Fun Friday Question: What name pocket are you in (if any)?

Don’t forget to enter The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life giveaway if you haven’t already! You have until Sunday at midnight!

My dear friend KZG, who I’ve known for over twenty years, and with whom I lived and traveled while young, and who was a bridesmaid in my wedding and godmother to one of my boys, has also been one of my longest readers (in the beginning of the blog, she and my mom were my only two readers!) and biggest supporters/cheerleaders. She’s also the one who lets me know any time anyone in the Catholic blogosphere is pregnant — she has “introduced” me to so many of you! I gave her a special shout-out in my book for all the ways she’s been a bright light to Sancta Nomina (and always to me ❤ ).

So anyway, this past Tuesday she texted me, “Have you written about how popular Rocco is?” and went on to tell me that it’s super popular where she is (downstate NY), especially in the 4-6 year old age range (in her experience). So I responded how interesting that is, and that not only is it not terribly popular nationwide, it’s also on a downswing, so she must be in a pocket and I wondered why?


She reminded me that there’s a high population of families with Italian heritage where she lives, which makes sense, and we continued our text convo about other things and I mentally made a note to write about Rocco at some point in the future.

THE VERY NEXT DAY Laura Wattenberg, aka The Baby Name Wizard, who has a new web site called Namerology (she’s no longer at the Baby Name Wizard site), posted Maeve of Massachusetts, Meet Magnus of Minnesota, which was all about name pockets due to high concentrations of certain ethnicities (specifially Irish in Boston/Massachusetts, Swedish in Minnesota, and Italian in New Jersey [I would add downstate New York — Duchess and Westchester Counties, New York City, and Long Island — which borders New Jersey]).


The Swedish immigrants who flocked to Minnesota are recalled in the modern popularity of names like Ingrid and Henrik, and the Italian immigrants who helped shape New Jersey in names like Francesca and Rocco.”

Of course I texted her right away!! KZG is amazing!!

I can’t think of any names that are particular to my area as opposed to the rest of the country — I know loads of kids with the new top ten names, and the top names in New York State specifically (which KZG also sent me, name genius that she is) aren’t that different, and no names are coming to mind as those I hear that wouldn’t be as known to other places. (I will say that Sancta Nomina provides a Catholic name pocket though! 😂 The beautiful names of our faith are so familiar to me through interacting with all of you and the research I do for the blog/book/social media, etc. that I forget not everyone is as familiar!)

What about all of you? Do you hear names on the little ones in your town/area that aren’t common in other places? Happy Friday!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!


38 thoughts on “Fun Friday Question: What name pocket are you in (if any)?

  1. There are several Roccos near me (I would say mostly 2 and under), all faithful Catholic families (and there is a popular local priest named Rocco who I think has positively influenced that trend). I never would have realized that wasn’t generally popular, at least among Catholic families nationwide. I’d have to think further but otherwise I think names are pretty “normal” here – lots of Evelyns born within the past 2 years amongst my Catholic friends (I actually had two friends whose daughters were born a day apart and both named their daughters Evelyn).

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  2. My 7yo daughter was in a preschool class a few years back with 3 Isaacs (out of like 12 kids).

    One thing that seems very unique to this pocket of the midwest is actually with older ladies – the name Joan pronounced JoAnn. My husband’s maternal grandmother had this name, and then I met a lady probably in her 60’s-70’s in this area with that name. I’m in Fort Wayne, IN (but not originally from here), which has a high German ancestry population (both Catholics and Lutherans). I’m not sure this Joan name has anything to do with German though? I can’t think of any other German names that I’ve seen a lot of here with new babies, though.

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  3. We named our son Theodore nn Theo and had never met a Theodore before who wasn’t older than us- but since he’s been born (in 2011) we know at least 4 other boys within 2 years of him with the name Theodore.

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  4. In Oregon I’m in a pocket of nature names. When my kindergartener was born Hazel and Olive we’re ranked way higher here than they were nationally. In fact when she started this school year there was an Olivia and an Olive in her class. Then a new girl started mid year who is also named Olive so they have to go by Olive Jane and Olive Rose now. My cousin named his daughter Olive that same year.

    Hazel, Luna, Willow, and Ivy all rank higher here than nationally. Some interesting standouts:
    Juniper= 46 (281 nationally)
    Rowan= 70 (211 nationally)
    Iris= 80 (138n)
    Daisy =97 (169n)

    For the boys:
    Jasper= 78 (154 nationally)
    Rowan= 92 (129n)

    Both my sons have a Rowan in their grade. When I was a kid I had a classmate named Amber who had an older brother Jasper. I could give you an endless list of nature themed so sets I know of IRL. (I collect them. 🤓)

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  5. I’m in NYC and I have a 4 year old, not in school. Just from hanging out at the playground I have spotted at least 5 Hudson’s, but by state it’s only #73 according to SSA. After three Hudson I really started noticing. But way more popular names by state, in this case NY, I haven’t heard any that I remember. Like #3, 4, 5, and 8 I am sure I have never heard (for personal association reasons I would definitely notice.) Back home in IN we were in a Catholic homeschooling community and everyone had a Thomas, Felicity, Bernadette, Gianna, Gemma, Louis, or Zèlie.

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  6. Every now and then I will see an extremely ethnic Scandinavian name on an honor roll or class roster or a birth announcement. There’s a family here with sons called Thor and Odin. One of my high school classmates gave her daughter the middle name Solveig (Sole-vay) after a grandmother. I just saw a birth announcement for a boy named Ole (pronounced Oh-lee.) My old editor had a son named Jens. A state politician has a son named Olav. Others I’ve seen: Astrid, Ingrid, Maren, Signe, Synnove for girls and Christ (with a short i as in pin), Kjell, Matthias, Trygve. There were also numerous girls named Kari (Kah-ree) and Kirsten (Keer-sten) in my generation, along with a Sari, the Finnish version of Sarah. I live in the Upper Midwest.

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    • These are such gorgeous names! I’m glad you included pronunciations, I would know how to pronounce Solveig and Ole without them. How about Kjell and Trygve? I’m guessing Kyell and TRIG-vee? I’ve often been intrigued by Christ-rhymes-with-mist … I’m not sure someone who doesn’t live in a Scandinavian pocket can pull it off though!


      • Trygve is oronounced Trig-vee. I interviewed a cartoonist with the name who is Norwegian American. I think Kjell is pronounced Kyell, but I’ve never heard it pronounced. I only saw the boy’s name in print. Some Norwegians may pronounce the Kj sound with a Shhh sound. Solveig may be Sol-vee in some families, as there were five girls named Solvi born in Minnesota last year and it must be a variant spelling. I am also on Facebook with a man who has grandchildren called Solveig and Haakon. The kids are probably junior high age and live in the Upper Midwest too. My high school classmate who gave her daughter the middle name Solveig also lives there. Synnove is apparently pronounced Sin-nuh-vuh. It’s a variant of Sunniva.

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    • I used to teach in Minnesota and I had a student named Solveigh. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I bet they added the h at the end to help people realize that it was a silent g. I’m sure she gets people asking how to pronounce her name still, but using an Ashleigh-style spelling probably helped.
      (Also, despite that family’s Scandinavian heritage I actually met their daughter in a Spanish immersion school. So Solveigh spoke Spanish and she named her dog Luna — making the two of them were Sol and Luna, aka sun and moon. How cute is that?!)

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  7. We have a LOT of Mohammed and Abdullah and similar with our large population of Somali immigrants. I would say among the Caucasian population, older classics are still preeminent: Henry, Evelyn, Edith (even for non-Catholics!!!), Atticus, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Where do you live (general area if you don’t feel comfortable with specifics) with a large population of Somali immigrants? I’m seeing Edith among the general (non-Catholic) population as well!


  8. In Louisiana, there is a lot of French & Cajun name influence. Girl Names: Mignon (pronounced min-yon), Jeanne (pronounced J-Ahn), Evangeline, Angelle, Marigny and Jolie. Boy names: Beau, Andre, Remy.

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  9. Honestly in New Zealand we are very traditional so I hear the same names often – but we do have some unique ones if you compare them to the US/UK data (for example Freya ,Thea and Heidi all rank here).

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