How popular is the baby name Alexa in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Alexa.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Alexa


Posts that Mention the Name Alexa

Name quotes #110: Marné, Wulfstan, Brandon

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Time for another batch of name quotes!

From the book A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis (2013) by Devin Brown:

Although born and baptized as Clive [Staples Lewis], Lewis soon took a disliking to the name his parents had given him. Sometime around the age of four, he marched up to his mother and, pointing at himself, declared that he was now to be known as “Jacksie.” This name, later shortened to Jacks and then to just Jack, became the only name he would answer to. In his book Jack’s Life, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, provides the following background on why Lewis chose this name: ‘It was actually because of a small dog that he was fond of that he picked the name Jacksie, which was what the dog was called. It was run over (probably by a horse and cart as there were almost no cars in the time and place where he was a child), and Jack, as he later became known just took the name for himself.’

From a lecture on writing sci-fi and fantasy [vid] given by author Brandon Sanderson, an aside [at 36:05] about the name Brandon:

When I grew up in Nebraska, I was the only Brandon, like, in my school. It was a really original, interesting name. I’m like, ‘My parents came up with this great, original, interesting name.’ And then I moved to Utah to go to BYU and there were five in my freshman dorm. And then I realized: It’s a Mormon name! Who would have thought? It’s not in any of the scriptures but it totally is a Mormon name. There’s a ton. Brandon Flowers, right? Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson. There’s a lot of Brandons out there with an LDS background. Who knew?

[Brandon Flowers is the lead singer of The Killers, while Brandon Mull — like Sanderson — writes fantasy. Brandon Sanderson is behind the debuts of the baby names Kaladin and Sylphrena, btw.]

Speaking of Mormon names…from a recent Deseret News article about Utah’s unusual baby names by Meg Walter:

Heather Marné Williams-Young is named after Marné Whitaker Tuttle. According to legend, Marné Whitaker Tuttle’s mother named her Marne (with no accent) after the French town on the frontlines of World War I, thinking Marne, which rhymes with barn, was a beautiful name.

But Marné disagreed, so she added the acute accent over the e, and pronounced it “Mar-nay.” “There is nothing more Utah to me than women of a certain generation trying make their names more French by putting accents places they shouldn’t be,” Williams-Young says.

[Marné Tuttle (1920-2014), the wife of LDS church leader A(lbert) Theodore Tuttle, served as “temple matron” in the Provo Utah Temple in the early 1980s. During that time, Heather’s mother worked as a Temple employee. Both Heather’s mother and Heather’s mother’s roommate ended up giving their future daughters the middle name Marné.]

“There are a handful of us around Utah County who were all named after the same woman with the made-up name,” Williams-Young says. “I feel such a kinship with them.”

[One of Marné Tuttle’s own daughters, Clarissa, was also given Marné as a middle.]

From a 2015 article in History Today about Anglo-Saxon personal names by James Chetwood:

While it is hard to tell exactly how important the meaning of name elements were, it seems likely that people were aware, to some extent, that names carried some kind of meaning. Indeed, one of the most famous, or infamous, Anglo-Saxons is most often known to us today as Ethelred the Unready, the king who lost his kingdom to Cnut. However, the name Ethelred signified ‘noble counsel’. So, when his contemporaries labelled him Æðelræd Unræd they were not calling him ‘unready’, but using the meaning of his name to mock his lack of good counsel. Similarly, when Archbishop Wulfstan entitled his homily to the English people ‘Sermon of the Wolf to the English’, he was clearly doing so in the knowledge that the first part of his name did not just sound like, but signified, ‘wolf’. Surely it cannot be coincidence that ‘rich’, ‘strong’ and ‘beautiful’ were used in names, where ‘poor’, ‘weak’ and ‘ugly’ were not.

A feature of this naming system was flexibility. There was a finite number of elements, but they could be combined in a multitude of ways. This meant that, in essence, a name was created for, rather than given to, each person. So, while elements could be repeated to emphasize parentage and family links, there was very little repetition of full names and it would be unlikely that any two people within a community or family would have the same name.

From a recent article about baseball player Zebulon Vermillion in the New York Post:

Zebulon Vermillion, as he has to explain to just about everyone he meets, was born in Vail, Colo., not too far from the Rocky Mountains and a summit known as Pikes Peak. His parents, the outdoorsy type, read that the apex was named after Zebulon Pike, and it stuck with them.

Vermillion’s last name is Nordic and middle name — Cassis — French, after a fishing port in Southern France. His mother, who is trilingual, loves the city.

From the book Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire (2022) by Brad Stone, on the process of naming Amazon’s Alexa:

Bezos said he wanted the wake word to sound “mellifluous” and opined that his mother’s name, Jacklyn, was “too harsh.” His own quickly discarded suggestions included “Finch,” the title of a fantasy detective novel by Jeff VanderMeer; “Friday,” after the personal assistant in the novel Robinson Crusoe; and “Samantha,” the witch who could twinkle her nose and accomplish any task on the TV show Bewitched.

For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

Name quotes #109: Golan, O-Lan, Cale

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Happy fourth of July! Here’s the latest batch of name quotes…

From one of Abby’s recent Sunday Summary posts:

I remember watching the first Iron Man movie in the theater way back in 2008, and I’ve seen — and enjoyed — every movie since.

In the beginning, the Avengers were mostly men, mostly white. Heroes, of course. But they were from a familiar mold. Steve and Tony and Bruce.

But it didn’t stay that way. And I’ve [been] thrilled to see heroes slowly shift to look like the whole, wide world – and beyond. T’Challa. Wanda Maximoff. Valkyrie.

And now Kamala Khan. Soon Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, will debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

From an article about brothers Cale and Taylor Makar, both of whom play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche:

Cale was named after Cale Hulse, who played for the Calgary Flames when [their father] Gary was doing some business with the team. Taylor is named after Colonel George Taylor of the Planet of the Apes movies, a take charge guy, portrayed by Charlton Heston, who was thrust into a leadership role. (Just for the record, Heston’s politics and ardent support of the National Rifle Association are not shared by the Makar family. “Oh my god, that’s the opposite of us,” Gary said.)

[Another source clarifies that Cale’s first name is short for Caleb. Cale noted in this interview [vid] that he was nearly named “Kurt Russell Makar, after the actor. […] I dodged a bullet there, I think.”]

From a 2015 interview with James Taylor at Stereogum:

Stereogum: Speaking of another powerful woman, Taylor Swift is probably the biggest pop star in the world right now, and she’s named after you! How do you feel about being connected to her in that way?

Taylor: It’s hugely flattering and was a delightful surprise when she told me that. We did a benefit together, I think it was focused on teenage pregnancy, before Taylor really took off. But she was playing guitar and singing her songs and I knew how remarkable she was. She told me that her mom and dad had been really, deeply into my music and I got a real kick out of the fact that she’d been named after me. Obviously it wasn’t her choice, it was her mom and dad, but nonetheless a great connection I think.

From a recent article about how to choose a Chinese name in the Guardian:

Don’t name yourself after a celebrity

In China, it is considered extraordinarily immodest to name a child after a famous person, a taboo that has roots in imperial laws that forbade citizens from having the same name as the emperor.

From a 2001 article about actress O-Lan Jones in the Los Angeles Times:

Jones’ mother, Scarlett Dark, named her after the character O-lan in Pearl S. Buck’s 1931 novel, “The Good Earth.” The “O” part, Jones said, means “profound,” and the “lan” means “wildflower.” Her mother, ever an original, chose to celebrate the wildflower part with a capital L.

Two from a recent opinion piece, “Every Jewish name tells a Jewish story,” in the Jerusalem Post:

[I]n Judaism after a near-death experience, it is traditional to add a name and change a name. The name Haim, which means “life” is often added, as is the name Alter, a blessing for “long days.” It is a Jewish insurance policy for an improved future for the name bearer.

