How popular is the baby name Kyle 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 Kyle.

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Popularity of the baby name Kyle


Posts that mention the name Kyle

Popular baby names in the Philippines, 2021

Flag of the Philippines
Flag of the Philippines

The Philippines — the 13th most populous country in the world — is an archipelago of thousands of islands located in the western Pacific Ocean.

In 2021, the Philippines welcomed 1,364,739 babies. What were the most popular names among these babies? Althea and Jacob.

Here are the Philippines’ top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2021:

Girl names

  1. Althea, 1,875 baby girls
  2. Angel, 1,301
  3. Samantha, 1,280
  4. Sophia, 989
  5. Sofia, 988
  6. Andrea, 969
  7. Nathalie, 964
  8. Princess, 959
  9. Angela, 929
  10. Chloe, 907

Boy names

  1. Jacob, 1,972 baby boys
  2. Nathaniel, 1,845
  3. Gabriel, 1,679
  4. Ezekiel, 1,455
  5. Nathan, 1,429
  6. Ethan, 1,289
  7. Angelo, 1,135
  8. James, 1,122
  9. Matthew, 998
  10. Zion, 986

In the girls’ top 10, Chloe replaced Jasmine.

In the boy’s top 10, Matthew and Zion replaced Joshua and Kyle.

Althea has been the top girl name for six years in a row now.

Jacob ranked #1 in 2020, but was third in 2018. (I haven’t found the data for 2019 yet.)

Sources: Most Common Baby Names of 2021 – Philippine Statistics Authority (PDF), Registered Live Births in the Philippines, 2021 – Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippines – Wikipedia

Image: Adapted from Flag of the Philippines (public domain)

Popular baby names in the United States, 2022

Flag of the United States
Flag of the United States

The new rankings have arrived!

Earlier today, the SSA released the 2022 U.S. baby name data, revealing that the top names in the nation are Olivia and Liam yet again.

I have a number of analysis posts coming up, but let’s start with the basic rankings — first a quick top 10, then a full top 500.

Girl names

  1. Olivia, 16,573 baby girls
  2. Emma, 14,435
  3. Charlotte, 12,891
  4. Amelia, 12,333
  5. Sophia, 12,310
  6. Isabella, 11,662
  7. Ava, 11,039
  8. Mia, 11,018
  9. Evelyn, 9,289
  10. Luna, 8,922

Boy names

  1. Liam, 20,456 baby boys
  2. Noah, 18,621
  3. Oliver, 15,076
  4. James, 12,028
  5. Elijah, 11,979
  6. William, 11,282
  7. Henry, 11,221
  8. Lucas, 10,909
  9. Benjamin, 10,842
  10. Theodore, 10,754

The boys’ top 10 includes the same 10 names as in 2021.

In the girls’ top 10, Luna replaced Harper.

