How popular is the baby name Kamilah 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 Kamilah.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kamilah


Posts that Mention the Name Kamilah

African Names in the Newspapers

In 1971, a list of African names published in Jet magazine had an impact on U.S. baby names.

In 1977, a list of African names published in Ebony magazine had a similar impact on U.S. baby names.

And in between, in 1973, a list of African names was published in an interesting place: U.S. newspapers nationwide. That is, not in a magazine written for an African-American audience specifically.

African names, newspaper article, 1973, baby names
African names in U.S. newspapers, Aug. 1973

So…did this newspaper-based list have an impact as well?

Yes, turns out it had roughly the same impact as the other two lists.

The opening line of the article was: “Here’s help for young black couples wanting to give their infants African names.” Toward the end, the article featured a list of 23 names. Most of these names ended up seeing movement in the data, including 10 (!) debuts.

  1. Abeni – debuted in 1974
  2. Avodele – never in the data
  3. Dalila – increased in usage ’73
  4. Fatima – increased in usage ’73/’74
  5. Habibah – debuted in 1974
  6. Halima – increased in usage ’74
  7. Hasina – debuted in 1974
  8. Kamilah – increased in usage ’73/’74
  9. Salama – debuted in 1974
  10. Shani – increased in usage ’74
  11. Yaminah – debuted in 1973
  12. Zahra – debuted in 1973
  13. Abdu – debuted in 1973
  14. Ali – no movement in the data
  15. Bakari – debuted in 1973
  16. Hasani – debuted in 1973
  17. Jabari – increased in usage ’73/’74
  18. Jelani – debuted in 1973
  19. Muhammad – no movement in the data
  20. Rudo – never in the data
  21. Sadiki – not in data yet
  22. Zikomo – not in data yet
  23. Zuberi – not in data yet

The article cited as its source The Book of African Names (1970) by Chief Osuntoki. As it turns out, though, the Chief wasn’t a real person. He was a fictional character invented by the publisher, Drum and Spear Press. Here’s a quote from the book’s introduction, purportedly written by the Chief:

It is strange, indeed, it hurts my heart, that brothers from afar often come to greet me bearing such names as “Willie”, “Juan” and “François”. But we can not be hard against them, for they have been misled.

Of the 23 names listed above, the one that debuted most impressively was Jelani. In fact, Jelani ended up tied for 43rd on the list of the top boy-name debuts of all time.

  • 1976: 55 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1975: 46 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Jelani [debut as a girl name]
  • 1974: 53 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1973: 36 baby boys named Jelani [overall debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Which of those 23 names do you like best?

Sources:

  • “African chief explains symbolism of names.” San Bernardino County Sun 15 Aug. 1973: B-4.
  • Markle, Seth M. A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power, and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2017.

Name Quotes #73: Kamilah, Alexa, Bob

Actress Jameela Jamil called "Kamilah Al-Jamil"
Actress Jameela Jamil labeled “Kamilah Al-Jamil” by E! News

The red carpet prank pulled on actress Jameela Jamil at the Golden Globes back in January:

Jameela Jamil’s name was spelled wrong on E! News during the red carpet show before the 76th annual Golden Globes.

In place of The Good Place star’s name, the network referenced a plot point from the show — that Jamil’s character, Tahani, is always outshined by her sister, Kamilah Al-Jamil.

Jamil herself was more than a good sport about the misnaming at the Globes. “This is legit the funniest thing I have ever seen,” the actress tweeted. “Tahani would DIE!”

From a New York Times article about parents allowing children to choose their own names:

Tiffany Towers, a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Beverly Hills, said she understands why parents may be agreeable to allowing their children to choose or change their names so readily.

It can be either an attempt to empower their children or to avoid the pressure of assigning a name to their offspring, Dr. Towers said. Perhaps the parents don’t want to feel responsible for their child being bullied for having a weird or old-fashioned name. Or maybe they believe that their child’s future will be shaped by this initial identity of a name (a name that the child didn’t request), and they fear that their child will resent them or feel oppressed by their name.

From an article that asks, “Where did all the Bobs in baseball go?

