How popular is the baby name Michael in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Michael and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Michael.
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People who grew up in the ’90s know exactly why the place-name Topanga started popping up in the baby name data that decade:
1999: 44 baby girls named Topanga
1998: 48 baby girls named Topanga [peak]
1997: 33 baby girls named Topanga
1996: 11 baby girls named Topanga
1995: 10 baby girls named Topanga
1994: 5 baby girls named Topanga [debut]
Topanga was the name of a character on the coming-of-age sitcom Boy Meets World, which premiered in September of 1993. The “Boy” at the center of the show was Cory Matthews, his love interest throughout the series was Topanga Lawrence (played by Danielle Fishel).
According to Fishel, show producer Michael Jacobs was the one who came up with her character’s name. He was driving down a highway in California when he got a phone call about naming the character. At that moment, he happened to be driving past the Topanga Canyon exit, so he said “Topanga” and it stuck.
The canyon’s modern name comes from the Gabrielino (or Tongva) word topa’nga. The “-nga” suffix indicates that it’s a place name, but the meaning of topa remains unknown.
Another name that may have gotten a boost from Boy Meets World is Morgan, the name of Cory’s little sister. It was already on the rise at that time, but from 1993 to 1994 the increase was higher than expected.
…And I’ll just randomly throw in one more name that was inspired by a geological feature: Cohutta, a 2014 debut inspired by MTV reality star Cohutta Lee Grindstaff, who was born in Georgia and named after the Cohutta Mountains. The place name Cohutta, originally Gahûtĭ, comes from the Cherokee word gahûtâ’yĭ, meaning “a shed roof supported on poles.”
Which place name works better as a baby name, do you think: Topanga or Cohutta?
Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2016 to 2017? And which ones decreased the most?
There are a few different ways to answer this question. The SSA, for instance, likes to look at ranking differences within the top 1,000. And I like to augment their list by looking at raw number differences across all the data.
Wells was influenced by Wells Adams, a contestant from The Bachelorette. Nova may have been influenced by “all those Villanova Wildcats basketball fans naming their sons in celebration of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions.”
Ensley was the fastest riser on the girls’ list, moving 1,461 spots to number 965, from number 2,426 in 2016. Spring has sprung, and Wells (meaning “spring”) had the biggest bloom in popularity for the boys, moving over 500 spots in 2017 from number 1,419 to 915. Perhaps his parents are fans of the hit TV show “The Bachelorette” where one of the popular contestants was named Wells. Does this mean more bachelors named Wells at future rose ceremonies?
In a clear nod to the popularity of the First Lady of the United States, new parents chose the name Melania at an increasing rate in 2017.
It looks like new parents are “Keeping up with the Kardashians” as the name Dream rose 840 spots in 2017. Fan or not, many people know Rob Kardashian and Angela White, aka Blac Chyna, named their daughter Dream in late 2016. For the boys, another fast riser was Nova, who may have gotten his popularity from all those Villanova Wildcats basketball fans naming their sons in celebration of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions.
Actress Melissa Gilbert is probably best known for portraying young Laura Ingalls Wilder on the TV series Little House on the Prairie (1974–1984). Her TV father, Charles, was played by actor Michael Landon.
In October of 1995, Melissa and her second husband welcomed a son (12 weeks early). He was named Michael Garrett — “Michael” in honor of Michael Landon, who had died of cancer in 1991, and “Garrett” in honor of the deceased teenage son of family friends.
Landon’s birth name was Eugene Maurice Orowitz. His nickname in primary school was “Ooogy.” He chose his stage name by flipping through a phone book.
Rafaela Ottiano was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Italy in 1888. Rafaela was also a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Bag of Gold (1912).
Reno Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born in (Reno) Nevada in 1921. Her birth name Josephine Ruth Clarke. Reno was also a character played by actress Ethel Merman in the film Anything Goes (1936).
Rosina Galli was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Italy in 1906. Rosina was also a character played by actress Jose Collins in the film The Last Stake (short, 1923).
Rosita Marstini was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in France in 1887. Rosita was also a character name in multiple films, including Hell’s Valley (1931) and Zoo in Budapest (1933).