Names of Admiration

Inspired by today’s prompt on the word “admire,” here are a few names from the SSA birth data that connote admiration.  The majority are virtue words and have religious vibes, though there’s certain brand of comics mentioned here too.  All of these are names of children born in the U.S. in 2015. 

Admire – 5 boys.

Honor – 121 girls, 46 boys.  British spelling Honour was the name of 14 girls and 5 boys.

Love – 108 girls, 10 boys.

Adore – 36 girls.

Cherish – 286 girls.  Like Windy from yesterday’s post, Cherish” is also a song by the Association.

Treasure – 241 girls and 5 boys.

Marvel – 17 boys and 14 girls.  These babies are probably all named after Marvel comics, not the verb.

Praise – 31 girls and 27 boys.

Revere – 9 boys.  Paul Revere is an obvious namesake, though it wouldn’t surprise me if this name has more of a religious connotation; there’s definitely a Puritan vibe. 

Favor – 27 girls and 5 boys.  British spelling Favour is even more popular as a name, with 30 girls and 7 boys.  

What do you think of these names?  Can you think of any other admiring names that aren’t here?  Let me know in the comments. 

Below the Top 1000, Part 12 (Boys)

Now we’re starting to hit the really rare names – the ones given to less than 50 children in the U.S. last year!  Since the pool of names expands as the popularity decreases, it is necessary for me to break these posts down into smaller usage ranges.  This week post includes some of boys’ names in the 45-49 range.

49Archibald, Atom, Delano, Ebenezer, Niles, Pearson, Slater, Truth, Uzziah, Zacchaeus

48: Artem, Boris, Bram, Coulson, Fabio, Jahaziel, Jakson, Macon, Monty, Teague

47: Alastair, Aramis, Armand, Baruch, Dedrick, Erwin, Galen, Kato, Nyle, Ravi, Sol, Wylder

46: Abimael, Allister, Ayrton, Didier, Eliah, Geronimo, Gotham, Honor, Kip, Locke, Mervin, Rhydian, Suleiman, Tarek, Tiernan

45: Alexandros, Amaziah, Bladen, Hershel, Jansen, Khaleb, Lowell, Oshea*, Rusty, Tennyson, Wilfredo

What do you think of these names?  I’m loving Archibald and the various Biblical names that are scattered in here.  Also Rhydian, which I’d never heard before but is supposedly Welsh.

*Oshea is probably really O’Shea.  Rapper and actor O’Shea Jackson, Sr. is better known as Ice Cube.  His son O’Shea Jr. is now an actor too.

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Whispering Windy

Wind captures the human imagination.  Some romanticize the sound of chimes or bristling of the leaves.  Others fear it, knowing a storm’s approach.  Most simply respect it.  


Wind turbine

Like many facets of nature, the wind has inspired baby names.  While you probably won’t encounter anyone named Wind, there are hundreds of people in the U.S. named Windy.  The vast majority of women named Windy were born in the 1960s and 1970s, when other weather-related names like Misty and Sunshine were at peak usage.  Windy‘s initial popularity came separately from a nature trend, however.  In the year she entered the top 1000, the Associations’ song “Windy” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Parents hardly name their children Windy anymore.  According to data from the Social Security Administration, Windy hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1980, when it was given to 153 girls.  For perspective, peak usage was in 1975, when Windy was bestowed on 310 girls.  Fast forward 40 years to 2015: last year, only 7 girls were named Windy

Other weather-names fair better.  Misty and Sunshine are both hovering around 50 uses, and Stormy was given to 124 girls last year.  Even Rainy registered 28 times.  So why isn’t Windy doing better?  That brings me to my last point – that not all Windy‘s are named for the weather.  Some of my friends with stronger Southern or Appalachian twangs seem to pronounce the name Wendy as Windy.  This suggests to me that at least some Windy‘s were named using a regional phonetic spelling.  Wendy, barely still a top 1000 name in 2015, peaked in the top 30 back in the 1970s…the same period in which Windy was the most popular.  Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that while the song sent Windy into the top 1000, Americans had already been using the name for almost 20 years. 

What do you think of the name Windy, and do you think she could make a comeback?  I think it might make a decent nickname for up-and-coming Windsor.  On the other hand, wind does invoke thoughts of tornadoes and other terrible tempests.


The Name Hadrian


Hadrian is a strong, rare, and ancient alternative to Adrian.  The feminine form is HadrianaMost commonly associated with Hadrian’s Wall, Hadrian was the name of an early 2nd-century Roman emperor.  29 boys were given this name in 2015, down from 40 in 2014 and 34 in 2013.  Still, it’s more popular than it was 15 years ago, and it fits within with all the other Greek and Roman names that are currently trending!

Possible nicknames include Harry, Hades, and Ryan.  In some types of Harry Potter fanfiction, writers will often make Harry short for Hadrian, more so than they will for Henry or Harrison.  The ones I’ve read from this particular sub-genre usually depict Hadrian “Harry” Potter as a extremely powerful boy-wizard who breaks free from Dumbledore and Dursley control and realizes his inheritance.  There are yet plots, but that’s at least the motif I remember…I haven’t read fan-fiction for quite a while, unless you count communal Skype readings of the dreaded “My Immortal.”  If you don’t believe me about Hadrian and Harry Potter, google it – the search term “harry potter fanfiction hadrian” yields almost 27,000 results.

Of course, the Roman emperor remains the common association.  That does not mean it’s all marble statues and ruins (even though I myself studied Classics in college and ruins are my personal Disney World).  If hilarity and absurdity are your pursuits, I recommend watching a Japanese movie called Thermae Romae.  It regards a Roman bath architect named Lucius who time-travels to modern Japan and finds inspiration for Roman bath designs in Japanese bath culture.  Meanwhile, Hadrian is the current emperor and he hires Lucius to build him spectacular baths.  If this isn’t weird or awesome enough for you, guess what: there’s a sequel!  But yes, that’s another association with the name.

What do you think of the name Hadrian

Update Aug. 11 2017 – 33 boys named Hadrian in 2016.

Geeking Out, Crossing The Streams, and Jaylah from Star Trek

I’ve mostly dedicated this weekend to reading the Chronicles of Narnia and watching the new Star Trek movies all the way through, both for the first time.  As if I’m not nerdy enough, I’m currently wearing a t-shirt that says “Expressions of Vader.”  And yes, that means I was wearing Star Wars regalia when I saw the new Star Trek movie today.  Please don’t accuse me of crossing the streams – at least I’m not this guy:

Use the force...

Or do accuse me of crossing the streams, since I’ve just dragged the Ghostbusters into the fray. XD  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie. 

I don’t watch nearly enough sci-fi, though as a self-proclaimed “namenerd” I appreciate how profoundly it can affect baby naming.  Star Wars is a great example.  That series made Leia a popular name, boosted Luke, and created the now mildly-popular name Anakin

Admittedly, I’m a bigger fan of Star Wars than of Star Trek, and I haven’t really considered Trekkie baby naming until now.  I already did know about the Jean-Lucs, and it’s not too much of a stretch to think that those 9 boys named Trek last year were probably named in honor of Star Trek.  But today there was one name in particular that piqued my interest – Jaylah.

Jaylah is a very modern name that currently ranks #483 in the U.S., down from #234 in 2012.  Jayla is the more common spelling, with a current rank of #238, but I’ve also seen rarer spellings like JailaBoth Jayla and Jaylah are losing popularity, Jaylah more rapidly.  Under normal circumstances, we could probably expect them to leave the top 1000 within the next few years and go down in history as “flash-in-the-pans.”  They may still exit soon.  But, maybe not now that there’s a namesake.

Jaylah is a new character introduced in Star Trek Beyond, which only opened this past week.  After aliens attack the Enterprise in uncharted space, the crew mostly ends up imprisoned by their attackers on a nearby planet, with some of the officers racing to find them and each other.  Scotty, completely alone upon landing, ends up cornered by the enemy.  Jaylah appears at the crucial moment and slaughters the enemy, saving Scotty.  It turns out she lives in a long-lost Federation starship, and wants his help fixing it (i.e., getting it airborne).  I don’t want to spoil the movie, so I’ll just say this: she’s awesome.