By the turn of the century, the Bob-to-Rob transition had been essentially complete. No Major Leaguer has gone by Bob since journeyman reliever Bob Howry retired in 2010. There are dozens of Robs, Robbys and Bobbys currently in the Minors working their way up the ladder, but no Bobs to be found.

Should social media influence your choice in baby names?

[E]xperts say consulting social media when naming your child — be it asking others about a name on Facebook, or using social media handles to inform a name — can be smart. “With the goal of not having your child get lost in the social shuffle and losing opportunities, it may be best to take a proactive social branding strategy or ‘self insurance’ from the very start of their life,” says Robb Hecht, an adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College in New York City.

[…]

Others disagree: Lots of people have a social media handle that’s different from their name, so that shouldn’t be a factor in naming your child, says Kim Randall, the owner of KiMedia Strategies. Adds Kent Lewis, the president and founder of marketing firm Anvil: “A [social media] handle can be changed or modified over time, and typically isn’t as important as the content and visibility of the profile.”

From an article that attempts to calculate the ROI of Starbucks baristas spelling your name wrong:

How much free advertising has Starbucks got from the incorrect (and correct) spelling of their baristas? […] If we are to accept that people sharing images (especially with a brand name or @ mention) is the most valuable form of “free advertising” for Starbucks on social, the whole name spelling trend is working harder than the general conversation to generate it. […] If this is all a scheme by Starbucks to get free advertising on social media, it’s a very good one indeed.

A sentence from “A tale of two Trump sisters” (Ivanka and Tiffany) in the Telegraph:

One had her own jewellery line, the other was named after a jewellery brand.

From an article about the Cook Islands, which is considering a name change “to reflect its Polynesian heritage”:

The nation was named after British explorer James Cook who landed on the islands in the 1700s.

A committee is considering 60 options in Cook Islands Maori including Rangiaroa, meaning Love from the Heavens and Raroatua which translates as We Stand Under God.

Finally, two more quotes about people named Alexa. (The first was in Name Quotes 53.) One is about a woman in Saskatchewan named Alexa:

“(It’s) kind of weird sometimes when people come right up to me and say ‘Alexa, what’s the best restaurant in …’ or ‘Alexa, how do I get to …’ and they’re joking of course, but initially you’re kind of taken aback a bit that people are using it in that way,” [Alexa] Gorenko said.

[…]

As for Gorenko, she said the newfound prominence of her name has actually helped her embrace it.

“It kind of brought the name out to me, because there aren’t very many people named Alexa and now you hear it all the time,” she said.

The other is about a Maryland couple whose toddler is named Alexa:

The couple is so concerned that they wrote to Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, and proposed a different name to the popular device. Lew Klein said they did hear back.

Amazon explained to them that the product was named after the famous Library of Alexandria that “stored the knowledge of the ancient world.” While the message said the suggestion would be passed along, Amazon has no plans on changing the name anytime soon.

(This reminds me of the time when people named Zoe in France got angry about the name of the Renault Zoe.)

A Selection of “Names From Africa”

Names from Africa

A few months back, commenter Becca mentioned the book Names From Africa (1972) by Ogonna Chuks-orji. This was one of the first baby name books in the U.S. to focus on African names exclusively.

I haven’t yet read it in full, but Ebony ran an article in 1977 about African-American naming traditions (a few months after Roots first aired) and included a selection of names from the book.

I’ve included the names below, but first here’s a snippet of the article:

Then came the ’60s and ’70s and the rejection of assimilation efforts. Cultural nationalism and separatism replaced integration and Afro-Americans changed their names to reflect their new consciousness. The name of people of African descent as a whole was changed from Negro or colored to Black or Afro-American to reflect an aggressive pride in the African heritage, and an affirmation of the validity of self-defined identity. Africa became a source of names. Very Anglo-Saxon or exotic European names were changed to African names–usually Swahili names with meanings pertinent to the struggle. African leaders, past and present, like Shaka, Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure, began to provide the heroic, strong, inspirational names. The eclectic choice of African names reflects the Pan-Africanist orientation of the Afro-American identity.

