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Category: Top Ten baby names



How Long Do Popular Names Stay Popular?

top 10 baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

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A Nameberry reader recently asked: How long do baby names in the US Top 10 tend to remain in the Top 10?

Good question, we thought, and so with the help of our commando researcher Esmeralda Rocha, we did some investigation.

The short answer: It’s complicated. While girls’ names in the current Top 10 have been there fewer years on average – 12 years versus 14 for the boys – those numbers are skewed by the amazing durability of Emily at 24 years and, even more dramatically, Michael at 72. Take Emily and Michael out of the equation and the balance reverses, with girls’ names staying on top an average of 10 years versus only 7.5 for the boys!

But this doesn’t tell the whole story either, given that classic boys’ names such as William and James have been in the Top 10 for most of the 135-year history of the data, though they dipped out and returned only recently. And on the girls’ side, Elizabeth had been in the Top 10 most of those years, only to slip out in 2014.

Here, a closer look at the popularity durability of all the names of both genders in the current US Top 10.

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Unusual baby names are more, well, common these days than ever before, according to a new study.

This is not really news, and you don’t need to be a name researcher or statistician to realize it. Anyone who’s spent any time around children in the last few decades knows that you hear unusual names from Tatum to Trenton, from Delilah to D’Shawn around a lot more than you used to.

What’s surprising is the reason the San Diego State author of the latest study gives for the rise of unusual baby names since the 1940s, with the biggest rise in the 1990s. The theory: Higher narcissism among Baby Boom parents inspired the increase in unusual names.  We’re not so sure.

Jean Tweng, the author of the unusual names study, is also the author of two books on narcissism, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (Free Press, 2009) and Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and –More Miserable Than Ever Before (Free Press, 2007).

We hate to be too, well, narcissistic about this, but we think the rise in unusual names is mostly because of us.

Our first book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, came out in 1988.  We called it Beyond Jennifer & Jason because its whole point was to encourage parents to move beyond the expected names — Jennifer and Jason, Jessica and John — that were epidemic at the time and choose something more distinctive and, yes, unusual.

That book changed the way a new generation of parents thought about baby names.  It was our book, we maintain, that propelled the shift in naming trends, not the new generation of parents.

And we have proof.

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Enter the New Nameberry Contest!!!

baby names book

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and to baby name fanatics that means one thing beyond cards and flowers: that the release date of the latest figures from the Social Security Administration is only a few weeks away. We’ll soon know whether or not Emily and Jacob have finally been overtaken for first place and which names have made the biggest leaps and suffered the greatest drops. Will some of the Classic Boys be replaced by newer choices? Who will win the Ava-Isabella-Olivia-Sophia race?

Nameberry’s First Mother’s Day Contest wants to know what you think. Send your rankings for the Top Ten Girls and Top Ten Boys to, and the first person to get it right will be rewarded with a quartet of personally signed book prizes, including an advance copy of our newest, not-yet-published BEYOND AVA & AIDEN.

Just to remind you of last year’s top names:

4. AVA…………. JOSHUA


First and foremost, the winner will get the very first look–six weeks ahead of publication–of BEYOND AVA & AIDEN: THE ENLIGHTENED GUIDE TO NAMING YOUR BABY, with our latest assessments of what’s hot, what’s cool, and what’s new for the coming years, with all-new, up-to-date lists and trends, personally signed by both Pam and Linda.

In addition, you will receive autographed editions of three of our classics:



Only one entry per contestant.  Contest closes at midnight PST on May 7, 2009.   Winner must list the 2008 U.S. Top Ten Girls’ Names AND the Top Ten Boys’ Names in the correct order, according to the Social Security Administration list.  If no one guesses the correct order, Pam and Linda will choose a winner from the entires that come closest. Nameberry reserves the right to announce the name of the winner.

So enter today—and good luck!!

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