Regional Name trends: Different states of mind

It’s always interesting to take a look at which names are most popular where.  You can usually count on some surprises and this year is no exception.  For instance Anna ranking in the top five in both Alabama and Mississippi, when it’s down at 29 across the country, and Logan, which is #17 on the Social Security list, now the #1 boys’ name in three widespread states—Idaho, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Repeating the pattern of last year, the majority of names that popped out from the crowd were in the boys’ column; for the girls’ names across the country there was a remarkable uniformity of choice—with Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Madison, or Ava heading the list in all but two states, while on the male side, there were several top singletons, such as Wyatt in Wyoming and Ryan in Massachusetts.

But what are really most intriguing are the names that jump out of nowhere in one particular place—some of them throwbacks, some predictive of future popularity, some reflecting the state’s ethnicity, such as Gianna in New Jersey and José, the most common name in Texas.

Here are some of the names that were not even in the Top 25 nationally, but rated high in specific areas, with their national ratings in parenthesis:

ALLISON  (30)—     #1 in the District of Columbia

ANNA (29)  —          #4 in Alabama

BROOKLYN (37)      #4 in Utah

CHARLOTTE (68)    #8 in the District f Columbia

FAITH (80)  ——-  #10 in Hawaii

GABRIELLA (33) — #10 in Rhode Island

GIANNA (76) ——  #11 in New Jersey

KATHERINE (60)  –   #4 in the District of Columbia

KAYLEE (26) —— –  #10 in West Virginia

LILLIAN (27) ——    #10 in Indiana

MAKAYLA (44)  — – #9 in Mississippi

NEVEAH (34)—         #4 in New Mexico

ZOE  (47)  ——– —    #9 in the District of Columbia


ANGEL (37)  ——– #4 in Arizona and Texas

BRAYDEN (47) —– #6 in West Virginia

CALEB (31) ———  #6 in Hawaii

CARTER (50) ——–#3 in Iowa

CHASE (61) ———-#8 in Pennsylvania

GAVIN ((33) ——— #3 in South Dakota

HUNTER (56) ——-  #2 in West Virginia

ISAAC (40)  ——- –#4 in Utah

ISAIAH (41) ———#7 in New Mexico

JACK (42) ————#3 in North Dakota

JOSE (43) ———— #1 in Texas

JOSIAH (87) ———#10 in New Mexico

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16 Responses to “Regional Name trends: Different states of mind”

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Alexa Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 2:26 am

Chase Utley? Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 8:37 am

Greta apppears in Minnesota’s top 100. You don’t see that in other states.

Andrea Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 9:10 am

Gavin is also fairly popular in N.D., at No. 8. Jayden has been popular here for years and so it is much further down the popularity chart than it is nationally, where it seems to be hitting a high in the eastern U.S. At least with that spelling, it’s far outside the top 20 in North Dakota and Brayden is twice as popular. I’d say that the newer names are adopted sooner in the Midwest and West than they are in the East and South, which still clings to traditional names. Trendy surname names and names ending in “n” are popular right now in North Dakota. Wyatt also has a western feel that is equally popular in N.D.

I’d also guess that the stats for D.C. are probably only representative of a smaller number of names since D.C. is majority African American and totally unique names are more common among blacks.

Andrea Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 9:16 am

Greta is reflective of the Scandinavian heritage in Minnesota. I’ve wondered if there’s a bit of a Yuppie effect in the naming in Minnesota too, since Eleanor, Amelia, Violet, Lucy, etc. are higher on the girls’ list than they are in N.D. I see those particular names more often in birth announcements in the eastern part of the state — i.e. Grand Forks and Fargo — and other university towns and places with more doctors, lawyers, white collar business executives, etc.

JNE Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 9:37 am

Fascinating! This is the kind of thing I don’t think I’d ever tire of – it’s just so very interesting to see the different influences manifest in various parts of the country!

I’m struck by the gulf states – traditional Anna in AL and trendier Makayla next door in MS popping…

Absolutely one of my favorite dives into the stats!

Dove14 Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 10:28 am

I used to know a website that allowed you to search popularity of names according to state, but I’m not sure I can find it anymore…. anyone know of one?

Sachiko Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 10:29 am

Faith is #10 in Hawaii? Wow…..! Ditto JNE, name stats = cool.

I would love to see more data on baby naming in Hawaii. It’d be fun to see if there’s a local ethnic-naming factor like in DC that affects which traditionals make it into the Top 100/Top10.

Not to mention, all the names in Hawaii that are *so* Hawaiian but fly under the SSA radar.

When I named my daughter Hilani, my Hawaiian friends groaned because -lani was considered cliche and they told me most Hawaiians go further afield to name their kids. I’d never have known that by just reading the usual stats. (not that it mattered; I went with “Hilani” anyway)

mmmm, moar baby name stats blogs, moar!

Stella Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 10:46 am

Most predictable was Hunter in West Virginia… how cliche! Similar to Wyatt in Wyoming.

The most surprising? Brooklyn in Utah. I guess it sounds cosmopolitan over there? Any Utahans want to weigh in?

DC was definitely more conservative, I nannied for 2 girls named Helen and Clare. Allison, Charlotte, and Katharine fit right in. Its interesting Zoe is popular there too.

I definitely love the regional differences, I like that you can maybe tell a little bit about where someone is from by their name!

Wildsyringa Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 11:49 am

Anyone have any insight into why Eliza ranks so high in Utah (#45) when it’s only at #278 nationally? I’m guessing people are picking the name up from Mormon icon Eliza R. Snow, but I could be wrong. I’m a little depressed to see one of my top picks becoming so popular locally 🙁

Angel Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Neveah is Heaven misspelled backwards…did that really make it to number 4?

I like to look at the states bordering Mexico – Texas, Jose and Angel etc. Interesting stuff!

Danielle Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Angel, I was just about to ask the same thing. I really hope it’s not the misspelled version that is more popular.

Tara Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I live in Texas, and most people of Hispanic descent are either Jose or Maria. However, when they chose English names for their children, they often chose some surprisingly nice names. I’ve met a Hispanic Mirabel, Tabitha, Florentia, Felix, Josiah, and Nathaniel.

Also, here’s a site that gives a lot of good stats related to today’s post:

Sachiko Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

@ Wildsyringa: I’m not an official Utah expert, but my parents are from there and I’ve lived there for several years. And I’m Mormon.

Yeah, Eliza is a classic LDS name. So are Lucy and Emma; I should check and see if they rank higher in Utah than the nation too.

@Stella–good question about Brooklyn. I knew 2 Brooklyns when I went to high school in SLC. I know Brooks is a popular boy’s name there too. I’m not sure why with the Brooklyn.

Most Utah babynamers who follow national trends opt for the BoBo/surnamey options, but there’s a substantial chunk of the population that gets creative with the naming and might be more open to place names than, say, the Northeast with their Anglo-Saxon traditionals.

Yes, I am making sweeping generalizations here 😀

Sachiko Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

(sorry for the multiple postings)

I think Nevaeh is still far preferably to Bailey and Mikayla et. al. To each their own.

babynamesrule Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Gianna and Anna really surprised me. Both are nice, though not my style.

Christina Fonseca Says:

May 19th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

About Angel:
In Spanish, Angel is a boy name with Angela, Angeles, Angelina or Angelica being used for girls.

It’s also #2 in Puerto Rico (first time they’re listed separately) # 4 in California, and # 8 in Nevada.

Among Puerto Rico’s Top 10:
Alondra, Kamila, Camila and Alanis for girls; Sebastian, Carlos, Ian and Yadiel for boys.

Great number crunching, Pam and Linda! I always enjoy reading your posts.

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