Boys’ Names Popular in Only One State in 2017

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 4.17.16 PMSome baby names are popular everywhere; others are local favorites.  Here is a list of boys’ names that were in the top 100 for just one U.S. state or Washington, D.C. in 2017!  I’ve also posted a list of girls’ names like this.

Alaska: Conrad, Paul

Arizona: Francisco

Arkansas: Kaden

California: Matteo

Connecticut: Jake

District of Columbia: Jeremy, Oscar

Florida: Bryan

Hawaii: Kaimana, Kainalu, Kainoa, Kaleo

Maine: Colby

Michigan: Ali

Mississippi: Braylen, Dallas, Kaleb, Princeton

Montana: Augustus, Warren

Nebraska: Barrett

New Jersey: Chaim, Yosef

New Mexico: Andres, Marcos

New York: Abraham, Muhammad

North Dakota: Mohamed

Rhode Island: Enzo

South Dakota: Briggs, Edward, Jax, Lane

Texas: Emmanuel

Utah: Benson, Boston, Milo, Porter

Vermont: Asa, Charlie, Finley

West Virginia: Clayton, Gunner

Wyoming: Conner, Damien, Dean, Gideon, Grant, Jaxton, Killian, Kyle, Tanner


  • Every name that was only popular in Hawaii last year is also rare in the U.S.
  • Every name on this list that was rare last year nationally was a top 100 name in Hawaii.
  • Compare to the 2016 list.

Thoughts?  Surprises?  Let me know in the comments!

Girls’ Names Popular in Only One State in 2017

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The state-by-state baby name data is out!  Every year, there are dozens of names that reach the top 100 in just one state or Washington, D.C.  While any name in the U.S. top 1000 is considered popular nationally, a name generally has to be in a state’s top 100 to be considered popular at that level.  Additionally, just because a name is popular at the state-level doesn’t mean it’s popular throughout the whole country (unless said name is popular in California or Texas). 

Here are all the girls’ names that made it into the top 100 of just one state or D.C.:

Alaska: Alana, Diana, Noelle

California: Alina, Amy

Colorado: Sloane

Delaware: Lia

District of Columbia: Amina, Amira, Dakota, Egypt, Helen, Nyla, Zara, Zuri

Florida: Nicole

Hawaii: Alexandria, Anela, Journey, Kaia, Kailani, Kaiya, Kalea, Kalena, Kira, Leia, Leila, Mahina, Maia, Moana

Idaho: Lola

Iowa: Brinley

Louisiana: Amari, Camille, Kali

Maine: Gracelyn

Maryland: Logan

Michigan: Payton

Minnesota: Aisha, Lucille

Mississippi: Heaven, Kayleigh, Kennedi, Laila, Makenzie, Malaysia, Paris, Raelyn

Montana: Emberly, Freya, Greta

Nebraska: Adelyn

New Hampshire: Paige

New Mexico: Selena

North Dakota: Adley, Alayna, Gemma, Hayden, Kinley

Rhode Island: Alanna, Rosalie

South Dakota: Hattie

Texas: Daniela

Utah: Adelaide, Annie, June, Millie, Navy

Vermont: Beatrice, Brynn, Lena, Lila, Mira, Octavia

West Virginia: Arabella, Gracelynn, Kendall, Maci, Mckenna

Wyoming: Charleigh, Harley, Kimber, Maggie, Sierra


  • Names popular in a single state that are rare nationally: Anela, Kalea, Kalena, Mahina, Moana, Navy
  • Moana is up nationally because of the movie
  • Egypt (D.C.), Emberly (Montana), and Octavia (Vermont) were new to the U.S. Top 1000 in 2017.
  • Compare to the 2016 list.  Very few of these names stayed uniquely popular in the same state over two years.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by any of these?  Let me know, and stay tuned for the boys’ list!

