Lion King Baby Names: Simba, Sarabi, Mufasa…

lion king, characters, disney
Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Sarabi, Timon,
and other Lion King characters.

Disney princesses often influence the baby name charts. But what about Disney animals?

We’ve already talked about two deer and a squirrel, so today let’s check out five lions and a meerkat.

The Lion King, released in 1994, was a Hamlet-influenced, coming-of-age story that focused on a lion cub named Simba. So it’s no surprise that Simba was the first Lion King-inspired baby name to debut on the charts…

Simba

The name Simba — not to be confused with Symba! — first appeared in the data in 1994:

  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 9 baby boys named Simba
  • 1994: 5 baby boys named Simba [debut]
  • 1993: unlisted

Simba comes from the Swahili word for “lion.”

Sarabi

Sarabi, the name of Simba’s mother, first appeared in 1995:

  • 1997: 5 baby girls named Sarabi
  • 1996: 9 baby girls named Sarabi
  • 1995: 12 baby girls named Sarabi [debut]
  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: unlisted

Sarabi comes from the Swahili word for “mirage.”

Mufasa

Mufasa, the name of Simba’s father, also first appeared in 1995:

  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 7 baby boys named Mufasa [debut]
  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: unlisted

It was a one-hit wonder on the charts.

Nala

Nala was the name of Simba’s childhood best friend (and, later, love interest). Her name saw a big boost in usage in the mid-1990s:

  • 1997: 55 baby girls named Nala
  • 1996: 51 baby girls named Nala
  • 1995: 85 baby girls named Nala
  • 1994: 24 baby girls named Nala
  • 1993: unlisted

Timon

Timon, the name of Simba’s meerkat friend, also saw increased usage in the mid-1990s:

  • 1997: 17 baby boys named Timon
  • 1996: 19 baby boys named Timon
  • 1995: 19 baby boys named Timon
  • 1994: 9 baby boys named Timon
  • 1993: 7 baby boys named Timon

Kiara

Kiara wasn’t in the original Lion King movie, but she was the main character of the direct-to-video sequel The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, released in October of 1998. She was Simba and Nala’s daughter. The name Kiara, already popular, saw a massive spike in usage in 1999:

  • 2001: 2,289 baby girls named Kiara [rank: 144th]
  • 2000: 2,559 baby girls named Kiara [rank: 130th]
  • 1999: 4,023 baby girls named Kiara [rank: 78th]
  • 1998: 1,733 baby girls named Kiara [rank: 172nd]
  • 1997: 1,263 baby girls named Kiara [rank: 238th]

…So which of these names do you like best? Would you use a Lion King-inspired name for your own baby?


The Baby Name Tavist: Inspired by Antihistamine?

Tavist-D, medicine, allergyTravis has been on the baby name charts since the very beginning. It was particularly popular from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, ranking in the top 50 for 18 years straight.

During that period of Travis-trendiness, other forms/spellings of the name emerged, including Traviss, Tavis, Travus, Travas, Traves, Trevis, and Tevis.

Given this context, it’s not surprising that when a product called “Tavist-D” started to be marketed heavily in late 1992, the baby name Tavist debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very next year:

  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: 10 baby boys named Tavist
  • 1993: 16 baby boys named Tavist [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted

Tavist-D, an antihistamine-decongestant, had been available in the U.S. by prescription since 1983. In early 1992, manufacturer Sandoz got permission from the FDA to sell Tavist-D over the counter. The drug became available to the public a few months later. It was introduced with a $40 million ad campaign. (For perspective, the company took in over $100 million in sales the first year.)

Though Tavist-D commercials continued to air until late 1990s, the name Tavist dropped off the baby name list after just two years. Why? Maybe because the name Travis was falling out of fashion by then. Or maybe because the brand name had become too well known. Ironically, the drug isn’t even around anymore; it was pulled from pharmacy shelves in 2000.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tavist?

Sources:

(Another baby name inspired by medicine: Laxative Bromo Quinine.)

“Jeopardy!” Baby Names: Alancia and Brannon

jeopardy, game show

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:

Alancia

The name Alancia was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 2000:

  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 9 baby girls named Alancia [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted

One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.

Brannon

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.

More names!

Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year:

  • 2015: Chandreyi, Dava-Leigh, Desta, Ezgi, Kynan, Mags, Praggya, Rook, Tiombi
  • 2014: Ben-Hur, Dinu, FeiFei, Gudrun, Ilissa, Kenesha, LaWanda, Leszek, Mariusz, Myfanwy, Osei, Shloka, Sirena
  • 2013: Arne, Berek, Diva, Kelton, Kinu, Nilai, Nishanth, Ramsin, Rhea, Salvo, Shuli, Sonrisa, Tahne, Twyla, Waymond, Xan, Yellowlees
  • 2012: Anshika, Benton, Bing, Deniz, Injee, Jessamine, Jia-Rui, Mithun, Pian, Shaanti,
    Vamsi, Vinayak
  • 2011: Bhibha, Boomie, Cosi, Gabor, Gitta, Idrees, Karawan, LuEllen, Milind, Raphie
  • 2010: Huat, Kemi, Marianthe, Raghuveer, Shaama, Surabhi
  • 2009: Ariella, Claxton, Cyn, Daphna, Drusha, Hayes, Henok, Jove, Lysette, Nirav, Ranjan, Seyi, Shyra, Tui (TOO-ee), Wright
  • 2008: Anurag, Babatope, Delano, Elza, Gilah, Kew, Murtaza, Naren, Srinivas, Vibin, Zia
  • 2007: Arlynda, Bethlehem, Clé, Haritha, Khoa, Kai-Ning, Kizzle, Lateefah, Lenzy, Marvene, Mehrun, Ssezi, Tigger, Toho, Tope
  • 2006: Dianisbeth, Iddoshe, Karmie, Lizard, Nemanja, Nissan, Oz, Ozgun, Papa, Pinki, Raena, Reda, Sioux, Tawney
  • 2005: Alaric, Corinth, Jayanth, Kem, Kingslea, LeeAundra, Ruchi, Ruvani, Vanamali
  • 2004: Denele, Kermin, M’Liss, Nithya
  • 2003: Alicen, Amasa, Eok, Freya, Nulty, Snowden, Vane
  • 2002: Anagha, Dileep, Gadi, Hikma, Jara, Kirik, Kunle, Manoj, Muzy (MYOO-zee), Omid, Quyen, Rafi, Seveen, Shasa, Tana, Umiko
  • 2001: Aki, Babu, Gosia, Marek, Mittie, Neha, Ulhas, Vinita
  • 2000: Akshai, Arrington, Celiane, Cinnamon, Iyesatu, Jeeks, Manx, Meri-Jane, Mitali, Sabin, Tarun
  • 1999: Ajuan, Alancia, Anjali, Chacko, Davine, Happy, Mihee, Seale, Wellington, Yancy, Yoni
  • 1998: Ardys, Brannon, Creswell, Kemp, Melizza, Sinan
  • 1998: Boze, Jolyn, Rokshana
  • 1997: Akiva, Atish, Breck, Brick, Davia, Girish, Mita, Murat, Pooja, Sahir, Tanis, Vartan, Zinie
  • 1996: Myretta, Rima, Ulf, Vandana
  • 1995: Albina
  • 1994: Graydon
  • 1993: Bronwyn, Ferris, Leif
  • 1991: India, Kareem
  • 1990: Ardwight, Avrom, Murdock, Peji
  • 1989: Darbi, Ouida
  • 1988: Blaze, Cigus, Doak, Scooter
  • 1987: JoFrannye
  • 1986: Chub, Zanete

Which of the above names do you like best?

P.S. Thanks again, Becca!

More “Star Search” Baby Names

symba smith, star search, spokesmodel, 1991
Symba on Star Search, 1991
When I wrote about the name Tareva a couple of years ago, I said it was the only Star Search-inspired debut name I’d ever come across. Well, I’ve since discovered one more!

Symba

The name Symba was a 2-hit wonder that only appeared in the SSA data in 1991 and 1992:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 5 baby girls named Symba
  • 1991: 30 baby girls named Symba [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The cause? Not Disney’s animated baby lion, which didn’t come along until a few years later, but Star Search spokesmodel competitor Symba Smith, who appeared on multiple episodes of the show during the 1991 season and ultimately won the 1991 championship (which included $100,000 in prize money).

Two years earlier, in 1989, Mississippi-born Symba had won the “Miss Teen All-American” pageant. (Four years before that, the pageant winner had been Halle Berry.)

*

But that’s not all. Here are two more names that saw a boost in usage thanks to Star Search:

Durell

The name Durell spiked in popularity in 1985 thanks to singer Durell Coleman, winner of the 1985 season.

  • 1987: 50 baby boys named Durell
  • 1986: 123 baby boys named Durell
  • 1985: 208 baby boys named Durell
  • 1984: 46 baby boys named Durell

Countess

The name Countess jumped back onto the charts in 1988 thanks to Countess Vaughn, who sang on the show as a 9-year-old.

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Countess
  • 1988: 15 baby girls named Countess
  • 1987: unlisted

Vaughn went on to join the cast of Moesha in 1996 as a teenager.

Two more names that may have been influenced by Star Search — it’s hard to tell — are Garcelle and Jordis. Garcelle Beauvais competed as a spokesmodel in 1986, and Jordis Unga competed as a vocalist in 2004. (Unga’s 2005 appearance on Rock Star: INXS was probably a bigger influence on overall usage.)

The Baby Name Nayirah

nayirah, 1990, testimony

In October of 1990, two months after Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah testified in front of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She said she’d seen Iraqi soldiers taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and leaving them to die.

Her testimony helped sway public opinion in favor of the Gulf War.

But in early 1992, her testimony was called into question. New York Times writer John MacArthur revealed that Nayirah was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States. Her appearance had been arranged by a U.S. public relations firm and sponsored by a Kuwaiti organization pushing for military intervention. Most importantly, the claims she made could not be corroborated:

Saddam Hussein committed plenty of atrocities, but not, apparently, this one. The teenager’s accusation, at first verified by Amnesty International, was later refuted by that group as well as by other independent human rights monitors.

And amid this controversy in 1992, we see the baby name Nayirah appear for the very first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 13 baby girls named Nayirah [debut]
  • 1991: unlisted

The name, which means “luminous” in Arabic, dropped out of the data the next year. It remained a one-hit wonder until reappearing just recently, in 2015.

Sources:

The U.S. Babies Named Saddam

saddam hussain, 1980sSaddam Hussein served as the leader of Iraq from the mid-1970s until the early 2000s.

In August of 1990, he invaded Kuwait and set off the Persian Gulf War. (Years later, when asked why he invaded Kuwait, one of his answers was: “When I get something into my head I act. That’s just the way I am.”)

In early 1991, the a U.S.-led allied coalition attacked Iraq, mainly from the air (Operation Desert Storm). By late February, the Iraqis were finally driven out of Kuwait.

Saddam Hussein was in the U.S. news enough in the early 1990s that the name Saddam appeared in the U.S. baby name data for three years in a row:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 5 baby boys named Saddam
  • 1991: 10 baby boys named Saddam
  • 1990: 15 baby boys named Saddam [debut]
    • 6 born in California
  • 1989: unlisted

The name Saddam means “one who confronts” in Arabic. In 2007, The Economist specified that the “ungainly” name was “a conjugate of the Arabic words for “shock” and “collision.””

Saddam Hussein’s full name at birth was Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti. “Hussein” was his father’s name, “Abd al-Majid” was his grandfather’s name, and “al-Tikriti” refers to the town of Tikrit, where he was born. He later abolished regional surnames, possibly to “obscure the number of members of his inner circle who were relatives from Takrit.”

Sources:

Will JonBenet Be Back?

Jonbenet RamseySeveral TV programs about the unsolved murder of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey are set to air in the coming weeks and months, as December 25 of this year marks the 20th anniversary of JonBenét’s death.

The news of her murder brought attention to her unusual name (an invention inspired by the name of her father, John Bennett Ramsey) and in 1997 we see Jonbenet appear for the first time in the SSA’s baby name data:

  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: 6 baby girls named Jonbenet
  • 1998: unlisted
  • 1997: 14 baby girls named Jonbenet [debut]
  • 1996: unlisted

The name was on the list again in 1999, but dropped off after that.

Do you think all the 20th anniversary attention will boost the name back onto the charts either this year or next?

Source: JonBenét Ramsey – Wikipedia