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Category: baby names study

African American baby playing with the letter A

A names – those that start with the letter A – have become the most widely used in the U.S., given to over 10 percent of all babies, more than double the proportion of children who were given A names in the 1950s.

You can peg the popularity of A names to pure fashion, and definitely, A names ranging from the classic Abigail and Alexander to the trendy Addison and Aiden have been on the rise for a couple of decades now.  While this may be part of an overall trend toward vowel names, which are up across the board while most consonant-starting names are trending down, A is up the highest.

But there’s evidence that A names may be beneficial for your child in more substantial ways.  A study by researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Diego found that students whose names begin with the letters A and B earn better grade point averages than those whose names start with C or D.  And more law school students named Anna and Andrew tend to go to top-ranked universities like Stanford than those called Chris and Drew.

Even more significant, another study suggests that people with A names live longer – in some cases, as much as a decade longer – than those whose names start with the letter D.   Scary, but compelling if you want to give your child every advantage in life.

A names account for  20 entries on the girls’ Top 100, up from only five (Ann, Anne, Anna, Anita, and Alice) in 1950.  They are, in order of rank with their standing in parentheses, for girls:

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Lawyer Names

lawyer

Want your child to grow up to be an attorney?  Name him John…..or maybe Elizabeth, says guest blogger Conrad Saam, who’s done a groundbreaking new study on lawyer’s names over the past 200 years.

If you have aspirations that your kiddo will someday grow up and earn his Juris Doctorate, the time to start planning may be now – with the right name. Through nameberry, you now have access to the most comprehensive analysis on lawyer names ever completed.

I run marketing for an online legal directory called Avvo where we help people make an informed decision when hiring an attorney by rating and profiling over 90% of the lawyers in the country. As such, I have access to the most comprehensive data on lawyer first names ever assembled – data culled from state bar records from across the country and reaching back as far as 1808. That’s about 1.5 million lawyers overall.

I grouped the names for each decade going back through the 1950’s. Because our data gets more sparse with age, I built two more groups, one from the first half of last century and one for the 1800’s. I then compiled lists of the top 20 names for each time period. The date associated with each name is when the attorney was accepted by the state bar – which in general is about 25 years after the baby-cum-lawyer was named (so you need to really be thinking ahead).

Obviously, these lists correlate with popularity of names over time, but the actual results are amazingly consistent and defy many overall name trends. Eight of the top twenty names show up in all the groups: every decade starting in the 1950s, the 1901-1950 group and even the Top 20 list from the 1800s. These are, in order of overall frequency:

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Lemony Snicket Names

lemony

We are honored to have as today’s guest bloggers Don and Alleen Nilsen, recent co-chairmen of the prestigious American Name Society, writing about the clever use of literary allusions in the thirteen Lemony Snicket books.

As long-distance grandparents, we are constantly on the lookout for books that we can enjoy listening to on CDs while we commute to work and can then forward to our children to enjoy with their children while they make their own commutes.  Daniel Handler’s thirteen Lemony Snicket books have been the all-time winners in this category, and one of the reasons is Handler’s skill in recycling the names of literary or pop culture figures to make playful allusions.

Humor scholars use the term Wabbit literacy (from “that wascally wabbit” in the Bugs Bunny cartoons) to describe the flip-flop process in which children become acquainted with the names of classical figures through pop culture allusions prior to meeting the  same names in “the original.”  The Lemony Snicket books are a superb illustration of this process as children meet Dr. Georgina Orwell, an eye doctor who hangs an ever-watchful eye over her door; Uncle Monty, who as a herpetologist cares for a huge python; a villainous couple named Esmé and Jerome Squalor who live at 667 Dark Avenue, c.f. J. D. Salinger‘s short story “To Esmé with Love and Squalor,” and Mr. Poe, who has a son named Edgar and is the appointed guardian of the children’s inheritance which is placed in the Mulctuary Money Management Bank.

