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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kunta

Number of Babies Named Kunta

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Kunta

Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2016

pop culture baby name game, 2016

It’s December 2 — the doubly momentous day on which Britney Spears celebrates her birthday and on which we start another round of the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game.

Which baby names will see significant movement on the charts in 2016 thanks to popular culture (TV, movies, music, sports, politics, products, current events, video games, etc.)? Below are some possibilities. Leave a comment with the names you’d add — and don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.

  • Addison – Chicago Cubs winning season
  • Adonis – movie Creed (suggested by Becca)
  • Ali – death of Muhammad Ali
  • Aroldis – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
  • Auli’i – movie Moana
  • Bernie – presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (suggested by elbowin)
  • Bison – new national mammal & Dakota Access pipeline protests
  • Boomer – son of Michael Phelps
  • Bowie – musician David Bowie
  • Canaan – son of Oprah Winfrey
  • Clark – Chicago Cubs winning season
  • Cohen – death of Leonard Cohen
  • Creed – movie Creed (suggested by Julie and Becca)
  • Cub – Chicago Cubs winning season
  • Cubby – Chicago Cubs winning season
  • Cyrus – TV miniseries Roots
  • Dexter – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
  • Doris – movie Hello, My Name Is Doris
  • Emayatzy – TV miniseries Roots
  • E’myri – TV miniseries Roots
  • Esperanto – number of speakers (suggested by elbowin)
  • Greyson – son of JWoww
  • Hamilton – musical Hamilton
  • Harriet – Harriet Tubman, chosen to appear on $20 bill
  • Hillary – presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
  • Ingwen – Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan (suggested by elbowin)
  • Ivanka – daughter of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
  • Jikan – death of Leonard Cohen (suggested by elbowin)
  • Jonbenet – anniversary of the death of JonBenet Ramsey
  • Juno – NASA space probe
  • Jupiter – NASA space probe
  • Lorca – death of Leonard Cohen (suggested by elbowin)
  • Luna – daughter of John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
  • Keanu – Key & Peele movie Keanu
  • Kizzy – TV miniseries Roots
  • Kunta – TV miniseries Roots
  • Lyanna – TV show Game of Thrones
  • Malachi – TV miniseries Roots
  • Melania – wife of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
  • Maui – movie Moana
  • Moana – movie Moana
  • Monica – Puerto Rican Olympian Monica Puig (I’m curious about the rankings in Puerto Rico specifically; Monica fell out of the top 100 in PR after 2002.)
  • Mountain – daughter of actress Jena Malone
  • Mowgli – movie The Jungle Book
  • Muhammad – death of Muhammad Ali
  • Murray – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series
  • Ode – daughter of actress Jena Malone
  • Omran – Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh
  • Onyx – daughter of Alanis Morissette
  • Phiona – movie Queen of Katwe
  • Paisley – death of Prince
  • Prince – death of Prince (suggested by elbowin)
  • Queen – TV show Queen Sugar & movie Queen of Katwe
  • Regé-Jean – TV miniseries Roots
  • Rio – location of the 2016 Summer Olympics
  • Rykiel – death of Sonia Rykiel (suggested by elbowin)
  • Sanders – presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
  • Simone – gymnast Simone Biles & daughter of John Legend & Chrissy Teigen
  • Solace – daughter of Alanis Morissette
  • Sully – movie Sully
  • Teresa – canonization of Mother Teresa
  • Tiffany – daughter of president-elect Donald Trump (suggested by elbowin)
  • Trump – president-elect Donald Trump
  • Tulip – movie Storks
  • Valor – son of JWoww
  • Wilder – death of Gene Wilder (suggested by m4yb3_daijirou)
  • Wrigley – Chicago Cubs winning season
  • Zephyr – U.S. House of Rep. (NY) candidate Zephyr Teachout, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. (She was born in Washington state, where Zephyr is particularly popular.)
  • Zobrist – Chicago Cubs winning season/World Series

I’ll post the results next May, when the SSA releases the 2016 baby name data. If you don’t want to miss the results post, please subscribe!

Previous rounds of the Pop Culture Baby Name Game: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011: #1 & #2, 2010.


How Will the Remake of “Roots” Influence Baby Names?

