Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2020

Happy birthday, Elvis!

It’s hard to put into words just how bizarre 2020 was.

Despite this…people still had babies in 2020, and people still paid attention to pop culture in 2020. (In fact, thanks to quarantine, many people probably paid a lot more attention to pop culture than usual last year.) So, let’s put the seriousness of 2020 aside for a second and kick off the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

Of course, “pop culture” includes not just things like movies and music and social media, but also anything that was in the news — including COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the U.S. presidential election.

Which baby names will see higher usage — or appear for the very first time — in the 2020 SSA baby name data thanks to pop culture?

Here are some initial ideas (plus some context):

  • Aalam, DJ Khaled’s baby
  • Ahmaud, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
  • Amala, Doja Cat album
  • Azula, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (made available on Netflix in mid-2020)
  • Breonna, shooting of Breonna Taylor
  • Bryant, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Casme, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Catori, Chris Brown’s baby (suggested by alex)
  • Chadwick, death of Chadwick Boseman
  • Charli, singer Charli XCX
  • Corona, coronavirus
    • Not to mention the brand new Daddy Yankee song “Corona” [vid]…
  • Crozier, naval captain Brett Crozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Daisy, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s baby
  • Desz, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Doja, singer Doja Cat
  • Domhnall, Irish actor on (canceled) HBO series Run
  • Dua, singer Dua Lipa
  • Esty, character on the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox
  • George, killing of George Floyd
  • Gianna, death of Gianna Bryant
  • Greta, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
  • Isaias, hurricane
  • Jack, death of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s unborn baby
  • Kamala, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
  • Kamiyah, character in the Lifetime movie Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story*
  • Kaori, Kevin Hart’s baby
  • Katara, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Kobe, death of Kobe Bryant
  • Kraken, NHL expansion team (Seattle)
  • Larriah, contestant on season 19 of The Voice
  • Laura, hurricane
  • Lenin, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez (suggested by elbowin)
  • Liberty, Meghan McCain’s baby
  • Lovella, singer Matt Bellamy’s baby
  • Lynika, death of Lynika Strozier (suggested by elbowin)
  • Lyra, Ed Sheeran’s baby
  • McGivney, beatification of Fr. Michael McGivney
  • Neowise, comet (suggested by elbowin)
  • Onyx, Iggy Azalea’s baby
  • Raddix, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden’s baby
  • Rayshard, shooting of Rayshard Brooks
  • River, Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara’s baby
  • Robinette, President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden (suggested by elbowin)
  • Rona, coronavirus
  • Rue, Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert’s baby
  • Rumble, model Lucky Blue Smith’s baby
  • Ruth, death of RBG
  • Sovereign, Usher’s baby
  • Tchalla, death of Chadwick Boseman (who played T’Challa in 2018’s Black Panther)
  • Wenliang, Chinese doctor Li Wenliang (suggested by elbowin)
  • Willa, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s baby
  • Win, Ciara and Russell Wilson’s baby
  • Yara, actress Yara Shahidi
  • Zuko, character from Avatar: The Last Airbender (here’s one Zuko from 2020)

Some of the names from the 2019 game could be applicable to the 2020 data as well.

Also, feel free to zoom out and consider name trends this year. Here are a few ways in which baby-naming may have been influenced by our collective experience of COVID-19, for instance:

  • “In my opinion this unprecedented situation will affect naming towards something “bolder” or “more badass” baby names and so you’ll probably see a spike of certain names like King, Major or Royal.” (Gheba)
  • “I’d bet on the rise of virtue names, or at least modern version of virtue names, like Brave/Bravery, Courage, Honor, etc. And I’d say names like Legend, Messiah, Legacy, Major, King, will probably rise some more too.” (Skizzo)
  • “I think it will also affect which media influence names this year. Eg we’ll miss out on names inspired by Olympic athletes, but might see even more from Netflix and YouTube.” (Clare)

What other names (or name trends) should we add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Just remember to make a note of the pop culture influence!

I’ll post the results as soon as I can after the SSA releases the 2020 data (in May of 2021, hopefully).

*Did you know that the actress who played Kamiyah in that Lifetime movie is named Rayven Symone Ferrell? Certainly a nod to Raven-Symoné

What the Hec, Another Baby Name

The unusual baby name Hec was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. data during the 1970s:

  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby boys named Hec [debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

What put it there?

The two-season western/detective series Hec Ramsey, which was broadcast on NBC from 1972 to 1974.

The show was set in the early 20th century and starred Richard Boone as Hector “Hec” Ramsey, a former gunfighter turned lawman who used then-modern forensic techniques (e.g., fingerprinting equipment) to catch criminals.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Hec?

Source: Hec Ramsey – Wikipedia

P.S. If you like Hec, you might also like Hud.

Popular Baby Names in South Africa, 2019

According to Statistics South Africa, the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were Melokuhle and Enzokuhle.

Here are South Africa’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Melokuhle, 3,418 baby girls
  2. Enzokuhle, 3,273
  3. Amahle, 2,534
  4. Lethabo, 2,420
  5. Omphile, 2,350
  6. Okuhle, 2,313
  7. Lesedi, 2,154
  8. Lethokuhle, 2,079
  9. Lisakhanya, 2,077
  10. Rethabile, 1,951

Boy Names

  1. Enzokuhle, 3,851 baby boys
  2. Lethabo, 3,138
  3. Lubanzi, 3,110
  4. Melokuhle, 2,907
  5. Junior, 2,471
  6. Lethokuhle, 2,169
  7. Siyabonga, 1,979
  8. Omphile, 1,292
  9. Thato, 1,887
  10. Bokamoso, 1,883

In general, the popular baby forenames for males and females reflect positive hopes for the child, express beliefs and are inspired by positive connotations of both love and acceptance.

In 2018, the top name for both girls and boys was Enzokuhle.

In the girls’ top 10, Lethokuhle and Lisakhanya replace Amogelang and Onthatile.

In the boys’ top 10, Lethokuhle replaces Amogelang.

Finally, the top five middle names per gender in 2019 were…

  • Girls: Precious, Princess, Angel, Blessing, Hope
  • Boys: Junior, Blessing, Gift, Prince, Lubanzi

Source: P0305 – Recorded live births, 2019 – Stats SA

Popular Baby Names in Nova Scotia, 2020

According to Nova Scotia’s Registry of Vital Statistics, the most popular baby names in the province in 2020 were Olivia and Oliver.

Here are Nova Scotia’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2020:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 54 baby girls
  2. Charlotte, 41
  3. Ivy, 37
  4. Ava, 36
  5. Nora, 33
  6. Amelia, 30
  7. Sophie, 28
  8. Evelyn, 27 [3-way tie]
  9. Isla, 27 [3-way tie]
  10. Sophia, 27 [3-way tie]

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 56 baby boys
  2. Benjamin, 48 [tie]
  3. William, 48 [tie]
  4. Jack, 47
  5. Levi, 41 [tie]
  6. Noah, 41 [tie]
  7. Henry, 35
  8. Liam, 33 [tie]
  9. Owen, 33 [tie]
  10. Luke, 32

These 2020 rankings are based on provisional data covering the year up to December 29th; by that time, Nova Scotia had 6,856 registered births.

In 2019, the top two names were Charlotte and Jack. (I didn’t blog about the 2019 rankings, but I did post the 2018 rankings.)

Finally, here’s an interesting fact: “The province began formally registering births in 1864.” That year, the top names were (predictably) Mary and John.

Source: O baby! Here are Nova Scotia’s top names for 2020

Name Quotes 91: Wendy, Elliot, Thorlogh

From the 2010 book Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen’s American Vision by Louis P. Masur:

Peter Knobler, a writer for Crawdaddy, got an early listen [to “Born to Run”] in Springsteen’s Long Branch house. The place was cluttered with motorcycle magazines and old 45s. Over Bruce’s bed, according to Knobler, was a poster of Peter Pan leading Wendy out the window. The detail is suggestive: “Wendy let me in, I wanna be your friend/I want to guard your dreams and visions.”

From an article called “Khmer Legends” in The Cambodia Daily:

[T]he municipality has recently erected a statue of the fabled Yeay Penh, the woman who is credited with giving Phnom Penh its landmark hill.

As the story goes, in the 1370s, Yeay Penh asked her neighbors to raise the mound in front of her home so as to build on top of it a sanctuary to house the four statues of Buddha she had found inside a floating tree trunk. That mound, or phnom, is credited with giving Phnom Penh its name.

[…]

“The problem is we have no proof,” said Ros Chantrabot, a Cambodian historian and vice president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

“In all likelihood she did exist or, at the very least, the tale is based on an actual person, since Penh’s hill, or Phnom Penh, is there for all to see,” he said.

[“Yeah Penh” is the equivalent of “Grandmother Penh.” The word yeay in Cambodian is a title used to refer to and/or address an older female.]

From a recent Instagram post by actor Elliot Page (formerly called Ellen Page):

Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.

From the essay “On Naming Women and Mountains” by Lucy Bryan Green:

My own name scratches and constricts like an ill-fitting sweater. It comforts me to be [at Yosemite National Park] with wild things that do not speak it. As I walk among Steller’s jays and Brewer’s lupine and Douglas firs, I think, you, too, wear someone else’s name. This is also true of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes—names within names. I wonder about the people and the motivations behind these names, which I feel hesitant to say aloud.

From a post about Protestant and Puritan names in Ireland vs. England at the DMNES blog:

Tait says one might expect the saint names, pushed by the Catholic church during the Reformation, and English names, handed down to descendants of settlers, to overtake and eradicate the use of Gaelic names as it did in England (315). She found this was not the case. Irish natives and settlers each retained their own naming systems, preserving them both. In the 1660s, she finds the top 6 names used by native Irish families remained largely Gaelic– Patrick, Bryan, Hugh, Owen, Thorlogh, and Shane, while the top names used by the descendants of settlers remained largely English– John, Thomas, William, Robert, James, and Richard (316).

From the 2015 essay “The Name on My Coffee Cup” by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh:

As a frequent consumer of Starbucks…the most contentious aspect for me when ordering coffee—until now, anyway—has been the perpetual misspelling of my name on the side of the cup. The mutations have been many, and they have often been egregious—“Zal,” “Sowl,” “Sagi,” “Shi”—and then once, incredibly, three years ago, at a branch in the financial district, “Saïd,” diaeresis added, prompting me to seek out the barista, whose hand I grasped with deep feeling but who, frankly, seemed perplexed that anyone would have difficulty spelling my name. He was Latino, I think, and he told me that he had a best friend named Saïd, spelled identically, which would explain his astuteness. Never mind the backstory, I was delighted by the outcome. I photographed the cup for posterity, and then, for good measure, tweeted it for the world to see.

Other tweeted misspellings include Saíd, Syeed, Sai, Saii, Sahi, Sie, Säd, Sia, and Sam.