State Names

USA-2000-population-density

I’m always interested in American name data broken down to the state level, though I’m also interested in the states as baby names themselves!  Thousands of children were named after U.S. states in 2016, and indeed, some of the states are already popular names in their own right.  Other names more ostensibly honor their locations.  Regardless, I’ve tallied up the most popular state names!  I exclude prefixes, so (for example) Dakota can refer to both North and South Dakota.

For girls, the most common baby names that are U.S. states are currently:

  1. Dakota / Georgia – Amazingly, they’re tied!  In 2016, both names were given to 1405 girls each.  Dakota precedes Georgia alphabetically, though, so the Social Security Administration ranks the former at #226 and the latter at #227.
  2. Carolina – 769 girls (#422)
  3. Virginia – 599 girls (#517)
  4. Montana – 135 girls
  5. Jersey – 132 girls.  Several alternate spellings are currently in use too, such as Jersie and Jerzee.

And for boys, they are:

  1. Dakota – 861 boys (#378)
  2. Indiana – 72 boys.  Indiana Jones is probably the namesake for a lot of them, though interestingly, the name Indiana is more popular for girls.
  3. Montana – 60 boys.
  4. Tennessee – 24 boys.  Curiously, 24 girls were also named Tennessee.  As a boys’ name Tennessee probably honors playwright Tennessee Williams.
  5. York – 12 boys.

Regarding territories: if Puerto Rico were a state, then Rico (119 boys) would be the second-most popular states’ name for boys on this list.  Likewise, Mariana (1106 girls; #291) would be second for girls if the Northern Mariana Islands achieved statehood. 

The other state names that appeared in the SSA’s data set in 2016 were:

  • Girls: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming
  • Boys: Jersey, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Washington

Several of the more name-friendly states surprisingly didn’t show in 2016, though have appeared in earlier years.  Here’s the full list of state names from other years:

  • Colorado – A fairly modern choice, as this first appeared in the data in 1989.  Colorado peaked with 10 boys in 2006, and last registered in 2013.
  • Florida – Peaked in 1925, last appeared in 1994.  Florida was a top 1000 baby name until the 1930s.
  • Hawaii – Has only appeared twice, in 2008 and 2014.  5 girls received the name each time.
  • Iowa – Last appeared 1921. 
  • Louisiana – Last appeared in 2015 with 7 girls.  I’m surprised this isn’t more popular since Louise and Louisa are both experiencing revivals.
  • Maine – First and only appearance was in 1898!  The U.S.S. Maine was an American ship that was sunk in the waters around Cuba, igniting the Spanish-American War.
  • Michigan – 5 boys were named Michigan in 2006.  It has not appeared since.
  • Nebraska – This was more commonly used for boys in the early 20th century, though all recent appearances have been on the girls’ side.  5 girls were named Nebraska in 2015.
  • Oklahoma – Only appeared in 1907, though the shorter name Lahoma was in use for much longer.
  • Rhode – Only appearance in 1989, though might reappear soon.  The name Rhodes (59 boys, 5 girls) is mildly trendy.
  • Vermont – Last appeared in 1922.  The name Vermont was used for both men and women in the years immediately after World War I.

And the following states have never appeared as names in SSA birth data:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • (New) Hampshire
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • (New) Mexico
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania – though the name Penn was used in 2016.
  • Wisconsin

Thoughts, anyone?  I do think it’s interesting (if coincidental) that the names referring to to two states (Dakota, Carolina, and Virginia) seem to have a leg up in the rankings!  It’s also curious how states are usually much more popular baby names for girls than they are for boys. 

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5 thoughts on “State Names

  1. I’m actually surprised that Idaho has never been used as a given name before. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fan of the Dune books by Frank Herbert who has a prominent character named Duncan Idaho known mostly known by his surname, but I can see it as a given name. It’s got that trendy -o ending and sounds similar enough to Indigo.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great idea for a post!

    I think Vermont would be very handsome for a boy, and Mississippi sounds like a children’s book heroine, à la Pippilotta, Pollyanna or Milly-Molly-Mandy. I kind of love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Girls’ Names Popular in Only One State (2016) | The Well-Informed Namer

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