Here are all the girl names:

Female African Names, from Ebony Magazine, 1977

According to the SSA data, some of the these girl names saw higher usage as baby names thanks to the article:

The names Habibah, Ifetayo, Masani, and Ramla saw no significant movement in the data. The names Abayomi and Ode have only appeared in the data only as a boy names (…though Abayomi did see peak usage in ’77). The other names (Akwokwo, Bayo, Chucki, Dada, Folayan, Hembadoon, Ifama, Ige, Kambo, Mawusi, Oseye, Pasua, Quibilah, Serwa and Sigolwide) have never been in the data at all, as of this writing.

And here are all the boy names:

Male African Names, from Ebony Magazine, 1977

And here are the boy names that saw higher usage as baby names thanks to the article:

  • Abdalla – increased usage in ’77
  • Abubakar – debuted in 1977
  • Hasani – peak usage in ’77
  • Hashim – increased usage in ’77
  • Idi – one-hit wonder in 1977 (and the name of infamous Ugandan president Idi Amin)
  • Kamau – increased usage in ’77
  • Kefentse – one-hit wonder in 1977
  • Khalfani – increased usage in ’77
  • Kontar – one-hit wonder in 1977
  • Kwasi – peak usage in ’77
  • Lateef – peak usage in ’77
  • Makalani – one-hit wonder in 1977 (Makalani also happens to mean “heavenly eyes” or “eyes of heaven” in Hawaiian)
  • Mensah – debuted in 1977
  • Nuru – debuted in 1977

The names Ade, Ahmed, Azikiwe, Bobo, Habib, Jabulani, Lukman, Nizam, N’Namdi, N’Nanna, and Oba saw no significant movement in the data.

The other names (Bwerani, Chionesu, Chiumbo, Dingane, Dunsimi, Fudail, Gamba, Gogo, Gowon, Gwandoya, Kamuzu, Lumo, Machupa*, Mbwana, Mongo, Mosegi, Mwamba and Nangwaya) have never been in the data at all.

*I was very curious about the definition of Machupa, “likes to drink.” Turns out it’s not alcohol-related; another book on African names specifies that the root of Machupa is probably chupa, a Kiswahili word meaning “bottle.”

Sources:

  • Stewart, Julia. African Names: Names from the African Continent for Children and Adults. New York: Citadel Press, 1993.
  • Walker, Sheila S. “What’s in a Name?Ebony Jun. 1977: 74+.

One-hit wonder baby names (in the top 1,000)

Not one-hit wonder pop songs, but one-hit wonder baby names!

Many baby names have only managed to rank among the most popular in the U.S. a single time.

Here are all the one-hit wonders of the top 1,000 so far (1880-2005), grouped by decade. If I’ve written an explanatory post about the name, I’ve added a link to the post.

(Please note that the rankings from earliest decades are based on data that isn’t very reliable. So, most of those names didn’t make the top 1,000 for any particular reason — they’re mostly just statistical anomalies.)

