What Are Your State’s Quirky Favorite Baby Names?

Jarvis from Georgia, meet Zinnia from Oregon

state 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 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!

Here’s a map displaying the results for the girls — click for full size:

Girls Quirky Favorite Names

And here’s a map displaying the results for the boys — click for full size:

Here are all the quirky favorites by state:

State Boy Name Girl Name
AK Torin Ophelia
AL Dewayne Lynlee
AR Payton Kynslee
AZ Hiram Arleth
CA Arman Jaylene
CO Amias Aspen
CT Andreas Alessia
DC Zyaire Egypt
DE Makai Devyn
FL Jahmir Martina
GA Jarvis Ansley
HI Keanu Kalea
IA Brecken Kinzlee
ID Krew Oakley
IL Umar Jaylani
IN Ross Lucinda
KS Brogan Camdyn
KY Leeland Kenleigh
LA Tylan Jolie
MA Javian Maeve
MD Chaz Rhyan
ME Eliot Quincy
MI Hussein Yasmeen
MN Abdirahman Sumaya
MO Kelly Braylynn
MS Jakobe Deasia
MT Bridger Oakleigh
NC Juelz Ivey
ND Teagan Aspyn
NE Coy Juana
NH Davin Penny
NJ Yaakov Nechama
NM Estevan Santana
NV Kenji Laylani
NY Shimon Faigy
OH Jaron Bexley
OK Hagen Gentry
OR Cedar Zinnia
PA Yasir Maura
RI Domenic Amalia
SC Banks Hollis
SD Sutton Haddie
TN Courtney Briley
TX Mauro Renata
UT Brigham Oaklee
VA Aubrey Iman
VT Wilder Wren
WA Ransom Roslyn
WI Jordy Etta
WV Bryer Cambrie
WY Trace Taya

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45 Responses to “What Are Your State’s Quirky Favorite Baby Names?”

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Kara Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 12:22 am

Bexley is a suburb of Ohio’s capital, Columbus. I feel like I’ve heard it a lot, so I’m not at all surprised it’s here!

Kismet Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 12:54 am

Minnesota’s – Abdirahman & Sumaya – are likely due to our large Somalian community. I really like Sumaya!

BrittanyBrown Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 1:13 am

So I’m from Iowa and I can tell you that the majority of the people that populate Iowa live in Des Moines. This is the capitol, the largest city. You’ll find many entrepreneurs in Des Moines as well as a hipster-artsy community. These are the people that are naming their kids Brecken and Kinzlee. They are trying to be “unique” but still can’t let go of their farm boy/girl and hick roots.

Talornfhall Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:05 am

Just want to point out that it was actually Joseph Smith who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, not Brigham Young. Brigham Young is the one who led them to Utah though. Also want to say thanks for using the correct full name for the LDS church as well.

Abby Sandel Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:11 am

Talornfall – My apologies! The text is fixed. Best, Abby

beynotce Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:29 am

I disagree that Kinzlee is an “artsy-hipster” name – Brecken, sure, but Kinzlee is very much a “red-state” name, and likely is most popular with parents in or from the rural communities that make up most of Iowa. (Note the similarity to AR’s Kynslee.)

kjhennings Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:54 am

Jordy in Wisconsin is due to Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers. I don’t have a clue about Etta though…

jtay07 Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:57 am

I was going to say the same thing as Kara about Bexley! It’s the name of an affluent Columbus suburb and fits right in with the Paisley, Hadley, Kinsley, Huxley type trend so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s trending in Ohio.

jtay07 Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:57 am

I find Jordy adorable by the way, although I think I would use Jordan as the full name and Jordy as the nickname.

Talornfhall Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 10:07 am

Thanks Abby. I appreciate it.

SparkleNinja18 Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 10:52 am

Of course Kansas has something like Camdyn for girls. Everyone here is just discovering the misspelled-boy-names-on-girls trend.

Pam Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 10:57 am

Really loving these insights! Jordy Nelson — as the mom of a rabid Packers fan, I shoulda known that!

clairels Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 11:52 am

Hate to break it to you, sparkleninja18, but even though you can argue Camdyn is misspelled, the name is unisex as it comes. It’s popular for both boys and girls and is here to stay.

gmdx Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Glad to see Missouri is keeping it classy. (*eyeroll*)
Kelly isn’t my favorite either, but it is my dad’s name.

TiffanyS Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 1:29 pm

This is interesting. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life (central, then south) and I’ve never met someone named, nor heard of anyone naming their child, either Jahmir or Martina here. If Martina is the quirky favorite for girls, maybe it has something to do with Florida’s being a peninsula, surrounded by ocean, “mar.” But doesn’t Martina just come from Martin? Does it even relate to the ocean? I guess I’ve got no explanation for the class.

tavy Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 2:15 pm

TiffanyS – I think Martina is fairly common in Spanish-speaking countries, so it might be related to Florida’s large Hispanic population. I don’t know for sure, but that was the first thing I thought of when I saw it.

Eliot is a town in Maine so I wasn’t surprised to see it listed. I used to live in the Northeast and I remember seeing it on signs years ago and thinking I kind of liked that spelling for a name.

indiefendi2 Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 2:44 pm

The most surprising one of all to me was Torin! I just had that name on my mind before I read the list. It’s not as rare as I presumed!!!

JH Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 3:43 pm

I actually know a Bridger from MT. He’s in his late 20’s.

