Frozen effect: Elsa among top 500 baby names

The timing of the Elsa name boom aligns closely with the 2013 release of the hit Disney animation Frozen, starring snow queen Elsa.
The timing of the Elsa name boom aligns closely with the 2013 release of the hit Disney animation Frozen, starring snow queen Elsa.PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

NEW YORK • For the first time in forever - or at least in more than a century - Elsa has become a popular name in the United States.

There were more than a thousand baby Elsas born last year, making it the 286th most common girl's name, up from the 528th the year before. The name had not cracked the top 500 since 1917. The timing of this Elsa boom aligns closely, of course, with the 2013 release of the hit Disney animation Frozen.

The data comes from a complete count of the first names of newborns getting Social Security cards, a data set that has recently been updated to include the numbers for last year.

The same records show no particular Disney-related uptick for Anna, Elsa's sister and the true heroine of Frozen, though it was already a far more popular name in its own right throughout the entire 20th and 21st centuries.

Last year, it was recorded as the 34th most popular name, with 5,639 births, one place higher than the year before.

The male characters of Frozen bear quite unusual names, but they have become more popular as well.

Olaf, the lovable snowman who likes warm hugs, now has 22 baby namesakes, up from only nine the previous year. The rugged and roguish Kristoff shared a name with 32 baby boys last year, up from seven a year earlier.

The name that Kristoff gave his trusty steed, Sven, has proved to be even more popular than his own, with 55 baby Svens born last year, up from 33 in 2013.

The evil Prince Hans has also found his name rising in popularity. Last year, 132 baby boys were named Hans, up from 98 in 2013. (Parents, what were you thinking?)

Disney's influence on naming patterns is not unique to Frozen. In each of the two years since the 2012 release of the film Brave, more than 100 baby girls have been called Merida, up from only a few in previous years.

In fact, 1943 - the year after Disney released Bambi - was the first year in US history in which at least five baby Bambis were born.

In light of this data, it bears noting that Disney has recently released a new take on Cinderella. While that name might strike you as an unlikely appellation for a modern woman, Disney's 1950 film of this fairy tale is largely to blame for the fact that there are about 100 women in their mid-60s - who are perhaps trying hard to keep track of their shoes - named Cinderella.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'Frozen effect: Elsa among top 500 baby names'. Print Edition | Subscribe