Boys’ Names Popular in Only One State (2016)

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A couple of days ago, I posted a list of girls’ names that were popular in only one state in 2016.  Here are the boys’ names!  This list is shorter – there were 78 girls’ names compared to 54 boys’ names – but there were almost as many states with such outliers.  D.C. is included too (since the SSA throws their top 100 in the state section), which is great because its inhabitants have their own distinct naming style!

Alaska: Peter, Kyler, Paxson,* Jesse, Tobias

Arizona: Francisco

California: Eric, Victor

D.C.: Felix, Oscar, Amari

Florida: Bryan

Hawaii: Kainoa,* Keanu, Kaimana,* Kekoa,* Jax, Makana*

Kentucky: Jonah

Massachusetts: Aidan

Michigan: Ali

Minnesota: Charlie

Mississippi: Princeton, Timothy, Jayceon, Peyton, Braylen

Montana: Colt, Zane, Gage

New Jersey: Jake, Steven, Jeremy

New Mexico: Andres, Zayden, Emilio, Iker

New York: Abraham, Muhammad

North Dakota: Clayton, Zander

South Dakota: Jett, Briggs

Utah: Beckham, Daxton, Porter, Milo, Benson

Vermont: Marshall

West Virginia: Jase

Wyoming: Corbin, Holden, Tanner, Walter

The names above with asterisks after them (*) were popular in their respective states but rare nationally.  Just like it was with the girls’ names, Hawaii is responsible for the bulk of these.  Alaska boasts the only other such name, Paxson; 13 Paxson‘s were born in Alaska that year, out of just 34 nationally!  Do you have any ideas about that one?

The swaps particularly interest me:

  • Bryan was only in Maryland’s top 100 in 2015, but was only popular in Florida in 2016.
  • Steven switched from New York’s top 100 in ’15 to New Jersey’s in ’16.
  • Kyler moved from Montana to Alaska.
  • Aidan went from Rhode Island to Massachusetts.
  • Victor moved from Texas to California.
  • Milo from Vermont to Utah

For further reference, you can also compare the names on this list with the ones on the boys’ list for 2015 I can’t wait to look at the state and territorial data for 2017, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s released at the same time as the national data.  It wasn’t last year.

Thoughts?  Favorites?  Let me know! 

Girls’ Names Popular in Only One State (2016)

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Last week I talked about names that are also states.  Today, I’m listing the girls’ names that were in the top 100 in only one state or Washington, D.C. in 2016!  Compare them to the ones in the 2015 list, which had more names because of a difference in formatting (it seems to me that lists for 2015 reflected more ties at the bottom, while the 2016 lists cut off exactly at the 100th name).  Anyways, I’ll post the list of boys’ names later this week.

Alaska: Anastasia, Heidi, Laura, River

Arizona: Jocelyn

Arkansas: Maggie

California: Alina, Angela, Giselle

Connecticut: Vivienne

D.C.: Madeleine, Royal, Catherine, Margot, Logan, Talia, Bridget

Georgia: Ansley

Hawaii: Kalea, Anela, Mahina, Malia, Kiana, Leila, Marley, Emi, Skye, Alana, Anuhea, Kaila, Kenzie, Naia, Alexandria, Jordan, Journey, Kailani

Idaho: Remington

Louisiana: Camille, Demi, Lyric

Maryland: Dakota

Minnesota: Aisha

Mississippi: Malaysia, Kayleigh, Makenzie, Jada

Montana: Lexi, Sage

New Hampshire: Delaney, Tessa

New Jersey: Sienna

New Mexico: Lilliana, Aliyah, Aviana, Avianna

North Dakota: Briella

Rhode Island: Gia

South Dakota: Reese, Berkley, Elaina

Utah: Millie

Vermont: Wren, Ayla, Genevieve, Rowan, Willa, Emelia, Hope

West Virginia: Alivia, Braelynn, Gracelynn, Mckenna, Baylee

Wyoming: Felicity, Emmy, Madilynn, Brinley, Brylee

A few names that reached the top 100 in a state list aren’t even in the top 1000 nationally!  In 2016, these were Anela, Anuhea, Berkley, Emi, Kalea, Kaila, Mahina, and Naia; Hawaii claims the vast majority of these rarities.

