How popular is the baby name River 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 River.

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Popularity of the Baby Name River


Posts that Mention the Name River

Top gender-neutral baby names of 2021: Parker, River, Charlie

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Looking for baby names that work for both genders?

Actually, let me rephrase that: Do you want to see which names are being given to sizeable numbers of baby boys and baby girls in the U.S. right now?

I wanted to ask the question in a more specific way because I think the details matter. Names can be gender-neutral in theory, but that doesn’t mean they’re being given to babies of both genders in practice.

It’s the difference between Evelyn and Everest.

Gender identity is a big topic of conversation these days, so it’s not surprising that an ever-growing number of parents are searching for baby names that aren’t strongly associated with one gender or the other.

To know what’s happening with baby names in real life, though, we need to focus on the data. That’s why I didn’t consider anything but data when I created the list below.

These names were culled from the 2021 U.S. baby name data (provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration). Each one saw usage that was at least one-third female and at least one-third male, making all of them relatively gender-neutral among today’s newborns.

Top gender-neutral baby names

Let’s start with a quick rundown of the 20 most popular gender-neutral baby names in the U.S. right now:

  1. Parker
  2. River
  3. Charlie
  4. Blake
  5. Hayden
  6. Emerson
  7. Amari
  8. Finley
  9. Remington
  10. Phoenix
  11. Oakley
  12. Dakota
  13. Tatum
  14. Rory
  15. Ari
  16. Alexis
  17. Armani
  18. Remy
  19. Reign
  20. Milan

Now here’s the same list again, but this time around I’ve added more information: data, rankings, popularity graphs, and definitions.

Parker (#1)

Last year, the name Parker was given to 6,229 babies. Of these babies, 2,406 (38.63%) were girls and 3,823 (61.37%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Parker placed 115th for girls and 93rd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Parker in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Parker

Parker is an English surname that originally referred to someone who was employed as the keeper of a hunting park.

River (#2)

Last year, the name River was given to 5,317 babies. Of these babies, 1,862 (35.02%) were girls and 3,455 (64.98%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, River placed 151st for girls and 110th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name River in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name River

River, the English word that refers to a flowing body of water, was derived from the Latin word ripa, meaning “riverbank” or “seashore.”

Charlie (#3)

Last year, the name Charlie was given to 4,190 babies. Of these babies, 2,202 (52.55%) were girls and 1,988 (47.45%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Charlie placed 127th for girls and 189th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Charlie in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Charlie

Charlie is a diminutive of the male name Charles, which ultimately comes from the Germanic name Karl, which meant “freeman” (i.e., not a serf or slave).

Interestingly, Charlie is a top-10 name for boys in some regions (like New Zealand and Ireland) and a top-10 name for girls in others (like Quebec).

Blake (#4)

Last year, the name Blake was given to 3,337 babies. Of these babies, 1,497 (44.86%) were girls and 1,840 (55.14%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Blake placed 199th for girls and 205th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Blake in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Blake

Blake is an English surname that can be traced back to either of two Old English words that happen to have opposite meanings — one being “black,” the other being “white.”

Hayden (#5)

Last year, the name Hayden was given to 3,283 babies. Of these babies, 1,096 (33.38%) were girls and 2,187 (66.62%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Hayden placed 290th for girls and 176th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Hayden in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Hayden

Hayden is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In many cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “hay” and “hill.” (Depending upon the location, though, the first element sometimes meant “fence enclosure,” and the second element sometimes meant “valley.”)

Emerson (#6)

Last year, the name Emerson was given to 2,952 babies. Of these babies, 1,729 (58.57%) were girls and 1,223 (41.43%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Emerson placed 167th for girls and 279th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Emerson in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Emerson

Emerson is an English surname that originally referred to the son of someone named Emery.

Amari (#7)

Last year, the name Amari was given to 2,880 babies. Of these babies, 972 (33.75%) were girls and 1,908 (66.25%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Amari placed 333rd for girls and 199th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Amari in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Amari

Amari is a modern name that doesn’t seem to have a specific origin or meaning.

