Names from Guardians of the Galaxy

Before you proceed: Mild Spoilers Warning!

I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 last night.  I absolutely loved the first movie – the pacing, the soundtrack, and OMG did I mention the soundtrack?  This sequel was good too, but it just didn’t have the same charm for me as the first one.  Don’t get me wrong – the soundtrack (Awesome Mix Vol. 2) is fantastic!  Hopefully they’ll release it on vinyl…


Please release Awesome Mix Vol. 2 on vinyl!

When I go to movie theaters now, it’s not just about entertainment.  Collecting character names has become a significant part of my movie-going experience.  So…here’s my post about the influence of Guardians of the Galaxy on baby names!  I’ve checked these names against the most up-to-date birth data from the Social Security Administration.

Both Volumes:

Peter Peter left the top 100 in 1997, but he’s always been popular.  This name stabilized in wake of Guardians Vol. 1, and although rank decreased slightly between 2014 and 2015, raw usage increased.  I can’t see Peter returning to the top 100 any time soon, but he’s not going south, either.  2015 rank: #206, with 1913 uses.  For extra context, the 2013 (pre-GotG) rank was also #206, but with 1849 uses. 

Quill Peter‘s surname shot up from 5 uses in 2014 to 21 uses in 2015. 

Gamora – It honestly surprised me to learn that this hasn’t appeared in the data.   Awesome lady warrior in a major movie with a feminine-sounding name, and nobody thinks to name their daughters after her?  Something’s fishy here.  Then I realized…her name sounds a lot like Gomorrah.  Would that do it? 

Nebula – Only appeared once, in 2011.  Astronomy names are somewhat trendy now, so I think we will see a few more in the near future. 

Rocket – Well we can’t say that this name rocketed upwards after the first movie, but the usage almost doubled between 2014 and 2015.  13 boys and 7 girls were named Rocket in 2014 (the first time that Rocket was used for girls), and 25 boys and 11 girls were named Rocket in 2015. 

Drax – 6 boys in 2015.  Drax is probably my favorite (and a lot of people’s favorite) character in both movies due to his sense of humor.  That, and the “ax” ending give this baby name potential.  I think the surprising thing for me is that the name Drax debuted the year after the movie. 

Groot – No debut yet.  Expecting parents might be too concerned about “I am Groot” jokes to go ahead with this tree name. 

Yondu – Not in the data yet.

Kraglin – Not in the data, but Kraglin sounds fairly name-y. 

Howard – Howard the Duck cameos in both movies. The name Howard left the top 1000 in 2013 and again in 2015.  The best way to describe this name’s current status is “touch-and-go.”

Vol. 1:

Ronan – The popularity of Ronan had been rising for several years already, but an argument could be made that Guardians of the Galaxy accelerated it.  667 boys were named Ronan in 2013 (the year before GotG V.1), up from 593 in 2012.  In 2014, there were 864 male Ronans and 1024 in 2015.  

Korath – Hasn’t appeared in the data.

Nova – Like Ronan, this name was growing more popular at a fairly steady pace but then accelerated after Guardians of the Galaxy.  However, I can’t tell for sure whether GotG is the definite cause or if this name became super trendy for another reason.  I can say that Nova is increasingly popular for boys.  In 2015, 1511 girls and 127 boys were named Nova

Thanos – While Thanos didn’t debut in 2014 or 2015, the movie did return the name to the data and boosted it.  12 boys were named Thanos in 2015, up from 5 in 2014.  You can read more about this name here.

Vol 2:

Mantis – Maybe this sounds a little too much like “Praying Mantis,” but the character was adorable and I could see a few parents using the name. 

Ego – I hope I don’t see any birth announcements for Ego or data debuts.  Let’s just say that the character’s name was apt. 

Meredith – Peter Quill’s mom.  The name Meredith has started to rise again, but I don’t think Meredith Quill is the reason because I don’t remember her first name being mentioned in the first GotG (even though the character appeared).  That said, 507 girls (rank #590) were named Meredith in 2015, up from 475 (#609) in 2014 and 431 (#660) in 2013. 

Brandy – There’s no character named Brandy in the movie, but the 1970s song Brandy was a major motif.  65 girls and 11 boys were named Brandy in 2015, and I wonder if we’ll see the name rise in 2017 and 2018 because of the soundtrack.  However, Brandy is both outdated (peak was 1979) and an alcoholic beverage, probably tempering this name’s ability to make a major comeback at this time. 

