Popular baby names in San Diego (California), 2020

san diego

According to San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency, the most popular baby names in the county two years ago were Olivia and Noah.

Here are San Diego County’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2020:

Girl Names

  1. Olivia, 220 baby girls
  2. Emma, 197
  3. Isabella, 181
  4. Mia, 178
  5. Sophia, 172
  6. Camila, 171
  7. Luna, 140
  8. Sofia, 137
  9. Charlotte, 129
  10. Gianna, 126

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 217 baby boys
  2. Liam, 206
  3. Mateo, 197
  4. Benjamin, 162
  5. Sebastian, 161
  6. Oliver, 149
  7. Alexander, 135
  8. Santiago, 132
  9. Elijah, 131
  10. Ethan, 128

In the girls’ top 10, Gianna replaced the Amelia/Victoria tie.

In the boys’ top 10, Santiago and Elijah replaced Lucas and Julian.

In 2019, San Diego’s top names were Olivia and Liam.

Source: Top 10 Leading Baby Names in San Diego County, By Gender, 1996 – 2020 (PDF)

What popularized the baby name Tristan in the 1990s?

The character Tristran Ludlow (played by actor Brad Pitt) in the movie "Legends of the Fall" (1994).
Tristan Ludlow from “Legends of the Fall

The baby name Tristan saw an impressive jump in usage in the mid-1990s:

  • 1997: 4,196 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 92nd]
  • 1996: 5,458 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 68th]
  • 1995: 3,088 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 121st]
  • 1994: 492 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 452nd]
  • 1993: 567 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 409th]

The name’s rise in 1995 was the second-largest of the year (after Austin), and it reached the U.S. top 100 for the first time ever in 1996.

Here’s a visual:

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

Many variant forms of the name saw higher usage during those years as well…

1994199519961997
Tristen736181,1881,078
Triston48372726666
Tristin34288630549
Tristian36157304287
Trystan1899182178
Treston31585860
Tryston.426975
Tristyn.286048
Trysten28†4862
Trystin6133742
Tristain.112521
Trestan.1176
Trestin511610
Trystyn.7*125
Tresten..810
Tristion..5*6
Tristine..5†.
Thristan..5*.
*Debut, †Gender-specific debut

Tristen, Triston, Tristin and Tristian all entered top 1,000 in 1995, and Trystan followed a year later.

The name that saw the largest relative increase in usage in 1995 was Tristin. In second place? Tristen.

(…And this doesn’t even account for all the Tristan-related girl names that got a mid-’90s boost.)

So, what was the influence?

The character Tristan Ludlow (played by Brad Pitt) from the movie Legends of the Fall — a saga set in rural Montana during the early decades of the 1900s.

Tristan was the rebellious middle son of rancher Col. William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins). He and his brothers — the older, ambitious Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and the younger, naïve Samuel (Henry Thomas) — all fell in love with the same beautiful woman, Susannah (Julia Ormond).

Released at the very end of 1994, the “big, robust Western love story” ranked #1 at the box office for four weeks straight in the early months of 1995.

Regarding Tristan Ludlow’s first name, one incredibly prescient reviewer noted that we should “look for [it] to be given to more than a few babies over the next few years.”

Tristan Ludlow didn’t end up with Susannah, but he did get married — to a Native American woman named Isabel (Karina Lombard). The name Karina saw it’s highest-ever usage in 1995, and the usage of Isabel also increased — though it was already on the rise, so there’s no telling how much of the increase was due specifically to the film.

Speaking of Isabel’s rise…

The fact that Legends of the Fall featured both a character named Isabel and an actor named Aidan, and that forms of these names (Isabella and Aiden) went on to reach the U.S. top 10 — peaking almost simultaneously a decade and a half later — is very interesting to me. It makes me wonder whether the movie’s impact on U.S. baby names wasn’t substantially greater (but also more complex?) than what the mid-’90s data would have us believe.

Isabella ranking, U.S.Aiden ranking, U.S.
20123rd10th
20112nd9th*
20101st*9th*
20091st*12th
20082nd16th
*Peak usage

(I began wondering about this after a friend of mine, who has a son named Aiden, mentioned that she’d had the name in the back of her mind ever since seeing Legends of the Fall as a teenager.)

What are your thoughts on this theory?

And, do you know anyone with a name that was inspired by Legends of the Fall?

Sources:

Baby name story: Thomas Lipton

Thomas Lipton's yacht "Shamrock"
The original Shamrock

In 1899, Scottish businessman Thomas Lipton, founder of the Lipton Tea company, sailed his racing yacht Shamrock overseas to challenge the Columbia (owned by J. P. Morgan) in the America’s Cup.

Lipton lost. And his next four America’s Cup boats — the Shamrock II, the Shamrock III, the Shamrock IV, and the Shamrock V — also lost (in 1901, 1903, 1920, and 1930, respectively).

He became the loveable [sic] loser; a man whose good-natured approach to the obstacles stacked against him turned him into a folk hero and promoted his business interests in America as well.

Scottish businessman Thomas Lipton (1848-1931)
Thomas Lipton

His repeated attempts to win the Cup also inspired one New York family to name a baby after him.

Adolph and Catherine Bergner of Tompkinsville, Staten Island, had three “shamrock babies” (as the newspapers called them).

Their first child, a boy, was born in 1899 — around the time the original Shamrock “dropped anchor off Tompkinsville after a passage across the ocean.” He was named James Adolph.

Their second child, a girl, was born in 1901 — just as Shamrock II entered American waters. She was named Helen Elizabeth.

Their third child, a boy, was born in 1903 — “on June 14, just as the steamer on which Sir Thomas came across the Atlantic arrived at Quarantine.” The Bergners decided to acknowledge the ongoing coincidences by naming this one Thomas Lipton Bergner.

They promptly wrote a letter to Thomas Lipton, to tell him about his new namesake. With his reply, Lipton “sent to each of the children a gold stickpin with a Shamrock on the face.”

Sources:

Baby born to American activists, named “america”

Abbie Hoffman, Anita Kushner, and baby america Hoffman (early 1970s)
The Hoffman family

Media-savvy political activist Abbott “Abbie” Hoffman (1936-1989) and his second wife, Anita Kushner, welcomed a baby boy in mid-1971.

Abbie’s first two children (Andrew and Amy) didn’t have politicized names, but his third got the name america — deliberately spelled with a small a in order “to distinguish the child’s name from a jingoistic sentiment.”

[T]he birth of his and Anita’s son, “america,” was treated as a political statement, as an affirmation of their optimism about the future and their roots in American culture.

Anita added (years later) that they’d gone with a lower-case a “because [they] didn’t want to be pretentious.”

Another name they’d considered for their son? Tupac.

In the Hoffmans’ book To America with Love, one of the letters Anita wrote (in July of 1974) began:

I met Affeni [sic] Shakur today. What an up. She is vibrant, beautiful, wise with experience. We talked about our children a lot and the heavy history behind each. Did you know she named her son Tupac Amaru, after the last Inca prince who rebelled against the Spaniards? We had considered naming america that. Tupac’s the same age.

(Tupac’s mother’s name was actually spelled Afeni.)

Abbie Hoffman went underground in 1974 (in order to evade arrest). He remained in hiding, using the alias “Barry Freed,” for six years. During that period, Anita and america were under constant FBI surveillance. So Anita and Abbie began to call their son “Alan” as an added layer of protection.

Alan reverted back to his real name at the start of high school (in the mid-1980s), hoping that “america” would impress a “cute punk rock girl” in his class.

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Anita Hoffman with son by Leah Kushner under CC-BY-SA-4.0.

What turned Notorious into a baby name in 1995?

Rapper Notorious B.I.G. (1972-1997) in the music video for the song "One More Chance."
Notorious B.I.G.

The unlikely name Notorious debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1995, dropped off in 1996, then returned in 1997:

  • 1998: unlisted
  • 1997: 9 baby boys named Notorious
  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 9 baby boys named Notorious [debut]
  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: unlisted

Notorious has re-appeared in the data several times since, but, so far, 9 babies in a single year represents peak usage.

So, what turned this vocabulary word — a synonym of “infamous” — into a personal name?

New York City rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls), born Christopher Wallace in 1972.

His 1994 debut album, Ready to Die, featured the singles “One More Chance” (which peaked at #2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart), “Big Poppa” (#6), and “Juicy” (#27).

“Big Poppa” was also nominated for the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance of 1995. Here’s the music video:

In March of 1997 — two weeks before the release of his second album, Life After Death — Biggie was murdered in a drive-by shooting while visiting Los Angeles.

[M]any rap fans suspect the shooting is connected to the East Coast-West Coast feud that has become prevalent in the hip-hop community over the last several years. Smalls and the label he’s on, Bad Boy Entertainment, had been in a fierce rivalry with Tupac Shakur and the Los Angeles-based gangsta rap label Death Row Records, and Shakur had accused Smalls of involvement in a 1994 robbery in which Shakur was shot.

Shakur had been murdered less than a year earlier (also in a drive-by shooting).

Biggie’s second album included the singles “Hypnotize” (which peaked at #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart), “Mo Money Mo Problems” (#1), and “Sky’s the Limit” (#26).

What are your thoughts on the name Notorious?

P.S. The word may have a negative connotation nowadays, but the original meaning of notorious was simply “publicly known and spoken of” (via the Medieval Latin word notorius, meaning “well-known”).

Sources: