A Names: Why Names That Start With A Rank #1

A names – those that start with the letter A – have become the most widely used in the U.S., given to over 10 percent of all babies, more than double the proportion of children who were given A names in the 1950s.

You can peg the popularity of A names to pure fashion, and definitely, A names ranging from the classic Abigail and Alexander to the trendy Addison and Aiden have been on the rise for a couple of decades now.  While this may be part of an overall trend toward vowel names, which are up across the board while most consonant-starting names are trending down, A is up the highest.

But there’s evidence that A names may be beneficial for your child in more substantial ways.  A study by researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Diego found that students whose names begin with the letters A and B earn better grade point averages than those whose names start with C or D.  And more law school students named Anna and Andrew tend to go to top-ranked universities like Stanford than those called Chris and Drew.

Even more significant, another study suggests that people with A names live longer – in some cases, as much as a decade longer – than those whose names start with the letter D.   Scary, but compelling if you want to give your child every advantage in life.

A names account for  20 entries on the girls’ Top 100, up from only five (Ann, Anne, Anna, Anita, and Alice) in 1950.  They are, in order of rank with their standing in parentheses, for girls:

  • Alyssa (19)
  • Ashley (20)
  • Anna (29)
  • Allison (30)
  • Avery (32)
  • Aubrey (41)
  • Alexa (42)
  • Audrey (49)
  • Arianna (52)
  • Amelia (55)
  • Aaliyah (63)
  • Alexandra (69)
  • Andrea (73)
  • Autumn (81)
  • Ariana (82)
  • Angelina (86)
  • And 12 for boys, compared with 7 (Anthony and Andrew, Alan and Allen, Arthur, Alfred and Albert)  in 1950:

    Other fashionable A names for girls include:

    And stylish choices for boys include:

    A names further off the beaten track you might want to consider for girls include:

    Some ideas of more distinctive A names for boys:

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    26 Responses to “A Names: Why Names That Start With A Rank #1”

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    phaedra_p Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I also like Astrid (girl) and Arliss (boy). Good list!

    Kristi Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I have an Arabella and I almost had an Asher. A names really are very appealing now, for whatever reason!

    Kristine Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I do love A names! Right now, whenever I have kids, I plan on giving them all A middle names =) (Albus, Atticus, Athena & Annabelle are “up” right now)

    Anamarie Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I really don’t think that naming your child a certain name makes them a law student or that they live longer. Names are something you should love and that your child loves. Not so you can make your child go to Harvard…
    I do love A names. My name is Anamarie. But I never went to law school…

    LyndsayJenness Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I just don’t buy this theory at all. A names live 10 years longer than D names? Because D represents near failure? What about F names, then? Why are they not featured in their research?

    Also, I have a niece with a D name and she gets excellent grades in school and is very intelligent. Her name hasn’t hindered her yet. And I can’t imagine it will cause her to live 10 years less than her A-named cousin. Also, my great-uncle Don outlived his younger brother Bill.

    I only skimmed the sources, but it just seems incredibly silly to me. If you want your kid to feel good about themselves, don’t do it by giving them a name that starts with A. There’s a lot more to self-esteem and good grades than your initial.

    Wildsyringa Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I think people are confusing correlation with causation. Just because a higher proportion of people with A names live long or get better grades doesn’t mean that having an A name CAUSES these effects. A far more likely scenario is that the parents who are likely to choose A names tend to be of a higher socioeconomic status, making them more likely to provide their kids with a better education, better access to health care and better nutrition during childhood.

    braveangel2 Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Funny that you posted Aiden, when Aidan is the original. I also find it odd that Aidan, the name of the Sex and the City star is being surpassed by the spelling, Aiden. Is it because the DEN is more inline with American phonetics?

    British American Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I like Alice, Arabella & Araminta. Though we purposefully avoided an ‘A’ name for our daughter, because it’s such a popular letter and we could think of several ‘A’ named children that we already knew.

