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Girls’ Names in Limbo: When can Kay come out to play?

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We’ve all pretty much on board with the Hundred Year Rule that says it usually takes a full century for a name to shake off its musty image and start to sound fresh again. Which is why so many turn-of-the-last-century names have returned, names we don’t associate with any older person we have actually known–those belonging to the great-great or great-great-great grand generation–all those lacy girls’ names like Amelia and Matilda and Clementine that now sound so appealing.

But what about the girls’ names of the generations that followed those in the first half of the twentieth century? Most of them are much more simple and matter of fact, often two syllables rather than three or four, feminine rather than feminissima.  These would be the names of our grandmothers and great-aunts and mothers-in-law—the older women in our lives.

Though there are some exceptions, such as the relatively recently revived Sylvias, Audreys, Lillians and Evelyns, and starbabies like Julia RobertsHazel and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Marion—most of these examples that were mega-popular from the twenties to the sixties have been consigned to onomastic limbo.

Our question today is: Are any of them ready to be sprung?

Listed here some of the names that were most popular back  in their day—leaving out the classics, the nicknames and the ephemeral trendies.  They’re in reverse chronological order, starting with the names that peaked in the 1920s, showing the time span in which they ranked in the Top 100, followed by the highest number they ever reached.

And who knows? Maybe we’ll come up with a Half-Hundred Year Rule!

1920s

Bernice1900-36          #39 in 1921

Doris1902-54                #6   in 1929

Gloria1922-63              #29 in 1925-26

June1915-49                 #39 in 1925

Lois–1902-1953              #17 in 1929-30

Lorraine1918-48        #39 in 1928

Marian1912-34           #64 in 1924

Marjorie1904-45        # 16 in 1921-23

Maxine1915-30           #76  in  1923

Phyllis–1916-58            #24 in 1929

Virginia1893-1959    #6 in 1921

Wilma1912-40           #62 in 1925

1930s

Arlene  1931-43             #53 in 1934

Barbara  1913-76          #2  from 1937 to 1944

Beverly  1926-64           #14 in 1937

Dolores  1923-44           #13 in 1930

Elaine  1923-57              #42 in 1938

Geraldine  1916-46       #38 in 1931

Janet  1928-70                #17 in 1939

Jeanette  1936-41          #82 in 1939

Joan  1924-64                  #5 from 1931 to 1933

Joanne  1930-60           #45 in 1934-35

Joyce  1924-89               #11 in 1937-38

Loretta 1931-44             #62 in 1938

Marilyn  1925-58           #13 in 1936-37

Marlene 1931-42           #39 in 1935-36

Norma  1918-47             #22 in 1931-1932

Rita  1914-60                    #42 in 1930

Roberta  1935-53           #64 in 1936

Shirley  1918-63              #2 in 1935-36

Wanda  1922-66             #47 in 1934

Yvonne  1935-37         #77 in 1937

1940s

Bonnie  1928-66               #33 in 1941, 46, 50

Carol  1928-71                 #4 in 1941

Ellen  1880-1961 (on and off)  #59 in 1942

Glenda  1941-52               #79 in 1944

Judith   1934-64              #4 in 1940

Kathleen  1920-90        #9 in 1949

Kay  1936-45                      #70 in 1941

Linda   1936-77               #1 from 1947 to 1952

Rosemary  1926-49      #75 in 1946

Sandra  1934-94              #5 in 1947

Sharon  1935-77             #8 in 1943

Suzanne  1941-73           #52 in 1946

1950s

Cynthia  1945-93            #7 in 1957

Deborah  1950-76          #2 in 1955

Denise  1950-81               #23  in 1955-56

Diane  1937-71                 #14 in 1955

Donna  1926-76                #5 in 1959-60

Gail  1937-61                      #36 in 1951

Janice 1932-67                 #21 in 1951

Marsha  1946-54              #68 in 1950

Nancy 1920-78                 #6 in 1950

Pamela  1943-83              #10 in 1953

Paula  1943-74                 #38 in 1954

Susan  1937-85                #2 1957– 1960

Valerie  1953-87             #60 in 1959

60s

Anita  1937-67                 #77 in 1963

Annette  1957-67           #62 in 1960

Brenda  1939-77             #11 in 1961

Karen  1938-85                #2 in 1965

Lisa                                        #1 1962-69

Michelle  1954-2007    #2 in 1968-69, 71-72

Renee  1960-78                #62 in 1967

Teresa  1938-81               #18 in 1961- 63

So which if any of these names do you think show some promise of returning?  Would you use any of them yourself—and not just because they’re family names?

 

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