“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” 24/7 Tempo doesn’t have an answer to the question posed in Shakespeare’s play, but we did find some unusual names that are unique to certain places. (These are the 20 most popular literary-inspired baby names in America.)
To identify the most popular girls’ names unique to every state, 24/7 Tempo used a metric called the location quotient to determine which names have been more common in a given state over the past 20 years than they have been nationally. We calculated the location quotient using name frequency data by year and by state from the Social Security Administration (SSA), considering only names with 10 or more entries. (If there was a tie in location quotient, we chose the name with the highest birth number.)
We also noted the most popular girls’ names overall in each state, also based on SSA data — and learned that Emma and Olivia, which occur again and again, are anything but unique. (Here are the most popular baby names of the 21st-century.)
There may be fairly obvious reasons why some names are particularly popular in some states. For example, Aurora is the most popular girl name unique to Alaska and it happens to be the state from which the aurora borealis, or northern lights, are visible. In addition, it’s worth noting that, besides being a beautiful name, Aurora means “dawn.” (Parts of Alaska have almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter.)
In the last 20 years, 1,158 baby girls were named Aspen in Colorado. That’s also the name of one of the most popular ski towns in the state (though there were also 159 Aspens in Wyoming). Meanwhile, hundreds of girls were called Ariza in Arizona — no prizes for guessing why.
The name Swayze is uniquely popular in Mississippi. Swayze Field is the home of the University of Mississippi college baseball team and was named in honor of Tom Swayze, a former Ole Miss baseball player and coach. And speaking of sports, no college football fan will wonder how the name Crimson got so popular in Alabama.