Boy names that debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2021

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Which boy names emerged in the U.S. baby name data in 2021 for the first time ever?

Exactly 500 boy names debuted in the data last year, and the most impressive debut was made by Azaire. Here are the other top debuts:

  1. Azaire, 25 baby boys
  2. Gediz, 21
  3. Jeyvier, 15
  4. Damiri, 14
  5. Ripton, 14
  6. Zakius, 13
  7. Kampbell, 12
  8. Biden, 11
  9. Khaizer, 11
  10. Nuta, 11
  11. Shrithik, 11

The name Biden was no doubt inspired by Joe Biden, who was elected president in late 2020.

Some more debuts:

10 baby boysAmaias, Azekial, Howl, Maclen, Oceano, Oleander
9 baby boysAathiran, Atlus, Avyaanreddy, Cymere, Dhamir, Eleo, Ice, Kapree, Kenshi, Kyza, Riftyn, Three, Yankiel
8 baby boysAadrik, Ador, Amirii, Anansi, Aurum, Ayaat, Bucklee, Emerett, Gervonta, Henlee, Hiyaan, Hyndrix, Inzo, Jerzi, Jetzyn, Jhayco, Karlisle, Kyngdom, Ledgend, Maaran, Ovi, Ovin, Rhiatt, Rodas, Sicarii, Svar, Wilden, Yahnis, Yasuke, Yzael, Zeldris

Finally, here’s a sampling of the rest of the debuts:

  • 7 baby boys: Arcturus, Arminius, Brixson, Darlington, Finnin, Habibullah, Jahvani, Kovie, Lobo, Mellow, Neptune, Osaro, Riften, Ropyr, Teghbir, Zagreus
  • 6 baby boys: Anwyll, Cardinal, Debonair, Evansh, Five, Gilber, Huxtin, Jovial, Kalki, Khrome, Koufax, Lightning, Lugh, Minhaj, Niqo, Pure, Rhema, Rizvan, Saturn, Torbjorn, Varenya, Whiskey, Ymir, Zeelan
  • 5 baby boys: Amnon, Benelli, Caique, Costner, Dhev, Endymion, Grit, Haaland, Henzo, Hotchner, Iyah, Jheico, Kazarion, Keeper, Laiku, Maestro, Nyne, Ohtli, Preacher, Quban, Regulus, Sango, Sansar, Science, Tancredi, Wickham, Woodensley, Yester, Yoshiyahu

Zagreus is the main character of the recently released video game Hades.

Haaland goes hand-in-hand with the fast-rising boy name Erling, as they both refer to Norwegian soccer player Erling Haaland (which alex has already noted — thank you!).

I think it’s particularly interesting that several number-names — Three (9), Five (6), and Nyne (5) — popped up last year. I have no idea why, though.

If you can explain any of the above debuts, please leave a comment!

Source: SSA

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

21 thoughts on “Boy names that debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2021

  1. Loads of intriguing names here!
    Perhaps ANwyl could be related to the Welsh word annwyl meaning “dear”. At least that’s what it makes me think of immediately.

  2. Neptune and Saturn debuted too, pretty interesting. I guess they join Jupiter and Mars in the rankings?

  3. – Gediz is a character on the Turkish TV series The Ambassador’s Daughter, which was broadcast in the US in Spanish on Univision.
    – Jeyvier Cintrón is a Puerto Rican boxer.
    – Zakius is a popular Tiktoker and YouTuber.
    – Maclen is also a popular Tiktoker who creates content about the law.
    – Athiran is a Malayalam movie released in 2019. The spelling Athiran was a bit more popular in 2020 than in 2021, so not sure if this is the reason that Aathiran debuted in 2021.
    – Kenshi might be related to a video game released in December 2018.
    – This is a stretch, but Cymere might be related to Symere, the birth name of rapper Lil Uzi Vert. In June 2021, he had a popular tweet referring to his birth certificate (he realized he was a year younger than he’d believed), so people might have Googled his full name? Symere was slightly more popular in 2021 than 2020.
    – Yankiel Rivera is a Puerto Rican boxer who participated in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
    – Gervonta Davis ia an American boxer who’s won several titles in the last few years.
    – I’m a bit puzzled by Hiyaan debuting as a boys’ name, although it might be based on sound/similarity to popular names like Ayaan. Hiyaan is the name of the daughter of the two leads on the Bengali TV show Ekhane Aakash Neel.
    – Inzo is an EDM musician.

