How popular is the baby name Reza 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 Reza.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Reza

Posts that Mention the Name Reza

Where did the baby name Rajai come from in 1980?

Iranian politician Mohammad-Ali Rajai (1933-1981)
Mohammad-Ali Rajai

The name Rajai first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1980, and its usage increased in 1981:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 13 baby boys named Rajai [peak usage]
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Rajai [debut]
  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted

After that, though, it dropped out of the data again (and didn’t return until the early 2000s).

What was influencing the name in the early ’80s?

Iranian politician Mohammad Ali Rajai, who served briefly as Iran’s second president in 1981.

Rajai was born into poverty the early 1930s, and became politically active as a young man. He was involved in the Iranian Revolution (1978-79), which overthrew the monarchy (under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi*) and established an Islamic republic (under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini).

After Rajai was selected as Iran’s prime minister in August of 1980, his name started to pop up in the U.S. newspapers.

Those newspaper mentions became a lot more frequent the following summer. Rajai was elected president in late July, and he began his term in early August. But on August 30 — after less than a month in office — Rajai and many other government officials (including the new prime minister) were killed by a bomb blast in Tehran.

I haven’t been able to figure out the etymology of Rajai, but it could be related to the Arabic names Raja (meaning “hope”) and Rajiya (“hopeful”).

Interestingly, one of the 1980 babies named Rajai is former professional baseball player Rajai Davis (who played against Anthony Rizzo in 2016 World Series).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Rajai?

*Two of the Shah’s wives, Soraya and Farah, also had an influence on U.S. baby names…

Sources: Mohammad-Ali Rajai – Wikipedia, Mohammad Ali Raja’i – Britannica, Iranian Revolution – Wikipedia, Behind the Name, SSA
Image: Adapted from Banisadr & Rajai

Girl names that debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 2022

crocus in snow

Which girl names emerged in the U.S. baby name data in 2022 for the first time ever?

A total of 676 girl names debuted in the data last year, and the most impressive debut was made by Jazaiyah. Here are the top debuts overall:

  1. Jazaiyah, 46 baby girls
  2. Yahritza, 44
  3. Rhaenyra, 31
  4. Brisley, 29
  5. Navany, 28
  6. Jhersi, 27
  7. Aidanna, 22
  8. Soleen, 21
  9. Jeizy, 20
  10. Aizal, 19
  11. Yasani, 19
  12. Ayuri, 15
  13. Kheumani, 15
  14. Yasaniy, 15
  15. Lextyn, 14

Yahritza could be from the band Yahritza y Su Esencia, which was nominated for a couple of Latin Grammy Awards last year. And Rhaenyra is no doubt from Rhaenyra Targaryen, the character from House of the Dragon (the Game of Thrones prequel).

Here are some more debuts:

13 baby girlsArnaaz, Malenia, Nogivenname, Ridge, Taqdeer, Wrenlynn
12 baby girlsDebani, Keyoir, Sirey, Yavani
11 baby girlsEzmeray, Makkari, Vihika, Xalani
10 baby girlsAhmiri, Arhareddy, Audin, Bonnibelle, Debahni, Illiyeen, Mariahelena, Monaco, Ozzlyn, Pualena, Zenni
9 baby girlsGwynnevere, Keylany, Meilanni, Miyuri, Nyloni, Raihan, Ratza, Reza, Satouri, Silayah, Xile, Xoemi, Zamiri
8 baby girlsAdaleigha, Ahilany, Eivor, Elladora, Elyanis, Ensly, Ermani, Heimy, Iversyn, Izlani, Jaiyori, Kaelanni, Kaiomi, Kheilani, Kiptynn, Leialani, Lulwah, Malonii, Manraj, Miyomi, Myori, Ozma, Rishy, Rivie, Rufaida, Rynnlee, Wrenlyn, Wrennly, Xyelle, Yesbeth, Yulibeth

