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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    606

    Can someone clarify the difference between a "trendy" name and a "popular" name?

    I always thought I knew the difference between a trendy or popular name, but now based on some people's responses, I'm not so sure. I always equated "trendy" to tacky, thoughtless, sheep-like... It's all the names that many name nerds would judge negatively (i.e. unisex names, -aden names, unique spellings, etc.). I see "popular" as names you hear often - like names in the top 10-20, maybe even up to the top 50. Now, however, I'm seeing more and more people on here pinning names that I would never think fit into the category of "trendy" or even "popular" based on my understanding of these words.

    So, in relation to name popularity, can you give me your definitions of "trendy" and "popular" and examples of each?
    Mom to Nora Cathleen.

    Current favorites:
    Declan (Decs/Dex). Miles (Milo). Dean. Euan. Ronan. Dexter (Dex). John (Johnny). Max. Finn. Reid.

    Gwyneth (Gwen). Elise. Bronwen (Bonnie). Mary. Piper. Josephine (Josie). Iris. Margot. Sylvie. Edith (Edie).

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    15,298
    Here are my definitions of trendy and popular...remember that the terms "trendy" and "popular" are very subjective and some names can be defined as both trendy and popular.

    Trendy: a name that appears out of nowhere due to some cultural phenomenon (film, book series, celebrity etc...) or even because a certain "sound" catches on. Most of these names will probably become "dated" to a certain period of time. Example 1: Madison - a surname shyrocketed in popularity due to the 1984 film "Splash" where Darryl Hannah played a mermaid that was named after Madison Avenue in New York as a joke. Example 2- Addison - an alternative to Madison that was borne by a TV character played by Kate Walsh on Grey's Anatomy and then Private Practice. Example 3 - names with "ay" sounds, "n" and "ee" endings like Jayden, Aiden, Camden, Mason, Ainsley, Hailey, Paisley and Brinley.

    Every decade has its "trendy" names that appear suddenly on the scene and many disappear just as quickly:

    1950's - Linda, Susan, Sharon, Karen
    1960's - Lisa, Donna, Kimberly, Sandra, Lori
    1970's - Jennifer, Michelle, Melissa, Heather, Tammy, Angela, Nicole
    1980's - Jessica, Amanda, Ashley, Crystal, Stephanie, Tiffany, Amber, Megan
    1990's - Samantha, Alexis, Brittany, Taylor, Kayla, Lauren, Alyssa
    2000's - Madison, Brianna, Sydney, Jasmine, Ava, Ella, Mia

    A "popular" name can be defined as a name which is chosen in large numbers so that it has a high ranking on the yearly name list. Many "classic" names are "popular" but I wouldn't consider them "trendy". Names with history and depth experience ebbs and flows in their popularity through the ages but you really can't pinpoint a time period for them. That's why they're often called "timeless" names as well. They're traditional standards that stand the test of time. From the top 100 names in the US in 2012, I would define these names are "classic and popular":

    Elizabeth, Katherine, Sophia, Emma/Emily, Isabella, Abigail, Charlotte, Amelia, Olivia, Hannah/Anna, Sarah, Grace, Julia, Evelyn, Victoria, Leah, Claire, Lucy, Alexandra, Naomi, Caroline, Lydia and Madeline.
    Last edited by mischa; October 19th, 2013 at 12:59 PM.
    All the best,
    Mischa.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    532
    I agree with Mischa!

    Quentin Charles, born July 4!

    Russell Theodore
    Catherine Violet

  4. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    7,072
    Trendy just means following a trend. Current trends as mischa pointed out the Aidan and Hailey sound alikes; as well as the -son and trade names (-er).

    So a name can be trendy and popular, popular but not trendy, or even trendy but not yet popular.

    I think sometimes there's confusion because people are seeing upcoming trends that aren't yet reflected in the top 100--like the hipster love for the "old man" and "old lady" names. Some of them are rising in popularity, but it's mostly those that are also considered classics so they have wider appeal.

    It's hard to know where to draw the line. Is Oliver popular because it's a rediscovered classic or because it's a pleasant, upcoming trendy old man name? Or is it both? What about Oscar or Alfred or Felix? Are obscure Biblical names part of the same trend or a different one? Are these real trends or just things we're hearing a lot or seeing on nameberry?

    The word trend is a statistical word, but it's used in very non-statistical ways to mean almost anything people want it to mean.
    Olivia/Livia/Livy/Liv : Thessaly/Darah/Bethel : Noelle/Eve
    Benedict/Eli: Jude/Zane: Luke/Darius : Levi/Phineas/Calvin


  5. #9
    IMO A popular name is a name that a large percentage of people choose (top 30ish). A trendy is a name that has gotten a lot of recent attention, and shot up the charts.

    So Aiden and Madison started as trendy, but have been so popular for so long that they've graduated. But a lot of trendy names get their 15 minutes of fame and slide back as a niche pick.

    That's how I look at it. But ask 10 people and you're likely to get 5 different answers.

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