Ayesha – 151 girls were named Ayesha in 2015; the name is a variation of the Arabic name Aisha.  

Taserface – Yeah, you probably shouldn’t name your kid Taserface.  They made fun of this one so badly in the movie…and Taserface just thought he was being cool and intimidating. 😦

Stakar – played by Sylvester Stallone.  That was awesome.  To my knowledge, not in the data.

The thing I’ve generally found with these names is that the first movie positively influenced names that already existed, but didn’t really proliferate new names.  Drax is an exception, but his name has a trendy sound. 

What are your favorite names from Guardians of the Galaxy

Alistair and Co.

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 1.01.52 PM.png

I’ve noticed two primary and near-universal signs that a name is about to be popular: a) meteoric rise in usage and b) a plethora of alternative spellings appearing.  It also matters how far the name is from the very bottom of the popularity pool.  

Alistair is on my radar for entering the American top 1000 in 2016. 194 baby boys were given this particular spelling in 2015, up from 178 in 2014 and 132 in 2013.  Compare those numbers to 42 in 2005 and 19 in 1995.  In 2015, the least popular boys’ name was used 202 times, putting Alistair at a precipice.

Alistair is an alternative spelling of Alasdair, a Scottish Gaelic form of Alexander (#8 in the U.S.).  Alasdair was given to 36 boys last year, up from 29 in 2014.  After Alistair, the most popular ones are Alister (84 boys) and Alastair (47 boys).  The total count of Alistair-spellings within the 2015 SSA data is nine; the others are Allister (46 boys), Aleister (28), Alastor (10), Allistair (8), and Alistar (6).  All of those spellings were more common in 2015 than in 2014, excepting Alistar.  Additionally, Alyster appeared in the extended data between 2012 and 2014, and Alastar in 2011 and 2013.

My introduction to this name was the Harry Potter character Alastor Moody, paranoid “auror” (a kind of specialized magical law-enforcement officer) and presumed professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. Ironically, Alastor isn’t even related to Alistair and co., though Alistair, via Alexander’s definition (approximately “defender of men”) is probably closer to the character’s personality than the meaning of Alastor, which originally meant “avenger” in Ancient Greek and was an epithet for Zeus.  Of course, the question now is this: are baby Alastors named after Moody, mythology, or in conjunction with all the Alistairs? The extended data suggests the third option. Alastor first appeared with 5 or more uses in 2011, long after the character was first introduced and indeed, a year after his last movie appearance in Deathly Hallows: Part 1. In 2015, there were 10 boys given this spelling, up from 7 in 2014. It’s certainly possible that the parents of the boys called Alastor rather than Alistair, Alasdair, etc. are Harry Potter fans, but if we start to see more Alastors it’s because we’re seeing more of the other renditions.  If anything, the rise of Alistair may have granted a little visibility to an otherwise overly eccentric baby name from the Potterverse.

The rise of Alistair in the U.S. has been a slow and steady percolation over decades.  Perhaps strangely, as popularity rose here, it mostly decreased in the U.K.  Alistair is barely still a top 500 name on the England/Wales charts; 20 years ago he was solidly in the top 200, but now straddles the line between top 300 and top 400.  It doesn’t even rank in the Scottish top 100, despite its provenance.  Other spellings, including not-anglicized Alasdair, fare even worse.  I suspect that American popularity of Alistair is aided by the trendiness of other other Scottish names like Lachlan (#768) and Callum (#683), which are both relatively new to the top 1000 and our naming lexicon.  Both those names are rising throughout the U.K. as well as the U.S., which leads me to wonder if Alistair might be due for a revival on their side of the pond…or at least a stabilization.

Thoughts on Alistair?  Do you have a favorite spelling?  I’m partial to Alastair and Alasdair, though I’m even fonder of good old Alexander

General name info links:

Below the top 1000, Part 25 (Girls)

Hi everyone!  This week’s batch of rare names is rather large, and since this is only a selection of some names from the 20-22 range of the extended data…there are plenty more.  You’ll find many more girls’ names towards the bottom of the barrel than you will boys’ names.  Parents tend to be more creative when naming their daughters than their sons.  While the below names are currently far too rare for the American top 1000, the Social Security Administration notes that 78.81% of males born in 2015 were accorded names in the top 1000; only 67.90% of females born last year were also given top 1000 names. 

