How popular is the baby name Levar 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 Levar.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Levar


Posts that Mention the Name Levar

African nations as baby names

biafra
Flag of Biafra

During the ’60s and ’70s, a slew of Africa-inspired baby names debuted in the U.S. baby name data. These included traditional African names (e.g., Abayomi, Ayanna), names taken from African and African-American public figures (e.g., Lumumba, Levar), and — the focus of today’s post — African place names, particularly country names.

Here are all the African country/region/kingdom names I’ve spotted in the SSA data so far. (I didn’t omit Chad, even though it coincides with the English name Chad.)

NameDebut yearPeak usage
Chad191413,400 baby boys in 1972
Tunisia1943 (due to WWII)39 baby girls in 1974
Rwanda19515 baby girls in both 1951 & 1973
Kenya1952894 baby girls in 1973
Sahara1964248 baby girls in both 2006 & 2007
Rhodesia196612 baby girls in 1977
Mali196765 baby girls in 2008
Tanzania196838 baby girls in 1992
Africa196976 baby girls in 1972
Biafra1969 (due to Biafra being in the news; the Biafran War lasted from 1967 to 1970)5 baby girls in 1969; one-hit wonder
Ghana19697 baby girls in 1969
Tanganyika196916 baby girls in 1972
Nubia196983 baby girls in 1969
Ashanti19702,945 baby girls in 2002 (due to the singer)
Uganda197312 baby girls in 1973
Algeria19746 baby girls in both 1993 & 1995
Libya19748 baby girls in 2011
Zaire1974316 baby boys in 2017
Egypt1975266 baby girls in 2017
Nigeria197558 baby girls in 2000
Niger19769 baby girls in both 1976 & 1977
Somalia197743 baby girls in 1993
Zimbabwe1981 (maybe inspired by the Bob Marley song “Zimbabwe“?)5 baby boys in 1981; one-hit wonder
Sudan19825 baby boys in both 1982 & 1995
Eritrea1991 (due to Eritrea being in the news; the Eritrean War of Independence ended in 1991)5 baby girls in 1991; one-hit wonder
Asmara1993 (due to Asmara being in the news; it became the capital of independent Eritrea in 1993)13 baby girls in 2013
Morocco200519 baby boys in 2017

Only five of the above did not either debut or see peak usage during the 1960s/1970s.

Where did the baby name Jeanluc come from in 1987?

The character Jean-Luc Picard from the TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987-1994).

Jean-Luc Picard from “Star Trek

The compound French name Jeanluc first appeared in the U.S baby name data in 1987:

  • 1993: 63 baby boys named Jean-Luc
  • 1992: 65 baby boys named Jean-Luc [peak usage]
  • 1991: 46 baby boys named Jean-Luc
  • 1990: 26 baby boys named Jean-Luc
  • 1989: 21 baby boys named Jean-Luc
  • 1988: 14 baby boys named Jean-Luc
  • 1987: 8 baby boys named Jean-Luc [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Captain Jean-Luc (pronounced zhon look) Picard of the starship Enterprise.

Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, was the central character of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which premiered in late 1987 and ran until mid-1994.

The character, though born and raised in 24th-century France, was a native English speaker. How? According to the show, French had become an obscure language by the 2300s. And yet, interestingly, the people of English-speaking future-France were still getting very traditional French names. Picard’s parents were named Maurice and Yvette, for instance. (Do you think this is a believable scenario?)

The names Geordi and Riker also debuted during the years TNG was on the air. They were likely influence by the characters Will Riker (the first officer) and Geordi La Forge (the chief engineer, played by LeVar Burton).

The only other Star Trek name I’ve blogged about so far is Uhura, but there are more on the way…

In the meanwhile, what do you think of the name Jean-Luc?

Top boy-name debuts of all time in the U.S. baby name data (1-10)

blue bow

The final installment of the top baby name debuts for boys!

10 to 1:

Unnamed, #10

Jahiem, #9

  • Jahiem debuted with 155 baby boys in 2001.
    Inspired by rapper Jaheim.

