What popularized the baby name Rosanna in 1982?

Toto single "Rosanna" (1982)
Toto single

According to the U.S. baby name data, the baby name Rosanna more than doubled in usage in 1982:

  • 1984: 367 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 527th]
  • 1983: 488 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 435th]
  • 1982: 492 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 438th] (peak usage)
  • 1981: 194 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 821st]
  • 1980: 202 baby girls named Rosanna [rank: 804th]

Here’s a visual:

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

Other spellings of the name (such as Roseanna, Rosana, Rozanna, Roseana, and the one-hit wonder Rosezanna) also saw higher usage that year.

What’s the reason?

The Grammy-winning song “Rosanna” by Los Angeles-based rock band Toto.

It was released in March of 1982 as the first single from the album Toto IV, which also featured the band’s biggest hit, “Africa.”

“Rosanna” peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart for five consecutive weeks during July. (The final two weeks, it was second to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”)

Here’s the music video:

(Fun fact: The woman who played Rosanna in the video, Cynthia Rhodes, went on to play Penny in Dirty Dancing five years later.)

So what’s the story behind the song?

Toto’s David Paich said that he wrote it “about a high school love, one of my first loves.” Around the time he was writing it, another band member, Steve Porcaro, started dating actress Rosanna Arquette. Rosanna’s name happened to “fit perfectly” in the song Paich was writing, so he decided to use it.

So it’s got her name on it, but it’s really about another high school sweetheart, which is how songs happen sometimes.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Rosanna? (How would you spell it?)

Sources: Roseanna (song) – Wikipedia, David Paich of Toto: Songwriter Interviews – Songfacts, SSA

2 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Rosanna in 1982?

  1. I like the song, perhaps out of pure nostalgia for being a little kid and hearing it often.

    The name is fine, but I prefer other Rose names, like Rosalie, Rosalind, Rosaline, Rosaleen, and Rosamond. I think I’d like Rosanna more if not for its similarity to Roseanne, a person for whom I lost all respect in the past few years. (Still love Rosanne Cash, though.)

  2. Yeah, the name Roseanne hasn’t been used very often in the last few decades — no doubt because of the association with Roseanne Barr.

    There was an initial spike in usage when the sitcom began airing in the late ’80s, but usage dropped off after that, and it’s been relatively low ever since.

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