How popular is the baby name Muhammad 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 Muhammad.
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According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the most popular baby names in England and Wales last year — for the fifth year in a row — were Olivia and Oliver.
Here are the top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2020:
Olivia, 3,640 baby girls
Oliver, 4,225 baby boys
In the girls’ top 10, Ivy and Rosie replaced Grace and Freya.
In the boys’ top 10, Archie replaced Charlie. (No doubt Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to name their first child Archie in 2019 gave the name a boost, but Archie was on the rise in England and Wales long before it became a royal baby name.)
The fastest-rising names within the top 100 were…
Arabella, Mabel, Lyra, and Maeve (for girls)
Roman, Milo, Otis, and Myles (for boys)
(The popular British TV series Sex Education features main characters named Otis and Maeve.)
Here are the top 10 lists for England and Wales separately:
Liliwen comes from lili wen, one of the Welsh words for snowdrop (a small, white flower that blooms during the winter). The hyphenated variant Lili-wen was also given to three baby girls last year, bringing the grand total to six.
Also given to six baby girls last year? The name Eirlys, from eirlys, another Welsh word for snowdrop. :)
In 1971, a list of African names published in Jet magazine had an impact on U.S. baby names.
In 1977, a list of African names published in Ebony magazine had a similar impact on U.S. baby names.
And in between, in 1973, a list of African names was published in an interesting place: U.S. newspapers nationwide. That is, not in a magazine written for an African-American audience specifically.
So…did this newspaper-based list have an impact as well?
Yes, turns out it had roughly the same impact as the other two lists.
The opening line of the article was: “Here’s help for young black couples wanting to give their infants African names.” Toward the end, the article featured a list of 23 names. Most of these names ended up seeing movement in the data, including 10 (!) debuts.
The article cited as its source The Book of African Names (1970) by Chief Osuntoki. As it turns out, though, the Chief wasn’t a real person. He was a fictional character invented by the publisher, Drum and Spear Press. Here’s a quote from the book’s introduction, purportedly written by the Chief:
It is strange, indeed, it hurts my heart, that brothers from afar often come to greet me bearing such names as “Willie”, “Juan” and “François”. But we can not be hard against them, for they have been misled.
Of the 23 names listed above, the one that debuted most impressively was Jelani. In fact, Jelani ended up tied for 43rd on the list of the top boy-name debuts of all time.
1976: 55 baby boys named Jelani
1975: 46 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Jelani [debut as a girl name]
1974: 53 baby boys named Jelani
1973: 36 baby boys named Jelani [overall debut]
Which of those 23 names do you like best?
“African chief explains symbolism of names.” San Bernardino County Sun 15 Aug. 1973: B-4.
Markle, Seth M. A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power, and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2017.
A charity in Egypt will give money to local parents who name their newborns “Muhammad,” “Mahmoud,” or “Ahmed” in honor of the prophet Muhammad. (All three names are derived from the same Arabic root, hamida, meaning “to praise.”)
The charity, located in a village in Gharbia governorate, will give each participating family a monthly stipend of 300 Egyptian pounds (a little over $19 U.S.) for one year.
Why? The charity gave two reasons. The first was to offer some financial support to families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second was to counter “the blasphemous campaign…in France to disorder the prophet’s prestige” — a reference to the current tensions between France and the Muslim world over caricatures of Muhammad.