What popularized the baby name Neymar in the early 2010s?

Brazilian soccer player Neymar

The curious name Neymar debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2010. It was the fastest-rising boy name of 2011, and it reached peak usage in 2014:

  • 2016: 245 baby boys named Neymar [rank: 891st]
  • 2015: 294 baby boys named Neymar [rank: 793rd]
  • 2014: 499 baby boys named Neymar [rank: 551st]
  • 2013: 377 baby boys named Neymar [rank: 649th]
  • 2012: 338 baby boys named Neymar [rank: 704th]
  • 2011: 190 baby boys named Neymar
  • 2010: 19 baby boys named Neymar
  • 2009: unlisted
  • 2008: unlisted

What made the name Neymar so trendy during the first half of the 2010s?

Mononymous Brazilian soccer player Neymar (pronounced NAY-mar), widely regarded as one of the best footballers in the world.

Neymar made his professional debut as a teenager in 2009, playing for Santos F.C. in Brazil. He helped the team win the Libertadores Cup in 2011, and he was named South American Footballer of the Year in both 2011 and 2012.

On the international stage, he participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where Brazil earned a silver medal. He helped Brazil win the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, after which he was awarded both the Golden Ball (as the tournament’s most valuable player) and the Bronze Boot (for being its third-highest scorer). Though he wasn’t able to lead Brazil to victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup — after fracturing a vertebra during the quarterfinals, he couldn’t play in the last two games — he was still one of the highest scorers of the tournament.

So how did Neymar (born Neymar da Silva Santos) come to have his unusual first name? It was passed down from his father, Neymar Sr., who was also a professional footballer. Neymar Sr.’s father was named Ilzemar; “Ilzemar” could be where the mar element of “Neymar” came from.

What are your thoughts on the name Neymar? Do you like it more or less than, say, Nomar?

Sources: Neymar – Wikipedia, Neymar – Britannica, SSA
Image: Adapted from Neymar Junior the Future of Brazil by Christopher Johnson under CC BY-SA 2.0.

2 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Neymar in the early 2010s?

  1. I’m not crazy about Neymar, but I am curious about his father’s name. I’m wondering if Ilzemar is related to the Venezuelan name Ildemaro?

  2. I wish I could tell you more about the grandfather’s name, but I couldn’t find much information about either him or the name (using English-language sources, at least).

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