Would you name your baby Barbie or Ken? Monikers surge in popularity following film’s success

Barbie and Ken in the Barbie movie
Searches for Barbie and Ken baby names have skyrocketed in the UK. (Warner Bros)

It was this year’s most-anticipated movie and has made Greta Gerwig the first-ever woman to solo direct a film grossing over $1billion (£785million).

Yet, it seems Barbie’s cultural significance is about to spread far wider.

New data from Nameberry, shared exclusively with Yahoo UK, reveals that searches for the name ‘Barbie’ have risen by 610% in the UK during the lead up to and following the film’s release, while searches for ‘Ken’ have risen by 170%.

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Barbie meaning

According to Babycentre UK, the name ‘Barbie’ actually has Greek and Latin origins, and Barbie’s meaning comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘barbarus’, meaning ‘foreign woman’.

Barbie, the doll, was first unveiled in 1959. Its creator, Ruth Handler, called the doll Barbie after her daughter Barbara, and Ken after her son, Kenneth.

Barbie is often used as a nickname for Barbara, and Barbie’s full name is actually Barbara Millicent Roberts.

The first Barbie Doll from 1959 is displayed at the interactive exhibition
This Barbie, with her knitted striped swimsuit, was the first Barbie Doll to be released in 1959. (Getty Images)

According to Nameberry, Barbie’s peak popularity was in the 1960s, where it reached a high of number 757 in its top girls names list in 1964, and 771 in 1967 before declining once again. Barbie’s current ranking on Nameberry is 1,896.

While there are several famous Barbaras, including singer and actor Barbra Streisand, model Barbara Palvin, and late presenter Barbara Walters, there are few famous Barbies.

American model and actor Barbie Ferreira, who stars on the hit Gen Z show Euphoria, is the current most famous Barbie, with 5.7million followers on Instagram.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10: Barbie Ferreira attends 2023 WIF (Women In Film) Oscar Party at NeueHouse Los Angeles on March 10, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Actor and model Barbie Ferreira stars in Euphoria. (Getty Images)

Ken meaning

According to Babycentre, the name ‘Ken’ has English and Welsh origins and can be traced back to a surname which is from a place name in Cumbria, or "from the Old Norse keld, meaning ‘spring’".

Nameberry says the name Ken means "born of fire or handsome; healthy and strong".

The name Ken can be a name on its own, or be a nickname for Kenneth, Kendall, Kendrick, Keegan, Kent or Kenny.

Ken grew steadily in popularity during the 1930s, peaking at number 227 on the top boys name list in 1946, before rising again in the 1950s with an all-time high of 177 in 1960.

It then saw a dramatic drop, and now sits at 1,941 on Nameberry’s list.

Some famous Kens include Sir Kenneth Branagh, actor Ken Jeong, singer Kenny Chesney and, of course, fictional Coronation Street character Ken Barlow.

US actor Ken Jeong arrives for the season two premiere of
Actor Ken Jeong is one of the few famous Kens. (Getty Images)

So, could we soon see more baby Barbies and Kens announced by pals or family members on social media?

It’s too soon to tell, but there’s certainly a growing interest in these old school monikers.

Watch: 'Barbie' surpasses $1 Billion at global box office