Category: name trends
Reminiscent of fifties doo-wop songs and southern cotillions, combo names are finding their way back to baby name lists after a decades-long absence.
Every decade or two the name landscape transforms. New names are on the way in. Old names are on the way out. But as names rise and fall, the qualities parents seek in baby names remain constant. As a result, today’s top names share subtle similarities with yesterday’s top names.
While there will always be names that are undeniably dated, and should stay in old year books, others are unfairly dated, often overlooked, typecast as names of parents or grandparents. This is unfortunate. These names, because they peaked during a certain decade, may not generate short-term excitement but, in the long-term, their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stand-out.
With the new US popularity list due out in less than a month, we thought it would be fun to look at today’s most popular baby names and guess which similar choices might move in to replace them — if not at the next tally, then at some point in the future. Our picks:
Sophia – Sister names that might theoretically replace the gorgeous classic Sophia include her cuter, more irreverent French cousin Sophie, which has risen from obscurity over the past 30 years to reach Number 51, and Seraphina, which has never been in the Top 1000 but is finding favor thanks to its choice by Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck.
Yes, there are baby names that have had longer runs at the top of the popularity list. Mary and John, certainly, and, more recently, Michael, who ruled for 44 years, yet none of them came to be seen as an epidemic or to signify a whole generation in the way that Jennifer did, though she was Number 1 for a mere fifteen years.
But in that time, between 1970 and 1984, there were 859,112 little Jennifers born in the US—enough for online Jennifer identity-loss support groups to spring up as they matured, enough for future parents to bemoan “I don’t want my child to be one of five named Jennifer in her class,” and enough for us to call our first book Beyond Jennifer and Jason. Jennifer became a one-girl baby names trend.
But why Jennifer? A once obscure Cornish form of the old Welsh Gwenhwyfar, aka Guinevere, a name that was hardly heard here before 1938—except for an appearance in a 1905 Shaw play– and which didn’t enter the Top 100 till 1956.
Nameberry’s predictions for baby names 2013: