Celebrity Names Blog

The First Names in the White House

The First Names in the White House

Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha -- the world is on a first name basis with America's First Family.  They get a lot of coverage, but have you ever really just thought about their names?  In case you haven't, we here at NameCandy will add some name information to the ever-growing pool of knowledge about the Obamas.

President Barack

  • His name means blessing in Arabic.
  • Hussein is a variant of Husayn, the name of the prophet Muhammad's grandson
  • popularity: never ranked top 1000

First Lady Michelle

  • Her name comes from the french feminine form of Michel
  • popularity: current rank -- 103; highest rank -- 4 (1970s)

First Daughter Malia Ann

  • Malia is the Hawaiian form of Mary -- and as almost all of you know, Barack grew up mainly in Hawaii
  • popularity: current & highest rank -- 345

First Daughter Natasha (but you know her as Sasha) 

  • Natasha is the pet form of the Russian name Natalya, meaning natal day, Christmas Day, and has only been used in the English speaking world since the 20th century 
  • Sasha also comes from a Russian name as the pet form of Alexandra, meaning defender and helper of mankind
  • popularity of Sasha: current rank -- 363; highest rank -- 257 (1980)

First Dog Bo

  • The Washington Post reported that this Portuguese Water Dog was named Bo because the First Daughters, who chose the name, have cousins with a cat named Bo and because their grandfather (on Mom's side) was nicknamed Diddley, as in Bo Diddley.

For this information we turned to Behind the Name and to Baby Name Wizard & Voyager.

Our prediction: over the next few years keep your eyes open on the playground for more Baracks, Michelles, Malias and Sashas.  And of course, expect to see Portuguese Water Dog added to many wish lists!

--D.J. 

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