Choose this name for your daughter and some will say you’ve gone too far – but history will be on your side.

Thanks to Corinne for suggesting one from her family tree. Today’s Name of the Day is Arizona.

Plenty of place names seem rather nouveau, unused until recent years. Dakota and Eden first surfaced in the 1980s; Memphis first charted in 2006. Others were fairly common in the nineteenth century and you can count Arizona among them. She would’ve been about as popular as Zara, Celia, Rosemary or Susan circa 2008.

In 1880, Arizona was the 631st most popular name given to newborn baby girls. By 1911, she was #934. And then she disappeared. She’s yet to resurface, but with Savannah and Brooklyn in the US Top 100, other names from the atlas could make a comeback.

Once upon a time, Arizona was a section of southern New Mexico. The Civil War divided the state. Some say that Arizona is derived from the Tohono O’odham word for meaning small spring. Others suggest that it has Basque origins and refers to oak trees. Either way, the meaning is nicely natural and that’s fitting – the Southwestern state is known for its natural beauty.

Incidentally, Arizona’s last year in the US Top 1000 was the last year before she became a US state. After joining the union in 1912, the name may have lost some of her romantic appeal. Or maybe the fashion for place names simply faded – Tennessee and Florida also left the charts in the early twentieth century.

Since then, songs and movies have taken their titles from the state. Choose this for your daughter and you can download “By The Time I Get to Arizona” by Public Enemy – though it’s not exactly a lullaby – and stream movies called “Arizona” starring everyone from Douglas Fairbanks to John Wayne.

The babies in 1987 comedy classic Raising Arizona were called the Arizona quints – but that was their last name. The cutie kidnapped by a desperate Nicolas Cage was actually named Nathan Arizona Jr., after his daddy, while his brothers answered to Harry, Barry, Larry and Garry.

Name your daughter Arizona and most people will probably ask if she’s named after the character on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. During season five of the popular medical drama, Jessica Capshaw joined the cast as Dr. Arizona Robbins. She’s a quirky pediatrician, but she’s no pushover. It’s easy to imagine parents seeing her character and imagining the name wearing well on a child. Capshaw joined the cast in January 2009, meaning that if she does inspire parents, it will be some time before her influence impacts the rankings.

Some adventurous types have already embraced the name. Former Everclear frontman Art Alexakis named his daughter Arizona in 2007. It’s certainly possibly to imagine Arizona on a boy, too.

Overall, it’s an intriguing place name with a legitimate history of use. If your taste in baby names is decidedly distinctive, Arizona is one that is sure to stand out.

Just don’t name her brother Phoenix.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I love the name Arizona! It’s familiar, but not overused. I probably wouldn’t use it since I live in the state of Arizona, but my best friend wants to name her first daughter Arizona Rose, which I think is lovely. I just love state nemes: Arizona, Dakota, Carolina, etc.

  2. I love the name Arizona! We have a baby on the way and if it’s a girl we are going to name her Arizona Elaine, Elaine after my stepmom. I also have another little girl named Annelyse Rain and i love how unique her name is. Everyone get off the trendy cliche name hype and name your child something unique just for them. Who wants to be named a name that a million other ppl have?