The top girl-name debuts of 2016

lotus bud

Movie-inspired Rey was the girl name that debuted most impressively on the U.S. charts in 2016.

In order for a rare baby name to debut on the Social Security Administration’s annual baby name list, it has to be given to at least 5 babies of either one gender or the other within a given year.

Of all the girl names that debuted in 2016, the following were the most popular:

1. Rey, 63 baby girls
2. Khelani, 29
3. Yurany, 18
4. Eretria, 17
5. Cirilla, 16
6. Mehlani, 16
7. Osinachi, 16
8. Ahitana, 14
9. Iselis, 14
10. Shivanya, 13

Other girl names that debuted were Hathaway, Dashly, Thatcher, Riverly, Wrenlee, Skaii, Yaz, Zyva, Furiosa, Kylo, Lagertha, Brilliance, Finely, Liss, Million, Tafari, Amaranth, Artist, Blessence, Caliber, Ceridwen, Curie, Flourish, Linux, Pryor, Versailles, and Veruca.

Where do these names come from? Here are a few explanations:

  • Rey – from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Khelani – variant of Kehlani, last year’s top debut name.
  • Eretria – from the TV show The Shannara Chronicles.
  • Cirilla – from the video game The Witcher.
  • Iselis – from the reality TV show Gran Hermano (USA version).
  • Shivanya – from the TV show Naagin.
  • Furiosa – from the movie Mad Max.

Can you come up with explanations for any of the others?

Here are the top girl name debuts of 2015.

Source: SSA

Image: Adapted from LotusBud0048a (public domain) by Frank “Fg2” Gualtieri

8 thoughts on “The top girl-name debuts of 2016

  1. Hathaway – Anne Hathaway (the actress OR Shakespeare’s wife)
    Thatcher – Margaret Thatcher
    Skaii – Sky
    Kylo – Kylo Ren, a character in Star Wars
    Amaranth – a plant / flower / colour
    Blessence – a brand of maternity wear
    Ceridwen – a name from Celtic mythology
    Curie – Marie Curie?
    Linux – the OS
    Versailles – the palace, also a TV series
    Veruca – a character in Charlie and the Chocolate factory

  2. Higher than Yurany with 18 girls or even Rey with 63 girls, I noticed the name Yurani debuted on the list with 96 girls. The only thing I can find so far to explain the rise is a Colombian telenovela called “Lady, la vendedora de rosas” which featured a character with the name Yurani. It aired 77 episodes from June to late September in 2015.

    As for Skaii, I’m nearly positive it’s an extension of the rising popularity of young Disney star Skai Jackson.

  3. @Elizabeth – That’s gotta be it. Thanks!

    @Rita – Thanks for the research!

    @Leah – That telenovela is very likely the answer, thanks! Yurani was on the list once before, in 2008. (Here’s the Yurani graph.) And it would make sense that Skaii is an offshoot of Skai, as Skai also rose from 2015 to 2016.

  4. Another thing I remembered: Mega debuted on the boys list in 2015 after singer/Love & Hip Hop tv star Omarion and his wife had a son named Megaa in late 2014. This year, the name Amei debuted on the girls list with 12 girls and Omarion’s daughter A’mei was born in early 2016. Interesting connection between those two debuts, especially when you consider that the spelling Megaa also debuted for the first time this year after Mega hit the chart last year.
    I’d be interested to see what spurred the debut of Evergreen this year with 13 girls.
    Osinachi means “comes from God” in Igbo. There was a song called Osinachi by a Nigerian singer that was released in late 2015, though I’m not sure whether the song was the impetus for the rise.

  5. Oh, Evergreen is interesting! Hadn’t noticed that it was back on the list (thanks!). It was in the data in the early 1900s as well — which is also interesting — but that has nothing to do with 2016. I don’t have any guesses about Evergreen, beyond the general trendiness of Ever- names right now. Anyone else?

  6. My husband and I named our eldest daughter Riverly in 2001, a name we had imagined years before. (She was born overseas, so she doesn’t show up on these name lists). I wonder how many of the recent Riverlys are named by parents who have crossed paths with our family over the years…

  7. The usage pattern of Riverly over the last few years makes me think there’s a pop culture explanation — like a character on a TV show, or a social media influencer. (Your daughter doesn’t happen to be an influencer by any chance…?)

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