Category: nameberry guest blog
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who‘, the highly anticipated special anniversary episode watched by avid fans (or Whovians) worldwide. The show captivated audiences from the start with its’ creativity and imaginative story lines that attracted viewers. The last of his race, the Doctor travels through time and space in his blue police box spaceship the TARDIS , regenerating each time he dies.
He travels with many different companions, many of whom are beloved by fans and have received their own spin-off shows, but the true heart of the show is the Doctor. With each regeneration the Doctor has the same memories but a distinct and different personality, meaning that each actor can put their unique stamp on the role, and all have become household names. If you’re a fan, perhaps you may like to honor your child with the name of your favorite Doctor.
There’s a theory that baby names come back in style about every 80-100 years. Names that come back in style after 80-100 years are often called vintage or revival names.
Based on that theory, baby names from the 1930s (about 80 years from time of writing) should be the next wave of vintage revival names, poised to appear on monogrammed nursery accessories within the next 10-30 years.
But here’s the thing: the biggest revival names aren’t usually the mega-hit top 10 names from 80-100 years ago. The biggest revival names are usually the names that were moderately popular the first time around.
A perfect example of the 80-100 year rule is 2012’s top girl name, Sophia. Sophia had been somewhat popular over a century ago and then gradually declined, only to turn around in the 1990s when it rapidly climbed the Social Security list. However, Sophia is a lot more popular now than it was during its first peak back in 1882 at #116.
Based on that knowledge I set out to find names from the 1930s that weren’t always super common top 10 names, but rather names that peaked during that time and seem to represent the style of the decade.
Whose name is worse than mine? Almost no one’s, by my lights. I’ve spent decades looking, and 99 percent of the names I hear are better than my own. Once in a great while, I do come across a name that I actually think is worse, and I view such names with both pity and awe–but more on this later.
What’s so bad about my name? I come by it honorably enough; I was born in Chadera, Israel, where the name Yona was perhaps not so common as the Susans or Debbies that populated my grade school classrooms, but neither was it freakish. Then my parents moved back to the United States and it did not occur to them to Anglicize my name, which was always confused or mangled: Yola, Yoda, Ona and Zona were a few of its many ungainly permutations. And coupled with my unusual last name, Zeldis, made for an even more confused reaction.
When I entered a new school in fourth grade, my teacher looked at the class list and said, “What is Yona Zeldis?” I had to raise my hand and say, “It’s me.” She thought it was a misprint and that it should perhaps have been Zelda Yonis; no such luck though.
The 2012 Popular Baby Names list was released in May to a lot of excited name enthusiasts. Of course we were all interested in the Top 10 and Top 100, but I also loved seeing what fell out of and what made its way into the Top 1000. What’s the new name on the block? Finding out was like Christmas in May.
On my blog back in January, I made my own predictions and suggested 6 girl names and 6 boy names that would crack into the Top 1000. It’s always hard to say what will make the jump into the published list and what will not. In 2011, for example, Hattie reentered the Top 1000 at #993 with 253 births, up from 157 births in 2010 (which would have put it at #1444). It could take a lot of births, or just a few depending on the activity of the other thousand names throughout the year. To help me make these predictions, I went through the 100 names below the Top 1000 to see what jumped out at me.
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.