Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 23 column, he looks at the influence of popular media like Star Wars on the most popular baby names of 2016.
Riley shot up 18 percent last year, twice as fast as the year before. Two Disney characters helped: Riley Matthews (played by Rowan Blanchard), the title character of the Disney Channel’s recently canceled “Girl Meets World,” and Riley Andersen, the girl whose personified emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear are the chief characters in Pixar’s animated film “Inside Out.”
Social Security’s website divulges names among the top 1,000 that made the biggest jumps in 2015. Kylo skyrocketed from 3,269th to 901st. Thirty-five were born in 2015 and 238 last year. It wasn’t just the new characters: Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa inspired a 32 percent leap in girls named Leia. Last year, 1,005 were born.
Of course pop culture can also hurt a name’s popularity. Alexa fell 19 percent last year. Perhaps parents don’t want their daughter to share a name with Amazon’s electronic personal assistant.