Finley (#8)

Last year, the name Finley was given to 2,705 babies. Of these babies, 1,407 (52.01%) were girls and 1,298 (47.99%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Finley placed 211th for girls and 265th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Finley in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Finley

Finley is based on the Gaelic name Fionnlagh, which is made up of elements meaning “white” and “warrior.”

Remington (#9)

Last year, the name Remington was given to 2,475 babies. Of these babies, 890 (35.96%) were girls and 1,585 (64.04%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Remington placed 348th for girls and 231st for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Remington in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Remington

Remington is an English surname that originally referred to someone from the town of Rimington, in Lancashire. (It’s also an American gun brand.)

Phoenix (#10)

Last year, the name Phoenix was given to 2,454 babies. Of these babies, 1,032 (42.05%) were girls and 1,422 (57.95%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Phoenix placed 308th for girls and 248th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Phoenix in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Phoenix

Phoenix, the word that refers the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes, was derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “crimson” or “purple.”

Oakley (#11)

Last year, the name Oakley was given to 2,292 babies. Of these babies, 1,524 (66.49%) were girls and 768 (33.51%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Oakley placed 193rd for girls and 403rd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Oakley in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Oakley

Oakley is an English surname that originally referred to someone from one of several different like-named locations. In all cases, the place names were made up of elements meaning “oak” and “clearing.”

Dakota (#12)

Last year, the name Dakota was given to 2,090 babies. Of these babies, 1,147 (54.88%) were girls and 943 (45.12%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Dakota placed 270th for girls and 344th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Dakota in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Dakota

Dakota, the name of a Native American tribe, means “friendly” or “allied” in the Siouan language of the Dakota people.

Tatum (#13)

Last year, the name Tatum was given to 1,959 babies. Of these babies, 1,125 (57.43%) were girls and 834 (42.57%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Tatum placed 279th for girls and 385th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Tatum in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Tatum

Tatum is an English surname that originally referred to the homestead of someone named Tata.

Rory (#14)

Last year, the name Rory was given to 1,919 babies. Of these babies, 789 (41.12%) were girls and 1,130 (58.88%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Rory placed 396th for girls and 295th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Rory in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Rory

Rory is an Anglicized form of the Irish name Ruaidhri, which is made up of elements meaning “red” and “king.”

Ari (#15)

Last year, the name Ari was given to 1,598 babies. Of these babies, 649 (40.61%) were girls and 949 (59.39%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Ari placed 478th for girls and 342nd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Ari in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Ari

Ari has several potential definitions, including: “lion” in Hebrew, “brave” in Armenian, and “eagle” in Icelandic.

Alexis (#16)

Last year, the name Alexis was given to 1,569 babies. Of these babies, 940 (59.91%) were girls and 629 (40.09%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Alexis placed 341st for girls and 472nd for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Alexis in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Alexis

Alexis comes directly from the ancient Greek (male) name Alexis, which meant “helper” or “defender.”

Armani (#17)

Last year, the name Armani was given to 1,540 babies. Of these babies, 661 (42.92%) were girls and 879 (57.08%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Armani placed 469th for girls and 369th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Armani in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Armani

Armani is an Italian surname that originally referred to the child of someone named Armano. (It’s also an Italian fashion brand.)

Remy (#18)

Last year, the name Remy was given to 1,451 babies. Of these babies, 550 (37.90%) were girls and 901 (62.10%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Remy placed 550th for girls and 357th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Remy in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Remy

Remy, written Rémy in French, is based on the Latin name Remigius, which meant “oarsman.”

It’s interesting that both Remy and Remington are on this list. Remy is a stand-alone name…but it could also be used as a nickname for Remington.

Reign (#19)

Last year, the name Reign was given to 1,338 babies. Of these babies, 884 (66.07%) were girls and 454 (33.93%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Reign placed 349th for girls and 608th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Reign in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Reign

Reign is an English word that can be traced back to the Latin word regnum, meaning “royal power” or “kingdom.”

Milan (#20)

Last year, the name Milan was given to 1,278 babies. Of these babies, 452 (35.37%) were girls and 826 (64.63%) were boys.

In terms of rankings, Milan placed 655th for girls and 388th for boys.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Milan in the U.S.
Usage of the baby name Milan

Milan is a Slavic name based on the element milu, meaning “dear, sweet.” (It’s also a city in northern Italy.)

