"Melania" and "Ivanka" Are Surging in Popularity — But It's Not What You Think

It looks like parents are taking a political stance when it comes to naming their babies. According to Refinery29, the first lady and first daughter’s names have made a surprising jump in popularity. In fact, the name “Ivanka” grew in popularity by 362% since 2015. In the same time, the name “Melania” rose in popularity by 227%. But in the popularity contest that is politics, there’s more: the names “Donald” and “Eric” dipped in the polls.

The website Areavibes combed through the Social Security Administration’s released data to unearth the trends. Refinery29 adds that the whole situation may not be entirely political. Parents have been trending towards more unique names, which could be why established ones such as Donald and Eric have fallen out of favor. “Donald” dropped in popularity by 11% and “Eric” by 6%. Politics aside, Melania and Ivanka stand out just enough in a world of Tiffanys (that name fell by 17%, by the way). Associated with elegance and refinement, the first lady and daughter are more connected to peacemaking than policymaking, which could be another reason their names have gained some traction.

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Refinery29 adds that though the names are rising in the ranks, they’re still not common. 

“In 2017, only 164 baby girls were named Ivanka,” the site notes. “It’s less popular than ‘Ivana,’ of which Ivanka is a nickname in Czech: 191 girls got the name in 2017.”

In 2017, there were 283 named Melania, which baby name expert and author Redmond Satran would attribute to the first lady. She notes that Melania sounds “exotic” and is somewhat similar to another name that’s risen in popularity: Malia. The popularity of Ivanka and Melania isn’t something unique to this administration. The SSA reported a rise in the names “Sasha” and “Malia” during Obama’s tenure in the White House. The organization also notes that presidential names have always been popular — think Jackson, Roosevelt, and Madison — but that their place at the top of the popularity list has waned since the mid-20th century.

“There was a clear turning point in American history where we went from routinely naming after political and military leaders and avoiding them at all costs,” author Laura Wattenberg said. Only time will tell if that trend proves true with first ladies.

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