How popular is the baby name Haile 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 Haile.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Haile

Posts that Mention the Name Haile

Where did the baby name Haile come from in 1935?

Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975)
Haile Selassie

Haile debuted as a boy name in the U.S. baby name data in 1935, showed up again the next year, then it dropped out of the data entirely until the 1970s.

  • 1937: unlisted
  • 1936: 7 baby boys named Haile
  • 1935: 11 baby boys named Haile [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted
  • 1933: unlisted

What put this name on the map in the 1930s?

Haile Selassie (pronounced HIE-lee suh-LAS-ee), the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to the mid-1970s.

He was born into a noble family in 1892 with the name Tafari Makonnen. In 1917, he was given the title Ras, meaning “head” or “chief” in Ge’ez (the ancient Semitic language used as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church). When he ascended to the throne, he took the regnal name Haile Selassie — Haile meaning “power of” and Selassie meaning “trinity” in Ge’ez.

So what brought him to the attention of Americans in the mid-1930s?


In October of 1935, following months of conflict between Fascist Italy and Ethiopia, Italian forces under Benito Mussolini finally invaded Ethiopia, triggering the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-1937).

Several months later, Selassie was declared Time‘s latest “Man of the Year.” The magazine had this to say about Selassie:

In 1935 there was just one man who rose out of murky obscurity and carried his country with him up & up into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world. But for the hidden astuteness of this man, there would not now be the possibility of another world war arising out of idealism generated around the League of Nations in behalf of Ethiopia. […] If by some unhappy chance the Italo-Ethiopian war should now spread into a world conflagration, [he] will have a place in history as secure as Woodrow Wilson’s. If it ends in the fall of Mussolini and the collapse of Fascism, his Majesty can plume himself on one of the greatest feats ever credited to blackamoors.

In May of 1936, Selassie was forced into exile. The next month, he appealed to the League of Nations for help, giving a memorable speech (“a magnificent but futile gesture” according to the NYT) that ominously ended: “It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.” He wasn’t able to return to his country until the early 1940s, when the world was embroiled in WWII.

The Rastafari religion, which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s after Selassie’s coronation, holds that “Haile Selassie is God, and that he will return to Africa members of the black community who are living in exile as the result of colonisation and the slave trade.”

What are your thoughts on the name Haile? (Do you think most people who see it would mistake it for a variant of Hailey?)

P.S. Both Tafari and Selassie have surfaced in the U.S. baby name data as well.


Top debut names in the U.S. baby name data, 1881 to today

flower bud

Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.

Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.

Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing explanations tied to historical people/events. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.

Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)

  • 1881: Adell & Celeste, 14; Brown & Newell, 14
  • 1882: Verda, 14; Cleve, 13
  • 1883: Laurel, 12; Brady, Festus, Jewell, Odell & Rosco, 8
  • 1884: Crystal & Rubie, 11; Benjamen, Jens, Oakley & Whitney, 9
  • 1885: Clotilde, 13; Arley & Terence, 9
  • 1886: Manuelita, 10; Terrence, 10
  • 1887: Verlie, 13; Myles, 11
  • 1888: Ebba, 18; Carlisle, Hughie & Orvel, 9
  • 1889: Garnett, 12; Doyle, 9
  • 1890: Verena, 11; Eduardo & Maggie, 10
  • 1891: Gayle, Idabelle & Zenia, 9; Sheridan, 14
  • 1892: Astrid, Dallas & Jennett, 9; Corbett, 23
  • 1893: Elmyra, 12; Estel, Mayo, Shelley & Thorwald, 8
  • 1894: Beatriz, Carola & Marrie, 9; Arvel, Erby & Floy, 8
  • 1895: Trilby, 12; Roosevelt, 12
  • 1896: Lotus, 11; Hazen, 11
  • 1897: Dewey, 13; Bryon, Frankie, Mario & Rhoda, 7
  • 1898: Manilla, 35; Hobson, 38
  • 1899: Ardis & Irva, 19; Haven, 9
  • 1900: Luciel, 14; Rosevelt, 20
  • 1901: Venita, 11; Eino, 9
  • 1902: Mercie, 10; Clarnce, 9
  • 1903: Estela, 11; Lenon & Porfirio, 7
  • 1904: Magdaline, 9; Adrain, Arbie, Betty, Desmond, Domenic, Duard, Raul & Severo, 8
  • 1905: Oliver, 9; Eliot & Tyree, 9
  • 1906: Nedra, 11; Domenico & Ryan, 10
  • 1907: Theta, 20; Taft, 16
  • 1908: Pasqualina, 10; Robley, 12
  • 1909: Wilmoth, 9; Randal & Vidal, 9
  • 1910: Ellouise, 12; Halley, 12
  • 1911: Thurley, 12; Colie, 16
  • 1912: Elynor, Glennis, Mariann, 12; Woodroe, 25
  • 1913: Wilba, 18; Vilas, 24
  • 1914: Floriene, 14; Torao, 17
  • 1915: Wanza, 33; Audra, 18
  • 1916: Tatsuko, 14; Verdun, 14
  • 1917: Nerine, 43; Delwyn, 14
  • 1918: Marne, 24; Foch, 58
  • 1919: Tokie, 12; Juaquin, 11
  • 1920: Dardanella, 23; Steele, 11
  • 1921: Marilynne, 13; Norberto, 14
  • 1922: Evelean, 14; Daren, 35
  • 1923: Nalda, 15; Clinard & Dorland, 9
  • 1924: Charis, 14; Melquiades, 13
  • 1925: Irmalee, 37; Wayburn, 11
  • 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 14
  • 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • 1929: Jeannene, 25; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9
  • 1935: Treasure, 16; Haile, 11
  • 1936: Shelva, 89; Renny & Shelva, 9

This is where the numbers start becoming more accurate. Why? Because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.” (SSA)

Now back to the list:

I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!

*If you ignore the baby name glitch of 1989, the top debut names of 1989 are actually Audreanna and Khiry.

Image by kazuend from Unsplash

Hailey, Haleigh, Haylee… which spelling is best?

Which spelling of "Hailey" is best?

Back when I published the first version of this post — using the SSA’s 2007 baby name data — the name Hailey was the 23rd most popular name for U.S. baby girls.

(It’s highest-ever usage had been a few years earlier, in 2003.)

But, while “Hailey” was the most popular spelling of the name, it certainly wasn’t the only spelling being used. Other popular variants included…

And, of course, there were dozens more. Some examples: Halley, Hayli, Haylei, Haile, Haylea, Haili, Haillie, Hailea, Hailei, Haeley, Haely, Haelee, Hailley, Haeleigh, Hailly, Haeli, and Hayliee.

Which spelling of Hailey do you prefer? Why?

P.S. Fourteen years later, the entire name-group is not as trendy as it once was. The most popular spelling is still Hailey, though it now ranks 77th. Haley, Haylee, and Hayley are still in the top 1,000, but Haylie, Hailee, Haleigh, Hailie, and Hayleigh have since dropped out.

[Latest update: Jan. 2023]

Like symmetry? Try palindromic baby names

duck, and reflection

Did you know that a handful of baby names happen to be palindromes? Here are some names that can be read the same way in either direction (i.e. both forwards and backwards):

Two of these, Hannah and Ava, happen to be very popular for baby girls at the moment.

Need two names? You could consider a pair of names that become a palindrome when written side-by-side (i.e., names that are anagrams of one another):

Aidan & Nadia
Aileen & Neelia
Alan & Nala
Allan & Nalla
Allen & Nella
Amin & Nima
Ariel & Leira
Arik & Kira
Aron & Nora
Avram & Marva
Axel & Lexa
Aydan & Nadya
Ari & Ira
Cam & Mac
Eliah & Haile
Eliam & Maile
Ellen & Nelle
Etan & Nate
Flor & Rolf
Gem & Meg
Iris & Siri
Leon & Noel
Linus & Sunil
Miles & Selim
Nazar & Razan
Nero & Oren

It’s also possible to come up with your own palindromic pairs by flipping traditional names to create brand new names. For instance, I’ve seem James, Kevin, Manuel and Ramon flipped to become Semaj, Nivek, Leunam and Nomar.

Image by Carolyn from Pixabay