How popular is the baby name Lisa 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 Lisa.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lisa


Posts that Mention the Name Lisa

Pop Culture Baby Name Game, 2021

Happy birthday, Elvis!

Tomorrow would have been Elvis Presley’s 86th birthday. (Happy birthday, Elvis!)

You guys know what that means…time for the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!

Think back to the pop culture of 2021 — movies, music, TV shows, online shows, social media, video games, sports, news, cultural events, politics, products, brands, etc.

Which of these things had an influence on U.S. baby names, do you think?

More specifically, which baby names will see higher usage (or appear for the very first time) in the 2021 U.S. baby name data thanks to 2021 pop culture?

Here are some initial ideas…

Plus…

  • Names from the movie Eternals (like Sersi, Ikaris, Makkari)
  • Names from the movie Dune (like Chani, Atreides, Leto)
  • Turkish names from any of the Turkish dramas being aired in Spanish on Univision/Telemundo
  • Names from any new sci-fi/fantasy series (like Shadow and Bone, The Nevers, The Wheel of Time)

Some of the names mentioned in the 2020 game might be see increases in 2021 as well.

What other names should we add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment!

I’ll post the game results after the SSA releases the 2021 baby name data (in May of 2022).

What turned Epiphany into a baby name?

The character Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet) in the movie "Angel Heart" (1987).
Epiphany Proudfoot from “Angel Heart”

The name Epiphany debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987, and saw peak usage the next year:

  • 1990: 37 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1989: 33 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1988: 55 baby girls named Epiphany [peak]
  • 1987: 15 baby girls named Epiphany [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did the come from?

The 1987 neo-noir/horror movie Angel Heart. The main character was a detective (played by Mickey Rourke), but one of the other key characters was a Louisiana teenager — and voodoo priestess — named Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet).

When the detective and Epiphany first met (vid), about midway through the movie, he made several comments about her name:

  • “Your momma left you with a very beautiful name, Epiphany.”
  • “You’re a very pretty girl, Epiphany. Your name suits you.”

The variant spellings Apiphany, Apiffany, and Piffany all debuted in the data in 1988. (But these names, particularly Piffany, may have been influenced by the rise of Tiffany that year as well.)

One variant that didn’t make the data was the one given to professional basketball player Epiphanny Prince, born in 1988.

Epiphany Proudfoot — both in temperament and in name — was vastly different from Denise Huxtable, the character Lisa played on The Cosby Show.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Epiphany?

Sources:

Popular Baby Names in NYC, 1990-2019

Did you know that New York City’s website hosts vital statistics reports (PDFs) going all the way back to the 1960s? And that, from 1991 onward, these annual reports include baby name rankings for NYC?

I don’t want you to have to comb through a whole bunch of PDFs to find the city’s historical top-ten lists, though, so I gathered all the lists into a single blog post.

The name tables in the reports also incorporate several older sets rankings (from 1990, 1985, 1980, 1948, 1928, and 1898 specifically) for comparison, and those are here well — just scroll to the bottom.


2019

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2019. (Here’s my post about the 2019 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2019)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2019)
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Sophia
4. Mia
5. Isabella
6. Leah
7. Ava
8. Chloe
9. Amelia
10. Charlotte
1. Liam
2. Noah
3. Ethan
4. Jacob
5. Lucas
6. Aiden
7. Daniel
8. Michael
9. David
10. Matthew

2018

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2018. (Here’s my post about the 2018 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2018)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2018)
1. Emma
2. Isabella
3. Sophia
4. Mia
5. Olivia
6. Ava
7. Leah
8. Sarah
9. Amelia
10. Chloe
1. Liam
2. Noah
3. Ethan
4. Jacob
5. Aiden
6. David
7. Lucas
8. Matthew
9. Daniel
10. Alexander

2017

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2017. (Here’s my post about the 2017 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2017)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2017)
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Mia
4. Sophia
5. Isabella
6. Ava
7. Leah
8. Emily
9. Sarah
10. Abigail
1. Liam
2. Noah
3. Jacob
4. Ethan
5. David
6. Lucas
7. Matthew
8. Jayden
9. Aiden
10. Daniel

