A Tale of 2 Popularity Lists
By Linda Rosenkrantz
We kind of take it for granted that our Berries are ahead of the curve when it comes to name trends and choices. And now, looking for some hard evidence via the latest Social Security list versus Nameberry’s own popularity list, we can see just what a great disparity there is. As in Number One Noah and Emma (on the official US list) vs Atticus and Charlotte (Nameberry’s top names).
So what are some of the other sharpest, most extreme, differences? Scanning the 20 most popular names on Nameberry, some of which were barely on the general public radar a few years ago, here’s what we see:
One name, Imogen, which ranks at Number 8 on our site, is nowhere to be found in the US Top 1000.
9 of the Nameberry Top 20 girl names have not broken into the SSA Top 100– though all are trending up and just might catch up with us in a year or two:
Isla—our fourth most popular name– inched up 17 places nationally, from 167 to 150
Hazel (Number 13) climbed from 157 to 107, influenced by its starbaby, literary and film ties, and would seem to have a good chance of crossing the border next year
Aurora (14) made a sizable jump from Number 146 to 116
Adelaide (15) was the furthest down in this group, now at 321 nationally, up a mere 5 places from last year
Evangeline (17) advanced 22 spots to 276
Arabella (18), an up and coming ‘bella’ name, went from 211 to 174
And how about the boys?
Even more disparity is evidenced here. 13 of the Nameberry Top 20 were not in the SSA Top 100, while again, most are trending north there:
Atticus—Proof of the pudding is that our Number 1 name is only at 270 nationally, even with a dramatic leap of 134 rungs up the ladder
Declan (Number 3 on Nameberry) was relatively static at 122
Ezra (4), a biblical up-and-comer, was up 23 places to 119
Jude—Our Number 9 name was more or less stable at 162 across the country
Milo (11)—the lowest nationally among the boys, moved just two places to 313
Kai (13) climbed from 199 to 177
Finn (15) is surprisingly still at only 234 in national popularity
Beckett (20)—Number 20 name only reached the Top 250 in the US, at Number 244
Digging a bit deeper, if you happen to be one of those staunch anti-popularity baby namers, you might want to consider the following choices that are beloved on Nameberry, but were below the Top 1000 last year:
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on May 14th, 2015 at 10:46 am
This post just goes to show that you can’t take Nameberry opinions as gospel. The Nameberry popular names list is based on how many clicks a name gets on this website, not how many actual births are assigned with a particular name, which is really what matters where given name popularity is concerned. ANY name on Nameberry’s list that isn’t in the “real” Top 100 would be a good choice for parents for whom popularity is a concern. You won’t often hear them out there in the real playgrounds and classrooms of the nation/world.
on May 14th, 2015 at 11:21 am
I double-checked but didn’t see a link to the Nameberry popularity lists…it would be great to have that to compare the actual lists w/those from the SSA.
on May 14th, 2015 at 12:24 pm
I agree that the way “popularity” on Nameberry is calculated is not helpful. For instance, Khaleesi. It’s been called one of the “hottest” names on Nameberry (listed as 18th “most popular” on the site in July) – I think the truth is that people click on Khaleesi out of curiosity or incredulity. This is not the same thing as “liking” the name and it is certainly not the same thing as actually considering it for a child. (I do realize that some parents used the name in 2014 but not anywhere near the number of people that it’s Nameberry popularity indicates). I have certainly clicked on the name and I wouldn’t, in a million years, name my child Khaleesi. I would like to see the ranking of popular names on Nameberry change from number of clicks to number of “likes” or, even better, birth announcements. Otherwise, I think these numbers are unhelpful at best.
on May 14th, 2015 at 12:49 pm
Right? I click on or look up plenty of names I dislike, because I’m a nerd. Names fascinate me.
on May 14th, 2015 at 4:13 pm
We should also remember that a lot of NB users (self included!) aren’t from the US, so it’s not really a surprise that the names don’t always correspond to those on the US popularity lists.
And I totally agree with the above posts about clicking not equating to liking a name – I’ve clicked on plenty of names I’ve seen on the site just out of curiosity, or occasionally from sheer disbelief!
on May 14th, 2015 at 5:30 pm
Love Anouk, Anaïs, Atticus, Imogen, etc!
on May 14th, 2015 at 11:04 pm
Oh, what a dreary world it would be if we just went by the Social Security lists!
Personally, I’m grateful for the Nameberry lists and clicking system. There are many reasons to click on names — sheer disbelief, yes, but also for more adventuresome names, more ancestral names, more surname names, more place names, more nature names, a bit more exotic middle names, names for companion animals, character names for one’s writing…
What we actually name our children is far less interesting to me than what we might name our children.
And I do have a question. Since we are often more bold in our middle name choices these days, is there any list that counts those as well? That would perhaps more accurately reflect future naming trends as today’s daring middle name choice might well become tomorrow’s popular first name choice.
on May 14th, 2015 at 11:48 pm
The problem though with NB (or any baby name website in general) statistics is not everyone who are on them are expecting. I’m more likely trying to name a videogame character or a character used in a story than a baby. So I could like plenty of outrageous sounding names but actually have no intention of ever naming another human being that.
I’ll use the #21 most popular female name on NB for example, Khaleesi. Now there probably were some people who named their kid this. It would be a great name for someone in a Fantasy or Scifi setting, but most people wouldn’t name their actual child this. Why? Someone would actually have to deal with this name till they’re at least 18. Its also difficult to pronounce and spell and people are jerks in real life. The only reason why it’s so “popular” is everyone clicked on it to go What the? Not because they were actually planning on naming their child that.
on May 15th, 2015 at 7:03 pm
I was thinking the same, Tanith. It would be interesting to compare the Nameberry list with the top charts from other countries too.
I also think people are more likely to search and/or click through to more unusual names. Someone is more likely to look up the meaning of a newly emerging but formerly uncommon name. They might also use Nameberry to check how a name is pronounced if they’ve read it somewhere. Isla is a good example of both! Plus it’s very high on the charts in Australia and New Zealand.
on May 16th, 2015 at 11:56 am
@mymartianromance, you have a good point about naming book and video game characters. Your choice for a tortured villain or unsung hero might be the next media frenzy, like Khaleesi (from a book), Penelope (ancient turned celebrity choice), or Zelda (vintage turned video game). So your few exploratory clicks now could turn into a top curiosity down the line!
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