"I am Kunta" ad, Roots, History Channel

The phenomenally popular mini-series Roots (1977) didn’t just set TV viewership records and win a slew of awards. It also had a big impact on U.S. baby names — the biggest impact of any pop culture event of the 20th century, in fact.

But I’ve already posted about the influence of Roots on baby names. So why am I bringing it up again?

Because it’s back! The History Channel will be airing a 4-part remake of Roots in a couple of weeks, starting on May 30.

Many of the ads I’ve seen so far happen to be name-focused, ironically. Several of the teaser clips on YouTube feature a voice saying, “Your name is your spirit. Your name is your shield. Your name is Kunta Kinte.”

I don’t expect the new version of Roots to have the same impact that the original did. But I’m sure it will raise the profile (and thereby increase the usage) of at least a few baby names — likely a mix of names we’re already familiar with (e.g., Kizzy, Kunta) and names that are new this time around, such as:

  • Malachi – the name of the actor who plays Kunta Kinte
  • Regé-Jean – the name of the actor who plays Chicken George
  • Emayatzy – the name of the actress who plays Belle
  • E’myri – the name of the actress who plays young Kizzy
  • Cyrus – the name of a (new?) character, played by hip-hop artist T.I.*

Which baby name do you think will get the biggest boost from the remake of Roots?

*The baby names Major, Messiah and King made big gains in 2012 thanks to T.I.’s reality show T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.

Biggest Baby Name Debuts of All Time: Boys, 10 to 1

biggest baby name debuts of all time, boy names, 10 to 1

The final installment of the top baby name debuts for boys!

10 to 1:

Unnamed, #10

Jahiem, #9

  • Jahiem debuted with 155 baby boys in 2001.
    Inspired by rapper Jaheim.

Khiry, #8

  • Khiry debuted with 159 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by singer Khiry Abdulsamad, a member of The Boys.

Shyheim, #7

  • Shyheim debuted with 168 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by rapper Shyheim.

Cordero, #6

  • Cordero debuted with 173 baby boys in 1986.
    Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”

Yurem, #5

  • Yurem debuted with 206 baby boys in 2007.
    Inspired by Yurem Rojas, winner of the reality TV show “Buscando a Timbiriche, La Nueva Banda.”

Kunta, #4

  • Kunta debuted with 215 baby boys in 1977.
    Inspired by Kunta Kinte, a character on the TV miniseries “Roots.”

Levar, #3

  • Levar debuted with 523 baby boys in 1977.
    Inspired by LeVar Burton, an actor in the TV miniseries “Roots.”

Nakia, #2

  • Nakia debuted with 611 baby boys in 1974.
    Inspired by Nakia Parker, a character on the TV movie/show “Nakia.”

Christop, #1

  • Christop debuted with 1,082 baby boys in 1989.
    Not inspired by anything — just part of the great baby name glitch of 1989.

And there it is! The top boy name debuts ever, so far. Did any of the names this week surprise you?

*The Top 50 Baby Name Debuts for Boys: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1*

Biggest Baby Name Debuts of All Time: Boys, 50 to 41

biggest baby name debuts of all time, boy names, 50 to 41

This week let’s finish checking out the top baby name debuts of all time.

I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular boy name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (I did the top girl name debuts a couple of weeks ago.) I didn’t break any ties, so this “top 50” list actually has 93 names.

I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, but I’m still stumped on a few of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

Here’s 50 to 41:

Cordaryl, Devaunte, Jeffren, Naksh, Sanjaya, Tige & Trysten, 7-way tie for #50

  • Cordaryl debuted with 28 baby boys in 1986.
    Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”
  • Devaunte debuted with 28 baby boys in 1992.
    Inspired by singer DeVante Swing, a member of Jodeci.
  • Jeffren debuted with 28 baby boys in 2010.
    Inspired by soccer player Jeffren Suarez.
  • Naksh debuted with 28 baby boys in 2012.
    Inspired by Naksh, a character on the Indian TV show “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai.”
  • Sanjaya debuted with 28 baby boys in 2007.
    Inspired by Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant on the TV singing competition “American Idol.”
  • Tige debuted with 28 baby boys in 1969.
    Inspired by Tige Andrews, an actor on the TV show “The Mod Squad.”
  • Trysten debuted with 28 baby boys in 1995.
    Inspired by Tristan Ludlow, a character in the movie Legends of the Fall.

