What popularized the baby name Ayla in 1987?

The character Ayla from the movie "The Clan of the Cave Bear" (1986).
Ayla from “The Clan of the Cave Bear

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Ayla — already on the rise during the 1980s — suddenly jumped into the girl’s top 1,000 in 1987:

  • 1989: 225 baby girls named Ayla [rank: 838th]
  • 1988: 267 baby girls named Ayla [rank: 709th]
  • 1987: 329 baby girls named Ayla [rank: 593rd]
  • 1986: 93 baby girls named Ayla
  • 1985: 46 baby girls named Ayla

The similar name Aylah debuted the following year.

What was the influence?

My guess is the prehistoric adventure film The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986).

The film’s main character, Ayla (played by Daryl Hannah), was a young Cro-Magnon woman who had been raised by a group of Neanderthals after being orphaned as a child.

The movie was based on the best-selling 1980 book of the same name by Jean M. Auel.

…But the story doesn’t end there!

Because one of the 1988 babies named Ayla was Ayla Brown, a contestant on the fifth season of the TV series American Idol. She didn’t make it past the top 16, but her handful of appearances gave the name an even bigger boost: from 417 babies in 2005 to 1,232 babies in 2006 — an increase of almost 300%.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Ayla?

Sources: The Clan of the Cave Bear (film) – Wikipedia, SSA

P.S. Another name that was given a boost by fictional cave-woman was Evolet.

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