What gave the baby name Chelsi a boost in 1995?

Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995
Chelsi Smith (at Miss Universe)

The name Chelsea and its many spelling variants (including Chelsey, Chelsie, and Chelsy) saw peak usage in the early 1990s. They’ve been on the decline ever since.

But Chelsi-with-an-i saw a noticeable (if brief) turnaround in 1995:

  • 1998: 76 baby girls named Chelsi
  • 1997: 111 baby girls named Chelsi
  • 1996: 180 baby girls named Chelsi
  • 1995: 303 baby girls named Chelsi [rank: 697th]
  • 1994: 170 baby girls named Chelsi
  • 1993: 267 baby girls named Chelsi [rank: 773rd]
  • 1992: 324 baby girls named Chelsi [rank: 677th]


Because of beauty queen Chelsi Smith.

She won the Miss Texas USA pageant in mid-1994, then the Miss USA pageant in early 1995. (Notably, she was also voted Miss Congeniality by the other delegates in both contests.)

Finally, in May of 1995, Chelsi traveled to Windhoek, Namibia, to compete in the Miss Universe pageant (which was “broadcast to more than 600 million viewers worldwide”). She won this one as well, becoming the sixth U.S. woman to wear the Miss Universe crown.

Chelsi Smith, Miss USA 1995
Chelsi Smith (at Miss USA)

The Miss Universe pageant has never included a talent competition, but it did introduce a national costume competition in the early 1960s. The costumes are often ostentatious (“sequins, feathers, fringe and of course, gigantic headpieces”), but Chelsi opted for something more modest:

Smith chose a 75-year-old ankle-length, silk-trimmed cotton lace dress as her national costume to commemorate the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, passed in 1920.

What are your thoughts on the name Chelsi?


Images: Screenshots of the TV broadcasts of the 44th Miss Universe pageant and the 44th Miss USA pageant

What gave the baby name Harnaaz a boost in 2022?

Harnaaz Sandhu, Miss Universe 2021
Harnaaz Sandhu

According to the U.S. baby name data, the uncommon name Harnaaz jumped to peak usage in 2022:

  • 2023: 24 baby girls named Harnaaz
    • 10 born in California
  • 2022: 27 baby girls named Harnaaz
    • 12 born in California
  • 2021: 6 baby girls named Harnaaz
  • 2020: 5 baby girls named Harnaaz
  • 2019: unlisted

It was also one of the fastest-rising girl names in Canada that year.


Because of Indian beauty queen Harnaaz Sandhu, who was crowned Miss Universe in Eilat, Israel, in December of 2021.

Notably, she was the first Sikh woman to win the title, and it’s likely that most of her namesakes were born into Sikh families. More than half of the roughly 280,000 Sikhs in the U.S. live in California specifically, and Canada is home to more than 770,000 Sikhs — the largest Sikh population outside of India.

What does her name mean? Her mother defined it as “everyone’s pride.”

We named her Harnaaz as she is the first and the last daughter in our extended Jat Sikh family. She has 17 brothers in the extended family. Today she has made the entire country proud.

Indeed, her name is made up of two elements, har and naaz, which are Hindi words meaning “each, every” and “pride.”

What are your thoughts on the name Harnaaz?

P.S. In her immediate family, Harnaaz Sandhu has a single brother, Harnoor. The noor element in his name means “light.”


Image: Screenshot of the TV broadcast of the 70th Miss Universe pageant

What gave the baby name Amaryllis a boost in 1927?

Illustration of Amaryllis Minton from McCall's magazine (Oct. 1926)
Amaryllis Minton

The flower-name Amaryllis first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1926. The following year, the name came as close as it’s ever come to reaching the girls’ top 1,000:

  • 1929: 28 baby girls named Amaryllis
  • 1928: 28 baby girls named Amaryllis
  • 1927: 45 baby girls named Amaryllis [rank: 1,139th]
  • 1926: 7 baby girls named Amaryllis [debut]
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: unlisted

What caused the debut and the subsequent spike?

The Magic Garden, a romantic tale written by Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter.

The protagonist of the story — which was originally published in McCall’s magazine over the course of six months (from October of 1926 to March of 1927) — was a young girl named Amaryllis Minton.

Her father’s millions provided the little girl servants and governesses to order around, but all the money in the world could not buy love, so one day after her fifth birthday she ran away to find it. Among the flowers of an enchanting garden, she came upon a little boy who was lonely, too, and and wanted a playmate.

Incidentally, Amaryllis didn’t realize she was named after a flower until partway through the narrative.

In 1927, The Magic Garden was serialized in various newspapers across the country, published in book form, and adapted into a successful silent film (starring actresses Joyce Coad as young Amaryllis and Margaret Morris as grown-up Amaryllis).

What are your thoughts on the name Amaryllis?

P.S. The flower was named after a female character in Virgil’s Eclogues, but Virgil didn’t invent the name. In Roman literature, Amaryllis was a stock character — “a natural, pretty young woman who was usually a shepherdess.” The name derives from the Ancient Greek verb amarysso, meaning “to sparkle.”


Image: Clipping from McCall’s magazine (Oct. 1926)

Where did the baby name Eragon come from in 2006?

The character Eragon from the movie "Eragon" (2006)
Eragon from “Eragon

The curious name Eragon first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 2006:

  • 2008: 7 baby boys named Eragon
  • 2007: 12 baby boys named Eragon
  • 2006: 5 baby boys named Eragon [debut]
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The epic fantasy film Eragon, which opened in theaters in December of that year.

The main character of the movie, Eragon (played by Edward Speleers), was a farm boy who lived in a kingdom ruled by an evil monarch.

One day, Eragon came across a strange-looking egg, which hatched to reveal a blue-colored baby dragon.

The dragon character Saphira from the movie "Eragon" (2006)
Saphira (as an unnamed newborn)

Eragon eventually realized that he was destined to become a Dragon Rider, and — after figuring out how to ride his dragon, and being trained to sword-fight and wield magic — set out to overthrow the king.

When Eragon discovered that he could communicate with his dragon telepathically, he also learned that she had a name:

“You can hear my thoughts!”

“I have waited a thousand years to hear your thoughts. And now you can hear mine. I am Saphira, and you are my rider.”

(Saphira was voiced by Rachel Weisz.)

The characters Saphira (the dragon) and Eragon from the movie "Eragon" (2006)
Saphira and Eragon from “Eragon

Thanks to the movie, the baby name Saphira saw a significant increase in usage in 2007:

  • 2009: 125 baby girls named Saphira
  • 2008: 145 baby girls named Saphira
  • 2007: 130 baby girls named Saphira
  • 2006: 9 baby girls named Saphira
  • 2005: 6 baby girls named Saphira

And the rare name Roran, which belonged to Eragon’s cousin Roran (played by Christopher Egan), also popped up in the data that year:

  • 2009: 9 baby boys named Roran
  • 2008: 7 baby boys named Roran
  • 2007: 7 baby boys named Roran [debut]
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: unlisted

A fourth character, the elf-princess Arya (played by Sienna Guillory), may have had an influence on baby names as well, but it’s hard to tell — the name Arya was already on the rise around that time.

The movie Eragon was based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Christopher Paolini, who’d started working on the book in the late 1990s (when he just was fifteen years old).

Eragon’s name was created by changing the first letter of the word “dragon.” (Paolini liked that “Eragon” echoed the words “era” and “gone” — as in, “an era gone by.”) Saphira’s name was based on the word “sapphire.”


Images: Screenshots of Eragon