Where did the baby name Gotham come from in 2015?

Title of the TV series "Gotham" (2014-2019)
“Gotham”

The name Gotham first emerged in the U.S. baby name data in 2015:

  • 2017: 37 baby boys named Gotham
  • 2016: 50 baby boys named Gotham
  • 2015: 46 baby boys named Gotham [debut]
  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted

It was the most impressive boy-name debut of the year, in fact.

Where did it come from?

The Batman-based TV series Gotham (2014-2019), which was set during Bruce Wayne’s teenage years.

The main protagonist wasn’t Bruce Wayne, though — it was Gotham City police detective (and future commissioner) James Gordon. In the very first episode, Jim met 12-year-old Bruce soon after Bruce’s parents had been murdered.

So…why is Batman set in a place called Gotham City?

“Gotham City” was first identified as Batman’s place of residence in the comic book Batman #4 (Winter 1940), which was actually published in January of 1941. Here’s how Batman co-creator Bill Finger chose the name:

Originally I was going to call Gotham City, Civic City. Then I tried Capital City, then Coast City. Then, I flipped through the phone book and spotted the name Gotham Jewelers and said, ‘that’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it. Of course, Gotham is another name for New York.

Why is Gotham another name for New York City?

It’s a tradition that was kicked off by writer Washington Irving, who referred to the city as Gotham in an 1807 issue of Salmagundi — a short-lived satirical magazine that lampooned NYC culture and politics.

He choose that name because of the medieval folktales about the English village of Gotham, the residents of which had a reputation for idiocy. (According to the tales, though, they were simply feigning madness in order to thwart King John.)

The name of the village (which is located in Nottinghamshire) is pronounced GOAT-um, and is derived from the Old English words gat, meaning “goat,” and ham, meaning “home.”

Getting back to the TV show, though…

The character Azrael from the TV series "Gotham" (2014-2019)
Azrael from “Gotham

Toward the end of season 2, corrupt mayor Theo Galavan — who’d been killed mid-season by Jim Gordon — was resurrected as “Azrael” by mad scientist Hugo Strange.

Azrael was only featured in two mid-2016 episodes of Gotham, but he is likely the reason why the rising usage of the baby name Azrael accelerated that particular year:

  • 2018: 150 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2017: 132 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2016: 113 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2015: 64 baby boys named Azrael
  • 2014: 56 baby boys named Azrael

Azrael, the name of the angel of death in both Islamic and Judeo-Christian tradition, is derived from the ancient Hebrew words ‘azar, meaning “to help,” and ‘el, meaning “God.”

Which name do you think is cooler: Gotham or Azrael?

Sources:

P.S. Ever wonder how Bruce Wayne was named? Here’s Bill Finger’s explanation: “Bruce Wayne’s first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock…then, I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne.”

What gave the baby name Angie a boost in 1974?

The song "Angie" (1973) by the Rolling Stones
“Angie” by The Rolling Stones

After peaking in the mid-1960s, usage of the baby name Angie began to decline. But this decline was interrupted when, in 1974, usage suddenly shot up again, and the name reached a new peak in 1975:

  • 1977: 1,390 baby girls named Angie [rank: 191st]
  • 1976: 1,709 baby girls named Angie [rank: 153rd]
  • 1975: 1,947 baby girls named Angie [rank: 140th] – peak usage
  • 1974: 1,590 baby girls named Angie [rank: 170th]
  • 1973: 986 baby girls named Angie [rank: 255th]
  • 1972: 1,016 baby girls named Angie [rank: 260th]
  • 1971: 1,263 baby girls named Angie [rank: 236th]

Here’s a visual:

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

What caused the revival?

The Rolling Stones song “Angie,” which was released in August of 1973. The acoustic ballad reached #1 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart two months later. In fact, it reached #1 in many different countries, making it a worldwide hit.

In his 2010 memoir Life, guitarist Keith Richards described how he wrote the song while he was staying at a drug clinic in Switzerland. Specifically, he wrote it around the time his girlfriend, model Anita Pallenberg, “was down the road having our daughter, Angela” (born in April of 1972).

Interestingly, though, the song was not named with the newborn in mind — the choice of name was pure coincidence:

Once I came out of the usual trauma, I had a guitar with me and I wrote “Angie” in an afternoon, sitting in bed, because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place again […]. I just went, “Angie, Angie.” It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like, “ohhh, Diana.” I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote “Angie.” In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out. In fact, Anita named her Dandelion. She was only given the added name Angela because she was born in a Catholic hospital where they insisted that a “proper” name be added.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Angie? Would you use it as a legal name, or would you prefer it as a nickname (for Angela, Angelica, Angelina, etc.)?

P.S. As soon as Dandelion Angela Richards “grew up a little bit,” she decided to go by her middle name, Angela, instead of her first name.

Sources:

How did “Money Heist” influence baby names?

The character Nairobi from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
Nairobi from “Money Heist”

Eight thieves — six men and two women — all dressed in red jumpsuits, all donning Salvador Dalí masks — break into the Royal Mint of Spain (in Madrid) with the aim of printing 2.4 billion in Euros over 11 days, then making a clean getaway.

That’s what happens at the start of the Spanish-language crime drama series Money Heist, which became a worldwide hit in 2018, thanks to Netflix.

Upon the success of the first two seasons of the show (which had originally aired on Spanish TV in 2017), Netflix renewed Money Heist — producing and releasing three more seasons over the next three years.

