The Baby Name Colt

wayde preston, colt 45, television, 1950s
Christopher Colt

The baby name Colt has a distinctive popularity graph: usage begins in the 1950s, shoots up in the early 1980s, shoots up again in the early 2000s, and shoots up again in the late 2010s.

The initial usage was triggered by the TV Western Colt .45 (1957-1960), which was loosely based upon a 1950 film of the same name. The main character, Christopher Colt, was an undercover government agent posing as a pistol salesman. (The Colt .45 was a type of pistol that was particularly popular in the Old West.)

The name Colt debuted in the SSA’s data the year the show premiered:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Colt
  • 1958: 10 baby boys named Colt
  • 1957: 7 baby boys named Colt [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

The show may have given the name Christopher a boost as well, though it’s hard to tell, as the name was already on the rise in the late ’50s.

But the name that got the biggest boost from the show wasn’t Colt or Christopher — it was Wayde, from actor Wayde Preston, who played Christopher Colt. The name saw peak usage in 1959:

  • 1960: 135 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 674th]
  • 1959: 252 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 493rd]
  • 1958: 153 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 622nd]
  • 1957: 33 baby boys named Wayde
  • 1956: 15 baby boys named Wayde

But getting back to Colt…the name remained relatively rare until another show, The Fall Guy (1981-1986), introduced TV audiences to the character Colt Seavers, played by Lee Majors. This character wasn’t a gunslinger but a stuntman (who moonlighted as a bounty hunter).

The name jumped straight into the top 500 in 1982:

  • 1983: 351 baby boys named Colt [rank: 444th]
  • 1982: 344 baby boys named Colt [rank: 459th]
  • 1981: 20 baby boys named Colt
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Colt

The next rise in usage was kicked off by football quarterback Daniel “Colt” McCoy, who had a successful college career at the University of Texas (2005-2009) before going pro in 2010.

  • 2009: 820 baby boys named Colt [rank: 369th]
    • 162 (19.8%) born in Texas
  • 2008: 500 baby boys named Colt [rank: 532nd]
    • 85 (17.0%) born in Texas
  • 2007: 428 baby boys named Colt [rank: 593rd]
    • 67 (15.7%) born in Texas
  • 2006: 212 baby boys named Colt [rank: 910th]
    • 38 (17.9%) born in Texas
  • 2005: 186 baby boys named Colt [rank: 943rd]
    • 21 (11.3%) born in Texas
  •  2004: 143 baby boys named Colt [outside top 1,000]
    • 13 (9.1%) born in Texas

And the most recent rise in usage seems to be attributable to the Netflix series The Ranch, which premiered in mid-2016 and stars Ashton Kutcher as a character named Colt Reagan Bennett.

So, going back to the beginning now….where did the name of the Colt .45 pistol come from?

The pistol was made by Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Connecticut. The company was named for founder Samuel Colt (1814-1862), whose English surname originated as “a metonymic occupational name for someone who looked after asses and horses, or a nickname for an obstinate or frisky person.”

What do you think of the baby name Colt? (Do you like it as a standalone name, or do you prefer it as a nickname for Colton?)

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

The Emergence of Mychal

mychal, sports, baby name, 1970s

The name Mychal first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1978, when it was suddenly given to nearly five dozen baby boys:

  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1980: 26 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1979: 35 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1978: 59 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted

That number was impressive enough to make Mychal not just the top debut name of 1978, but also the 26th-highest boy-name debut of all time.

What was the influence?

Bahamian basketball player Mychal Thompson. He was the #1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft (chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers) and also happened to be the first foreign-born player to be a #1 pick.

Later in his career, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them in the late ’80s. As a result, the baby name Mychal shot into the top 1,000 in 1987 and saw peak usage in 1988.

So how did he get the name “Mychal”? He gave it to himself, actually. In an interview with Lakers Nation, he told the story of why he changed the spelling from the original “Michael”:

When I did start playing basketball in high school, all of a sudden people started talking about Michael Thompson in all the [newspaper] write-ups. […] So every time they’d write my name they’d go, Mike Thompson. And my name is Michael.

Now I understand Mike is short for Michael, but I wanted to be known as Michael, so I said, ‘How can I get them to stop calling me Mike?’ I’ll tell you what, I’ll change the spelling of my name so that way, and I figured I wanted to make it kind of a unique name, so people know it’s me, cause there are a million Michaels out there, it’s one of the most popular names there is.

So I figured, ok, just [so that] everybody knows that it’s me when I write Michael Thompson, I started writing M-y-c-h-a-e-l, nah, M-y-k-a-e-l, nah I don’t like that one, M-y-c-h-a-l, oh that looks cool, I’ll just go with that. So I started signing my name that way and to make it legal, I actually had to go back home [to the Bahamas] and change my name legally to Mychal.

All three of Mychal’s uniquely named sons — Mychel (different spelling; “I didn’t want him to be a junior”), Klay, and Trayce — now play professional sports. In fact, much of the recent usage of “Klay” is in California, where Klay Thompson has been playing for the Golden State Warriors since 2011.

Mychal admitted that his eldest son doesn’t like that his name is often mispronounced Michelle, but also noted that, while Mychel is “always complaining about it, […] he’s never changed it back to the original spelling.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Mychal? Do you like the spelling?

Sources: Mychal Thompson – Wikipedia, Lakers Nation Special Feature, Part 1: Getting to Know Mychal Thompson [vid]

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2019

Which of the names in the 2019 pop culture baby name game saw increases in usage last year? And which did not? All the results are below!

Here are the names that increased in usage from 2018 to 2019:

  • Alita (f) increased by 554%.
  • Banks (f) increased by 267%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Posie (f) increased by 143%. Suggested by alex.
  • Psalm (m) increased by 129%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Maelyn (f) increased by 91%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Navy (f) increased by 85%, and increased as a boy name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Archie (m) increased by 82%, and re-emerged as a girl name in the data as well.
  • Asante (m) increased by 80%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hart (m) increased by 73%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ciro (m) increased by 70%. Suggested by alex.
  • Alaiya (f) increased by 66%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myracle (f) increased by 51%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Boomer (m) increased by 45%. Suggested by Aya.
  • Billie (f) increased by 42%, and increased as a boy name as well.
  • Valentine (m) increased by 38%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Kamala (f) increased by 30%.
  • Birdie (f) increased by 29%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rosalia (f) increased by 28%. Suggested by alex.
  • Myles (m) increased by 26%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Rue (f) increased by 24%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Rami (m) increased by 24%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
    • Incidentally, the usage of Malek also increased. :)
  • Jed (m) increased by 23%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Hayes (m) increased by 19%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Ace (m) increased by 16%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by alex.
  • Elsa (f) increased by 16%. Suggested by elbowin.
  • Maverick (m) increased by 14%, and increased as a girl name as well. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Brixton (m) increased by 14%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Lucca (m) increased by 13%, but decreased as a girl name. Suggested by alex.
  • Phoebe (f) increased by 11%. Suggested by Elisabeth.
  • Valentino (m) increased by 8%. Suggested by alex.
  • Dorian (m) increased by 3%, but decreased as a girl name.
  • Gloria (f) increased by 3%.
  • Roux (f) increased by 3%, but decreased as a boy name. Suggested by alex.
  • Adeya debuted with 22 baby girls.
  • Marsai was a double-debut: 10 baby girls, 5 baby boys.
  • Kaavia debuted with 15 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Eryss re-emerged in the data with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.
  • Embrii debuted with 5 baby girls. Suggested by alex.

Here are the names that did not increase in usage from 2018 to 2019:

Abril, Aeko, Arendelle, Asahd, Avani, Catori, Charli, Deckard, Donna, Eilish, Garima, Gil, Gilmher, Gima, Greedy, Greta, Huckleberry, Idina, Iduna, Kelleth, Lia, Lisann, Lizzo, Luce, Maleficent, Malone, Marli, Megan, Miren, Nadia, Nipsey, Post, Riyaz, Sameeksha, Sanni, Sansa, Saybie, Shaed, Shahadi, Sulwe, Taeyang, Wick

(These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.)

Here are the late bloomers (i.e., names that were part of the 2018 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2019):

  • Kulture double-debuted with 17 baby girls and 5 baby boys.
  • Chevel debuted with 17 baby girls.
  • Zaxai debuted with 14 baby boys.
  • Qira debuted with 13 baby girls.
  • Story increased by 40 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Dash increased by 25 baby boys (but fell for girls).
  • Akash increased by 14 baby boys.
  • Storm increased by 10 baby girls (but fell for boys).
  • Kiki increased by 4 baby girls.

Finally, two more things…

  • While the name Nipsey didn’t debut in 2019, Nispey Hussle’s legal first name, Ermias, was the fastest-rising boy name of 2019 (in terms of relative increase).
  • Dua, one of the rising names in last year’s game, stayed perfectly level this time around — exactly 72 baby girls in both ’18 and ’19. (In the UK, on the other hand, Dua’s usage increased quite a bit.)

What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?

[The usual disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In each case, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]

U.S. Boy Names 2019: Popular, Rising, Falling, Debuts

Yesterday we looked at some of the latest girl name data, so today let’s check in on the 2019 boy names…

Here are the most popular boy names overall:

  1. Liam, 20,502 baby boys
  2. Noah, 19,048
  3. Oliver, 13,891
  4. William, 13,542
  5. Elijah, 13,300
  6. James, 13,087
  7. Benjamin, 12,942
  8. Lucas, 12,412
  9. Mason, 11,408
  10. Ethan, 11,241

Ethan kicked Logan out of the top 10 last year. (Logan is now ranked 16th.)

The boy names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Brooks, increased by 1,114 babies
  2. Miles, 860
  3. Legend, 832
  4. Luca, 797
  5. Theodore, 775
  6. Mateo, 757
  7. Leo, 702
  8. Maverick, 701
  9. Noah, 698
  10. Luka, 652

The boy names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were…

  1. Ermias, increased by 3360%
  2. Sekani, 1992%
  3. Amenadiel, 500%
  4. Kross, 481%
  5. Alexios, 429%
  6. Taz, 340%
  7. Ezran, 333%
  8. Andoni, 309%
  9. Kaleel, 300%
  10. Taysom, 295%

Some explanations…

  • Ermias was the legal first name of rapper Nipsey Hussle (who died on March 31, 2019).
  • Sekani was the name of a young character in the film The Hate U Give (2018).
  • Amenadiel is a character on the TV series Lucifer.
  • Ezran is the name of a character on the Netflix series The Dragon Prince. (Ezran debuted in the data in 2018, the year the show started airing.)
  • Taysom Hill is a professional football player with the New Orleans Saints.

Here are the boy names that debuted most impressively in the 2019 data:

  1. Armias, debuted with 54 baby boys
  2. Izhaan, 50
  3. Jsan, 33
  4. Jaiari, 29
  5. Ripp, 26
  6. Sakani, 21
  7. Jardani, 19
  8. Iskender, 17
  9. Kamiri, 17
  10. Siar, 14
  • Armias and Sakani are spelling variants of Ermias and Sekani (above).
  • Izhaan is a celebrity baby: Izhaan Mirza Malik was born in October of 2018 to Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.
  • Jardani could be from Jardani Jovonovich, the “real” name of popular movie character John Wick…?

The boy names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Logan, decreased by 1,911 babies
  2. Michael, -1,174
  3. Jacob, -1,159
  4. Dylan, -1,076
  5. Mason, -1,065
  6. William, -1,048
  7. Connor, -932
  8. David, -871
  9. Ryan, -837
  10. Joshua, -836

The boy names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were Nomar and Gianlucas (tied at -73%), and the boy name that saw the steepest drop off the list was Stephano (from 21 babies in 2018 to fewer than 5 in 2019).

If you can explain any of these rises (or drops), please leave a comment!

U.S. Girl Names 2019: Popular, Rising, Falling, Debuts

Name nerds rejoice! Finally, four months after Mother’s Day, the U.S. Social Security Administration has decided to release the latest batch (2019) of baby name data!

First off, here’s the link to the SSA’s popular names page and to the SSA’s downloadable data page.

I’m going to summarize the data in just two posts this year — one for girls, one for boys. Let’s start with the ladies…

Here are the most popular girl names overall:

  1. Olivia, 18,451 baby girls
  2. Emma, 17,102
  3. Ava, 14,440
  4. Sophia, 13,714
  5. Isabella, 13,306
  6. Charlotte, 13,138
  7. Amelia, 12,862
  8. Mia, 12,414
  9. Harper, 10,442
  10. Evelyn, 10,392

These same ten names were in the 2018 top ten as well.

The girl names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Alaia, increased by 1,072 babies
  2. Everleigh, 1,054
  3. Luna, 838
  4. Emilia, 716
  5. Willow, 653
  6. Isla, 615
  7. Violet, 570
  8. Amelia, 508
  9. Hazel, 493
  10. Arya, 492

The girl names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were…

  1. Yalitza, increased by 1490%
  2. Alita, 554%
  3. Dayleen, 527%
  4. Jenaiah, 450%
  5. Amiri, 417%
  6. Theo, 343%
  7. Mazikeen, 319%
  8. Kamoura, 317%
  9. Seylah, 317%
  10. Kairo, 283%

Yalitza was no doubt influenced by Roma (2018) actress Yalitza Aparicio, and Mazikeen comes from the character Mazikeen Smith in the TV series Lucifer.

Here are the girl names that debuted most impressively in the 2019 data:

  1. Adeya, debuted with 22 baby girls
  2. Kayslin, 20
  3. Malaynah, 18
  4. Chevel, 17
  5. Kulture, 17
  6. Kaavia, 15
  7. Sakani, 15
  8. Ahveya, 14
  9. Akyli, 14
  10. Jhazelle, 14

Some explanations…

  • Adeya, Kulture and Kaavia are all celebrity babies: Adeya is the daughter of Kehlani, Kulture is the daughter of Cardi B and Offset, and Kaavia is the daughter of Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade.
  • Kayslin and Chevel come from two contestants (Kayslin Victoria and Chevel Shepherd) on The Voice.
  • Malaynah is a young female rapper (who earned a coveted IG repost from the aforementioned Cardi B in 2018).
  • Sakani was likely inspired by Sekani, the name of a character (a little boy) in the 2018 film The Hate U Give.
  • Akyli must come from Akyli Maze, one of the children of Joe Lee and Alena Maze — YouTube influencers who create content under the name MAZELEE. (The baby name Mazelee debuted last year as well — not surprising at all, given how close it is to the popular Paisley.)

The girl names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Emma, decreased by 1,655 babies
  2. Isabella, -1,211
  3. Alexa, -1,069
  4. Mila, -845
  5. Madison, -794
  6. Avery, -775
  7. Victoria, -767
  8. Addison, -743
  9. Abigail, -742
  10. Elizabeth, -716

The girl name that saw the largest decrease in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies was Anifer (-86%), and the girl name that saw the steepest drop off the list was Marionna (from 21 babies in 2018 to fewer than 5 in 2019).

If you can explain any of the rises (or drops), please leave a comment!

Update, 9/6/2020: Here are the boy names!