And here are the top 500 baby names in the U.S., per gender, for 2022…

RankGirl NamesBoy Names
1
2
3
4
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483
484
485
486
487
488
489
490
491
492
493
494
495
496
497
498
499
500
Olivia
Emma
Charlotte
Amelia
Sophia
Isabella
Ava
Mia
Evelyn
Luna
Harper
Camila
Sofia
Scarlett
Elizabeth
Eleanor
Emily
Chloe
Mila
Violet
Penelope
Gianna
Aria
Abigail
Ella
Avery
Hazel
Nora
Layla
Lily
Aurora
Nova
Ellie
Madison
Grace
Isla
Willow
Zoe
Riley
Stella
Eliana
Ivy
Victoria
Emilia
Zoey
Naomi
Hannah
Lucy
Elena
Lillian
Maya
Leah
Paisley
Addison
Natalie
Valentina
Everly
Delilah
Leilani
Madelyn
Kinsley
Ruby
Sophie
Alice
Genesis
Claire
Audrey
Sadie
Aaliyah
Josephine
Autumn
Brooklyn
Quinn
Kennedy
Cora
Savannah
Caroline
Athena
Natalia
Hailey
Aubrey
Emery
Anna
Iris
Bella
Eloise
Skylar
Jade
Gabriella
Ariana
Maria
Adeline
Lydia
Sarah
Nevaeh
Serenity
Liliana
Ayla
Everleigh
Raelynn
Allison
Madeline
Vivian
Maeve
Lyla
Samantha
Rylee
Eva
Melody
Clara
Hadley
Julia
Piper
Juniper
Parker
Brielle
Eden
Remi
Josie
Rose
Arya
Eliza
Charlie
Peyton
Daisy
Lucia
Millie
Margaret
Freya
Melanie
Elliana
Adalynn
Alina
Emersyn
Sienna
Mary
Isabelle
Alaia
Esther
Sloane
Mackenzie
Amara
Ximena
Sage
Cecilia
Valeria
Reagan
Valerie
Catalina
River
Magnolia
Kehlani
Summer
Ashley
Andrea
Isabel
Oakley
Olive
Oaklynn
Ember
Kaylee
Georgia
Juliette
Anastasia
Genevieve
Katherine
Blakely
Reese
Amaya
Emerson
Brianna
June
Alani
Lainey
Arianna
Rosalie
Sara
Jasmine
Ruth
Adalyn
Ada
Bailey
Ariella
Wren
Myla
Khloe
Callie
Elsie
Alexandra
Ryleigh
Faith
Norah
Margot
Zuri
Journee
Aspen
Gemma
Kylie
Molly
Blake
Zara
Alaina
Alana
Brynlee
Amy
Annie
Saylor
Ana
Amira
Kimberly
Noelle
Kamila
Morgan
Phoebe
Harmony
Sutton
Taylor
Finley
Lilah
Juliana
Lila
Londyn
Kailani
Vera
Kaia
Angela
Hallie
Diana
Lennon
Presley
Arabella
Aliyah
Lilly
Milani
Jordyn
Camille
Ariel
Aubree
Selena
Sawyer
Nyla
Delaney
Mariana
Rachel
Adaline
Leila
Collins
Lia
Octavia
Kali
Lena
Kiara
Kaylani
Elaina
Daniela
Leia
Gracie
Dakota
Elise
Hope
Harlow
Lola
Stevie
Malia
Miriam
Alora
Gia
Evangeline
Brooke
Lilith
Sydney
Ophelia
Alayna
Tatum
Evie
Rowan
Marley
Daphne
Kayla
Dahlia
Lucille
Blair
Adelaide
Wrenley
Haven
Teagan
Adelyn
Alyssa
Payton
Jane
Mckenna
Celeste
Juliet
Palmer
Maggie
Rebecca
London
Noa
Samara
Thea
Kendall
Mya
Talia
Winter
Angelina
Vivienne
Esme
Laila
Nina
Trinity
Vanessa
Mabel
Camilla
Jocelyn
Journey
Paige
Phoenix
Amina
Alivia
Amari
Joanna
Nicole
Annabelle
Raegan
Aitana
Julianna
Lauren
Catherine
Adriana
Madilyn
Harley
Tessa
Evelynn
Elianna
Rory
Dream
Nayeli
Poppy
Gabriela
Jayla
Cataleya
Celine
Hayden
Shiloh
Mariah
Charlee
Maisie
Regina
Adelynn
Briella
Giselle
Fatima
Danna
Alessia
Mckenzie
Wynter
Fiona
Brooklynn
Gracelynn
Luciana
Alexis
Everlee
Laura
Selah
Reign
Alayah
Rosemary
Lilliana
Ariyah
Heidi
Esmeralda
Logan
Amora
Kalani
Leighton
Cali
Melissa
Aniyah
Izabella
Michelle
Raelyn
Alessandra
Viviana
Madeleine
Arielle
Serena
Francesca
Brynn
Gwendolyn
Kira
Destiny
Elle
Makayla
Alaya
Malani
Willa
Saige
Makenna
Remington
Demi
Adelina
Raya
Astrid
Azalea
Veronica
Meadow
Anaya
Elisa
Raven
Alexandria
Hattie
Alicia
Sabrina
Gracelyn
Matilda
Skye
Annalise
Frances
Miracle
Maia
Helen
Lana
Daleyza
Rosie
Charli
Bianca
Royalty
Sarai
Amiyah
Nylah
Aylin
Maryam
Scarlet
Antonella
Sylvia
Sylvie
Nadia
Ari
Lexi
Mylah
Julieta
Lorelei
Avianna
Armani
Camryn
Emely
Rylie
Colette
Daniella
Liana
Brinley
Kate
Salem
Marlee
Alison
Carmen
Felicity
Fernanda
Holly
Ariah
Aisha
Kora
Amanda
Ailani
Elaine
Emory
Joy
Oaklee
Lyric
Madelynn
Haisley
Allie
Helena
Danielle
Katalina
Carolina
Zariah
Navy
Cassidy
Lorelai
Stephanie
Alma
Mira
Legacy
Jolene
Anya
Dorothy
Paris
Yaretzi
Aurelia
Maddison
Renata
Jimena
Xiomara
Itzel
Heaven
Lyra
Estella
Gabrielle
Maren
Liam
Noah
Oliver
James
Elijah
William
Henry
Lucas
Benjamin
Theodore
Mateo
Levi
Sebastian
Daniel
Jack
Michael
Alexander
Owen
Asher
Samuel
Ethan
Leo
Jackson
Mason
Ezra
John
Hudson
Luca
Aiden
Joseph
David
Jacob
Logan
Luke
Julian
Gabriel
Grayson
Wyatt
Matthew
Maverick
Dylan
Isaac
Elias
Anthony
Thomas
Jayden
Carter
Santiago
Ezekiel
Charles
Josiah
Caleb
Cooper
Lincoln
Miles
Christopher
Nathan
Isaiah
Kai
Joshua
Andrew
Angel
Adrian
Cameron
Nolan
Waylon
Jaxon
Roman
Eli
Wesley
Aaron
Ian
Christian
Ryan
Leonardo
Brooks
Axel
Walker
Jonathan
Easton
Everett
Weston
Bennett
Robert
Jameson
Landon
Silas
Jose
Beau
Micah
Colton
Jordan
Jeremiah
Parker
Greyson
Rowan
Adam
Nicholas
Theo
Xavier
Hunter
Dominic
Jace
Gael
River
Thiago
Kayden
Damian
August
Carson
Austin
Myles
Amir
Declan
Emmett
Ryder
Luka
Connor
Jaxson
Milo
Enzo
Giovanni
Vincent
Diego
Luis
Archer
Harrison
Kingston
Atlas
Jasper
Sawyer
Legend
Lorenzo
Evan
Jonah
Chase
Bryson
Adriel
Nathaniel
Arthur
Juan
George
Cole
Zion
Jason
Ashton
Carlos
Calvin
Brayden
Elliot
Rhett
Emiliano
Ace
Jayce
Graham
Max
Braxton
Leon
Ivan
Hayden
Jude
Malachi
Dean
Tyler
Jesus
Zachary
Kaiden
Elliott
Arlo
Emmanuel
Ayden
Bentley
Maxwell
Amari
Ryker
Finn
Antonio
Charlie
Maddox
Justin
Judah
Kevin
Dawson
Matteo
Miguel
Zayden
Camden
Messiah
Alan
Alex
Nicolas
Felix
Alejandro
Jesse
Beckett
Matias
Tucker
Emilio
Xander
Knox
Oscar
Beckham
Timothy
Abraham
Andres
Gavin
Brody
Barrett
Hayes
Jett
Brandon
Joel
Victor
Peter
Abel
Edward
Karter
Patrick
Richard
Grant
Avery
King
Caden
Adonis
Riley
Tristan
Kyrie
Blake
Eric
Griffin
Malakai
Rafael
Israel
Tate
Lukas
Nico
Marcus
Stetson
Javier
Colt
Omar
Simon
Kash
Remington
Jeremy
Louis
Mark
Lennox
Callum
Kairo
Nash
Kyler
Dallas
Crew
Preston
Paxton
Steven
Zane
Kaleb
Lane
Phoenix
Paul
Cash
Kenneth
Bryce
Ronan
Kaden
Maximiliano
Walter
Maximus
Emerson
Hendrix
Jax
Atticus
Zayn
Tobias
Cohen
Aziel
Kayson
Rory
Brady
Finley
Holden
Jorge
Malcolm
Clayton
Niko
Francisco
Josue
Brian
Bryan
Cade
Colin
Andre
Cayden
Aidan
Muhammad
Derek
Ali
Elian
Bodhi
Cody
Jensen
Damien
Martin
Cairo
Ellis
Khalil
Otto
Zander
Dante
Ismael
Angelo
Brantley
Manuel
Colson
Cruz
Tatum
Jaylen
Jaden
Erick
Cristian
Romeo
Milan
Reid
Cyrus
Leonel
Joaquin
Ari
Odin
Orion
Ezequiel
Gideon
Daxton
Warren
Casey
Anderson
Spencer
Karson
Eduardo
Chance
Fernando
Raymond
Bradley
Cesar
Wade
Prince
Julius
Dakota
Kade
Koa
Raiden
Callan
Hector
Onyx
Remy
Ricardo
Edwin
Stephen
Kane
Saint
Titus
Desmond
Killian
Sullivan
Mario
Jay
Kamari
Luciano
Royal
Zyaire
Marco
Wilder
Russell
Nasir
Rylan
Archie
Jared
Gianni
Kashton
Kobe
Sergio
Travis
Marshall
Iker
Briggs
Gunner
Apollo
Bowen
Baylor
Sage
Tyson
Kyle
Oakley
Malik
Mathias
Sean
Armani
Hugo
Johnny
Sterling
Forrest
Harvey
Banks
Grady
Kameron
Jake
Franklin
Lawson
Tanner
Eden
Jaziel
Pablo
Reed
Pedro
Zayne
Royce
Edgar
Ibrahim
Winston
Ronin
Leonidas
Devin
Damon
Noel
Rhys
Clark
Corbin
Sonny
Colter
Esteban
Erik
Baker
Adan
Dariel
Kylo
Tripp
Caiden
Frank
Solomon
Major
Memphis
Quinn
Dax
Hank
Donovan
Finnegan
Nehemiah
Andy
Camilo
Asa
Jeffrey
Santino
Isaias
Jaiden
Kian
Fabian
Callen
Ruben
Alexis
Emanuel
Francis
Garrett
Kendrick
Matthias
Wells
Augustus
Jasiah
Alijah
Alonzo
Koda
Collin
Ford
Frederick
Jaxton
Kohen
Troy
Kason
Seth
Denver
Kyson
Ares
Raphael
Bodie
Sylas
Uriel
Zaiden
Shiloh
Lewis
Kieran
Marcos
Bo
Shepherd
Philip
Zaire
Gregory
Princeton
Roberto
Leland
Eithan