Back to my point: the name Jaylah not only now has a namesake, but more importantly has nerd cred.  Will the new Star Trek film grant this name a reprieve in her downward popularity spiral?  If so, will other spellings like Jayla become more popular too?  What do you think of the name Jaylah?

P.S.: How’d y’all like the movie? 


Below the Top 1000, Part 11 (Girls)

Happy Friday all!  Here are some of the many names given to between 50 and 69 American baby girls last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  For the especially curious, that data can be found here, in the zip file that says “national data.”

  • 65-69: Amaryllis, Eowyn, Haya, Prudence, Rosabella, Rosario, Sade, Abilene, Briseis, Emmylou, Ginger, Kezia, Lovely, Minnie, Vanellope, Bobbi, Camellia, Elowyn, Irma, Jean, Lenore, Sakura, Story, Xyla, Yasmina, Emmanuella, Empress, Eris, Justina, Lani, Marigold, Uma, Aries, Brandy, Emaline, Joseline, Kalliope, Ocean, Solana
  • 60-64: Adamaris, Angelia, Caia, Iona, Katana, Neve, Andromeda, Brie, Cathryn, Francis, Josette, Lavinia, Therese, Tirzah, Auden, Chevy, Crimson, Denali, Elizabella, Marlen, Shaindy, Ahuva, Austen, Cassia, Elanor, Harbor, Inez, Maja, Mirabella, Nell, Philippa, Zofia, Alaska, Arrow, Dinah, Lavender, Roberta, Verity, Wednesday, Xenia
  • 55-59: Aleida, Azeneth, Cedar, Henrietta, Israel, Kylar, Lulu, Olga, Snow, Bay, Berenice, Cate, Delphine, Divya, Esmee, Fabiana, Keisha, Rochelle, Sephora, Silvana, Eloisa, Hermione, Hosanna, Joella, Sicily, Sunshine, Bernice, Callista, Ebony, Siobhan, Cheryl, Francine, Pandora, Roxie, Sahar, Shakira, Talitha
  • 50-54: Emmanuelle, Izzy, Lenox, Sparrow, Anushka, Effie, Hilary, Jorja, Makaylee, Meira, Monserrath, Rosy, Sayuri, Zamora, Amen, Auburn, Candy, Demetria, Janney, Misty, Nada, Zada, Embry, Gisela, Havana, Jadore, Magali, Minerva, Sanjana, Yahaira, Aashi, Beautiful, Cailin, Clarity, Elvira, Fanny, Honesti, Leandra, Liesl, Mathilda, Meryl, Miamor, Primrose, Wynn, Zelie

What do you think of these names?  A few of my all-time favorite names are actually in this range, including Hermione, Philippa, and Primrose.  Lots of great mythological names in here too, like Andromeda and Briseis.  And do you notice the Tolkien names, Eowyn and Elanor

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Ebenezer: No Longer a Scrooge?

I’m always looking out for old names that might be on the verge of a comeback.  Well, here’s a real oldie that’s popped onto my radar: Ebenezer.  Just a few years ago, children named Ebenezer were practically unheard of.  Until the 90s, the name only appeared sporadically in SSA data.  Since the new millennium, however…

Last year, 49 boys were named Ebenezer in the U.S.  That’s the highest usage the name has ever reached in the birth data, which extends back to 1880 (though isn’t necessarily accurate or complete-ish until the 1930s…still).  Not to mention, 74 boys were named Eben, which is traditionally a nickname for EbenezerEben however has a much more steady usage history than his parent name, and peaked in 2012 with 100 uses.  Curiously, it also appears that Ebenezer has appeared as a girls’ name three of the past 10 years (though not last year).  I don’t know if this will become a top 1000 name any time soon, but I bet it’ll continue to grow more popular nonetheless.  Yearly usage has more than doubled since 2000. 

