Category: baby name popularity
By Linda Rosenkrantz
There was a time when the top baby name lists of different countries reflected their own distinctive native cultures. When John and Mary headed those of most English-speaking countries, just as Giovanni and Maria and Juan and Maria and Jean and Marie et al were in first place elsewhere.
But that has changed. With the homogenization of culture in general, with an increase in international travel, the spread of the internet and global audiences watching the same TV shows, we are no longer surprised to find the Irish appellation Liam ranking high on the list in Switzerland or the Old Testament Ethan suddenly Number 3 in Monaco. This is a moment when certain names, often in a variety of indigenous forms, are spreading epidemically across the world.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
When you hear the phrase ‘Top 10 girls’ name,’ you might tend to think of classics like Mary and Elizabeth, or later long-running favorites Jennifer and Jessica, or the current Sophia. But it certainly wouldn’t be Bertha—which in fact was in that golden group for twelve years– or Mildred, up there for close to a quarter of a century.
I became curious about what became of these once mega-popular appellations, whose top positions lasted from 37 years to being one-time-wonders (bearing in mind that they well might have been top-ranked for years before the SSA started keeping figures in 1880), particularly those that were once in the Top 10 but now reside outside the Top 500, thus eliminating evergreens like, yes, Mary and Elizabeth that have retained their popularity. You might find a few surprises here–unless you’ve known a lot of Tammys and Tracys in your life.
My pregnant friend had settled on a name—Olive. And then she saw a baby announcement two weeks ago: “Meet Olive Louise,” it read. The announcement came from Facebook, and from a “friend” she has only seen once in 14 years, but she’s decided against the name for fear it will be too common, and is back to searching the Social Security lists for the year’s top baby names, and scouring the name blogs.
The web has opened our eyes to world-wide naming trends, and my generation of Jennifers, Laurens and Ashleys, who were disappointed to be one of five in our classrooms, feel a new sort of power: Our children will not suffer the same fate. I watch my friends register their children’s twitter handles and create their Gmail accounts before they’re born, and part of the naming process is considering whether the name’s domain is still available on GoDaddy.
We’re just days away from the new year! As 2014 draws to a close, plenty of websites and hospital systems have released their top baby names for the past twelve months.
The official 2014 US data doesn’t come out until May 2015. But this early information lets us read the tea leaves and guess – or hope! – which names might come out on top when we see the official numbers in a few months.
Baby-name fads have come and gone over the decades, but one trend has held true: Names are getting longer.
By the 2000s, the average syllable count for a top 20 boys’ name had climbed to 2.25 — up from 1.8 in the 1880s.
Girls’ names, meanwhile, have gotten even longer. A Top 20 female name had an average syllable count of 2.75 last year. That compares with 2.05 in the 1880s.