How popular is the baby name Renee 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 Renee.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Renee


Posts that Mention the Name Renee

Where did the baby name Zhane come from in 1993?

The Zhané album "Pronounced Jah-Nay" (1994)
Zhané album

The name Zhane first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1993. It saw peak usage the very next year:

  • 1995: 203 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 934th]
  • 1994: 391 baby girls named Zhane [rank: 584th]
  • 1993: 69 baby girls named Zhane [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Zhane in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Zhane

The sudden trendiness of Zhane gave boosts to similar names (like Zana) and produced a crop of sound-alike names, such as…

1992199319941995
Jhane.12*6337
Zhana.8*4826
Zhanae..14*8
Jhanae..10*10
Zhanee..10*.
Jhanee..5*5
Zhanea..5*.
*Debut

It also inspired parents to create Zhane-based names, including Dazhane, Dezhane, Azhane, Daizhane, Tazhane, Auzhane, Dayzhane, Razhane, Ajhane, Dezhanae, Dejhanae, Zhania, and Zhanaya.

So, what was influencing all of these names?

R&B duo Zhané (pronounced zhah-NAY), made up of vocalists Jean Norris and Renée Neufville.

Zhané’s biggest hit, the catchy “Hey, Mr. D.J.,” was released in August of 1993 and reached #6 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Their next-biggest hit, “Groove Thang,” came out early the following year.

Both songs were included on the duo’s 1994 debut album, the cleverly titled Pronounced Jah-Nay.

So how did the two singers — who met while attending Temple University in Philadelphia in the early 1990s — come up with the name “Zhane”? Here’s what Norris told Soul Train about a decade ago:

For our name, Renée had the idea of using the French pronunciation of our names Jean and Renée, which sounded like “Jahnay”. We added a Z for a little flavor and we came up with Zhané.

What are your thoughts on the name Zhane?

Sources:

P.S. The duo’s success may have had an influence on the similar-sounding name Dijonnaise as well…

Popular baby names in Belgium, 2021

Belgium

According to data from Statistics Belgium, the country’s most popular baby names last year were Olivia and Noah.

Here are Belgium’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 580 baby girls
  2. Emma, 500
  3. Louise, 455
  4. Mila, 435
  5. Alice, 416
  6. Camille, 403
  7. Lina, 394
  8. Sofia, 359
  9. Ella, 352
  10. Juliette, 346
  11. Nora, 342
  12. Mia, 325
  13. Marie, 317
  14. Lucie, 314
  15. Anna, 303
  16. Jade, 296
  17. Elena, 281
  18. Eva, 280
  19. Julia, 279
  20. Noor, 263
  21. Nina, 256
  22. Léa, 252
  23. Victoria, 249
  24. Chloé, 244
  25. Alix, 235
  26. Lou, 232
  27. Elise, 220
  28. Zoé, 215
  29. Giulia, 212
  30. Ellie, 210 (tie)
  31. Luna, 210 (tie)
  32. Liv, 209
  33. Renée, 207
  34. Amélie, 204
  35. Inaya, 202
  36. Rose, 194
  37. Charlotte, 191
  38. Jeanne, 188 (tie)
  39. Lily, 188 (tie)
  40. Lena, 187
  41. Sara, 176
  42. Manon, 171
  43. Julie, 170
  44. Mona, 160
  45. Alba, 159
  46. Livia, 155
  47. Billie, 154 (tie)
  48. Sophia, 154 (tie)
  49. Amira, 146
  50. Clara, 144 (tie)
  51. Stella, 144 (tie)

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 627 baby boys
  2. Arthur, 584
  3. Louis, 558
  4. Liam, 537
  5. Jules, 526
  6. Adam, 474
  7. Lucas, 426
  8. Gabriel, 422
  9. Victor, 416
  10. Oscar, 336
  11. Leon, 310
  12. Mathis, 294 (tie)
  13. Mohamed, 294 (tie)
  14. Finn, 289
  15. Léon, 275
  16. Matteo, 264
  17. Lewis, 251
  18. Hugo, 245
  19. Nathan, 238
  20. Luca, 234
  21. Elias, 225
  22. Raphaël, 223
  23. Théo, 221
  24. Amir, 217 (tie)
  25. Eden, 217 (tie)
  26. Rayan, 209
  27. Lou, 208
  28. Milo, 205
  29. Yanis, 204
  30. Achille, 201
  31. Otis, 194
  32. Sacha, 191 (tie)
  33. Vic, 191 (tie)
  34. Felix, 190
  35. Marcel, 187
  36. Basile, 185
  37. Aaron, 179
  38. Léo, 178
  39. Maurice, 174
  40. Alexander, 173
  41. Maël, 171
  42. Emiel, 168 (tie)
  43. Georges, 168 (tie)
  44. Jack, 167 (tie)
  45. William, 167 (tie)
  46. Emile, 163 (tie)
  47. Vince, 163 (tie)
  48. Samuel, 161
  49. Gaston, 159
  50. Oliver, 158

If Leon and Léon had been counted as a single name, their combined total (585) would have been enough to edge Arthur (584) out of second place on the boys’ list.

And the gender-neutral name Lou managed to pop up on both lists in nearly the same spot: 26th for girls, 27th for boys.

Map of the three regions of Belgium
Belgium’s three regions

The top baby names within each of Belgium’s three regions were…

Girl NamesBoy Names
Flanders
(57.6% of the population)
Language: Dutch
1. Olivia, 328
2. Ella, 303
3. Marie, 275
4. Mila, 266
5. Nora, 261
1. Noah, 399
2. Arthur, 321
3. Jules, 311
4. Leon, 288
5. Louis, 284
Wallonia
(31.8% of pop.)
Language: French/German
1. Emma, 204
2. Olivia, 203
3. Louise, 190
4. Alice, 188 (tie)
5. Lucie, 188 (tie)
1. Gabriel, 266
2. Louis, 235
3. Liam, 233
4. Arthur, 208
5. Jules, 191
Brussels-Capital
(10.6% of pop.)
Languages: Dutch/French
1. Lina, 89
2. Sofia, 83
3. Emma, 60 (tie)
4. Nour, 60 (tie)
5. Olivia, 49
1. Mohamed, 118
2. Adam, 112
3. Gabriel, 82
4. Amir, 70
5. Noah, 62

And here’s a selection of names from the other end of the spectrum — names that were given to just 5 babies each in Belgium last year:

Rare Girl NamesRare Boy Names
Anabia, Believe, Caro, Dea, Elaïa, Fallone, Gaby, Heike, Iluna, Jennifer, Kessy, Lyssia, Mahsa, Nihal, Otice, Puck, Queen, Ramla, Siloé, Toos, Vlera, Wassila, Yseult, ZuriAloys, Brandon, Celle, Doruk, Erion, Fedde, Gustav, Hazar, Ilyass, Jip, Karsten, Lothar, Maksim, Nellis, Obi, Paulin, Qays, Riff, Silvio, Tille, Vidar, Wiebe, Yavuz, Zjef

(I’m a little surprised that as many as 5 baby girls in Belgium got the English word “believe” as their first name. I wonder if something specific was influencing that usage…?)

This time around, Belgium also highlighted the girl and boy names that saw the largest increases and decreases in usage over the last decade (2011-2021). The top 5 in each category were…

  • Girl names
    • Largest increases: Alba, Ellie, Ellis, Alya, Cilou
    • Largest decreases: Lisa, Laura, Julie, Lotte, Anaïs
  • Boy names
    • Largest increases: Georges, Lio, Gaston, Otis, Lyam
    • Largest decreases: Maxime, Thomas, Simon, Wout, Nathan

Finally, here’s a link to Belgium’s 2020 rankings, if you’d like to compare.

Sources: First names for boys and girls | STATBEL, Demographics of Belgium – Wikipedia

Map: Adapted from Regions of Belgium by Ssolbergj under CC BY 3.0.

What turned Sway into a baby name in 2001?

The character Sway from the movie "Gone in 60 Seconds" (2000)
Sara “Sway” Wayland from “Gone in 60 Seconds”

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Baby names in the news: Ryder, Saynt, Crew

Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…

Blu (rejected): A baby girl born in late 2016 in Italy was almost named Blu, but the Italian government rejected the name because it didn’t correspond to her gender. (The Local)

Betsy and Emory: Twin baby girls born in January of 2018 to singer Hillary Scott were named Betsy Mack and Emory JoAnn. Their older sister Eisele was behind the debut of Eisele in 2014. (Taste of Country)

Brianna: A baby girl born in Sacramento in early 2018 with the help of firefighter Brian Hoffer was named Brianna Renee in his honor. (CBS Sacramento)

Crew: A baby boy born in June of 2018 to reality TV stars Joanna and Chip Gaines was named Crew. (Motherly)

Harry and Meghan: Twin foals born in Wales the day before the royal wedding were named Harry and Meghan. (BBC)

Hayes: A baby boy born on the last day of 2017 to actress Jessica Alba was named Hayes. (People)

Marvel: A baby girl born in May of 2018 to musician Pete Wentz was named Marvel Jane. Her older brother Bronx was behind the rise of Bronx in 2009. (Business Insider)

Knight: A baby boy born in Vegas in during the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals was named Haizen Knight in part after the Vegas Golden Knights, who ultimately lost to the Washington Capitals. (KTNV Las Vegas, video)

Neve: A baby girl born in June of 2018 to Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was named Neve Te Aroha. (NZ Herald)

Riley: A baby girl born in Vegas on the day the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the playoffs was named Riley after player Reilly Smith. Her parents were survivors of the Las Vegas shooting. (NY Post)

Ryder: A baby boy born in May of 2018 was named Ryder after the Ryder Cup. (Ryder Cup…and here’s the follow-up post that mentions several more babies named Ryder)

Saynt: A baby boy born in February of 2018 to Australian actress Tessa James was named Saynt — a respelling of Saint, which would have been illegal in Australia. (news.com.au)

Sheboygan: A baby boy born in April of 2018 to a Michigan couple already famous for being prodigious producers of sons was named Finley Sheboygan — middle name derived from the phrase “she is a boy again.” (Today)

Stormi: A baby girl born in February to reality TV star Kylie Jenner was named Stormi. (People)

Name quotes #60: Kelvin, Reese, Nyadak

Benedict Cumberbatch quote

A Benedict Cumberbatch quote from a recent episode [vid] of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

I think England is the only place that makes people named Benedict Cumberbatch.

From an article about a Swedish woman who changed her son’s name because of a botched tattoo:

Local newspaper, Blekinge Läns Tidning, reported that 30-year-old Johanna Giselhäll Sandström had requested a tattoo of her children’s names, Nova and Kevin.

The tattoo artist didn’t ask the woman to check the spelling, which resulted in a tattoo that read: ‘Nova and Kelvin’.

[…]

After discovering the process of removing tattoos isn’t an easy one, Sandström began to realise the name was growing on her, so she opted for a less painful solution to the problem.

“We decided to rename the boy,” she said.

From a Slate essay about unusual Mormon names by Haley Swenson:

By now, I’ve heard all the jokes about Utah names, but what I haven’t heard is a unified theory of just why the Mormon people of Utah are so inclined to create them. I humbly offer two hypotheses.

The first is my historical-cultural theory—that the penchant for invented names among Mormons lies in its very foundation: It goes all the way back to its founder, Joseph Smith, who had to come up with the names of hundreds of figures to populate the faith’s foundational text that he wrote, the Book of Mormon.

[…]

My second theory is more sociological. […] [I]f you’re a Mormon kid in Utah, it can be hard to stand out from the pack. A differently spelled name or a new name altogether might be a reasonable way to firm up a sense of individuality from the first day. Why bring yet another Erin into the world when you can introduce an Aeryn, or better yet, an Aroarin?

From an article about the pregnancy of Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand:

Ardern told More FM she and partner Clarke Gayford had a list of baby names that wasn’t getting any shorter and had no favourites.

Picking a name wasn’t going well, she said.

“It’s one of those things where Clarke is absolutely convinced it will come to us as soon as it arrives.

“I think we’ll be sleep deprived and probably angry at each other so I don’t think that’s the best time to choose.”

From an article about a girl named after Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:

When Renee Cupp became pregnant with her daughter, she toyed around with a few names. For a while, Lily was the front runner, until she and her husband had the idea to name their second child after their favorite chocolate and peanut butter candy. So, eight years ago, the couple printed the name Reese Eve Cupp on their daughter’s birth certificate.

Although the correct pronunciation of the candy is “Rees-IS,” Cupp tells PEOPLE that she has always pronounced it “Rees-EES,” which is a common inflection of the popular chocolate brand, thus the addition of her daughter’s middle initial.

[Little Reese E. Cupp won the company’s $10,000 fan contest a few weeks after this post went up. Not only that, but, “as a tribute to the most outrageous fan’s family, Reese’s will proclaim today [June 14, 2018] ‘Reese E. Cupp Day,’ and even pronounce the product Reese-EE for one day only.”]

From an article about drug naming trends in The Times (via ANS):

[Dr. Pascaline Faure] said that a clear trend was for names ending in “a” associated with femininity, as in “Maria”, or an “o”, which is masculine, as in “Mario”. “This is turning a drug into a sort of mate. It can be a girlfriend, with women’s attributes, or a boyfriend, with male ones,” she said.

From the essay “Why We Didn’t Name Our Son After His Grandfather, a Holocaust Survivor” by Jasmine Smith in Kveller:

I want my son, who is almost 2, to feel the history of his ancestors as something joyful and not heavy. I want him to recognize all the improbable elements that had to align; all the miracles that kept his grandfathers alive through their difficult lives long enough to create the families that would lead to his birth. I hope that, by giving him the gift of an unburdened name, he will be able to create a life that is equally as incredible as his grandfathers’ — a life that is already miraculous just by existing.

From an interview with fashion model Nyadak “Duckie” Thot:

In Melbourne, Australia, where she was born and raised in a culturally traditional Sudanese household with her mom, dad and six siblings, her peers at school couldn’t pronounce her real name, and it got to an unbearable point. […] Of course, neither name was something commonly found amongst Australian citizens. As she explains, both the words “Nyadak” and “Thot” are, in fact, Nuer, a South Sudanese language that’s native to the Nuer tribe. “Oh yeah,” she says wryly after noticing my surprised facial expression. “Many people don’t know I come from a tribe.”