How popular is the baby name Halley 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 Halley.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Halley


Posts that Mention the Name Halley

How has the Year of the Dragon (Chinese zodiac) influenced baby names?

Photo of a Chinese dragon
Chinese Dragon

My husband and I visited Las Vegas recently, and the casinos were all decked out for Chinese New Year (which falls on February 12th this year). Decorations included lanterns, firecrackers, Chinese coins, red envelopes, oranges*, and dragons — so many dragons that I initially thought we must be coming up on the year of the Dragon.

Turns out I was wrong — it’ll be the year of the Ox — but I didn’t realize this until my husband consulted the internet. Which I’m glad he did, because he ended up spotting this intriguing paragraph:

There are typically marked spikes in the birth rates of countries that use the Chinese zodiac or places with substantial Overseas Chinese populations during the year of the Dragon, because such “Dragon babies” are considered to be lucky and have desirable characteristics that supposedly lead to better life outcomes. The relatively recent phenomenon of planning a child’s birth in the Dragon year has led to hospital overcapacity issues and even an uptick in infant mortality rates toward the end of these years due to strained neonatal resources.

So, if Dragon years are influencing babies, could they also be influencing baby names…?

Photo of a Chinese dragon (and other Chinese New Year decorations) at the Venetian in Las Vegas, early 2021.
Chinese dragon at the Venetian, 2021

To answer this question, we need to know two things: which years are Dragon years, and which baby names are likely to be more popular during Dragon years.

Recent Dragon years have coincided (for the most part) with the following calendar years:

  • 1952
  • 1964
  • 1976
  • 1988
  • 2000
  • 2012

(The start date varies, but always falls between January 21 and February 20, on the day of the new moon.)

As for names, the most obvious choice to me was, of course, the English word Dragon. But that’s because I don’t speak any Asian languages (beyond a few words of Cambodian, thanks to my husband’s family).

So I looked up the Chinese word for “dragon.” The correct transliteration is lóng — the ó has a rising tone — but the word is more likely to be rendered “long” or “lung” in Latin script.

Here’s what I found for Dragon, Long and Lung in the U.S. baby name data…

Dragon

Graph of the usage of the baby name Dragon in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Dragon

The baby name Dragon debuted in 1988 (a Dragon year), saw a spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), and an even larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).

  • In 1988, 8 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 5 [63%] were born in California.
  • In 2000, 22 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 6 [27%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
  • In 2012, 24 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
    • 5 [21%] were born in California.

I think the state data is notable here because California has a significant Asian American population.

Long & Lung

Graph of the usage of the baby name Long in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Long

The baby name Long debuted in 1975, likely because of Vietnamese immigration, and saw a general increase in usage during the late ’70s and early ’80s. It saw an initial spike in 1976 (a Dragon year), which was followed by three more distinct spikes in 1988, 2000, and 2012 (the three most recent Dragon years).

  • In 1976, 47 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 13 [28%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
  • In 1988, 133 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • Long ranked 822nd nationally.
    • 53 [40%] were born in California, 20 in Texas, 5 in Oklahoma, 5 in Massachusetts.
  • In 2000, 101 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 30 [30%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 8 in Virginia, 7 in Washington, 6 in Massachusetts, 6 in Pennsylvania.
  • In 2012, 84 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
    • 19 [23%] were born in California, 11 in Texas, 5 in Oregon.

The baby name Lung — a homograph of the English word for the internal organ, unfortunately — was a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 1988.

Thienlong

While looking at the data for Long, I spotted the name Thienlong — a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 2012. The Vietnamese name Thienlong, or “thiên long,” means something along the lines of “sky dragon” or “heavenly dragon.”

Seeing the crossover into Vietnamese names, I tried looking for other Asian words for “dragon” in the U.S. baby name data.

I didn’t have much luck until I tried one of the Japanese words for “dragon,” ryu (which should have a macron above the u, marking it as long). The word is typically rendered “ryu,” “ryo,” or “ryuu” in Latin script. (It can also have meanings other than “dragon” — just depends upon the kanji.)

Here’s what I found…

Ryu, Ryuu, Ryo

Graph of the usage of the baby name Ryu in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Ryu

The baby name Ryu debuted in 1985, dropped out of the data, and returned in 1988 (a Dragon year). It saw a small spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), then a larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).

  • In 1988, 7 baby boys were named Ryu.
  • In 2000, 35 baby boys were named Ryu.
    • 12 [34%] were born in California.
  • In 2012, 129 baby boys were named Ryu.
    • 34 [26%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 9 in New York.

The baby names Ryuu and Ryo both saw peak usage in the Dragon year 2012.

Ryunosuke, Ryuki, Ryujin, etc.

While looking at the data for Ryu, I found several Ryu-based names with usage patterns that seem to correlate to Dragon years:

And here’s an interesting fact: Japan’s most famous short story writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “was named Ryunosuke, “dragon-son,” because he was born in the hour of the dragon, in the month of the dragon, in the year of the dragon.” (His birth-date was March 1, 1892.)

And, finally, one more…

Draco

After looking up “dragon” in many different languages, I decided to check the Latin version, Draco — yes, as in Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy — just in case.

The name did see usage increases in the Dragon years 2000 and 2012, but these increases don’t seem impressive next to the steep rise of the last couple of years (which could be due to the 2017 song “Draco” by Future…?).

2024

The next year of the Dragon year will start in early 2024. Do you think dragon-related names will get another boost that year? If so, which ones?

And, do you know of any other dragon-related names that we should be keeping an eye on?

*Why oranges? Because the Cantonese word for mandarin orange, kam, sounds a lot like the Cantonese word for gold. (Another interesting fact: the word kumquat comes from the Cantonese words kam, “gold” or “golden,” and kwat, “orange.”)

P.S. Want to read about another periodic baby name? Try the comet-inspired Halley

Sources:

Top image by sherisetj from Pixabay. Second image by Nancy.

Where did the baby name Hayley come from?

hayley mills, pollyanna, 1960

The baby name Halley debuted because of a comet, but the similar name Hayley debuted thanks to a Disney film.

Which one? Pollyanna (1960), an adaptation of the book Pollyanna (1913). The movie starred teenage English actress Hayley Mills, who ended up winning an honorary Oscar for the role.

Here’s how the film affected the usage of they baby name Hayley in the U.S.:

  • 1963: 71 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1962: 46 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1961: 18 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1960: 9 baby girls named Hayley [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Mills’ full name is Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills. The name “Hayley” had been passed down for several generations in her family. (Her mother, also an actress, was Mary Hayley Bell.)

The film gave the baby name Pollyanna a boost as well during the ’60s.

Source: “The Mills Family’s Merry Mime.” Life 13 Jun. 1960: 12.

P.S. According to a poll I’ve had up since 2008 (!), Hayley is the third-most-popular spelling of the name; the most popular spelling is Hailey.

Meteorite lands on “Commette” house

In October of 2011, a 4.5-billion-year-old, 88-gram meteorite happened to crash through the roof of a home in suburban Paris — an extremely unlikely event.

Even more unlikely? The family living in the house happened to have the surname Commette.

‘Commette’ isn’t a perfect match to the French word for comet (comète), and a meteorite isn’t the same thing as a comet anyway, but…it’s pretty remarkable nonetheless.

“There’s something magical… strange about a meteor dropping down on you when you have a name like ours,” a happy Martine Commette told TF1.

For more astronomy-related names, try this post on Halley’s Comet.

Source: Meteorite, Meet Commette: French Family Bags 4.5 Billion Year-Old Space Rock

Pop culture baby name game results, 2017

Here are the results of Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2017!

To streamline the results post this year, I didn’t include detailed descriptions of the pop culture influences. For the specifics, just click the above link.

On to the names!

Rises

Baby names that saw increased usage from 2016 to 2017.