Khiry, #8

  • Khiry debuted with 159 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by singer Khiry Abdulsamad, a member of The Boys.

Shyheim, #7

  • Shyheim debuted with 168 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by rapper Shyheim.

Cordero, #6

  • Cordero debuted with 173 baby boys in 1986.
    Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera One Life to Live.

Yurem, #5

  • Yurem debuted with 206 baby boys in 2007.
    Inspired by Yurem Rojas, winner of the reality TV show Buscando a Timbiriche, La Nueva Banda.

Kunta, #4

  • Kunta debuted with 215 baby boys in 1977.
    Inspired by Kunta Kinte, a character on the TV miniseries Roots.

Levar, #3

  • Levar debuted with 523 baby boys in 1977.
    Inspired by LeVar Burton, an actor in the TV miniseries Roots.

Nakia, #2

  • Nakia debuted with 611 baby boys in 1974.
    Inspired by Nakia Parker, a character on the TV movie/show Nakia.

Christop, #1

  • Christop debuted with 1,082 baby boys in 1989.
    Not inspired by anything — just part of the great baby name glitch of 1989.

And there it is! The top boy name debuts ever, so far. Did any of the names this week surprise you?

More of the top 50 baby name debuts for boys: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1

[Latest update: 7/2021]

How did Alex Haley’s “Roots” influence baby names?

The character Kunta Kinte (played by LeVar Burton) from the TV miniseries "Roots" (1977).
Kunta Kinte from “Roots

In late 1976, Alex Haley’s best-selling novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family was published.

The book — which tells a sweeping, multi-generational tale that lasts from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800 — begins with the story of Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka teenager who was captured in Africa, transported via slave ship to North America, and sold to a Virginia plantation owner.

In January of 1977, an 8-episode miniseries based on the novel aired on television for 8 consecutive nights (on ABC).

The televised version of Roots was wildly popular, earning 9 Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Peabody, and some of the highest Nielsen ratings of all time.

More importantly, though, it had an unprecedented influence on baby names, inspiring thousands African-American parents to name their babies after Roots characters and actors. Below are some examples.

Kizzy, Levar, Kunta & Kinte

The characters Kizzy (Leslie Uggams) and Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) from the TV miniseries "Roots" (1977).
Kizzy and Kunta Kinte (© 1977 Ebony)

According to the U.S. baby name data, the top debut names of 1977 were Kizzy and Levar.

Kizzy came from the character Kizzy, daughter of Kunta Kinte, who was featured during the middle episodes of the series.

  • 1979: 269 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 648th]
  • 1978: 456 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 439th]
  • 1977: 1,115 baby girls named Kizzy [rank: 223rd] [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

So far, Kizzy’s 1977 debut is the highest baby name debut ever.

During the scene in which the newborn Kizzy is named, Kunta Kinte says, “Girl, your name is Kizzy. […] Your name means ‘stay put,’ but it don’t mean ‘stay a slave.’ It will never mean that!”

Here’s how one Florida couple, who welcomed a baby girl in early 1977, decided to name their daughter Kizzy:

“I identified with Kunta Kinte, and I thought the name Kizzy was a way I could express that,” said Willie Parker of Carol City, a Miami suburb.

His wife, Carrie, initially wanted to name their new daughter Nicole. But Parker said he was especially moved by the scene from the television series in which Kinte names his child and then raises her to the stars and tells her to behold the only thing greater than herself. So, he persuaded his wife to name their child Kizzy.

The names Kizzie, Kizzi, Kizzey, Lakizzy and Kizi also got a boost in 1977. (The last four were debuts.)

Levar came from actor LeVar Burton, who played the young version of protagonist Kunta Kinte in the first two episodes of the miniseries.

  • 1979: 175 baby boys named Levar [rank: 645th]
  • 1978: 254 baby boys named Levar [rank: 512th]
  • 1977: 523 baby boys named Levar [rank: 343rd] [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

The names Lavar, Levarr, Lavarr and Lavare also got a boost in 1977. (The last three were debuts.)

Kunta not only debuted in 1977, but it popped into the top 1,000 for the first and only time that year as well.

  • 1979: 16 baby boys named Kunta
  • 1978: 52 baby boys named named Kunta
  • 1977: 215 baby boys named Kunta [rank: 572nd] [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Kinte also reached the top 1,000 for the first and only time in 1977, after debuting the year before.

  • 1979: 6 baby boys named Kinte
  • 1978: 38 baby boys named Kinte
  • 1977: 104 baby boys named Kinte [rank: 839th]
  • 1976: 5 baby boys named Kinte [debut]
  • 1975: unlisted

The New York Times reported in March of 1977 that a young couple from Harlem, John and Nefhertiti Reid, had welcomed a baby boy on February 18 and named him Kunta Kinte Reid. He was “one of 20 newborn black boys and girls in New York City last month who were given the names Kunta Kinte or Kizzy.”

Officials in the health departments of several cities reported that 15 babies last month had been named Kunta Kinte or Kizzy in Los Angeles, 10 in Detroit and eight in Atlanta. In Cleveland, male and female twins were named after the two characters.

Related 1977 baby name debuts include Kuntakinte, Kinta, Quinte, and Kunte.

Fanta, Jitu, Kairaba, Lamin, Omoro & Yaisa

Here are some other Roots-related debuts I’ve noticed.

Fanta, the name of a woman captured and enslaved along with Kunta Kinte (in the miniseries, not in the book):

  • 1979: 31 baby girls named Fanta
  • 1978: 34 baby girls named Fanta
  • 1977: 66 baby girls named Fanta [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Jitu, from Ji-Tu Cumbuka, the name of the actor who played a wrestler in the miniseries:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 7 baby boys named Jitu [debut & one-hit wonder]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Kairaba, the name of Kunta Kinte’s grandfather:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 8 baby boys named Kairaba [debut & one-hit wonder]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Lamin, the name of Kunta Kinte’s brother:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: 7 baby boys named Lamin
  • 1977: 12 baby boys named Lamin [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Omoro, the name of Kunta Kinte’s father:

  • 1979: 8 baby boys named Omoro
  • 1978: 11 baby boys named Omoro
  • 1977: 19 baby boys named Omoro [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Yaisa, the name of Kunta Kinte’s grandmother:

  • 1979: 6 baby girls named Yaisa
  • 1978: 11 baby girls named Yaisa
  • 1977: 17 baby girls named Yaisa [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Binta, Haley & Toby

These names, already seeing enough usage nationally to appear in the U.S. baby name data, were influenced by Roots as well. Two got a boost, but the third did not…

Binta, the name of Kunta Kinte’s mother:

  • 1979: 10 baby girls named Binta
  • 1978: 11 baby girls named Binta
  • 1977: 16 baby girls named Binta
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 5 baby girls named Binta

Haley, from Alex Haley, the name of the author:

  • 1979: 512 baby girls named Haley [rank: 414th]
  • 1978: 516 baby girls named Haley [rank: 398th]
  • 1977: 462 baby girls named Haley [rank: 442nd]
  • 1976: 117 baby girls named Haley
  • 1975: 110 baby girls named Haley

Toby, the name given to Kunta Kinte by the plantation owner:

  • 1981: 458 baby boys named Toby [rank: 375th]
  • 1980: 648 baby boys named Toby [rank: 304th]
  • 1979: 666 baby boys named Toby [rank: 299th]
  • 1978: 884 baby boys named Toby [rank: 239th]
  • 1977: 1,060 baby boys named Toby [rank: 209th]
  • 1976: 1,095 baby boys named Toby [rank: 201st]

The usage of Toby declined quickly after Roots aired. Was it already on its way out? Was it pulled down by the slave-name association? Both?

Vereen

And finally, the name Vereen.

Though it did not return to the data when Roots aired, “[o]ne family in Detroit named their child Vereen, apparently for actor Ben Vereen, who in the television show portrayed Kizzy’s son, Chicken George.”

Sources:

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