More coming soon — stay tuned!

Sources: Popular Baby Names – SSA, Olivia and Liam Remain Most Popular Baby Names for 2022 – SSA

Image: Adapted from Flag of the United States (public domain)

What popularized Kyle as girl name in the early 1950s?

Kyle MacDonnell in a Bates Fabrics ad (Feb. 1949)
Kyle MacDonnell in a Bates Fabrics ad

In the U.S., the name Kyle has always been used more often for boys than for girls.

If you look closely at the data from the early 1950s, though, you’ll notice a sudden increase in the usage of Kyle as a girl name. And, interestingly, most of that usage occurred in the north-eastern quadrant of the country — particularly in New York.

Girls named KyleBoys named Kyle
1954158 [rank: 736th]402 [rank: 362nd]
1953153 [rank: 737th]360 [rank: 358th]
1952156 [rank: 713th]381 [rank: 352nd]
1951211 [rank: 594th]343 [rank: 369th]
1950102 [rank: 879th]240 [rank: 431st]
194937144 [rank: 564th]
194816130 [rank: 586th]
194711151 [rank: 549th]
194610107 [rank: 622nd]
1945581 [rank: 670th]

Here’s a visual of the national usage (for girls only):

Graph of the usage of the baby name Kyle (as a girl name only) in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Kyle (as a girl name)

So what’s behind the rise?

Singer and actress Kyle MacDonnell, who was one of the first stars of television!

She was born Ruth Kyle MacDonnell in 1922, and spent most of her childhood in Kansas. Her middle name, Kyle, was a family name on her father’s side.

By the mid-1940s, she was doing modeling work in New York City. A talented singer, MacDonnell also found her way onto Broadway, performing in the musical Park Avenue (1946-1947) and the musical revue Make Mine Manhattan (1948-1949).

While appearing in the latter production, she was offered her own TV series, For Your Pleasure, which featured music and dancing.