2016

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2016. (Here’s my post about the 2016 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2016)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2016)
1. Olivia
2. Sophia
3. Emma
4. Isabella
5. Mia
6. Ava
7. Emily
8. Leah
9. Sarah
10. Madison
1. Liam
2. Jacob
3. Ethan
4. Noah
5. Aiden
6. Matthew
7. Daniel
8. Lucas
9. Michael
10. Dylan

2015

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2015. (Here’s my post about the 2015 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2015)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2015)
1. Olivia
2. Sophia
3. Emma (tie)
4. Mia (tie)
5. Isabella
6. Leah
7. Emily
8. Ava
9. Chloe
10. Madison
1. Ethan
2. Liam
3. Noah
4. Jacob
5. Jayden
6. Matthew
7. David
8. Daniel (tie)
9. Dylan (tie)
10. Aiden

2014

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2014. (Here’s my post about the 2014 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2014)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2014)
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Olivia
4. Mia
5. Emma
6. Emily
7. Leah
8. Ava
9. Sofia
10. Chloe
1. Ethan
2. Jacob
3. Liam
4. Jayden
5. Noah
6. Daniel
7. Michael
8. Alexander
9. David
10. Matthew

2013

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2013.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2013)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2013)
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Mia
6. Emily
7. Leah
8. Sofia
9. Madison
10. Chloe
1. Jayden
2. Ethan
3. Jacob
4. Daniel
5. David
6. Noah
7. Michael
8. Matthew
9. Alexander
10. Liam

2012

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2012.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2012)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2012)
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Emily
6. Mia
7. Chloe
8. Madison
9. Leah
10. Ava
1. Jayden
2. Ethan
3. Jacob
4. Daniel
5. Matthew
6. Michael
7. Aiden
8. David
9. Ryan
10. Alexander

2011

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2011. (Here’s my post about the 2011 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2011)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2011)
1. Isabella
2. Sophia
3. Olivia
4. Emma
5. Mia
6. Emily
7. Madison
8. Leah
9. Chloe
10. Sofia
1. Jayden
2. Jacob
3. Ethan
4. Daniel
5. Michael
6. Matthew
7. Justin
8. David
9. Aiden
10. Alexander

2010

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2010.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2010)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2010)
1. Isabella
2. Sophia
3. Olivia
4. Emily
5. Madison
6. Mia
7. Emma
8. Leah
9. Sarah
10. Chloe
1. Jayden
2. Ethan
3. Daniel
4. Jacob
5. David
6. Justin
7. Michael
8. Matthew
9. Joseph
10. Joshua

2009

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2009.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2009)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2009)
1. Isabella
2. Sophia
3. Mia
4. Emily
5. Olivia
6. Madison
7. Sarah
8. Ashley
9. Leah
10. Emma
1. Jayden
2. Daniel
3. Ethan
4. Michael
5. David
6. Justin
7. Matthew
8. Joshua
9. Alexander
10. Christopher

2008

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2008.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2008)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2008)
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emily
4. Olivia
5. Sarah
6. Madison
7. Ashley
8. Mia
9. Samantha
10. Emma
1. Jayden
2. Daniel
3. Michael
4. Matthew
5. David
6. Joshua
7. Justin
8. Anthony
9. Christopher
10. Ethan/Ryan (tied for 10th)

2007

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2007. (Here’s my post about the 2007 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2007)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2007)
1. Isabella (tie)
2. Sophia (tie)
3. Emily
4. Ashley
5. Sarah
6. Kayla
7. Mia
8. Olivia
9. Samantha
10. Rachel
1. Daniel
2. Jayden
3. Michael
4. Matthew
5. Justin
6. Joshua
7. David
8. Anthony
9. Christopher
10. Joseph

2006

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2006. (Here’s my post about the 2006 NYC rankings.)