Anyways, enjoy!  And if any of you are participating in NaNoWriMo need character names, I hope this can be a resource to you. 🙂

  • 22: Adaliz, Aixa, Alabama, Albany, Arora, Ashleen, Avalene, Benita, Cleopatra, Cyan, Dalexa, Daviana, Dreya, Dru, Filomena, Inga, Ixchel, January, Jaylianna, Jeanelle, Jennavieve, Kadiatou, Kathlyn, Koralyn, Mable, Mamie, Montgomery, Munachimso, Nalaya, Nayelis, Noriah, Parnika, Persia, Phyllis, Riva, Rosabelle, Ruchy, Safari, Savvy, Tamsin, Tennyson, Thora, Winnifred, Yulia, Zaidee, Zoila, Zuly, Zunaira
  • 21: Aaralynn, Aissata, Amada, Analis, Aolani, Arcadia, Arella, Avital, Bergen, British, Ciel, Darling, Delfina, Devany, Elka, Ellanore, Erina, Fae, Frimet, Gurnoor, Harleyquinn, Idalia, Isolde, Joya, Kallista, Laramie, Lazaria, Liat, Lilou, Melaina, Neda, Niharika, Saffron, Solveig, Vanity, Viridiana, Willamina, Zuleika
  • 20: Aasiya, Adair, Adithi, Aella, Aerith, Allure, Aluna, Anberlin, Anoushka, Aveya, Beaux, Blue, Breslin, Camry, Chidera, Cosima, Deyanira, Dionne, Domenica, Evangelia, Evolette, Fatimata, Fawn, Ginny, Gracia, Isidora, Island, Isyss, Jalayla, Jood, Jovana, Kindle, Latoya, Lorenza, Loxley, Mccartney, Menucha, Rosey, Ruqayyah, Saylah, Sneha, Swayzee, Tynleigh, Vasilisa, Zamzam, Zoella, Zuzu

Thoughts on these names?  I’m curious about the origin of Zamzam, myself. 

If you’d like to see more rare names, here are the last five posts in this series:

Emma: Character [Sur]names


I’ve just finished reading Jane Austen’s Emma.  Normally I love anything Austen wrote, but this book was a chore.  The first third of the story (Volume 1, actually) was unimaginably boring, and I perceived Emma Woodhouse herself as annoying.  Amazingly, I persevered to Volume 2, at which point I started to enjoy it more.  Having finished it (there are 3 volumes), I can actually say that I liked it…but for a while I hated it.  This, coming from someone whose favorite book is Pride and Prejudice and who adored the obscure but deliciously scandalous Lady Susan

The character names were excellent but nearly as boring as I found Volume 1.  Almost everyone was named some classic like Henry or Isabella.  The only really unusual names of interest were Hetty and Augusta, but overwhelmingly there were few rarities.  To be fair, most characters were referred by their surnames.  So, why don’t we look at those and their usage?

Bates: 8 boys in 2015.  I considered Miss Bates was an interesting example of the Regency-era spinster.  She’s not especially old, but is unmarried at a much later age than most women would wed.  Her community regards her highly for a kind and optimistic personality, even if she tends to ramble.

Campbell: 224 girls and 136 boys in 2015.  There is some mention of a Colonel and Mrs. Campbell. 

Churchill: Under 5 uses in 2015, if any.  Churchill hasn’t been used regularly since World War II (not that it was ever common), but it did appear in the extended data back in 2012.  I am looking at American data, so there’s that too.  However, I think Winston Churchill tends to be a more likely namesake than Frank Churchill.  Speaking of which: Winston is experiencing a revival – he ranked #523 last year! 

Cole: 3475 boys (#115) and 14 girls.  The Coles are a newly wealthy and up-and-coming family in Emma’s town who seem mostly to serve as social catalysts – i.e., they host parties.  The name Cole always makes me think either of Cole Porter or Nat King Cole. 

Dixon: 70 boys.  Mr. Dixon never actually appears except in passing mention, though one mention was apparently enough to upset Jane Fairfax.

Elton: 62 boys.  I can’t say I liked Mr. Elton very much, and I was even less fond of his wife.  Even so, any child called Elton will surely be associated with Elton John long before the rude vicar. 

Fairfax: Unknown usage, though I did encounter one several years back who’s probably around my age.  If you want some Austen-Brontë crossover material, I think Mr. Rochester’s second name was Fairfax.  The most probable namesake, I imagine, is not literary but historical.  In the 18th century, the 6th Lord Fairfax once owned over 5,000,000 acres of land stretching across what are now Virginia and West Virginia. 

Hawkins: 57 boys.  Mr. Elton marries Miss Hawkins, who frequently errs and refers to Jane Fairfax by her “Christian name.”  Proper protocol was to address her as ‘Miss Fairfax’; calling her ‘Jane’ was considered vulgar. 

Knightley8 girls in 2015.  Although the book refers to Mr. Knightley and his brother Mr. John Knightley (with the one Mrs. Knightley often and simply designated Isabella), Americans usually treat this as a girls’ name.  Knightley is even more modern than it is rare, having only officially entered the naming pool seven years ago.  The sound and style of the name may be responsible for its usage, though curiously other Austen-related names like Fitzwilliam (8 boys) are very new to the data too.  

Martin: 1332 boys (#276).  Emma soon persuades Harriet to turn down a proposal from Mr. Robert Martin and disastrously attempts to set her up with Mr. Elton. 

Perry: 139 boys and 87 girls.  I believe Mr. Perry was the physician. 

Smith: 154 boys and 11 girls.  Harriet Smith is an illegitimate child, which is one of the only things I found particularly interesting about the first third of the book. 

Weston: 3305 boys (#120) and 5 girls.  Easily the most popular character surname from the story, Weston is taking off – possibly responding to the exponentially increasing popularity of counterpart Easton (#78).  In a couple years, Weston could be a top 100 baby name! 

Woodhouse: Unknown usage.  Emma’s surname hasn’t inspired parents in any decade.  If any baby Woodhouses exist, they’re more likely named after Sterling Archer’s butler. 

Thoughts?  Have you read Emma, and if so, how did you like it? 

Below the Top 1000, Part 19 (Girls)

Wow, it’s been 6 months exactly since I started this blog.  Thank you everyone for reading and encouraging me to continue writing about this rather unusual hobby. 🙂  Now let’s look at some names together!

This week’s post includes some of the many names to 30, 31, 32, 33, or 34 girls in the U.S. last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  Writers, if you’re looking for a really unusual character name, this list has plenty of monikers that fit the description!   

  • 34: Adelise, Annamaria, Berkleigh, Caprice, Dayelin, Envy, Henna, Ilene, Isamar, Junia, Lareen, Leilana, Lynley, Nohemi, Phoenyx, Sakina, Sheridan, Soren, Vanya
  • 33: Avalina, Akemi, Blessyn, Britain, China, Dolores, Eleonora, Husna, IlseImogene, Jacinta, Jolina, Khushi, Koraline, Meela, Nandini, Oluwadarasimi, Ora, Quetzalli, Rogue, Saori, Stormi, Topanga, Yessica
  • 32: Amayrani, Ameenah, Anabia, Annasophia, Barbie, Daisha, Emelina, Essie, Gweneth, Jania, Karaline, Leliana, Mariafernanda, Meklit, Minna, Nicoletta, Oumou, Rosaline, Rosslyn, Seneca, Unknown, Vega, Windsor
  • 31: Ahtziri, Anastazia, Annalicia, Antonina, Bradleigh, Bryndle, Calissa, Dynasty, Ezrah, Irena, Jatziry, Jemimah, Katelin, Letti, Locklyn, Mirella, Nashley, Odyssey, Parisa, Praise, Shifra, Solara, Theadora, Yajaira, Yazleemar
  • 30: Amarachi, Anh, Atarah, Atlas, Berlyn, Bertha, Betsabe, Blimy, Chastity, Clarabelle, Cortana, Dolly, Elma, Emonie, Eveline, Favour, Forever, Gloriana, Janis, Katniss, Lakshmi, Lujain, Mariska, Naydelin, Orla, Priyanka, Queena, Scotland, Spirit, Stephania, Vita

What do you think?  I’m curious about the fact that there are almost as many girls named Jemimah (31) as Jemima (35).  That, and Unknown.  How does someone born in 2015 still end up with Unknown, assuming that’s a designation and not an actual name? 

Previous posts in this series:


“Stranger Things” in Naming


By Lowtrucks – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Something that’s been on mind lately is the possibility of Stranger Things affecting baby names.  The sci-fi/horror series, released on Netflix in July, has set the internet abuzz.  The show is so successful that a second season was announced today!  Disclaimer: I was already formulating this post before they announced it.  Good timing, I guess?

Since Stranger Things takes place in the early 1980s, the characters’ names generally reflect mid-century American names.  Some of them are rapidly losing popularity, but I expect them to recover at least temporarily. 

