Westeros Is the Latest Frontier for Baby Names

"Does the girl have a name?"

Game of Thrones's influence is spreading beyond Halloween costumes, viewing parties, and endless fan speculation. According to an investigation by the New York Times, moms are naming their babies after the strong heroes on the show, namely the female ones. Data culled from the U.S. Social Security Administration shows that Game of Thrones-inspired names are climbing up the ranks at an alarming pace, surpassing standbys like Britney and even other pop-culture names like Hermione and Katniss.

Back in 2017, Khaleesi was actually the 630th most popular name given to girls. Just five years before that, in 2012 (the show premiered in 2011), there were 146 newborn girls with the name. That figure jumped to 466 in 2017. For the show's fans, it's an obvious choice. Translated from Dothraki, one of Game of Thrones's fictional languages, it means "queen" and is one of the many, many titles held by Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke). But even though it's rising in popularity, Khaleesi isn't the most popular way that moms are paying homage to the blockbuster series.

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

In 2017, Arya hit 135th on the list, blowing past Khaleesi in the rankings. But just because it seems everyone watches it doesn't mean that everyone actually does. Moms said that GoT names can sometimes be confusing.

"They have trouble pronouncing it. They call her Ay-ria," mom Kaylee Finney told the Times. She named her daughter Arya, had a Game of Thrones-themed baby shower, and doesn't care that people may mispronounce her daughter's name.

"I don't really care," Finney tells naysayers. "Arya knows who she is and that’s who she wants to be. She goes and gets it. Nothing stops her — not even that she's a small girl."

Khaleesi's not immune to mispronunciations, either.

"At the doctor's office, they call Kuh-less-ee, or by her last name. The H throws everybody off," Jamie Chang said. She named her daughter after the dragon-riding queen. "Some people think it's two Ss, some people think it ends with a Y."

In 2017, there was a total of 20 Sansas, 11 Cerseis, 55 Tyrions, and 23 Theons in the United States alone. With the series ending this year, Arya and other GoT names may fizzle out, but for die-hard fans, that doesn't seem to matter. Fandom breeds dedication, so these moms probably won't regret their decisions any time soon. Only time and three-eyed ravens can know for sure, but for now, Chang says she's taking any and all criticism in stride. All that matters to her is that she loves her daughter's name.

"Someone on Twitter was like, 'How stupid. You named her after a fictional language,'" Chang said. "It might be fictional, but everybody knows what it stands for. It means queen. Anyway, who is to say what is a real name and what isn't?"

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