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2006)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2006)
1. Ashley
2. Emily
3. Isabella
4. Sarah
5. Kayla
6. Sophia
7. Mia
8. Madison
9. Brianna (tie)
10. Samantha (tie)
1. Michael
2. Daniel
3. Matthew
4. Joshua
5. Justin
6. David
7. Christopher
8. Joseph
9. Anthony
10. Jayden

2005

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2005.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2005)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2005)
1. Emily
2. Ashley
3. Kayla
4. Sarah
5. Isabella
6. Samantha
7. Sophia
8. Nicole
9. Olivia
10. Rachel
1. Michael
2. Daniel
3. Joshua
4. David
5. Justin
6. Matthew
7. Anthony
8. Christopher
9. Joseph
10. Nicholas

2004

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2004.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2004)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2004)
1. Emily
2. Ashley
3. Kayla
4. Sarah
5. Samantha
6. Isabella
7. Brianna
8. Sophia
9. Nicole
10. Olivia
1. Michael
2. Daniel
3. Matthew
4. Justin
5. Joshua
6. David
7. Anthony
8. Christopher (tie)
9. Joseph (tie)
10. Ryan

2003

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2003.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2003)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2003)
1. Emily
2. Ashley
3. Kayla
4. Sarah
5. Samantha
6. Brianna
7. Isabella
8. Nicole
9. Rachel
10. Jessica
1. Michael
2. Justin
3. Daniel
4. Matthew
5. Christopher
6. Anthony
7. David
8. Joshua
9. Joseph
10. Kevin

2002

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2002.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2002)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2002)
1. Ashley
2. Emily
3. Kayla
4. Brianna
5. Samantha
6. Sarah
7. Nicole
8. Jessica
9. Michelle
10. Isabella
1. Michael
2. Justin
3. Daniel
4. Matthew
5. Christopher
6. Joseph
7. Anthony
8. Joshua
9. Nicholas
10. David

2001

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2001.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2001)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2001)
1. Ashley
2. Kayla
3. Samantha
4. Emily
5. Jessica
6. Brianna
7. Nicole
8. Sarah
9. Destiny
10. Michelle
1. Michael
2. Justin
3. Christopher
4. Daniel
5. Matthew
6. Joseph
7. Anthony
8. David
9. Joshua
10. Kevin

2000

The most popular baby names in New York City in 2000.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 2000)Top Boy Names (NYC, 2000)
1. Ashley
2. Samantha
3. Kayla
4. Emily
5. Brianna
6. Sarah
7. Jessica
8. Nicole
9. Michelle
10. Amanda
1. Michael
2. Justin
3. Christopher
4. Matthew
5. Daniel
6. Anthony
7. Joshua
8. David
9. Joseph
10. Kevin

1999

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1999.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1999)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1999)
1. Ashley
2. Samantha
3. Emily
4. Sarah
5. Nicole
6. Kayla
7. Jessica
8. Brianna
9. Amanda
10. Jennifer
1. Michael
2. Justin
3. Matthew
4. Christopher
5. Joseph
6. Daniel
7. Anthony
8. David
9. Kevin
10. Joshua

1998

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1998.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1998)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1998)
1. Ashley
2. Samantha
3. Jessica
4. Amanda
5. Nicole
6. Emily
7. Jennifer
8. Sarah
9. Brianna
10. Stephanie
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Justin
4. Joseph
5. Matthew
6. Anthony
7. Daniel
8. Brandon
9. Nicholas
10. David

1997

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1997.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1997)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1997)
1. Ashley
2. Samantha
3. Jessica
4. Nicole
5. Amanda
6. Sarah
7. Stephanie
8. Jennifer
9. Emily
10. Brianna
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Joseph
4. Matthew
5. Justin
6. Daniel
7. Anthony (tie)
8. Brandon (tie)
9. David
10. Jonathan

1996

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1996.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1996)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1996)
1. Ashley
2. Jessica
3. Samantha
4. Stephanie
5. Nicole
6. Amanda
7. Jennifer
8. Sarah
9. Michelle
10. Emily
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Anthony
4. Kevin
5. Daniel
6. Joseph
7. Matthew
8. Justin
9. Jonathan
10. David

