For much of U.S. history, parents weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children. Many families chose religious names when naming their child. 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 girls were named Mary, Dorothy, or Margaret. Times and preferences changed, with Mary, Dorothy, Margaret replaced by Emma and Olivia.
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a greater variety of names as parents seek 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 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.
It is interesting, but not surprising, that the girl’s name Denali, meaning “the great one,” is found more often in Alaska than its frequency nationwide. Denali, the name of the highest peak in North America, is located in Alaska. In fact, you are 64 times more likely to encounter the name in Alaska than across the U.S.
Similarly, the name Hilinai, a Hawaiian word meaning “to trust,” is more than 500 times more likely to be encountered in Hawaii than in the rest of the nation.
In both states, Emma is the most popular name, but it is not unique to either state. Emma is the most popular name in 25 states and the second most popular moniker in 18 others.
Residents of some states pay homage to their heritage by picking a name that honors their ancestry. That is the case in Connecticut and Rhode Island, both of which have the highest percentages of Americans with Italian ancestry of any state. Each state’s uniquely popular girl’s name is Giuliana, a nod to the Roman name Julius, and is an Italian variation of the name Juliana.
In Massachusetts, which has the highest percentage of Americans with Portuguese heritage, the most uniquely popular female name is Mariaeduarda, a combination of the names Maria and Eduarda. The name Mariaeduarda may be encountered in Massachusetts, however, only 17 girls were given that name over the 2013-2017 time period.
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.