Debani, Debahni, and all similar names are spelling variants of Debanhi, one of the fastest-rising girl names of 2022. (“Nogivenname,” of course, is just a placeholder. I wonder which U.S. state it’s coming from…)

Finally, here’s a selection of the rest of the debuts:

  • 7 baby girls: Amias, Atla, Bibiaisha, Chiloh, Dazari, Effat, Fall, Ihlani, Kovi, Nelin, Sersi, Tomyris, Vaylynn, Yumeko, Zephra
  • 6 baby girls: Amni, Bauer, Debhani, Eana, Energi, Granger, Hallow, Harleaux, Idelette, Jaspen, Kanvi, Leomi, Masoka, Nanala, Phyre, Racelynn, Rush, Skipper, Taiga, Tiabeanie, Zouri
  • 5 baby girls: Akame, Anacaona, Apricity, Bardot, Castalia, Cloudy, Coyote, Cyxx, Finch, Genendel, Hecate, Iga, Illumi, Kawehilani, Klonni, Losaline, Lunar, Moonlight, Nynaeve, Ozra, Pendo, Plumeria, Posh, Raavee, Ryu, Seoul, Skylark, Tissaia, Tsiyon, Velour, Velzy, Yildiz, Zalora

Sersi is a character from the movie Eternals (2021), Tiabeanie is a character from the animated series Disenchantment, Nynaeve is a character from the series The Wheel of Time, and Tissaia is a character from the series The Witcher.

Apricity, intriguingly, is an obscure noun that refers to the warmth of the sun in winter. I’m not sure why parents are using at as a name now, though.

If you can explain any of the other debuts, please leave a comment!

Source: SSA
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Where did the baby name Ayatollah come from in 1979?

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989)
Ayatollah Khomeini

The Arabic word Ayatollah (ayatu-llah), which is a title for a Shiite religious leader in Iran, literally means “sign of god.”

Americans started hearing this word more often in the late ’70s, when Iran’s Ruhollah Khomeini, typically called “Ayatollah Khomeini” by the U.S. press, led the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (whose wives included Farah and Soraya).

From that point onward, Khomeini became the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The year the revolution ended and Ayatollah Khomeini took control of the country, we see the baby name Ayatollah appear in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time:

  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 6 baby boys named Ayatollah [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted

What are your thoughts on “Ayatollah” as a baby name?

Sources: Ayatollah – Online Etymology Dictionary, Ruhollah Khomeini – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Farah come from in 1960?

Farah Diba on the cover of LIFE magazine (Dec. 7, 1959)
Farah Diba on the cover of LIFE, 1959

The last Shah of Iran had three wives — first Fawzia, second Soraya, and finally Farah: Farah Diba, who was a 21-year-old commoner when she married the king in Tehran at the very end of 1959.

The Arabic name Farah, which means “joy,” appeared for the first time in the SSA’s baby name data the next year:

  • 1962: 14 baby girls named Farah
  • 1961: 12 baby girls named Farah
  • 1960: 19 baby girls named Farah [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

The couple went on to have four children: Reza (the male heir the Shah had been waiting for), Farahnaz, Ali-Reza, and Leila.

Little Reza never got a chance to rule Iran, though, because the royal family was forced to flee during the Iranian Revolution at the end of the 1970s. By the time the Shah died of cancer in 1980, the new leader of the country was Ayatollah Khomeini.

The similar name Farrah first appeared in the data in the late ’60s. It would go on to see a dramatic spike in usage in 1976-1977 thanks to Farrah Fawcett (whose name at birth was actually Ferrah).

Another similar name, Fara, predates both Farah and Farrah on the charts. Fara has been in the U.S. data since the 1910s. (Other unexpected Sara- and Clara-clones from that era include Flara, Gara, Para, and Nara.)

Do you like the name Farah? Which spelling do you prefer?

P.S. The male names Reza and Alireza started appearing in the U.S. data in the ’60s and ’70s, respectively.

Image: © 1959 LIFE