1995

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1995.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1995)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1995)
1. Ashley
2. Jessica
3. Amanda
4. Samantha
5. Stephanie
6. Jennifer
7. Nicole
8. Sarah*
9. Michelle
10. Emily
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Kevin
4. Daniel
5. Jonathan
6. Joseph
7. Anthony
8. Matthew
9. David
10. Justin

*The name was spelled “Sara” (without the h) in the 1995 annual report, but “Sarah” (with the h) on all the other reports. So, assuming that “Sara” was a typo, I’ve spelled it with the h here.

1994

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1994.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1994)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1994)
1. Ashley
2. Jessica
3. Stephanie
4. Samantha
5. Amanda
6. Nicole
7. Jennifer
8. Michelle
9. Tiffany
10. Danielle
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Kevin
4. Anthony
5. Jonathan
6. Daniel
7. Joseph
8. Matthew
9. David
10. Brandon

1993

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1993.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1993)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1993)
1. Ashley
2. Stephanie
3. Jessica
4. Amanda
5. Samantha
6. Nicole
7. Jennifer
8. Michelle
9. Melissa
10. Christina
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Kevin
4. Jonathan
5. Anthony
6. Daniel
7. Joseph
8. David
9. Matthew
10. John

1992

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1992.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1992)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1992)
1. Ashley
2. Stephanie
3. Jessica
4. Amanda
5. Samantha
6. Jennifer
7. Nicole
8. Michelle
9. Melissa
10. Christina
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Jonathan
4. Anthony
5. Joseph
6. Daniel
7. David
8. Kevin
9. Matthew
10. John

1991

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1991.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1991)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1991)
1. Stephanie
2. Ashley
3. Jessica
4. Amanda
5. Samantha
6. Jennifer
7. Nicole
8. Michelle
9. Melissa
10. Christina
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Jonathan
4. Anthony
5. Joseph
6. Daniel
7. David
8. Matthew
9. Kevin
10. John

1990

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1990.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1990)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1990)
1. Stephanie
2. Jessica
3. Ashley
4. Jennifer
5. Amanda
6. Samantha
7. Nicole
8. Christina
9. Melissa
10. Michelle
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Jonathan
4. Anthony
5. David
6. Daniel
7. Joseph
8. Matthew
9. John
10. Andrew

1985

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1985.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1985)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1985)
1. Jennifer
2. Jessica
3. Christina
4. Stephanie
5. Melissa
6. Nicole
7. Elizabeth
8. Amanda
9. Danielle
10. Lauren
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Daniel
4. David
5. Anthony
6. Joseph
7. Jonathan
8. Jason
9. John
10. Robert

1980

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1980.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1980)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1980)
1. Jennifer
2. Jessica
3. Melissa
4. Nicole
5. Michelle
6. Elizabeth
7. Lisa
8. Christina
9. Tiffany
10. Maria
1. Michael
2. David
3. Jason
4. Joseph
5. Christopher
6. Anthony
7. John
8. Daniel
9. Robert
10. James

1948

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1948.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1948)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1948)
1. Linda
2. Mary
3. Barbara
4. Patricia
5. Susan
6. Kathleen
7. Carol
8. Nancy
9. Margaret
10. Diane
1. Robert
2. John
3. James
4. Michael
5. William
6. Richard
7. Joseph
8. Thomas
9. Stephen
10. David

1928

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1928.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1928)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1928)
1. Mary
2. Marie
3. Annie
4. Margaret
5. Catherine
6. Gloria
7. Helen
8. Teresa
9. Joan
10. Barbara
1. John
2. William
3. Joseph
4. James
5. Richard
6. Edward
7. Robert
8. Thomas
9. George
10. Louis

1898

The most popular baby names in New York City in 1898.