Marie23 Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I’m from South Carolina, and Pete Hollis was sort of a community hero in the upstate for starting schools for the working class folks of the mill villages way back when. That’s my only guess as to why Hollis is popular here. Personally I don’t know of anyone with that name. Can’t help you with Banks…. no idea on that one!

southern.maple Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Lynlee for Alabama doesn’t surprise me at all. Young Alabama parents love a girl’s name that ends in -lyn or -lee, so the combination feels very natural.

Quirkiest baby names by state – First Vu Imaging | First Vu Imaging Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 7:30 pm

[…] States have official songs and birds and trees. So how about quirky favorite baby names? […]

Here are the quirkiest baby names, ranked by state – Mommies Today Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 8:47 pm

[…] States have official songs and birds and trees. So how about quirky favorite baby names? […]

Seanachaidh Says:

March 3rd, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Interesting list! I actually looked up Faigy because it’s such an unusual name, and I’m glad I did. Apparently a young, ex-Hasidic Jewish woman named Faigy Mayer committed suicide in Manhattan in 2015. It’s a really sad story, and it must have been huge news in the state for so many parents to choose to honor her like that. <3

I wonder if any more of these names have similar stories behind them…

laurelrobyn Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 12:18 am

I just moved to Idaho and have spoken with a few women at my church. I was very surprised to find MANY of them were going to name their next baby boy Krew (or Cru or Crew). Once would be a unique occurrence, but it was like 4 different women in a row. Strange….and I have no idea why variations of Oakley for a girl is popular out here.

catherine_abai Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 12:25 am

I live in Georgia, and I can vouch that Ansley is SO prevalent here- not just in babies. I knew quite a few Ansleys in high school. There’s an Ansley golf club, which is most famous, as well as an Ansley mall, Ansley Park, etc. So I think parents were inspired by those places (probably didn’t name their kids in honor of the golf club or anything, just liked the name), and then it just caught on from there. I never had any idea that Ansley was not popular until I discovered this website.

lynzrenee Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 12:33 am

Alaska has quite a few artsy/hippy inhabitants, so it makes sense to me that Ophelia is a popular one. 🙂

chi1127 Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 1:31 pm

I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this post! My state was so obvious it was explained right away (New Mexico), but I love seeing the analysis of other states’ quirky favorites.

aouillette Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Michigan has a very large Arab-American population, particularly in the Dearborn area and other suburbs of Detroit. That is most likely where the Hussein and Yasmeen are coming from.

AD10 Says:

March 4th, 2017 at 8:56 pm

I hate the Packers but I gotta admit I love the name Jordy!

fayexo Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 12:13 am

My first thought when I saw Banks for SC was that it might be a nod to the Outer Banks in NC

sixpomegranateseeds Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 2:40 am

Arman is Persian and fairly crossover so I get that one, but don’t ask me to explain Jaylene. Although TBH, I’m kind of digging the old school country feel of it – as opposed to the new style Kynzlee et al.

Also pleasantly surprised by Lucinda in Indiana.

sixpomegranateseeds Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 2:41 am

how do you pronounce Ansley?

SparkleNinja18 Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 10:45 am

@clairels, I was only saying that the popularity of Camdyn here isn’t very surprising. Whether or not it’s a fleeting trend or a lasting one isn’t something I could tell you.

Eizariya Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 9:46 pm

I’m super intrigued by DC. Egypt and Zyaire?

mill1020 Says:

March 5th, 2017 at 10:25 pm

I have no idea where Jaylene and Arman are coming from in CA. I’d be really surprised if I met any babies named Jaylene near Los Angeles. My ten-year-old is friends with a Jayla.
Anyway, what aouillette said is true about the ‘burbs of Detroit and a large Arab American population being a reason for Hussein and Yasmeen–although I can’t remember meeting anybody by those particular names when I lived in the Detroit suburbs in the ’90’s. Abed, Omar, Samir, Sahar, Sofia, Sonia, Sonya (pronounced SAHN-yeh, but she got “Sonia” a lot), Noor, and Ammad were some of my classmates’ names.

I feel like it’s more likely that I’d meet a baby Yasmeen here in CA/Greater Los Angeles than a baby Jaylene.

briettani Says:

March 6th, 2017 at 11:24 am

Jolie is popular in Louisiana because it means pretty in french.

isolieth Says:

March 7th, 2017 at 11:35 pm

quoting a previous poster:

“Apparently a young, ex-Hasidic Jewish woman named Faigy Mayer committed suicide in Manhattan in 2015. It’s a really sad story, and it must have been huge news in the state for so many parents to choose to honor her like that.”

You are correct that this story was in the news, but I’ll also add that Faigy is typical of the New York outliers and I think it could have made this list in past years, too. New York’s disproportionately ‘New York’ names tend to be those used in Hasidic as well as more mainstream Jewish communities. You can see this in the state’s top 100 list – we have traditionally Jewish names like Rivka, Chana and Chaya on there, which aren’t found on most other states’ lists. Your comment makes me wonder if there may have been an uptick because it was on people’s minds more, although I can say anecdotally that Faigy/Faige is common enough in Hasidic families.

withinreason Says:

March 8th, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Bridger from MT is due to the Bridger mountain range! Many children and pets have the name there:) I rather like it!

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March 14th, 2017 at 1:51 pm

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nholycross3 Says:

August 23rd, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Bridger is not a made up name. Jim Bridger was a famous mountaineer who blazed trails through the west, including Montana. There is a mountain range named after him. Lots of businesses are too. I think if it fits in a category, it would maybe be a nature name. It’s kind of cool and rugged.

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