Pop Culture Names Outside the Top 1000

Pop Culture Names Outside the Top 1000

By Josh Murray

We live in a world that is more connected than ever. World events influence politics, politics influences art, art influences culture, and it all influences the names we give our children.

In the twenty-first century, celebrities and other pop culture icons have played a large role in the naming landscape. For instance, in the last several years we’ve seen the meteoric rise of such names as Hendrix, Lennon and Presley, as parents look back to their musical favorites for naming inspiration. Pop culture influences can even be seen in the newly revealed 2017 Top 10. Logan had been a popular boys’ name in recent years, but it was in clear decline. That all changed with the 2017 release of the X-Men film titled Logan, catapulting the name to Number 5, the highest it has ever charted in the United States. So when baby names and the entertainment industry intersect, anything can happen.

Below are twelve names outside the US Top 1000 that have direct ties to popular culture:

Wrigley: Wrigley Field is the name of the historic Chicago Cubs baseball stadium. If you know anything about baseball, you likely know that the Cubs were a “cursed” team and only recently broke that curse by winning the 2016 World Series. To celebrate this occasion, new parents in 2017 gave the name Wrigley to a record-breaking 65 girls and 57 boys, up from the previous year’s 18 girls and 31 boys.

Zooey: While Zoe and its alternate spellings have received popular attention for years, the Zooey spelling has direct contemporary ties to Zooey Deschanel, star of the sitcom New Girl. Her quirkiness influenced parents to give this name to 51 girls in 2017.

Zeppelin: Musicians and bands sometimes influence parents looking for name inspiration. While it may not be the most obvious choice, Zeppelin (as in Led Zeppelin) struck a chord with 2017 parents. 92 boys received this name, as well as 13 girls.

Vedder: The average new parents today spent part of their formative years in the 1990s, so it makes sense that 90s bands might hold a significant place in their hearts. Nothing says 90s rock like Pearl Jam, and frontman Eddie Vedder has now begun lending his name to newborns. 5 boys were given the name Vedder (and an insatiable desire to rock) in 2017.

Sutherland: Kiefer Sutherland has played a number of memorable roles, most notably as Jack Bauer in the hit series 24 that ran from 2001 to 2010, with an additional one-off season in 2014. Sutherland’s connection to fans inspired the naming of 5 little boys in 2017.

Bowie: Just like Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, David Bowie, who died at the end of 2016, has inspired a number of parents to bestow the greatest honor of naming their child after him. Surprisingly, this name is rising for both genders. 82 girls were named Bowie in 2017, and an impressive 155 boys received the name.

Moana: While Moana was a preexisting name, it presented itself as a more viable naming option following the success of Disney’s film of the same name in November 2016. The movie’s impact is fairly evident: 57 girls were named Moana in 2016; that number jumped to 141 in 2017.

Maui: Though Maui is the name of a Hawaiian island, he’s also another character from the film Moana. It’s this latter distinction that led to the spike from 5 boys in 2016 to 41 in 2017.

Swayze: Patrick Swayze established himself as a role model and sex idol during the 80s and 90s, and his impact stuck with many young fans as they matured and became parents. As with many celebrity surnames converted into baby first names, Swayze is not inherently feminine or masculine. 66 girls received this name in 2017, and 16 boys.

Vanellope: The name of the spunky protagonist of the 2012 Dreamworks film Wreck-It Ralph, this mashup of vanilla and Penelope has resonated with millennial parents looking for a quirky name that still sounds familiar. 141 girls received this name in 2017.

Merida: The 116 girls who received this name in 2017 can attribute it to the success of the 2012 Disney-Pixar film Brave. The independent redhead exhibits many qualities a parent might hope for in a daughter, so it’s not surprising to see it rise year over year.

Lebron: When it comes to sports, you’d be hard-pressed to find an athlete more ubiquitously recognized than Lebron James. Arguably one of the best (or even the best?) to ever play basketball, Lebron has inspired some new parents, 24 of whom named their sons after him in 2017.

Popular culture is ever-changing, pulling baby naming along on the rollercoaster of a journey. So, what movies, celebrities, characters and musicians will impact 2018 names? Who knows, maybe Laurel and Yanny will spike popularity!

About the Author

Josh Murray

Josh Murray has a PhD in English and is a college instructor of writing and literature. In whatever free time he can find, he researches names and naming trends. He and his wife have a son and a daughter. You can find his (infrequently updated) naming microblog on Twitter: @readyNameFIRE.