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Most Popular Baby Names, A to Z

popular baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

We were so entranced with the blog Eleanor Nickerson–aka Elea– did for us on most popular British baby names by letter that we decided to recreate it using the American popularity list.

Our research intern Megan Garon pored over the US statistics to compile the following list of the top girls’ and top boys’ name for every letter from A to Z.   Well, not every letter as it turns out there is no girls’ name starting with U in the Top 1000!

Other interesting facts that emerge when looking at the US popularity list through the alphabetical lens:

— Some letters (E, for instance) include names that are a lot closer to the top of the list than others (F, to cite a nearby example).  This is hardly earth-shattering news and yet, the differences are notable.

— While there are plenty of traditional names heading their letter’s popularity rank, a remarkable number of the top names are new ones.  Take H, for example, where Harper and Hunter trump classics Helen and Henry, or P, where Peyton and Parker dominate rather than Patricia and Paul.

— In a few cases, the top names for a letter for girls and boys are remarkable similar — Riley and Ryan, for instance, and Willow and William, and especially Quinn and Quinn!  This is evidence of the trend toward boys’ and girls’ names taking their sound and style cues from each other.

— When you look at most popular names this way, a few really unusual choices come to the fore by leading their little pack.  We’re looking at you, Ximena, Yaretzi, and Yahir.

Here, the most popular names for every letter in 2013 in the US, with overall standings for the names in parentheses.

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Rate Your Own Name

baby names

How much do you like your own name?

Quantitatively, we mean.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest of the low (in my book, Ethelbert) and 10 being the most wonderful gorgeous amazing name in the universe, what number do you give your own name?

As baby namers and name afficionados, it’s intrinsically interesting to analyze our own names. Rating your own name can also help you think about what qualities you want in a name for your child.  And reading how other people feel about their names over time can help you make a better informed choice of a name for your baby.

I’d rate my own name, Pamela, maybe a 6, but Pam only a 4.5.  Pamela is pretty and has literary credibility, I think, though I’ve always found it a bit prissy and precious for use in everyday life. Pam is definitely friendlier, but also plain vanilla and time-stamped to the middle of the last century, when Pamela and its down-to-earth nickname were in the Top 20 for girls’ names.

Your turn!

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What name do you hear waaaaaay too often?

a-lot-of-babies

I love the name Henry.

If our first child had been a boy, she would have been named Henry.

Then, by the time we did have a boy, I decided I really wanted to use a family name — Joseph, if you’re curious — instead.

And when we had our third child and second son, it seemed I knew too many Henrys.

There’s a Henry my youngest son’s age who lives across the street from us.  One a little older down the street.  And one a bit younger, a friend of my son’s, around the corner.

I still love the name, a strong yet stylish classic.  And yet while I feel that it’s a favorite that got away, I wouldn’t use it for a baby now because it seems there are too many Henrys in my neighborhood, my town, my life.

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Your Favorite Names from the Top 100

popbaby

Many of us at Nameberry automatically dislike names that are “too popular.”

But look more closely at the most popular names and you’ll find lots of wonderful names that deserve their widespread use.  Names that have stood the test of time, that have intrinsically pleasing sounds, that are associated with heroic characters.

So let’s this once set aside our name snobbery and own up to names we love from the Top 100 most popular names.

I love the name Sophia, for instance, and would proudly give it to a daughter or wear it myself.

Other girls’ favorites in the Top 100 include Charlotte, Claire, Alexa, Scarlett, Julia, Piper, and Annabelle.

For boys, there are even more popular names that I love.  In fact, my own two sons’ names, Joseph and Owen, are both in the Top 100.   And I also adore Elijah, Caleb, Henry, Nathaniel, Isaiah, Isaac, Thomas….almost too many to mention.

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Blue Jean Baby Names

bluejeans

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Maybe it’s because I used to be a fashion editor, but I’ve often thought that names were like clothes: coming into and going out of style, some choices enduring through the ages while others are momentary trends, everywhere for a season and then sinking from sight.

But the other day I started thinking that names are like clothes in a different way.  Some names, I decided, are like magnificent couture ballgowns – gorgeous, luxurious, distinctive, dramatic, but a bit grand for everyday use.  This may be the factor that keeps parents from choosing names like Raffaela and Orlando, Atticus and Anastasia, lovely as they may be.

More comfy and cozy, better suited to real modern life, may be the blue jean baby names.  Down-to-earth and easy to wear, these blue jean names are popular but not trendy, attractive but never showy.  With these names, you register the person first and the name second….or maybe fifth.

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