Do you have any favorites from this list?  Let me know!


State Names


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. 

#1 Names by State

The national baby name data came out last Friday, but the state data was only released today!  The #1 most popular names nationally are Noah and Emma, but they aren’t the #1 names in all 50 states + DC.  Let’s take a look. 

  1. Alabama: William and Ava (no change)
  2. Alaska: Liam and EmmaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  3. Arizona: Liam and Emma.  2015: Noah and Sophia
  4. Arkansas: Elijah and Ava.  2015: William and Emma
  5. California: Noah and MiaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  6. Colorado: Liam and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  7. Connecticut: Noah and OliviaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  8. Delaware: Liam and AvaMason was #1 in 2015.
  9. District of Columbia: William and AvaGenesis was the #1 girls’ name in 2015.
  10. Florida: Liam and Isabella.  No change.
  11. Georgia: William and Ava.  No change.
  12. Hawaii: Noah and OliviaMia was #1 in 2015.
  13. Idaho: Oliver and EmmaLiam and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  14. Illinois: Noah and Olivia.  No change.
  15. Indiana: Oliver and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.
  16. Iowa: Oliver and Olivia.  Owen is #2.  Liam and Emma were #1 in 2015. 
  17. Kansas: Benjamin and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.
  18. Kentucky: William and Emma.  No change.
  19. Louisiana: Liam and AvaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  20. Maine: Liam and Emma.  No change.
  21. Maryland: Noah and AvaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  22. Massachusetts: Benjamin and Olivia.  No change.
  23. Michigan: Noah and AvaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  24. Minnesota: Henry and EvelynOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  25. Mississippi: William and Ava.  No change.
  26. Missouri: William and OliviaLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  27. Montana: James and HarperWilliam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  28. Nebraska: Liam and EmmaHenry and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  29. Nevada: Liam and MiaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  30. New Hampshire: Noah and CharlotteJackson and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  31. New Jersey: Liam and MiaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  32. New Mexico: Elijah and MiaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  33. New York: Liam and Olivia.  No change.
  34. North Carolina: William and Ava.  No change.
  35. North Dakota: Oliver and HarperLiam and Ava were #1 in 2015.
  36. Ohio: Liam and Emma.  No change. 
  37. Oklahoma: Liam and EmmaElijah was #1 in 2015.
  38. Oregon: Oliver and OliviaLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  39. Pennsylvania: Noah and EmmaMason and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  40. Rhode Island: Liam and OliviaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  41. South Carolina: William and Ava.  No change
  42. South Dakota: Oliver and EmmaHarper was #1 in 2015.
  43. Tennessee: William and Emma.  No change.
  44. Texas: Noah and Emma.  No change.
  45. Utah: Oliver and OliviaWilliam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  46. Vermont: Owen and HarperLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  47. Virginia: William and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  48. Washington: Liam and Emma.  Oliver and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  49. West Virginia: Mason and HarperNoah and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  50. Wisconsin: Oliver and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  51. Wyoming: Wyatt and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.  

The #1 boys’ names of 2016 by frequency:

  • Liam (15x)
  • William (10x)
  • Noah (9x)
  • Oliver (8x)
  • Benjamin (2x)
  • Elijah (2x)
  • Henry
  • James
  • Mason
  • Owen
  • Wyatt

Compared to 2015, when they were:

  • Liam (16x)
  • Noah (13x)
  • William (12x)
  • Oliver (3x)
  • Henry (2x)
  • Mason (2x)
  • Benjamin
  • Jackson
  • Elijah

The #1 girls’ names by frequency:

  • Emma (16x)
  • Olivia (13x)
  • Ava (11x)
  • Harper (4x)
  • Mia (4x)
  • Charlotte
  • Evelyn
  • Isabella

Compared to 2015, when they were:

  • Emma (22x)
  • Olivia (12x)
  • Ava (8x)
  • Sophia (4x)
  • Mia (2x)
  • Genesis
  • Harper
  • Isabella

How is it possible for Noah to be the #1 name nationally without being the most frequent name among the states?  Answer: Noah is #1 where it matters most – California and Texas. 

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Visualization of #1 name frequency

Thoughts?  Are you surprised by anything?  Let me know in the comments!  

Bonus points!  The #1 names in Puerto Rico are Sebastian and ValentinaVictoria was #1 in 2015.

Mountainous Baby Names

For Earth Day 2017: mountains, volcanoes, and baby names!

Mountains and Volcanoes:

Afton (Virginia) – 96 girls, 7 boys.  Someone told me that they thought all the Afton‘s in their local preschool were named after Afton Mountain.  Looking at the state data for 2015, 10 of the 96 female Afton‘s (about 10.4%) were born in Virginia.  So, the data does seem to suggest a some geographic concentration.

Aspen (Colorado) – 873 girls (#372) and 87 boys.  This name appears in the top 100 of several states, mostly in or near the Rockies (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, and Oklahoma).

Augusta (Alaska/Canada) – 48 girls.

Denali (Alaska) – 62 girls and 28 boys.  About 13% of the girls named Denali in 2015 were indeed born in Alaska.


Denali / Mt. McKinley, by Denali National Park and Preserve

Elbert (Colorado) – 15 boys.

Erebus – Mt. Erebus is a volcano in Antarctica.  For the adventurous mythology-lover searching for a unique baby name, Erebus is the primordial darkness and an underworld locale.  Although he isn’t in the data, the name of another geographical feature of the Underworld – Acheron – was given to 6 boys in 2015. 

Everest (China / Nepal) – 111 boys and 29 girls were named after the world’s tallest peak in 2015.

Hayes (Alaska) – 524 boys (#539), 26 girls.

Helen (Washington State) – Mt. St. Helens partly exploded in 1980, taking off over 1300 ft of elevation.  Helen ranked #419 in 2015, being given to 757 girls.

Hesperus (Alaska) – Greek personification of the Evening Star (Venus).  In Mythology, Hesperus is the half-brother of PhosphorosPhosphoros means “light-bearer,” and is thus the Greek cognate of Lucifer.

Kea (Hawaii) – Mauna Kea.  Kea last appeared in the SSA birth data in 2012.

Kenya – 307 girls (#892) and 7 boys.  Mt. Kenya: largest in that country, 2nd-largest in Africa after Kilimanjaro.

Logan (Canada) – #14 representing 12862 boys; #394 for 827 girls. Mount Logan is the highest mountain in Canada, 2nd largest on the continent after Denali / McKinley.  The fact that Logan’s in Canada really makes me think of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.

Lorenzo (Argentina/Chile) – #216 (1834 boys) in the U.S.  Monte San Lorenzo.

McKinley – #380 / 856 girls, plus 73 boys.  McKinley is the recently deposed name for Denali; Denali is the native name.  Regardless, both appeared in Alaska’s top 100 in 2015 and only in the Alaskan top 100. 

Rainier (Washington State) – Also known as Tacoma or Tahoma, this volcano name was given to 34 boys and 8 girls in 2015.

Rosa (Switzerland/Italy) – Monte Rosa.  Ranks #631, given to 448 girls.

Shasta (California) – Only 15 girls in 2015, though this was a popular name in the 70s and 80s.  Read here for more information on the baby name Shasta.


Mt. Shasta

Sinai (Egypt) – 83 girls.

Stanley (Democratic Republic of the Congo/Uganda) – 363 boys (#688).

Whitney (California) – #640 / 444 girls; also 7 boys.


Alaska – 60 girls.

Amaro (Ethiopia) – 5 boys

Atlas (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) – #490 / 595 boys and 30 girls.  Even as a Greek mythology nerd I think it strange that this name would take off, out of all the classical names out there.  I’ll take it though!

