Where did the baby name Akon come from?

Akon's album "Konvicted" (2006)
Akon album

The name Akon first appeared in the U.S. baby name data as a girl name in 2006:

  • 2009: 9 baby boys named Akon
  • 2008: 12 baby boys named Akon [peak usage]
  • 2007: 9 baby boys named Akon [gender-specific debut]
  • 2006: 5 baby girls named Akon [overall debut]
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted

The next year, it switched genders and started seeing slightly higher usage.

I’m not sure why it debuted as a girl name, but I’m confident (or should I say konfident?) that the male usage was inspired by mononymous Senegalese-American R&B singer Akon (pronounced AY-kon).

Akon had a string of hits during that time period:

  • “Smack That” (feat. Eminem), which peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in November of 2006,
  • “I Wanna Love You” (feat. Snoop Dogg), which reached #1 in December of 2006,
  • “Don’t Matter,” which reached #1 in April of 2007, and
  • “The Sweet Escape” (Gwen Stefani feat. Akon), which peaked at #2 in April of 2007.

His most successful album, the Grammy-nominated Konvicted, came out in November of 2006.

Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1973, but spent much of his childhood in his parents’ native Senegal. He speaks Wolof as well as English.

Akon’s birth name was Aliaune Thiam; “Akon” is one of his many middle names. Back in 2009, Akon said his full name on The Ellen DeGeneres Show [vid] — I can pick out “Aliaune” at the beginning, and “Badara Akon Thiam” at the end, but can’t make out the names in between.

(I don’t know what Akon means, but Aliaune is a variant spelling of the Senegalese name Alioune, which may be an elaborated form of Ali.)

What are your thoughts on the name Akon?


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