The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years. In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas. Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant. Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.
As for the girls? That’s a different picture. Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell. Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace. None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.
And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before. Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline. We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.
Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
As the year draws to a close, we have a bumper crop of celebrity birth announcements to celebrate.
The newest arrivals answer to some very on-trend names: fierce, daring, nature-themed, a little bit rock and roll.
Some of them might even seem fanciful, the tiniest bit over-the-top. But we live in an age where imagination and creativity are prized. From Pinterest to Etsy, the rise of DIY and crafting and an emphasis on design has filtered into how we think about our children’s names.
If it is the end of the year, it is time for top names, and individual health systems to entire countries oblige by releasing their data.
But what does it mean if you are actually choosing a name for a child in the next few months?
Some parents insist on avoiding the newly-declared Top Ten, even if Noah or William was a long-time favorite. Others hope for something familiar, but not shared with too many others. And some of us will go to the fringes, considering obscurities from the dictionary and our family trees.
It’s as scandalous a choice in French as it would be in English, and the fellow guests are aghast.
The party goes downhill from there. Other guests are criticized for their children’s “pretentious” names: Myrtille and Apollin.
Such scathing comments are usually reserved for gossip, or maybe anonymous online forums. Can you imagine yourself in a social setting, hearing your child’s name ripped to shreds? Let’s hope the movie – and the play it is based on – are pure fiction.
Then again, even if Adolf is your beloved grandfather’s given name, I would think long and hard about giving the name to a son. It’s one of a very few names, like Lucifer, that strike me as off limits for good reason.
The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain
Royals are out, television characters are in.
No, that’s not it.
Celebrities are out. Family names are in.
As we look back at baby name news from 2013 and ponder what’s to come in 2014, it is tempting to wrap it all up in a few sentences. But names are as diverse as the children who wear them.
Baby naming in our age is creative, and we’re welcome to find inspiration anywhere, borrowing and reinventing until we find the perfect name.