In 1925, New Mexico officially adopted its distinctive state flag: the red sun symbol of the Zia people on a field of yellow.
The Zia sun symbol has since become symbolic of the state itself. It’s on New Mexico license plates, New Mexico highway markers, and New Mexico quarters. Even the New Mexico State Capitol building, which is round and has four entrance wings, was constructed to resemble it.
New Mexico’s love for the Zia sun symbol is also apparent in the baby name data. The baby name Zia — which has various possible origins, including Arabic and Hebrew — sees higher-than-expected usage in New Mexico:
2018: 140 U.S. baby girls named Zia
14 (10%) born in New Mexico
2017: 119 U.S. baby girls named Zia
5 (4%) born in New Mexico
2016: 142 U.S. baby girls named Zia
10 (7%) born in New Mexico
2015: 130 U.S. baby girls named Zia
5 (4%) born in New Mexico
2014: 122 U.S. baby girls named Zia
7 (6%) born in New Mexico
These may not seem like impressive numbers, but remember that New Mexico, despite being the fifth-largest U.S. state in terms of area, is home to far less than 1% of the total U.S. population.
Do you like the name Zia? Would you consider using it?
Still waiting on the state data to know how much of this usage happened in Pennsylvania. The state data is out! PA was indeed the state that had the most Carsons, with 454 baby boys (8.7% of the national total) getting the name. This makes Carson the 11th-most-popular boy name in the state for 2018.
What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?
[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated, and some were no doubt influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.]
Years ago, I wrote a post with some naming tips for minimalists. But — as Abby of Appellation Mountain astutely pointed this out in her comment to that post — “minimalism” as applied to baby names could be about capturing a namestyle just as much as it could be about reflecting a lifestyle.
So today I’m giving minimalism another go. This time around, though, it’ll be a list of baby names that fall somewhere between short/simple and modern/stylish.
All of these names have made gains recently (Hank and Linus included!). For more details on usage, click through to see the popularity graphs.
Last week, Becca commented with some interesting Jeopardy! contestant names (e.g., Hobie, Dorcas) and mentioned J! Archive, which lists tens of thousands of Jeopardy! contestants going back to 1984, when the show premiered.
I skimmed through all the contestants from 1984 to 2015 (as we don’t have baby name data for 2016 yet) and spotted hundreds of unusual names. And it looks like at least two of them got a boost thanks to the show:
One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.
The name Brannon saw an increase in usage in 1998:
1999: 118 baby boys named Brannon
1998: 158 baby boys named Brannon
1997: 113 baby boys named Brannon
One-time player Brannon Denning, a graduate student from Connecticut, was on Jeopardy! in September of 1998. (Looks like Brannon Denning is now a law professor at Samford University.)
Alaric & Ezgi …?
These two names may have gotten a slight boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.
Alaric, in 2005. One-time player Alaric Smith was on the show in October of 2005.
Ezgi, in 2015. One-time player Ezgi Ustundag was on the show in October of 2015.
Ezgi is a female name that means “melody” in Turkish.
Anjali (false positive)
“Kids Week” contestant Anjali Tripathi was on the show in September of 1999. The same year, the baby name Anjali more than doubled in usage:
2001: 222 baby girls named Anjali
2000: 230 baby girls named Anjali
1999: 202 baby girls named Anjali
1998: 93 baby girls named Anjali
1997: 80 baby girls named Anjali
But this was a suspiciously steep rise. And it was accompanied by the debut of an alternate spelling (Anjalie). And usage didn’t drop back to normal levels the next year, as one would expect. These facts pointed me to something more high-profile than a Jeopardy! contestant.
Turns out the very successful Hindi coming-of-age romantic comedy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had been released in 1998. The movie featured not one but two main characters named Anjali.
Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year: