What influenced the baby name Aoyun in China?

A portion of an official poster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

I’m sure you know that the Olympics are happening this summer in Beijing. But did you also know that children in China are being named after the event?

The name we’re talking about is Aoyun, which essentially means “Olympics.” (The word àoyùn is actually a short form of àolínpikè yùndònghuì, which is closer to “Olympic Games.”)

The first surge in Aoyuns came in 1992, when China applied to host to the 2000 Games. About 680 Aoyuns were registered at the time.

In 2002 another 553 Aoyuns were named, after China was chosen to host the 2008 Games.

Back in October, the tally was up 3,491 Aoyuns (3,216 males and 275 females).

As of right now, the name Aoyun has been given to more than 4,100 Chinese babies — over 92% of them male.

Other names that have been popping up in China recently are:

  • Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini, after the 5 Olympic mascots*
  • Fuwa, “good-luck dolls,” in reference to the aforementioned Olympic mascots
  • “Hope for Sichuan,” in reference to the recent earthquake

Update: I recently found some data on the mascot names!

As of August 2008, nearly 5,000 babies were named after the Fuwa (which were unveiled in November 2005).

The most popular mascot name was Jingjing (1,240 babies), followed by Huanhuan (1,063), Beibei (880), Nini (642), and Yingying (624).

Combined the five Fuwa names translate as “Beijing Welcomes You.”


Image: A portion of an official 2008 Olympic Games poster, © IOC/The Olympic Museum

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