The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks the most popular baby names around the country but also by state. That means you can pull data from a certain region and compare them to overall trends. The experts at Nameberry did just that to uncover names that are unique to America’s West Coast. Now, this does not mean that baby names chosen in California, Oregon, and Washington don’t line up with national favorites. There is tons of overlap, but some special examples jump out.
As you might expect, in California, names of Spanish origin are more prevalent than elsewhere. Further, parents in Oregon and Washington are not afraid to try names that are on the cutting edge. The result is a diverse mix of appellations that you are way more likely to hear in the Pacific States. Discover the highlights below!
Baby Names in the Top 500 on the West Coast That Are Much Rarer Nationally
Anya is a Russian variant of Anna, from Hebrew, meaning “grace.” In California, the name ranks at 339, but nationally the name is not even in the top 500.
Armando is a Latinate name from the German appellation, Herman, meaning “soldier.” The name ranks at 281 in California but is actually trending down nationally.
The rest of the country is starting to catch up with the West Coast that had parents who were early adopters of this name. Bodie is likely a variant spelling of the Buddhist concept, Bodhi. It is a form of “enlightenment.”
Brixton is firmly in the top 500 on the West Coast, but that won’t be true nationally for a few more years if trends hold. Brixton is a place name, a part of London.
This delightfully vintage name has staged a comeback on the West Coast, where it is considerably more popular. Clementine is a name of French and Latin, from Clement, meaning “mercy.”
Kiana is likely an American invention, and you will find a huge contrast between its use on the West Coast versus overall. Nationally, it ranked 781, but in California, the name is 435.
As you might expect, names of Hawaiian origin are much more popular on the West Coast than elsewhere. Koa, a unisex name that’s a bigger hit for boys than girls at the moment, means “warrior.” It’s on the rise nationally, but its popularity pales compared to its use in California.
A classic name from Latin, Leona means “lioness.” It’s trending away from the top 500 nationally, but it’s firmly in the top 500 for the states on the West Coast.
There’s a big gap between the use of the name Leslie nationally versus on the West coast. It’s fallen to 612 overall but ranks in the mid-300s in the Pacific States. Leslie is a unisex name of Scottish origin, and it’s used more for girls than boys. It means “holly garden.”
You will find the unique spelling of Madison, Maddison, more frequently on the West Coast than in other states. The double D spelling is more popular for girls than boys, but all mean “son of Matthew.”
Moses, a name of Egyptian origin, meaning “delivered from water,” gets more play on the West Coast than elsewhere these days.
Rio, a name of Spanish origin, is naturally more popular in a state like California than in Vermont. The name ranks 402 in the Golden State compared to 672 nationally.
Rosalia is a gorgeous Spanish name from Latin, meaning “rose.” The name is climbing nationally, but it will take another year or two for the rest of the country to come close.
Roy, yes, Roy is more popular on the West Coast by a couple of hundred spots. Roy is a name of French origin, meaning “king.”
Thanks to its proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountains, the West Coast has about double the rate of using the name Sierra for their girls than the rest of the country. Sierra is a name of Spanish origin, meaning “saw.”
Soren is a Danish/Norwegian name meaning “stern.” Nationally, the name ranks 537, but in a state like Oregon, it is 292.
Yaretzi is a name of Nahuatl/Aztec origin, with the handsome meaning “you will be loved forever.” Nationally, the name ranks 569. In California, it’s 218!
Names in the Top 1000 on the West Coast That Don’t Even Rank Nationally
The SSA only lists names that rank in the top 1000. Now, we expect the name Ash to land in that 1000 in the next year or two, but currently, it doesn’t even make it onto the charts. Ash is a habitational name of English origin, meaning “from the ash tree forest,” or a form of the Hebrew name Asher, meaning “blessed.”
The 700th most given name in California, Benito doesn’t make a blip nationally. Benito is a name of Latin origin that shares the same root as Benedict, meaning “blessed.”
Boaz is a name of Hebrew origin, meaning “quickness.” The name has never ranked in the top 1000 nationally. But, in the West Coast state of Oregon, it is the 503rd most given name for boys.
Of the West Coast states, Danica is most popular in Oregon, where it ranks 581. Danica is a name of Slavic origin, meaning “morning star.”
Esperanza, a name meaning “hope,” has enjoyed some mildly popular years in the US, but that’s not been the case for the last few. The name is still going strong in California, where it ranks 623rd.