  4. I’m guessing Koufax is inspired by Sandy Koufax, but not sure about the timing. Maybe some Dodgers fans could explain that.

    Ovi is the nickname for Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. I’m not a hockey fan but I do know that he holds a bunch of NHL records.

  5. – Jhayco is the nickname/Instagram handle of singer and rapper Jhay Cortez. I assume Jheico is a phonetic respelling.
    – Karlisle might be inspired by Silas Karlisle, a character on the anime show Beyblade Burst Evolution.
    – I’m a bit confused about why Maaran debuted in 2021. It looks like the name of a Tamil movie (and the lead character) released in early 2022.
    – Yasuke is a TV show about a samurai of African descent that premiered on Netflix in 2021.
    – Zeldris is a character from the manga/anime series The Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai). He is the younger brother of Meliodas, which debuted on the SSA list in 2017.
    – Riften might be inspired by a city in the video game Skyrim, though I’m puzzled by Riftyn debuting with more babies. There was a special anniversary edition of Skyrim released in November, 2021, which isn’t necessarily a compelling reason for it to debut.
    – Ropyr is the first name of country singer Koe Wetzel.
    – Kalki might be inspired by an Indian scifi book series called The Last Avatar: Age of Kalki. It’s a name for an avatar of Vishnu.
    – Minhaj might be related to actor and comedian Hasan Minhaj.
    – Niqo comes from rapper Lil Niqo.
    – Rhema seems to be a Greek word translated to English as ‘word’ that’s commonly used in charismatic Christian churches to describe the utterance of God.
    – Ymir is the name of a (female) ancestral character in the anime Attack on Titan.
    – Zeelan might be an alternative spelling of Zealand, which saw a surge in use in 2021.
    – Benelli is a gun company. The name debuted for girls in 2010.
    – Caique is a type of parrot from Brazil. I believe the name has been common in Brazil for years.
    – Dhev might be inspired by the Indian actor Kalyaan Dhev.
    – Henzo is a character in the anime One Piece.
    – Hotchner is a character on the TV show Criminal Minds.
    – Kazarion is a character in animated series Angels of Death, inspired by the tabletop game Warhammer.
    – Ohtli is an Nahuatl word that means ‘road.’
    – Quban might be related to a battle rapper from Maryland.
    – Sango is a character from the anime Inuyasha.

  6. Guess I found the trigger for Nuta, Neptune and Saturn: An electronic musician named Nuta Cookier. the titles of his tracks are space inspired.

  7. – Amirii looks to be a variant of Amiri, which shot up a lot for boys and girls between 2020 and 2021. I’m guessing that the usage of the name may relate to Amiri, which is a designer fashion brand owned by Mike Amiri.

    – Anansi is the name of a West African trickster god and folktale character. There is a fantasy novel by author Neil Gaiman called Anansi Boys. The novel was picked up for an Amazon Prime series in July 2021.

    – Aurum is the name of both a bike company and a hedge fund.

    – Avyaanreddy may relate to the name of a 2-year-old child named Avyaan Reddy, who has about 6,500 followers on Instagram. It could also just be a combination of the name Avyaan (which debuted on the US top 1000 in 2021, likely due to its use by Dia Mirza for her son) and the Indian surname Reddy/Reddi.

    – Ayaat is a spelling of a term for a verse of the Quran. In terms of the spelling Aayat, Aayat is the name of an Indian air hostess who went viral on TikTok in late 2021. Indian actor Salman Khan has a baby niece named Aayat.

    – The closest thing I could find for Azaire or Azair is about an online production of the novel Birdsong by Sebastian Faulkes. This online production happened in July of 2020. A character in Birdsong is named Isabelle Azaire.

    – Azekial is probably a variant of Ezekiel. Ezekiel rose as a name this year (5058 boys in 2020 -> 5799 in 2021). I’m guessing that the rise of Ezekiel and its variants is inspired by a Dallas Cowboys football running back named Ezekiel Elliott.