Girl NamesBoy Names
1880-1889:
Adina, Almyra, Chanie, Chrissie, Clemie, Cordella, Dayse, Delina, Delle, Elmire, Elzada, Estie, Fronnie, Lovisa, Lucina, Manerva, Manervia, Minervia, Neppie, Nolie, Orilla, Rillie, Sybilla, Tella, Thursa, Achsah, Ala, Alabama, Amey, Chestina, Chloie, Crissie, Daisye, Dema, Dollye, Eithel, Mila, Senora, Siddie, Sylvania, Tiney, Zilpah, Affie, Arah, Artelia, Birdella, Cathern, Cilla, Elizbeth, Fannye, Francina, Genevra, Iza, Jerusha, Loda, Lucetta, Lucindy, Luda, Mahalie, Modena, Nanna, Nelie, Olena, Sinda, Vicy, Almina, Argie, Beatrix, Cappie, Caro, Cloe, Deetta, Dorathea, Ermine, Felicie, Icey, Junia, Lovey, Marianita, Mattye, Pearla, Simona, Alzina, Annice, Georganna, Leala, Lurana, Milly, Nealy, Olivine, Oney, Savilla, Sussie, Theodocia, Violetta, Aurilla, Dosia, Emmy, Essa, Ica, Ilma, Lolla, Medora, Octa, Alwilda, Angele, Betha, Clytie, Ermina, Hilah, Louisiana, Metha, Oline, Pricilla, Alwine, Anice, Clemma, Eppie, Gustie, Octavie, Orelia Francies, Margretta, Orra, Pairlee, Pallie, Chessie, Erla, Herma, Lulah, Noemie
1880-1889:
Agustus, Baldwin, Candido, Ceylon, Clemente, Firman, Friend, Hays, Hence, Hunt, Isam, Jabez, Obed, Rafe, Redden, Salomon, Sannie, Tilden, Ambers, Cas, Casimiro, Dixon, Elonzo, Emry, Erving, Esequiel, Manly, Marius, Marrion, Mercer, Obe, Philo, Primus, Prosper, Pryor, Roll, Wiliam, Wing, York, Alanzo, Alby, Alcee, Auguste, Caswell, Clabe, Ell, Greene, Hansford, Lone, Marsh, Pearley, Wenzel, Blanchard, Bose, Charle, Emett, Grove, Hanson, Jep, Jeptha, Linzy, Lute, Milas, Thurlow, Blain, Bowman, Bunk, Donaciano, Ebenezer, Ignatz, Odin, Oley, Osborn, Shep, Vollie, Drury, Elon, Fielding, Fleet, Fount, Lark, Lim, Nim, North, Orvis, Reason, Virge, Worley, Zenas, Acey, Algernon, Amasa, Amil, Calhoun, Colbert, Elby, Fuller, Ham, Lilburn, Lovett, Pratt, Ruffin, Bliss, Dorr, Ethelbert, Gilford, Gilman, Graves, Hillery, Shepherd, Benjman, Celestino, Hart, Hilmer, Le, Liston, Lott, Nils, Vere, Abie, Alver, Anatole, Boone, Branch, Bush, Claiborne, Edw, Fed, Governor, Hjalmar, Levin, Redmond
1890-1899:
Ethie, Fleeta, Jessye, Jetta, Sibbie, Idabelle, Lulla, Olar, Sylva, Versa, Allena, Cannie, Cliffie, Clotilda, Elmyra, Josefita, Lurena, Elfreda, Adel, Alleen, Trilby, Zela, Zeta, Manilla, Vara, Irva
1890-1899:
Almus, Conard, Guilford, Neely, Polk, Rance, Red, Algot, Alphons, Barnard, Burk, Berkley, Iverson, Job, Powell, Vick, Burleigh, Con, Ebert, Murdock, Nolen, Willaim, Aubra, Avon, Bolden, Link, Thorwald, Alston, Audy, Donat, Emmons, Erby, Esley, Hebert, Hezzie, Hughey, Oddie, Vinton, Zed, Alwin, Evander, Gaither, Grafton, Guthrie, Ovila, Acy, Aloys, Arthor, Boysie, Cam, Hale, Lisle, Offie, Silver, Virgel, Willy, Dabney, Adams, Arba, Collie, Ewart, Gladstone, Schley, Shafter, Baker, Bynum, Colvin, Elizah, Griffith
1900-1909:
Luvinia, Dagny, Ethyle, Augustina, Girtha, Edris, Vernia, Beadie, Ilda, Neola, Orma, Vela, Clydie, Rosabelle, Theta, Arnetta, Clementina, Launa, Azalee, Macel
1900-1909:
Goebel, Tallie, Ancil, Buren, Erland, Esco, Mathews, Pate, Doll, Ivor, Victoriano, Beckham, Lenon, Ozzie, Teddie, Arbie, Council, Duard, Harm, Severo, Tobie, Fredie, Graydon, Jiles, Benard, Harrold, Delmus, Delphin, Gilmer, Ogden, Oland, Samie, Esker, Levie, Robley, Othel
1910-1919:
Arietta, Loree, Blanchie, Felice, Maebell, Orene, Cleone, Lahoma, Rosaria, Idamae, Lavelle, Michelina, Victory, Haruko
1910-1919:
Amerigo, Gennaro, Hymen, Melbourne, Geno, Gilmore, Saverio, Arvo, Berlin, Gerhardt, Hughes, Tatsuo, Orvin, Foch, Laddie, Metro, Therman
1920-1929:
Arlyne, Venice, Vernelle, Enriqueta, Lorrayne, Ailene, Illa, Kazuko, Felicitas, Joline, Sydell
1920-1929:
Harden, Shoji, Fidencio
1930-1939:
Charlsie, Belia, Thomasina, Monna, Nira, Marcelina, Darlyne, Shirleyann, Vernetta, Larae, Jonell, Noreta, Noretta, Shelvie, Helaine, Dotty, Karel
1930-1939:
Derl, Darl, Orlin, Marland, Darwyn, Delwin, Harlon, Ronal
1940-1949:
Phyliss, Jerrilyn, Carlyn, Rozanne, Michaele, Lyndia, Regena, Shirleen
1940-1949:
Wendel, Wilkie, Eusebio, Lucky, Cornel
1950-1959:
Rhona, Sharleen, Debera, Ellyn, Jacqulyn, Pandora, Doretta, Denese, Valinda, Debroah, Jeryl, Melodee, Sheilah, Sheryll, Gaylene, Kathey, Nilda, Lanita, Perri, Tambra, Tari
1950-1959:
Danniel, Deryl, Erasmo, Mikeal, Kennard, Rahn, Ricci, Kem
1960-1969:
Jeanmarie, Daneen, Denine, Djuana, Djuna, Caprice, Denita, Inger, Sonji, Sunday, Tatia, Wende, Melissia, Cinnamon
1960-1969:
Dwyane, Tal, Destry, Anthoney, Jemal
1970-1979:
Dyan, Tisa, Treena, Camisha, Keena, Brande, Tamisha, Pepper, Chaka, Shandra, Torie, Corie, Kamilah, Shawnna, Shawnte, Ariane, Kindra, Somer, Sharee
1970-1979:
Abelardo, Diallo, Jabbar, Mauro, Toma, Kareen, Dimitrios, Hakim, Jerimy, Torry, Amin, Demetric, Kinte, Kunta, Shalon, Hasan
1980-1989:
Renada, Tai, Evita, Joi, Latoyia, Martine, Nereida, Tashina, Cristen, Jenilee, Tenika, Dwan, Grisel, Shenna, Teela, Shira, Violeta, Britta, Cherrelle, Kyrie, Sable, Shardae, Sharde, Sharday, Shatara, Diandra, Grecia, Jalissa, Taja, Alexandr, Audriana, Audrianna, Brittnay, Christin, Elizabet, Katherin, Stephani
1980-1989:
Horacio, Adalberto, Marchello, Hung, Huy, Trumaine, Tavaris, Cordaro, Joseluis, Brantley, Geraldo, Christop, Alexande
1990-1999:
Alannah, Kanesha, Ieshia, Miesha, Miriah, Shaquana, Tiesha, Brianda, Shaniece, Shawnee, Coraima, Crysta, Deyanira, Jasmyne, Kalene, Kaylene, Shannen, Adilene, Clarisa, Meranda, Nohely, Iridian, Keanna, Daijah, Jaycie, Yamilex, Baylie, Julisa, Micayla, Yulisa, Yulissa, Shae, Kyara, Tatyanna
1990-1999:
Mykel, Dijon, Keifer, Colter, Davonta, Devaughn, Khari, Shyheim, Tyrin, Damarcus, Dustyn, Rashaan, Keion, Raquan, Coleton, Jajuan, Keandre, Kenan, Christion, Jacquez, Jelani, Miguelangel, Tavian, Tyrik, Arman, Tyreese, Tyreke
2000-2005:
Dariana, Maiya, Neha, Yamilet, Beyonce, Dafne, Keila, Mikaila, Nallely, Nayely, Taina, Kiya, Rianna, Arly, Karyme,
Gwyneth, Heidy, Treasure, Anneliese, Arleth, Jolette, Mikalah, Montserrat
2000-2005:
Dayne, Daunte, Jaheem, Jaquez, Lisandro, Luc, Osbaldo, Yousef, Ajay, Jahir, Mordechai, Andon, Jayvon, Koda, Trenten, Adin, Damari, Makhi

P.S. Here’s a list of the top 1,000’s two-hit wonder names.