How popular is the baby name Rianna 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 Rianna.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Rianna


Posts that Mention the Name Rianna

The Baby Name Rhiannon

Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)

“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, and wouldn’t you love to” …know a little more about her name?

The Welsh name Rhiannon comes to us via the Mabinogion, a famous collection of medieval Welsh tales that was written during the 1300s (or possibly earlier).

What’s the etymology? Here are two theories:

Rhiannon’s persona is much older than the medieval text, however. She appears to be derived from the pre-Christian goddess hypothesized as Rigantona and also Epona, the horse goddess. Her pedigree within the Mabinogi also implies supernatural status as she is thought to be the daughter of the king of Annwfn, the otherworld; her name may mean maid of Annwfn.

The reconstructed proto-Celtic name Rigantona means “divine goddess.” The definition “maid of Annwfn,” on the other hand, would come from combining the word rhiain, meaning “maid,” with the place name Annwfn.

Before the 1970s, the name Rhiannon was rarely used as a name for newborns. The few babies that got the name tended to have a direct connection to Wales (i.e., either they were born there or their parents were).

Song of Rhiannon (book)

Then two novels featuring the name came out: Song of Rhiannon (1972) by Evangeline Walton and Triad (1973) by Mary Leader. The first was based directly on the Mabinogion; the second was not.

Both books probably played a part in putting Rhiannon on the map in 1974:

  • 1975: 15 baby girls named Rhiannon
  • 1974: 5 baby girls named Rhiannon [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

The first book might have been the one with the word “song” in the title, but it was the second book that inspired a young Stevie Nicks to write her hit song “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win).” Here’s how Stevie tells the story:

I got the name from a novel, I think I bought in an airport just before a long flight; it was called Triad, and it was about a girl named Rhiannon and her sister and mother, or something like that. I just thought the name was so pretty that I wanted to write something about a girl named Rhiannon. I wrote it about three months before I joined Fleetwood Mac, in about 1974.

The song was first released on Fleetwood Mac’s album Fleetwood Mac in mid-1975. It was then re-released a single in February of 1976, and, four months later, peaked at #11 on the Billboard charts.

The single is what made an impact on the baby name charts. Hundreds of baby girls were named Rhiannon in 1976, and the name entered the top 1,000 for the first time at an impressive 593rd. A year later it peaked at 418th.

Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Rhiannon (or a variant) from 1973 to 1980, sorted by 1977 levels of usage:

Name19731974197519761977197819791980
Rhiannon5*15272491460422409
Rhianna56*97798993
Reanna76590878690
Riann76*372210
Rhiana33*38271624
Rheanna24*34233031
Rianne25*91712
Rheannon6*20161520
Rianna10*19292730
Rhianon7*1325916
Riannon11*88
Reannon12*1071617
Rhian9*77
Reannan6**
Rhia5*55
Reana88613
Reanne759
Rheanne5*
Rhiannan7*6
Rheana7*
Rhyan6*710
Reann610
Rhianne5*

*Debut
**One-hit wonder

Usage cooled off after that, but rose again in the late ’90s and early 2000s, probably thanks to Fleetwood Mac’s successful 1997 tour The Dance and resulting live album, which features an extended version of “Rhiannon.”

The song was voted one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone in 2004, but by then the name Rhiannon was falling out of fashion. In 2008, it dropped out of the top 1,000. In 2013, only 106 baby girls got the name.

Regardless, Rhiannon will always be one of my favorite uniquely ’70s baby names. :)

Sources:

  • Bishop, Stephen. Songs in the Rough. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996.
  • MacKillop, James. Myths and Legends of the Celts. London: Penguin UK, 2005.
  • Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton. Rock Movers & Shakers. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1991.

Update, Feb. 2015: Here’s a quote from Stevie about how “Rhiannon” was nearly “Branwen”:

I’d read another novel about two sisters, Branwen and Rhiannon. I wrote the song about Rhiannon, and bought an Afghan hound and named her Branwen. So it could have been the other way around, you know.

Branwen was another central character in The Triad, and the baby name Branwen debuted in the data in 1975.

Source: Brown, Mick. “Stevie Nicks: a survivor’s story.” Telegraph 8 Sep. 2007.

One-Hit Wonder Baby Names from the 2000s (so far)

Here are the one-hit wonder names of the first six years of this decade (2000 through 2005):

Girl Names

  • Anneliese – ranked 917th in 2005
  • Arleth – ranked 818th in 2005 (influence: Arleth Terán)
  • Arly – ranked 950th in 2003
  • Beyonce – ranked 700th in 2001 (influence: singer Beyoncé Knowles)
  • Dafne – ranked 967th in 2001
  • Dariana – ranked 836th in 2000
  • Gwyneth – ranked 958th in 2004 (influence: actress Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • Heidy – ranked 998th in 2004
  • Jolette – ranked 949th in 2005 (influence: Jolette Hernández)
  • Karyme – ranked 935th in 2003 (influence: Karyme Lozano)
  • Keila – ranked 989th in 2001
  • Kiya – ranked 961st in 2002
  • Maiya – ranked 994th in 2000
  • Mikaila – ranked 936th in 2001
  • Mikalah – ranked 805th in 2005
  • Montserrat – ranked 972nd in 2005
  • Nallely – ranked 773rd in 2001
  • Nayely – ranked 731st in 2001
  • Neha – ranked 969th in 2000
  • Rianna – ranked 860th in 2002
  • Taina – ranked 912th in 2001
  • Treasure – ranked 892nd in 2004
  • Yamilet – ranked 841st in 2000

Boy Names

  • Adin – ranked 996th in 2005
  • Ajay – ranked 1000th in 2003
  • Andon – ranked 863rd in 2004
  • Damari – ranked 898th in 2005
  • Daunte – ranked 965th in 2001
  • Dayne – ranked 994th in 2000
  • Jaheem – ranked 889th in 2002
  • Jahir – ranked 811th in 2003
  • Jaquez – ranked 957th in 2002
  • Jayvon – ranked 970th in 2004
  • Koda – ranked 943rd in 2004
  • Lisandro – ranked 901st in 2002
  • Luc – ranked 930th in 2002
  • Makhi – ranked 920th in 2005
  • Mordechai – ranked 962nd in 2003
  • Osbaldo – ranked 976th in 2002
  • Trenten – ranked 973rd in 2004
  • Yousef – ranked 998th in 2002

Want more one-hit wonders? Here are…