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Baby Naming State of Mind

November 23, 2008 Linda Rosenkrantz

It’s always interesting–and fun–to compare the popularity lists of different states because there are inevitably  a few unexpected surprises.  Some name will pop up at #3 in one state when it’s 30 or 40 across the country.  And often a sort of state personality profile will emerge–be it trendy, traditional, or stuck in the past–and regional similarities as well.  In the current roster, one thing that’s noteworthy is that most of the names to step out from the crowd are in the boys’ column–with the girls there is a remarkable uniformity of choices across the country.

Regionally, the Northeast presents the most conservative picture, with Michael–long displaced in most other areas–still tops in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.  But move north to New England and the picture changes, with names like Logan and Ethan making their way to the top.  In the South–and nowhere else–William rules, at the head of the list in seven states, with Anthony in first place in Florida.

The Midwest is split between Jacob and Ethan, but shares one oddity: the name Gavin is in the Top 20 in just about every state–as high as #3 in Wyoming–whereas it’s #32 nationally.  So why Gavin in the heartland?  I wish I knew.  The West is more idiosyncratic, with a large spattering of Hispanic names (3 of the Top 10 in California and Arizona), and a state like Wyoming that presents a laid-back, cowboyish image via  top-ranked  Ethan, Logan, Wyatt, Brayden, and Hunter.

But what I find especially intriguing are the names that pop in one particular place.  Here are some examples of such male and female names,  with their national ratings in parenthesis:

BRAYDEN (34)          #8 in Wyoming

BRODY (105)           #10 in North Dakota

BROOKLYN-f(57)     #7 in Utah

CARTER (80)            #9 in South Dakota

EVAN (40)               #9 in Maine

GIANNA (90)           #10 in Rhode Island

ISAAC (41)              #4 in Idaho

JOCELYN (50)          #10 in California

LANDON (49)          #7 in Louisiana

NEVAEH (31)           #4 in New Mexico

OWEN (56)              #6 in Wisconsin

WYATT (69)             #7 in Wyoming

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