As noted in a prior post, I happen to have first name popularity data from the Social Security Administration lying around. (In my job at Databricks, we sometimes use that data in demos and training curriculum.)
While chatting idly with a co-worker, about the names people choose for their children, it occurred to me to search for a particular set of first names, specifically, names from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Was anyone so enamored with the books, and the Peter Jackson movies, that they chose to name their kids after Middle Earth characters?
I think you already know the answer to that question.
The data includes first names and the number of people with that first name, divided by year, as recorded by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). It covers the years 1880 through 2016. For privacy reasons, The SSA only includes first names that occur at least five times in a year.
So, without further ado, let’s start with:
There are no Frodos, Boromirs, Gimlis, or Meriadocs at all.
There are some Pippins, but, until 2016 they’re all girls; it’s probably fair to assume the girls are not named after Master Peregrin Took. However, 5 boys named Pippin were born in 2016. I also found more than a few boys named Peregrin, not to be confused with the differently-spelled Peregrine falcon.
There are more than a few Aragorns. (Seriously?)
And, a few parents saw fit to name their sons Samwise.
Perhaps more surprising is that there were 7 boys born in 2003 and 6 boys born in 2015 whose parents chose to name them Legolas.
The boys born in 2003 would be about 14 now. I hope they’re surviving adolescence okay.
And, of course, there’s Gandalf. No one would name his son Gandalf, right?
Wrong. The parents of 5 boys born in 1970 chose Gandalf as the perfect name for their little boys. At least no one chose Mithrandir.
Old Bilbo kicked the whole thing off, really. So, what about him?
Oddly, there are quite a few people named Bilbo. All were born before LOTR was published.
Galadriel charmed the parents of baby girls throughout the years:
Arwen has had a nice long run as a girl’s name, as well.
Unsurprisingly, no one opted for Celeborn. (Or, if they did, the kid never got a Social Security card.)
I half-expected at least a few people to name their boys Elrond, but that name didn’t show up, either.
Rohan and Gondor
I found no people named Éomer or Théodred, and, no surprise, none called Gríma. But Éowyn rivals Galadriel and Arwen:
And there are a few young boys in the United States named Théoden:
(Is “Ted” a legitimate nickname for Théoden?)
Faramir seems like a nice honorable name, doesn’t it? No one chose that one, either. Denethor is also missing, which is probably a good thing.
Before you ask, no, no one who got a Social Security card was cursed with the name Sauron or Saruman, at least not up to 2014. And there are no Radagasts, Gollums or Smeagols, either. (I was really hoping to find a few Radagasts.)
For the hell of it, I threw in the Dwarves from The Hobbit, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, Dwalin, Balin, Dain, Nain, Thorin. Of course, it’s entirely possible that parents chose names like Bain and Dain for other reasons.
I got hits for Dain, Nain, Nori, Fili, Kili, Balin and Thorin.
I dropped out the names that are legitimate first names in cultures outside the United States:
- Dain (Latvia and Lithuania)
- Balin (India, from Hindi)
- Nori (Japan)
That left Nain, Fili, Kili and Thorin.
I found graphing Fili and Kili together to be… well, a little strange, frankly.
But, check out all the Thorins!
There were 5 boys named Thorin born in 1968; they’d be just shy of 50 now. Meanwhile, 114 Thorins were born in 2014, 156 were born in 2015, and 136 were born in 2016. That’s 406 Thorins in just three years. Who does this?
I guarantee at least one joker gave some young Thorin an oaken shield—or, even better, a log—as a first birthday present.
I really cannot think of a conclusion to this silly exercise, other than to make a humble request: If you’re one of the 47-year-old Gandalfs born in 1970, send a photo, man.
If you want to play with this data yourself, I have a Databricks notebook that will download the Social Security Data, massage it, and save it as a Parquet file, for easy analysis with Apache Spark. You can import the notebook directly into Databricks, as described here. You’ll want this notebook link. A more readable HTML version, which shows the output from a run (and which can also be directly imported into Databricks) is here.