…and:

After the 1967 Six Day War, Israelis created names that were lovely and filled with hope. Tal, Elizur, Sharona were born. And names of cities and towns became first names – Sinai, Golan, Eilat are a few. The ’67 war was a watershed for hope in Israel and it was reflected in these new names.

From the article “Amazon Killed the Name Alexa” by Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic:

“We don’t usually think about the individuals who are already born when this happens, but the impact on their lives is real as well,” Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, told me. Sharing a name with a robot can be tiresome. “‘OMG, Siri like the iPhone,’ should be engraved on my tombstone,” complained Siri Bulusu, a journalist, in a 2016 piece about her name. And name overlaps have led to sitcom-style misunderstandings, like when, as The Wall Street Journal reported, one dad asked his daughter Alexa for some water, and their robot Alexa responded by offering to order a case of Fiji water for $27.

Girl names on the decline in the U.S. in 2021

Which girl names decreased in usage the most from 2020 to 2021?

Here’s a table of the fastest-falling girl names of 2021. On the left are the top 25 decreases in terms of absolute numbers of babies, and on the right are the top 25 decreases in terms of relative numbers of babies.

RankGirl nameAbsolute fallGirl nameRelative fall
1Isabella-957Ashvi-76%
2Abigail-936Dessa-75%
3Victoria-603Jaeda-73%
4Alexa-583Amavi-73%
5Sophia-540Yameli-73%
6Brooklyn-504Raela-72%
7Anna-452Reniyah-72%
8Gianna-435Naeema-72%
9Harper-433Avyn-72%
10Aubrey-409Portia-71%
11Ava-401Jadah-71%
12Hannah-400Rona-71%
13Kaylee-366Jocelynne-71%
14Samantha-361Iolana-71%
15Serenity-359Nakshatra-70%
16Emily-358Jatziry-69%
17Genesis-356Irish-69%
18Ella-354Inanna-69%
19Melanie-348Evangaline-69%
20Brielle-346Alula-69%
21Mila-330Rakeb-68%
22Lauren-312Kiaya-68%
23Skylar-303Meral*-67%
24Londyn-300Kemya*-67%
25Arianna-298Jeri*-67%

*Also at -67% were Helayna, Asmara, Arriyah, Anu, Akane, Kimberlin, Jojo, Elianni, Naleya and Leta.

Interestingly, Dessa has dropped before — it was the fastest-falling girl name way back in 1933.

And I don’t think anyone will be surprised about the ongoing decline of Alexa.

Finally, here are the girl names that saw the steepest dives right out of the data (i.e., to below 5 instances of usage) in 2021:

  • given to 20 babies in 2020: Geisha
  • given to 17 babies in 2020: Glorianna, Malai, Taleigha
  • given to 16 babies in 2020: Emili, Kalonni, Nyella, Siaani

Do you have thoughts/insights about any of the above names?

Where did the baby name Ozlo come from?

Ozlo

The curious name Ozlo debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2016, stuck around for one more year, then disappeared again:

  • 2019: unlisted
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: 6 baby boys named Ozlo
  • 2016: 5 baby boys named Ozlo [debut]
  • 2015: unlisted
  • 2014: unlisted

What was the influence?

A short-lived artificial intelligence startup called Ozlo.

The company was founded in late 2013, but it didn’t start making headlines until October of 2016, when the Ozlo personal assistant app was launched.

Ozlo logo

The face of the app was a wide-eyed, light blue creature named Ozlo. Initially he helped users find restaurants and recipes, but, as time went on, he moved beyond food and learned to talk about other topics (like movies and weather).

One reporter, recounting a discussion with Ozlo’s CEO, said: “[T]he two of us immediately had a nice laugh about the repetitive female names for assistants in the marketplace right now — Ozlo, by name alone, is already something different.”

Ozlo was also different from the “female” personal assistants (Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Viv) in that it performed searches “from a position of information neutrality” — that is, it extracted information from many competing sources, as opposed to a handful of preferred sources.

But the startup was acquired by Facebook in July of 2017, and the Ozlo app — less than a year after being introduced — was shuttered as part of the deal.

If the company had remained independent, do you think the baby name Ozlo would have continued popping up in the data?

Sources: Introducing Ozlo by Charles Jolley, Ozlo Week 1 by Charles Jolley, Ozlo, the Assistant That Works for You, Launches on iOS and Web, Ozlo AI assistant is the new underdog filling the void left by Viv, Facebook buys Ozlo to boost its conversational AI efforts, Ozlo – Cruchbase Profile

(h/t Becca)

Popular girl names in the United States, 2019

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Name nerds rejoice! Finally, four months after Mother’s Day, the U.S. Social Security Administration has decided to release the latest batch (2019) of baby name data!

First off, here’s the link to the SSA’s popular names page and to the SSA’s downloadable data page.

I’m going to summarize the data in just two posts this year — one for girls, one for boys. Let’s start with the ladies…

Here are the most popular girl names overall:

  1. Olivia, 18,451 baby girls
  2. Emma, 17,102
  3. Ava, 14,440
  4. Sophia, 13,714
  5. Isabella, 13,306
  6. Charlotte, 13,138
  7. Amelia, 12,862
  8. Mia, 12,414
  9. Harper, 10,442
  10. Evelyn, 10,392

These same ten names were in the 2018 top ten as well.

The girl names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Alaia, increased by 1,072 babies
  2. Everleigh, 1,054
  3. Luna, 838
  4. Emilia, 716
  5. Willow, 653
  6. Isla, 615
  7. Violet, 570
  8. Amelia, 508
  9. Hazel, 493
  10. Arya, 492

The girl names that saw the largest increases in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies were…

  1. Yalitza, increased by 1490%
  2. Alita, 554%
  3. Dayleen, 527%
  4. Jenaiah, 450%
  5. Amiri, 417%
  6. Theo, 343%
  7. Mazikeen, 319%
  8. Kamoura, 317%
  9. Seylah, 317%
  10. Kairo, 283%

Yalitza was influenced by Roma (2018) actress Yalitza Aparicio, and Mazikeen comes from the character Mazikeen Smith in the TV series Lucifer.

Here are the girl names that debuted most impressively in the 2019 data:

  1. Adeya, debuted with 22 baby girls
  2. Kayslin, 20
  3. Malaynah, 18
  4. Chevel, 17
  5. Kulture, 17
  6. Kaavia, 15
  7. Sakani, 15
  8. Ahveya, 14
  9. Akyli, 14
  10. Jhazelle, 14

Some explanations…

  • Adeya, Kulture and Kaavia are all celebrity babies: Adeya is the daughter of Kehlani, Kulture is the daughter of Cardi B and Offset, and Kaavia is the daughter of Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade.
  • Kayslin and Chevel come from two contestants (Kayslin Victoria and Chevel Shepherd) on The Voice.
  • Malaynah is a young female rapper (who earned a coveted IG repost from the aforementioned Cardi B in 2018).
  • Sakani was likely inspired by Sekani, the name of a character (a little boy) in the 2018 film The Hate U Give.
  • Akyli must come from Akyli Maze, one of the children of Joe Lee and Alena Maze — YouTube influencers who create content under the name MAZELEE. (The baby name Mazelee debuted last year as well — not surprising at all, given how close it is to the popular Paisley.)

The girl names that saw the largest decreases in usage in terms of absolute numbers of babies were…

  1. Emma, decreased by 1,655 babies
  2. Isabella, -1,211
  3. Alexa, -1,069
  4. Mila, -845
  5. Madison, -794
  6. Avery, -775
  7. Victoria, -767
  8. Addison, -743
  9. Abigail, -742
  10. Elizabeth, -716

The girl name that saw the largest decrease in usage in terms of relative numbers of babies was Anifer (-86%), and the girl name that saw the steepest drop off the list was Marionna (from 21 babies in 2018 to fewer than 5 in 2019).

If you can explain any of the rises (or drops), please leave a comment!

Update, 9/6/2020: Here are the boy names!