Top Girl Names (NYC, 1898)Top Boy Names (NYC, 1898)
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Margaret
4. Annie
5. Rose
6. Marie
7. Esther
8. Sarah
9. Frances
10. Ida
1. John
2. William
3. Charles
4. George
5. Joseph
6. Edward
7. James
8. Louis
9. Francis
10. Samuel

NYC typically waits until the following December to release their baby name rankings, so I don’t expect the 2020 rankings to be available until the end of this year.

Sources: New York City‘s Summary of Vital Statistics for 2018 (pdf), 2017 (pdf), 2016 (pdf), 2015 (pdf), 2014 (pdf), 2013 (pdf), 2012 (pdf), 2011 (pdf), 2010 (pdf), 2009 (pdf), 2008 (pdf), 2007 (pdf), 2006 (pdf), 2005 (pdf), 2004 (pdf), 2003 (pdf), 2002 (pdf), 2001 (pdf), 2000 (pdf), 1999 (pdf), 1998 (pdf), 1997 (pdf), 1996 (pdf), 1995 (pdf), 1994 (pdf), 1993 (pdf), 1992 (pdf), 1991 (pdf)

Name Quotes #98: Judith, Xochitl, Rajaonina

From an article about famous people reclaiming their names in The Guardian:

Earlier this year, the BBC presenter formerly known as Ben Bland changed his surname to Boulos to celebrate his maternal Sudanese-Egyptian heritage.

[…]

The Bland name had masked important aspects of his identity that he had downplayed as a child, not wanting to be seen as in any way “different”, including his Coptic faith, Boulos said. “Every name tells a story – and I want mine to give a more complete picture of who I am.”

Boulos’s grandparents, who came to Britain in the 1920s, had chosen the surname Bland because they feared using the Jewish-Germanic family name “Blumenthal”. “They decided on the blandest name possible — literally — to ensure their survival,” he wrote.

(Two more quotes on name-reclaiming were in last month’s quote post.)

Actress Camila Mendes [vid] talking about her name on The Late Late Show With James Corden in 2017:

So my name is Camila Mendes, and there’s a singer called Camila Cabello, and a singer called Shawn Mendes. And people seem to think my Twitter is a fan account for that relationship.

From the book I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (2015) by Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo:

Babies were baptized with new and strange names, particularly in the 1920s, names taken from the titles of various socialist experiments (for instance, in Tabasco with Garrido Canaval, who established socialist baptisms), and as a result of the emergence of the radio and the indigenist turn of the city’s language. Masiosare became a boy’s name (derived from a stanza of the national anthem: “Mas si osare un extraño enemigo…”), but also Alcazelser (after the popularity of Alka-Seltzer), Xochitl, Tenoch, Cuauhtémoc, Tonatihu (the biblically named Lázaro Cárdenas named his son Cuauhtémoc).

From a Good Morning America article about ’90s sitcom Saved by the Bell:

The names of characters came from people [executive producer Peter] Engel knew growing up.

“I knew a guy named Screech Washington. He was a producer. I said I’m not going to hire him, but I’m going to steal your name,” he said. “Slater was a kid who was in my son’s kindergarten class, Zack was named after my dear, dear friend, John DeLorean. […] His son’s name was Zack. Lisa Turtle was a girl I knew and Mr. Belding, Richard Belding, had been my cranky editor when I worked at Universal.”

From the book Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood (2004) by Robert S. Birchard:

DeMille interviewed Gloria Stuart for the part of the high school girl [in This Day and Age], Gay Merrick, and said she was “extremely enthusiastic,” and he also considered Paramount contract player Grace Bradley, but ultimately he selected a former model who called herself Mari Colman. In April 1933 Colman won a Paramount screen test in a New York beauty competition, and DeMille was apparently delighted by the innocent image she projected.

