Why is the name Keniel trendy in Puerto Rico?

Graph of the usage of the baby name Keniel in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Keniel (U.S.)

The name Keniel is curiously popular in Puerto Rico. In fact, Keniel has been one of the top 100 names for baby boys born in Puerto Rico since 2005.

Despite being roughly 100 times larger than PR in terms of population, the U.S. currently has less than half the number of Keniels:

YearKeniels born in U.S.Keniels born in PR
(7 in FL)
(ranked 31st)
(8 in FL)
(ranked 31st)
(5 in FL, 5 in PA, 6 in NY)
(ranked 18th)
(5 in FL)
(ranked 23rd)
(5 in FL)
(ranked 28th)
(7 in FL)
(ranked 60th)
(ranked 51st)

The U.S. states with the most Keniels also have particularly large Puerto Rican populations, which isn’t surprising.

We see the same pattern with the double-n version Kenniel:

YearKenniels born in U.S.Kenniels born in PR
(6 in FL)
not in top 100
(ranked 83rd)
(ranked 87th)
(ranked 96th)
(ranked 96th)
2010fewer than 5not in top 100

And a similar pattern may emerge for Kendriel, which was new to both the U.S. and the PR lists in 2015:

YearKendriels born in U.S.#Kendriels born in PR
(ranked 68th)
2014fewer than 5not in top 100

I should mention that nontraditional –iel names (like Abdiel, Jadiel, Yeriel, Joniel and Yandiel) have been fashionable in Puerto Rico lately. So Keniel is certainly a part of a larger trend.

But Keniel’s recent rise has me wondering: Was something specific drawing attention to the name in the early 2000s?

Any thoughts/ideas?

Source: SSA (U.S., Puerto Rico)

2 thoughts on “Why is the name Keniel trendy in Puerto Rico?

  1. I wonder if it came about as a result of the proximity to Caneel Bay? Just as parents used other spellings when the had heard the name “Siobhan”, perhaps originally they thought they heard “Keniel” instead of Caneel?

  2. That’s an interesting theory. It’s certainly possible. Though I would expect to see an initiating event (e.g., news story, advertising campaign, TV show) in the late ’90s or early ’00s that “introduced” the name Caneel/Keniel to PR, and so far I can’t seem to find one. (Then again, I don’t have easy access to Puerto Rican media, so I could be missing something.)

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