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, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Michael.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Michael


Posts that Mention the Name Michael

The Entrance of Narada

narada, baby name, 1970s, 1980s, music

The Hindu name Narada first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the late ’70s:

  • 1983: 19 baby boys named Narada
  • 1982: 18 baby boys named Narada
  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Narada
  • 1980: 48 baby boys and 7 baby girls [debut] named Narada
  • 1979: 19 baby boys [debut] named Narada
  • 1978: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Musician and producer Narada Michael Walden, whose songs “I Don’t Want Nobody Else (To Dance with You)” and “I Shoulda Loved Ya” both reached the top 10 on Billboard’s R&B chart in 1979.

He went on to have a successful career, being nominated for a total of eight Grammys and winning three (two in the ’80s, one in the ’90s). He produced music for people like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Gladys Knight, Shanice Wilson, Tevin Campbell, etc.

He was born Michael Walden in Michigan in 1952. In the early ’70s, he became a devotee of Indian guru Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy gave him the spiritual name Narada, and Walden chose to use Narada as part of his stage name. (Carlos Santana, another follower, went by “Devadip Carlos Santana” for a time.)

In Hindu tradition, the character Narada is a sage and musician. He is portrayed “as both wise and mischievous, creating some of Vedic literature’s more humorous tales.”

Do you like Narada as a baby name? Would you use it?

Sources: Narada Michael Walden – Wikipedia, Narada Michael Walden Chart History – Billboard, Arunachal butterfly named after Narada

U.S. Boy Names 2019: Popular, Rising, Falling, Debuts

Yesterday we looked at some of the latest girl name data, so today let’s check in on the 2019 boy names…

Here are the most popular boy names overall:

  1. Liam, 20,502 baby boys
  2. Noah, 19,048
  3. Oliver, 13,891
  4. William, 13,542
  5. Elijah, 13,300
  6. James, 13,087
  7. Benjamin, 12,942
  8. Lucas, 12,412
  9. Mason, 11,408
  10. Ethan, 11,241

Ethan kicked Logan out of the top 10 last year. (Logan is now ranked 16th.)

The boy names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Brooks, increased by 1,114 babies
  2. Miles, 860
  3. Legend, 832
  4. Luca, 797
  5. Theodore, 775
  6. Mateo, 757
  7. Leo, 702
  8. Maverick, 701
  9. Noah, 698
  10. Luka, 652

The boy names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were…

  1. Ermias, increased by 3360%
  2. Sekani, 1992%
  3. Amenadiel, 500%
  4. Kross, 481%
  5. Alexios, 429%
  6. Taz, 340%
  7. Ezran, 333%
  8. Andoni, 309%
  9. Kaleel, 300%
  10. Taysom, 295%

Some explanations…

  • Ermias was the legal first name of rapper Nipsey Hussle (who died on March 31, 2019).
  • Sekani was the name of a young character in the film The Hate U Give (2018).
  • Amenadiel is a character on the TV series Lucifer.
  • Ezran is the name of a character on the Netflix series The Dragon Prince. (Ezran debuted in the data in 2018, the year the show started airing.)
  • Taysom Hill is a professional football player with the New Orleans Saints.

Here are the boy names that debuted most impressively in the 2019 data:

  1. Armias, debuted with 54 baby boys
  2. Izhaan, 50
  3. Jsan, 33
  4. Jaiari, 29
  5. Ripp, 26
  6. Sakani, 21
  7. Jardani, 19
  8. Iskender, 17
  9. Kamiri, 17
  10. Siar, 14
  • Armias and Sakani are spelling variants of Ermias and Sekani (above).
  • Izhaan is a celebrity baby: Izhaan Mirza Malik was born in October of 2018 to Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.
  • Jardani could be from Jardani Jovonovich, the “real” name of popular movie character John Wick…?

The boy names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Logan, decreased by 1,911 babies
  2. Michael, -1,174
  3. Jacob, -1,159
  4. Dylan, -1,076
  5. Mason, -1,065
  6. William, -1,048
  7. Connor, -932
  8. David, -871
  9. Ryan, -837
  10. Joshua, -836

The boy names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were Nomar and Gianlucas (tied at -73%), and the boy name that saw the steepest drop off the list was Stephano (from 21 babies in 2018 to fewer than 5 in 2019).

If you can explain any of these rises (or drops), please leave a comment!

The Emergence of Mala

mala powers, roxane, cyrano de bergerac, 1950
Mala Powers in Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

The name Mala first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in the early 1950s:

  • 1957: 17 baby girls named Mala
  • 1956: 51 baby girls named Mala [peak]
  • 1955: 17 baby girls named Mala
  • 1954: 18 baby girls named Mala
  • 1953: 13 baby girls named Mala
  • 1952: 10 baby girls named Mala
  • 1951: 12 baby girls named Mala [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

Whenever I see the name Mala, I think of the Indian name that’s based on the Sanskrit word mala, meaning “garland” or “necklace.”

But Sanskrit isn’t the source for these mid-century American Malas — these Malas were named with actress Mala Powers in mind. In her case, “Mala” was a stage name that came from a childhood nickname:

I was born Mary Ellen Powers, December 20, 1931, in San Francisco, but I never used that name. Even as a small child, whenever someone would call me Mary Ellen, I would say, ‘No, my name is Mala!’

During the second half of 1950, Mala Powers could be seen at the theaters in three different films: Edge of Doom, Outrage, and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Her portrayal of Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac earned her a nomination for the “New Star of the Year” Golden Globe in 1951. (Her co-star José Ferrer* won an Oscar for his performance as Cyrano.)

After this early success, however, Mala Powers’ career was derailed by serious illness.

The story of her illness was brought to TV in early 1956, when Mala was featured on This is Your Life in January. This television appearance may have been what gave the name a boost in 1956 specifically.

Mala’s only child, Toren Michael, was born in mid-1957. The name Toren didn’t appear in the SSA’s data that year, but did show up a couple of years later. (It may have been a delayed celebrity baby name debut, though so far I can’t find any 1959 media coverage of Toren.)

Do you like the name Mala?

Sources:

*Ferrer was the first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award.

Name Quotes 86: Sena, Fennis, LeBron

Time for the monthly quote-post!

From the speech “How Everything Turns Away” by children’s book author Lois Lowry (b. 1937):

My first photograph…or the first photograph of me…was taken, by my father, when I was 36 hours old. My name was different then. They had named me Sena, for my Norwegian grandmother, and that was my name until she was notified; then she sent a telegram insisting that they give me an American name, and so I was renamed Lois Ann for my father’s two sisters.

From an article about baby-naming in Armenia:

Armenia does not have a censorship for names, while its neighbor Azerbaijan has. There are three categories of names in Azerbaijan: “allowed,” “undesirable,” and “prohibited.” No comment is necessary for the first group. The second group includes funny and bizarre names. The third group refers to Armenian names.

On the names of spirit guides, from the book Journey of Souls (1994) by LBL hypnotherapist Dr. Michael Newton:

The personal names my clients attach to their guides range from ordinary, whimsical, or quaint-sounding words, to the bizarre. Frequently, these names can be traced back to a specific past life a teacher spent with a student. Some clients are unable to verbalize their guide’s name because the sound cannot be duplicated, even when they see them clearly while under hypnosis. I tell these people it is much more important that they understand the purpose of why certain guides are assigned to them, rather than possessing their names. A subject may simply use a general designation for their guide such as: director, advisor, instructor, or just “my friend.”

From a 1987 Sports Illustrated interview with basketball player Fennis Dembo:

With apologies to World B. Free, Shaquille O’Neal and, yes, even God Shammgod, when it comes to staking a claim to basketball’s alltime name, Fennis Dembo enjoys Jordanlike distance from the pretenders. “I’m always a bit stunned that people still remember me,” says Fennis, whose mother, Clarissa, selected his name, along with that of his twin sister, Fenise, as a declaration that after 11 children, her childbearing days were finis. “I tried to set up an E-mail account, but two other guys–basketball fans, I guess–were already using my name in their address.”

From a 2018 interview with basketball player LeBron James [vid]:

I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name […] When I was younger, obviously, I didn’t have a dad. So, my whole thing was, like, whenever I have a kid, not only is he gonna be a junior, but I’m gonna do everything that this man didn’t do. They’re gonna experience things that I didn’t experience, and the only thing I can do is give them the blueprint, and it’s up to them to take their own course.

(LeBron, Jr., is nicknamed “Bronny” — no doubt to differentiate son from father, but perhaps also to take some of the pressure off. Here’s a post about how LeBron James has affected baby names over the years.)

From a 2016 Maxim interview with movie director Ron Howard:

Q: Is it true that your kids’ middle names come from the locations where they were conceived?

A: David Letterman got that out of me, and my kids will never let me forget it. My daughter, Bryce [Dallas Howard], was conceived in Dallas, and our twins [Jocelyn Carlyle Howard and Paige Carlyle Howard] were conceived while we were doing a publicity tour at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. For the last one [Reed Cross Howard], we were on Lower Cross Road, so we decided to go with Cross. “Volvo” wouldn’t be such a good middle name.

From a review of the memoir The Kennedy Chronicles by former MTV veejay Kennedy (full name: Lisa Kennedy Montgomery):

According to Kennedy, her secret dalliance with the then-married lead singer and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls led to one of the group’s most well-known songs, the 1995 mega-hit “Name.” To Kennedy, the lyrics hit a little to close to home: “Did you lose yourself somewhere out there? Did you get to be a star?” And then “You could hide beside me/ Maybe for a while. And I won’t tell no one your name.”

She writes: “When I asked him about it he indeed admitted the inspiration and told me there was no way all we’d shared wasn’t going to show up in his writing.”

Here’s the song:

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

The First Appearance of Fabienne

fabienne, mariette, movie, 1940s, baby names

The name French name Fabienne debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1949. The very next year, it saw its highest-ever usage, and the similar names Fabiene and Fabian (typically a male name) both popped up in the girls’ data.

  • 1952: 6 baby girls named Fabienne
  • 1951: 17 baby girls named Fabienne
  • 1950: 36 baby girls named Fabienne [peak]
  • 1949: 5 baby girls named Fabienne [debut]
  • 1948: unlisted

What caused this sudden interest in Fabienne?

The movie The Doctor and the Girl, released in September of 1949. The central characters in the drama were father and son Dr. John Corday and Dr. Michael Corday, but Michael’s sisters Fabienne (played by Gloria De Haven) and Mariette (played by Nancy Davis, later Nancy Reagan) were featured as well.

The baby name Mariette also saw peak usage in 1950.

Which of the two sister names do you like more, Fabienne or Mariette?

Source: The Doctor and the Girl – TCM