Name Meanings, Origins, and Popularity

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

From planet to pet names, hurricane to Spanish place names


Personal Names

Most Popular First Names
In 1900, John and Mary topped the list; a hundred years later it was Jacob and Emily

Most Popular Baby Names by State
Mississipians prefer Emma and William

Celebrity Baby Names
The interesting, odd, and downright crazy names celebrities give their children

The Most Common Names for Twins
"Olivia" and "Sophia," and "Daniel" and "David" are hot names for twins

Most Common Last Names
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones top the list

Place Names

Spanish Place Names
"Alcatraz" comes from the Spanish word for pelican

American Indian Place Names
"Alabama" may come from Choctaw meaning "thicket-clearers" or "vegetation-gatherers"

Origin of State Names
"Texas" comes from an Indian word meaning "friends"

Names of State Residents
Are you a Bay Stater or a Wyomingite?

Nicknames for States
North Carolina is the Tar Heel state

Wacky Town Names
Do you hail from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, or Boring, Oregon?

Former Country and City Names
Ceylon is now Sri Lanka, Siam is now Thailand

Planet and Moon Names
Mercury was named for the winged Roman god of travel because it appears to move so swiftly


Sports Team Names
Why is the Los Angeles NBA team known as the Lakers, despite the lack of lakes in L.A.?

Sports Nicknames
The story behind Tiger Woods' s name

Baseball Team Nickname Changes
In 1987, the Oakland A's were renamed the Oakland Athletics

Hockey Team Nickname Changes
In 1995, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche

Popular Pet Names

Animal Names

Most Popular Pet Names
Max, Sam, and Lady rank highest

Animal Names: Male, Female, and Young
A male fox is called a dog, a female fox a vixen

Animal Group Terminology
A "bed" of clams, a "murder" of crows, a "troop" of kangaroos

Days and Months

Names of the Months
July was named after Julius Caesar

Names of the Days of the Week
The names are based on the seven celestial bodies—the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn

A Miscellany: Cars, Hurricanes, Old Testament Names

Car Names
Don't mess with a Lamborghini Diablo, a Plymouth Fury, or a Rolls Royce Phantom

Atlantic Hurricane Names
Before 1979, all Atlantic hurricanes were named after women

Retired Hurricane Names
When hurricanes are particularly destructive, their names are retired

Old Testament Names
From Aaron to Zophar

Famous Food Dishes and How they Got Their Names
The origins of Beef Stroganoff and Peach Melba

Just for Kids

Where the Name Fits the Place—Or Does it?
Is Greenland green, and is the Dead Sea dead?

Name Power
Indonesians sometimes change their names after suffering great misfortune

Japanese Pokemon Names
The Japanese name for Haunter, "Gosuto", is the English word for "Ghost"

Names for Santa Around the World
Brazilian kids call him "Papai Noel"

Brand Names
Kleenex, Xerox, Scotch Tape are actually brand names

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