Royalty-Inspired Baby Names

What is up with all the royalty-inspired baby names that are suddenly popular?  For a country without a royal family or inherited aristocracy, you’d think Americans are suddenly obsessed!  Royalty and Reign both debuted in the top 1000 in 2016, and other names like Royal, Prince, and Princess also rose in the charts.

Here is a list of not-so-traditional royal baby names American parents chose in 2016!  Rare names are listed by number of uses, while popular names are listed by rank.

Tapisserie de Bayeux - Scène 1 : le roi Édouard le Confesseur

In 2016, King (#152) was a more popular name for baby boys than Edward (#163), a traditional royalty-inspired name.

Titles:

  • Emperor – 5 boys in 2016, down from 10.
  • Empress – 95 girls, up from 66. 
  • King – #152, up from #163.  This is a common surname and fairly old-fashioned baby name.  Before King‘s 2006 return to the top 1000, the name hadn’t appeared since 1964. 
  • Queen – 197 girls, up from 148.
  • Prince – #343, up from #388.  This name has been rising for several years, but received a large boost from the mononymous singer’s death last year. 
  • Princess – #767, up from #999.  Prince’s death might have caused the boost to Princess too.  I’d also wager that a very few Princesses were named after Leia
  • Duke – #556, up from #602.  Already rising, this is a name that makes people think of college sports, jazz, and John Wayne.
  • Duchess – 14 girls, up from 10 in 2015.
  • Marquis – #943, down from #927.
  • Earl – 109 boys, down from 128.
  • Baron – 134 boys, up from 133.  Another spelling, Barron, rose because of Barron Trump. 

If you lived elsewhere in the English-speaking world, there’s a decent chance that most of these title names would be banned.  Just look at New Zealand.  Strangely, I don’t think the United Kingdom has titled name restrictions; in 2007, the BBC reported that the U.K. only prohibits offensive names.  What’s more, the latest England/Wales data indicates that were 72 girls named Princess, 28 boys named Duke, and 20 boys named King.

Titles in other languages:

  • Kaiser – 202 boys, up from 140.  German word for “emperor,” English word for a royally delicious sandwich roll.  5 girls also received this name in 2016, so I’d like to point out that the German word for “Empress” is “Kaiserin.”  Kaiserin could be a very pretty name, actually.  Would you call her Kai, Erin, or by her full name?  Anyway, Kaiser should have been in the top 1000 but four other boys’ names were used 202 times and three of them preceded Kaiser in alphabetical order.  We usually don’t rank names below the top 1000, but Kaiser currently ranks #1001.
  • Reina – #853, up from #954.  Reina is Spanish for “queen.”  Other variants are Reyna (#666, up from #711), Rayna (#675, up from #722), and Raina (#835, up from #926.  I think Star Wars is at least partly responsible for the gains, since these names look and sound so close to “Rey.”  However, Reyna, Rayna, and Raina also gained between 2014 and 2015 (but not Reina)…
  • Reine – 12 girls (up from 8 in 2015).  French for “queen.”  Other spellings Raine (97 girls and 10 boys) and Rayne (#941, +42 boys), along with the first reappearance of Lareine (6 girls – literally “the queen”) in the birth data since the early 1930s.  Rayne reentered the top 1000 in 2015!  This time, I think both Star Wars and the popularity of the name Reign (see below) are responsible.
  • Rex – #632, up from #681.  Latin word for “king.”
  • Regina – #437, up from #517.  Latin and Italian word for “queen.”  This name is a classic and has never been out of the top 1000, though she’s rebounded in the last few years.  I initially assumed ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” was the reason for the revival, but apparently the name started returning the year before the show started.
  • Rey – #868 (up from #904), 63 girls.  Spanish word for “king.”  Thanks to the popularity of the character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2016 is the first year on record that Rey has been used as a girls’ name.  It also rose as a boys’ name.
  • Raja – 13 boys, down from 15 boys and 9 girls.  Sanskrit for “king.”
  • Contessa – 16 girls, down from 17.  Italian for “countess.”
  • Sultan – 97 boys, up from 69.  Arabic for “king.”
  • Marquise – 110 boys, down from 136.  Although Marquise is a feminine word in French, the name is strictly masculine.

Garments:

  • Crown – 6 boys.  Data debut!
  • Tiara – 108 girls, down from 112.
  • Taj – 163 boys and 11 girls, down from 200 and 18.  Taj means “crown” in Arabic.

Palaces or Castles:

  • Kensington – 261 girls and 12 boys.  Kensington ranked #962 in 2015, but surprisingly fell out of the top 1000 in 2016.
  • Windsor – 35 girls and 14 boys, up from 32 girls and 11 boys in 2015.   
  • Versailles – 5 uses; data debut!  As far as we know, this name was never used (i.e., wasn’t a name) before 2016.  The show Versailles might be the influencing factor.

Miscellany:

  • Royalty – #532, 39 boys.  Celebrity baby name!  Chris Brown has a daughter Royalty, who was born in 2015.  Later that same year, he named an album after her. 
  • Royal – #460 for boys, #628 for girls.  Royal is a top 100 girls’ name in Washington D.C.   
  • Reign – #829, 158 boys.  Top 1000 debut!  From what I can tell, most of the namesakes coming from celebrity babies are boys!  This includes a Kardashian kid born in late 2014.  When I’ve seen Reign for girls, it always seems to be a middle name.  There’s also a TV show called “Reign” about Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Sovereign – 9 boys (up from 7), 7 girls (reentry).  Sovereign is rightly unisex, since both kings and queens can rule in their own right. 
  • Noble – 140 boys, 15 girls.  Noble was a top 1000 boys’ name until 1954.
  • Jubilee – 223 girls.  A jubilee is a kind of anniversary celebration that usually refers to royalty.  2017 is the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s sapphire jubilee (65 years on the throne). 
  • Castle – 15 boys, down from 27.  Are they named after the TV show?
  • Kingdom – 28 boys, up from 16 in 2015. 
  • Majesty – 136 girls (up from 91) and 44 (up from 33).
  • Yamajesty – 5 boys (in 2016 and 2015).  Not “Your majesty,” but his sarcastic brother.
  • Sirking – 6 boys in 2016. (doesn’t appear in 2015 data).  Between Yamajesty and Sirking, I can tell you this is definitely *not* how you address a royal.

Of course, you can always go with the traditional method of naming after royalty – using their names!  Which style do you prefer?

Ultimately, I don’t think Americans are suddenly royalty-crazy…at least, not anymore than we already are.  I think this “trend” is serendipity; several factors converged in 2015 to give these names some serious appeal for 2016.  The question is: will these names continue to rise in 2017 or is this a curious blip?   What do you think?

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