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Category: name history

Name Trends: Say yes to ‘S’

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It’s pretty obvious that the first initial letters of names move in and out of fashion.  The last several years have seen a rotation of vowels—A, E, O, I– as favored name-starters.  But there have been instances, too, of  ending sound name trends as well, which aren’t quite so apparent.  Case in point:

In the early decades of the twentieth century, in addition to name trends like  the birth of the flower name craze—Rose, Violet, Lily, Daisy, Hazel and Myrtle– as well as gem names like Pearl, Ruby and Opal, and the month names of April, May and June, there was an infatuation with girls’ names ending in ‘s’.  Appellations such as Doris, Phyllis and Lois were seen as ultra-poetic and romantic, having an appealing classical feel—but it was a fad that faded fairly quickly.  Today’s most popular list , for example, shows only two female names ending with the S sound in the Top 100 (Alexis and Genesis), while in the years from 1900 to 1930, there were five times that number.  Some of them still sound terminally dated today:

Dolores

Doris

Gladys

Lois (maybe)

Phyllis

…while the other half are either ripe for revival or already back:

Agnes

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Babes in TV Land: Kiddie character names

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Guest blogger Abby Sandel, whose blog appellation mountain is a top nameberry fave, takes a look at the names TV characters have given their offspring–and which of them have had a lasting influence.

 From Peyton Place’s Allison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Xander, plenty of television characters’ names catch on after expectant parents tune in. 

Some of those characters eventually have fictional children of their own.  Mad Men couple Pete and Trudy just welcomed daughter Tammy90210’s Jen has a brand new son called Jacques.  In honor of the two new arrivals, here’s a look back at some notable small screen births.

Everyone was watching I Love Lucy when Ricky and Lucy welcomed Enrique Jr. – LilRicky – in 1953.  The show was a sensation, but Richard was already a Top Ten mainstay, and even Ricky was in the Top 100 before the baby’s arrival.

The first influential television baby probably came from 1964’s Bewitched, a sitcom with a supernatural twist.  Bewitching wife Samantha’s name caught on, as did daughter Tabitha, who arrived in the show’s second season.

There’s more than one way to add a child.  The Brady Bunch’s six kids became seven when Cousin Oliver came to stay during the show’s final season.  While his name is the height of fashion today, it didn’t catch on until decades later.  The character did lend his name to Cousin Oliver Syndrome – the phenomenon of adding a younger child to revive a fading show. 

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fatherknows best

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.

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Boys’ Names Ins and Outs

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Yesterday we took a look at the girls’ names moving in and out of fashion and now we turn our attention to their brothers.

And here we find a somewhat different picture.

Overall, it confirms the fact that there is much greater consistency on the boys’ side of the fence, with a huge proportion of the names already established in the Top 100 list of 1880, and very few new ones entering in the succeeding years: only one or two per decade, with a large number of them having Irish roots.

Names that we might think of as fairly recent favorites were already on the list in the 1880s: Cameron, Carson, Carter, Chase, Cole and Cooper, Hunter and Haydn, for example. (Further evidence of the 100-year rule.)

So, again, here they are, arranged by decade, and then giving the particular years that they were among the Top 100.

