Breaking the Hundred-Year Rule

October 21, 2008 Linda Rosenkrantz

It’s one of the unwritten rules of baby names–well, actually it’s been written more than once, including by us–that it takes a century for a name to feel fresh enough again to be used for an infant, to no longer sound like a mommy name (Jennifer) or grandpa (Irwin) or great-grandma (Ethel) name.  This might account for the recently rejuvenated returns of Alice and Grace and Frances, Josephine and Emma, Ruby, Beatrice, Leo and Charlie–all of which were in the Top 50 in 1908.

But rules were made to be broken, and a hundred years is a long time for a name to wait in the wings.  It’s actually not that hard to find examples from every decade of the 20th century, popular from the 1910s through the 1980s, that are worth a new look–even if some of the early ones sound a little fusty and funky, and others sound a little only-yesterday.  So, from way back when to nearly now:

1910s: Geneva, Hazel, Mabel; Oscar, Clyde, Otis

1920s: Nellie, Pearl, Viola; Calvin, Chester, Russell

1930s: Pauline, Patsy, Lula; Floyd, Lowell, Felix

1940s: Penny, Kay, Lydia; Archie, Mack, Rex

1950s: Roxanne, Laurel, Ginger; Terry, Perry, Patrick

1960s: Jill, Gwendolyn, Ramona; Marcus, Vincent, Kyle

1970s: Veronica, Tamara, Meredith; Adrian, Ian, Jared

1980s: Miranda, Jillian, Felicia; Logan, Luke, Omar


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