The weekly, 15-minute variety show began airing live from NBC’s New York City station, WNBT, on April 15, 1948. It was also broadcast across NBC’s Eastern network, which included nearby cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Schenectady. (NBC affiliate stations in other parts of the country may have screened episodes as well, on later dates, thanks to kinescope recordings sent through the mail.)

One reviewer, after watching only the first episode of For Your Pleasure, said Kyle MacDonnell “showed an extremely photogenic personality with grace and naturalness.”

Her singing of How High the Moon and I Wish I Didn’t Love You So were satisfying, and she may well prove an important video find.

Three episodes in, New York Times television critic Jack Gould described Kyle MacDonnell as “television’s first truly new and bright star…the most videogenic young lady yet seen before the cathode cameras.”

Kyle MacDonnell on the cover of Life magazine (May 1948)

A month and a half after the show began, Kyle MacDonnell was on the cover of Life magazine. Life noted that Kyle’s “catch-all appeal nets strangely assorted fan mail from grandmothers, grammar-school kids and ardent bachelors.”

In September, after NBC was able to secure a sponsor for Kyle MacDonnell’s show, For Your Pleasure ended and its re-branded successor Girl About Town (sponsored by Bates Fabrics, Inc.) promptly began.

Girl About Town was also a weekly variety show that aired live from the studio, but episodes were slightly longer (20 minutes) and included prerecorded film footage of Kyle at various landmarks around New York City. The footage was meant to suggest to viewers that Kyle was performing from these locations.

In December, Jack Gould declared in his annual “Honor Roll” that the top male and female TV personalities of 1948 were Milton Berle (host of Texaco Star Theater) and Kyle MacDonnell.

In early 1949, NBC interlinked its 7-city Eastern network to its 9-city Midwest network (which included Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo), more than doubling the number of cities in which Girl About Town and other NBC series could be seen live.

Kyle MacDonnell in an RCA Victor ad (Aug. 1949)
Kyle MacDonnell in an RCA Victor ad

Not only was Kyle MacDonnell’s show available in more homes, but her face and name began popping up in advertisements in magazines like Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Life. Most of the ads were for either Bates-brand fabrics or her own Bates-sponsored television show. The rest were for RCA Victor television sets.

In June of 1949, Girl About Town was canceled. NBC restarted For Your Pleasure in July, but it only lasted until September.

So Kyle MacDonnell returned to Broadway, performing in the musical revue Touch and Go (1949-1950). But she could still be spotted on television, making several guest appearances on the variety show Cavalcade of Stars (DuMont) and several more on the game show Celebrity Time (CBS/ABC).

In late September, 1950, she began hosting a weekly half-hour variety show called Hold that Camera (DuMont). Soon after that, in early October, she became a regular panelist on “Celebrity Time.”

The first show lasted until early December, and her stint on the second show lasted through the end of December — meaning that, for over two months toward the end of 1950, Kyle MacDonnell could be seen on television for two half-hours per week: Fridays from 8:30 to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 10 to 10:30 p.m.

This double-dose of Kyle, combined with a rapidly growing TV audience — the percentage of U.S. homes with a television set had risen from about 2% in 1949 to about 9% in 1950 — is likely what boosted the name Kyle into the girls’ top 1,000 in 1950.

Kyle MacDonnell in a Camel cigarette newspaper ad (Sept. 1950)
Kyle MacDonnell in a Camel cigarette ad

She made a few more guest appearances in early 1951, then took several months off to give birth in June to her first and only child, a son named MacDonnell. (His father was Kyle’s third husband, Richard Gordon, a New York City television producer.)

After that, however, Kyle MacDonnell wasn’t able to find much work in television. Instead, she focused on other things: singing in nightclubs, touring with musical theater productions, and hosting her own radio program in NYC.

She attempted to make a comeback in 1959, singing on Tonight Starring Jack Paar in March, then The Ed Sullivan Show in May. These TV performances would have reached many more viewers than any of her earlier TV performances, as both shows were broadcast nationally, and more than 85% of U.S. homes had a television set by that time. Though they didn’t revive her TV career, they may account for her name seeing a boost in usage in 1959.

Not long after that, Kyle MacDonnell married her fourth (and final) husband, William Vernon, the president of Santa Fe National Bank. She spent the rest of her days in New Mexico, passing away in 2004.

What are your thoughts on Kyle as a girl name?

Sources:

Second and third images: © 1948 Life, © 1949 Life

Quotes about the names of athletes

Hockey player Troy Terry and former football player Troy Aikman
Troy Terry and Troy Aikman

From an early 2023 Anaheim Ducks video in which former football player Troy Aikman addresses his namesake, hockey player Troy Terry (b. 1997):

How cool are we to have the name Troy, first of all. Now I know why your parents named you Troy, so it makes me feel really proud. But what makes me feel even prouder is the fact that the Ducks organization has given me the honor to let you know that, for the second consecutive year, you my friend are an NHL All-Star.

Basketball star Wardell Stephen Curry II is typically addressed as Stephen (pronounced STEFF-in) or Steph (steff), but…

If you really, really know me, and you want to get under my skin a little bit, you go with Wardell. So there’s three options there. There’s Stephen, which is — I kind of know what the relationship is. If you go Wardell, that means we go way back.

Speaking of Steph Curry’s name…in 2013, the then-up-and-coming the Golden State player signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour instead of Nike in part because of a pair of name-related blunders:

The pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as “Steph-on” […] “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” says Dell Curry. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”

It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. “I stopped paying attention after that,” Dell says. Though Dell resolved to “keep a poker face,” throughout the entirety of the pitch, the decision to leave Nike was in the works.

From a 2016 article about Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo:

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was named, in part, after Ronald Reagan, president of the United States at the time of his birth [in 1985] and his father’s favorite actor. “My parents named me after him because they both liked this name and thought it sounded strong,” he tells me. “I know that my father admired him.”

From a 2013 ESPN interview with football player Frostee Rucker:

How did you get the name Frostee?

“My pop [Len] was a DJ while he was in the military and they called him DJ Frost because they said he was cold on the spins. [They called him] Frost, Frostee all that. No matter what he named me they were going to call me Little Frost anyway, so they named me Frostee.”

[…]

What was it like growing up named Frostee?

“It sucked growing up really because kids at Christmas time and teachers, and me being African American, it just didn’t all come together but about [the] time I came to high school it became a household name in Orange County (Calif.).

“It’s just benefited [me] from then. It’s always caught peoples’ eye in the paper and they wanted to know more. So I don’t know if I’ll name my kid that if I ever have one but at the same time being unique isn’t bad either.”

From a 2013 ESPNW article about tennis-playing sisters Alicia “Tornado” and Tyra Hurricane Black:

“We’re always going to be compared, but we’re the Black sisters not the Williams sisters,” [mom Gayal Black] said.

[…]

“Alicia got her name ‘Tornado’ when she was 3 and playing out of her mind,” she said. “We couldn’t believe how amazing she was and we knew then we had a champion. When the next one was born, we knew she could do it, too, and so her [legal] name is Tyra Hurricane.”

But raising champions was only a part of the strategy.

“I have a marketing degree . . . and I knew I needed to do something for them to stand out, and we thought it was cute,” Gayal said. “[Tornado didn’t like her name] a few years ago. Kids tease you. But now they understand it’s marketing and it’s very big to say a storm blew through the US Open.

Czech hockey player Ivan Ivan
“Ivan Ivan Ivan” (typo)

From a 2022 article in Sporting News about young Czech hockey player Ivan Ivan:

Ivan Ivan, a Czechia forward who has the same first and last name, took the hockey world by storm last December when he was on the team’s roster at the canceled World Juniors. While a graphic from December stating that his name was Ivan Ivan Ivan caused a stir, it’s unfortunately just Ivan Ivan.

(“Ivan Ivan” is a reduplicated name.)

From the 2015 essay “Why I converted to Islam” by basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor):

The transition from Lew to Kareem was not merely a change in celebrity brand name — like Sean Combs to Puff Daddy to Diddy to P. Diddy — but a transformation of heart, mind and soul. I used to be Lew Alcindor, the pale reflection of what white America expected of me. Now I’m Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the manifestation of my African history, culture and beliefs.

[…]

The adoption of a new name was an extension of my rejection of all things in my life that related to the enslavement of my family and people. Alcindor was a French planter in the West Indies who owned my ancestors. My forebears were Yoruba people, from present day Nigeria. Keeping the name of my family’s slave master seemed somehow to dishonor them. His name felt like a branded scar of shame.

[…]

Some fans still call me Lew, then seem annoyed when I ignore them. They don’t understand that their lack of respect for my spiritual choice is insulting. It’s as if they see me as a toy action figure, existing solely to decorate their world as they see fit, rather than as an individual with his own life.

From a 2014 11 Freunde tweet about World Cup-winning German soccer player Mario Götze:

Dieser Moment, in dem du dachtest: Wenn er den macht, nenne ich meinen Sohn Mario.

…Translation:

This moment, in which you thought: If he makes it, I call my son Mario.

From a 2016 Wall Street Journal article “How Many Mets Fans Name Their Babies ‘Shea’?“:

You’re not a real Mets fan unless you name your kid Shea.

Over the weekend, David Wright and his wife, Molly, had a baby girl. Her name: Olivia Shea Wright. Clearly, Wright has a fondness for the stadium where his Mets career began. So much so that he made his daughter part of a decades-old trend that seems to ebb and flow along with the success of the team.

(Shea Stadium was the home of the New York Mets from 1964 to 2008.)

From an article about roller derby skater names:

Some other things we noticed: 10 percent of the list falls into the “Tech & Geek” category, which includes names inspired by Computing (“Paige Not Found,” “Syntax Terror,” “Ctrl Alt Defeat”) fonts (“Crimes New Roman,” “Give ‘Em Hell Vetica”); Chemistry (“Carmen Die Oxide,” “ChLauraform”); and Philosophy (“Blockem’s Razor”).

From a 1998 obituary of surfer Rell Sunn:

There seemed to be a bit of destiny attached. Her middle name, Ka-polioka’ehukai, means Heart of the Sea.

“Most Hawaiian grandparents name you before you’re born,” she says. “They have a dream or something that tells them what the name will be.” Hawaiians also have a knack for giving people rhythmic, dead-on nicknames, and for young Rell they had a beauty: Rella Propella.

“My godmother called me that because I was always moving so fast,” says Rell. “To this day, people think my real name is Rella. Actually I was born Roella, a combination of my parents’ names: Roen and Elbert. But I hated it, and no one used it, so I changed it to Rell.”

From a 2017 interview [vid] with professional basketball player Isaiah Thomas (who was, at that time, a star player for the Boston Celtics):

My dad is from Los Angeles, California. He’s a big Laker fan. And he made a wager that if the Detroit Pistons beat the Lakers [in the 1989 Finals] he’d name his son Isiah Thomas. […] My mom, she grew up in church, and she liked the name but she wanted it spelled the biblical way, that’s why my name is spelled slightly different than the older Isiah Thomas.

(Thomas was born in February, but the Finals weren’t until June. Sports Illustrated clarifies that the bet was made before the birth — and well before the Finals — but that, by the time the baby arrived, Thomas’ father had “had warmed to the idea of his very own Isiah.”)