More gender-neutral baby names

What other gender-neutral names made the cut?

Here are the names that were used a bit less often than the twenty above…

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Shiloh1,24561.69%38.31%
Legacy1,08666.30%33.70%
Salem97062.99%37.01%
Briar95562.20%37.80%
Denver94138.68%61.32%
Skyler93058.92%41.08%
Drew91337.13%62.87%
Jamie84748.41%51.59%
Bellamy81245.44%54.56%
Justice81246.92%53.08%
Azariah79447.23%52.77%
Layne76143.63%56.37%
Chandler75839.97%60.03%
Ocean67345.77%54.23%
*Male and female usage added together

All of the above ranked among both the top 1,000 girl names and the top 1,000 boy names last year. Two of the below (Robin and Landry) did as well.

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Quincy65333.38%66.62%
Murphy61065.25%34.75%
Tru60836.02%63.98%
Kingsley59437.71%62.29%
Robin54653.11%46.89%
Amiri50234.46%65.54%
Landry48955.01%44.99%
Ira46535.91%64.09%
Kacey42548.94%51.06%
Joey42441.75%58.25%
Campbell41450.72%49.28%
True40553.09%46.91%
Everest38534.55%65.45%
Arden38558.70%41.30%
Harlem37937.20%62.80%
Shea37963.85%36.15%
Sol37563.47%36.53%
Bowie37036.76%63.24%
*Male and female usage added together

Most of the above appeared in at least one top-1,000 list last year. The exceptions were Kacey, Campbell, True, Arden, Shea, and Sol.

None of the names from this point onward reached the top 1,000 for either gender.

Number of babies*Percent girlsPercent boys
Hollis36245.03%54.97%
Yael34839.37%60.63%
Joan34045.59%54.41%
Laken31556.19%43.81%
Gentry30245.36%54.64%
Lux29636.15%63.85%
Sidney29355.29%44.71%
Kasey28456.34%43.66%
Kadence28066.43%33.57%
Ever27840.65%59.35%
Camdyn27036.67%63.33%
Jael27048.15%51.85%
Dominique26033.46%66.54%
Montana26057.69%42.31%
Kodi25856.20%43.80%
Ramsey25447.24%52.76%
Perry25342.69%57.31%
Storm24557.14%42.86%
Ashtyn24360.91%39.09%
Honor24047.92%52.08%
Kit23344.64%55.36%
Brighton23246.98%53.02%
Isa22733.48%66.52%
Armoni21050.00%50.00%
Merritt20860.58%39.42%
Jupiter20662.62%37.38%
Arrow20338.42%61.58%
Laine20363.55%36.45%
Jules20143.78%56.22%
*Male and female usage added together

Here are the gender-neutral baby names that saw overall usage ranging from 100 to 199 babies (in descending order):

Yuri, Arie, Ridley, Kobi, Jean, Channing, Linden, Shannon, Indiana, Marlo, Taylin, Divine, Cypress, Iman, Daylin, Aris, Wynn, Jelani, Halston, Rumi, Camari, Jackie, Austen, Azari, Issa, Lake, Huntley, Amen, Loren, Eastyn, Sora, Everette, Timber, Kaylen, Johnnie, Nikita, Ryver, Lexington, Reilly, Hudsyn, Charleston, Aven, Akari, Koi, Dru, Lou, Kylar, Payson, Finlee, Cove, Halen, Bryar, Royale, Tracy, Eliyah, Larkin, Amarii, Mecca, Britton, Emari, Nazareth, Kamani, Valentine, Ellington, Tenzin, Ryley, Kaidence, and Kirby.