  • Logan (movie), +2,748 baby boys (also +248 baby girls)
  • Dream (celebrity baby), +198 baby girls (also +22 baby boys)
  • Maren (music), +172 baby girls
  • Amaya (tv), +133 baby girls
  • Alessia (music), +129 baby girls
  • Winston (movie), +129 baby boys
  • Renata (tv), +107 baby girls
  • Callum (movie), +79 baby boys
  • Harvey (event/news), +76 baby boys
  • Asahd (celebrity baby), +58 baby boys (the top debut name for boys in ’17)
  • Brennley (tv), re-entered the data with 56 baby girls
  • Kenzo (celebrity baby), +55 baby boys
  • Ivanka (politics), +52 baby girls
  • Sunny (event), +52 baby girls (but -12 baby boys)
  • Hayes (celebrity baby), +46 baby boys (also +42 baby girls)
  • Barron (politics), +40 baby boys (and Baron rose as well)
  • Kensli (celebrity baby), +39 baby girls
  • Poppy (music/movie), +39 baby girls
  • Kamaiyah (music), +34 baby girls
  • Tala (tv), +33 baby girls
  • Sally (news), +32 baby girls
  • Chosen (celebrity baby), +30 baby boys (also +15 baby girls)
  • Jones (celebrity baby), +28 baby boys (also +5 baby girls)
  • Tommy (movie), +23 baby boys
  • Solana (music), +20 baby girls
  • Mika (tv), +17 baby girls
  • Eissa (celebrity baby), +16 baby boys
  • Moon (event), +15 baby girls
  • Valkyrie (movie), +15 baby girls
  • Zaya (movie), +15 baby girls
  • Kelsea (music), +12 baby girls
  • Shadow (tv), +11 baby boys (also +4 baby girls)
  • Grover (tv), +10 baby boys
  • Halley (tv), +10 baby girls
  • Bear (celebrity baby), +9 baby boys
  • Gal (movie), +9 baby girls
  • Jyn (movie), debuted in the data with 9 baby girls
  • Eleven (tv), debuted in the data with 7 baby girls
  • Thor (movie), +7 baby boys
  • Hela (movie), +6 baby girls
  • Lyric (celebrity baby), +6 baby boys (but -77 baby girls)
  • Sturgill (music), debuted in the data with 6 baby boys
  • Zari (tv), +6 baby girls
  • Eclipse (event), debuted in the data with 5 baby girls
  • Eniko (celebrity spouse), debuted in the data with 5 baby girls
  • Poe (movie), +4 baby boys
  • Sir (celebrity baby), +4 baby boys
  • Dory (movie), +2 baby boys
  • Sire (celebrity baby), +2 baby boys

Same

Baby names that saw no movement from 2016 to 2017.

  • Revel (celebrity baby), no movement as a boy name
  • Rumi (celebrity baby), no movement as a girl name
  • Sovereign (celebrity baby), no movement as a girl name
  • Merlyn (tv), no movement as a boy name

Falls

Baby names that saw decreased usage from 2016 to 2017.

  • Chance (music), -1 baby boy
  • Irma (event), -1 baby girl
  • Via (tv), -1 baby girl
  • Gypsy (tv), -2 baby girls
  • Julien as a girl name (music), -3 baby girls
  • Loki (movie), -3 baby boys
  • Lux (tv), -3 baby boys
  • Soleil (event), -4 baby girls
  • J’onn (tv), dropped out of the data
  • Ned (movie), -5 baby boys
  • Saoirse (movie), -5 baby girls
  • Topaz (movie), dropped out of the data
  • Jacinda (news), -8 baby girls
  • Bea (rumored celebrity baby), -10 baby girls
  • Moxie (book), -13 baby girls
  • Gareth (movie), -16 baby boys
  • Shayla (internet), -30 baby girls
  • Fatima (news), -33 baby girls
  • Kendrick (music), -54 baby boys
  • Shawn (rumored celebrity baby), -121 baby boys
  • Carter (celebrity baby), -415 baby boys (also -103 baby girls)

Absent

Baby names that were not in the SSA data in either 2016 or 2017.

Amilyn, Antiope, Asperitas, Bilquis, Bixby, Cardi, Creeley, Darci Lynne, Fenty, Gravity, Issa Rae, Jumanji, Kygo, Ladybird, Laureline, Libratus, Mahershala, Maisel, Midge, Ovince, Pence, Ragnarok, Saffie, Sonequa, Strummer, Sza, Tenney, Themyscira, Tommen, Totality, Trump, Valerian, Wiseau, Yulin, Zelle

Reactions

Some initial reactions…

I was so surprised that Rumi saw no upward movement as a girl name. Remi is rising fast, Rooney is inching upward, and then Rumi — a name that sounds like a mix between the two — gets the stamp of approval from Queen Bey herself. And still it doesn’t budge. I’m scratching my head over this one.

I’m always fascinated to see how name usage is influenced by events/people that are perceived as negative. Sometimes the associations drag them down, but sometimes the mere exposure lifts them up. In the case of Harvey, we had not one but two negative things: a destructive storm and a sexual predator. And yet, the name continued to rise.

