9 to 28 baby girls
Kobeincreased199%502 to 1,500 baby boys
Aalamre-emerged175%, at least? to 11 baby boys
Raddixdebuted150%, at least? to 10 baby boys
Azulaincreased142%26 to 63 baby girls
Avaniincreased133%101 to 235 baby girlsalex
Giannaincreased129%3,412 to 7,826 baby girls
Ahmaudincreased100%12 to 24 baby boys
Catoriincreased85%13 to 24 baby girlsalex
Doveincreased70%30 to 51 baby girlsKM & Leah
Rueincreased68%41 to 69 baby girls
Zaiaincreased60%35 to 56 baby girlsalex
Mykaincreased57%53 to 83 baby girlsalex
Kataraincreased54%41 to 63 baby girls
Chadwickincreased50%20 to 30
Rellre-emerged50%, at least? to 6 baby girlsLeah
Zukoincreased47%15 to 22 baby boys
Bryantincreased46%271 to 395 baby boys
Tenilleincreased40%5 to 7 baby girlsEmily A
Nayaincreased39%256 to 356 baby girlsalex
Kamalaincreased38%13 to 18 baby girls
Onyxincreased38%321 to 442 baby boys
Steelincreased31%35 to 46 baby boysalex
Joseyincreased31%16 to 21 baby boysalex
Duaincreased29%72 to 93 baby girls
Radleyincreased28%53 to 68 baby boysalex
Charliincreased24%594 to 735 baby girls
Lyraincreased24%431 to 534 baby girls
Kamiyahincreased23%333 to 409 baby girls
Sovereignincreased23%13 to 16 baby girlsalex
Shaiincreased22%98 to 120 baby boysLeah
Yaraincreased21%362 to 439 baby girls
Dorotheaincreased21%47 to 57 baby girlsRandi & KM
Bettyincreased20%161 to 194 baby girlsRandi
Riverincreased17%2,361 to 2,771 baby boys
Estyincreased16%58 to 67 baby girls
Sakaiincreased14%21 to 24 baby boysalex
Creedincreased12%257 to 288 baby boysalex & Leah
Lovellaincreased11%18 to 20 baby girls
Huxleyincreased10%469 to 518 baby boysalex
Daisyincreased9%1,729 to 1,877 baby girls
Isaiasincreased8%580 to 625 baby boys
Adonisincreased8%1,539 to 1,663 baby boysalex
Amalaincreased5%20 to 21 baby girls
Ivyincreased3%3,675 to 3,794 baby girlsRandi
Zealandincreased3%30 to 31 baby boysalex
Milanincreased3%
13%
662 to 683 baby boys
397 to 449 baby girls
alex
Marjorieincreased2%203 to 208 baby girlsRandi
Augustincreased1%2,376 to 2,403 baby boysEmily A

The following names did not increase in usage from 2019 to 2020. These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.

Ammika, Anaia, Casme, Corona, Crozier, Desz, Divinity, Doja, Domhnall, Estee, George, Gervonta, Giveon, Greta, Hamilton, Ice, Jack, James, Kaori, King, Kraken, Larriah, Laura, Lenin, Liberty, Lynika, McGivney, Nakova, Neowise, Raditz, Rayshard, Robinette, Rona, Rumble, Ruth, Saphir, Slash, Tacoda, Tchalla, Theodosia, Tianwen, Wednesday, Wenliang, Willa, Willow, Win, Zaya

And here are the late bloomers — names that were part of the 2019 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2020.

  • Donna increased by 20%.
  • Nipsey debuted with 7 baby boys.
  • Luce returned to the data with 7 baby girls.
  • Maleficent returned to the data with 5 baby girls.
  • Miren returned to the data with 5 baby girls.

Finally, regarding our theories about how Covid might have affected 2020’s names…I didn’t notice anything definitive. For instance, both Gheba and Skizzo mentioned “prestige” names (e.g., King, Legend, Major, Messiah and Royal). What I found was that some went up, some went down. Same with the modern virtue names (e.g., Courage, Honor, Brave, Bravery, Freedom).

What are your thoughts on these results? Which name surprised you the most?

[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 all cases, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]

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.”)

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.)

Regardless, Kamala Harris’s visibility over the last few years seems to have had a slight influence on the name:

  • 2020: 18 baby girls named Kamala
  • 2019: 13 baby girls named Kamala
  • 2018: 10 baby girls named Kamala
  • 2017: 10 baby girls named Kamala
  • 2016: 10 baby girls named Kamala

What are your thoughts on the name Kamala?

Sources: