Category: Baby Names Popularity
Good things came in twos this week, as the baby name news was dominated by interesting sets of twins, and two new ends-with-R names for boys.
Let’s start with the letter R.
This past spring, the mainstream media picked up on a phenomenon we name nerds have long recognized: two-syllable, ends-with-N names for boys are big. Whether we’re talking chart toppers like Aiden and Mason, or new inventions like Zennon and Dreyson, N has been the go-to letter for ending boys’ names in recent years.
Ever wonder which name has been given the most overall? Of course I have! To satisfy my curiosity on the matter, I totaled the raw numbers of all names ever recorded by the SSA since the data has been collected (1880). I must say the results are very interesting!
Since more than 38,000 names have been given to boys and 64,000 names have been given to girls over the years, it is not possible for me to include all of them here. What I did include are the top 25 names as well as any of the #1 names not included in the top 25 and those that have been in the Top 100 every year since 1880.
Looking at names that were popular in the early days of the U.S. gives us a chance to reflect on how much we have changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We are clearly more multicultural as a society in terms of how many different countries, languages, ethnicities and cultural traditions we draw from in choosing names for our children.
Most of the common names in the early nineteenth century in this country came from the British tradition, and in fact, the lists of popular names would be almost identical for England and America. And yet names were chosen from some of the same sources as today: family histories, celebrities, religious traditions and popular entertainment. The lack of variety or originality of the name lists from this period belies the fact that names were chosen to denote respectability rather than the individuality valued today.
I’ve been thinking lately about the name Jennifer.
The biggest down side of being named Jennifer, I think, is not its enormous popularity — it was the Number 1 name from 1970 through 1983, when over a million Jennifers were born. It’s certainly not the name itself, which has always been and remains lovely.
No, the biggest problem to my mind is that the name pretty much pegs you as someone who is now in her thirties or forties. You’re date stamped, as surely as someone named Shirley is getting on 80 or Susan is a Baby Boomer or Mason was born in the Kardashian Era.
This is not a problem so much when you’re young, but as you get older, you (or more precisely, your child) may not appreciate having a name that broadcasts to your employers and everyone on Match.com: Yo, I’m 58!
The website Swimmingly recently published this very cool infographic on which place names were used for the most babies in the US in 2013. The surprising results: Malaysia is the hottest place name for babies, beating out America, India, and yes, Sierra Leone. (And yup, there was a pop culture connection–the Malaysia on the reality show Basketball Wives LA.)