    – Capree looks to be a variant of Capri. Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late Kobe Bryant, has a young daughter named Capri Kobe Bryant. The name Capri rose in 2020 and 2021 for girls, and debuted in 2020 for boys.

    – There is an Indonesian military officer named Adam Damiri, who was sentenced to prison along with some other Indonesian military officers. Damiri (username damiri.official) is an Instagram user with about 12,000 followers who posts in Arabic and has a podcast of the same name (which is also in Arabic).

    – Dhamir is probably a variant of Damir, which also rose slightly in 2021 (230 boys in 2020 -> 259 boys in 2021) I’m guessing that the debut of Dhamir is because of a Villanova Wildcats basketball player named Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree.

    – Eleo is probably a variant of Elio, which rose as a name in 2021 (183 boys in 2020 -> 279 boys in 2021). There is a car company named Elio Motors that produces low-cost electric and gas-powered vehicles, and a pop singer named ELIO, who collaborated with Charli XCX in February 2021. A luxury hotel called Hotel ELEO opened in summer 2020 near the University of Florida, and was said by Forbes to be “the safest place to stay in Florida” during the COVID pandemic. ELEO is also the name of a battery manufacturer.

    – Emerett Has Never Been In Love is a novel by Anyta Sunday, which was released in March 2021. There is also an engineering company named Emerett.

    – Henlee looks to be a variant of Henley. Russell Henley is a professional golfer who played in the 2021 U.S. Open. Henley rose slightly as a name for boys this year (64 boys in 2020 -> 73 boys in 2021)

    – Hyndrix looks to be a variant of Hendrix. There is a vocalist named Nona Hendryx. She was part of the trio Lady Marmalade. Sarah Dash, a member of that trio, died in September 2021.

    – There is a poem named Howl by Allen Ginsberg. The publisher of Howl, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, died at the age of 101 in February 2021. Audio of a 1956 reading of Howl by Ginsberg at Reed College was released in April 2021 by Omnivore Recordings. Additionally, there is a horror attraction called Howl-O-Scream, which was brought to both SeaWorld in Orlando and some tourist cities around the fall of 2021 (announcements about its’ tours in 2021 go back to June 2021).

    – Khaizer and Kyza look to be a variants of Kaiser. Kaiser rose as a name this year (259 boys in 2020 -> 307 boys in 2021). There is a healthcare company named Kaiser Permanente, whose employees went on strike in late 2021. There is also a car renderer on Instagram named Saleem, who goes by the moniker “The Kyza”. I’m otherwise unsure what might be influencing it.

    – Oceano is a city in California, which has the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. In March 2021, the California Coastal Commission voted to phase out off-road vehicle use at the recreation area over the next 3 years. A lawsuit was filed by the Friends of Oceano Dunes in May 2021, arguing that the use of the dunes as a recreation area should continue.

    – Oleander is a plant. Around August 2020, the oleander plant was touted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Ben Carson as a COVID-19 treatment, but experts have rejected this assumption. The usage of the name could also be based on similar names, such as Leander, Evander, and Ollivander, rising in usage in the past few years.

    – Ripton & Co. is a company that produces denim clothing (especially “jorts”, aka jean shorts).

  8. – Dayanna Rodas is a waitress who unknowingly turned away Adam Sandler at the IHOP she works at in April 2021. Hector Rodas is a soccer player who joined Odisha FC in August 2021.

    – Nikko and Amber, a couple from the Netflix series Say I Do, have a baby named Yahnis who was born in summer 2020.

    – There is a company named Arcturus Therapeutics which is developing treatments for COVID-19. Arcturus is also the name of a star in the northern constellation of Boötes and the name of an online camo gear store.

    – Arminius is a main character on the Netflix show “Barbarians”.

    – There is a musical artist named Brixson that is known online for his sad songs.

    – Darlington may be from the Darlington Raceway, which is a well-known NASCAR racing track.

    – Denis Finnin is a photographer at the American Museum of Natural History. His photography was featured in some news outlets in 2021.

    – Kovie Biakolo is a journalist that writes about culture and identity. Nameberry states that Kovie is a feminine variant of the name Kovid/Covid.

