What popularized the baby name Ambrosia?

The Ambrosia album "Life Beyond L.A." (1978)
Ambrosia album

The name Ambrosia popped up in the U.S. baby name data only a handful of times during the first half of the 1900s.

When it returned in 1975, though, it stuck around. It rose swiftly in the data from 1979 until 1981, and it continued to see a decent amount of usage per year from the early ’80s until the early 2000s.

  • 1983: 44 baby girls named Ambrosia
  • 1982: 39 baby girls named Ambrosia
  • 1981: 65 baby girls named Ambrosia (peak usage)
  • 1980: 57 baby girls named Ambrosia
  • 1979: 28 baby girls named Ambrosia
  • 1978: 12 baby girls named Ambrosia
  • 1977: 11 baby girls named Ambrosia

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Ambrosia in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Ambrosia

What caused that surge in usage?

American yacht-rock band Ambrosia (pronounced am-BROH-zhuh).

The four-member, California-based group put out a string of successful singles during the late 1970s and early 1980s — including the hits “How Much I Feel” (1978) and “Biggest Part of Me” (1980), both of which peaked at #3 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

The band was originally called Ambergris Might. After discovering that another rock band was also (improbably) calling themselves Ambergris, though, they decided to change their name. Turning to the dictionary, they spotted “ambrosia” just below “ambergris” and, liking the definition, adopted Ambrosia as their new name.

The word ambrosia — which is based on the ancient Greek word ambrotos, meaning “immortal” — refers to the food of the gods (i.e., the food that made the gods immortal). The more familiar first name Ambrose (as in Ambrose Bierce, and Ambrose Burnside) has the same root.

What are your thoughts on the name Ambrosia?

P.S. The band’s drummer is the appropriately named Burleigh Drummond. :)


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