American Names · Modern names

Name Profile: Crimson

This generation’s parents choose from a wide variety of color names for their children. Rose and Violet are also flowers, Gray is short for Grayson, and Blue often lands in the middle spot. Scarlett (a variation of Scarlet) is wildly popular for girls right now. And yet, there’s another color name that’s on my mind today: Crimson.

Crimson has never ranked in the U.S. Top 1000 for any gender, which makes it rare. Across the country, only 43 girls and 24 boys were named Crimson in 2021. While the name doesn’t even rank on any Top 100 lists for individual states (and considering how regional names often are, that’s worth checking), there is one place it’s historically semi-popular.

Look, I no longer live in the South and don’t pay much attention to sports beyond checking how my college’s football team is doing, booing the Dallas Cowboys, or rooting for Germany or England in the World Cup (I know…they lost). I only recently attended my first MLB game and everything had to be explained to me! Even so, this bookish gamer nerd knows about the University of Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry. You might be asking “what does college football have to do with baby names?” The answer is “a lot” if you live in Alabama.

Crimson Tide refers to U. of Alabama’s varsity sports teams, but the football program is especially famous for its rivalry against Auburn University. Over the years, the Tide has inspired a lot of parents to name their babies Crimson, Krimson, and Crimsyn. According to this 2010 post from Nancy’s Baby Names, at least one child has been named Crimson Tide straight-up! Alabama state name data first registers Crimson as a baby girls’ name in 2002 (their stats, like the national data, only publishes names used at least 5 times), and as a baby boys’ name in 2006. It peaked in 2012 with 25 Alabamian girls receiving the name, and it continues to appear in the state data most years (though one year, it showed up in Tennessee?). In 2021, the latest year for which we have data, 7 girls in Alabama were named Crimson. Out of the 42 girls called Crimson nationally last year, a little under 17% were born in just the one state out of fifty. Krimson additionally appears in the state data exclusively as a girls’ name, even though it’s unisex nationally.

Now that we’ve established the popularity of Crimson and related names in Alabama, what about the university’s rival Auburn? Does that affect naming in the state? I would wager yes! Auburn appears in the state’s name data as a girls’ name starting in 1994 and ending in 2015 (it listed as a boys’ name in the 20s and 30s). Sure enough, in 2015, 6 girls were called Auburn in Alabama out of 52 nationally – accounting for about 11.5% of American girls named Auburn that year. If it’s not popping up at the state level in 2021, it’s likely because the national numbers on Auburn are down by about half (27 girls) from 2015. Curiously, auburn and crimson are both shades of red.

What do you think about Crimson? Do you know anyone with a sports name? Let me know!

Note: The Social Security Administration provides both national and state-level baby name data, which I extrapolated for this post.

2 thoughts on “Name Profile: Crimson

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