None of us – and I mean none of us – can forget the cultural icon that is Ebenezer Scrooge.  A lonely old miser who’s cruel to everyone, even and especially at Christmas?  Whose principle phrase is “bah, humbug?”  This Dickensian creation permanently tainted this Biblical name for many.  But, we should remember…Scrooge came around at the end of A Christmas Carol.  His experience with the three ghosts permanently changed him for the better.  Therefore, he’s not so much a villain as perhaps someone who needed a wake-up call.  He was redeemed. 


Happy, generous, changed Ebenezer Scrooge

Arguably, Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t a terrible namesake, because of the very fact that he could be and was redeemable.  But, he is probably most people’s association with the name.  I personally have another association via the 1948 movie Portrait of Jennie, which is coincidentally another ghost story (though much more romantic).  Anyway, the main character is an artist named Eben Adams. 

As to why the name Ebenezer is growing more popular, I have few ideas.  It certainly helps that the name has connections to the Bible, since rare and staunchly Old Testament Biblical names are trendy in the U.S. (i.e., Nehemiah, Ephraim, and Nahum).  I mean…is it possible that the name is losing some of its association with “Scrooge,” the way that Benedict seems to be losing its primary association with “Benedict Arnold?”  Obviously the fact that it rhymes with “geezer” didn’t bother the parents of those 49 boys, either.  The meaning is appealing, though: “stone of help.”

What do you think of the name Ebenezer?  Do you think his comeback will continue?  Finally, why do you think Ebenezer is becoming more popular in the first place? 


Tea-Inspired Baby Names


A fresh, tasty cup of Earl Grey which will probably be gone by the time I post this.

Tea.  A wonderfully complex drink with a million flavors and ingredients that we Americans mostly forgo in favor of coffee.  Me, I love both beverages.  However, of the two tea seems to have more naming potential.

So, if you’re parched and feeling creative, here’s a list of tea-inspired names for children or characters! 

Chai – A spicy tea which is more often consumed in a latte than alone.  Chai does not currently appear in the SSA data for either gender, but variant Shai enjoys unisex usage (49 boys and 30 girls in 2015).  Incidentally, Shai (pr. like the word ‘shy’) is an English transliteration of the Arabic word for ‘tea.’

Grey – as in Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas.  On that note, Earl is a also tea-inspired name, but is probably too outdated for most parents.  Grey is much trendier and more modern, and can serve as a nickname for Greyson.  In 2015, Grey by itself was the name for 233 boys and 70 girls.

Irish – The name Irish was given to 8 boys and girls each in 2015.  Irish Breakfast is a delicious black tea which I single-handedly consumed a 20-oz. pot of earlier. 

Rose – I don’t know how many rose teas there are, but about a month or so ago I imbibed this lovely Pu-erh tea which was apparently made from composted rose petals.  Anyway, as a name, Rose currently ranks #166 in the U.S.



Jasmine – Who doesn’t love jasmine tea?  Delicate and naturally decaf, this is more reminiscent of Disney Princesses than tea for most people.  Current rank: #112. 

Minty – Peppermint tea, Moroccan Mint Tea…I love minty teas.  Minty has never appeared in the SSA data, but Mintie appeared as a girls’ name between the late 19th-century and the 1940s.  Minty could be a refreshing and adorable nickname for Araminta.

Moroccan – Speaking of Moroccan Mint Tea, Mariah Carey named her twin son Moroccan in 2011 (his sister’s named Monroe).  Although Monroe is semi-popular as a girls’ name, Moroccan has never showed up in the extended data once. 

Camellia – A variety of the camellia plant, Camellia Sinensis, produces tea.  Last year, 67 girls were named Camellia and 37 were given the spelling Camelia.

Tea – Funnily enough, 37 girls were named Tea last year.  In their case, it’s probably pronounced like Tay-uh or Tee-uh and likely derives from the Greek root-name Thea meaning ‘goddess.’  As far as I can tell, ‘Coffee’ isn’t currently a baby name.

Kombucha – I don’t think anyone has tried to name their kid Kombucha yet, but it sounds like a name and a lot of people love drinking it (it’s not bad, in case you’re wondering).  I mean, Kale is a fairly trendy baby name, being the name of 175 boys born last year.

Masala – Nobody seems to use this as a name either, which surprises me somewhat more than the paucity of Kombuchas.  Sometimes you’ll see chai referred to as Masala Chai (though personally, Masala reminds me more of Tikka Masala…now I’m craving curry, lol)

Darling – If you truncate “Darjeeling,” you get Darling, a name given to 21 girls last year.

Roman – as in, Roman Chamomile.  This name was given to 3862 boys last year, ranking #102.  German Chamomile also exists, though German was the name of far fewer baby boys last year (154).

Caffrey – There weren’t any children named Caffeine or Decaf last year, but Caffrey sounds a lot like an abbreviation for “caffeine-free.”  9 boys in 2015. 

Lavender – Ever had a Lavender Tea Latte?  Very tasty.  Anyway, 60 American girls were named Lavender last year.

Lemon – Some people like lemon in their tea (especially with Earl Grey, if I’m not mistaken).  8 girls were named Lemon last year, and although there weren’t any boys named Lemon, there were 15 named Philemon.

China – As in, the porcelain we often use to contain tea.  33 girls in 2015.

London – (#105 for girls and #605 for boys).  I recently had something called a London Fog Tea, which is also known as an Earl Grey Latte.  It was basically just Earl Grey and vanilla.  But really, how can I write a post about tea and forget the British?!

Boston – Sorry British friends, but I can’t forget my country’s history either.  For the uninitiated, the Boston Tea Party was a 1773 incident when Bostonians appareled as Native Americans threw all the English-imported tea into Boston Harbor, protesting a trade law called the Tea Act.  One of many things that led to the American Revolution.  Name-wise, Boston currently ranks #607 nationally for boys, only appearing as a top 100 name in the state of Utah.

What do you think of these?  Are there any other tea-related names you’d add to this list? 



Babies Named after Cars in 2015

When I was a kid, I developed a fascination with cars.  Not just any cars, but antiques and foreign cars in particular.  Although my preoccupation has faded with the years, I can still tell when a pick-up was made based on its lights and I still feel giddy whenever I see a Model T, a DeLorean, or the rare (in America, anyway) Peugeot on the road. 

So, feel like going for a drive?  Here are some actual, current baby names that are also names of car brands or models.


A Bentley

Bentley: A British vehicle that became a popular name after an MTV show.  In 2015, 4287 boys and 183 girls were named Bentley in the U.S., not counting variant spellings.  For more information, I wrote a longer profile on this name several weeks ago which you can read here.

Ford: The brand name of the quintessential American car, after its creator Henry Ford.  Last year this was given to 324 boys and 5 girls. 

Edsel: Speaking of Ford, Edsel Ford was the son of Henry Ford and the namesake of a car model.  9 baby boys last year, but between the World Wars, Edsel was a top 1000 name (likely because of Ford).

Benz: The less commonly spoken-of other half of Mercedes.  13 boys were named Benz last year.

Aston: How dare we forget about the Aston Martin, choice of 007?  178 boys and 10 girls were named Aston in the U.S. last year, and unfortunately there’s no data about middle names so I can’t determine how many of them were actually named Aston Martin. 

Audi: I kid you not, but 18 girls and 10 boys were named this in 2015. 

Denali: The GMC Denali and most people with this name probably have the Alaskan volcano Denali (a.k.a Mt. McKinley) in common as a namesake.  Last year, the name was given to 62 girls and 28 boys.  Curiously, Denali also ranks in Alaska’s top 100 (though barely). 

Mercury: I don’t think they make the car anymore, but last year there were 9 boys and 5 girls named Mercury.  If I may hazard a guess, the planet or the deity is a more likely namesake. 

Camry: A Toyota model, and the name of 20 baby girls last year.  Years ago I saw this one woman on the news who gave birth in the family Camry, landing her daughter with the middle name Camryn…somehow, this blog post is all I can find about it now.  Google-fu, you have failed me.  

