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”).
What are your thoughts on the baby name Rajai?