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.
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:
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.
We realize a lot of people come to nameberry to help make their first baby-naming decision, but today we’d like to hear from those parents who’ve already named one or more children with our new baby name survey.
What factors influenced your name choice? Whose advice did you take? How did you finally settle on “the one”?
We’ll be following this up with questions about your opinions on middle names, nicknames, sibling names, etc.
CLICK HERE TO START Part 1 of the baby name survey. We’ll be reporting on the results soon.
THANKS for participating!!
First of all, we want to thank all of you who took the time to reply to our survey and for your thoughtful responses. We were gratified by the results in many ways, not least in demonstrating the widespread reach of nameberry—we heard not only from such primarily English-speaking countries as Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, but also from readers from as far afield as Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Israel, Bulgaria, United Arab Emirates, and Korea.
One thing that was especially gratifying to us was the number of people who answered the question “What else would you like to see on nameberry?” with phrases like ”Nothing–just keep doing what you’re doing” and “It’s perfect as it is” and “Nameberry is by far the best baby-name site out there!” Thanks!
Also heartwarming to us was the fact that the greatest percentage of people checked the option ‘It’s more original and more wide-ranging than any other site” and that the feature rated number one was the blogs. But to those who asked for more of them–as in seven days a week–all we can say is ay-yi-yi!–we’re pedaling as fast as we can as it is!
As for the rest of the suggestions for the site, we’re parsing them carefully with an eye to their feasibility, especially those on the tech side. As might be expected, there were a few contradictory requests –more authors’ opinions vs more strictly objective information, more attention to celebrity babies vs. less, etc. We’ve already begun to add more ethnic names–with pronunciations–to the data base, as per several requests, and taken note of the fact that some felt boys’ names weren’t getting their fair share of attention. For the rest, we’ll continue to sift and sort and accommodate as much as we can. You had tons of good ideas.
A couple of requests we’re afraid we can’t fulfill, however–those from the people who requested “free beer” and “virtual chocolate.” Welll…maybe we can manage the virtual chocolate.