The Top 1000 Baby Names of 2017: Entries and Exits

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New names in the U.S. top 1000

My favorite part of reading a new list of the top 1000 American baby names is finding out which names are in and out!  For reference, here are all the names that entered or exited the top 1000 in 2017, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  If they entered, they’re officially popular now; if they left, they’ve become rare.


Girls: Alisa, Alora, Aminah, Amora, Dream, Egypt, Emberly, Emerald, Ensley, Everlee, Florence, India, Jenny, Jurnee, Kimora, Legacy, Luella, Lyanna, Magdalena, Malani, Marlowe, Meilani*, Melania, Miley, Mylah, Oaklee, Oaklyn, Oaklynn, Octavia, Opal, Paisleigh, Raylee, Renee, Saanvi, Samira, Selene, Sonia, Spencer, Sunny, Tara, Treasure, Xiomara, Yara

Boys: Aaden, Alaric, Ayan, Bishop, Bjorn, Briar, Caspian, Colson, Decker, Dilan, Frankie, Gatlin, Gianluca, Jaxx, Jaxxon, Jovanni, Juelz, Kace, Kairo, Kaiser, Khari, Koa, Kylen, Kyng, Ledger, Mike, Nova, Randall, Rashad, Reign, Shepard, Shmuel, Simeon, Wells, Yadiel, Zahir, Zayd


Girls: Aislinn, Alianna, Ally, Alyvia, Amya, Anabella, Ann, Anniston, Antonia, Arden, Aryana, Aubri, Ayana, Azaria, Briley, Bryleigh, Chandler, Cherish, Ciara, Elin, Emilie, Farrah, Heather, Jasmin, Jaylynn, Julianne, Kaylynn, Kensington*, Lilia, Lilyanna, Madyson, Marisol, Mariyah, Maylee, Milania, Montserrat, Moriah, Nathaly, Sharon, Shayla, Tabitha, Wendy, Yasmin

Boys: Ahmir, Amare, Benicio, Bode, Braiden, Brantlee, Brent, Creed, Gauge, Gilbert, Giovani, Hakeem, Harris, Immanuel, Jair, Jamar, Jamarion, Jericho, Jonathon, Justus, Kamdyn, Karim, Kolby, Konner, Krish, Kylo, Kymani, Marquis, Menachem, Mikael, Neymar, Ralph, Riaan, Rolando, Steve, Turner, Urijah 


  • There are 43 new girls names and 37 new boys names in the American top 1000.
  • Octavia is the highest ranking girls’ entry at #593 (with 502 girls).  This name’s newfound popularity is attributed to actress Octavia Spencer, who might also be partly responsible for the debut of Spencer (#975 with 266) as a girls’ name.
  • Colson is the highest ranking boys’ entry at #736 (with 321 boys).  I initially wondered if Colson was a variation on the Marvel character Agent Coulson’s name.  While Marvel may have a little influence on Colson, this particular spelling is associated with author Colson Whitehead.  His 2016 novel The Underground Railroad won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • R.I.P. Ann, Gilbert, and Steve.  They were in the top 1000 every year from 1880 to 2016, and now they’re gone.  Last year, 251 girls were named Ann (6 below the minimum 257 needed to join the top 1000 on the girls side), 194 boys were named Gilbert (7 below the minimum 201 for the boys’ side), and 186 boys were named Steve (15 below).
  • The #1000th most popular girls’ name was AloraBryleigh and Winnie were just as common for baby girls last year, but were prevented from entry by preference in alphabetical order.
  • The #1000th most popular boys’ name was JaxxKamdyn, Marquis, and Turner were just as common, but missed the cut.
  • Melania (#930 with 283 girls) replaced Milania (205 girls) as the standard spelling of that name, due familiarity with the First Lady.
  • Lyanna (#858 with 317 girls) and Yara (#987 with 262 girls) are character names from Game of Thrones.
  • *With the annual blessing of a new top 1000 also comes an annoying update to earlier years’ data sets that shifts a few names around (usually not by much, but enough for name researchers to notice).  Meilani was in the original 2016 top 1000, but in 2017 the updated top 1000 for 2016 shows Kensington instead.  They’ve swapped places again; for 2017, Meilani is considered a reentry and Kensington an exit.  Kensington wasn’t initially in the 2016 top 1000, but it is now.  This is confusing, I know.  I wish the Social Security Administration would provide a definite answer for why they do this…my guesses are that it’s to correct a) some parents’ failure to apply for Social Security within a certain time-frame, b) data-entry errors, and/or c) legal name changes.  Do my fellow name-writers have any other ideas?