Jubilee has never ranked nationally, but in Oregon, the name is 532. It’s 748 in Washington. Jubilee is a unisex name of Hebrew origin that’s currently favored for girls. It means “ram’s horn.”
Of the West Coast states, Ollie is more popular in Oregon. The name was popular nationally for a time, but that hasn’t been the case since the 1970s. Ollie is a short form of Oliver, meaning “olive tree.”
Ren is considered a Japanese name meaning “lotus” or a short form of Rene. While technically unisex, Ren is currently favored for boys. It has never ranked nationally but does on the West Coast, with 863 in California.
Another name that’s only ever ranked on the West Coast is Romy. Romy is a diminutive form of a number of names for girls. This name is also considered a short form of Roman, but Romy is a favorite for girls.
Uziel is a name for boys of Hebrew origin, meaning “Jehovah is my strength.” The name has never ranked in the top 1000 across the US, but it’s in the 800s on the West Coast.
Yuna is a multicultural name found in a variety of naming traditions. Yuna has never been popular across the US, but the name ranks in the West Coast states in the 700s.
Zaira is either a name relating to the Arabic word for “rose” or an Irish Literary invention or potentially an Italian one (there’s an opera of the same name). Zaira is doing much better on the West Coast, where it is most popular in California, ranking 593.
Zephyr is one of our favorite unisex names. It is of Greek origin and means “west wind.” Zephyr is currently favored for boys, and that’s pretty much only true for the West Coast. It does not rank nationally. It’s in the 600s across the Pacific States.
There you go! Now you know the names that are uniquely popular on the West Coast. For even more baby name fun, keep reading. We’ve got names inspired by the state of California to share with you too!
Ansel Adams was a world-renowned landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West. He was born in San Francisco and spent the majority of his career photographing California. The name Ansel comes from Old French and means “follower of a noble.”
Isadora Duncan is a legendary dancer and choreographer that was born in San Francisco in 1877. Her talent catapulted her to fame and her career took her to Europe where she spent much of her adult years. Isadora is a gorgeous name that comes from Greek and means “gift from Isis.”
Buck Rock Lookout, perched at an elevation of 8,500 feet is a highlight at the Sequoia National Forest. The forest is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains and it’s one of the most impressive natural wonders on earth. The name Buck is English and means “male deer.”
Emma Nevada was to opera in the late 19th Century as Lady Gaga is to pop music today. This hugely successful soprano’s career took her from modest roots in Alpha, California to the most popular opera houses of Europe. Emma has Germanic origins and means “whole” or “universal.”
Carlos Santana is a Mexican and American guitarist who rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band Santana. Born in Mexico, Santana and his family eventually relocated to San Francisco and became synonymous with California cool. The name Carlos is a popular Spanish name that means “free man.”
Etta James was a prolific singer from Los Angeles, California. She gained popularity after songs like “At Last” and “Something’s Got a Hold Me” became smash hits in the 1950s. When she wasn’t touring she spent most of her time in California. Etta has French origins and means “keeper.”
George Lucas of Star Wars fame has deep California roots. Born in Modesto in 1944, the filmmaker has spent the majority of his life in the state. Lucas is a handsome name from antiquity that means “person from Lucania,” a region of Southern Italy.
Drew Barrymore comes from Hollywood royalty. She was born in Culver City and has spent almost her entire life in the biz. Drew is an attractive gender-neutral baby name that seems casual and cool. The name Drew comes from Greek and means “strong.”
Is Jon the best way to spell the many varients of John? Yes. From Palo Alto, Jon M Chu is a famous example with the name. He directed Crazy Rich Asians the first film by a major Hollywood studio to star a majority cast of Asian descent since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. Jon is a versatile name that means “God is gracious.”
Ana Lily Amirpour is a new visionary of American filmmaking. Her family moved a lot when she was a child, but they settled in Bakersfield. Amirpour’s 2014 debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night features an Iranian-American cast and was shot in Southern California. Lily means “flower.”
Colin Hanks might be son to legend, Tom Hanks, but he is an accomplished actor in his own right and has a great name! Colin was born in Sacramento in 1977. Colin is the Scottish Gaelic name that’s also a popular name in Ireland. The name means “cub.”
Actor Shailene Woodley was born in San Bernadino in 1991. Her unusual name has a lyrical quality to it that makes it seem both foreign and familiar at the same time. The name Shailene comes from Irish Gaelic and means “majestic.”
In North America, a maverick is an unbranded calf or yearling. It is synonymous with the American West. The name Maverick is an American invention and was used to describe ranchers who bucked tradition. The silly western, Maverick starring Jodie Foster was partially filmed in Yosemite National Park.
Greta Gerwig’s love letter to Sacramento, Lady Bird cemented her as one of the most talented filmmakers in the game. Greta, who is from Sacramento, is a true role model you could be proud of naming your daughter after. Greta has German origins and means “pearl.”
Luis Alvarez was born in San Francisco and spent most of his life in the state. He is a Noble Prize-winning physicist who is best known for the discovery of the iridium layer and his theory that the mass extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid or comet colliding with Earth. Luis is a fabulous name for boys that means “renowned warrior.”
The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is the prize of California. The range spans an impressive 400 miles with the majority inside California’s borders. Sierra is a girl’s name with Spanish origins that means “snowy mountain.”
Kirk Douglas might have been born in New York, but he called Beverly Hills home. The actor enjoyed an illustrious career and received countless awards for his acting chops. The name Kirk has origins in Danish and means “church.”
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet. Whitney hits the highest heights in California. Whitney is a unisex English name (although its enjoyed popularity primarily for little girls) and means “from the white island.”
César Estrada Chávez was an American labor leader, community organizer, and Latino American civil rights activist. With Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged to become the United Farm Workers union. The popular Spanish name with Latin origins, Cesar means “thick head of hair.”
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You know it’s not too bold! Liza is such a fun and dazzling name for girls. It’s most commonly associated with Liza Minelli, an eccentric American entertainer who was born and raised in Los Angeles. Liza is a shortened form of Elizabeth that has origins in Hebrew and means “oath of God.”
Bixby Creek Bridge on the Big Sur coast is one of the most photographed places in all of California. A notable person who coincidentally shared the name was Bill Bixby, was an actor and entertainer and lifelong Californian. Bixby is an English place name for a place that no longer exists in East Anglia (modern-day Norwich). We love the playful sound of the name Bixby for a boy.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 25 Sophisticated City-Inspired Baby Names with Tons of Character
Mount Saint Helena is a peak in the Mayacamas Mountains with flanks in Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties of California. It is one of the few mountains in the area that receives any snowfall. It’s glorious. The name Helena comes from Greek and means “bright.”
Kendrick Lamar is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer. He is considered one of the most talented musicians and most gifted rappers of all time. Lamar was born and raised in Compton. His 2017 album Damn became the first non-classical and non-jazz album to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Kendrick is a common surname in the UK and has recently become popular as a given name. It means “great champion” or “family ruler.”
Born in Los Angeles, Sally Ride was an astronaut and physicist that became the first American woman in space in 1983. She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2006. Sally is an English nickname for Sarah but stands out on its own just fine. The name means “princess.”
Orson Welles spent much of his early filmmaking career in Hollywood until 1948 when he began directing films financed from investors in Europe. Welles returned to Hollywood time and again and eventually retired in Los Angeles. The accomplished filmmaker is considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. The name Orson has Latin origins and means “bear cub.” What animal is found on the state of California’s flag? A grizzly bear.
From its natural beauty to its world-class cities, California really does inspire so many of us. Whether you’re wanting to honor your California roots or just want to remember happy times spent in the state, these California inspired baby names should do the trick.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 Baby Names in the Top 500 on the West Coast That Are Much Rarer Nationally
- 2 Names in the Top 1000 on the West Coast That Don’t Even Rank Nationally
- 2.1 Ash
- 2.2 Benito
- 2.3 Boaz
- 2.4 Danica
- 2.5 Esperanza
- 2.6 Jubilee
- 2.7 Ollie
- 2.8 Ren
- 2.9 Romy
- 2.10 Uziel
- 2.11 Yuna
- 2.12 Zaira
- 2.13 Zephyr
- 2.14 25. Ansel
- 2.15 24. Isadora
- 2.16 23. Buck
- 2.17 22. Emma
- 2.18 21. Carlos
- 2.19 20. Etta
- 2.20 19. Lucas
- 2.21 18. Drew
- 2.22 17. Jon
- 2.23 16. Lily
- 2.24 15. Colin
- 2.25 14. Shailene
- 2.26 13. Maverick
- 2.27 12. Greta
- 2.28 11. Luis
- 2.29 10. Sierra
- 2.30 9. Kirk
- 2.31 8. Whitney
- 2.32 7. Cesar
- 2.33 6. Liza
- 2.34 5. Bixby
- 2.35 4. Helena
- 2.36 3. Kendrick
- 2.37 2. Sally
- 2.38 1. Orson
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