Category: Baby Names Popularity
Some names become popular for a few years, and then fade out of use. Other names remain common for decades at a time. There are names you will find across the U.S., and names that only become popular in part of the country.
It’s difficult to pin down all of the factors parents consider when deciding what to name their baby. There’s the family history, how the name fits with the last name, whether or not the name has already been used by friends and family, and the impact of people we have known with that name. The sound and the meaning both matter. A name is something a person carries with them throughout their life, after all, and its choice is an intimate reflection of who the parents are, and what they want for their child. But despite the personal nature of the naming process, or maybe even because of it, the popularity of a name depends strongly on where and when the child was born.
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.