Do you have any thoughts or questions about the new names in the top 1000, or the names that have left?  Favorites, least-favorites?  Are you happy or disappointed about some of the names?  Let me know!


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Let’s talk about the name Severus.  It’s an Ancient Roman name that’s belonged to several emperors and early saints, and yet was exceedingly rare until very recently.  The Harry Potter series brought Severus into everyday usage in the 21st century, and even then, it took 10 years since the first movie (and 14 since the first book) for it to appear in American (SSA) baby name data.  Severus debuted with 5 boys in 2011, the same year that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came to theaters.  Since many viewers don’t read the books, that would have been the year that many fans learned (spoiler alert!) of Professor Snape’s vindication and redemption.

Once people started naming their sons Severus, it seemed like it was going to be a rarity only a few hardcore fans would be brave enough to use.  Despite Roman names having been trendy in recent years, prospective parents are probably deterred by the “sever” part (or even by Snape’s less savory aspects).  So, from 2011 to 2015, only 5-7 babies received the name every year.  2016 is when it gets strange.

Just 7 boys were named Severus in 2015, but 32 got the name in 2016!  5 alone (15.625%) were born in Texas, though without other state data it’s impossible to make a geographically-based assessment.  Regardless, going from 7 to 32 boys?  That’s a ginormous jump for an extremely rare name.  What’s the influence?

A couple of things happened in 2016 that might have influenced the spike:

  • The actor who played Severus Snape – Alan Rickman – died on January 14.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit the stage on July 30.  Snape appears in the play, and one of the main characters is named Albus Severus Potter.  Although the production didn’t come to the U.S. that year, many American fans would have read the script.

Curiously, another name associated with Death Eaters – Bellatrix – jumped from 5 girls to 24 girls in 2016.  Bellatrix didn’t physically appear in Cursed Child, but she was discussed in it.  Additionally (and proving this isn’t just an infatuation with the magical dark side), Albus debuted in SSA data in 2016 with 8 boys.  Dumbledore himself couldn’t make the name appear!  Harry, Ronald, and Hermione all rose in 2016 too.  Weirdly enough, the nuclear Malfoy family (Draco, Scorpius, and Astoria) didn’t experience spikes in their names.  Lucius rose, but that used to be a popular name and so something else could be happening there.

If Alan Rickman hadn’t died, then we could to point to Cursed Child as the singular reason why usage of the name Severus more than quadrupled between 2015 and 2016.  But he did die, so we can’t.  After all, why name the baby Alan (which could refer to *any* Alan) when you can name him after the character you fell in love with?  I think it will be very interesting to see whether the name Severus maintains its surge in 2017.

What do you think of the name Severus?  Do you think there could be another reason why it spiked in 2016?  Let me know what you think.




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Happy International Louie Louie Day!  “Louie Louie” is a famous rock song that was written in 1955 by Richard Berry (1935-1997), whose birthday was today, April 11th.  The Kingsmen recorded the best-known version of the song in 1963.  The FBI actually investigated their cover because people thought it had dirty lyrics, but the singing is so hard to understand that nothing ever came of that.  It did become a pop culture standard, though; it’s appeared in many movies, including Animal House (1978).

The name Louie is primarily a nickname for Louis, though it can also serve as a phonetic spelling for parents who prefer the French pronunciation over the English.  Louie returned to the American top 1000 in 2015 after an absence of over 20 years; his current/2016 rank is #916, representing 233 boys.  7 girls were also named Louie, which can reflect both its rising popularity among boys and the recent returns of Louise and Louisa to the top 1000.  Louis is slowly rising again, too.

What do you think of the name Louie?  Do you prefer it as a nickname, or do you like it by itself?  And how do you like the song?


Poppy is a cheerful-sounding flower name that recently became popular in the United States!  After almost 100 years of sporadic usage here (including a mini-spike in the 70s that was mostly contained to California), it finally debuted in the top 1000 in 2016.  The name has been popular in the U.K. for much longer; the English and Welsh charts only extend back to 1996, but she’s been in their top 100 for most of those 20-odd years.  In 2014, Poppy was the 5th most popular girls’ name there!  Poppy‘s current U.S. rank is #747.

Despite Poppy‘s happy sound, there’s a bittersweet backstory.  The flower has long been associated with war, and especially World War I.  A 1915 poem called “In Flanders Fields” depicts the growth of poppies on the battlefield graves of recently-buried soldiers.  Within a decade after its publishing, the poppy became a symbol for remembrance of service members who’ve died in war.  That connection has stuck – artificial poppies are still passed out around military holidays every year to help fund veterans’ charities.  In my opinion, and despite any potential sadness associated with the flower, I think the name Poppy could be a meaningful choice for families trying to honor a service-member relative. 


A vibrant depiction of a poppy field by artist Robert Vonnoh, c. 1890

There is a much trickier association for the name Poppy, though.  Depending on how the flower’s seeds are harvested or extracted, they can either become safe seasonings for food *or* opiates (which are classified under opioids).  Somehow, I don’t think most parents are making connections between pretty flowers and deadly drugs; indeed, dozens of girls are named Belladonna (poisonous plant) every year.  More than anything, I think it’s surprising that of all the times Poppy could have become a popular baby name, it just had to be in the middle of the Opioid Crisis.

Drug associations aside, the fact is that American parents are choosing this name for their daughters in increasing numbers.  I think its British popularity does influence some anglophiles, but there’s more to it.  Poppy‘s rise here is probably heavily tied to contemporary pop culture.

People Named Poppy:

  • Poppy Montgomery (b. 1972) – Actress, born in Australia.
  • Poppy Harlow (b. 1982) – CNN commentator; Poppy is her nickname.
  • Poppy Delevingne (b. 1986) – British model/actress who recently had a role in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
  • Poppy (b. 1995) – Singer, uses Poppy as her stage name.

Poppy tends to make the rounds with “celebrity” babies, too.  Notably, the name belongs to one of Chef Jamie Oliver’s daughters, a great-granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush (whose childhood nickname was Poppy), and the daughter of Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent (of “Nate and Jeremiah by Design” fame, though she was born before the show launched).  Those last two were born in 2015.

Major or Recent Characters named Poppy:

  • Princess Poppy – main character in the movie Trolls (2016)
  • Poppy Adams – villain in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, played by Julianne Moore
  • Poppy Pomfrey – Hogwarts school nurse in Harry Potter series
  • Poppy Meadow – character in the British soap opera EastEnders from 2011 to 2014

California Poppy

It’s also worth mentioning that the California Poppy is that state’s official flower.  In 2016, 379 girls were named Poppy nationally; 52 of those were born in CA, and there were more there than in any other state.  Part of that’s because they have the largest population, the floral association probably helps too.  It’d certainly help explain why the 70s mini-spike was mostly contained there.

What do you think of the name Poppy – would you use it?  Would some of the more negative associations influence your decision, or do the positive associations outweigh them?  Let me know! 

The Most Interesting Compound Boys’ Names in the U.S.

You’ve read the list of compound girls’ names.  Now here’s the boys’ list!

  • Alanmichael: Apparently, this is from an 80s soap opera.  First appearance 1988, last appearance 2001.
  • Angeldejesus: Literally, “Angel of Jesus” in Spanish.  Similar to the women’s name Mariadejesus, or “Mary of Jesus.”  Angeldejesus last appeared in 2015 with 6 boys.
  • Angelgabriel: The angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she was pregnant with Jesus.  12 boys were named Angelgabriel in 2016.
  • Brandonlee: Brandon Lee (1965-1993) was the son of Bruce Lee, and an actor in his own right.  He died while filming The Crow (1994).  The name peaked in the SSA list the year he died.
  • Brucelee: 5 boys in 1989.  I’m curious why Brucelee debuted so long after Bruce Lee (1940-1973) died.
  • Christopherlee: Christopher Lee (1922-2015) most famously played Count Dooku in Star Wars and Saruman in Lord of the Rings.  The name Christopherlee shows up in SSA data from 1985 to 1991.
  • Crissangel: 5 boys in 2007.  Criss Angel is a magician.
  • Donjuan: The term “Don Juan” can refer to a womanizer.  It comes from a medieval Spanish legend, first written down in the 1600s.  Famous later works about the character include an opera by Mozart and a poem by Byron.  The name Donjuan last appeared in 2014 with 5 boys, possibly because of the 2013 movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  • Dylanthomas: Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) was a 20th-century poet.  This combo only appeared in 1998.
  • Georgemichael: Considering this name only appeared between 1989 and 1997, most Georgemichaels were probably named after the singer (1963-2016).  There’s also the Arrested Development character George Michael Bluth.
  • Jamesdean: Actor James Dean (1931-1955) was best known for the movie Rebel Without a CauseJamesdean first appeared in 1994, and lastly in 2014.
  • Jamespaul: Paul McCartney’s first name is really James.  This combo was given to 5 boys in 2016.
  • Jaydenjames: Britney Spears named one of her sons Jayden James, though this combo didn’t hit the lists for another two years.  Jaydenjames has appeared only once, in 2008.
  • Jeanclaude: The most famous bearer is Jean-Claude van Damme, known for his violent movies.  This combo last appeared in 2013.
  • Jeanluc: Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek: Next Generation.  The show inspired the first crop of Jeanlucs in the 80s, but the name  never faded back into obscurity and is a perennial (though rare) choice for baby boys.  24 boys were named Jeanluc in 2016.
  • Jessejames: 16 boys in 2016.  The most famous Jesse James was the 19th-century outlaw…the second *mildly* famous Jesse James is Sandra Bullock’s ex-husband.
  • Johnbenedict: 14 boys in 2005, presumably named after the new pope that year – Benedict XVI.
  • Johnoliver: 6 boys in 2016.  I wonder how many were named after comedian John Oliver and how many are a result of the name Oliver‘s growing popularity?
  • Johnross: 1980s TV character and the name of a 19th-century Cherokee chief.  Last appeared in 2015 with 9 boys.
  • Johnthomas: If you’ve ever watched Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, you’ll know why this combo is funny.  7 boys were named Johnthomas in 2016.
  • Johntyler: U.S. president John Tyler (1790-1862), who is probably most famous for having living grandchildren in the 21st century despite having been born in the 18th century!  The combo Johntyler has appeared twice, in 2003 and 2005.
  • Johnnyangel: Song from the 1950s, though the name didn’t appear until the 1990s.
  • Juandedios: Translation from Spanish – “John of God.”  5 boys in 2016.
  • Juliocesar: Spanish version of “Julius Caesar.”  8 boys in 2016.
  • Kuntakinte: Kunta Kinte was a major character in Roots, a novel written by author Alex Haley about his ancestry.  The combo Kuntakinte was given to 6 boys in 1977 and never appeared in SSA data again, but Kunta alone was far more popular and did reappear.
  • Malcolmjamal: In the 80s, a few boys were named after Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who acted in The Cosby Show.
  • Marcopolo: Marco Polo (1254-1324) wrote a detailed travelogue of his voyages through China.  5 boys in 2003.


    Marco Polo is a surprising source for a compound name!

  • Muhammadali: 24 boys were named Muhammadali in 2016, which is a lot more than ever before.  The reason was the passing of boxer Muhammad Ali (1943-2016).
  • Princewilliam: Princewill also shows up in the data.  5 boys were named Princewilliam in 2011, the same year the Queen’s grandson married Kate Middleton.
  • Robroy: Rob Roy is the name of an 1817 Walter Scott book, though the name Rob Roy itself refers to a guy called Rob Roy MacGregor.  The name Robroy occasionally appeared in SSA data between 1958 and 1968.
  • Victorhugo: Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Last appearance: 2014.


  • I’ve noticed some compound names that contain “Jr,” including Anthonyjr, Carlosjr, Jesusjr, and etc.  Usually Jr. (abbreviation for Junior) is a suffix placed after the surname.  Assuming most of these kids are indeed named after their fathers, I’d be curious to know if Jr. appears twice on official documents (for example: Anthonyjr Smith, Jr.).  Or, are they negated as juniors because the first name doesn’t exactly copy that of the father’s? 
  • There are some combos that contain names from different languages, including…
    • Iancarlo (Scottish and Italian)
    • Kevinkhang (Irish and Vietnamese) – I really want to know this story behind this one!
    • Jeancarlos (French and Spanish)
    • Jeanmichael (French and English)
  • The “Sir” combos are interesting.  Here are the ones from the 2016 dataset:
    • Siranthony
    • Sirking
    • Sircharles
    • Sirwilliam
  • Combinations that surprisingly don’t appear in SSA data: Ethanallen, Jackryan, and Martinluther. 

What do you think of these compound boys’ names?  Are there any you’ve heard that you would add to this list?  Let me know!

The Most Interesting Compound Girls’ Names in the U.S.

A compound name is one name that includes at least two names.  There are a few common types of compound names:

  1. Double-barrel, or when two names are connected by a hyphen.  Example: Lily Rose -> LilyRose.
  2. Double name, or when someone goes by two names separated by a space.  This can either be a result of having two first names or using both a first and middle together.  Example: Billy Bob.
  3. Combination, or as I sometimes like to call it, the “stream of consciousness.”  Example: Mary + Elizabeth = Maryelizabeth.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. there’s no official data distinguishing between different compound types.  There’s no way to tell whether there’s a dash, space, extra capital, apostrophe, or any other marks you can imagine because the SSA doesn’t acknowledge them!  Officially, MaryAnne exists as Maryanne, and will find herself in a list with women who actually are named Maryanne...which is why I’m not writing a list of double-barrel names right now.  The United Kingdom does recognize hyphenated names, and indeed, they’re much more popular there than here.  If you’re interested in reading more on the British double-barrel phenomenon, check out two posts about that country’s hyphenated girls’ and boys’ names by a fantastic new name blog called Onomastica!

Here are some of the most interesting compound names for girls from the U.S., all found scattered through the Social Security Administration‘s baby name data.  There are so many fascinating and distinctive compound names (mostly related to pop culture) that I will publish the boys’ names in a separate post.

  • Avemaria: Literally meaning “Hail Mary,” this is a prayer that has been transformed into several famous pieces of music.  According to the Social Security Administration, 5 girls were named Avemaria in 2016.
  • Barbaraann: Barbara Ann is a song immortalized by the Beach Boys, though the original version was recorded under the title “Barbara-Ann.”  Barbara was an extremely popular name between the 30s and 50s; indeed, the name Barbaraann precedes the song, and appears in the birth data as early as 1934.  Her last appearance was in 1996 with 5 girls.
  • Billiejean: Although perpetually rare, this name received a mild boost twice; first in 1973, after tennis player Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match; and secondly, after the 1983 Michael Jackson song.
  • Briarrose: In the 1959 Disney movie Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora was renamed Briar Rose when she went to live with the fairies.  18 girls were named Briarrose in 2016.
  • Caramia: The most famous version of the song “Cara Mia” was recorded by Jay and the Americans in 1965.  The name first appeared in 1966 with 6 girls, peaked in 2006 with 20 girls, and last appeared in 2015 with 8 girls.  “Cara Mia” means “my dear” or “my beloved” in Italian.
  • Chakakhan: Chaka Khan is a funk musician from the 70s and 80s.  The name itself only charted in 1975 and 1976.
  • Cindylou: From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the character Cindy Lou Who.  This combo appeared in the late 50s (around the time the book was written).
  • Dannielynn: After the daughter of Anna Nicole Smith (1967-2007), who was born in 2006.  5 girls were named Dannielynn in 2016.
  • Dellareese: Della Reese (1931-2017) was a singer in the 50s – that’s when her name debuted – and later, an actress.  Interestingly, the resulting compound name Dellareese is very close to her birth name, Delloreese.
  • Harleyquinn: After the DC comics villain.  20 girls were named Harleyquinn in 2016.
  • Heavenlyjoy: 11 girls received this religious name in 2016.
  • Jeannedarc: Appeared in the early 1920s after the canonization of St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), or Jeanne d’Arc in French.


    St. Joan of Arc inspired the compound name Jeannedarc after her 1920 canonization.

  • Lauraashley: While the names Laura and Ashley were both pretty trendy in the mid-to-late 80s, Laura Ashley was a fashion designer who died in 1985.  The name appeared in 1987.
  • Marajade: Fairly obscure Star Wars reference.  Mara Jade was a character in the extended universe before Disney bought the rights and made Force Awakens.  According to the SSA, 6 girls were named Marajade in 2016.
  • Maryjane: “Mary Jane” can refer to a few things – 1) a street name for marijuana, 2) a shoe style, or 3) a type of penny candy.  A shocking 216 girls were named Maryjane (or some variation thereof) in 2016!  It’s even been in the top 1000 within the last decade.
  • Marysue: A “Mary Sue” is a type of Original Character in fan fiction stories who exhibits self-inserted qualities of the fan fiction writer.  5 girls received this compound name in 2016, which is the first year since the early 1970s that it’s appeared in the data!
  • Ninasimone: Nina Simone (1933-2003) was a famous African-American musician.  This combo appears in the data twice, in 2000 and 2015.  Two documentaries about her came out in ’15, which may explain the name’s appearance in the data that year.
  • Normajean: From the Elton John song “Candle in the Wind,” which is about Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962); her birth name was Norma Jeane.  7 girls were named Normajean in 2016, which is impressive considering that only 86 girls were named Norma.
  • Peggysue: From two Buddy Holly songs, “Peggy Sue” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.”  The latter is also the name of a cute 1980s movie.  Any uses of the double-barrel name probably come from the first Peggy Sue song, which came out in 1957.  Nancy (of Nancy’s Baby Names) has written more extensively on the name Peggysue.
  • Ravensymone: After the actress and commentator on The View, Raven-Symoné.  Ravensimone also appears in the data.  Her name first appeared in SSA data in 1990, while she was on The Cosby Show.
  • Pennylane: From the Beatles song “Penny Lane.”  Though the song came out in the 1960s, the name didn’t appear in SSA data until 2008!  5 girls received this name in 2016.

What do you think of these compound names?  Do you have a favorite, perhaps one that isn’t listed here?  What’s your favorite type of compound?  Let me know, and stay tuned for the boys’ names!


With the increasing popularity of Otto in the U.S. (currently ranked #527), will some parents start choosing Odo for their baby’s name?  The two names are related (deriving from a Germanic word meaning “wealth” or “fortune,” though Odo is pronounced more like Oh-doe than Ought-o or Odd-o.  A relative’s Star Trek binge-watching planted this obscure name in my mind.  To me, Odo evokes images of handsome medieval knights and polite, stern space aliens.

Odo has never appeared in the Social Security Administration‘s extended name data.  In order for that to happen, a name has to be given to at least five same-gendered babies in a year.  Thankfully, the SSA’s “Popular Baby Names” isn’t the only database available to search for baby name histories.  You can also glance at the Social Security Death Index* for clues.  The SSDI is especially useful for researching names in the late 19th century and early 20th century, because it doesn’t seem to have minimal popularity restrictions (which are in place for the birth data to protect the privacy of presumably living citizens).  Also, sometimes if you see a “popular” 19th century name in the birth data, you’ll find a higher number of them in the death data.  No idea why *that* is, but it is another reason why the SSDI is such a valuable tool.  Finally, you can sometimes see the names of people born before 1880 in the death index; the birth index starts at 1880.

While I never found Odo in the birth data, I did find over sixty Odo‘s in the death index.  The earliest two were born in 1874 (in Wisconsin and Texas), and the last in 1946 (South Carolina).  The youngest was probably the son of another Odo who was born in 1915 in the same SC town; overall, the last Odo born before the youngest (that has died, anyway) was born in 1938.  According to the death index, no more than three Odo‘s were born each year nationally.  While there might be a handful still living, this paucity suggests the possibility that Odo never reached SSA’s minimal popularity threshold of 5 uses even accounting for incomplete/inaccurate name info before 1937.  The other possibility is that even if five Odo‘s were born in a single year after 1879, at least two weren’t recorded because they died early or worked in the wrong employment sector.

Despite Odo‘s status as an extremely rare name in 21st century America, it isn’t exactly obscure.  Nowadays, Odo mostly appears in pop culture and video games.  The book Fellowship of the Ring mentions a minor character named Odo Proudfoot, who is a cousin to Bilbo Baggins.  An Odo is also referenced in Harry Potter through song.  Star Trek’s Odo is probably better known than the examples above, though.  In Deep Space Nine, Odo is the station’s shape-shifting, Quark-hating security guard.  That Odo is a major character, and I’m honestly surprised the name didn’t breach the extended data at least once during the show’s run in the 1990s.  Odo isn’t exactly a sci-fi creation; it’s a historical name!


From left: Bishop Odo, King William, and their brother Robert

Did I mention history?  Famous early bearers include King Odo of France (also known as Eudes) and Saint Odo of Cluny.  William the Conqueror also had a maternal half-brother named Odo who was Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux.  If you’ve ever played “Crusader Kings II” as I have, you may have interacted with this character (whose surname is “de Conteville”).  In real life, he wasn’t the only Odo in England.  The 1086 Domesday Book records several individuals named Odo and even one Odolina.

What do you think of Odo?  Is it too weird or pretentious for modern usage, or is it like a book just waiting to be dusted off and read?  Would *you* use it?  Let me know in the comments! 

*If you’d like to access the SSDI and don’t have a subscription to, you can do as I did and go on Family Search, which offers it for free. 


These Names are Gems

These names are gems – literally!  Gem-names enjoy mostly feminine usage, but they’re increasingly unisex or even masculine.  Let’s take a look at how popular these baby names were in 2016, according to Social Security Administration data!


  • Amber – Current rank: #374 and falling.  Amber‘s current stint in the top 1000 started after the publication of Forever Amber.  From what I understand, that book is the World War II generation’s 50 Shades of Gray.
  • Amethyst – 159 girls in 2016, up from 125 in 2015. 
  • Coral – 199 girls, down from 201.
  • Diamond – 226 girls, down from 262; 33 boys, down from 35.
  • Emerald – 219 girls, up from 194; 13 boys, up from 6.  A couple weeks ago, I watched the original Twin Peaks and got a kick out of the names from the fictional soap opera within.  “Invitation to Love” has twin characters named Emerald and Jade.
  • Garnet – 15 girls, up from 7; 6 boys (reentry).  A couple years ago I was reading something in the paper about a local family, and one of their young sons was named GarnetGarnet was a mildly popular girls’ name in the early 20th century, though it’s almost always enjoyed use amidst both genders.
  • Heliodor / Heliodore – Golden beryl.  Although Heliodore is unrecorded in the SSA data, Heliodoro is.
  • Jacinth – Not currently in use, but there are male and female Jacinths.
  • Jade – #117, up from #126.  Even though Madison and Ashley were supposedly way more popular than Jade when I was growing up, I feel like Jade was more popular locally.  I knew several. 
  • Jasper – #209 and still rising.  Jasper‘s never been out of the top 1000, though the Twilight series gave him a boost. 
  • Obsidian – As far as I can tell, Obsidian has only charted once in the SSA stats (5 boys were given the name in 2013).  I’m really surprised it isn’t a more popular baby name…it sounds so cool!
  • Onyx – Increasingly popular unisex gem name!  Onyx was given to 172 boys and 56 girls in 2016, up from 118 boys and 38 girls in 2015.  I personally wonder if we’re going to see this in the top 1000 in 2017 or 2018; for a boys’ name to rank, it currently needs at least 202 boys to rank.  Onyx isn’t far off that mark!
  • Opal – 256 girls, up from 231.  Do you think this will return to the top 1000 in 2017?  The current usage threshold for girls’ names is in the 260-270 range.
  • Pearl – #567, up from #627.  Pearl was relatively popular for both genders at the advent of the 20th century, but especially for girls.  There was a male writer called Zane Grey (1872-1939) whose first name was Pearl.
  • Ruby – #71, and the most popular gem name.  Ruby hasn’t been this popular since World War II!
  • Sapphire – 165, up from 147.

    Logan Sapphire

    The name Sapphire is more popular in 2016 than 2015, but still rare.

  • Topaz – 6 girls (reentry).  Topaz is the name of the stepmom in I Capture the Castle, so there’s some literary prestige here!
  • Turquoise – Not currently in use; most of the women named Turquoise were born in the late 70s or in the 80s.  

Names with gem meanings or associations:

  • Beryl – 9 girls (stable).  Beryl is a mineral: emeralds, aquamarine, and heliodor are all considered beryls.  As far as namesakes go, I think of the early aviatrix Beryl Markham, who wrote West with the Night
  • Crystal – #572, down from #554.  Crystal hit the U.S. top 10 in 1982, but it’s been downwards ever since.
  • Esmeralda – #377, down from #370; Spanish for “emerald.”  Esmeralda spiked in the two years after Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame came out.
  • Gem – 14 girls, up from 8.
  • Giada – 178 girls, down from 203.  Italian for “Jade”
  • Gemma – #247 and rising.  Italian name meaning “gem.”  Growing up, I actually knew a Gemma.  She was born a good while before her name ever cracked the top 1000.
  • Jewel – #924, down from #886.
  • Margaret – #139 and rising.  A classic English name deriving from a Greek name that means “pearl.”  I can’t tell you how happy I am that Margaret is making a comeback!
  • Sapphira – 50 girls, up from 45.  Greek name, Biblical character.

Gems that aren’t already names but probably should be:


Not your stereotypical gems, except for Ruby and Amethyst

  • Agate – I could see this as a nickname for Agatha.
  • AquamarineAqua is a spunky nickname, though it may lead to spontaneous a capella renditions of “Barbie Girl.”  For more subdued nicknames, try Marie or Marina.
  • Chrysocolla – might be a little unwieldy without a nickname.  “Chris?”
  • Lapis – from Lapis Lazuli
  • PeridotPerry or Dot for short?  Dottie?
  • Quartz – I’m surprised that I can’t find this in the SSA stats.  Quartz would work especially well as a boys’ name. 
  • Tourmaline
  • Zircon / Zirconia – I’m not sure how I’d feel if I were named after a synthetic gem stone, but Zirconia sounds kind of pretty and Zircon sounds cool. 

One last note – If you like the idea of a timely, seasonal name, look to the birthstones!  Most of these work better for girls, but there are plenty of gem-names that can go either way. 

  1. JanuaryGarnet
  2. February – Amethyst
  3. March – Aquamarine / Bloodstone.  Jasper also used to be a March stone.
  4. AprilDiamond
  5. MayEmerald
  6. JunePearl / Moonstone / Alexandrite
  7. JulyRuby
  8. August – Peridot / Spinel
  9. SeptemberSapphire
  10. OctoberOpal / Tourmaline
  11. NovemberTopaz / Citrine
  12. DecemberTurquoise / Zircon / Tanzanite

What is your favorite gem name?

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?

Predictions: The Top 100 Baby Names of 2016

The new U.S. data set comes out Friday!  Here are my predictions for the top 100.  You can read my top 10 predictions here.

11 names entered the top 100 in 2015 Hazel, Cora, Aurora, Quinn, Reagan, and Clara replaced Jasmine, Hadley, Alexandra, London, Lauren, and Sophie on the girls’ side; Ezra, Theodore, Elias, Mateo, and Sawyer replaced Justin, Camden, Luis, Juan, and Brody on the boys’ side.

Top 100 Names of 2015 (Both Genders, Fixed)

The Top 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2015, Visualized

Judging by the fastest-rising names that are just outside the top 100, here are the ones I predict for entry:

  • Boys: Roman, Leonardo*, Greyson
  • Girls: Eliana, Elena, Luna, Willow, Kinsley

*Leonardo (current rank #103) ranked up 11 points (+356 uses) between 2014 and 2015, so the name is already doing well and could reach the top 100 without extra help.  However, Leonardo DiCaprio won the Academy Award for Best Actor in early 2016!  I anticipate a larger leap from 2015 to 2016.

Luna (#110; rank +33; +476 uses) belongs to a consortium of trendy classical names that also includes Athena and Valeria

These names I put as “maybes” for entry:

  • Boys: Declan, Abel, Harrison, Silas
  • Girls: Adalynn, Everly, Hadley, Delilah, Adeline

Even though Hadley dropped a couple ranks last year, I still hear a *lot* about this name.  Adeline made huge gains in 2015 because of the movie Age of Adaline, and Adalynn benefited.  The question is: will the names continue to rise so fast even if the movie boost is a one-time thing?

Harrison is possible (likely, even) because of Harrison Ford and Force Awakens, which was released at the end of 2015. Star Wars names!

Due to significant drops in popularity, these are the names I think will leave the top 100 in the 2016 list:  

  • Boys: Blake, Kayden, Ayden, Jace
  • Girls: Annabelle, Khloe, Alyssa, Alexis

Aiden ranked up in 2015, Kayden (#95; -5 rank; -476 uses) and other names ending in -Ayden did poorly in 2015.

Parents shied away from Annabelle (#92; -35 rank; -1074 uses) in 2015 after the name became associated with a horror movie.  My question: will the scary stick? 

These are the names I pegged as “maybe” leaving:

  • Boys: Bentley, Brandon, Kevin; maybe Jason and Zachary too
  • Girls: Aubree, Faith, Katherine

Regarding Brandon, Kevin, Jason, and Zachary: 80s and 90s baby names aren’t fashionable anymore, so don’t expect them to stick around much longer.  If 2016 isn’t the year these fall out of the top 100, 2017 will be. 

2015 was not a good year for Puritan-style virtue names (Temperance, Mercy, and Patience all left the top 1000).  Faith dropped 10 points between 2014 and 2015, and may leave the top 100 in the 2016 set. 

General trends I haven’t previously mentioned:

Old-fashioned names are very popular for girls.  The vintage-chic names of 2015 were ones like Hazel, Alice, and Cora; expect these to continue rising.  That isn’t to say modern names aren’t popping up more.  Southern names like Harper, Scarlett, and Paisley make for a very trendy subcategory of modern names.  Special recognition also goes to the “eye” names (Piper, Skylar, and Kylie) and the unisex Irish surnames (Quinn, Reagan, and Riley).

I have a harder time pegging the boys’ names.  The most popular boys’ names are decreasingly popular, evidenced by this SSA tidbit. There’s definitely some modernizing going on, yet some of today’s trendiest baby boy names sound like they belong in another century (looking right at you, Theodore and Ezra)!  Plenty of surnames (Hudson, Lincoln, Grayson) are doing well, except for a couple that are 90s leftovers.  Another trendy category I see?  Western-inspired names like Wyatt and Levi.   

Check back in a few days for the official list from the Social Security Administration.  Aaaaahhhh, I’m so excited! 😀