In a comic sequence in David O. Selznick’s 1937 production of A Star Is Born, the studio’s latest discovery, Esther Blodgett, is given a new name more in keeping with her status as a movie starlet. As This Day and Age was getting ready to roll, Mari Colman was subjected to the same treatment as DeMille and Paramount tested long lists of potential screen names. Among the suggestions were Betty Barnes, Doris Bruce, Alice Harper, Grace Gardner, Chloris Deane, and Marie Blaire. Colman herself suggested Pamela Drake or Erin Drake. On May 15, Jack Cooper wrote DeMille that he had tried several names on seventeen people. Eleven voted for the name Doris Manning; the other six held out for Doris Drake. Somehow, the name ultimately bestowed upon her was Judith Allen. DeMille and Paramount had high hopes for Allen, and she was even seen around town in the company of Gary Cooper, one of the studio’s biggest stars.

From an academic paper by Denis Regnier called “Naming and name changing in postcolonial Madagascar” (2016):

Nowadays, most names borne by individuals in Madagascar are a particular mix of foreign names (mainly Christian, French, or British but sometimes Muslim) and Malagasy names. This is because the spread of the Christian faith in the nineteenth century resulted in people increasingly giving names from the Bible to their children. These biblical names were often modified to follow the phonological and morphological rules of the Malagasy language (e.g., John becomes Jaonina or Jaona), and often the honorific particle Ra-, the word andriana (lord), or both were added to them (e.g., Rajaonina and Randrianarijaona). While at the beginning of Christian evangelization most people still had, in traditional Malagasy fashion, only one name, progressively the most common structure of names became “binomial,” as Gueunier calls it (Gueunier 2012, 197). In this case, a Christian name (or other foreign name) is often juxtaposed to a Malagasy name, although sometimes both names are of Malagasy origin or, more rarely, both names are foreign.

And let’s end with a related quote about Madagascar’s very long names:

Names were reduced in length when French colonization began in 1896 — the shortest names today include Rakotoarisoa, Rakotonirina, Andrianjafy or Andrianirina, and tend to have around 12 characters minimum.

Where did the baby name Aissa come from?

Celebrity daughter Aissa on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine (March 1961).
Aissa on Cosmo cover (Mar. 1961)

The relatively rare name Aissa started appearing in the U.S. data in the early 1960s:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Aissa
  • 1961: 6 baby girls named Aissa [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted

The reason?

Looks to be John Wayne’s daughter Aissa (pronounced ie-EES-ah), who was born in 1956 had a short acting career in the early 1960s. Her first and most notable role was that of Lisa Angelina Dickinson in the movie The Alamo (1960).

Photographs of Aissa also occasionally appeared in the newspapers. Perhaps the most prominent photo of her was the one on cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in March of 1961. It was their “diamond jubilee issue” (marking their 75th year in print) and, according to the caption, Aissa was “wearing $850,000 in Cartier diamonds.”

Aissa’s mother was John Wayne’s third wife, Pilar, and her two full siblings were named John Ethan and Marisa.

I know the story behind John Ethan’s middle name — it came from the character John Wayne played in The Searchers (the movie that launched Pippa) — but I don’t know the story behind “Aissa.” Perhaps the Waynes found it in the 1951 movie Outcast of the Islands, which featured an exotic character named Aissa (played by French actress Kerima)…?

In terms of etymology, “Aissa” comes from the French name Aïssa, which is based on the Arabic name Isa, a form of Jesus.

The name saw peak usage in the U.S. in the early 1990s:

  • 1994: 10 baby girls named Aissa
  • 1993: 20 baby girls named Aissa
  • 1992: 58 baby girls named Aissa [peak]
  • 1991: 20 baby girls named Aissa
  • 1990: 11 baby girls named Aissa

Aissa Wayne’s name was in the news a lot during 1992 due to legal troubles. In April, she testified in court against her ex-husband (a physician who had hired two assailants to attack her in 1988 amid their child custody battle). The ex-husband was convicted in May and sentenced in July. In December, Aissa won full custody of their 5-year-old daughter, Anastasia Pilar.

What are your thoughts on the name Aissa/Aïssa?

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P.S. Here are several more “delayed” celebrity baby name debuts, i.e., celebrity baby-inspired names that didn’t appear on the charts at the time of birth.

P.P.S. John Wayne’s second wife was named Esperanza, nicknamed Chata. His first was named Josephine.