But very quickly, as Linda and I discovered classifying names for our books, what’s classic and what’s not becomes really murky. Anne, sure, but Anna? Annie? If Annie’s in, does that mean that Laurie also gets to accompany Laura?
Then recently, we hit upon a quantitative formula for choosing the classic girls’ names: We’d define that as every name that had been in the U.S. Top 1000 every single year since 1880.
We came up with 114 names, but many on the list will surprise you as much as they surprised us. Elizabeth is there, for instance, but so are Elisabeth and Elise. Jenny makes the grade, but not trendier sister Jennifer. Caroline and even Carolyn, yes; Carol, no.
To make the roster of classic girls’ names easier to digest, we’ve divided it into groups. If you think we misplaced anything, let us know. You always do!
- Ann and Anne
- Teresa and Theresa
- Virginia (not sure this one belongs here, but not sure where else it goes either)
Nicknames and Short Forms
- Sarah (and Sara too)
More Classic Than We Gave Them Credit For
Outliers (aka Who’d ever guess these names had been on the Top 1000 for 130 years?)
- Elsa (who ever would have guessed?)
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