For much of U.S. history, parents weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children. Many families selected religious names for their kids. Immigrants seeking to assimilate in their new country anglicized their names and those of their children or took “American” names.
Fitting-in mattered, and that’s one of the reasons why the most popular names 100 years ago for boys were John and Michael. Times and preferences changed, with John and Michael giving way to Noah and Liam in popularity.
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a greater variety of names as parents have been seeking inspiration for their children’s names from sources as disparate as the Bible, popular culture, sports, and Eastern religions. And though not great in number, you might encounter some names in some states more frequently than others.
With that in mind, 24/7 Wall St. has created a list of boys names that are more common in a given state than they are nationally. We used data from the Social Security Administration for births from 2013 to 2017 to compile the list. 24/7 Wall St. gathered information from a variety of sources to help explain the meaning and origin of each name where possible.
These unique names — or names that are more common in some states than others — reflect where certain ethnic groups settled in the United States.
The Polish name Szymon is more likely to be found in Illinois than in any other state. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Illinois has the second largest Polish-American population of any state behind New York.
The name Haidar, the Arab word for “lion,” is more common in Michigan than other states. The Arab enclave around Detroit has been a part of the Michigan community since the late 19th century.
In neighboring Minnesota, one might encounter the Muslim name Muad because of the burgeoning Somali community, the largest of any state. Somalis started arriving in Minnesota in 1992 because of unrest in Somalia.
Kamaehu, a Hawaiian name that means “strength, energy, firmness of resolution, and fixedness of purpose,” is a name that is more than 400 times more likely to be found in Hawaii than any other state. Even so, the names Noah and Liam are still far more popular than Kamaehu in Hawaii.
24/7 Wall St. used a metric called the location quotient to determine the names that are more common in a given state than they are nationally. Economists use this gauge to find out the concentration of an industry in a region compared with a bigger reference point, such as a nation. We calculated the location quotient using data from the Social Security Administration. We only considered names with more than 10 entries. The SSA only reports names with more than five occurrences in a given year to preserve the child’s anonymity. If there was a tie in location quotient, we chose the name with the highest birth number. Birth totals by state are for 2013-2017.