Everyone’s name has a story behind it. Whether they were named for a relative, named themselves, or went by their first name and last initial until they were out of grade school, there’s always something to talk about there. And now, Game of Thrones fans are using the baby name Cersei. Yes, Cersei. The Social Security Administration tracks the frequency of names that occur five or more times in a year. That means actual hard data is available on the frequency of names like Khaleesi, Sansa, and Cersei in the United States.
According to data released early on May 22 via The Huffington Post, 11 American kids were named Cersei in 2017. That’s the first time it’s ever cracked the measured charts, and it jumped right to double digits.
In case you’re currently wondering, is there a different Cersei they could be naming children for? It couldn’t possibly be to honor vengeful, lying, murderous, scheming, selfish Game of Thrones character Cersei Lannister, right? But it is. You expect to see an upswing in names like Arya or Daenerys, but not Cersei. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if new parents watching the same show (or reading the same books) as everyone else.
The name Cersei is unusual, but unique. It looks and sounds cool. It lacks the traditional American feel of "Karen" or "Jessica" or "Jill," which are all perfectly good names, but would definitely warrant a first-name-last-initial rebrand depending on the year a kid began school. It’s also a more phonetic spelling of Circe, the mysterious witch from The Odyssey (and later the name of a character in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon). The Huffington Post pointed out that A Song Of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin has insisted in the past that there is no connection between Cersei Lannister and the Circes of lore. So, it’s probably just a fun coincidence between Game of Thrones and historical literature.
According to Vox, Game of Thrones names saw a surge in popularity after 2013. There were more Aryas, Daeneryses, and Khaleesis — yes, Khaleesi, which isn’t even a name so much as a Dothraki title — than ever before, likely owing to the explosive (and enormously popular) third season of Game of Thrones. It wasn’t until the SSA released data for 2017 that fans were able to see just how much Game of Thrones has impacted its audience in the run up to its final season. If you’re willing to name your child Cersei, it’s definitely not an accident. But hey, every character has to have its fans. One person in every friend group had a crush on Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy way back when, right?
The rise in popularity of Game of Thrones names in America, particularly for girls, is enough to make you wonder what schools will look like in the next few years. Will Kindergarten classrooms just become Little Westeroses? Will there be a Khaleesi G., Khaleesi M., and Khaleesi S. running around? What happens when the Cerseis grow up and decide to explore their namesake? Parents, if you’re going to do this — and you have every right to name your child whatever you want — just be sure you’re prepared to answer some of the tough questions.
If you’d like to check the popularity of your own name in America, you can visit the Social Security Administration database. And if you were hoping to name your daughter something Game of Thrones-y yet unique, like Sansa or Margaery, it seems like you’re still in the clear for a few more years.
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