The cause was the catchy song “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” two versions of which reached the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1956 and early 1957. The one by Vince Martin and The Tarriers peaked at 12th, while the one by Eddie Fisher* peaked at 10th. Television audiences also heard the song: Perry Como sang it on his own show in November 1956, and Vince Martin sang it on The Steve Allen Show a month later.
Getting back to Cindylou, though…there are some possible outside influences for the debut of Cindylou specifically. The most intriguing is Cindy-Lou Who (“who was no more than two”) from the beloved Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was published simultaneously in Redbook magazine and as a standalone book in December of 1957.
Now, Cindy-Lou was a minor character, and the story appeared late in the year — these are strikes against the theory. But, looking at vital records, there do seem to be a few extra people with the first-middle combo “Cindy Lou” born in December of 1957 as opposed to earlier in the year.
It’s likely that Dr. Seuss (or one of his editors) was influenced by the trendiness of the name Cindy that year…but did Cindy-Lou Who in turn give a bump to the name Cindylou? What are your thoughts on this?
*Later in 1957, Eddie Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds, scored an even bigger hit with “Tammy.” Around the same time, their daughter, Carrie — who went on to play Princess Leia in Star Wars — had her first birthday.
P.S. The Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” (1957) was originally called “Cindy Lou,” incidentally.
Which girl names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? Which ones decreased the most?
The SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I like to answer it by looking at raw number differences that take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Girl Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kehlani, +2,487 spots — up from 3,359th to 872nd
2. Royalty, +618 spots — up from 1,150th to 532nd
3. Saoirse, +465 spots — up from 1,448th to 983rd
4. Ophelia, +396 spots — up from 976th to 580th
5. Aitana, +368 spots — up from 917th to 549th
6. Itzayana, +356 spots — up from 1,125th to 769th
7. Alessia, +348 spots — up from 1,175th to 827th
8. Kaylani, +301 spots — up from 1,056th to 755th
9. Avianna, +298 spots — up from 751st to 453rd
10. Nalani, +294 spots — up from 1,280th to 986th
Royalty was influenced by the R&B singer Chris Brown, whose daughter (b. 2014) and 7th album (2015) were both called Royalty.
Saoirse was influenced by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — perhaps specifically by those American talk show appearances in which she talked to the hosts (Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, etc.) about how to pronounce her name. Plus there was that widely circulated Ryan Gosling quote on the same topic (“It’s Ser-sha, like inertia”).
Alessia was influenced by singer/songwriter Alessia Cara.
1. Adeline, +1,700 baby girls — up from 2,403 to 4,103
2. Charlotte, +1,649 baby girls — up from 11,381 to 13,030
3. Riley, +1,390 baby girls — up from 5,720 to 7,110
4. Adaline, +971 baby girls — up from 902 to 1,873
5. Amelia, +864 baby girls — up from 9,838 to 10,702
6. Luna, +849 baby girls — up from 2,796 to 3,645
7. Emilia, +804 baby girls — up from 2,215 to 3,019
8. Camila, +765 baby girls — up from 5,271 to 6,036
9. Nova, +754 baby girls — up from 1,518 to 2,272
10. Evelyn, +708 baby girls — up from 9,352 to 10,060
Adeline and Adaline were influenced, at least initially, by the movie The Age of Adaline (2015).
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Eleanor, Teagan, Kinsley, Scarlett, Everly, Quinn, Aria, Remi, Harper, Penelope, Thea, Claire, Rowan, Hazel, Ruby, Blake, Aurora, Ivy, Harley, Eloise, Willow, Elena, Josephine, Alice, Blakely, Saylor, Nora, Leia, Iris, Margot, Isla, Freya, Samara, Joy, Zara, Eliana, Joanna, and Malia.
Girl Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Caitlin, -542 spots — down from 609th to 1,151st
2. Caitlyn, -462 spots — down from 598th to 1,060th
3. Katelynn, -402 spots — down from 652nd to 1,054th
4. Kaitlynn, -381 spots — down from 994th to 1,375th
5. Neriah, -344 spots — down from 943rd to 1,287th
6. Bryanna, -276 spots — down from 783rd to 1,059th
7. Kiley, -275 spots — down from 898th to 1,173rd
8. Yaritza, -271 spots — down from 935th to 1,206th
9. Denise, -210 spots — down from 993rd to 1,203rd
10. Kaelyn, -203 spots — down from 521st to 724th
Caitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn, were negatively influenced by Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in mid-2015 with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”
This reminds me of what happened a few decades ago to Hillary — another name that was strongly associated for a time with a female who wasn’t conforming to gender norms. Perhaps tellingly, the name Bruce wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Jenner did fall of the charts, though.