Bridger – 197 boys.  There are actually a couple of Bridger Ranges in Montana and Wyoming, both named for Jim Bridger (of The Revenant fame).  And guess what – Bridger appeared in the 2015 top 100 for both states, but nowhere else!


Jim Bridger

Carmel (Israel) – 18 girls.

Elias (Alaska/Canada) – #100 / 4062 boys and 10 girls.   Elias ranks higher in Alaska than in every other state except for New Mexico.  (I should note – since Alaska has so few people, their charts have little effect on the national data.  That said, their surroundings really do affect their baby naming.  Aurora (like the phenomenon) is their #3 baby name).

Rocky (North America) – #927 / 229 boys.

Taurus (Turkey) – 16 boys.


Blue* – 31 boys, 20 girls; as in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Cliff – 17 boys. 

Denver – 240 boys (#900) and 197 girls.  It’s impossible to think of the Rockies or the Blue Ridge without mention of the folk singer John Denver. 

Kili – Because Kilimanjaro isn’t a baby name, there’s always the Tolkien dwarf name Kili!  6 boys in 2015.

Ridge – 226 boys (#932).

Sierra – 778 girls (#408).  The Spanish word for “mountain range.” 

What do you think?  Don’t you find the geographic concentration of baby names fascinating?  Even an obscurity like Afton seems to influence its surroundings!  And of course: happy Earth Day!

*I’m aware that Blue is coded purple.  I did that because usage is unisex rather than masculine.

Data source:

One Star: Baby Names Popular in Only 1 State (Boys)

Baby naming differs from continent to continent, country to country, region to region, and even state to state.  A name that may be a favorite in one place might be almost taboo or strange in another.

Earlier this week, I posted the girls’ names that only appeared in the top 100 most popular names-list of one U.S. state or Washington, D.C., according to data from the Social Security Administration.  As promised, here are the boys’ names!

Alaska: Maximus, Mark, Paul

Arizona: Francisco

Arkansas: River

California: Emiliano, Matteo

Delaware: Richard, Caiden, Avery

District of Columbia: Sean, Anderson, Nasir, Jaden

Florida: Nicolas

Hawaii: Skyler, Kainoa, Keanu, Titan, Kaimana, Legend, Zion, Cody

Idaho: Archer, Spencer

Maryland: Bryan

Michigan: Ali

Minnesota: Mohamed, Louis

Mississippi: Dallas, Cayden, Kameron, Peyton, Karson

Montana: Kyler, Zane, Gideon, Tanner

New Jersey: Chaim

New York: Steven

New Mexico: Andres, Cruz

North Dakota: Crosby

Rhode Island: Grant, Lorenzo, Aidan, Derek

South Carolina: Messiah

Texas: Victor, Jorge

Utah: Benson, Boston, Nixon, Daxton

Vermont: Keegan, Milo

West Virginia: Trenton, Remington

Wyoming: Gunnar, Grady


One Star: Baby Names Popular in Only 1 State (Girls)

Although we can gain a general understanding of American naming through the national data, it is true that naming differs between states and regions.  In some cases, names are only commonly used in one particular area.

The following girls’ names each appear in the top 100 most popular names list for only one U.S. state or Washington, D.C.  State popularity data, like the national data, can be found here, through the Social Security Administration.  The boys’ names will follow in a later post.

Alaska: Dahlia, Denali, Felicity, Cheyenne, Lacey, McKinley

Arizona: Daisy

California: Giselle

Delaware: Ariella, Delaney

District of Columbia: Zuri, Zara, Madeleine, Jacqueline, Nina, Gabriela, Logan

Hawaii: Anela, Kiana, Emi, Kalea, Kailani, Leia, Kaia, Leila, Kalena, Mahina, Makena, Camryn, Rylie, Malia, Kaya

Idaho: Gemma, Lexi

Kentucky: Shelby

Louisiana: Jolie, Camille, Demi, Kali

Maine: Gwendolyn, Rowan, Evangeline

Massachusetts: Maeve, Catherine

Minnesota: Aisha, Greta, Elise

Mississippi: Kaitlyn, Kayleigh, Jaliyah, Kennedi, Malaysia, Jada

Montana: Remington, Hallie, Kimber

New Mexico: Amaya, Destiny

New York: Chaya

North Dakota: Edith, Nova, Arya, Josie, Mckenna

Rhode Island: Rosalie

South Dakota: Henley, Brinley

Texas: Daniela, Ana

Utah: Katelyn, Oaklee

Vermont: Wren, Jillian, Willa, Georgia, Mallory, Ayla

West Virginia: Madilyn, Braylee

Wyoming: Evelynn, Kassidy, Taya, Hadlee, Macie, Maddison, Myla, Marley, Kira, Katie


What are your thoughts? 

Naming Between the States


This week I’ve started to analyze American name popularity at the state level.  Usually I discuss the national data on this blog, but let’s face it – the U.S. is a huge country.  What’s popular in one state or region isn’t necessarily going to be popular in another.  In fact, I’m finding that just a few states can account for most of a single name’s popularity in the national data.

I will post more of the nitty-gritty details within once I have a chance to examine the data more thoroughly, but here are a few general observations and things to know:

  1. If a name makes the top 100 in California or Texas, it automatically ranks in the national top 1000 because their respective populations are so huge.  There are another couple of states (New York is one of them, I think) where boys’ names are also automatically in the American top 1000. 
  2. States that border Mexico and others that have significant Spanish-speaking populations have their own naming style.  Names like Iker, Angel, Carlos, Ximena, Daleyza, and Genesis are far more likely to appear on these states’ top 100 lists.  
  3. Considering points 1 and 2, this means that California and Texas comprise a large portion of a name’s popularity within the U.S. and may even be responsible for propelling some names into the national top 100 or 200.  Mateo, the Spanish form of Matthew, was given to almost 5,000 baby boys last year.  1409 were born in California and 1048 were born in Texas.  Not even counting all the states where Mateo might also have been popular, that’s almost half of last year’s Mateos born in just two states!
  4. States with tiny populations seem more likely to have more unusual names pop up in their top 100s.  These often are names that are in the top 1000, but don’t usually appear in other states’ top 100 and might rank nationally somewhere in the 400-700 range.  Montana lists Remington as one of its top 100 girls’ names.
  5. Keep in mind, states with tiny populations have very little influence on national name popularity. 
  6. New York and New Jersey both have larger numbers of distinctly Jewish names.  Rivka and Moshe are only in the top 100 for those states, and these two states account for about 88% of baby boys named Moshe last year.  There are also a number of Old Testament names like Rachel and Esther that nowadays only appear on the top 100s of these states.
  7. New York and New Jersey are also notable for the popularity of many Italian names.  Only in those two states will you find Giovanni as a top 100 name.  Names like Anthony, Gianna, and Valentina also rank higher than their national averages there.
  8. Mary is still very popular in parts of the Deep South (10th most popular girls’ name in Mississippi!) but otherwise the region seems to favor more modern names.  I was surprised to note that Londyn is actually a more popular spelling than London in Alabama, for example. 
  9. Hawaii has a top 100 that looks very different from top 100s in the rest of the country, and several of Hawaii’s popular names don’t even appear in the national top 1000.  Obviously most of these are Hawaiian (Leilani, Keanu), though I thought I saw at least one Japanese name.
  10. Noah and Emma may be the overall #1 names in the U.S., but many states differ from that national.  Many states have William or Liam as the #1 boys’ name and Olivia or Ava for the girls. 

I’ll post more detailed information in the future.  I’m really glad I took a look at the state data though.  Among other things, this has given me greater clarity into why and how certain names remain ‘popular’ on the national level, and which names to look out for in the future.