    – Rapper Kodak Black got engaged to female rapper Mellow Rackz in February 2021.

    – Osaro is an AI logistics company.

    – Herleen Kaur Dulai is a woman who was beaten to death in 2020 by her boyfriend Akshaya Kubiak. Soon after, her sister Aman named her baby Teghbir in honor of Dulai.

  9. – Debonair is a line of skins in the game League of Legends; the line Debonair 2.0 was announced in November 2021. English rock band Horsey released an album titled Debonair in August 2021.

    – Gilber Caro is a Venezulean politician who has thrice been a political prisoner (his most recent arrest being in December 2019).

    – Jovial Foods is an organic foods brand.

    – The book Blue-Skinned Gods, released in November 2021, has a main character named Kalki.

    – Khrome is the name of a fan-made Mortal Kombat character who is based on a mispainting of a figurine of another character. Khrome is also the name of a paparazzo who takes pictures of Rihanna.

    – Lugh is the name of a French startup company (which launched in March 2021), a spear in the game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (which released in November 2020), and the protagonist of the anime The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat (which premiered in October 2021).

    – Rizvan Magomedov is a Russian MMA manager who has around 252,000 followers on Instagram.

    – Torbjorn is a character in the video game Overwatch.

    – Amnon Shashua is the co-founder of the Israeli company Mobileye.

    – Costner may be from the American actor Kevin Costner.

    – Kalyaan Dhev is a Telugu actor and the son-in-law of the actor and politician Chiranjeevi.

    – The Krewe of Endymion is the name of a Mardi Gras parade. Endymion is also the title of a Yu-Gi-Oh card.

    – Henzo is a DJ from Manchester, England.

    – Iyah is a song by Kang Seung Yoon. Iyah May is an alternative pop singer. Iyah Gill is a woman who is known for her age difference between her and her fiance.

    – Regulus Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company. Regulus is also the name of a book by Aaron Ozee.

    – The video game Genshin Impact has an item called Sango Pearls.

    – Sansar is a virtual live events platform and a VR virtual world.

    – Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto is a rabbi who leads the organization Mosdot Shuva Israel.

  10. Arcturus and Regulus are names in the Black family of wizards in the Harry Potter universe (many of the Blacks have astronomical names). Since there were some new works in the Harry Potter franchise in the last two years, this is also a possiblity.

  11. Thank you, elbowin!

    (I have *yet* to read a Harry Potter book and/or see a Harry Potter movie. I really need to catch up at some point…)

  12. A few months later and I am still utterly baffled as to why Azaire debuted w/ the most baby boys. Aside from the novel Birdsong (Isabelle Azaire):

    – Nameberry states that its debut is because of a 2021 album by the rapper M.Pire The Sire which is named after his son Azaire. However, I don’t particularly think that this translates to the name debuting w/ 25 baby boys because his audience is relatively small (he has only 41 monthly listeners on Spotify and 1,525 Twitter followers)

    – It seems like Azaire is a ship name for Big Brother 23 contestants Azah and Claire, and this is where quite a few of the mentions of Azaire on Twitter from mid-2020 to the end of 2021 are coming from.

    – I did find a tweet from some Twitter user in January 2021 that states “my dawg azaire birth tomorrow”, and some Azaires that were born before 2021, so could this just be a case of a rare name breaking out?

  13. @Aya – Thank you for the extra thoughts on this one!

    I wish I could offer some insight on Azaire. I’ve been working on other projects, though, and still (!) haven’t had time to really dig into the new names.

    It would be so fascinating if a debut name had been inspired by a ship name! Part of me doubts that’s the influence — it’s a little too meta; not quiet direct enough — but another part of me hopes that’s the answer, because it would be a such a sign of the times.

    Edited to add: Just noticed that 5 of the 2021 Azaires — so, a full 20% — were born in Pennsylvania specifically. Not sure if this is a useful clue, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

  14. The Pennsylvania connection is interesting. I guess the rest of the Azaires were born in heavily populated places like CA, NY, etc.?

    There’s also a makeup artist on TikTok named Azaire Robertson; she has about 165,000 followers on TikTok but she really isn’t that big elsewhere. However, she’s female; the name Azaire debuted highly for boys instead of girls so I doubt it’s because of her.

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