How popular is the baby name Muhammad 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 Muhammad.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Muhammad


Posts that Mention the Name Muhammad

African Names in the Newspapers

In 1971, a list of African names published in Jet magazine had an impact on U.S. baby names.

In 1977, a list of African names published in Ebony magazine had a similar impact on U.S. baby names.

And in between, in 1973, a list of African names was published in an interesting place: U.S. newspapers nationwide. That is, not in a magazine written for an African-American audience specifically.

African names, newspaper article, 1973, baby names
African names in U.S. newspapers, Aug. 1973

So…did this newspaper-based list have an impact as well?

Yes, turns out it had roughly the same impact as the other two lists.

The opening line of the article was: “Here’s help for young black couples wanting to give their infants African names.” Toward the end, the article featured a list of 23 names. Most of these names ended up seeing movement in the data, including 10 (!) debuts.

  1. Abeni – debuted in 1974
  2. Avodele – never in the data
  3. Dalila – increased in usage ’73
  4. Fatima – increased in usage ’73/’74
  5. Habibah – debuted in 1974
  6. Halima – increased in usage ’74
  7. Hasina – debuted in 1974
  8. Kamilah – increased in usage ’73/’74
  9. Salama – debuted in 1974
  10. Shani – increased in usage ’74
  11. Yaminah – debuted in 1973
  12. Zahra – debuted in 1973
  13. Abdu – debuted in 1973
  14. Ali – no movement in the data
  15. Bakari – debuted in 1973
  16. Hasani – debuted in 1973
  17. Jabari – increased in usage ’73/’74
  18. Jelani – debuted in 1973
  19. Muhammad – no movement in the data
  20. Rudo – never in the data
  21. Sadiki – not in data yet
  22. Zikomo – not in data yet
  23. Zuberi – not in data yet

The article cited as its source The Book of African Names (1970) by Chief Osuntoki. As it turns out, though, the Chief wasn’t a real person. He was a fictional character invented by the publisher, Drum and Spear Press. Here’s a quote from the book’s introduction, purportedly written by the Chief:

It is strange, indeed, it hurts my heart, that brothers from afar often come to greet me bearing such names as “Willie”, “Juan” and “François”. But we can not be hard against them, for they have been misled.

Of the 23 names listed above, the one that debuted most impressively was Jelani. In fact, Jelani ended up tied for 43rd on the list of the top boy-name debuts of all time.

  • 1976: 55 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1975: 46 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Jelani [debut as a girl name]
  • 1974: 53 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1973: 36 baby boys named Jelani [overall debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Which of those 23 names do you like best?

Sources:

  • “African chief explains symbolism of names.” San Bernardino County Sun 15 Aug. 1973: B-4.
  • Markle, Seth M. A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power, and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2017.

Money for “Muhammad”?

A charity in Egypt will give money to local parents who name their newborns “Muhammad,” “Mahmoud,” or “Ahmed” in honor of the prophet Muhammad. (All three names are derived from the same Arabic root, hamida, meaning “to praise.”)

The charity, located in a village in Gharbia governorate, will give each participating family a monthly stipend of 300 Egyptian pounds (a little over $19 U.S.) for one year.

Why? The charity gave two reasons. The first was to offer some financial support to families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second was to counter “the blasphemous campaign…in France to disorder the prophet’s prestige” — a reference to the current tensions between France and the Muslim world over caricatures of Muhammad.

Sources: In Egyptian village: Monthly salary for newborn named after Prophet Muhammad, Macron says he understands Muslims’ shock over Prophet cartoons, Behind the Name

Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2019

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year were, yet again, Olivia and Oliver.

Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 4,082 baby girls
  2. Amelia, 3,712
  3. Isla, 2,981
  4. Ava, 2,946
  5. Mia, 2,500
  6. Isabella, 2,398
  7. Sophia, 2,332
  8. Grace, 2,330
  9. Lily, 2,285
  10. Freya, 2,264

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 4,932 baby boys
  2. George, 4,575
  3. Noah, 4,265
  4. Arthur, 4,211
  5. Harry, 3,823
  6. Leo, 3,637
  7. Muhammad, 3,604
  8. Jack, 3,381
  9. Charlie, 3,355
  10. Oscar, 3,334

In the girls’ top 10, Lily and Freya replaced Emily and Ella. The boys’ top ten includes the same ten names as in 2018.

In the girls’ top 100, Lara and Mabel replaces Aisha and Francesca. In the boys’ top 100, Alfred, Chester, Hudson, Ibrahim and Oakley replaced Alex, Dexter, Dominic, Kai, Sonny and Tobias.