Mercedes: The history of Mercedes as a name long precedes the luxury German vehicle.  Mercedes means “mercies” in Spanish, and belongs to a character in The Count of Monte Cristo and has associations with the Virgin Mary.  236 girls were named Mercedes last year.  Some of them were probably named after the car, but I’d bet that many of them were so named because of its other history.

Lexus: 70 baby girls in 2015.  The car apparently also gave rise to a spelling variant of AlexisAlexus.  While I will not disparage any names, my existence as the “Well-Informed Namer” dictates that I let you all in on an unfortunate joke I once heard: “they named her Alexus because they couldn’t afford the car.”  That in itself may be a turn-off for some parents.  I recommend sticking to Alexis.

Chevelle: For some reason I thought the Chevelle was a classic Pontiac model, but it’s actually a Chevrolet.  Anyway, it’s been a baby name since the 1960s, and it’s been growing more popular over the last several years.  Last year there were 133 girls and 11 boys named Chevelle

Jetta: Volkswagen model, and the name of 37 baby girls last year.  This could make an interesting alternative for Jenna if you find that’s still too popular.


Minerva motorbike and rider

Minerva: You’re probably wondering why a Roman goddess and Harry Potter character is on this list.  Minerva was an early 20th-century Belgian producer of cars and motorbikes.  51 American girls were named Minerva last year, presumably all after the war deity or Professor McGonagall. 

Acadia: Another GMC!  45 girls named Acadia last year.

Tempest: As in, the Pontiac Tempest.  This classic car gets a mention in the movie My Cousin Vinny.  As far as name goes, 19 girls were given this word-name last year (a tempest is a kind of storm.  Also a Shakespeare play). 

Ferrari: 7 girls were named after this Italian sports car, though I’m surprised there weren’t more.  It’s a surname too.

Tesla: 166 girls and 5 boys were named this last year.  I can say from personal experience that the car is absolutely amazing and if you love roller-coasters you should go for a test drive.  The acceleration is BOSS. 

What do you think of these names?  What do you think of cars as baby names?  And in case you’re looking for even more car names, here’s a link to a great list by one of my favorite blogs, Nancy’s Baby Names.


Below the Top 1000, Part 10 (Boys)

Wow, have I really been at this series for 10 weeks?  That’s amazing!  Anyway, here are some of the names given to between 50 and 69 boys in the U.S. last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration. 

Boys names in the 50-69 range:

  • 65-69: Akiva, Antwon, Jeter, Loyal, Virgil, Zeppelin, Baxter, Jacobo, Krishna, Manolo, Croix, Cutter, Holt, Jaren, Lex, Osiel, Yohan, Akhil, Amadeus, Aram, Hosea, Journey, Lenin, Radley, Scout, Seven, Willem, Wynn, Aziel, Cru, Eros, Orson
  • 60-64: Adonai, Finlay, Hendrik, Jeronimo, Oswaldo, Zyair, Azrael, Bradford, Elio, Pax, Elton, Federico, Granger, Nahum, Ridley, Tyrion, Crawford, Marius, Riot, Trayvon, Yuri, Ignatius, Jedediah, Shay
  • 55-59: Caine, Jeshua, Laurence, Woodrow, Abelardo, Alston, Burke, Conan, Joah, Percy, Sven, Thane, Wolf, Alain, Domenico, Domingo, Eoin, Kalani, Octavius, Adair, Amadou, Finnick, Mordecai, Sagan, Sampson, Aziz, Chauncey, Emile, Hero, Nile, Shaquille
  • 50-54: Booker, Claudio, Heston, Kemper, Leslie, Robinson, Stewart, Stockton, Bowie, Conway, Emrys, Johannes, Kirby, Naftali, Niall, Basil, Copeland, Elwood, Leviticus, Mace, Michaelangelo, Claude, Perseus, Reef, Thayer, Creighton, Daemon, Edson, Iain, Roosevelt

What do you think of these names? 

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