Joyce – This name has been in the top 1000 almost every year since 1880, but popularity has been declining for decades.  Peak popularity was in the 1940s, around the time when Joyce Byers likely would have been born.  Joyce was persistent in finding her son, even when everyone else thought he was dead and she was crazy; for that, I think Joyce will grow higher than her current U.S. rank of #837.

NancyNancy Wheeler is Mike’s older sister, who helps search for Will and for her friend Barb.  Nancy has been in the top 1000 every year since 1880, but that may not last much longer.  Still, the character may be enough to slow or even reverse the decline.  Current rank: #819.     

BarbaraBarb“- The name Barbara ranks similarly to Joyce and Nancy, but usage has been a little more stable this decade; she currently ranks #836.  Although the character doesn’t have much screen time or many lines, she’s become a huge meme.  I’m convinced Barb is going to reappear in the extended data because of this. 

Eleven I would be shocked if Eleven doesn’t debut in the extended data next year.  She’s too major a character, and even if her real name might be Jane, we all lovingly know her as El.  Yes, English numbers generally aren’t used as names.  The current exception to that rule is Seven, who was a character in the show Married With Children, if memory serves me.

Dustin – Dustin is friends with Mike, Will, and Lucas.  If his character was 12 or 13 in 1983, that would likely mean he was named after Dustin Hoffman.  Dustin has been in the top 1000 in 1968, the year after The Graduate hit cinemas.   Although declining in usage, Dustin still fares better than the more traditional women’s names above.  With the adorable kid from Stranger Things, I expect Dustin will be a more popular choice for parents in 2016 and 2017 than it was in 2015.  Current rank: #505. 

Mike – Mike Wheeler is Nancy’s brother, best friends with Lucas, Will, and Dustin, and later with Eleven.  Mike fell out of the top 1000 last year after being there all the way since 1880…but, with 194 uses in 2015, don’t be surprised if this name returns from the Upside-Down of the American onomastic lexicon in 2016.  The #1000 ranking name in 2015 was given to 202 boys.  

Lucas – Unlike the other names on this list, Lucas is actually much more popular or trendy now than in 1983, or in the early 70s when the character would have been born.  Last year, Lucas ranked #16…top 20!  But before 1973, this name wasn’t even top 100.  Lucas needed no boost, but the cool, nerdy character behind him grants him one by default. 

Hopper – Hawkins’ police chief Hopper’s first name is actually Jim, but it seems like he was always referred to by his surname.  Hopper isn’t a top 1000 name at all; in fact, only 5 boys were named Hopper in 2015.  I don’t expect 200 baby boys to suddenly be called  Hopper by the end of 2016, but whenever this year’s data is released, there will almost certainly be more than 5. 

Jonathan – A top 50 name for over as many years, Jonathan is the kind of name I’d describe as popular but un-trendy.  Yes, it’s still a top 100 name, but hundreds fewer boys are given this name each succeeding year.  I think the show could stabilize Jonathan for a little while, but I’m not as certain as with the other names.  Personally, I’d look more towards his surname – Byers – and see if that shows up in the extended data next year.

Steve – Steve Harrington is Nancy’s boyfriend.  He has his pros and cons, but you never know with this name.  Steve barely remains in the top 1000, and I’m guessing that Mr. Harrington is the test for whether this name stays or goes.  Ironically, it’s Jonathan who’s a fan of The Clash…

Brenner – Dr. Brenner is the “scary government guy.”  Brenner was the name of 35 baby boys born last year.  I’d tell you to look for a drop in the 2016 data, but villainy hasn’t stopped Harry Potter fans from naming their daughters Bellatrix

Thoughts?  Stranger Things is one of my favorite TV shows, and I can’t wait to see how Season 2 pans out.  Naturally, I’m also very curious about the names! 


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? 


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? 




Henry is a classic boys’ name that is recovering from a mid-century lull.  He’s lucky to be a member of the minuscule club of names that has never been out of the top 1000 since 1880, the year in which the SSA name popularity data begins.  Still, he remained outside the top 100 between 1970 and 2005. 

As of 2015, Henry ranks #29 nationally.  If you live in Minnesota or Nebraska, he’s actually the #1 boys’ name, and he’s #2 in Washington D.C. and Oregon.  And it isn’t just this side of the pond that’s experiencing a revival of the name.  I fully expect Henry to enter the England & Wales top 10 within the next couple of years.  20 years ago, this name ranked #58 there, but in 2013 he entered the top 20 at #18 and in 2014 he ranked #15.  Henry has also recently debuted in the Irish and Scottish charts.  This name trendy all over the English-speaking world, and even Sweden apparently loves this name now (#56 in 2015, up from #76 in 2014).  

