The (Emotional) Debut of Jentree

The names Jentree and Gentree both debuted in the U.S. baby name data last year. Jentree was given to 14 baby girls, and Gentree to 6 more.

Though the original form of the name, Gentry, has been on the rise recently — and has given rise to spelling variants* — these two particular variants didn’t pop up until a video featuring towheaded 2-year-old Jentree Joles went viral.

A one-minute clip of Jentree getting emotional while watching the movie The Good Dinosaur (2015) — specifically, the part where a young dinosaur became separated from his family — was posted to social media by her aunt in September of 2017.

The video racked up nearly a million views overnight. By the time Jentree and her family were featured on the local news several weeks later (Oct. 6), the video had been viewed 75 million times across several different platforms.

Gentry — both the surname and the vocabulary word — mean the same thing: “nobility of birth or character.” The word can be traced back (via Anglo-Norman French genterie and Old French gentil) to the ancient Roman word gens, which referred to one’s clan or tribe.

The baby name Gentry is particularly popular in a handful of central-ish U.S. states: Oklahoma (where Joles is from), Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah. It’s strongly associated with country music via duo Montgomery Gentry and singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry (whose fame in the late ’60s inspired parents to use “Gentry” as a girl name more often).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Gentry? What spelling do you prefer?

*Gentrie, Gentri, Jentry, Jentri, Jentrie.

Sources: This 2-year-old girl’s reaction to a movie is making the internet emotional, Video Of BA Toddler’s Emotional Reaction To Movie Seen Nearly 75M Times, Gentry – Online Etymology Dictionary

The Emergence of Maleni

Maleni Cruz, from a “Get Ready With Maleni” makeup video

The fastest-rising baby name of 2018, in terms of a relative increase, was Maleni (pronounced mah-LEH-nee). The name Maleni was given to 6 baby girls in 2017, then shot up to a whopping 63 baby girls the next year.

What gave it a boost?

Maleni Cruz, one half of Insta-famous Brooklyn couple Chicklet and Maleni, who together had a breakout year in 2018.

Most Instagram feeds are carefully curated and filtered, but Chicklet and Maleni’s feeds feature funny clips of the pair butting heads (sometimes viciously) over everything from phone etiquette to the fact that they still live in Chicklet’s mom’s house. As one writer put it, Chicklet and Maleni “accumulated millions of fans by embracing everything you’re not supposed to be on social media.”

I think it’s particularly interesting to compare the rise of the name Maleni from 2017 to 2018 with the drop of the similar-sounding, FLOTUS-associated name Melania over the same stretch of time:

Usage of baby name Maleni vs. Usage of baby name Melania, 2017 to 2018

What are your thoughts on the name Maleni?

*Chicklet’s real name is Steven Negron.

Source: When this Instagram couple has vicious fights, millions of people tune in

Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2018: Results!

Here are the results of Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2018! For the pop culture context of any of these names, just click back over to the original game post.

Rises

Names that saw higher usage in 2018:

No Change

Names that saw no change in usage in 2018.

Drops

Names that saw lower usage in 2018:

Absent

Names that were absent from the SSA data in 2018:

  • Did not debut: Avicii, Carvena, Chevel, Coco (as a boy name), Cullinan, Ella Mai, Kaavia, Kulture, Mahomes, Majeste, Maquia, Marsai, Nafessa, Osaka, Pineapple, Qira, Ramirez (as a girl name), Reileen, Sanni, Velar, Venom, Villanelle, Xolo, Yanny, Zaxai
  • Did not re-emerge: Cress, Gio, Joji, Jumanji, T’challa

Late Bloomers

Names that were “absent” from the 2017’s results, now in 2018:

Plus: Rumi finally rose, and Sircarter unexpectedly surfaced.

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.]

The Baby Names Khaza & Islah

Baton Rogue-based rapper Kevin Gates and his wife Dreka have two children, daughter Islah (pronounced ees-lah) and son Khaza. Both names have been featured in Kevin’s music recently. As a result, both names have also seen a relatively steep rise in usage recently.

In May of 2015, Gates released the song “Khaza” [vid]. The same year, the baby name Khaza was the 2nd-highest-rising boy name of 2015 (after Rhydian). Usage was largely in the South.

  • 2017: 72 baby boys (and 10 baby girls) named Khaza
    • 13 in LA, 9 in GA, 7 in TX, 6 in TN, 5 in AL (56%)
  • 2016: 77 baby boys (and 6 baby girls) named Khaza
    • 18 in TX, 11 in LA, 7 in AL, 6 in GA, 6 in FL, 6 in NC, 5 in TN (77%)
  • 2015: 34 baby boys named Khaza
    • 8 in TX, 6 in LA (41%)
  • 2014: 6 baby boys named Khaza [debut]
  • 2013: unlisted

I’m not certain where the name comes from, but my wild guess is that it’s based on the Quranic word khaza’in, which means “treasures” in Arabic. (Gates is a practicing Muslim.)

In January of 2016, after releasing various mixtapes and singles, Gates finally put out his first studio album, Islah. Spin called it “the most-balanced Kevin Gates project to date.” The same year, the baby name Islah was the 2nd-highest-rising girl name of 2016 (after Kehlani).

  • 2017: 58 baby girls named Islah
    • 9 in FL, 8 in TX
  • 2016: 48 baby girls (and 5 baby boys) named Islah
    • 8 in CA, 8 in TX
  • 2015: 8 baby girls named Islah
  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted

In this case I can tell you precisely where the name came from, because Gates talked about it in several interviews. Here’s how he defined the album title for HotNewHipHop in late 2015:

“To reform, to improve, to make better. And I believe that’s what my first daughter did to me, so I named my first album after my first daughter. Because it improved me, it made me better.”

And that’s exactly what the Arabic word islah means: “to improve, to better, to put something into a better position.”

Which baby name do you like more, Khaza or Islah? Would you use either one?

Sources:

Mazikeen and Amenadiel

The baby name Mazikeen debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2016.

Several Neil Gaiman characters (e.g., Coraline, Yvaine) have influenced baby names in the past, so here are several more that are influencing baby names right now.

These names come courtesy of the TV show Lucifer (2016-), which was loosely based on Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman (1989-1996).

The premise of the show is that the main character, Lucifer (played by Tom Ellis), bored with Hell, has decided to move to Los Angeles and open a night club called “Lux.” (The Latin word lux, meaning “light,” comes directly from Lucifer’s name, meaning “light bearer.”)

In 2017, the baby name Lucifer saw its highest-ever usage so far — a fact that would no doubt alarm a large number of Americans.

Lucifer’s right-hand man is a lady: Mazikeen “Maze” Smith (played by Lesley-Ann Brandt). She’s a demon who followed Lucifer to Earth as his sworn protector. At the start of the series, she worked as a bartender at Lux.

The baby name Mazikeen debuted in the data in 2016, and Maze debuted for girls specifically the next year.

Lucifer’s eldest brother is Amenadiel (played by D. B. Woodside). He’s an archangel (still in God’s good graces) who has a contentious relationship with Lucifer, who he encourages to return to Hell.

The baby name Amenadiel debuted in the data in 2017.

MazikeenMazeAmenadiel
201727 girls15 boys &
9 girls [debut]
9 boys [debut]
2016
7 girls [debut]11 boys.
2015.14 boys.

Though Mazikeen and Amenadiel both sound biblical, neither one is found in the Bible. Mazikeen is based on the Hebrew word mazzikim, meaning “harmful spirits.” Amenadiel’s explanation has eluded me so far, but, like many Hebrew names, it ends with -el, which refers to “God.”

What are your thoughts on these two new names? How about on the rising usage of Lucifer?

Sources: List of Lucifer characters – Wikipedia, Jewish Concepts: Demons & Demonology

P.S. Also on TV right now is American Gods (2017-), based on the Neil Gaiman book of the same name. I thought the show might give the name Shadow a big boost, but so far this isn’t the case.