A new book edited by a BYU professor reveals that Latter-day Saints and Utahns have consistently been ahead of the curve in baby-naming trends in America.

Here’s what we know.

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BYU News reported that the book “Perspectives on Latter-day Saint Names and Naming” discusses the research behind how names play a big role in Latter-day Saint culture.

Lead editor on the book and BYU linguistics professor Dallin D. Oaks said, “Utah makes names popular, and then Utahns get tired of the names; the popular names start coming down in the rankings here while other places catch up.”

The Deseret News reported that Utah County’s top baby names list for 2022 had multiple names that lined up with the national list.

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Why do we know Utah names are ahead of national trends?

“I have been interested in given names since I was myself a child, and have previously done research on how African American names and Hispanic names differ from those of non-Hispanic whites, as well as some work on how naming patterns differ across social class in the United States,” Cleveland Evans, an emeritus professor at Bellevue University and author on the chapter of Utah baby names in the book, told the Deseret News.

Evans continued, “The research on Utah or LDS names comes mostly because Dr. Dallin D. Oaks, a friend and colleague who I met at the American Name Society meetings, asked me to do this research. It seemed a very natural extension of my research on naming in the other groups.”

BYU News reported that the research time frame on this subject has been 40 years and has seen trends go up and down in that time.

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Reactions to this finding

“I was a bit surprised to see that we are sometimes ahead of the national curve in our naming choices. But I think Utahns are often innovators in a variety of ways, whether in some of the technological developments, or other ways,” Oaks told the Deseret News.

It has been reported that Utah is well-known across the nation for unique naming and spelling. But even though the names are unique, the rest of the nation seems to follow the pattern the state sets out.

“It is important to remember that the names we are speaking of are generally already available among others in the country. We just popularize them first,” Oaks said.

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What makes Utah names so popular?

“I think this began before the internet and social media, though as with many other cultural factors, those modern technologies have accelerated the process. There is obviously something about LDS culture which contributes to this,” Evans said.

The Deseret News reported that part of the reason Utah is known for peculiar baby names could come from the fact that the state has many children to name.

“Perhaps our high birth rate could be a factor. This could lead to more people across the country hearing the names we give our children. So many of us are connected in various ways to others across the country,” Oaks said.