How popular is the baby name Lara 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 Lara.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lara


Posts that Mention the Name Lara

The Launch of Lara

Yesterday we looked at the baby name Laura, which saw a curious dip in usage from 1965 to 1967:

You know what was happening at the very same time? A drastic increase in the usage of the very similar name Lara, which suddenly jumped into the top 1,000 in 1966:

Here’s the data, side-by-side:

Laura usage (rank)Lara usage (rank)
196818,743 baby girls (11th)1,295 baby girls (227th)
196715,817 baby girls (15th)945 baby girls (277th)
196615,549 baby girls (19th)236 baby girls (618th)
196516,213 baby girls (18th)65 baby girls (1,376th)
196418,974 baby girls (14th)57 baby girls (1,512th)

So…what caused Lara to suddenly skyrocket (and thereby steal some of Laura’s thunder)?

Doctor Zhivago movie poster

The film Doctor Zhivago, which was released at the very end of 1965 and which, accounting for inflation, currently ranks as the eighth highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S.

Doctor Zhivago, based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel of the same name, was a drama set in Russia during the early 1900s — primarily around the time of WWI and the Russian Revolution. The main character was married physician/poet Yuri Zhivago (played by Omar Sharif), who was having an affair with Larisa “Lara” Antipova (played by Julie Christie), the wife of a political activist.

But it was more than just the character — we can’t ignore the influence of the film’s leitmotif “Lara’s Theme.” After Doctor Zhivago came out, it was turned into a Grammy-winning pop song, “Somewhere, My Love,” that name-checked the character in the lyrics:

Lara, my own, think of me now and then
Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again

Renditions of both versions of the song ended up peaking on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” list during the summer of 1966: Ray Conniff’s “Somewhere, My Love” at #9, and Roger Williams’ “Lara’s Theme” at #65.

Ironically, the names Lara and Laura are not related. Laura comes from the Latin name Laurus, meaning “laurel,” whereas the Russian name Lara is a short form of the Greek myth name Larisa, which may have been inspired by the ancient city of Larisa.

The movie also seems to have given a boost to the name Yuri (which had debuted a few years earlier thanks to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin). And it must be connected somehow to the 1980 debut of the one-hit wonder name Zhivago. (Perhaps it was airing on TV around that time?) “Zhivago” isn’t a Russian surname, incidentally — it’s a Church Slavonic word meaning “the living.”

Getting back to Lara…the name’s popularity declined after the 1960’s, but, so far, it has never dropped out of the top 1,000. (The uptick in usage in 2001-2002 corresponds to the release of the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which starred Angelina Jolie.)

Now let’s try a poll: Which name do you prefer, Lara or Laura? Give me your reasons in the comments!

Which name do you prefer, Lara or Laura?

View Results

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Sources: Doctor Zhivago (film) – Wikipedia, Doctor Zhivago – Orthodox England, Lara’s Theme – Wikipedia, Top 10 Highest-Grossing Films of All Time in the US, Ray Conniff – Billboard, Roger Williams – Billboard, Ray Conniff – Grammy.com, Laura – Behind the Name, Lara – Behind the Name

P.S. A woman named Lara after the Zhivago character was mentioned in Name Quotes 78.

The Rise of Angelina & Jolie

Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider, 2001, movie

Actress Angelina Jolie was a rising star in the late ’90s and early 2000s, thanks to movies like Gia (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

But she wasn’t just becoming a familiar face in the movie theaters — she was also having a strong influence on baby names. In 2000, the name Jolie broke into the U.S. top 1,000 for the first time, and, a year later, the name Angelina entered the top 100 for the first time:

Angelina usage (ranking)Jolie usage (ranking)
20034,271 baby girls (71st)377 baby girls (691st)
20023,979 baby girls (74th)412 baby girls (620th)
20013,368 baby girls (93rd)385 baby girls (655th)
20002,140 baby girls (157th)275 baby girls (820th)
19991,327 baby girls (237th)152 baby girls (1,241st)
19981,167 baby girls (268th)109 baby girls (1,536th)

Best of all, though, are the debuts of Anjolina and Anjolie — names that cleverly blend “Angelina” with “Jolie” — in 2000. I know of other actresses (e.g., Cyd Charisse, Pier Angeli) who popularized both their first and last names, but Angie is the only one I know of to inspire mash-ups like this.

Which name do you like better for a baby girl, Angelina or Jolie? (Or do you prefer one of the portmanteaus?)

Source: Angelina Jolie – Rotten Tomatoes

Popular Baby Names in Slovenia, 2018

According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, the most popular baby names in the country in 2018 were Ema and Luka.

Here are Slovenia’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Ema, 268 baby girls
  2. Zala, 241
  3. Eva, 220
  4. Mia, 216
  5. Sara, 182
  6. Lara, 170
  7. Nika, 168
  8. Maša, 154
  9. Julija, 151 (tie)
  10. Lana, 151 (tie)

Boy Names

  1. Luka, 288 baby boys
  2. Jakob, 242
  3. Filip, 227 (tie)
  4. Nik, 227 (tie)
  5. Mark, 211
  6. Žan, 182
  7. Jan, 168 (tie)
  8. Tim, 168 (tie)
  9. Jaka, 166
  10. Lovro, 156

Lovro is short for Lovrenc, which is the Slovene equivalent of the English name Laurence.

The last set of rankings I posted for Slovenia were the 2015 rankings, which were also topped by Ema and Luka.

Sources: Names – Republic of Slovenia Statistical Office, Lovro – Behind the Name

Name Quotes 78: Brene, Neal, SanDeE*

The name SanDeE* from LA Story (1991).
SanDeE* from LA Story

From the 1991 movie LA Story, a conversation between Harris (played by Steve Martin) and SanDeE* (played by Sarah Jessica Parker):

H: What was your name again?

S: SanDeE*

H: I’m sorry, Sandy, Sandy… It’s a nice name. Everybody has such weird names now, it’s like Tiffany with a P-H-I, and instead of Nancy it’s Nancine. [He begins to write her name down.]

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E.

H: What?

S: Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. [She grabs his hand and writes directly on it.] Big S, small A, small N, big D, small E, big E. Then there’s a little star at the end.

Anna Wintour recently talking about her new puppy, named Finch [vid]:

She’s called Finch because we call all of our dogs after characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. So we have had a Scout, a Radley, and a Harper. And let me tell you, they are not happy about Finch’s arrival.

From a 1995 interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:

Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.

From an article about Lara Prescott, author of the new book The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:

You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.

A non-edited tweet from Cardi B, whose sister’s name is Hennessy:

Fun fact :Always wanted a daughter and I always used to say imma name her HennyLynn. It’s a cute mix of my sisters name but then I started calling my sister HennyLynn then it became one of the nicknames I gave my sister so it woulda been weird naming my daughter that .

From an article about a Georgia man whose name, Neal, came from a POW bracelet:

His father, the late John Carpenter, was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and was deployed overseas at the time. He arrived home in time for his son’s birth. When it became necessary to scramble and find a boy’s name, John Carpenter looked down at the POW/MIA bracelet he was wearing.

The engraved name was Neal Clinton Ward Jr. He had been listed as Missing in Action since June 13, 1969. An airman, his plane had been shot down over Laos in the jungles of Southeast Asia, nine days before his 24th birthday.

The Carpenters named their son Neal Ward Carpenter.

(Neal’s mom had been convinced the baby would be a girl. Neal said: “I was going to be April Michelle, and that’s all there was to it.”)

Research professor and author Brené Brown on her unique name:

Growing up, every time we drove from San Antonio to Houston, going to Stuckey’s — all these places where you buy monogrammed shirts and glasses — I was so put out because there was never a “Brené.” So I think I made up in my head that it was French. And then I hitchhiked across Europe after high school and I got to France and I was like, “Je suis Brené!” And they were like, “What kind of name is that?” They’d never heard of it. My parents just made it up. I had a whole narrative in high school — “When I bust out of this suburban Spring, Texas, high school I’m going to go back to France where my people are!” But, no, it’s not French — it’s south side San Antonio.

Marketing expert Seth Godin’s take on the best middle name ever:

It’s not Warren or Susan or Otis or Samuel or Tricia.

It’s “The.”

As in Attila The Hun or Alexander The Great or Zorba The Greek.

When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.

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