From the same interview [vid], former Detroit Pistons player Isiah Thomas getting a kick out hearing his own name being chanted at the Boston Garden:

It’s so beautiful [laughs]. I love it. I love it that, you know, and even though they’re not chanting my name, to hear them chant “MVP” and they’re talking about Isaiah Thomas in the Boston Garden — it’s just awesome.

(Here’s some background on the Pistons-Celtics rivalry.)

From a recent article in the Akron Beacon Journal about rookie football player Isaiah Thomas:

Thomas, 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds, was named after the Hall of Fame basketball player Isiah Thomas. The Detroit Pistons star was his father’s favorite player and his mother loved the name because of what it represents in the Bible.

His dad wanted Thomas to be a basketball player, and Thomas said he won two state championships at Memorial High School in Tulsa. But there was never any debate over which sport Thomas would play.

From an article about athletes with strange middle names:

With a first name as iconic as Kobe Bryant’s, who needs a middle name with an interesting story? Well, Kobe Bryant does. His middle name — Bean — is a touching tribute to his father, Joe Bryant. Because of his high energy and ability to jump (guess Kobe must have inherited that particular skill), his father was nicknamed “Jellybean.” Luckily, Kobe’s parents didn’t go for the full candy-coated name and instead just dubbed him Kobe Bean Bryant.

From a late 2021 article about college football by AP journalist Stephen Hawkins:

Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant […] changed his number for the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl against No. 1 Alabama on Friday.

Yes, Bryant is named after the late NBA great, even with the different spelling of the first name.

For the playoff game, Bryant switched from the No. 7 he had worn throughout his Cincinnati career to No. 8, one of the two numbers the basketball Hall of Fame player wore while winning five NBA titles over his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“My parents loved Kobe Bryant and my brother does too,” the Bearcats cornerback said. “So I was named for Kobe Bryant. It’s just spelled differently”

From an article about the name of Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones:

“Leisel was a very rare name when I was born in 1985… When I was born actually, my doctor said to my mum ‘you cannot call her Leisel because that’s not a name… You’re going to regret that one day,'” the Olympic swimmer said.

“And they absolutely did.”

The 32-year-old also went on to say having a unique name isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when no one can spell it right.

“The only problem with my name is it’s spelt L-E-I-S-E-L — and everyone spells it wrong. Everyone spells it as L-I-E-S-E-L,” she said.

“So that is a bit painful, it’s a bit annoying. But I do love my name and I love that it’s different.”

From an article about a college football team full of Jacobs (Jacob was the #1 name in the US from 1999 to 2012):

Preparing for the fall season, the offensive coordinator for University of Washington’s football team realized his team had a small problem. It went by the name Jacob.

The Pac-12 Huskies had four quarterbacks named Jacob or Jake (plus a linebacker named Jake and a tight end named Jacob).

From a 2015 article about British professional boxer Tyson Fury in The Guardian:

Yep, he is named after Mike Tyson, and yep, Tyson Fury is a perfect name for a boxer. Fury was born prematurely and only weighed one pound. “The doctors told me there was not much chance of him living,” said his father, John Fury. “I had lost two daughters in the same way who had been born prematurely. They told me there was not much hope for him. It was 1988, Mike Tyson was in his pomp as world heavyweight champion, and so I said, ‘Let’s call him Tyson’. The doctors just looked at me and smiled.”

From an ESPN article about MMA fighter Ilima-Lei Macfarlane:

She was named after the official island flower of Oahu — the ilima — recognizable for its delicate yellow petals.

“It was considered a flower for royalty,” Macfarlane said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday, “because it would take hundreds of flowers to make a lei, they’re so paper thin.”

From an article that asks, “Where did all the Bobs in baseball go?

By the turn of the century, the Bob-to-Rob transition had been essentially complete. No Major Leaguer has gone by Bob since journeyman reliever Bob Howry retired in 2010. There are dozens of Robs, Robbys and Bobbys currently in the Minors working their way up the ladder, but no Bobs to be found.

From an article about an 11-year-old golfer in Minnesota named after the Ryder Cup:

With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.

From the book Becoming Something: The Story of Canada Lee (2004) by Mona Z. Smith:

Canada Lee was born in New York City on March 3, 1907, and christened with the mellifluous if somewhat daunting name of Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata.

[…]

The first time the leather-lunged [fight announcer Joe] Humphries got ready to introduce Lee, he looked down at his notes and saw a peculiar name: “Canegata, Lee.” Flummoxed by those alien syllables, Humphries tossed away the card with a snort and introduced the young fighter as “Canada Lee.”

Everybody liked the transmogrification, including Lee, and it stuck.

From the Mental Floss article “18 Athletes Going to Sochi Alone“:

If you do a Google search for the name Bruno Banani, you will get the German underwear company of that name. But it’s also the name of the first Winter Olympian from Tonga. Born Fuahea Semi, the Tongan rugby player and luger went by Bruno Banani to court sponsorship from the company. It was part of a deal endorsed by the Tongan royal family to enable the athlete to afford training in Germany with the world’s best lugers. The company insinuated that the name was just a coincidence that led to the sponsorship, but that story unraveled quickly. It wasn’t “just” a hoax; Semi legally changed his name to Bruno Banani. The International Olympic Committee decided that even though using a sponsor’s name is in bad taste, Banani is the name on his passport, so he will be the lone athlete representing Tonga at Sochi in the luge event.

From a 2018 interview with basketball player LeBron James [vid]:

I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name […] When I was younger, obviously, I didn’t have a dad. So, my whole thing was, like, whenever I have a kid, not only is he gonna be a junior, but I’m gonna do everything that this man didn’t do. They’re gonna experience things that I didn’t experience, and the only thing I can do is give them the blueprint, and it’s up to them to take their own course.