And, finally, here are the gender-neutral names that saw overall usage ranging from 50 to 99 babies (in descending order):

Soul, Gracen, Daelyn, Wisdom, Conley, Arley, Evren, Rogue, Rhythm, Peace, Mykah, Blue, Masyn, Lowen, Golden, Callaway, Phoenyx, Blu, Lael, Rainn, Tommie, Bleu, Jadyn, Alexi, Bennie, Lennix, Choyce, Amaree, Atley, Rei, Crimson, Tristyn, Maeson, Declyn, Honest, Ilya, Amory, Rawlings, Jianni, Jensyn, Teigen, Lynden, Weslee, Maze, Graycen, Zaelyn, Paxtyn, Tennessee, Davey, Marvel, Joud, Rhylan, Deniz, Azure, Davy, Desi, Rhen, Breeze, Arlie, Harlo, Roux, Riven, Lakota, Airam, Denym, Jae, Tayler, Bostyn, Adair, Ciel, Namari, Kodie, Quinlan, Salah, Drue, Kamoni, Kayan, Jordin, Carrington, and Sakari.


Most of the names above don’t have a long history of usage in the U.S., so they aren’t anchored one gender or the other — making them good options for expectant parents who want names that work for both genders.

Note that many fall into a handful of categories, including: nature names, place names, surnames, color names, and virtue names. It may be worthwhile to focus on categories like these as you continue your search, as they’ll tend to naturally contain a good proportion of gender-neutral names.

If you’d like to see popularity graphs for any of the names in this post, check below for the long list of tags. Each tag is a name, so just find the name you’re interested in and click through. The graph will need a moment to load — it’s grabbing a lot of data — but it will allow you to see at a glance the name’s current gender-balance (and make an informed guess about its near-future gender-balance, given the current trajectories).

Sources:

Top image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Top first letters of baby names in the U.S., 2021

Which first letters were the most and least popular for U.S. baby names in 2021?

Top first letters for girl names: A, E, M

For baby girls, the most-used first letter was A, followed by E and M. The least-used first letter was U.

Graph of first letter popularity for U.S. baby girl names, 2021

The most popular girl names per letter were…

  • A-names (over 273,100 baby girls): Amelia, Ava, Abigail, Avery, Aria, Aurora
  • B-names (over 49,300): Brooklyn, Bella, Brielle, Blakely, Bailey, Brianna
  • C-names (over 93,100): Charlotte, Camila, Chloe, Claire, Caroline, Cora
  • D-names (over 40,300): Delilah, Daisy, Diana, Daniela, Delaney, Dakota
  • E-names (over 155,300): Emma, Evelyn, Elizabeth, Eleanor, Ella, Emily
  • F-names (over 16,500): Freya, Faith, Finley, Fiona, Fatima, Frances
  • G-names (over 42,900): Gianna, Grace, Genesis, Gabriella, Genevieve, Georgia
  • H-names (over 54,900): Harper, Hazel, Hannah, Hailey, Hadley, Harmony
  • I-names (over 44,100): Isabella, Isla, Ivy, Iris, Isabelle, Isabel
  • J-names (over 73,500): Josephine, Jade, Julia, Josie, Juniper, Jasmine
  • K-names (over 89,100): Kinsley, Kennedy, Kaylee, Kehlani, Katherine, Kylie
  • L-names (over 115,300): Luna, Layla, Lily, Leah, Lucy, Lillian
  • M-names (over 143,500): Mia, Mila, Madison, Maya, Madelyn, Madeline
  • N-names (over 58,800): Nora, Nova, Naomi, Natalie, Natalia, Nevaeh
  • O-names (over 30,200): Olivia, Olive, Oakley, Oaklynn, Octavia, Ophelia
  • P-names (over 37,600): Penelope, Paisley, Piper, Peyton, Parker, Presley
  • Q-names (over 4,100): Quinn, Quincy, Queen, Quinley, Quetzalli, Quinnley
  • R-names (over 74,800): Riley, Ruby, Rylee, Raelynn, Rose, Remi
  • S-names (over 116,400): Sophia, Sofia, Scarlett, Stella, Savannah, Skylar
  • T-names (over 24,200): Taylor, Teagan, Trinity, Tatum, Tessa, Talia
  • U-names (over 600): Unique, Uma, Ulani, Una, Unknown, Unity
  • V-names (over 32,400): Violet, Victoria, Valentina, Vivian, Valerie, Valeria
  • W-names (over 14,700): Willow, Wren, Winter, Wynter, Willa, Wrenley
  • X-names (over 4,500): Ximena, Xiomara, Xyla, Xena, Xochitl, Xitlali
  • Y-names (over 7,600): Yaretzi, Yara, Yareli, Yasmin, Yamileth, Yuna
  • Z-names (over 29,100): Zoey, Zoe, Zuri, Zara, Zariah, Zelda

Top first letters for boy names: J, A, L

For baby boys, the most-used first letter was J, followed by A and L. The least-used first letter was U.

Graph of first letter popularity for U.S. baby boy names, 2021

The most popular boy names per letter were…

  • A-names (over 178,600 baby boys): Alexander, Asher, Aiden, Anthony, Andrew, Adrian
  • B-names (over 86,600): Benjamin, Brooks, Bennett, Beau, Bryson, Brayden
  • C-names (over 123,000): Carter, Charles, Caleb, Christopher, Cameron, Cooper
  • D-names (over 85,000): Daniel, David, Dylan, Dominic, Declan, Damian
  • E-names (over 108,700): Elijah, Ethan, Ezra, Elias, Ezekiel, Eli
  • F-names (over 20,500): Finn, Felix, Finley, Francisco, Fernando, Finnegan
  • G-names (over 53,500): Grayson, Gabriel, Greyson, Gael, Giovanni, George
  • H-names (over 50,000): Henry, Hudson, Hunter, Harrison, Hayden, Hayes
  • I-names (over 31,500): Isaac, Isaiah, Ian, Ivan, Israel, Ismael
  • J-names (over 202,800): James, Jack, Jackson, Jacob, John, Joseph
  • K-names (over 93,400): Kai, Kayden, Kingston, Kaiden, Kevin, King
  • L-names (over 133,400): Liam, Lucas, Levi, Logan, Leo, Luke
  • M-names (over 126,700): Mateo, Michael, Mason, Matthew, Maverick, Miles
  • N-names (over 57,400): Noah, Nathan, Nolan, Nicholas, Nathaniel, Nicolas
  • O-names (over 38,800): Oliver, Owen, Oscar, Omar, Orion, Odin
  • P-names (over 23,700): Parker, Patrick, Peter, Preston, Phoenix, Paxton
  • Q-names (over 3,100): Quinn, Quentin, Quincy, Quinton, Quintin, Quinten
  • R-names (over 82,800): Ryan, Roman, Robert, Rowan, River, Ryder
  • S-names (over 70,300): Sebastian, Samuel, Santiago, Silas, Sawyer, Steven
  • T-names (over 59,200): Theodore, Thomas, Thiago, Theo, Tyler, Tucker
  • U-names (over 2,500): Uriel, Uriah, Ulises, Ulysses, Uziel, Umar
  • V-names (over 11,000): Vincent, Victor, Valentino, Vincenzo, Vicente, Vihaan
  • W-names (over 49,100): William, Wyatt, Waylon, Wesley, Weston, Walker
  • X-names (over 7,200): Xavier, Xander, Xzavier, Xavion, Xavien, Xavian
  • Y-names (over 8,200): Yusuf, Yosef, Yehuda, Yousef, Yahir, Yisroel
  • Z-names (over 26,900): Zion, Zachary, Zayden, Zane, Zayn, Zander

Boy names on the rise in the U.S. in 2021

Which boy names increased in usage the most from 2020 to 2021?

Here’s a table of the fastest-rising boy names of 2021. On the left are the top 25 increases in terms of absolute numbers of babies, and on the right are the top 25 increases in terms of relative numbers of babies.

RankBoy nameAbsolute riseBoy nameRelative rise
1Luca2,031Calian914%
2Waylon1,049Treu440%
3Walker989Aliyar320%
4Theodore916Nain320%
5Luka863Zealand282%
6Kai755Lorik280%
7Hudson750Nahel280%
8Ezekiel741Nuchem280%
9August710Arlis267%
10River652Kiko267%
11Asher613Dayvon264%
12Jack588Shloma257%
13Brooks564Erling240%
14Ezra562Rev240%
15Leo547Skylen240%
16Henry542Worth240%
17Ace522Kove237%
18Wesley501Kj233%
19Enzo501Alvey229%
20Liam495Ioane222%
21Atlas474Alban220%
22Theo467Jontae220%
23Beau460Onyxx220%
24Maverick434Slayter220%
25Levi411Vyan220%

Luca (and Luka) may have been given a boost by the 2021 Pixar film Luca. And it looks like Calian is a character on a TV series called Don’t Look Deeper.