1880s

  • Angel: 1888, 1891, 1899, 1907-1910, 1912-1914, 1916-2009
  • Blake: 1883, 1886, 1892-1894, 1897, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920-21, 1933, 1942-1943, 1945-2009
  • Bryan: 1883, 1886, 1890, 1892, 1894-2009
  • Caleb: 1880-1907, 1909-1911, 1914-1915, 1917-1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1964, 1966, 1968-1009
  • Cameron: 1882-1885m 1888, 1895-1896, 1900, 1911-1912, 1916, 1920-1924, 1926, 1930-1931, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941-2009
  • Carson: 1880-1882, 1884-1892, 1894-1896, 1898-2009
  • Carter: 1881, 1883-1977, 1980-2009
  • Chase: 1885, 1972-2009
  • Cole: 1886, 1912, 1951, 1954-1965, 1967-2009
  • Cooper: 1882, 1885-1887, 1889, 1982, 1984-2009
  • Diego: 1887, 1958, 1963-2009
  • Dominic: 1885, 1887, 1890-1892, 1894-2009
  • Ethan: 1882, 1884, 1886-1887, 1891, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1952, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Hayden: 1880, 1885, 1888-1892, 1895-1901, 1903-1930, 1922-1936, 1941-1944, 1947, 1986-2009
  • Hunter: 1880-1886, 1888-1902, 1904-1920, 1922-1924, 1926-1929, 1931-1932, 1934-1935, 1945-1950, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Isaiah: 1880-1968, 1971-2009
  • Jason: 1880-1898, 1900-2009
  • Jesus: 1880-1890, 1892-2009
  • Jordan: 1880-1889, 1891-1901, 1903-1910, 1912-1915, 1917, 1919-2009
  • Josiah: 1880-1896, 1898-1899, 1903-1904, 1906-1907, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1975-2009
  • Justin: 1880-1881, 1884-1886, 1888-1894, 1896-2009

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Popular Girls Names: Their ups and downs

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If I were a cookbook writer, I think my first title would be: “100 Ways to Dice and Slice the Social Security List.”  There is so much information to be found embedded in it and so many ways to look at it, that there seems to be no end of different and intriguing ways to parse the data.

Pam will be writing later about the startling number of names that have been in the Top 1000 consistently—which is to say every single year– since score-keeping began in1880.  Today I’ll take a look at the patterns followed by the names that have moved in and out of fashion.

First, the girls, grouped by the decades they first came into favor, followed by the specific years when they were included in the Top 100. (This does not include names that have been up there every single year.)

You may be surprised at when some of the names initially appeared—sometimes earlier, sometimes later than you might have guessed.  Zoe and Chloe, for example, were both strong in the 19th century, as were Savannah and SamanthaAlexis was already up there in the 1940s, but Alexa didn’t break through till the 70s; Kayla was there as early as the fifties, while—and this may not be such a surprise– Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Kaylee and Makayla all broke through as a group in the eighties, along with Hailey and Bailey.

1880s-90s (and possibly earlier)

  • Abigail: 1880-1897, 1901-1903, 1906, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1949-2009
  • Andrea: 1880-1881, 1884-1887, 1889, 1901-1904, 1907-2009
  • Ava: 1880-1972, 1974-1975, 1984, 1986-2009
  • Bella: 1880-1931, 2000-2009
  • Chloe: 1880-1943, 1982-2009
  • Ella: 1880-1983, 1988, 1990-2009
  • Faith: 1880-1882, 1884-1886, 1888-2009
  • Isabella: 1880-1948, 1990-2009
  • Isabelle: 1880-1954, 1957, 1991-2009
  • Jessica: 1880-1893, 1895, 1898-1900, 1903-1912, 1914-1918, 1935, 1937, 1939-2009
  • Lily: 1880-1964, 1966, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979-2009
  • Madelyn: 1893, 1895-1965, 1986-2009
  • Mariah: 1880-1908, 1910-1911, 1913, 1973, 1975-2009
  • Melanie: 1886, 1938-2009
  • Samantha: 1880-1902, 1907, 1964-2009
  • Savannah: 1880-1922, 1924-1925, 1928, 1983-2009
  • Sofia: 1881, 1881, 1886, 1888-1889, 1891-1892, 1895, 1898, 1900-1901, 1906-1914, 1916-1917, 1920-1925, 1927-1931, 1935, 1969, 1971-2009
  • Sophie: 1880-1955, 1984-2009
  • Sydney: 1886, 1905, 1932-1957, 1959-1961, 1963-1967, 1981-2009
  • Valeria: 1881-1944, 1946-1976, 1983, 1985-2009
  • Zoe: 1880-1912, 1914-1926, 1928-1929, 1931-1941, 1951-1955, 1957-1961, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1983-2009

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