If Khaleesi Can Do It...

Will Names From ACOTAR Be The New Baby Naming Craze? It Has Already Begun

Cassian is coming to a playground near you.

Harry Potter. The Twilight Saga. The Hunger Games. Game of Thrones. Like Aslan, bookish millennials can cite the ancient fantasy texts; we were there when they were written. We may not have invented the first-ever fandoms, but we have taken them to new heights. Like the beloved fantasy series that came before it, A Court Of Thorns and Roses has captured the hearts of millions of readers – specifically women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, it seems – who grew up attending midnight book releases and arguing over casting choices in line for lunch at the cafeteria. Now, we’re also the age group most likely to have babies, and to name them after the characters we hold so dear. And if you think no one would dare name their newborn after a 6-foot-tall sexy fairy, well, you underestimate the fandom behind author Sarah J. Maas.

For those who haven’t cracked the spine on one of her books yet, here’s the rundown: Maas, referred to lovingly as SJM by her fans, has authored three series that exist in an interconnected universe: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Throne of Glass, and Crescent City. The 16 books therein (with more to come) are now known as the Maas-iverse – a Marvel Universe sans superheroes, but full of fae warriors, terrifying creatures, and witty banter between aggressively hot characters.

A brief scroll through Reddit confirms that there is an undeniable interest from Maas-iverse obsessed parents in naming their babies after her characters (or, at a bare minimum, their pets). One Redditor even combed through some unspecified census data and posted that since ACOTAR's publication in 2015, there have been at least 11 babies named Feyre, seven Rhysands, and seven Nestas (though Romper could not confirm without knowing the source). But given what we know about fantasy baby names, it wouldn’t be a shock if it were true.

The name Luna was nowhere to be seen in the top 1,000 most popular U.S. baby names prior to 2003, when it entered the chat at #890, according to the Social Security Administration. Why? Well, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix was released in June that year, in which the charming, otherworldly Luna Lovegood first appears. The name has skyrocketed in use since then, and now sits pretty as the tenth most popular name given to baby girls in the States.

The TV adaptation of Game of Thrones had a similar effect on the name Arya. The show debuted in April 2011, and that year, Arya was the 715th most popular name in the U.S. (up from #942 in 2010). It peaked in its popularity in 2019, the year of the show’s finale, and has been steadily declining in use ever since. While Khaleesi has never risen above #550 on the chart, that’s still quite a few Khaleesis in the world, and the name’s popularity rises and falls with the character (IYKYK) over time.

After releasing their 2023 data, the SSA published a list of all the names that jumped at least four positions in popularity from 2022. Anyone who has read books from the Maas-iverse will recognize quite a few of the names on it:

Male births

  • Cassian leapt up the charts by 403. It is now the 533rd most popular baby name in the States. It was given to 553 baby boys last year.
  • Azriel, Cassian’s moody counterpart, jumped up 80 positions (as did the alternate spelling, Azrael, by 49).
  • Maas’ Lucien is a lovable character, with her spelling of the name moving up 158 positions on popularity charts. Spelled Lucian, it jumped up 58.
  • ACOTAR’s main lover boy Rhysand may have caused the surge in popularity for Rhys, which moved up 73 positions, as well as its homophones Reece (79, and Reese (13).
  • Rowan, a stoic fae warrior with a face tattoo, moved up 20 spots, as did Rowen, by 37.

Female births

  • Aylin is a Turkish name that means “one who belongs to the moon,” so this could be a result of parents leaning into their love of the celestial (like Luna and Nova). But Maas’ Aelin, protagonist of the Throne of Glass series, could arguably have contributed a baby or two to its popularity jump of 422 ranks.
  • The timeless Elaine, the youngest of the Archeron sisters, jumped up 85 positions.
  • Emerie, who trains to become a fearsome warrior in A Court of Silver Flames, jumped up 32 positions, while the alternate spelling Emery moved up 12.
  • Maeve, a dark and powerful queen (who, to her credit in this context, appears in no smut scenes) moved up 30 slots.
  • Rowan is definitely a dude in Maas’ writings, but the name also leapt up 44 positions in the female birth charts. It could be that it’s just a lovely, unisex nature name, which is a trend right now.

It’s worth noting that these increases in popularity don’t mean you’ll be seeing baby Azriels and Aylins everywhere. While the SSA didn’t release specific information about how many children received all of these names, if Cassian’s popularity rank changed by 403 positions as a result of 553 births, it’s clear that no army of Elaines will be marching into pre-K anytime soon. What’s startling is that among this list, you essentially have a full cast of Maas’ most beloved characters. And surrounding them are plenty of other names that seem, well, fantastical (looking at you Elowyn, Alitzel, and Izael).

Fans of Maas’ series have cataloged all the ways she references Gaelic mythology in her books, and unsurprisingly, many of her characters’ names are pulled directly from Irish and Scottish folklore or altered slightly from it. Other than those examples — think Morrigan, Tamlin, and Aelin — many of the prominent characters boast Welsh names, like Rhys and Manon. They are, in effect, the perfect “fantasy” names: they’re easy enough for English speakers to pronounce, but so uncommon in the U.S. (land of Kaydens and Olivias), they may as well be from another realm altogether.

Whether or not these names take hold in the same way Luna or even Khaleesi has, only time will tell — even Luna’s massive growth took place over the course of 20 years. And SJM has been known to lure readers into loving a character (cough cough Tamlin) only to turn them against them later (on #booktok, he’s now known as Tampon). Her devoted fans know it would serve them well to wait until the series are finished before naming their child after one of Maas’ seeming heroes. But the path to baby name popularity has been laid by fantasy series before it, and it looks like ACOTAR might be the next.