Category: baby name popularity
In this year’s third-grade classes, teachers might have noticed an unusual number of Kaylas, Katies and Kyles. This follows an earlier bump for Alexes and Amandas, and other names that start with A. Why? One factor might be…the weather.
As part of our research on trends and how ideas catch on, my colleagues and I analyzed more than 125 years of data on the popularity of baby names. We found that names that begin with K increased 9 percent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And names that start with A were 7 percent more common after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It wasn’t that people named their babies after the storms. (In fact, fewer people named their children Katrina and Andrew after each respective hurricane.) Rather, it was similar sounding names that spiked after particular storms. Predicting cultural trends is of great interest to companies, consumers and cultural critics. Will a new song be a hit or a flop? Will turquoise be the new black? Will a particular public policy idea catch on or fizzle fast? There are big stakes — big rewards — in being able to accurately forecast cultural trends.
A quick Google search will render more than 11 million results for the name Jennifer Kim, while White Pages will say there are more than 600 of us in the United States. Personally, I think there are more.
There is a Jennifer Kim who is a journalist and writer (not me) and another Jennifer Kim who is an actress (also not me). One of my best friends from childhood is also, coincidentally, named Jennifer Kim. We never really ran into problems, except for that one minor grade swap in 9th grade geometry, but really, who remembers such trivial things?
During high school, I knew four Jennifer Kims, not including myself. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of plain old Jennifers I knew. Not surprising considering Jennifer was the most popular girl’s name from 1970 to 1984.
At UCLA, I realized that I could reinvent myself–or someone else could. One day, my college sweetheart called me ‘Jen,’ and suddenly, the whole world followed. At last, I became the unique special butterfly: Jen Kim. Until that is, I met a dozen other Jens and a handful of Jen Kims who were all similarly trying to shed their common names for cooler nicknames.
By K. M Sheard of Nook of Names
I have been musing about names which, on the surface, appear to be straightforward adoptions of English words, but are, in fact — in origin at least — entirely unrelated. The most popular name of this kind currently in use is Lily.
Lily — now almost exclusively associated with the flower (so much so that the Wikipedia entry entirely fails to mention its original roots) — actually arose in the Middle Ages as a short-form of Elizabeth — Lylie. This quickly developed its own pet-form — Lillian/Lilian, which has been treated as a name in its own right since at least the 16th Century. It didn’t see much use, though, until the latter 19th Century, when it rapidly became one of the most popular girls’ names across the English-speaking world. And, inevitably, it was usually shortened to Lily. Lily was also very popular in its own right in the early 1900s in the UK; in the US, however — where short and pet-forms often seem to be shunned in favour of the full form — Lily remained relatively rare.
For many name nerds there are two things that are usually pretty high on their want list when choosing names. One is that the name isn’t too “trendy” – so that it won’t seem too dated in years to come and instantly mark someone as a child of a particular decade. Another is that it’s not “too” popular.
In the 1930′s, one name that completely broke both of these rules was Shirley, thanks largely to child mega-star Shirley Temple. The name was already very well recognised, positioned at #9 in America, when Shirley Temple‘s first films were made. The attention this young girl brought to the name gave it such a boost that Nancy of popular blog Nancy‘s Baby Names points out that Shirley had the second biggest jump (in numbers of girls given the name) ever from 1934 to 1935, which saw it go from #4 to #2 when 42,353 American girls were given the name. That’s a lot of Shirleys.
Legions of expectant parents search for that “underused classic” name each year.
But what exactly is an “underused classic” name? Do underused classic names even exist? Are they some impossible standard like names that are universally appealing and forever-guaranteed-to-stay-unique?
“Classic” can be interpreted differently by different people. Instead of describing a name as “classic” I usually use “traditional” or “timeless” instead.
Semantics aside, a working definition of how I decide what makes a name “classic” might be useful. And in my world there is more than one type of classic name:
Authentic Classics – Evergreen names like Elizabeth and James. Ideally these names have never left the top 50 since 1880, the earliest year name rankings are available from the Social Security Administration.