How popular is the baby name Farouk 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 Farouk.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Farouk

Posts that Mention the Name Farouk

Where did the baby name Samia come from?

Photograph of Egyptian bellydancer Samia Gamal dancing, from LIFE magazine (Mar. 24, 1952).
Samia, © 1952 LIFE

Here’s a debut name I almost missed because it’s so similar to names like Sammie and Samie. It’s Samia, which first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the early 1950s:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 7 baby girls named Samia
  • 1953: 14 baby girls named Samia
    • 6 in Texas specifically
  • 1952: 11 baby girls named Samia
  • 1951: 6 baby girls named Samia [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

What was the inspiration?

An Egyptian belly-dancer!

She was born Zaynab Ibrahim Mahfuz in 1924, but early in her dancing career she started using the stage name Samia Gamal.

She became a film star in Egypt, but the U.S. press didn’t start mentioning her until 1950, when King Farouk of Egypt (who had divorced his first wife Farida a few years earlier) made it known that Samia was his favorite dancer.

What really caught America’s attention, though, was Samia’s whirlwind romance with oil heir Sheppard King III of Houston, Texas. They’d met in mid-1951 in a Paris nightclub and became engaged the same night. Within a few months he had converted to Islam, taken the name “Abdullah,” and married Samia in Cairo.

Photograph of Egyptian bellydancer Samia Gamal dancing, from LIFE magazine (Oct. 22, 1951).
Samia, © 1951 LIFE

“Naturally, the press, especially some of the Houston papers, ate it up.”

Over the next few months, the couple didn’t have to do much to end up in the newspaper. When not jet-setting around the world, mostly to satisfy Gamal’s dancing commitments, the two could be found in Houston. For instance, a proposed visit to Arrowhead Park Speedway in July 1952 merited a couple of paragraphs in the Chronicle.

And, of course, the press was also there to cover the couple’s separation and divorce in 1953.

Given the story’s Texas connection, it’s not surprising that many of the babies named Samia in 1953 (and in 1952, according to records) were born in Texas specifically.

The Arabic name Samia (also spelled Samiya) is derived from the male name Sami, which means “elevated” or “sublime.”

What are your thoughts on the name Samia?


  • “Egyptian National Dancer Gets American King” Life 22 Oct. 1951: 46.
  • “Egypt’s new charmer.” Life 4 Sept. 1950: 28.
  • Gonzales, J. R. “A Lady Named Samia.” Houston Chronicle 13 Feb. 2009.
  • “Mazda Motion: In U.S., Samia and flashlight reveal secrets of ancient art.” Life 24 Mar. 1952: 45-46.
  • Samia Gamal – Wikipedia
  • Samiya – Behind the Name

Gamal & Nasser: Suez Crisis Baby Names?

Dwight Eisenhower and Gamal Nasser, 1960
Dwight Eisenhower and Gamal Nasser, 1960

Egyptian politician Gamal Abdel Nasser became one of the primary leaders of Egypt following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.* He was elected president of the country on June 23, 1956.

A little more than a month after the election, on July 26, Nasser nationalized the 120-mile Suez Canal. Up to that point, the canal had been controlled jointly by Britain and France. Nasser did this in response to the U.S. and Britain withdrawing their offers to help finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, which was part of Nasser’s plan to improve Egypt’s economy and thereby modernize the country.

In late October and early November, forces from Israel, France, and Great Britain invaded Egypt. But the aggression was opposed by much of the rest of the world, including both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and the three invading countries were pressured to withdraw from Egypt over the following weeks and months.

So, Gamal Nasser emerged victorious from the Suez Crisis. (It was now “clear that the old colonial powers, Great Britain and France, had been supplanted as the world’s preeminent geopolitical forces by the United States and Soviet Union.”) And in 1957, both Gamal and Nasser saw enough usage as baby names to appear for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

YearUsage of GamalUsage of Nasser
195913 baby boys6 baby boys
19588 baby boys7 baby boys
19579 baby boys [debut]7 baby boys [debut]

Many of these early Gamals and Nassers were born in New York and Illinois — likely New York City and Chicago specifically — and could therefore be babies born into Egyptian-American families.

Sources: SSA, BBC – History – British History in depth: The Suez Crisis, What was the Suez Crisis? – Ask History

*The revolution overthrew King Farouk, whose first wife was Farida.

Where did the baby name Farida come from?

Farida Zulficar on the cover of LIFE magazine (Feb. 14, 1938).
Farida Zulficar on the cover of LIFE, 1938

You may already know that the 2011 royal wedding of William and Kate in London helped boost the usage of Pippa, the name of Kate’s sister.

But did you know that several long-ago royal couples from a very different region of the world gave similar boosts to a handful of Arabic baby names in the U.S. — as far back as the 1930s?

In January of 1938, 17-year-old King Farouk of Egypt married 16-year-old Farida Zulficar in Cairo. LIFE made Farida a cover girl in February. The magazine even correctly defined her name as “unique” in the accompanying story.

Right on cue, the baby name Farida appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: 6 baby girls named Farida [debut]
  • 1937: unlisted
  • 1936: unlisted

The name dropped off the charts the next year, but returned a few decades later. These days, dozens of U.S. babies are named Farida every year.

Interestingly, Farida Zulficar’s first name at birth was not Farida. It was Safinaz. (The components safi and naz mean “pure” and “pride” in Arabic.)

Why the name change? Because Farouk’s father Fuad had decided that all members of the royal family should have identical initials (to match his initials, naturally). Hence, the five children he had with his second wife were named Farouk, Fawzia, Faiza, Faika, and Fathia. To fit the pattern, Safinaz’s name was changed to Farida before her marriage to Farouk.

Farouk and Farida went on to have three F-named daughters — Ferial, Fawzia, and Fadia — before divorcing a decade later. Several years after that, Farouk was deposed.

Do you like the name Farida? Do you like it more or less than Safinaz?


Image: © 1938 LIFE