1. Sophia, -1,311 baby girls — down from 17,381 to 16,070
2. Alexa, -1,289 baby girls — down from 6,049 to 4,760
3. Madison, -1,090 baby girls — down from 10,072 to 8,982
4. Emma, -1,001 baby girls — down from 20,415 to 19,414 (…but still the #1 name overall)
5. Aubrey, -869 baby girls — down from 7,376 to 6,507
6. Isabella, -852 baby girls — down from 15,574 to 14,722
7. Emily, -840 baby girls — down from 11,766 to 10,926
8. Kylie, -753 baby girls — down from 4,149 to 3,396
9. Alexis, -744 baby girls — down from 3,406 to 2,662
10. Abigail, -672 baby girls — down from 12,371 to 11,699
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Kaitlyn, Avery, Allison, Alyssa, London, Kaylee, Sofia, Katelyn, Kimberly, Zoey, Mia, Chloe, Kendall, Taylor, Sadie, Khloe, Mackenzie, Hannah, Peyton, Addison, Samantha, Ashley, Olivia, Gabriella, Brianna, Lauren, Anna, Brooklyn, Morgan, Jocelyn, Sydney, Natalie, Victoria, Makayla, Zoe, Hailey, Payton, Brooke, Annabelle, Trinity, Keira, Adalyn, Jordyn, Kayla, Molly, Audrey, Faith, Madelyn, Lillian, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Makenzie, Paige, Aaliyah, Paisley, Nevaeh, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jessica.
Interesting how certain like-names went in opposite directions last year. Leia, Alessia, and Adaline rose; Leah, Alyssa, and Adalyn fell.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please comment!
(In 2015, the big winners were Alexa and Alaia, and the big losers were Isabella and Isis.)
According to the Social Security Administration, Emma and Noah were the most popular baby names in the United States in 2016.
Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names:
1. Emma, 19,414 baby girls (same rank as in 2015)
2. Olivia, 19,246 (same rank)
3. Ava, 16,237 (up from 4th)
4. Sophia, 16,070 (down from 3rd)
5. Isabella, 14,722 (same rank)
6. Mia, 14,366 (same rank)
7. Charlotte, 13,030 (up from 9th)
8. Abigail, 11,699 (down from 7th)
9. Emily, 10,926 (down from 8th)
10. Harper, 10,733 (same rank)
1. Noah, 19,015 baby boys (same rank as in 2015)
2. Liam, 18,138 (same rank)
3. William, 15,668 (up from 5th)
4. Mason, 15,192 (down from 3rd)
5. James, 14,776 (up from 7th)
6. Benjamin, 14,569 (up from 10th)
7. Jacob, 14,416 (down from 4th)
8. Michael, 13,998 (up from 9th)
9. Elijah, 13,764 (up from 11th)
10. Ethan, 13,758 (down from 6th)
Emma and Noah were also the #1 names in 2015 and in 2014.
Elijah replaces Alexander (now 11th) in the boys’ top 10. No replacements in the girls’ top 10.
Here’s more from the SSA’s press release:
Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop-culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Kehlani and Kylo.
Kehlani rose 2,487 spots on the girls’ side to number 872, from number 3,359 in 2015. Perhaps this can be attributed to Kehlani Parrish, a singer/songwriter who was nominated for a Grammy in 2016. She was named an artist to watch and clearly new parents agree her star is rising. Kehlani collaborated with Zayn Malik, the former One Direction star and current solo artist, on a song in 2016. The name Zayn also made the boys fastest riser list.
The force was strong for Kylo in 2016 as he soared 2,368 spots for the boys, from number 3,269 in 2015 to number 901. Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia and the grandson of Darth Vader, was a character in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Perhaps Kylo can continue to harness the force and climb even higher in the coming years.
The second fastest riser for girls was Royalty. The royal family likely had something to do with this increase in popularity, or the 2015 World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals, may have influenced parents-to-be.
For boys, it was Creed. This could be attributed to the return to the silver screen of America’s favorite boxer Rocky Balboa in the 2015 movie Creed, where Rocky trains and mentors Adonis Johnson Creed, the son of his late friend and boxing rival, Apollo Creed. The name Adonis just happens to be the number four fastest riser on the list for boys.
Regarding Royalty, the inspiration was much more likely R&B singer Chris Brown. His daughter Royalty, born in mid-2014, was featured on the cover of his album Royalty, released at the end of 2015.
According to data from Malta’s National Statistics Office, the most popular name-groups in Malta in 2014 were Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella and Luke/Luca/Lucas.
Here are Malta’s top 10 girl and boy name-groups of 2014:
Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella, 97 baby girls
Maria/Marija/Mariah/Marie, 37 [tie]
Anna/Hannah/Ann, 37 [tie]
Luke/Luca/Lucas, 98 baby boys
Liam/William, 51 [tie]
John/Jean/Jonathan/Juan/Gan, 51 [tie]
Kaiden/Kayden/Kai ,46 [tie]
Alexander/Alessandro/Alec, 46 [tie]
Down in 15th place on the boys’ side is “Yannick/Yan” — both are versions of John, and yet they’re not part of the John group, which is tied for 6th.
Speaking of strange things…
The current Maltese birth registration system does not allow for Maltese fonts, which essentially means that names with ċ such as Ċikku or Ċensa; with a ġ such as Ġorġ or Ġanna; and with a ż such as Liża or Ġużi, are out – or at least will be recorded without the essential dots which distinguish the Maltese phonetical sound.
I’ve seen governments (e.g., NWT, California) make excuses about not being able to render minority/ethnic names properly on birth certificates, but I’ve never heard of a country that couldn’t render names from its own national language.