Category: baby name history
Trendy baby names have been around a lot longer Miley Cyrus or any of the famous Kardashians. From the dawn of recorded U.S. baby name history — aka 1880, when the federal government began keeping records — we’ve adopted names inspired by current events and popular people and culture, only to leave them behind for a new inspiration the next year.
The inspiration for name trends a century ago may have been politicians and war heroes rather than reality stars, but the definition of trendy baby names was the same: Names that spiked in popularity thanks to an outside influence, then sank from view along with its original bearer.
An organization called Flowing Data has calculated the trendiest names in US history, a fascinating look at which names burned the brightest only to fade the fastest.
Yesterday, we looked at the girls’ names, and today, as promised, it’s the boys’ turn. Again, we present the Top 10 baby names for every letter of the alphabet—from Anthony to Zecheriah—compiled by nameberry’s own Nephele. (The U.S. Social Security Administration’s complete names lists spanning a 130-year period were used in the tabulation of these special statistics.)
And again, there are some listings you might find surprising: even more nickname names, with Billy and Bobby both among the ten most popular ‘B’ names, Willie the Number 3 ‘W’ name, and twice as many Larrys as Lawrences. Almost a dozen Latino names appear, but no José (blame the profusion of other popular J-boys for crowding it out); and four different spellings of Zachary make the list. As compared with the girls’ statistics, there are more top names racking up much greater numbers, with several of the male classics being given to two, three, four and even five million boys over time.
Here, the full roster of Top 10 names for each starting initial:
1. Anthony 1,335,664
2. Andrew 1,192,233
3. Alexander 542,038
4. Arthur 518,307
5. Aaron 515,997
6. Adam 507,633
7. Albert 481,705
8. Austin 357,449
9. Alan 326,687
10. Allen 259,359
1. Brian 1,142,501
2. Brandon 705,063
3. Benjamin 626,514
4. Billy 379,598
5. Bruce 376,645
6. Bryan 356,776
7. Bobby 310,269
8. Bradley 286,800
9. Bernard 197,528
10. Barry 179,089
We often look at the name stats of the most popular girls’ names for a year, or even a decade, but sometimes it’s enlightening to take a longer view. Our ever resourceful and creative contributor Nephele has taken on the task of tabulating what the highest numbers of names were given to babies for each letter of the alphabet over the 130 year-period from 1880 to 2009. (Whew!– 1,430,841 Lindas! 592,450 Pamelas!)
There are some interesting surprises– even taking into consideration how the percentages for top names has changed over the years—such as the fact that there have been twice as many Annas as Anns (ethnic impact), that Bertha tops Beatrice, that Ida squeaks past Isabella (though probably not for much longer), that half of the top K names relate to Katherine, and that Ashley is the second highest ‘A’ name over the whole period. And of course, with lesser used letters, you’ll find some highly unusual choices on the list: 352 Uyens were enough to push their name into the Top 10.
So here, for your perusal, the Top 10 most popular girls’ names for every letter of the alphabet, followed by the total number given over that entire period. Boys will follow tomorrow.
1. Anna 844,721
2. Ashley 810,539
3. Amanda 775,095
4. Amy 673,333
5. Angela 650,496
6. Alice 536,538
7. Ann 466,050
8. Andrea 407,937
9. Amber 361,061
10. Annie 341,551
I don’t you know if you’ve noticed a growing trendlet—at least among celebrities—for what we might call generic-boy-nickname-names. In other words, these aren’t specific short forms like Charlie or Archie, but ol- timey macho boy tags like Buddy and Buster.
In the recent past, we’ve seen Noel Gallagher’s Sonny, a choice shared by British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor—as well as Adam Sandler’s daughter Sunny; Jamie Oliver’s Buddy Bear Maurice; Michele Hicks and Jonny Lee Miller’s Buster Timothy; the three Aces of Natalie Appleton, Tom Dumont, and Jennie Finch and Casey Daigle; the two Dukes of Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman; and the Junior of Peter Andre and Katie Price.
We can’t help wondering if this is yet another offshoot of the midcentury Mad Men phenomenon, bringing us back to the days of Father Knows Best’s Bud (birth name James Anderson, Jr.) and J. D. Salinger’s Buddy Glass (real name Webb Gallagher Glass), and Marlon Brando, who was known to friends and family as Bud. In those days, though, Sonny or Buster were not usually put on the birth certificate, and over time those pet names began to be relegated to pets.
The shadowy world of film noir, those stark black-and-white, often low-budget films with single-word titles—Possessed, Pursued, Trapped, Tension, Decoy, Detour, Breakdown, Blackmail—produced in Hollywood from roughly the early 1940s to the late 1950s, were populated with smoldering femmes fatale, hard-boiled detectives, corrupt cops, cynicism, intrigue and suspense
A lot of the female characters had a distinctive style of forgotten two-syllable names like Veda, Velma, Verna, Meta, Mida and Nita, while the tough guys who weren’t named Nick or Tony or Barney were occasionally given some wildly eccentric monikers.
Here, from both classics of the genre like The Maltese Falcon to barely remembered B-movies, some of the more interesting examples:
- Althea – The Unsuspected
- Angel – Guilty Bystander
- Barby – The Fallen Sparrow, Sleep, My Love
- Brandy – Two of a Kind
- Brigid – The Maltese Falcon
- Candy – Pickup on South Street, Breakdown
- Carmen—The Big Sleep
- Cecily – The Two Mrs Carrolls
- Celia – The Secret Behind the Door
- Cora –The Postman Always Rings Twice, Brute Force
- Dell – Shadow on the Wall
- Della – The Burglar
- Eden – Murder is My Beat
- Edwina/Eddie – Fingers at the Window
- Effie – The Maltese Falcon
- Evangeline – T-Men
- Fay – The Killing
- Frennessey – World for Ransom
- Fritzie – The Big Bluff