Melania Trump and Alexa shake up America’s most popular baby name list
New data shows that when it comes to naming children theres a Trump bump and an Amazon drop
Its easy to mock celebrities for the outlandish name choices. Especially when Bear Grylls, with typical woodland folksiness, names his kids Marmaduke and Huckleberry. Or Ciara and Future, given nine months of deciding time, ending up calling their son, er, Future.
Ordinary Americans tend to play things safer. New data released by the social security administration shows that the top names in the country in 2017 were Emma and Liam.
The more interesting data comes in the fastest-growing baby names. The girls name Melania, for example, has jumped 720 places and entered the top 1,000 names for the first time. Presumably its diehard Trump country that are naming their daughter after the first lady, although Donald hasnt seen a similar bump: perhaps the rise in homage-naming from Trump supporters has been offset by horrified liberals who might have otherwise not had an issue with it Im sorry, I know your grandfather was called Donald Donaldson, but we cant, we just cant.
The fastest-growing female name is Ensley, up 1,461 places from 2016. The bump is likely down to troubled Teen Mom star Jenelle Evans, who named her daughter Ensley at the start of 2017 (although it was was far from the perfect birth, Ensley tested positive for marijuana on the day she was born which led Evans to be investigated by Child Protective Services). Proving that names can enter the consciousness even through ignominy, the fastest-growing boys name was Wells, with many of 2017s babies conceived during the Wells Fargo scandal in which illegal sales practices led to the ousting of the banks CEO. Kehlani was another of the most significant rises, jumping from 869 to 552 in the rankings, presumably influenced by the R&B singers rising star.
Not every example of a name becoming more prominent leads to an increase in baby naming, though. Since 1985 Alexa has become an increasingly common girls name, rising up the rankings almost every year and eventually breaking into the top 40 in 2006. But since 2015, and the release of the Amazon Echo which users have to call Alexa to activate, its sharply fallen down the charts and is now at 65.
But whats it like for people who are already stuck with their name, whose parents couldnt possibly have been aware that their child would later have to share the moniker with an AI robot who can order toilet roll for you?
Alexa Scordato is the VP of marketing at a tech company. She must have been pretty thrilled when she snagged the twitter handle @alexa but now she says the presence of the Echo in her life is less than ideal. Her mentions feed is filled with people mistaking her for the AI assistant.
Alexa Fitzpatrick is a New York standup comedian who says she first started noticing other kids being called Alexa when the 80s supermodel, and subject matter of Billy Joels Uptown Girl, Christie Brinkley, named her daughter Alexa. A few years later, for the first time ever, Id hear my name, turn around, and see a mother yelling at her toddler.
Now though, she says, its the Amazon device that creates confusion. I would absolutely never own an Alexa because its way too annoying. Every time I call a friend who has one, it turns on.
The problem with naming your child something straightforward is its bound to have other connotations down the line. All these Emmas and Liams arent going to seem so normal when, in 2024, Liam Payne becomes a flat-earther and runs for office and Emma is the name of first sex robot sold at Best Buy. The only way to play it truly safe is to name your child something thats already a thing. Future is actually a pretty good shout.