(LeBron, Jr., is nicknamed “Bronny” — no doubt to differentiate son from father, but perhaps also to take some of the pressure off. Here’s a post about how LeBron James has affected baby names over the years.)

From a 1987 Sports Illustrated interview with basketball player Fennis Dembo:

With apologies to World B. Free, Shaquille O’Neal and, yes, even God Shammgod, when it comes to staking a claim to basketball’s alltime name, Fennis Dembo enjoys Jordanlike distance from the pretenders. “I’m always a bit stunned that people still remember me,” says Fennis, whose mother, Clarissa, selected his name, along with that of his twin sister, Fenise, as a declaration that after 11 children, her childbearing days were finis. “I tried to set up an E-mail account, but two other guys–basketball fans, I guess–were already using my name in their address.”

From a newspaper article about soccer player Diego Maradona’s influence on baby names in Naples in July of 1984, soon after he’d joined S.S.C. Napoli:

Maternity hospitals reported another 30 new-born babies named Diego Armando, raising the count to 140 so far.

(Maradona died in November of 2020. Soon after, the Naples city council unanimously voted to change the name of the city’s stadium from “Stadio San Paolo” to “Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.” (CBS Sports))

From an article in The Athletic about babies being named after St. Louis Blues players:

When St. Louisans Alyssa and Dan Hoven call out the name of their 3-year-old son in public, the heads around them instinctively turn.

“Oh my God yeah, so many times,” Alyssa said. “If we’re out to eat, we’ll be like, ‘Vladi’ or ‘Vlad,’ and people are like, ‘Did you name him after Vladimir Tarasenko?’ It starts a ton of conversations, and when we tell them ‘Yes, we did,’ they get all excited and scream, ‘Let’s go Blues!'”

From a 2016 article about babies being named after Maple Leafs players in the Toronto Sun:

Leaf great Ron Ellis still exchanges Christmas cards with a man who was named Ron Ellis Lucas in his honour for his play during the 1960s.

From an interview with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Kyle Trask at Rivals.com:

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask returns Saturday to his home state of Texas, where he will play on the field he was named after.

His parents both went to Texas A&M, so he grew up an Aggies fan.

[…]

His father, Michael Trask, and mother, Melissa Charba, both attended the school in the late 1980’s. When they welcomed their second son on March 6, 1998, his first name came from A&M’s football stadium.

“My mom and dad were Aggies, so they named me after Kyle Field,” Trask revealed Monday. “My whole family is full of Aggies.”

From a 2014 article about high school basketball player Terance Mann in the Boston Globe:

The inevitable question that the Tilton School’s 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound shooting guard has heard countless times before: Are you named after that Terence Mann?

“Most people think it’s from the movie ‘Field of Dreams,'” which featured a character portrayed by actor James Earl Jones, explained the junior, who, when not attending the boarding school in New Hampshire, lives in Lowell with his mother, Daynia La-Force, and 15-year-old brother, Martin. “But my grandma’s name is Terancia, and they named me after her.”

From an article about professional baseball player Nick Solak in the Dallas News:

Nick Solak is named after a sports bar.

[…]

Back in the 1980s, Nick’s Sports Page sat on the triangular plot of land where Chicago Road and Lincoln Avenue intersected in Dolton, Ill., one of those working-class suburbs on the South Side of Chicago. The exterior featured shaker shingles, chocolate-stained diagonal sheathing and baseball bats for door handles. On Feb. 5, 1985, it hosted Carlton Fisk Night, where patrons could meet the White Sox catcher, whose work ethic screamed South Sider, even if he actually grew up in New England.

Nobody recalls if South Siders Mark Solak or Roseann, née Pawlak, took home Fisk’s autograph, but they did take home each other’s phone numbers. Four years later, they were married. And when they were about to start a family in 1995, Nick — OK, officially, Nicholas — was the clear choice for a boy. They both liked the name. Plus, it had sentimental value as a nod to their South Side roots.

From an interview with Brazilian soccer player Oleúde José Ribeiro (translated from Portuguese):

Q: But, after all, is your name, Oleúde, inspired by Hollywood or not?

A: No, no, it was just a brilliant idea from my parents (laughs). Like it or not, this story always helped me, it drew the attention of reporters… the late Luciano do Valle always asked listeners to guess my name, saying that it was the capital of cinema, it had a lot of impact at the time. This Hollywood thing has become a legend, but it has nothing to do with it.

From an October 2022 episode of the Merloni, Fauria & Mego podcast, Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (born in 1999) answering a question about whether or not his mom had a crush on Bailey Salinger from Party of Five when she chose to name him after the character:

Her and my dad I guess were together, so I can’t — I don’t think she’ll publicly say she had a crush on him. … I think she said that she liked that he was the main character, I guess she was pregnant with me at the time, so … I guess that’s how I got the name.

From a post about distance swimmer Diana Nyad at the blog Having a Word:

On August 31 2013, record-breaking long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, aged 64, became the first person ever to swim the 110 miles of open water from Havana, Cuba, to Florida. She swam this distance in 53 hours and without the aid of a shark cage.

While this is a truly impressive feat of endurance and determination (this was her fifth attempt), what struck me was that with a name like Nyad she couldn’t have done anything else.

Nyad sounds like naiad – naiads in Greek mythology were water nymphs or spirits. That’s cute, I thought. Then I noticed that naiad is an anagram of her first name – Diana. Cue dramatic chords So, could this just be coincidence or is something else in play?

From an MLB.com article recounting how Jeter Downs met Derek Jeter:

So the man named after Derek Jeter by his baseball-crazed mother — even though his father is a Red Sox fan — had never actually met Derek Jeter?

It finally happened last week in a random encounter on a road in South Florida — sort of.

“This last week, I was driving, me and my brother were driving to go to [the] train,” said Downs. “We’re in traffic. My brother sees this Range Rover pulling up. He was like, ‘Oh my God, is that Jeter?’ He honks and I wave at him.

“I’m doing training with Raul Ibanez, [Jeter’s former teammate]. I called Raul and said, ‘Tell [Derek] Jeter that the kid he was waving at was Jeter [Downs].’ So then he told him that and it was pretty cool that I met him that way.”

From a recent Miami Herald article about high school football player Rowdy Beers:

There’s buzz about Beers at FIU [Florida International University].

The buzz started when Panthers coach Mike MacIntyre announced on Dec. 21 that FIU had signed the player with “the best name in college football.”

That would be 6-5, 225-pound tight end and Colorado native Rowdy Beers, who is from Littleton, which is nine miles south. of downtown Denver.

[…]

“As a kid,” Beers said, “any time I told my name to a new authority figure, they thought I was being disrespectful.”

[…]

Beers, who was named after three-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Rowdy Gaines, had right shoulder surgery on Dec. 29 but is expected to be ready by mid-May.

(Rowdy Beers also has three R-named siblings: Rocky, Raegan, and Rylie. Rowdy Gaines, however, is only nicknamed “Rowdy.” He was born Ambrose Gaines IV in 1959 — the year the baby name Rowdy debuted in the U.S. baby name data thanks to Rawhide.)

From an article about brothers Cale and Taylor Makar, both of whom play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche:

Cale was named after Cale Hulse, who played for the Calgary Flames when [their father] Gary was doing some business with the team. Taylor is named after Colonel George Taylor of the Planet of the Apes movies, a take charge guy, portrayed by Charlton Heston, who was thrust into a leadership role. (Just for the record, Heston’s politics and ardent support of the National Rifle Association are not shared by the Makar family. “Oh my god, that’s the opposite of us,” Gary said.)

[Another source clarifies that Cale’s first name is short for Caleb. Cale noted in this interview [vid] that he was nearly named “Kurt Russell Makar, after the actor. […] I dodged a bullet there, I think.”]

From the book Why Soccer Matters (2015) by late soccer legend Pelé (born Edson Arantes do Nascimento):

When Dondinho met my mother, Celeste, he was still performing his mandatory military service. She was in school at the time. They married when she was just fifteen; by sixteen she was pregnant with me. They gave me the name “Edson” — after Thomas Edison, because when I was born in 1940, the electric lightbulb had only recently come to their town. They were so impressed that they wanted to pay homage to its inventor. It turned out they missed a letter — but I’ve always loved the name anyway.

(“Dondinho” was the nickname of Pelé’s father, João Ramos do Nascimento.)

…and, regarding the nickname Pelé:

Growing up, I hated that damn nickname. After all, it was a garbage word that meant nothing. Plus, I was really proud of the name Edson, believing it was an honor to be named after such an important inventor.

(The nickname did come in handy, though. He “started thinking of “Pelé” almost as a separate identity” in order to cope with his sudden celebrity. “Having Pelé around helped keep Edson sane,” he said.)

From an interview with Australian surfer Kyuss King in Stab Magazine:

Yeah, music is definitely a massive part of my life, from listening to it to playing it! And metal is 100% at the top of my genre — there’s nothing like headbanging to some chunky riffs. Yeah, I was named after the band Kyuss. It was my dad’s favorite band through the ’90s. Funny story, my dad actually had the song Green Machine blasting in the hospital while my mum was in labor with me haha. I guess I kinda came into the world to that kind of music.

From a 2022 article about baseball player Zebulon Vermillion in the New York Post:

Zebulon Vermillion, as he has to explain to just about everyone he meets, was born in Vail, Colo., not too far from the Rocky Mountains and a summit known as Pikes Peak. His parents, the outdoorsy type, read that the apex was named after Zebulon Pike, and it stuck with them.

Vermillion’s last name is Nordic and middle name — Cassis — French, after a fishing port in Southern France. His mother, who is trilingual, loves the city.

From an article about Dutch soccer player Denzel Dumfries, who helped the Netherlands knock the U.S. out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament:

[Denzel Dumfries] was named after none other than no-nonsense movie icon Denzel Washington, star of films such as “Remember The Titans,” “Training Day” and “Courage Under Fire.”

“I don’t have [any] connection with the United States, but, yes, I was named after Denzel Washington,” Dumfries said. “My parents gave me that name. I am incredibly proud of it, because Denzel Washington is a really strong personality who voices his views on certain issues, and I am incredibly proud to be named after someone like that.”

From an article about 2014 MLB Draft names, regarding pitcher Blaze Tart:

If you name your child “Blaze,” he’s destined for one of only two career paths: baseball pitcher or American Gladiator.

(In case you’re wondering, Blaze is indeed an American Gladiator name.)

And finally, a bevy of B-names from basketball player Bradley Beal’s “About Brad” page:

Born on June 28, 1993, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, by Bobby and Besta Beal, there was little doubt that Brad would eventually be an athlete. Both parents played sports for Kentucky State — Bobby was a football player, Besta a basketball player.

[…]

There were four other people in Brad’s family who were instrumental in his development as an athlete, and ultimately, as a young man. His two older brothers, Bruce and Brandon, and his younger brothers, the twins Byron and Bryon.

For more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

[Latest update: Oct. 2023]