How popular is the baby name Christa in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Christa.

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Popularity of the baby name Christa

Posts that mention the name Christa

Where did the baby name Klisha come from in 1983?

New Jersey high school student Klisha Buell (in 1983)
Klisha Buell, with ant colony

In 1983, the curious name Klisha was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: 6 baby girls named Klisha [debut]
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: unlisted

Where did it come from?

High school student Klisha Buell, who helped who develop a science experiment that involved sending a colony of ants into space aboard the Challenger in June of 1983.

Hundreds of students at two predominantly African-American high schools in Camden, New Jersey, worked together over several years to design and create all the components of the research project, which had two main objectives: to study the effects of weightlessness on ants, and (more broadly) to get minority students interested in science.

Students in science classes, doing research in entomology and astrophysics, designed the experiment. Students in drafting classes drew blueprints, and those in metal, wood and electrical shop classes put it together. Students developed flow charts and programs for the microprocessor that controlled cameras and the student-designed regulators for light and temperature. Journalism classes wrote newsletters and press releases. Art students painted murals of space scenes in the hallways.

Dozens of students attended the launch of the space shuttle Challenger at Cape Canaveral on June 18th. (It was the Challenger‘s second-ever mission. Not only was the ant colony on board, but so was America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride.)

After the space shuttle returned, the ant colony and equipment were retrieved by several students. One of those students was Klisha Buell, who was often quoted in articles about the experiment. Her name was mentioned, for instance, in Ebony, in Jet, and on the front page of the New York Times.

Unfortunately, none the ants — including the queen, named Norma — survived the journey.

But the experiment was still considered a success. All of the student-designed equipment functioned perfectly over the course of the mission, and both schools saw evidence that their students had become more interested in science. One teacher mentioned that “enrollment in our science classes has gone up 50 percent.”

What are your thoughts on the name Klisha?

P.S. Sally Ride was the third woman in space; the first was Valentina Tereshkova. The Challenger went on to complete seven more missions before the tragic tenth mission, which involved high school teacher Christa McAuliffe.


Image: Clipping from Jet magazine (1 Aug. 1983)

What turned Nico into a girl name (briefly) in the 1970s?

Nico's album "Chelsea Girl" (1967)
Nico album

In places like Italy and Spain, Nico (pronounced nee-ko) is a masculine name. It’s used most often for baby boys in the United States as well, but was trendier for girls from the late ’60s to the mid-’70s:

Girls named NicoBoys named Nico


Because of mononymous singer Nico, who became famous during the late ’60s thanks to her performances in various Andy Warhol projects. She starred in the hit film Chelsea Girls (1966), for instance, and in 1967 she was featured on the albums The Velvet Underground & Nico and Chelsea Girl.

One factor that no doubt helped “Nico” catch on as a girl name (at least temporarily) was the trendiness of the name Nicole during the ’60s and ’70s. (I should mention that the late ’60s is also when the name Chelsea started taking off.)

Nico’s real name was Christa Päffgen. She began using her stage name (which was inspired by an ex-boyfriend named Nikos) while modeling as a teenager.

A few decades later, the male usage of “Nico” rose sharply thanks to the All My Children character Nico Kelly, who was on the soap opera from 1987 to 1989. In fact, Nico was the fastest-rising boy name of 1988. (The name of his girlfriend Cecily also saw much higher usage around that time.)

Girls named NicoBoys named Nico
19909266 [rank: 621st]
19898314 [rank: 548th]
1988596 [rank: 989th]

What are your thoughts on the name Nico? Do you like it better as a girl name, or as a boy name?

Source: Nico – Wikipedia

P.S. A similar thing happened to the name Luka two decades later…

What gave the baby name Christa a boost in 1986?

Astronaut and school teacher Christa McAuliffe (1948-1986)
Christa McAuliffe

On January 28, 1986 — thirty years ago today — the space shuttle Challenger broke apart moments after takeoff.

All seven of the people on board were killed.

One of those people was (Sharon) Christa McAuliffe, a 37-year-old social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire.

She’d been selected from more than 11,000 U.S. teachers to participate in the Challenger‘s tenth mission, and she would have been the first teacher in space had the mission succeeded. She’d even planned to teach two short lessons from space.

Because of Christa, millions of Americans — particularly children — were paying close attention to the Challenger mission and were devastated when the accident happened.

Mental health experts say…many children experienced the death of Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher-astronaut, as the symbolic loss of a mother and that they may have been more deeply disturbed by this loss than they let on otherwise.

Unsurprisingly, usage of the baby name Christa more than doubled that year:

  • 1988: 925 baby girls named Christa [rank: 272nd]
  • 1987: 1,018 baby girls named Christa [rank: 251st]
  • 1986: 1,513 baby girls named Christa [rank: 178th]
  • 1985: 683 baby girls named Christa [rank: 343rd]
  • 1984: 740 baby girls named Christa [rank: 319th]

In fact, 178th is the highest Christa has ever ranked on the U.S. baby name charts.

Now I’m wondering…what proportion of these extra baby Christas were named to commemorate Christa McAuliffe specifically (and how many of these commemoration-names were first suggested by sad older siblings), and what proportion got the name simply because Americans were hearing the name Christa over and over again that year (the same thing that happens to hurricane names)?

What do you think?

Finally, I did find two U.S. baby girls with the first-middle combo “Christa McAuliffe.” Neither was born in 1986 specifically, but they weren’t born longer after (in 1987 and 1990, respectively).


Image: Sharon Christa McAuliffe, NASA

Popular baby names in Malta, 2013

Flag of Malta
Flag of Malta

Malta’s top baby names of 2013 came out a few weeks ago.

According to data from the National Statistics Office, the most popular name-groups last year were Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella and Luke/Luca/Lucas.

Here are Malta’s top 20 girl name-groups and top 20 boy name-groups of 2013:

Girl Names

  1. Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella, 106 baby girls (5.5% of all girls)
  2. Eliza/Elisa/Elizabeth/Elise, 78
  3. Julia/Yulia/Julianne, 69
  4. Emma/Emmanuela/Ema, 51
  5. Maya/Mia/Myah, 47
  6. Maria/Marija/Mariah/Marie, 42
  7. Lea/Leah/Leia, 37
  8. Martina/Martine, 36
  9. Christina/Christa/Christabel/Krystle, 35
  10. Kailey/Kai/Kaleigh, 34 (3-way tie)
    • Catherine/Katrina/Kate/Katya, 34 (3-way tie)
    • Emilia/Emily/Emelie, 34 (3-way tie)
  11. Amy/Aimee, 32
  12. Anna/Hannah/Ann, 31
  13. Mikela/Makaila/Michelle, 27 (tie)
    • Alison/Alice/Alicia/Alyssa/Aly, 27 (tie)
  14. Sophia/Sophie, 26
  15. Jade/Giada, 22 (tie)
    • Alexandra/Alessia/Alexia/Lexi, 22 (tie)
  16. Aaliyah/Alaya, 21
  17. Chloe/Khloe, 20 (3-way tie)
    • Amber/Amberley, 20 (3-way tie)
    • Karla/Carla/Carly, 20 (3-way tie)
  18. Jasmine/Yasmine/Yasmeen, 17 (3-way tie)
    • Nina, 17 (3-way tie)
    • Faith, 17 (3-way tie)
  19. Hailey/Hailee/Hayleigh, 16
  20. Nicole/Nicola/Nicky, 14 (4-way tie)
    • Rachel/Raquel, 14 (4-way tie)
    • Keira/Kyra, 14 (4-way tie)
    • Claire/Clara/Clarisse, 14 (4-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. Luke/Luca/Lucas, 106 baby boys (5% of all boys)
  2. Matthew/Matthias/Matteo, 93
  3. Jacob/Jake, 70
  4. Zachary/Zak/Zack, 56
  5. John/Jean/Jonathan/Juan/Gan, 53 (tie)
    • Michael/Miguel/Mikhail, 53 (tie)
  6. Andrew/Andreas/Andre/Andy, 46
  7. Kaiden/Kayden/Kai, 45 (tie)
    • Alexander/Alessandro/Alec, 45 (tie)
  8. Aiden/Ayden, 43
  9. Liam/William, 42
  10. Nicholas/Nick/Nicolai, 41
  11. Benjamin/Ben, 40
  12. Daniel/Dan/Danil, 33
  13. Isaac/Izaak, 32 (tie)
    • Mason/Maison, 32 (tie)
  14. Jack/Jackson/Jacques, 30
  15. Jaden/Jayden/Jadon, 29 (tie)
    • Thomas/Tommas/Tommy, 29 (tie)
  16. Nathan/Nathaniel, 28
  17. Julian/Julien/Guiliano, 27
  18. Gabriel/Gabrijel/Gabryl, 24 (tie)
    • Adam, 24 (tie)
  19. Joseph/Beppe/Giuseppe/Josef, 23 (tie)
    • Noah, 23 (tie)
  20. James/Jamie/Jayme, 22 (3-way tie)
    • Samuel/Sam, 22 (3-way tie)
    • Keiran/Kyran, 22 (3-way tie)

Some of the unusual names registered in Malta last year were Aizley, Amporn, Breeze, Chinenye, Coco, Delson, Diyas, Enonima, Freedom, Gundula, Jaceyrhaer, Kobbun, Limoni, Love, Netsrik, Summer, Symphony, Zarkareia and Zveyrone.

Malta’s 2012 list was topped by Eliza/Lisa/Elsie/Elyse/Bettina and Matthew/Matthias/Matteo.

Sources: NSO – Naming Babies: 2013, Quality and Amporn top the list of unusual names

Image: Adapted from Flag of Malta (public domain)