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Ashanti - Baby Name

Ashanti is a relatively modern name. How modern is it? Well, almost none of the older baby name books I own even mention Ashanti. The one that does lists it as a male name, which is ironic -- while Ashanti doesn't technically have a gender, it's much more popular for baby girls right now.

Ashanti managed to rank among the 1,000 most popular baby girl names in the U.S. just once in the 1970s, and then twice more in the 1980s. It only started showing up regularly on the list around 1993. Here's how the name has ranked since that point:Did you notice that huge jump in popularity from 2001 to 2002? Grammy-winning singer Ashanti (full name: Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas) released her self-titled debut album in 2002. Her very successful album brought a great deal of visibility to the name.

In terms of origin, Ashanti can be traced back to the Ashanti (or Asante) people of central Ghana. They currently number in the millions and speak a language known as Twi.

Centuries ago, they ruled a large kingdom. The kingdom was consolidated during the late 1600s and survived all the way to the early 1900s (when the Ashanti could no longer resist British colonization). At the height of its power, the kingdom gave gold, ivory, and slaves to European explorers in trade for other goods. Many of the slaves ended up in the Americas. Hence, many African-Americans in the United States have Ashanti ancestors.

Ashanti is not a traditional African baby name, of course -- it's the name of an African ethnic group. But it is used outside of Africa in honor of the Ashanti people, and in this sense is considered either a modern African baby name or (perhaps more accurately) an African-American baby name.

10,000 Most Popular Baby Girl Names 10,000 Most Popular Baby Girl Names

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