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:
Jazaiyah, 46 baby girls
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).
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:
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!
Chinese New Year is coming up! We will soon be transitioning out of the Year of the Tiger and into the Year of the Rabbit.
And, while I don’t have anything to say about tigers or rabbits, I do I have something to say about dragons.
I wrote about Dragon year baby names (like Long and Ryu) a few years ago. Since then, though, I’ve discovered a whole new set of dragon-names that I missed the first time around — probably because I was too focused on data from the second half of the 20th century.
These new-to-me names all feature the element tatsu, which, like ryu, is a Japanese word for “dragon.” Interestingly, both of these words are represented by the same kanji:
Ryu is the on’yomi (Sino-Japanese) reading of the ideogram, while tatsu is the kun’yomi (native Japanese) reading.
Turns out that, during the Dragon years of the early 20th century, names with the element tatsu saw higher-than-expected usage in places with large numbers of Japanese-Americans, particularly the territory of Hawaii:
Population of Hawaii
Japanese population of Hawaii
So, what names are we talking about?
The tatsu-name that emerged first in the U.S. baby name data — and the one that was the most popular overall — was the male name Tatsuo, which saw discernible spikes in usage during the Dragon years of 1916, 1928, and 1940:
Here’s the data on Tatsuo for those specific years:
Many of the babies named Tatsuko (which was one of the top debut names of 1916) and Tatsumi were born in Hawaii. This is probably true for Tatsue and Tatsuro as well, but their usage was too low to register in the SSA’s state-by-state data.
Tatsuro was a one-hit wonder, but the other three were back in the data in 1928:
Other tatsu-names were also being bestowed during these years. In the Social Security Death Index, for instance, I found dozens of people — many born in either 1916 or 1928 — with names like Tatsuharu, Tatsuhiko, Tatsuichi, Tatsuji, Tatsukichi, Tatsunobu, Tatsunori, Tatsushi, Tatsuwo, and Tatsuyuki.
For the next three Dragon years (1952, 1964, and 1976), tatsu-names were absent from the data.
Mid-century anti-Japanese sentiment following the late 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor may have had something to do with this. It’s likely that, during this period, many Japanese-Americans did not give their babies conspicuously Japanese first names — reasoning that this would help their children assimilate and/or reduce the risk of discrimination.
Tatsuya, Tatsu, Tatsuki
Starting in the late 1980s, we see three new tatsu-names emerge in the U.S. baby name data. Each one debuted during a Dragon year:
My husband and I visited Las Vegas recently, and the casinos were all decked out for Chinese New Year (which falls on February 12th this year). Decorations included lanterns, firecrackers, Chinese coins, red envelopes, oranges*, and dragons — so many dragons that I initially thought we must be coming up on the Year of the Dragon.
Turns out I was wrong — it’ll be the Year of the Ox — but I didn’t realize this until my husband consulted the internet. Which I’m glad he did, because he ended up spotting this intriguing paragraph:
There are typically marked spikes in the birth rates of countries that use the Chinese zodiac or places with substantial Overseas Chinese populations during the year of the Dragon, because such “Dragon babies” are considered to be lucky and have desirable characteristics that supposedly lead to better life outcomes. The relatively recent phenomenon of planning a child’s birth in the Dragon year has led to hospital overcapacity issues and even an uptick in infant mortality rates toward the end of these years due to strained neonatal resources.
So, if Dragon years are influencing babies, could they also be influencing baby names…?
To answer this question, we need to know two things: which years are Dragon years, and which baby names are likely to be more popular during Dragon years.
Recent Dragon years have coincided (for the most part) with the following calendar years:
(The start date varies, but always falls between January 21 and February 20, on the day of the new moon.)
As for names, the most obvious choice to me was, of course, the English word Dragon. But that’s because I don’t speak any Asian languages (beyond a few words of Cambodian, thanks to my husband’s family).
So I looked up the Chinese word for “dragon.” The correct transliteration is lóng — the ó has a rising tone — but the word is more likely to be rendered “long” or “lung” in Latin script.
Here’s what I found for Dragon, Long and Lung in the U.S. baby name data…
The baby name Dragon debuted in 1988 (a Dragon year), saw a spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), and an even larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).
In 1988, 8 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
5 [63%] were born in California.
In 2000, 22 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
6 [27%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
In 2012, 24 U.S. baby boys were named Dragon.
5 [21%] were born in California.
I think the state data is notable here because California has a significant Asian American population.
Long & Lung
The baby name Long debuted in 1975, likely because of Vietnamese immigration, and saw a general increase in usage during the late ’70s and early ’80s. It saw an initial spike in 1976 (a Dragon year), which was followed by three more distinct spikes in 1988, 2000, and 2012 (the three most recent Dragon years).
In 1976, 47 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
13 [28%] were born in California, 5 in Texas.
In 1988, 133 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
Long ranked 822nd nationally.
53 [40%] were born in California, 20 in Texas, 5 in Oklahoma, 5 in Massachusetts.
In 2000, 101 U.S. baby boys were named Long.
30 [30%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 8 in Virginia, 7 in Washington, 6 in Massachusetts, 6 in Pennsylvania.
19 [23%] were born in California, 11 in Texas, 5 in Oregon.
The baby name Lung — a homograph of the English word for the internal organ, unfortunately — was a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 1988.
While looking at the data for Long, I spotted the name Thienlong — a one-hit wonder in the Dragon year 2012. The Vietnamese name Thienlong, or “thiên long,” means something along the lines of “sky dragon” or “heavenly dragon.”
Seeing the crossover into Vietnamese names, I tried looking for other Asian words for “dragon” in the U.S. baby name data.
I didn’t have much luck until I tried one of the Japanese words for “dragon,” ryu (which should have a macron above the u, marking it as long). The word is typically rendered “ryu,” “ryo,” or “ryuu” in Latin script. (It can also have meanings other than “dragon” — just depends upon the kanji.)
Here’s what I found…
Ryu, Ryuu, Ryo
The baby name Ryu debuted in 1985, dropped out of the data, and returned in 1988 (a Dragon year). It saw a small spike in usage in 2000 (the next Dragon year), then a larger spike in 2012 (the most recent Dragon year).
In 1988, 7 baby boys were named Ryu.
In 2000, 35 baby boys were named Ryu.
12 [34%] were born in California.
In 2012, 129 baby boys were named Ryu.
34 [26%] were born in California, 14 in Texas, 9 in New York.
The baby names Ryuu and Ryo both saw peak usage in the Dragon year 2012.
Ryunosuke, Ryuki, Ryujin, etc.
While looking at the data for Ryu, I found several Ryu-based names with usage patterns that seem to correlate to Dragon years:
And here’s an interesting fact: Japan’s most famous short story writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “was named Ryunosuke, “dragon-son,” because he was born in the hour of the dragon, in the month of the dragon, in the year of the dragon.” (His birth-date was March 1, 1892.)
And, finally, one more…
After looking up “dragon” in many different languages, I decided to check the Latin version, Draco — yes, as in Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy — just in case.
The name did see usage increases in the Dragon years 2000 and 2012, but these increases don’t seem impressive next to the steep rise of the last couple of years (which could be due to the 2017 song “Draco” by Future…?).
The next Year of the Dragon will start in early 2024. Do you think dragon-related names will get another boost that year? If so, which ones?
And, do you know of any other dragon-related names that we should be keeping an eye on?
*Why oranges? Because the Cantonese word for mandarin orange, kam, sounds a lot like the Cantonese word for gold. (Another interesting fact: the word kumquat comes from the Cantonese words kam, “gold” or “golden,” and kwat, “orange.”)
Below are hundreds of baby names with a numerological value of 1.
What do I mean by that?
Well, in numerology, you substitute each letter in a word with that letter’s ordinal value in the alphabet. (The letter B has a value of 2, for instance, because it’s the second letter.) Then you add those ordinal values together to come up with a total. Lastly, you add the digits of that total together to obtain a numerological value.
Here’s an example: The letters in the name Ebba have the values 5, 2, 2, and 1. Added together, these values equal 10. And the digits of 10 added together equal 1.
All of the “1” names below are sub-categorized by totals — just in case any of those larger numbers are significant to anyone. Within each group you’ll find some of the most popular “1” names per gender (according to the most recent set of U.S. baby name rankings).
1 via 10
The letters in the following baby names add up to 10, which reduces to one (1+0=1).
Girl names (1 via 10)
Boy name (1 via 10)
Eda, Dea, Ebba, Adda, Ade
1 via 19
The letters in the following baby names add up to 19, which reduces to one (1+9=10; 1+0=1).
Girl names (1 via 19)
Boy names (1 via 19)
Mae, Ema, Abbie, Alea, Aela
Adam, Jace, Dan, Jed, Jah
1 via 28
The letters in the following baby names add up to 28, which reduces to one (2+8=10; 1+0=1).