How popular is the baby name Etosha 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 Etosha.

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Popularity of the baby name Etosha

Posts that mention the name Etosha

What gave the baby name Nairobi a boost in the 1980s?

Screenshot of the CBS promo for the TV movie "Nairobi Affair" (1984).
CBS promo for “Nairobi Affair”

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, takes its name from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which means “cold water.” It refers to the river that flows through the city.

In the 1970s, the city name began popping up as a boy name in the U.S. baby name data. This isn’t surprising, given African-Americans’ growing interest in baby names associated with Africa during that decade (e.g., 1971, 1973, 1977).

In 1984, though, Nairobi saw a small spike in usage — as a girl name. The spelling variant Nairoby also emerged.

Nairobi usageNairoby usage
19865 baby girls5 baby girls
19857 baby girls6 baby girls
198413 baby girls11 baby girls [debut]
19835 baby girlsunlisted


Because of a television movie called Nairobi Affair. It was filmed in Kenya and aired on CBS in October 1984. (Coincidentally, another African place name, Etosha, was also given a boost by a show that aired on CBS in 1984.)

Advertisement for the TV movie "Nairobi Affair" (1984).
1984 “Nairobi Affair” ad

The film starred Charlton Heston, who played “the owner of a Kenyan safari camp who [was] having an affair with his estranged son’s former wife.” The former wife was played by former Bond girl Maud Adams.

What are your thoughts on Nairobi as a baby name?


What gave the baby name Etosha a boost in the 1980s?

Image from the documentary movie "The Lions of Etosha" (1984).
From “The Lions of Etosha

The curious baby name Etosha first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1974. It returned to the data in 1981, and saw peak usage in 1984. (A variant form, Etoshia, was a one-hit wonder in 1984.)

While I don’t know what gave the name that initial nudge in the ’70s, I do have a theory about what influenced “Etosha” in the ’80s.

  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Etosha
  • 1985: 13 baby girls named Etosha
  • 1984: 22 baby girls named Etosha [peak]
  • 1983: 10 baby girls named Etosha
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 12 baby girls named Etosha [return]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

I think the 1981 return and the 1984 peak are attributable to two different things…that happen to be extremely similar. How similar? Well, both are Emmy-nominated wildlife documentaries that were filmed at Etosha National Park in Namibia. (Namibia is in southern Africa, on the Atlantic side.)

  • The first documentary, Etosha: Place of Dry Water (1980, PBS), was a National Geographic Special narrated by Alexander Scourby. It was nominated for an Emmy in 1981.
  • The second documentary, The Lions of Etosha: King of the Beasts (1984, CBS), was narrated by none other than James Earl Jones (who, a decade later, became a lion when he voiced the character of Mufasa in The Lion King). This one was reviewed in several major publications (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post) and was nominated for an Emmy in 1984.

Etosha National Park contains (and takes its name from) the vast Etosha pan, which is so large that it’s visible from space. The word Etosha (pronounced ee-TAH-sha) means “great white place” in the language of the Ovambo people.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Etosha?