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Only in Alaska: Baby Names of the Last Frontier

February 21, 2022 namerology 2 Comments

Only in Alaska: Baby Names of the Last Frontier

February 21, 2022 Namerology 2 Comments
Photo of Denali, a towering snow-covered mountain
Denali National Park in Alaska

Alaska is the land of Winter. Not just the season, the baby name. Alaskans are more likely to name a daughter Winter than any other state in the union—and that’s just the tip of this naming iceberg.

Other Alaskan names take a broad view of the outdoor experience. In addition to Winter, Wilder (M) and Forrest (M) are hot choices, as they are in the equally wooded states of Maine and Vermont. Even the name Atlas (M) is far more popular in Alaska than anywhere else in the US, suitable for the state that covers the greatest area on the map.

Looking Deeper

The impact of geography on Alaskan baby names runs even deeper than a first glance suggests. Parents frequently pay homage to the landscape with subtler name choices, such as:

  • Thatcher (M), as in Point Thatcher, a cape in the Alexander Archipelago
  • Sterling (M), a town that’s a popular launch point for wilderness travel
  • Spencer (F), as in the Spencer Glacier and Spencer Lake

You can see this trend in state’s most famous family of names, the children of former Governor Sarah Palin. Eldest daughter Bristol was named for Bristol Bay, the easternmost point of the Bering Sea. The name Bristol ranks #101 for Alaskan girls. Piper (F), which elsewhere might sound like a surname or a bird, is more likely to suggest the Piper Cub bush plane in rural Alaska.

Wintry Kinship

Alaska ranks just 13th among US states in the percentage of its population with Scandinavian roots. States like Minnesota and North Dakota boast several times as many Scandinavians. Yet it’s Alaska that reigns as America’s Nordic naming leader. Take a look at this all-star lineup of names that are much more popular in Alaska than anywhere else in the country:

Bjorn (M)
Erik (M)
Gunnar (M)
Heidi (F)
Ingrid (F)
Leif (M)
Magnus (M)
Odin (M)

The driving force behind this Nordic name boom seems to be style. The names are associated with a landscape of mountains, snow and ice. That image clearly speaks to parents of America’s own frozen North.


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  • ChrisinLiberty
    ChrisinLiberty February 22, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    This is an interesting analysis that can expand on Alaska’s local naming style. Especially considering the environment, geography culture and even community roots like Scandinavian ancestry in Alaska bringing their naming styles to the Last Frontier.

    I have noticed that names like Paxson, Hatcher, Kyler, Ruder, Silas, Gideon and Tobias are absent for boys and Juniper, McKinley, Lena, Hazel and Lillian are also not included on this article while they appear on Baby Name Wizard’s Local Naming Styles. Perhaps the names mentioned in this article could be considered as an extension to Alaska’s naming style? Because if that were to be the case, we’d go from having 14 local names to a whopping 30 names considering the new 16 names mentioned that are unique to Alaska.

    So far, this is a well-made extension to an existing chapter to Baby Name Wizard. I might keep my eyes peeled for any future updates to the American naming style.

  • Brigit March 3, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    I’m thinking there could be another reason for the popularity of Atlas- libertarian politics are common in Alaska.

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