The fastest risers within the top 100 were Hallie (on the girls’ list) and Tommy (on the boys’).

Several names that saw increased usage due to pop culture were…

  • The girl name Dua, now at an all-time high thanks to English pop singer Dua Lipa, whose parents were Kosovar refugees.*
  • The boy name Kylo, thanks to the Star Wars sequel trilogy. (Kylo debuted in 2015, the year the first film was released.)
  • The boy name Taron, inspired by actor Taron Egerton, who was featured in the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman.

Here are the top ten lists for England and Wales separately, if you’d like to compare the regions…

England’s top ten…Wales’s top ten…
Girl NamesOlivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, Mia, Isabella, Grace, Sophia, Lily, EmilyOlivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, Freya, Willow, Mia, Ella, Rosie, Elsie
Boy NamesOliver, George, Arthur, Noah, Harry, Muhammad, Leo, Jack, Oscar, CharlieOliver, Noah, Charlie, Jacob, Theo, George, Leo, Arthur, Oscar, Alfie

Finally, here are some of the rare baby names from the other end of the rankings. Each one was given to exactly 3 babies in England and Wales last year.

Rare Girl NamesRare Boy Names
Aiste, Bella-Blue, Cosmina, Dolcieanna, Elliw, Floella, Gurveen, Harerta, Iffah, Jainaba, Kalsoom, Lussy, Mallie, Nellie-Beau, Otterly, Primavera, Reevie, Saffanah, Tuppence, Venba, Winter-Lily, Yidis, ZeemalAuburn, Boycie, Cybi, Dawsey, Eason, Folarin, Glyndwr, Hadrian, Isaa, Johnjo, Kaniel, Lazo, Madani, Now, Olgierd, Pijus, Rakai, Smit, Taqi, Veselin, Wilby, Yilmaz, Zarel

Cybi, pronounced “kubby,” is the (Welsh) name of a 6th-century Cornish saint.

Sources: Baby names in England and Wales: 2019, Baby names for boys in England and Wales (dataset), Baby names for girls in England and Wales (dataset)

*Kosovar refugees are also mentioned in the posts on Amerikan and Tonibler.

Where did the baby name Annazette come from?

jive magazine, cover girl, annazette, 1960s
“Cover Girl: Annazette Williams”
© 1962 Jive

In the early 1960s, the name Annazette appeared for just two years in the national data set:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: 13 baby girls named Annazette
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Annazette [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

What gave it a boost?

Annazette Williams, the bathing beauty featured on the cover of Jive magazine in February of 1962. It’s likely that images of her were appearing in various publications around this time, and that this accounts for the name’s two-year showing.

She went on to become an actress (under the name Annazette Chase) and appeared both on TV and in the movies during the rest of the ’60s and throughout the ’70s. Her films include The Mack (1973), Truck Turner (1974), and The Greatest (1977) with Muhammad Ali.

One of the Annazettes born in 1962 was Chicago politician Annazette Collins.

Source: McCann, Bob. Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

Popular Baby Names in England and Wales, 2018

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year were again Olivia and Oliver.

Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 4,598 baby girls
  2. Amelia, 3,941
  3. Ava, 3,110
  4. Isla, 3,046
  5. Emily, 2,676
  6. Mia, 2,490
  7. Isabella, 2,369
  8. Sophia, 2,344
  9. Ella, 2,326
  10. Grace, 2,301

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 5,390 baby boys
  2. George, 4,960
  3. Harry, 4,512
  4. Noah, 4,107
  5. Jack, 3,988
  6. Leo, 3,721
  7. Arthur, 3,644
  8. Muhammad, 3,507
  9. Oscar, 3,459
  10. Charlie, 3,365

In the girls’ top ten, Sophia and Grace replaced Poppy (now in 11th place) and Lily (now 13th).

In the boys’ top ten, Arthur replaced Jacob (now 11th).

In the girls’ top 100, Ada, Delilah, Ayla, Zoe, Margot and Felicity replaced Darcey, Darcy, Julia, Leah, Megan and Victoria.

In the boys’ top 100, Grayson, Jasper, Rowan, Tobias, Sonny and Dominic replaced Austin, Ibrahim, Lewis, Nathan and Tyler.

And, finally, here’s an interesting fact: “Less than half (45%) of babies had a name within the top 100 lists in 2018, down from two thirds (67%) in 1996.”

Source: Baby names in England and Wales: 2018