What Are Your State’s Quirky Favorite Baby Names?
By Joe Satran and Abby Sandel
States have official songs and sandwiches. So how about quirky favorite baby names?
It turns out that certain boy and girl names, rare in the US, are over-represented in certain states. Our intrepid researcher looked at every name given to at least 100 babies in 2015. Then he calculated the percentage of babies with that name born in every state. When ranked, the results revealed the rare names most concentrated in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Some of these are easily explained. A hundred baby boys were named Brigham in 2015, 23 of them in Utah. Less than 1 percent of all Americans live in Utah, so that’s 23 times higher than you might expect. But, of course, Brigham Young was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Utah, so it’s not a surprise.
Yiddish names Shimon and Faigy are the quirky favorites in New York, where there’s the largest concentration of Hasidic Jews, while Spanish names Santana and Estevan are favored in New Mexico and Hawaiian names Kalea and Keanu are popular in, boom!, Hawaii.
And it does make sense that nature names Wren and Wilder are the Quirky Favorites of rural Vermont, while nouveau names Oakleigh and Bridger are well-liked in Red State Montana, consistent with our analysis that found Red Staters prefer gender-neutral invented names while Blue State baby names are more likely to pick names that are ethnic and traditional.
Other stands-outs are harder to explain. Why is Ophelia so prominent in Alaska? Or Brecken in Iowa? If you have the secret to why these names are the favorites in your state, please share with the class!
And here’s a map displaying the results for the boys — click for full size:
Here are all the quirky favorites by state: