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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kwame

Number of Babies Named Kwame

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Kwame

A Selection of “Names From Africa”

Names from Africa

A few months back, commenter Becca mentioned the book Names From Africa (1972), which I believe was the first baby name book in the U.S. to focus on African names exclusively.

I have yet to see Ogonna Chuks-orji’s book 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

Some of the these girl names have appeared on the SSA’s baby name list:

  • Aba debuted in 1978.
  • Abayomi debuted as a male name in 1972 and peaked in 1977.
  • Abimbola debuted in 1973.
  • Akwete debuted in 1977. One-hit wonder.
  • Chinue debuted in 1977.
  • Efia debuted in 1975.
  • Habibah debuted in 1974.
  • Ifetayo debuted in 1969.
  • Jamila debuted in 1962 and peaked in 1977.
  • Kamilah debuted in 1970 and first peaked in 1977.
  • Layla debuted in 1950 and first peaked in 1977.
  • Masani debuted in 1999.
  • Naila debuted in 1953 and first peaked in 1977.
  • Ramla debuted in 1998.
  • Rashida debuted in 1964 and peaked in 1977.
  • Safiya debuted in 1973.
  • Sauda debuted in 1976.

Akwokwo, Bayo, Chuki, Dada, Folayan, Hembadoon, Ifama, Ige, Kambo, Mawusi, Ode, Oseye, Pasua, Quibilah, Serwa and Sigolwide have never been on the list (as girl names).

And here are all the boy names:

Male African Names, from Ebony Magazine, 1977

Some of the these boy names have appeared on the SSA’s list as well:

  • Abdalla debuted in 1973.
  • Abubakar debuted in 1977.
  • Ade debuted in 1919.
  • Ahmed debuted in 1929.
  • Azikiwe debuted in 1971.
  • Bobo debuted in 1935. One-hit wonder.
  • Habib debuted in 1972.
  • Hasani debuted in 1973 and peaked in 1977.
  • Hashim debuted in 1971 and peaked in 1977.
  • Idi debuted in 1977. One-hit wonder. (The name of infamous Ugandan president Idi Amin.)
  • Jabulani debuted in 1975.
  • Kamau debuted in 1971.
  • Kefentse debuted in 1977. One-hit wonder.
  • Khalfani debuted in 1975.
  • Kontar debuted in 1977. One-hit wonder.
  • Kwasi debuted in 1970 and peaked in 1977.
  • Lateef debuted in 1967 and peaked in 1977.
  • Lukman debuted in 2002.
  • Makalani debuted in 1977. One-hit wonder. (Makalani also happens to mean “heavenly eyes” or “eyes of heaven” in Hawaiian.)
  • Mensah debuted in 1977.
  • Nizam debuted in 1974. One-hit wonder.
  • N’Namdi debuted in 1976.
  • N’Nanna debuted in 1997.
  • Nuru debuted in 1977.
  • Oba debuted in 1915.

Bwerani, Chionesu, Chiumbo, Dingane, Dunsimi, Fudail, Gamba, Gogo, Gowon, Gwandoya, Kamuzu, Lumo, Machupa, Mbwana, Mongo, Mosegi, Mwamba and Nangwaya have never been on the list (as boy names).

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+.

Name Quotes for the Weekend #15

betty white quote, "I love Cadillacs and name them after birds."

From an interview with Betty White in Parade Magazine:

Ask White if she still drives and she replies, “Of course!” She owns a silver Cadillac nicknamed Seagull. “I love Cadillacs and name them after birds.” Her previous ride, the pale-yellow Canary, was preceded by the green Parakeet.

From an article about how political preferences influence baby name choices in the Washington Times:

“If innovative birth names first appear as expressions of cultural capital, then liberal elites are most likely to popularize them, especially given that liberals are typically more comfortable embracing novelty and differentiation,” the study said. “Sometime afterwards, the name will diminish as a prestige symbol as lower classes begin adopting more of these names themselves thus sending liberal elites in search of ever new and obscure markers.”

When elite liberal parents do search for novelty, the authors write, they are “less likely to make up a name rather than choose a pre-existing word that is culturally esoteric (e.g., ‘Namaste,’ ‘Finnegan,’ ‘Archimedes’), because fabricating a name would diminish its cultural cachet.”

After all, they note, “the value of cultural capital comes, not from its uniqueness, but from its very obscurity.”

From an article on Chinese names in the LA Times:

In China, unusual names are viewed as a sign of literary creativity, UCLA sociology professor Cameron Campbell said.

[…]

“Picking a rare character is kind of like a marker of learning,” Campbell said, while in the United States, one-of-a-kind names are sometimes viewed as odd.

From an article about keeping your baby’s name a secret in the StarPhoenix:

“With our first we did not keep the name a secret. We told everyone. Then at 36 weeks, my cousin got a puppy which she named the same name as I had picked for our baby. When I asked why she used the name she choose she said she had heard it somewhere and really liked it but couldn’t remember where. I was devastated. Baby ended up coming at 37 weeks and we had not yet picked a new name! After that we kept the names quiet until they were born.” – Nicole Storms

From an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates (b. 1975) at Bookslut:

Last month, on the blog he writes for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explained the origin of his first name:

[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn’t just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation.

Coates’s father was a former Black Panther who raised seven children by four mothers, while running an underground Afro-centric publishing house from his basement. When Bill Cosby complained about black parents naming their children “Shaniqua, Taniqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail,” he may very well have been thinking of Paul Coates.

From a blog post about choosing a baby name by Jodi of Jodilightful! (via Abby of Appellation Mountain):

But if we learned anything from the process of naming Niko and watching him become that name, it was this: we could have called him anything we wanted to, and it would have been fine.

From an essay by Craig Salters in the Hanover Mariner:

I was watching the Little League World Series the other day and the team from New Castle, Indiana has a great bunch of kids and much to be proud of.

But, unfortunately, that wasn’t what I noticed first about them. What I noticed was the first names of their lineup card: Mason, Janson, Cayden, Hunter, Niah, Bryce, Jarred, Blake, and Bryce (again).

So no John? No Jimmy, Bobby, Richard, or Chris? There’s nothing wrong with their names — like I said, their parents should be bursting with pride — but, as an apprentice old fogey, it’s hard to get used to.

[…]

I myself was named after Craig Breedlove, a daredevil who broke all sorts of land speed records in what was pretty much a rocket on wheels. I absolutely love my name and am proud of my namesake, but I always feel I’m letting Mr. Breedlove down when I putter along Route 3 at 55 miles per hour, content to listen to sports radio and let the world pass me by.

From a tweet by Sherman Alexie (via A Mitchell):

We gave our sons names they could easily find on souvenir cups, magnets & shirts. Childhood is rough enough.

A poem, “Möwenlied” (Seagulls), by German poet Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914):

Die Möwen sehen alle aus,
als ob sie Emma hiessen.
Sie tragen einen weissen Flaus
und sind mit Schrot zu schießen.

Ich schieße keine Möwe tot,
ich laß sie lieber leben –
und füttre sie mit Roggenbrot
und rötlichen Zibeben.

O Mensch, du wirst nie nebenbei
der Möwe Flug erreichen.
Wofern du Emma heißest, sei
zufrieden, ihr zu gleichen.

…and now the translation, by Karl F. Ross:

The seagulls by their looks suggest
that Emma is their name;
they wear a white and fluffy vest
and are the hunter’s game.

I never shoot a seagull dead;
their life I do not take.
I like to feed them gingerbread
and bits of raisin cake.

O human, you will never fly
the way the seagulls do;
but if your name is Emma, why,
be glad they look like you.

Want more name quotes? Check out the name quotes category.

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*