    I personally wouldn’t pick an A or B name in the hopes of higher grades or a longer life. And I wouldn’t avoid a D name that I loved, because of these studies.

    JLyn Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Once again, this makes me wish I had named my oldest, now 16, Allesandra instead of Cassandra!

    JLyn Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    This makes me wish, once again, that I had named my 16-year-old Allessandra instead of Cassandra!

    ChristyHeather Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Perhaps instead of the name making people smarter or longer lived, the higher percentage of genetically blessed parents happen to choose the letter A to name their children.

    CassieCake Says:

    October 8th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Well darn… looks like I’m gonna die early… I guess that’s also why I’m not going to med school…… I need to have a talk with my parents…

    It is kinda silly to think a name could do so many things… There may be a distant relationship though. For example, maybe people in a higher social class tend to choose names that start with A’s and B’s, and these people have access to better education and better health care… So perhaps names and education/death are not directly related as these studies suggest, but are some how distantly related.

    Rachel Says:

    October 9th, 2010 at 1:08 am

    I think that ChristyHeather’s comments are spot on. I would not be put off using a C or D name because of the study. I will most likely use the names Alexander or Andrew when naming my future sons. I also like the name Arabella, but not enough to use for a child. I would consider myself rather smart. My children will probably be similar and some will be A names.

    ferfer Says:

    October 9th, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Didn’t choose my girls names based on study results. But i have two A name girls Acacia and Annalise. Both on the off the beaten track list!

    Jasmine Says:

    October 10th, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I don’t buy it at all. When I was in high school, the smartest kid in school had a Z name!

    Way too superstitious for my taste…

    jane Says:

    October 10th, 2010 at 3:16 am

    there is a huge difference between correlation and causality! i can’t believe anyone would buy into the idea that having an A name can make a child more successful. the increase in people using A names for their children because of this study will probably drastically change the results of a similar study of A names in the future (thus disproving that success is intrinsic to the first letter of a name)!

    ChristyHeather Says:

    October 10th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    @ Rachel, well, you can’t be too impressed by my point – have a C name!

    kalstin Says:

    October 10th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Hmmmm. . .my uncle Donald is in his 80’s and had a highly successful career as an engineer. My mom Doris is 75 and still active as a travel writer. I know tons of other long-lived and successful people with C and D names. Not to mention all the F names (such as my grandmother Frances who lived to the ripe old age of 99). I am very dubious about the reliability of these studies. . .

    leffie Says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    wow, now you have to feel guilty if you don’t give your child a name starting with A because ”if you want to give your child every advantage in life” that’s the thing to do? I do like A names but this report would actually almost be a reason not to ever pick one so as not to be associated with that paranoid category of parents

    Holz Says:

    October 15th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    If you like A names well that is great. But thinking what you name them will correlate to their academic progress – well that idea deserves a D. Thanks Yale. Should Yale be called Ale then?

    What about E-Z? So I guess the Zanders and Zoes are screwed. I call BS.

    Rachel Says:

    October 16th, 2010 at 6:01 am

    @ChristyHeather, your name is really pretty! Although I get what you mean.

    emilymaryjane Says:

    December 16th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I have a cousin named Adela

    kitchi1 Says:

    April 22nd, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Maybe A names are popular because they ant their child to be smart and get A+’s or they plan to have more kids and they can do something like first baby has an A name, second baby B, third baby C, fourth baby D ETC. you know why I mean?

    KnikkiCharles Says:

    July 12th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I think A names are more popular because thats whats at the beginning of the books!! Lol, a lot of people stop looking when they find it and some people dont put much effort into the process so if they find one they can live with in the first 2 pages, why go on?

    just my thoughts though…I could be very wrong;)

    Baby Names: A New Wave of “A” Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

    July 13th, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    […] our last blog about names that start with A, we pointed out all the reasons parents love them: Besides their high fashion status along with […]

    Thebeijaflor Says:

    September 21st, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Thank you Wildsyringa! I wasn’t even going to bother to explain!

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