Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, the master of the Knights of Ren and commander of the First Order, introduced in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, seems to have made an impression on expecting parents. According to a new report, the name “Kylo” was the fastest-rising baby name for boys in America last year.
In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren is the underling of Supreme Leader Snoke, the shadowy Sith Lord who took over the remnants of the Galactic Empire after the downfall of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Kylo Ren is actually the chosen name of Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Kylo Ren was trained by his uncle, Luke Skywalker, to become a Jedi, but eventually fell to the influences of the Dark Side.
The Star Wars-themed news is far from the only example of parents naming children after pop culture icons. The fastest-rising baby name for girls in America last year was Kehlani, likely in honor of Kehlani Parrish, a California-based singer-songwriter who got her start in the teen pop group Poplyfe, which made its ways into the final rounds on America’s Got Talent in 2011.
In 2015, “Anakin” was in the top 1,000 most popular names in the United States. Anakin is the first name of another Sith Lord; Darth Vader from the original Star Wars trilogy, whose backstory was later expanded upon in the prequel trilogy. Anakin Skywalker was seduced to the Dark Side of the Force by Palpatine, a sinister Sith Lord posing as a politician. Anakin’s downfall precipitated the rise of the Galactic Empire -- though, admittedly, his name does roll off the tongue.
“Leia” also landed big in 2016, and was the 321st most popular baby name among girls. "Khaleesi," a title given to the dragon-wielding Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones series ranked 765th most popular last year, too. The latter is something of a confusing addition, as "Khaleesi" translates to “wife of the khal” in the fictional Dothraki language of the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R. R. Martin. The word itself is a title, not a name. Despite this, “Khaleesi” ranks well above “Daenerys” in baby name popularity.
Naming children after pop culture icons shows no signs of slowing. “Anakin” has risen steadily since first being recorded by the United States Social Security Administration in 2014, and was the 778th most popular boys name in America last year. While the popularity of “Kylo” rose sharply throughout 2016, the apprentice has yet to overtake the master. The name is currently the 901st most popular in the United States, a full 123 rank points off from “Anakin.”
Baby name popularity is tabulated by the SSA for the prior year. The results are typically published in May.