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

Name quotes #96: Walker, Huascar, Keith

double quotation mark

Time for another batch of name quotes!

From the NPS booklet Bears of Brooks River 2018 (PDF):

Bears at Brooks River are assigned numbers for monitoring, management, and identification purposes. Inevitably, some bears acquire nicknames from staff and these nicknames are included in this book, but naming wild animals is not without controversy. Is it appropriate to name wild animals?

[…]

Names also carry meaning, intentionally or not. What stigmas would you attach to a young bear nicknamed Fluffy versus a large male bear named Killer? How would those stigmas alter your experience when watching that animal?

[The booklet also included the nicknames of various Katmai bears, including “Walker” (whose “large dark eye rings” were reminiscent of zombie eyes) and “Evander” (who was missing part of an ear, much like Evander Holyfield after his 1997 fight with Mike Tyson).]

Bear 151, aka “Walker,” in 2016 (NPS)

From the 2011 book Children in the Roman Empire by Christian Laes:

A first important moment in the lives of newborns was the day of naming, or dies lustricus, when the family celebrated not only the purification and naming of the young child, but also his or her entry into social life. […] On this day of naming, the ninth day after birth for boys and the eighth day for girls, the baby underwent purification rites and was ‘born socially’ as it were. Only after the naming was the child recognised by the state. […] Prior to the dies lustricus, an infant was considered to be ‘more like a plant than an animal’.

From the 1812 book A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels (Vol. 4), edited by Robert Kerr:

When the eldest son of Huana Capac was born, he ordered a prodigious chain or cable of gold to be made, so large and heavy that two hundred men were hardly able to lift it. In remembrance of this circumstance, the infant was named Huascar, which signifies a cable or large rope, as the Peruvians have no word in their language signifying a chain. To this name of Huascar was added the surname Inca, belonging to all their kings, just as Augustus was given to all the Roman emperors.

[The name Huascar was a one-hit wonder in the SSA data in 1997, incidentally.]

From the Scary Mommy essay “I Regret My Kids’ Religious Names” by Alicia Mosby:

So I’m not blanket-condemning religious names. It’s about a problem we have with the religion: we left it. At the time we named our sons, we believed they needed to have religious names, and we named them accordingly. Now I don’t believe it, and I wish I had takebacks. You can’t say “well, you should have thought of that before,” because no one thinks they’re going to leave their religion, especially that one [Catholicism]. It’s not a contingency you plan for. In fact, when we did leave it, we were stunned and lost for a very long time.

[…]

Right now, I’m regretting the hold this religion exercised on my children’s names. No more and no less. It told me to give my kids religious names. So I gave them all very, very religious names.

From a People interview with Mindy Kaling (whose two children are named Katherine Swati and Spencer Avu):

“I don’t trust my own judgment with those kinds of names,” she admits. “If I name my son River, that connotes a certain kind of person who is very go with the flow, artsy. But what if he’s not like that at all? Will he be furious with me?”

“I just tried to pick classic names that felt like they would have to work really hard to get mad at me about later,” Kaling says, with a laugh.

From a Daily Mail article about nominative determinism:

And now, a man called Keith Weed has been appointed president of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Of course he has. Especially when you hear that his father’s name was Weed and his mother’s name was Hedges.

‘If a Weed gets together with a Hedges, I think they’re going to give birth to the president of the RHS,’ said Mr Weed, 59, who lives near RHS Wisley in Surrey.

Pop culture baby name game results, 2020

Which of the names in the 2020 pop culture baby name game saw higher usage last year?

The following names increased in usage from 2019 to 2020. They’re ordered by relative size of increase.

NameActionIncrease’19 to ’20 usageSugg. by
Dalettdebuted2,250%, at least? to 94 baby girlsalex
Ehlaniincreased2,100%5 to 110 baby girlsalex
Alessiincreased418%11 to 57 baby girlsLeah
Gianninaincreased400%5 to 25 baby girlsalex
Breonnaincreased211%9 to 28 baby girls
Kobeincreased199%502 to 1,500 baby boys
Aalamre-emerged175%, at least? to 11 baby boys
Raddixdebuted150%, at least? to 10 baby boys
Azulaincreased142%26 to 63 baby girls
Avaniincreased133%101 to 235 baby girlsalex
Giannaincreased129%3,412 to 7,826 baby girls
Ahmaudincreased100%12 to 24 baby boys
Catoriincreased85%13 to 24 baby girlsalex
Doveincreased70%30 to 51 baby girlsKM & Leah
Rueincreased68%41 to 69 baby girls
Zaiaincreased60%35 to 56 baby girlsalex
Mykaincreased57%53 to 83 baby girlsalex
Kataraincreased54%41 to 63 baby girls
Chadwickincreased50%20 to 30
Rellre-emerged50%, at least? to 6 baby girlsLeah
Zukoincreased47%15 to 22 baby boys
Bryantincreased46%271 to 395 baby boys
Tenilleincreased40%5 to 7 baby girlsEmily A
Nayaincreased39%256 to 356 baby girlsalex
Kamalaincreased38%13 to 18 baby girls
Onyxincreased38%321 to 442 baby boys
Steelincreased31%35 to 46 baby boysalex
Joseyincreased31%16 to 21 baby boysalex
Duaincreased29%72 to 93 baby girls
Radleyincreased28%53 to 68 baby boysalex
Charliincreased24%594 to 735 baby girls
Lyraincreased24%431 to 534 baby girls
Kamiyahincreased23%333 to 409 baby girls
Sovereignincreased23%13 to 16 baby girlsalex
Shaiincreased22%98 to 120 baby boysLeah
Yaraincreased21%362 to 439 baby girls
Dorotheaincreased21%47 to 57 baby girlsRandi & KM
Bettyincreased20%161 to 194 baby girlsRandi
Riverincreased17%2,361 to 2,771 baby boys
Estyincreased16%58 to 67 baby girls
Sakaiincreased14%21 to 24 baby boysalex
Creedincreased12%257 to 288 baby boysalex & Leah
Lovellaincreased11%18 to 20 baby girls
Huxleyincreased10%469 to 518 baby boysalex
Daisyincreased9%1,729 to 1,877 baby girls
Isaiasincreased8%580 to 625 baby boys
Adonisincreased8%1,539 to 1,663 baby boysalex
Amalaincreased5%20 to 21 baby girls
Ivyincreased3%3,675 to 3,794 baby girlsRandi
Zealandincreased3%30 to 31 baby boysalex
Milanincreased3%
13%
662 to 683 baby boys
397 to 449 baby girls
alex
Marjorieincreased2%203 to 208 baby girlsRandi
Augustincreased1%2,376 to 2,403 baby boysEmily A

The following names did not increase in usage from 2019 to 2020. These names saw equal usage, less usage, or weren’t in the data at all.

Ammika, Anaia, Casme, Corona, Crozier, Desz, Divinity, Doja, Domhnall, Estee, George, Gervonta, Giveon, Greta, Hamilton, Ice, Jack, James, Kaori, King, Kraken, Larriah, Laura, Lenin, Liberty, Lynika, McGivney, Nakova, Neowise, Raditz, Rayshard, Robinette, Rona, Rumble, Ruth, Saphir, Slash, Tacoda, Tchalla, Theodosia, Tianwen, Wednesday, Wenliang, Willa, Willow, Win, Zaya

And here are the late bloomers — names that were part of the 2019 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2020.

  • Donna increased by 20%.
  • Nipsey debuted with 7 baby boys.
  • Luce returned to the data with 7 baby girls.
  • Maleficent returned to the data with 5 baby girls.
  • Miren returned to the data with 5 baby girls.

Finally, regarding our theories about how Covid might have affected 2020’s names…I didn’t notice anything definitive. For instance, both Gheba and Skizzo mentioned “prestige” names (e.g., King, Legend, Major, Messiah and Royal). What I found was that some went up, some went down. Same with the modern virtue names (e.g., Courage, Honor, Brave, Bravery, Freedom).

What are your thoughts on these results? Which name surprised you the most?

[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In all cases, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]