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W-Names: Where’s Waldo?

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Once upon a time, in the now distant past, popularity lists–particularly for boys–were teeming with names starting with the letter ‘W’.

In 1920, for example, there were twenty-seven of them in the boys’ Top 500, including every conceivable appendage to the first syllable Wil. Aside from the eternal William, there were Willie, Willard, Wilbur, Willis, Wilbert, Wilfred, Wilson, Wilmer, Wilburn, Wilford, and Wilton, while for girls there were ten W‘s, topped by Willie at Number 74.

By 1950, the  number of W-boys had shrunk down to nineteen, but with many of the Wils hanging in, and in that year only five girls remained: Wanda, Wendy, Wilma, Winifred and the surprisingly persistent female Willie.  The 1980 Top 500 saw most of the fustier boys’ names having retired, leaving only seven stalwarts and just Wendy and newcomer Whitney among the girls. Currently, there are a mere five W-guys remaining in the Top 500—William, Wyatt, Wesley, Waylon and Warren, and one lone girl—Willow.  There are a few others in the bottom half of the list, including Wilson, Westin and Winston, and the rising Willa.

But I’m sensing that the tide is about to turn, with a renewed interest in both the vintage W-names–many of which have that trendy Western feel– and some fresher options that are attracting attention.  From the starbaby perspective alone, we’ve seen Rainn Wilson’s Walter, Jenna Fisher’s Weston, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Willa, Billie Piper’s Winston and several Willows, to name a few.

Here’s a rundown of the W-names I see on the frontier of this resurgence :

REVIVABLE GIRLS

Wallis

Wanda

Wilhelmina

Willa

Wilma

Winifred

Winnie

NEWER GIRLS

Waverly

West

Willow

Winter

Wren

Wynn, Wynne

REVIVABLE BOYS

Wade

Walden

Waldo

Walker

Wallace

Wally

Walter

Walton

Ward

Warner

Warren

Watson

Waylon

Webb

Webster

Wendell

Wesley

Weston

Whit

Wilkie

Willem

Willie

Wilson

Winslow

Winston

Woodrow

NEWER BOYS

West

Wheeler

Wilder

Willoughby

Wisdom

Wolf

Worthy

Wyatt

Wylie/Wiley

Wynn

Do you have any W-names on your list?

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