Star Wars Characters, Old and New
With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hitting theaters this December, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the names that scream Star Wars, both the ones that have infiltrated the naming world and those that still remain on the outside looking in.
Luke: Currently Number 28 in the US, this is the highest ranking of the Star Wars names. While it was on a slow rise prior to the film’s 1977 release, it entered the Top 200 for the first time that same year and has never dipped below that mark since. Its popularity helps keep it from feeling too much like a sci-fi name, and its biblical connections obviously help as well.
Leia: More so than Luke, Leia carries a strong association with the films. Following the initial theatrical release, Leia received a boost, entering the Top 1000 briefly in 1978 and 1980. The name stayed off the charts until it reentered in 2006, where it has remained ever since. It now sits at Number 508. I venture to say that Star Wars continues to impact the use of this name; however, the connection to the films my not be as strong as it once was, partly because of similar naming trends, such as Lea, Leila, and Lily.
Han: Rounding out the big three from the first trilogy, Mr. Solo’s first name makes for an intriguing option, even if it has seen little use. Its similarity to the Scandinavian Hans helps prevent it from feeling too forced. In 2014, only 20 boys took on this moniker.
Anakin: Here’s a clear case of the social impact of the Star Wars films. Invented by George Lucas himself—though it could have been based on external sources—this name has cropped up from time to time over the years. Proof that the franchise is still very relevant today: Anakin charted in the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2014. If you want a name that connects to Episode I, this is definitely a better option than Jar Jar.
Yoda: Surprisingly or not surprisingly, depending on your opinion of Star Wars, Yoda has never appeared on the Social Security extended list, which charts all names given to at least five boys or girls in a year. It may be an undeniably geek-tastic name, but it’s not too far off from other short two-syllable names with vowel endings. I also don’t think it has much of a different feel than the next name on this list.
Jedi: Here’s a name that immediately brings to mind the Force and lightsabers. Unlike Yoda, however, this title has seen some usage as a name. Most recently, 21 boys received the name in 2014. On top of this, Jedi has also become something of a modern nickname option for Jedidiah. Regardless of your opinion, it won’t be long before you see a little Jedi running around. Just don’t fall for his mind tricks.
Obi: Obi-Wan may be a little much for a child’s first name, but Obi has garnered some attention over the years. In 2014, twelve boys received this name. Outside of the Star Wars reference, Obi also has African roots, meaning “heart.” With the surge of previously unconsidered biblical names, Obi could also be a nickname option for Obadiah, of which there were 70 boys given the name last year.
Lando: Nine boys received this name in 2014, compared to over 8000 who received the Number 43 name Landon. In light of this information, however, I think Lando could actually be an interesting twenty-first century choice. Boys’ names ending in –o have really started to catch on lately, and the familiarity of Lando—due to the sci-fi connection and the similarity to Landon—would make it fit right in on the playground.
Vader: OK, Darth Vader’s moniker might be a little too out there, even for the current state of baby naming. However, if you just can’t shake the idea of naming your little one after the dark-helmeted one, consider a possible alternative: Vada. With vintage “old lady” names on the rise, Vada is a strong contender, as is evidenced by the 200 little girls who received the name in 2014.
Even though The Force Awakens has yet to see its public release, we do know some of the characters’ names. Here are a few that deserve to be on this list.
Finn: Currently ranked Number 234, Finn—and the related Finley, Finlay, Finnian, and Finnegan—have been on the rise recently. Possibly related to the boyish Huck Finn (whose first name has also seen increased usage), this short, one-syllable name has hit the sweet spot for many twenty-first century parents. I would expect the name to jump even more once it gains Star Wars cred.
Rey: Recently, I’ve seen a rash of rhyming girls’ names—both as first and middle names—that sport the long A sound: Mae/May, Rae/Ray, and Fae/Faye come to mind. It’s possible that the female protagonist from the upcoming film could shift the trend by adding an alternate spelling, one that I deem a fresh consideration. It means “king” in Spanish, but could also be viewed as a nickname for other choices such as Reyna.
Ren: The new “bad guy” name in the upcoming film is Kylo Ren. Though I think either name has potential, Ren would make for a more obvious choice due to its homonym Wren becoming something of an overnight sensation recently—it’s currently ranked Number 704 for girls after having just entered the Top 1000 for the first time in 2013. Ren could be seen as the boy alternative: 71 were born in 2014.