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babykissingmirror


Unusual baby names are more, well, common these days than ever before, according to a new study.

This is not really news, and you don’t need to be a name researcher or statistician to realize it. Anyone who’s spent any time around children in the last few decades knows that you hear unusual names from Tatum to Trenton, from Delilah to D’Shawn around a lot more than you used to.

What’s surprising is the reason the San Diego State author of the latest study gives for the rise of unusual baby names since the 1940s, with the biggest rise in the 1990s. The theory: Higher narcissism among Baby Boom parents inspired the increase in unusual names.  We’re not so sure.

Jean Tweng, the author of the unusual names study, is also the author of two books on narcissism, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (Free Press, 2009) and Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and –More Miserable Than Ever Before (Free Press, 2007).

We hate to be too, well, narcissistic about this, but we think the rise in unusual names is mostly because of us.

Our first book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, came out in 1988.  We called it Beyond Jennifer & Jason because its whole point was to encourage parents to move beyond the expected names — Jennifer and Jason, Jessica and John — that were epidemic at the time and choose something more distinctive and, yes, unusual.

That book changed the way a new generation of parents thought about baby names.  It was our book, we maintain, that propelled the shift in naming trends, not the new generation of parents.

And we have proof.

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Nameberry Survey Results

Survey Results

Thank you all so much for participating in the latest nameberry survey.

We were really gratified that more than 600 of you responded and demonstrated how expansive the nameberry world has become:  in addition to the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, answers came in from Brazil, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and United Republic of Tanzania–as well as a number of “unknown locations.”

Some of the results confirmed our assumptions about how you’ve approached naming your children, while others were quite surprising.  One question that was of particular interest to us was ‘What was your prime source for choosing a name’?  It was almost a toss-up between baby name books and the internet.  29% of you voted for books 26% for the internet in general, and 11% for nameberry in particular (not too shabby since we’ve only been in existence for a little over a year!).  Other top answers were the family tree, ‘my own imagination’ and books/movies/TV/music.  But for those out there who think celebrities and their kids’ names are a major influence, that certainly doesn’t hold true in the nameberry world: only two people checked that one off.

Now for the other results:

  • A majority (69%) began thinking about names when you were children or teens, the next largest group (12%) as soon as you began trying to have children.
  • Most of you spent a lot of time thinking and talking about names.  For 58% it was a favorite topic of conversation, while 22% spent every minute of the entire nine months and beyond.
  • 67% of responders had some disagreements with their partners about names but were able to find a number of names they both liked; only 6% made the name decision on their own.
  • In terms of family pressure, for 54% the decision was left to the parents-to-be,  for 41% family members made many suggestions and were outspoken when they didn’t like one of your ideas; only 5% experienced a lot of pressure.
  • And how did you respond to outside advice?  A whopping 80% listened to others’ ideas but made their own decisions.
  • Answers were split about using names from the family tree: 17% named the baby for a family member, 9% used a variation of the name to suit their taste; 46% used one as a middle name; 29% did not use one at all.
  • The final decision was made most often (38%) by the last few months of pregnancy; next highest (18%) as soon as you saw the baby; the fewest (12%) agonized until a choice had to be made.
  • Ethnicity was not a major factor for most: 62% said it was not important, 30% it was somewhat important, only 8% said it was essential for the name to reflect their ethnic background.
  • When it came to a name’s literal meaning, 64% knew what it was but didn’t consider it a major factor, 21% didn’t care about the name’s meaning, while for 15% it was a prime factor.
  • Biggest problem in choosing a name?  For 40% it was deciding among all the names you liked, for 35% agreeing with your partner on a name choice.
  • The tellingly large segment of 36% kept the name a secret until after the birth, while 27% debated their choices with family and close friends, 21% talked about names with anyone who was interested, and 16% said they and their partner made the decision alone and announced it before the baby’s birth.

DON’T FORGET—Part Two of this survey will be coming soon.

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