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Modern Classic Baby Names: Cecilia, Calvin and Colin

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by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

Certain names seem as likely to be on children as on their parents, but are unimaginable on grandparents and great-grandparents.

These names are modern classics, names that have been highly ranked on the Social Security list for about 30-40 years, but were very uncommon or even obscure before then.

To me, modern classics can follow two different paths. There are:

  1. Former revival names and,
  2. Former modern names.

Present-Day Modern Classics

Revival names are old-fashioned-style names that come back in style or recycle every three to four generations. Revival names that stick around longer than the typical three to four generations graduate into modern classics.

Examples: Alexander, Caroline, Christopher

Modern names had been uncommon and then got discovered and soared within the past generation. Most modern names stick around for about one generation and then quickly plummet. But a few stick around longer and graduate into modern classics.

Examples: Allison, Brandon, Kyle, Megan

The question is, what are the next modern classics?

Future Modern Classics

Before answering that question, let’s talk a little more about what I consider a modern classic.

To me the next modern classics aren’t fad names, but names that have what it takes to endure over time.

My judgements are partially subjective, based on style. But there is something that most modern classics have in common: a gradual, steady climb, not the dramatic climb seen in fad names.

Some of the names that made the list are even on the decline, but the decline is gradual, not dramatic.  Something else that usually indicates a fad name is pop culture influence. However, with names there are always exceptions. A good exception is Samantha.

Samantha hardly spent much time in the top 1000 until the ‘60s TV show Bewitched inspired generations of Samanthas.

Eliminating pop culture inspired names might leave out some worthy candidates, like the next Samantha. Therefore names originally inspired by pop cultural references that have long been forgotten could still count as modern classics.

For example, Jenna was originally inspired by a character on the ‘80s night time soap Dallas, but 30 years later, few people remember that.

Some of these predictions might come across as slightly bold. Some of you might be surprised to see whimsical names like Autumn and Genevieve on the list.

Many next modern classics were selected for one of two reasons:

  1. They have been highly–but not too highly–ranked on the Social Security list for close to 20 years. For example Autumn has been close to the top 200 since the late ‘70s and has been in the top 100 for over 15 years.
  2. Their style transcends decades. For example, Genevieve has the current letter V and the “Jen” sound that was fashionable nearly 40 years ago.

The next modern classics on these lists are divided into revival names and modern names.

But first…

Name In Limbo: Is Hope a Revival Name or a Modern Name?

Hope is a name on this list that goes back to the Puritans giving it a history similar to a revival name.

But here’s the thing: Hope’s (recorded) popularity over time resembles a modern name more than a revival name. Hope peaked–not in the 1890s–but rather the 1990s. Hope spent most of the 1890’s outside the top 500. Hope could have been more popular before then, but name statistics prior to 1880 are not available.

Either way, Hope’s style is timeless in my opinion. And perhaps Hope’s longevity and refusal to fit into a neat box makes Hope one of the most timeless names on this list.

On to the lists…

Revival Names That Could Become Modern Classics

Girls
Amelia
Cecilia
Eliza
Emma
Genevieve
Madeline
Naomi
Natalie
Olivia
Savannah
Sophia

Boys
Caleb
Calvin
Emmett
Jacob
Julian
Max
Miles
Owen

Modern Names That Could Become Modern Classics

Girls
Arianna
Autumn
Fiona
Hope
Giselle
Harmony
Jenna
Kylie
Layla
Summer
Zoe

Boys
Aiden
Carter
Colin
Evan
Graham
Logan
Mason

If you are looking for a name that fits in today and hopefully will fit in tomorrow, these names are my suggestions. These are the kinds of names that will follow a child nicely into adulthood.

Which current names do you feel have long-term potential?

Angela created Upswing Baby Names to help parents find names ahead of the curve. She muses about names on their way in and on their way out in her book, The Top 22 in 2022.

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About the author

upswingbabynames

Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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