Ajee, Baylee, Itzae & Kwamaine, 4-way tie for #49

  • Ajee debuted with 29 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by the Revlon perfume Ajee.
  • Baylee debuted with 29 baby boys in 1995.
    Inspired by baby Baylee Almon, victim of the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • Itzae debuted with 29 baby boys in 2011.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Kwamaine debuted with 29 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by rapper Kwame Holland.

Alize, Broderick, Diamante, Hoby, Jevante, Kwamane, Larenz & Savalas, 8-way tie for #48

  • Alize debuted with 30 baby boys in 1995.
    Inspired by the liqueur Alize.
  • Broderick debuted with 30 baby boys in 1950.
    Inspired by Broderick Crawford, an actor in the movie All the King’s Men.
  • Diamante debuted with 30 baby boys in 1991.
    Inspired by the Mitsubishi Diamante (car).
  • Hoby debuted with 30 baby boys in 1958.
    Inspired by Hoby Gilman, a character on the TV western “Trackdown.”
  • Jevante debuted with 30 baby boys in 1992.
    Inspired by DeVante Swing as well.
  • Kwamane debuted with 30 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by Kwame Holland as well.
  • Larenz debuted with 30 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by Larenz Tate, an actor in the movie Menace II Society.
  • Savalas debuted with 30 baby boys in 1974.
    Inspired by Telly Savalas, an actor on the TV show “Kojak.”

Cully, Omarian & Yul, 3-way tie for #47

  • Cully debuted with 31 baby boys in 1960.
    Inspired by Cully Wilson, a character on the TV show “Lassie.”
  • Omarian debuted with 31 baby boys in 2002.
    Inspired by singer Omarion.
  • Yul debuted with 31 baby boys in 1957.
    Inspired by Yul Brenner, an actor in the movie The Ten Commandments.

Cauy, Kesan, Khari, Kinta, Maverick, Roemello & Shaquel, 7-way tie for #46

  • Cauy debuted with 32 baby boys in 1999.
    Inspired by professional bull rider Cauy Hudson.
  • Kesan debuted with 32 baby boys in 2008.
    Inspired by Kesan, a contestant on the reality TV show “From G’s to Gents.”
  • Khari debuted with 32 baby boys in 1971.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Kinta debuted with 32 baby boys in 1977.
    Inspired by Kunta Kinte, a character on the TV miniseries “Roots.”
  • Maverick debuted with 32 baby boys in 1957.
    Inspired by Bret Maverick, a character on the TV western “Maverick.”
  • Roemello debuted with 32 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by Roemello Skuggs, a character in the movie Sugar Hill.
  • Shaquel debuted with 32 baby boys in 1993.
    Inspired by basketball player Shaquille O’Neal.

Tou, #45

  • Tou debuted with 33 baby boys in 1980.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Hmong immigration. (Thanks, Christina!)

Caelan, Caillou, Daren, Illya, Kiefer & Quamaine, 6-way tie for #44

  • Caelan debuted with 35 baby boys in 1992.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Caillou debuted with 35 baby boys in 2001.
    Inspired by Caillou, a character on the children’s TV show “Caillou.”
  • Daren debuted with 35 baby boys in 1922.
    Inspired by Daren Lane, a character in the Zane Grey book “The Day of the Beast.”
  • Illya debuted with 35 baby boys in 1965.
    Inspired by Illya Kuryakin, a character on the TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
  • Kiefer debuted with 35 baby boys in 1988.
    Inspired by Kiefer Sutherland, an actor in the movie Young Guns.
  • Quamaine debuted with 35 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by Kwame Holland as well.

Argenis, Corderro, Jelani, Kareen & Livan, 5-way tie for #43

  • Argenis debuted with 36 baby boys in 1981.
    I’m not sure what inspired it. Inspired by Argenis Carruyo, Venezuelan singer.
  • Corderro debuted with 36 baby boys in 1986.
    Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”
  • Jelani debuted with 36 baby boys in 1973.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Kareen debuted with 36 baby boys in 1972.
    Inspired by basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
  • Livan debuted with 36 baby boys in 1997.
    Inspired by baseball player Livan Hernandez.

Deyonta, Tahj & Zeandre, 3-way tie for #42

  • Deyonta debuted with 37 baby boys in 1993.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.
  • Tahj debuted with 37 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by singer Tajh Abdulsamad, a member of The Boys.
  • Zeandre debuted with 37 baby boys in 1997.
    I’m not sure what inspired it.

Hobson, #41

Do you have any ideas about where Zeandre, Deyonta, Jelani, Caelan, Tou, Khari, or Itzae might have come from?

If you want to make guesses about the names higher up on the list, these posts will help:

*The Top 50 Baby Name Debuts for Boys: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1*

Biggest Baby Name Debuts of the 1970s

More decade-by-decade debuts!

Here are the biggest debuts of the 1970s, a follow-up to the biggest debuts of the 1980s.

These are all of the “100+” debut names — names that went from being given to fewer than 5 babies per year to suddenly being given to more than 100 babies in one particular year.

  1. Kizzy: 1,115 baby girls in 1977
  2. Nakia: 611 baby boys in 1974
  3. Levar: 523 baby boys in 1977
  4. Kunta: 215 baby boys in 1977
  5. Ayanna: 194 baby girls in 1971
  6. Azure: 121 baby girls in 1975
  7. Turkessa: 119 baby girls in 1975
  8. Cotina: 109 baby girls in 1972
  9. Tennille: 103 baby girls in 1975

And, again, all came from pop culture:

  • Kizzy, Levar and Kunta were inspired by the TV miniseries Roots (1977).
  • Nakia was inspired by short-lived TV show Nakia (1974).
  • Ayanna was inspired by Ayanna, daughter of Dick Gregory.
  • Azure was inspired by Azure Dee, both a character and a song (sung by Telly Savalas himself) in an episode of Kojak.
  • Turkessa was inspired by Turkessa, daughter of Mary Wilson of the Supremes.
  • Cotina was inspired by soap opera Where the Heart Is.
  • Tennille was inspired by Captain & Tennille.

Nineties next!

Baby Names from Alex Haley’s “Roots”

In late 1976, Alex Haley’s novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family was published.

The book tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African man who is captured, brought to North America, and sold as a slave to a Virginia plantation owner.

In January of 1977, an 8-episode TV miniseries based on the novel aired in on ABC.

The televised version of Roots was wildly popular — 9 Emmy Awards, 1 Golden Globe, 1 Peabody, and some of the highest Nielsen ratings of all time.

More importantly, though, it had an unprecedented influence on baby names, inspiring thousands African-American parents to name their babies after Roots characters and actors. Below are some examples.

Kizzy and Kunta Kinte, Roots
Kizzy (Leslie Uggams) and Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) of Roots © Ebony

Levar & Kizzy

The top debut names of 1977 were Levar and Kizzy.

Levar comes from actor LeVar Burton, who played protagonist Kunta Kinte in the miniseries.

  • 1979: 175 baby boys named Levar [rank: 645th]
  • 1978: 254 baby boys named Levar [rank: 512th]
  • 1977: 523 baby boys named Levar [rank: 343rd] [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

The names Lavar, Levarr, Lavarr and Lavare also got a boost in 1977. (The last three were debuts.)

Kizzy comes from the character Kizzy, daughter of Kunta Kinte.

  • 1979: 269 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 648th]
  • 1978: 456 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 439th]
  • 1977: 1,115 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 223rd] [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

So far, Kizzy’s 1977 debut is the highest baby name debut ever.

The names Kizzie, Kizzi, Kizzey, Lakizzy and Kizi also got a boost in 1977. (The last four were debuts.)

Kunta & Kinte

Kunta not only debuted in 1977, but it popped into the top 1,000 for the first and only time that year as well.

  • 1979: 16 baby boys named Kunta
  • 1978: 52 baby boys named named Kunta
  • 1977: 215 baby boys named Kunta [rank: 572nd] [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

Kinte also reached the top 1,000 for the first and only time in 1977, after debuting the year before.

  • 1978: 38 baby boys named Kinte
  • 1977: 104 baby boys named Kinte [rank: 839th]
  • 1976: 5 baby boys named Kinte [debut]
  • 1975: not listed

Related 1977 debuts include Kuntakinte, Kinta, Quinte, and Kunte.

Fanta, Jitu, Kairaba, Lamin, Omoro & Yaisa

Here are some other Roots-related debuts I’ve noticed.

