How popular is the baby name Mychal 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 Mychal.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Mychal


Posts that Mention the Name Mychal

Where did the baby name Mychal come from in 1978?

mychal, sports, baby name, 1970s

The name Mychal first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1978, when it was suddenly given to nearly five dozen baby boys:

  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1980: 26 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1979: 35 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1978: 59 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted

That number was impressive enough to make Mychal not just the top debut name of 1978, but also the 26th-highest boy-name debut of all time.

What was the influence?

Bahamian basketball player Mychal Thompson. He was the #1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft (chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers) and also happened to be the first foreign-born player to be a #1 pick.

Later in his career, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them in the late ’80s. As a result, the baby name Mychal shot into the top 1,000 in 1987 and saw peak usage in 1988.

So how did he get the name “Mychal”? He gave it to himself, actually. In an interview with Lakers Nation, he told the story of why he changed the spelling from the original “Michael”:

When I did start playing basketball in high school, all of a sudden people started talking about Michael Thompson in all the [newspaper] write-ups. […] So every time they’d write my name they’d go, Mike Thompson. And my name is Michael.

Now I understand Mike is short for Michael, but I wanted to be known as Michael, so I said, ‘How can I get them to stop calling me Mike?’ I’ll tell you what, I’ll change the spelling of my name so that way, and I figured I wanted to make it kind of a unique name, so people know it’s me, cause there are a million Michaels out there, it’s one of the most popular names there is.

So I figured, ok, just [so that] everybody knows that it’s me when I write Michael Thompson, I started writing M-y-c-h-a-e-l, nah, M-y-k-a-e-l, nah I don’t like that one, M-y-c-h-a-l, oh that looks cool, I’ll just go with that. So I started signing my name that way and to make it legal, I actually had to go back home [to the Bahamas] and change my name legally to Mychal.

All three of Mychal’s uniquely named sons — Mychel (different spelling; “I didn’t want him to be a junior”), Klay, and Trayce — now play professional sports. In fact, much of the recent usage of “Klay” is in California, where Klay Thompson has been playing for the Golden State Warriors since 2011.

Mychal admitted that his eldest son doesn’t like that his name is often mispronounced Michelle, but also noted that, while Mychel is “always complaining about it, […] he’s never changed it back to the original spelling.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Mychal? Do you like the spelling?

Sources: Mychal Thompson – Wikipedia, Lakers Nation Special Feature, Part 1: Getting to Know Mychal Thompson [vid]

Where did the baby name Giuliani come from in 2002?

NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani

On September 11, 2001, members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda carried out four coordinated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, most of whom died with the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City.

New York City mayor Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani was lauded for his leadership in the aftermath of the attacks. He made a number of appearances on TV* and radio. Oprah Winfrey dubbed him “America’s Mayor.”

On the last day of 2001, Time magazine declared Giuliani “Person of the Year.” (That day was also Giuliani’s last day as mayor, incidentally). Time said:

With the President out of sight for most of that day, Giuliani became the voice of America. Every time he spoke, millions of people felt a little better. His words were full of grief and iron, inspiring New York to inspire the nation. “Tomorrow New York is going to be here,” he said. “And we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And in 2002, we see the name Giuliani appear for the very first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 2004: unlisted
  • 2003: unlisted
  • 2002: 6 baby boys named Giuliani [debut]
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: unlisted

The Italian surname Giuliani was derived from the personal name Giuliano, the Italian equivalent of Julian.

Two other baby names that debuted around this time, Independence in 2001 and Patriot in 2002, were also likely given a boost by the events of 9/11.

*Later in September, Rudy Giuliani was featured in the Saturday Night Live9/11 Tribute” (video) that memorably ended with this short exchange between Lorne Michaels and Giuliani: “Can we be funny?” “Why start now?”

P.S. Fr. Mychal Judge, the first official casualty of 9/11, also had an impact on baby names in the early 2000s.

Sources:

  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Pooley, Eric. “Mayor of the World.” Time 31 Dec. 2001.

Image: © 2001 Time

Top boy-name debuts of all time in the U.S. baby name data (21-30)

blue bow

Time for the middle installment of the top boy name debuts.

From 30 to 21:

Kadeem, #30

  • Kadeem debuted with 52 baby boys in 1988.
    Inspired by Kadeem Hardison, an actor on the TV sitcom A Different World.

Armias, Diallo & Draven, 3-way tie for #29

  • Armias debuted with 54 baby boys in 2019.
    Inspired by rapper Ermias Asghedom (Nipsey Hussle).
  • Diallo debuted with 54 baby boys in 1971.
    Inspired by an article in Jet magazine.
  • Draven debuted with 54 baby boys in 1994.
    Inspired by Eric Draven, a character in the movie The Crow.

Vadhir, #28

  • Vadhir debuted with 55 baby boys in 2010.
    Inspired by Vadhir Derbez, winner of the TV dance show Mira Quien Baila 2010.

Foch, #27

Asahd & Mychal, 2-way tie for #26

  • Asahd debuted with 59 baby boys in 2017.
    Inspired by the son of DJ Khaled.
  • Mychal debuted with 59 baby boys in 1978.
    Inspired by basketball player Mychal Thompson.

Tavares, #25

Toriano, #24

  • Toriano debuted with 62 baby boys in 1970.
    Inspired by singer Toriano “Tito” Jackson, a member of The Jackson 5.

Jionni, #23

  • Jionni debuted with 63 baby boys in 2011.
    Inspired by Jionni LaValle, boyfriend of reality TV star Snooki Polizzi.

Jahseh & Tajh, 2-way tie for #22

  • Jahseh debuted with 65 baby boys in 2018.
    Inspired by rapper Jahseh Onfroy (XXXTentacion).
  • Tajh debuted with 65 baby boys in 1989.
    Inspired by singer Tajh Abdulsamad, a member of The Boys.

Pharrell & Quindon, 2-way tie for #21

  • Pharrell debuted with 67 baby boys in 2003.
    Inspired by singer Pharrell Williams.
  • Quindon debuted with 67 baby boys in 1996.
    Inspired by Quindon Tarver, the boy who sang “When Doves Cry” in the movie William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

More baby name debuts coming up tomorrow!

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

[Latest update: 7/2021]

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

FDNY baby named after Father Mychal Judge

Mychal Judge

Father Mychal Judge, fire chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was the first official casualty of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 68-year-old Roman Catholic priest was killed while assisting firefighters in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He (and others) were killed by the debris that shot through the North Tower lobby when the South Tower collapsed, just before 10 am.

Three weeks after the attacks, New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen welcomed a grandson. Von Essen’s son (also a New York City firefighter) and daughter-in-law named their baby boy Mason Judge, as a tribute to Father Judge.

*

Update: The baby name Mychal saw an increase in usage in 2001 and 2002, no doubt due to the news of Father Mychal:

  • 2003: 21 baby boys named Mychal
  • 2002: 58 baby boys named Mychal
  • 2001: 43 baby boys named Mychal
  • 2000: 14 baby boys named Mychal

Source: McPhee, Michele. “Fire Commish Has Bit of Joy.” New York Daily News 9 Oct. 2001.