How did Nadia Comaneci influence baby names in 1976?

Nadia Comaneci, cover of TIME, 1976

On July 18, 1976, 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci became the first Olympian to score a perfect 10. (She was on the uneven bars at the time.) She ended up winning 3 gold medals in Montreal that summer.

The name Comaneci popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the first and only time in 1976:

  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: 9 baby girls named Comaneci [debut]
  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted

Comaneci is one of several Romanian surnames that refer to the Cumans, a Turkic nomadic people who came to the Carpathian region in the early 13th century.

The name Nadia also got quite a boost in 1976 — not just into the top 1,000, but straight into the top 500:

  • 1978: 610 baby girls named Nadia [rank: 353rd]
  • 1977: 790 baby girls named Nadia [rank: 303rd]
  • 1976: 585 baby girls named Nadia [rank: 360th]
  • 1975: 86 baby girls named Nadia
  • 1974: 88 baby girls named Nadia

Her first name was inspired by a Russian movie character called Nadezhda. Nadia is a nickname for Nadezhda, which means “hope” in Russian.

Nadia Comaneci now lives in the U.S. and is married to fellow Olympic gymnast Bart Conner. They have a son, Dylan Paul, who is named for Bart’s favorite musician, Bob Dylan, and Bart’s former University of Oklahoma coach, Paul Ziert.

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