Fanta, the name of a woman captured and enslaved along with Kunta Kinte (in the miniseries, not in the book):

  • 1979: 31 baby girls named Fanta
  • 1978: 34 baby girls named Fanta
  • 1977: 66 baby girls named Fanta [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

Jitu, from Ji-Tu Cumbuka, the name of the actor who played a wrestler in the miniseries:

  • 1979: not listed
  • 1978: not listed
  • 1977: 7 baby boys named Jitu [debut & one-hit wonder]
  • 1976: not listed

Kairaba, the name of Kunta Kinte’s grandfather:

  • 1979: not listed
  • 1978: not listed
  • 1977: 8 baby boys named Kairaba [debut & one-hit wonder]
  • 1976: not listed

Lamin, the name of Kunta Kinte’s brother:

  • 1979: not listed
  • 1978: 7 baby boys named Lamin
  • 1977: 12 baby boys named Lamin [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

Omoro, the name of Kunta Kinte’s father:

  • 1979: 8 baby boys named Omoro
  • 1978: 11 baby boys named Omoro
  • 1977: 19 baby boys named Omoro [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

Yaisa, the name of Kunta Kinte’s grandmother:

  • 1979: 6 baby girls named Yaisa
  • 1978: 11 baby girls named Yaisa
  • 1977: 17 baby girls named Yaisa [debut]
  • 1976: not listed

Binta, Haley & Toby

Finally, two names that were given a boost by Roots, and one that was definitely not.

Binta, the name of Kunta Kinte’s mother:

  • 1979: 10 baby girls named Binta
  • 1978: 11 baby girls named Binta
  • 1977: 16 baby girls named Binta
  • 1976: not listed
  • 1975: 5 baby girls named Binta

Haley, from Alex Haley, the name of the author:

  • 1979: 512 baby girls named Haley [rank: 414th]
  • 1978: 516 baby girls named Haley [rank: 398th]
  • 1977: 462 baby girls named Haley [rank: 442nd]
  • 1976: 117 baby girls named Haley
  • 1975: 110 baby girls named Haley

Toby, the name given to Kunta Kinte by the plantation owner:

  • 1981: 458 baby boys named Toby [rank: 375th]
  • 1980: 648 baby boys named Toby [rank: 304th]
  • 1979: 666 baby boys named Toby [rank: 299th]
  • 1978: 884 baby boys named Toby [rank: 239th]
  • 1977: 1,060 baby boys named Toby [rank: 209th]
  • 1976: 1,095 baby boys named Toby [rank: 201st]

The usage of Toby declined quickly after Roots aired. Was it already on its way out? Was it pulled down by the slave-name association? Both? Hm…

Source: “Pride in ‘Roots’ Inspiring Blacks to Name Babies After Characters.” Morning Record and Journal 19 Mar. 1977: 14.
Image from Ebony, June 1977, page 76.

Turn Off Your TV When Brainstorming for Baby Names

One of my husband’s relatives has a teenage daughter named Amanda. A few months ago, she told us that Amanda’s name had been inspired by a Melrose Place character. She kind of shrugged as she admitted it, as if to say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

Her story reminded me of the time I interviewed two girls named Ashley. Both had been named for the same The Young and the Restless character, but neither was proud of that fact.

Television may be fun to watch, but it’s not a fantastic place to find a baby name. Here are two reasons why you might want to turn off your TV as you search for names:

Baby names from TV shows can be embarrassing.

A TV name will permanently link your child to a particular TV show. The show might be cool now, but it won’t be cool forever. (Especially if it’s something as brainless as Melrose Place or The Young and the Restless.)

A name from a show might date your child, the way names like Yulissa, Kunta, Destry, Clarissa, Gidget, Ciji and Ridge have dated other people’s children.

A TV name might inspire teasing. Even worse, it might lead other people to make erroneous assumptions about your child and/or your family. (That family must do nothing but watch TV all day! I wonder if any of them even have jobs…)

Baby names from TV shows can become trendy.

Many people watch what you watch. They hear the same names you hear. They form the same impressions of these names that you form. This is how trends begin.

If you don’t expose yourself to TV, you won’t be influenced by it. You won’t be as tempted to use a TV name as a baby name. This will help you avoid names that have the potential to become very trendy one day.

(But there’s also the flip side. You could always watch TV with the intention of picking out names that might become trendy. That could be just as helpful.)

Why else might TV be a bad thing for baby naming?