Category: classic baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
When you think of classic boys’ names, chances are that the first three that pop to mind are John, James and William. Of the three, William is, much like female counterparts Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret, probably the richest in its multiplicity of variations, nicknames, girl versions, etc. Here’s a rundown of the main man and his manifestations.
William—For four hundred years, William was second only to John as the most widely used name in the English-speaking world, and even now is the fifth most prevalent boys’ name in the US, given to almost 17,000 baby boys last year. With Germanic roots, William was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, and has long been a royal name in that country; it has belonged to no fewer than four US presidents and countless notables from Shakespeare to the present popular high-profile prince.
With just two names, the NFL quarterback and wife Brittany (shown in illustration) managed to capture both extremes in modern baby naming. The couple chose a first name that’s pure twenty-first century, and paired it with a middle that’s been around since the Old Testament.
Some parents consider names from both sides of the line – innovations like Maddox as well as standards like Robert or Stanley. Most of us probably have a definite preference. Yes to Eleanor, no to Madison. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
For what seems like forever, this pair of sainted sister names, Agnes and Agatha, have seemed like the quintessential starched, buttoned-up, high-lace-collared, mauve-dressed Great-Great-Grandmother appellations.
I’d like to propose that we let the unbuttoning commence.
When the 2013 US Popular Baby Names list came out back in May, we ran Kelli Brady aka The Name Freak‘s wonderful Playground Analysis blog, with her count of the REAL Top 50 baby names. Kelli tallies all spelling variations of the top names to arrive at their actual rankings, which puts Aiden et al instead of Noah at Number 1 for boys, for instance, and bumps Jackson (and Jaxen, Jaxon, and Jaxson) up to Number 2.
Our focus is usually on which names are MORE popular than you’d think when you add in all their spelling variations. The idea is that parents want to be forewarned when they’re likely to hear their favorite baby names far more often than they’d guess based on the official rankings. Zoe and Aubrey, counting all spellings, are actually in the Top 10 for girls, for example, while Kayden and his many near-identical twins rank not at Number 93 but at Number 9.
But what about those baby names that are LESS popular than they seem judging by the official statistics? Parents may veer away from some names, both classic and modern, that are actually somewhat more distinctive than they appear. I’m not talking about names that are a couple of rungs further down the ladder, based on Kelli‘s analysis, but those that are significantly softer by our own subjective measure.
The point is: If you’re shying away from these baby names because you believe they’re too popular, maybe you owe them a second look. They are:
I’ve been thinking lately about the name Jennifer.
The biggest down side of being named Jennifer, I think, is not its enormous popularity — it was the Number 1 name from 1970 through 1983, when over a million Jennifers were born. It’s certainly not the name itself, which has always been and remains lovely.
No, the biggest problem to my mind is that the name pretty much pegs you as someone who is now in her thirties or forties. You’re date stamped, as surely as someone named Shirley is getting on 80 or Susan is a Baby Boomer or Mason was born in the Kardashian Era.
This is not a problem so much when you’re young, but as you get older, you (or more precisely, your child) may not appreciate having a name that broadcasts to your employers and everyone on Match.com: Yo, I’m 58!