For the longest time, Henry VIII has been the prime association for millions.  He’s the English king who married six times and split from the Roman Catholic church (and started the Episcopal/Anglican church) to obtain a male heir.  As the wife mnemonic goes: “Divorced, Executed, Died, Divorced, Executed, Survived.”  Henry VIII has even inspired “disappearing wives” mugs where you pour a hot liquid in and their portraits fade to white (I have one – I’m a monarchy nerd).  There’s also a great, very catchy pop song from the 60s by Herman’s Hermits called “I’m Henery the Eighth, I am” that’s actually about a guy who’s the eighth in a line of men named Henry to have married some widow.  According to the song, “she wouldn’t have a Willie nor a Sam.”  Also, I have indeed seen the TV series The Tudors starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers…historically inaccurate in so many ways, though who doesn’t enjoy that show and that Henry VIII portrayal?


Henry VIII

Henry VIII aside, there were seven other English kings named Henry before him (including Henry V, who has his own Shakespeare play and a Kenneth Branagh movie!); not to mention, other kingdoms had their fair share of Henrys too.  France had several named Henri, Castile had a number of rules named Enrique…This is a very royal name.  Perhaps Henry‘s meaning, “home ruler,” makes this even more fitting.

Why is Henry becoming so popular again?  I’m not sure, but I can think of a few possibilities:

  1. Prince Harry (he’s actually a Henry)
  2. Harry Potter.  Okay, I know his name isn’t actually Henry.  But a) Harry is commonly a nickname for Henry, b) Harry’s great-grandfather was named Henry Potter “Harry”, and c) Henry has become a much more popular name since the books and movies started coming out. 
  3. Once Upon a Time, which is a popular ABC series which takes storybook/fairy tale/Disney/whatever characters and puts them into a modern day town in real-world Maine called “Storeybrook.”  Henry is the name of a main character.
  4. Old names are generally trendy at the moment. 

What do you think of the name Henry?  And why do you think it’s becoming so popular again? 

Sources for popularity data:

Below the Top 1000, Part 8 (Boys)

As we near the weekend, how about some rare baby names?  These are just some of the names that were each bestowed upon only 70-89 baby boys in the U.S. last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  Next week’s post will be about girls’ names in the same range!  

  • 85-89: Auden, Dyland, Triston, Angus, Obed, Aspen, Benito, Charleston, Job, Lazaro, Shalom, Casper, Lenox, Nehemias, Om, Chancellor, Jamarcus, Miguelangel
  • 80-84: Baker, Hamilton, Paris, Stuart, Aharon, Callahan, Carsten, Jairus, Omarion, Clive, Orrin, Rafe, Rivers, Anish, Brant, Ezio, Shannon, Sky, Boyd, Kipton, Morrison, Neo, Ocean
  • 75-79: Abe, Cadence, Luc, Sire, Amen, Braelyn, Calder, Geoffrey, Herbert, Warner, Gerson, Marion, Olivier, Raleigh, Valor, Arius, Hampton, Knowledge, Michelangelo, Sanjay, Ammon, Augustin, Giorgio

F. Scott Fitzgerald, very likely namesake!

  • 70-74: Barron, Eben, Flint, Johnson, Juanpablo, Kharter, Wylie, Zacharias, Ciaran, Dyson, Fitzgerald, Indiana, Leander, Shiv, Sylvester, Willis, Ashwin, Dempsey, Gracen, Lemuel, Madison, Mahmoud, Sunny, Zavian, Abiel, Marquez, Roscoe, Dixon, Kekoa, Ozzy, Patton, Shia, Zylen

What do you think of these names? 

Side note – I personally noticed a lot of movie-related names, like Marion (Marion Morrison, a.k.a. John Wayne), (Laurence) Olivier, Shia (LeBoeuf) Clive (Owen), Indiana (Jones), (Patrick) Dempsey, Sylvester (Stallone), (Bruce) Willis, Casper (as in the Ghost) and Neo (from the Matrix).  Honorable mentions: Johnson (there’s an old movie called Jeremiah Johnson), Patton (also a movie, about the general), Hamilton (Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton), and Fitzgerald (if you really love Midnight in Paris and a certain writer). 

Earlier posts in this series:

Lightly updated May 7, 2017