It was neat to see Eclipse debut in the data. We already knew that a few babies got the name thanks to the news, but apparently there were a few more–just enough to nudge the name up to that 5-baby threshold. I wonder how much the August solar eclipse contributed to the rise of the names Luna, Moon, and Shadow in 2017.

How about you? Did the movement (or non-movement) of any of these names surprise you?

[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated, and some were no doubt influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.]

Pop culture baby name game, 2017

pop culture baby name game 2017

It’s time for the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

This year we’re kicking things off January 8th, the birthday of Elvis Presley! (He was born in 1935 and would have been 83 today.)

So how do you play the game? Just brainstorm for baby names that could have gotten a boost in usage in 2017 thanks to the influence popular culture: movies, music, television, social media, video games, sports, politics, products, trends, and so forth.

Here are the names we’ve come up with so far:

  • Amilyn – movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi (stolen from Abby)
  • Antiope – movie Wonder Woman
  • Asahd – son of DJ Khaled (suggested by alex)
  • Asperitas – a new type of cloud (suggested by elbowin)
  • Bea – rumored Beyoncé baby name
  • Bear – son of Liam Payne
  • Bilquis – TV show American Gods
  • Callum – move Assassin’s Creed
  • Cardi – rapper Cardi B
  • Carter – son of Beyoncé and Jay-Z (suggested by elbowin)
  • Chance – Chance The Rapper
  • Creeley – TV show Damnation
  • Darci Lynne – winner of America’s Got Talent
  • Eclipse – August solar eclipse
  • Eissa – son of Janet Jackson
  • Eleven – TV show Stranger Things
  • Fatima – 100th anniversary of Marian apparitions
  • Fenty – Rihanna’s company Fenty Beauty
  • Gal – actress Gal Godot
  • Gravity – daughter of fashion models Lucky Blue Smith (male) and Stormi Bree (female)
  • Grover – fictional baby born on TV show Girls
  • Halley – fictional baby born on TV show Big Bang Theory
  • Harvey – hurricane
  • Hela – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Irma – hurricane
  • Issa Rae – actress Issa Rae
  • Jacinda – New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern
  • Jumanji – movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Jyn – movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Kelsea – singer Kelsea Ballerini
  • Kendrick – rapper Kendrick Lamar
  • Kensli – daughter of Chance the Rapper (suggested by alex)
  • Kenzo – son of Kevin Hart
  • Laureline – movie Valerian
  • Libratus – artificial intelligence (suggested by elbowin)
  • Mahershala – actor Mahershala Ali
  • Maren – singer Maren Morris
  • Mika – news presenter Mika Brzezinski (suggested by alex)
  • Ovince – MMA competitor Ovince Saint Preux
  • Poppy – singer Poppy; movie Trolls
  • Ragnarok – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Revel – son of actors Matthew and Renee Morrison
  • Rumi – daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  • Saffie – victim of Manchester bombing (suggested by elbowin)
  • Sally – former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates
  • Saoirse – actress Saoirse Ronan
  • Shadow – TV show American Gods
  • Shawn – rumored Beyoncé baby name
  • Shayla – beauty influencer Shayla Mitchell
  • Sir – son of Beyoncé and Jay-Z
  • Sonequa – actress Sonequa Martin-Green
  • Sovereign – daughter of Cam Newton
  • Strummer – son of Julia Stiles
  • Sturgill – musician Sturgill Simpson
  • Sza – singer SZA
  • Tenney – doll/character Tenney Grant (full name: “Tennyson Evangeline”)
  • Totality – August solar eclipse
  • Valerian – movie Valerian
  • Valkyrie – movie Thor: Ragnarok
  • Yulin – San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (suggested by elbowin)
  • Zaya – movie Gods of Egypt (stolen from Maybe it is Daijirō)
  • Zelle – payment app

Have any additions to make? Comment below! Just don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.

The SSA will release the next batch of baby name data in May, so I will post the results to the game a few days after that 2017 data becomes available.

If you don’t want to miss the results post, please subscribe to NBN by entering your email address into the “Get New Posts via Email” form in the sidebar.

P.S. Have some ideas for 2018? Comment with those too — I’ll add them to next year’s game. One addition I just made: Grayson, for the winter storm. (Here’s a Massachusetts baby named Grayson, and a Maine baby possibly named Grayson.)