What gave the baby name Aja a boost in 1978?

Steely Dan's album "Aja" (1977)
Steely Dan album “Aja”

The minimalist name Aja saw massive jump in usage* in 1978. It was the fastest-rising baby name of 1978, in fact.

  • 1980: 311 baby girls named Aja [rank: 597th]
  • 1979: 362 baby girls named Aja [rank: 526th]
  • 1978: 491 baby girls named Aja [rank: 412th] – peak usage
  • 1977: 14 baby girls named Aja
  • 1976: unlisted

Why?

Because of the soft rock duo Steely Dan. In 1977, the band released both a song called “Aja” and an album called Aja. (The pronunciation is identical to that of “Asia.”)

The title track was an 8-minute jazz-rock song. Band member Donald Fagen said that the song’s title was inspired by a woman he knew of named Aja:

I did have a friend in high school whose brother was in the Army and came back with a Korean wife named Aja. I don’t know how she spelled it — but that was the source for that name.

Aja ended up becoming Steely Dan’s best-selling album. It was nominated for several Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year (though it only won for best sound engineering).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Aja? How would you pronounce it?

Source: Q&A: Donald Fagen – Rolling Stone, Aja (album) – Wikipedia

*Aja also saw usage as a boy name during this time, but I didn’t include the numbers in the post.

2 thoughts on “What gave the baby name Aja a boost in 1978?

  1. When I first say the name I pronounced it AHH-yah But I do like the name. I can see the girls being frustrated at having spend wrong all the time or having to spell it after saying it (I have to do that with mine) perhaps as adults it would be better accepted. I love unique names and spelling of said names.

  2. My first instinct is to make the A’s sound the same (ah, as in “father”), so I wouldn’t have gotten it right either.

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