But first: Happy birthday, Elvis Presley! (He would have been 85 today.)
So now, think back to 2018. Think of all the pop culture that caught your attention. Think of movies, music, TV shows, social media, sports, video games, news, politics, products, and so forth.
Which of these things had an influence on U.S. baby names last year, do you think? Which baby names will see higher usage (or appear for the very first time) in the 2018 data thanks to 2018 pop culture?
Here are some names to start with:
Adeya – from celebrity baby Adeya (born in March to Kehlani)
Alita – from the movie Alita: Battle Angel
Archie – from royal baby Archie (born in May to Harry & Meghan)
Billie – from singer Billie Eilish
Brixton – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Deckard – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Elder Scrolls video games have been coming out since the mid-1990s — initially on MS-DOS, then on Windows and Xbox/Playstation, and now online as an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). The games are set in open worlds and involve free-form gameplay.
The complete Elder Scrolls series is made up of more than two dozen games, but so far there have been only five primary releases:
The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996)
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) – featuring Dovahkiin
These elaborate games involve a multitude of characters. I’ve done my best to figure out which ones were the most memorable/important, and then to cross-check their names with baby names in the SSA data. Here’s what I’ve come across so far. I’ll start with the debuts…
The name Jagar debuted in the data in 1994. The game Arena featured the character Jagar Tharn (pictured above), who was the main antagonist.
The name Kanen also debuted in 1994. The game Arena featured the character Kanen the Wise.
The name Karliah debuted in 2012. The game Skyrim featured the character Karliah.
The name Serana debuted in 2014. The Skyrim add-on Dawnguard (2012) featured the character Serana (pictured at right), who was a vampire.
The name Tamriel debuted in 2015. (And it’s a one-hit wonder so far.) Though it sounds Biblical with that -iel ending, Tamriel is actually the continent upon which all Elder Scroll games are set.
The name Alduin debuted in 2016. (It’s also a one-hit wonder so far.) The game Skyrim featured the dragon character Alduin, who was the main antagonist.
The name Lynly also debuted in 2016. The game Skyrim featured the character Lynly Star-Sung, who was a barmaid.
The name Alisanne debuted in 2017. The character Alisanne Dupre (a “Listener”) was mentioned in Skyrim, but was featured in the online game The Elder Scrolls: Legends (2017).
And now a couple of rises…
The name Aela saw increased usage after the release of Skyrim, which featured the character Aela the Huntress, who was a werewolf.
The name Jordis also saw increased usage after Skyrim came out. This could have been inspired by the character Jordis the Sword-Maiden…or, more likely, by the appearance of singer Jordis Unga on the second season of The Voice.
For all the Elder Scrolls players out there: What other characters might have had an influence on names? Which character names should I check?
Former Fifth Harmony member Normani has seen a lot of solo success lately. In 2017, she placed third on Dancing with the Stars. In 2018 and 2019, she popped up on tracks with singers like Khalid, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. And, just a few months ago, she released her first solo single, “Motivation” [vid].
All this extra attention has put the name Normani on the onomastic map, so to speak, as it debuted in the SSA data 2017:
2018: 17 baby girls named Normani
2017: 8 baby girls named Normani [debut]
Normani’s full name is Normani Kordei Hamilton. She was named “Normani” in honor of her maternal uncle, Norman, who died of lung cancer before she was born.
It was my mom’s brother and she promised, cause I’m my mom’s firstborn and her only child, she promised that her first child would be named after him, and his name is Norman, so she named me Normani. She was also really into fashion. She was watching an Armani fashion show and put the name together.
How high do you think the name Normani will climb in the 2019 data?
Video vixen Keyshia Ka’oir [pronounced kee-shakay-or] founded her companies Ka’oir Cosmetics and Ka’oir Fitness in 2010 and 2011, respectively. She also started dating rapper Gucci Mane (born Radric Delantic Davis) around that time. So it’s not surprising that, within a few years, the name Kaoir started popping up in the U.S. baby name data:
2018: 34 baby girls named Kaoir
2017: 15 baby girls named Kaoir
2016: 9 baby girls named Kaoir
2015: 5 baby girls named Kaoir
2014: 9 baby girls named Kaoir [debut]
Usage picked up with the airing of the 10-episode TV show “The Mane Event” (Oct. to Dec., 2017), which kicked off with a livestreamed broadcast of Keyshia and Gucci’s wedding. (The other nine episodes consisted of wedding planning.) With the show also came the debuts of the variant names Kior, Kaior, Keior, and Kayoir.
Notably, Kior was a top debut name of 2017 — I think because various media outlets (including VH1 and Bossip) were misspelling her name “Kior” around that time.
She began her modelling career as Keyshia Dior in 2009, but changed her name to Keyshia Ka’oir a few years later. She put out a press release about the switch in early 2012:
I have officially changed my name from Keyshia Dior to Keyshia Ka’oir. […] I decided to put “Keyshia Dior” the urban video model successfully to rest and launch “Keyshia Ka’oir” to continue the expansion of my imprint.
Of the many Love & Hip Hop stars to influence baby names* over the last decade, here are two of the most recent: Kiyanne and Jaquae.
Jaquáe (born James Harris) and Kiyanne — both rappers — were part of Love & Hip Hop: New York. They were romantically involved during season eight (2017-2018), but broke up during season nine (2018-2019).
As a result of their newfound fame, Kiyanne’s name debuted in the data and Jaquáe’s made an impressive comeback after an absence of several years.
Do you like the names Kiyanne and Jaquáe? Would you use either one?
*Other baby names influenced by various versions of Love & Hip Hop include Somaya, Kimbella, Benzino, Tahiry, Mendeecees, Kalenna, Jhonni, Mariahlynn, Lyrica, Safaree, and Cyn.