Category: top 10 baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
When you hear the phrase ‘Top 10 girls’ name,’ you might tend to think of classics like Mary and Elizabeth, or later long-running favorites Jennifer and Jessica, or the current Sophia. But it certainly wouldn’t be Bertha—which in fact was in that golden group for twelve years– or Mildred, up there for close to a quarter of a century.
I became curious about what became of these once mega-popular appellations, whose top positions lasted from 37 years to being one-time-wonders (bearing in mind that they well might have been top-ranked for years before the SSA started keeping figures in 1880), particularly those that were once in the Top 10 but now reside outside the Top 500, thus eliminating evergreens like, yes, Mary and Elizabeth that have retained their popularity. You might find a few surprises here–unless you’ve known a lot of Tammys and Tracys in your life.
We’re just days away from the new year! As 2014 draws to a close, plenty of websites and hospital systems have released their top baby names for the past twelve months.
The official 2014 US data doesn’t come out until May 2015. But this early information lets us read the tea leaves and guess – or hope! – which names might come out on top when we see the official numbers in a few months.
These names could be your middle-aged neighbor or a kid in your child’s class. These names are all familiar. Most are traditional. Most are likable. Most are timeless.
And not one has ever made the top 10 on the Social Security list since 1880.
To me, this seems remarkable.
These names seem like they should have hit the top 10 by now. Take a look at the list and tell me if you agree:
Popular baby names go through cycles: They rise to the top, but then in a year or a decade, most fall away to be replaced by….
Well, by new names that are often pretty darn similar to the old ones. In the 80s, Jennifer was number one, until it was replaced by Jessica. Emily held the top spot for several years, and then was supplanted by Emma.
The reason for this same-but-different pattern is so simple and logical it hardly bears stating — but we’ll do so anyway. Popular baby names, by definition, are those that are favored by a wide range of people. Except once they become too popular for too long, parents don’t want to choose them, no matter how much they may still like them.
So they look for names that are the same, but different. That have some twist that makes them new, while retaining the appeal of the originals.
Many of the most popular baby names today have close cousins waiting in the wings, ready to move up and replace the well-liked but overused favorites of today.