Impressively, Money Heist: Part 3, Money Heist: Part 4, and Money Heist: Part 5 currently rank 5th, 3rd, and 2nd (respectively) on Netflix’s list of most popular non-English TV series of all time.

So…what does this have to do with U.S. baby names?

Characters from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
The eight robbers of “Money Heist”

Well, to maintain their anonymity, the eight thieves went by city-inspired code-names: Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Nairobi, Rio, Denver, Helsinki, and Oslo.

While Moscow and Helsinki have never appeared in the U.S. baby name data, the six other city names have — and each one saw higher usage after Money Heist premiered on Netflix.

Let’s start with the biggest boosts…


Nairobi

(female character, played by Alba Flores)

Female usage of the baby name Nairobi began accelerating in 2018. (That massive jump in 2020 corresponds to a tragic Part 4 plot-twist.) Right now, the name is sitting just outside the girls’ top 1,000.

  • 2021: 241 baby girls named Nairobi [rank: 1,044th]
  • 2020: 215 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2019: 65 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2018: 37 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2017: 23 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2016: 21 baby girls named Nairobi
Graph of the usage of the baby name Nairobi in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Nairobi

Rio

(male character, played by Miguel Herrán)

Male usage of the baby name Rio has risen significantly since 2018:

  • 2021: 396 baby boys named Rio [rank: 672nd]
  • 2020: 303 baby boys named Rio [rank: 776th]
  • 2019: 193 baby boys named Rio
  • 2018: 171 baby boys named Rio
  • 2017: 132 baby boys named Rio
  • 2016: 134 baby boys named Rio
Graph of the usage of the baby name Rio in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Rio

Denver

(male character played by Jaime Lorente)

The baby name Denver, which was already on the rise for boys, began rising even faster in 2018:

  • 2021: 577 baby boys named Denver [rank: 505th]
  • 2020: 540 baby boys named Denver [rank: 526th]
  • 2019: 422 baby boys named Denver [rank: 638th]
  • 2018: 370 baby boys named Denver [rank: 674th]
  • 2017: 273 baby boys named Denver [rank: 821st]
  • 2016: 268 baby boys named Denver [rank: 840th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Denver in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Denver

Oslo

(male character, played by Roberto García Ruiz)

Male usage of the baby name Oslo has been rising steadily since 2018:

  • 2021: 49 baby boys named Olso
  • 2020: 38 baby boys named Olso
  • 2019: 29 baby boys named Olso
  • 2018: 22 baby boys named Olso
  • 2017: 14 baby boys named Olso
  • 2016: 12 baby boys named Olso
Graph of the usage of the baby name Oslo in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Oslo

Tokyo

(female character, played by Úrsula Corberó)

The baby name Tokyo, which had appeared in the data as a boy name a couple of times, finally debuted as a girl name in 2019:

  • 2021: 10 baby girls named Tokyo
  • 2020: 15 baby girls named Tokyo [peak usage]
  • 2019: 7 baby girls named Tokyo [gender-specific debut]
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: unlisted
  • 2016: unlisted

Berlin

(male character, played by Pedro Alonso)

Male usage of the baby name Berlin increased slightly in 2019 and 2020:

  • 2021: 26 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2020: 29 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2019: 17 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2018: 11 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2017: 9 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2016: 5 baby boys named Berlin

Which of the above names to you like best? What other city names do you think work well as human names?

Sources:

P.S. Why were city names used as code-names on Money Heist? Álex Pina, the show’s creator, explained during an interview in 2018 that he’d been trying to come up with a theme for the code-names when, “one day, someone turned up with a T-shirt bearing the word Tokyo and that’s how it all began.”

Where did the baby name Tamarick come from in 1993?

Football player Tamarick Vanover
Tamarick Vanover

The name Tamarick debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1993:

  • 1996 13 baby boys named Tamarick
  • 1995 9 baby boys named Tamarick
  • 1994 8 baby boys named Tamarick
  • 1993 19 baby boys named Tamarick [debut]
    • 9 born in in Florida
  • 1992: unlisted
  • 1991: unlisted

What put it there?

Wide receiver Tamarick (pronounced tah-MAHR-ik) Vanover, who spent most of his years in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs (1995-1999).

But the name debuted several years before his professional career began. And many of those babies were born in Florida specifically. Why?

Because of Tamarick’s successful (if short) college career. He was a key member of Florida State’s football team in 1993 — the year the Seminoles won their first national championship.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tamarick? (Not to be confused with the name Tamarisk from earlier this week!)

Sources: Tamarick Vanover – Wikipedia, SSA

Where did the baby name Tamarisk come from in 1979?

The book "Tamarisk" (1978)
The book “Tamarisk

The curious name Tamarisk first popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 1979. It stuck around for one more year, then disappeared again:

  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: 5 baby girls named Tamarisk
  • 1979: 9 baby girls named Tamarisk [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A romance novel.

The historical romance Tamarisk (1978) was written by British novelist Claire Lorrimer (pen name of Patricia Robins). It was set in Georgian-era England and the main character was a capricious teenager named Tamarisk Barre.

The book "Tamarisk" (1978)
The book “Tamarisk

Tamarisk was part of Robins’ “Women of Fire” trilogy, which included Mavreen (1976) and Chantal (1980).

I’m not sure how the character came to have the name “Tamarisk,” but the word refers to the flowering trees/shrubs of the Old World genus Tamarix. Tamarisk trees may have gotten their name from the river Támaris (today called the Tambre) in Spain.

What do you think of Tamarisk as a baby name? Would you use it?

Sources: SSA, Tamarix – Wikipedia, Patricia Robins – Wikipedia