It’s hard to put into words just how bizarre 2020 was.
Despite this…people still had babies in 2020, and people still paid attention to pop culture in 2020. (In fact, thanks to quarantine, many people probably paid a lot more attention to pop culture than usual last year.) So, let’s put the seriousness of 2020 aside for a second and kick off the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!
Of course, “pop culture” includes not just things like movies and music and social media, but also anything that was in the news — including COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the U.S. presidential election.
Which baby names will see higher usage — or appear for the very first time — in the 2020 SSA baby name data thanks to pop culture?
Here are some initial ideas (plus some context):
Aalam, DJ Khaled’s baby
Ahmaud, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
Amala, Doja Cat album
Azula, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (made available on Netflix in mid-2020)
Some of the names from the 2019 game could be applicable to the 2020 data as well.
Also, feel free to zoom out and consider name trends this year. Here are a few ways in which baby-naming may have been influenced by our collective experience of COVID-19, for instance:
“In my opinion this unprecedented situation will affect naming towards something “bolder” or “more badass” baby names and so you’ll probably see a spike of certain names like King, Major or Royal.” (Gheba)
“I’d bet on the rise of virtue names, or at least modern version of virtue names, like Brave/Bravery, Courage, Honor, etc. And I’d say names like Legend, Messiah, Legacy, Major, King, will probably rise some more too.” (Skizzo)
“I think it will also affect which media influence names this year. Eg we’ll miss out on names inspired by Olympic athletes, but might see even more from Netflix and YouTube.” (Clare)
What other names (or name trends) should we add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Just remember to make a note of the pop culture influence!
I’ll post the results as soon as I can after the SSA releases the 2020 data (in May of 2021, hopefully).
*Did you know that the actress who played Kamiyah in that Lifetime movie is named Rayven Symone Ferrell? Certainly a nod to Raven-Symoné…
Earlier this year, singer Ed Sheeran welcomed a baby girl named Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran. She wasn’t actually born at sea — “Seaborn” is her mother’s surname — but did you know that many of the babies named “Seaborn” throughout history were in fact born at sea?
And it doesn’t stop at “Seaborn.” These sea-born babies got all sorts of interesting names hinting at the circumstances of their birth. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve spotted in the records…
Seaborn (The earliest American example I know of is Seaborn Cotton, born in August of 1633 while as his parents were traveling from England to New England. Notably, he was the uncle of Cotton Mather.)
Sea-Mercy (This one comes from Sea-Mercy Adams, a man who got married in Philadelphia in 1686.)
The top 1,000 baby girl names of 2009 can be found at the SSA website. But what about all the other names that were doled out last year? Those names are also available via the SSA I recently discovered (thanks Kelly!).
Just a few hours ago I posted a list of boy names that didn’t make the top 1,000 last year, but were still given to 100+ babies. Here is the equivalent (and much longer) list of girl names, grouped by the number of babies that received each name:
*Nyasia could have made the top 1,000. In fact, it should have made the top 1,000. It was given to 263 babies, just like the names that ranked 996th-1,000th (Gretchen, Karli, Kloe, Lilyanna and Mireya). But it came in last alphabetically, so in the eyes of the SSA it’s name #1,001. Sad, sad…
A reader named Michelle has a son named Saylor Dorian. She’s expecting a baby girl in May and would like some name suggestions. She says:
We originally picked shiloh for a girl but we aren’t liking how popular it’s getting [due to a celebrity finding it first..grrr] we want a unique name that’s still ‘easy on the ears’ as in easy to get used to. I try to stay away from the too feminine popular vowel names like ava, bella, etc… though we like them we don’t want a trendy name like piper, stella, etc…
We are currently tossing around names like vega, remy…. though what i loved about shiloh was that O ending.. but we are open to whatever.
First let’s try to come up some more o-endings. How about:
And here are some other names that came to mind:
Which of the above do you like best for Saylor’s sister? What other girl names would you suggest to Michelle?
A reader named Kelly is expecting her second daughter in May, and she’d appreciate a few name suggestions. She writes:
Our first daughter, Maeve, was named really easily, and we grow to love the name more and more. However, we are having an exceptionally difficult time finding a second girl’s name that we like as much. I especially like Gaelic/Celtic names, but am willing to consider other options as well.
Here are some names that I think could work with Maeve: