How Popular is Too Popular?

Question of the Week: Would you choose a popular name?

When my daughter Chloe was little, her name was becoming well used in Britain and Australia, but was hardly heard in the U.S.  In fact, a surprising number of  people often didn’t know how to pronounce or spell it.  And so, try as I might, and much to my frustration, I could never find any of those personalized pens or pencils or little mini-license plates for her bike unless I special ordered them from Lillian Vernon or Walter Drake.

Time marches on, and with Chloe now in the Top 10–with more than 11,000 new Chloes entering the world last year– that certainly wouldn’t be a problem today!

A good thing or a bad thing?  Annoying though it may have been not to have a “personalized”option name, there was something special about being semi-unique, with her being the only Chloe in her school.

How do you feel about using a popular name?  Is there a cut-off point when popular becomes too popular for you?  Would you give up a name you love because too many other people were choosing it or is that irrelevant to you?

Would you use a name in the Top 10?  The Top 25?  The Top 50?  The Top 100?  The Top 500?  Or would you try to avoid one that even appeared on the Social Security list?

And if it’s after the fact, did the distinctive name you chose suddenly take off?

Do you draw a distinction between popular and trendy?  After all, Elizabeth is #11 and few people would rule her out for being too popular.

Where do you stand?

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74 Responses to “How Popular is Too Popular?”

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Susan Chesney Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 3:24 am

Chloe is such a cute name! Even though it is so popular, I would consider using it.
There are some really popular names that I love because they are classic. Such as Chloe, Abigail, Emma, Ethan, oh, and Alexander and Alexandra.
As I get older, I am less worried about being super original. I think the most important thing when choosing a baby name, is to choose a name that will be great for all the stages of the child’s life. Not some name that will sound really dated in twenty years.

Abby Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 4:48 am

If I were choosing names for style alone, I’d avoid anything in the Top 100, and when I look at some of my favorites, like Rufus, Archer, and Gideon, they’re all ranked above #500.

But we used family names, and so the ranking doesn’t matter. I don’t love that our son shares his name with so many same-aged kids, but I do love that he shares his name with his grandfather.

Freddy Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 6:17 am

I try to avoid names in the top 20, although if I really like a name, I wouldn’t rule it out just because it is very popular at the moment. So I love the name Naomi, which is very popular in the Netherlands. However, I do consider the alternative Noemi (French spelling of the same name), as it is not as popular.

I agree with Susan, that I also think the most important thing is that the name fits the child, and is appropriate in all stages of life. Some names are really cute on a small child, but if you imagine that same child to go on a job interview 20 years later… they might be embarrassed with their first name. Also, I love the classics, and they are usually somewhere in the top lists anyway.

Michelle Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 7:57 am

There is a huge distinction between popular and trendy. Popular can be classic…as with Elizabeth, James and William do not seem as popular as Jayden or Jacob. I am not phased by popularity as much as sudden jumps up the charts (a trepidation I had with former favourite Charlotte).

A lot of my favourite names are classics that are typically in the Top 500, and sometimes in the top 50 (especially for boys).

Uniqueness is overrated. Cayesons and Peytons and Braxtons all blend together, as do Marleys, Averys and Mackenzies. You can’t be trendy and unique; you have to buck the trend to stand out.

lo Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 8:48 am

I abandonned Grace (our girl name for a boy we had in 2005) because of the sheer number of Gracies I was running into at playgrounds. We ended up with a Katharine in 2008. After reading the nameberry blog about the sheer number of Katherine/Kaitlyns/etc I was wondering why it didn’t bother me like the Gracies had. I think it’s because Katherine has been steadily popular while Grace had a burst in popularity so it suddenly seemed like everywhere I turned around their was a little girl named Grace.

Lola Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 8:57 am

Yep, me too. I’m most comfortable with names between 300 & 500, myself. I would use a popular name IF I loved it like no other but I would steer clear of names that feel trendy. So I could have a James or Isabel, but not an Ayden or Mackenzie (and that’s the truth) !

For what it’s worth, all my kids (with names from the mid 300’s to thhe low 200’s) were and are the only kids with their names at school. My girl shared her nickname with a third grader last year, but this year is the only one in her school. I like that. There’s more than one way to stand out!

Jade Diana Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:12 am

My mother tried to give us all names that were a bit unique names. We’ve all had really different experiences. Mine, Jade, has been a blessing. People tend to remember me, and I get a lot of compliments. I love it. My sister, Brogan, hasn’t had as good of an experience, but she still loves the originality of her name. People definitely remember her (and the one other Brogan in the area who we hear about a lot), they also think she is a boy or being called by her last name which is not so great. Aidan, who was born 15 years ago, always got compliments until about 10 years ago when we also started hearing “o, my niece has that name” and people started butchering the spelling due to all the variations that have become popular. I know my mom is really disappointed in that, but he is still the only Aidan in his high school. And finally my baby brother, Dane, has had a similar experience to mine. Not as many Dane Cook (and no, he was named for my uncle Dana) comments as one would think.
Personally, I think my mother had the right idea and I hope to hit a similar cord when naming my own kids. I don’t know if I would ever use a name that is in the top 100. Personalized stuff is great, but being known simply as Jade and not “Jade with the red hair” or “Jade who was home schooled” is even better.

Millikate Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:13 am

If I loved it, then no, popularity wouldn’t matter, but I usually rule out names of the kids of my friends, people at church, and family. Besides popularity is not as bad as it used to be, so you’re not dooming your child to be one of five in their class.

Danae Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:41 am

Once they get too popular, I take them off my list. However, Chloe has been on my list for as long as I can remember and is a name that I absolutly love!! And it is the one name that my husband and I agree on! LOL! That is really the deciding factor for me. If I truely love it, I am going to use it, like I used Micah for my son even though it is now also considered good for a girls name (I hate the fact that girls are being given boy names.) I find I avoid using boy names that are also becoming popular for girls.

linzybindi Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:48 am

I won’t use a name for a first name that is in the top 100. I definitely try to stay out of that area. My son’s name jumped 53 places last year which I’m not to thrilled about but it is still lingering in the 300 zone. I’m thinking it will probably be in the 200’s for 2010 but it is what it is I suppose.

Brooke Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:59 am

I try to avoid the top 100. Though if a classic, like James or Elizabeth, were on my list, I wouldn’t immediately toss them. To me, trendy and popular/common are not one in the same. Danae, I agree. Boys have so few great names (IMO), leave them alone when it comes to naming the little ladies!

smismar Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 10:22 am

I avoided anything in the top 200. Naming was a challenge since I didn’t want my child to be Firstname C. forever and I also didn’t want something so unusual that it would be considered odd. I’ve been very happy with our choice of Sylvia – a well-established name, but firmly planted in the 500’s for popularity recently.

Alyssa Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 10:50 am

I really prefer names that haven’t been in the top 100 for the last few years or so. As soon as I see a name pop up there it kind of kills it for me. for middle names I don’t mind as much, but for first names it kind of ruins the “wow” factor of a name for me. But I don’t like really unique names, either. I like traditional names that haven’t been heard in awhile. For example, my son’s name is Thaddeus. I can tell when I tell people whether they’ve ever heard it or not because the ones who haven’t think I made it up lol

Jenny Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 10:51 am

I’d say the top 100 make me nervous but it’s not a deal breaker until they hit top 20.

But I will not give my child a name variation (Ysabel, Alleson, Madelyn) and pretend like that’s not just a copy of a top 20 name.

Diana Alarcon Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:02 am

I always said that I would never use a name in the top 100 and then ended up using a name (Mia) that is now #14, much to my disappointment. However, I have liked that name since I was 15 years old and I console myself by telling myself that I am original even though no-one knows it because when I chose the name, it was ahead of it’s time.
One factor however is that names vary in popularity from State to State so although Mia is very popular in States like California and in urban areas, here where I live it is actually in the 300’s. There are no other Mia’s in my child’s school, (believe it or not.) Also, I used to work at a children’s hospital and never saw a single Mia come through.
I agree with the person who says that there is a difference between choosing a popular trendy name like Sierra that will be dated, I would never do that. Choosing a popular classic name isn’t so bad.

Katheryn Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:04 am

I chose Zoe Emmeline for my little girl. I knew Zoe was in the top 50 and gaining in popularity, and because of that I almost didn’t use it (we rejected a lot of names because of popularity or “hipster” status – Lily, Ruby, Sophia, Ava, etc).
We actually went into the hospital planning to call her Susanna. But the minute I saw her for the first time I knew she was not a Susanna. And in the end, I chose my favorite name, even though I knew that by the time she is in 2nd grade she will probably not be the only Zoe in her class. I think what’s important is choosing the name that makes you happy, no matter how popular it is. I still think she has the best name ever, and have no idea how I would choose a name for another baby girl were we to have one!

Linelei Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:18 am

I won’t use anything in the top 1000. One of my favorite names I’m unsure about using, because the nickname for it is in the 300s. It may seem silly, but my own name was never on the social security list, and I always liked that. Even though it was annoying not to be able to find pencils with my name on it. 😉 I’d rather pass on that individuality to my children.

Linelei Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:20 am

Oh, but I should add that, for me, middle names are where I will honor family members, and so it’s totally fine if those are popular. My future daughter will have Elizabeth as her middle name no matter what, and it doesn’t bother me in the least that it’s popular, because it is in honor of my mother.

nelly Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:26 am

i had a very common name growing up and was always referred to by my first and last name or first name with last initial. drove me nuts. therefore, i will not choose trendy names for my kids. if the names i use become popular, then there is nothing i can do. i do agree with the poster who said there is a difference between using a popular trendy name – like hudson or siena – versus a popular classic name – like elizabeth or benjamin. i am ok wit popular classic names.

daisy451 Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:26 am

In 2009, the two most popular names accounted for only about 1% of the babies born. So it would be statistically unlikely to have two kids with the same name in the same class if the class was a reasonable size.

Honestly, I think it’s silly to discount a name because of popularity. My elementary school didn’t have a single Jessica, the most popular name for girls at the time, yet there were two boys named Malachi. You really never know what names your child will be exposed to and if the popularity will suddenly rise exponentially. And I believe that if you love a name, you’ll love it whether it’s top 10 or never been in the top 1000. So I’d never discount a name because of popularity- too popular or not popular enough. I’d consider Sophia just as much as I’d consider Micaiah.

pam Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:48 am

So Linda, I never thought to ask you this before, but is Chloe too popular for YOU now? Would you choose it again or look for something less popular, and if so, what? (you’d think after 20 years of talking nonstop about names, we’d know everything about each other, but names is an ever-expanding subject…)

SadieSadie Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 11:53 am

I wouldn’t ever use a top 100 name for a first name. In fact I would rather have a name that has never been in the top 1000 but I know that isn’t realistic. It is easy for people to discount the importance of individuality if they have never been one of five children in a classroom with the same name. Middle names are more acceptable to popular names for me.

linda Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Good question. I still love Chloe and Chloe loves Chloe, but part of its charm for me then was the fact that it was somewhat unusual though classic (our old fitting in/standing out category) and chances are that I wouldn’t pick it now. I’ll have to get back to you on what I would pick–though there’s always my other old favorite Dinah.

Jaime Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Girl names, specifically, seem to become tainted to me if they’re in the top 100 (unfortunately, my 2 year old’s name, Lucy, is on its way up there). But, I find myself more lenient for boy names. I’m not sure I could use one in the top 25 but otherwise, I find myself more open to the classics that are in the top 100. Henry is our current top pick for our son (due in March).

pam Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Jaime, I think you’re right about this, although the percentage of boys who get the top names is HIGHER than for girls, so there are more chances of running into another little Jacob than an Isabella.

Whit Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Usually my cut off would be Top 50, but there are exceptions. Like you mentioned Elizabeth, there is a distinct difference between popular and trendy. A classic name would make me feel more relaxed about choosing a popular name. Plus with classic names where are often more nicknames than usual, and you can choose and unpopular nickname. Elizabeth and William are popular, but I would still consider using them because I prefer Betsy and Billy over the more pervasive Lizzie, Eliza, Will, and Liam.

Joslyn Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Pick a name around the 40’s and you will be happy. Not too trendy, but keeping with the trend of the times which is important. Maybe by the time they are 10 their names will peak the top ten, which they may love or hate, they may remain stagnant, or they will plumment and retain their uniqness. Either way, you are in good standings.

Sarah A Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

For me, the main thing is the balance between first name and surname. I have a very uncommon/unpronounceable surname so I never minded being one of five Sarahs in grade school and even college. My kids though, will have a pretty common surname so I do worry about popularity. On the other hand, if it’s a classic I would not let popularity stand in the way. I have to agree with a lot of others on here, that the difference between popular and trendy is important. I would break my ‘not in the top 100’ rule for a name like Rachel, but not Ava.

Catherine Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

For me, I deliberately picked a name that has been in the top 50 for a few decades but has never crossed that line into the top 25. She’s always been the only Stephanie in her class (in her whole elementary school, actually). 9 years later, I’m still glad I picked the name and she loves her name.

T Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I personally like several names that are in the top 1000 but most of my favorites are in very rare use now. My daughter’s name is Bayard [because we wanted the nickname Bay but I wanted her to have a formal name] and had she been a boy, the name would have been Wolf. It’s a favorite Old German name and I recently found out it was my great-uncle’s name. I love the fact that they’re both real names and are easy to spell and pronounce but my kids won’t have to share them with anyone.

At the same time, I have loved Oliver for years and despite the fact that it will probably be in the top 10 in the next few years, I still haven’t ruled it out. I grew up as a Taylor in the 90s and hated the fact that I even knew a few other kids with my name. Obviously some kids like having common names, though, so I try to make either the middle or first name the opposite in popularity from the other so they have options.

I would have to really love a name to use one in the top 150 and of course it would have to have an equally desirable and much less common middle name. I also love Davis, which would be Wolf’s middle name, and it’s in the top 500 but seems even more popular than that in my area.

Regi Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Once a name gets too popular I don’t stop loving it, but I do stop looking at it as a viable option for a name. My favorite name, Annabelle, was ranked 156 in 2009 and I have a feeling she’s made quite a jump since then, and since I’m years and years (and years) away from having a baby, I’m pretty sure she’ll be off the table for me because of popularity.

For me I wouldn’t seriously consider naming a baby a name that was higher than the 200’s and even then I tend to prefer names that are out of the top 1000.

Becca Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

It’s hard to say for me but I think the top 100 names are out for me! Although I am really liking Mia right now and since I was about 10 I really liked Isabella but that is deffinitly out. I really like unusual named but my husband on the other hand he likes more common names. So we will see what name we come up with in June ( our first baby! )

Sarah A Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Congratulations Becca! You could always go with June if it’s a girl 🙂 Classic, not trendy, and her birth month 🙂

Lisa Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Top 20 was OUT, top 50 was pretty much out, top 100 was iffy. Of course, we went with more common for our son (70s, but a more “classic” name) than our daughter (low 200s, but also a “classic”), which I think is not unusual.

I think that the concern with a popular name is not that there will be a bunch of kids in the class with the same name, it is that your child’s name will peg them as having been born around this year. My name is Lisa, you can pretty much guess which decade I was born in give or take a few years (mid-1970s). My mother-in-law is Linda…again, guess when she was born, her mom was Dorothy…and guess when she was born. I think that is the distinction between popular-trendy and popular-classic.

Jennifer Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

As a Jennifer (and my friend Other Jennifer seconds this), well, I’d check the name popularity index and dump any name that made it into the top fifty.

Charlotte Vera Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I tend to prefer names that are not in the top 200. However, I’m always quick to advise parents who love a name but are concerned about its popularity that it’s better to go with a name that you really love than one that’s more unique simply for the sake of its obscurity. My husband prefers names to be out of the top 500.

Boston Girl Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

If I like a name, then I’ll use it, popular or not. I do make a distinction between popular and trendy; 95 percent of the time, the names I like are decidedly not trendy, and the names that are trendy, I am either indifferent to or can’t stand. If I was indifferent to a name before and then see it used like crazy, then I get to dislike it because of overexposure. This happened particularly with Taylor, which seems to be the name of every third kid born in the early part of this decade — boy or girl!

I would be thoroughly astonished if a name I loved became really trendy; but I don’t expect that to happen. If it did, though, I guess I’d still use it, but relegate it to a middle name. I’d want my kids to have distinctive names. It’s no fun being one of a pack with the same name, and I speak from experience. 🙂

SJ Says:

December 10th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I grew up with a very common (though classic) first name AND a very common last name–my name sounds like an alias sometimes! I always had someone else with the same first name in my class and even in my family. Honestly, though, I don’t think it was that big a deal for me. I don’t think it would really be so awful to be Isabella B. vs. Isabella L., if you were named Isabella because your parents really loved the name and it just HAPPENED to be popular around the time you were born. If they only named you Isabella because they couldn’t think of anything else and everyone else was using it, well, THAT would stink, but that’s another issue.

Right now I love most of the Top 10 names, especially for girls. If I had had kids ten years ago I would have used several of those names and they would have been the only ones in their age group. If I have kids now, they’ll be one of several, probably. But I guess the point to me is that I love those names, and HAVE loved them for years, and that’s more important than popularity to me.

On the other hand, there are SO MANY names that I love that popularity and timelessness WOULD come into play when deciding between them. For example, I love Isabella, and I love Beatrice. Isabella is #1, Beatrice is #860. All other factors being equal between them, I would choose Beatrice because it’s less popular (yet still a familiar, classic name). But if Isabella were my favorite name, that would be enough to make me ignore the popularity.

Mallery Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 12:32 am

I have taken names off my list because they become popular. I want a unique name, or at the very least, a unique spelling.

Scrambledmegs Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 2:55 am

Being a Megan has meant that I have always had to spell my name when saying it.

“With an H?”
“No H.”
“With 2 E’s?”
“No, the easy way.”
“What? No, E-G-A!”

It wasn’t the fact that I was always “Megan 3” or “Megan W.” that bothered me so much as having to spell my name every time, as if I were in a spelling bee. More than popularity, I’m an advocate for streamlining spelling! Names just look misspelled when they have too many variations.

Catherine Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 5:14 am

Megan – I went to school with a Lindsay, a Lindsey and a Lyndsay. All in my grade. 2 of them had last names starting with G.

ycw Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 7:01 am

I was shopping recently, and personalized items with my daughter’s name (Hannah) were all sold out, while there were no personalized items with my son’s name (Peter). (Really, though, I know over 10 adult Peters in my generation and my parents’, and I’ve read it’s more popular in my area than others.)
If I were doing it over, I would probably not choose such a popular name for my daughter, but it’s a name we love and it does suit her. Seems like every older person we meet has a granddaughter named Hannah. I’m also more committed to family names than I was when I named her. So if I had a redo, she’d be Rebecca Jane (Jane is a fifth-generation family name; she’s Hannah Jane now. I am a Jessica (nn Jessi) and I really don’t like my name, so sometimes I worry I’ve done the same thing to my daughter. But we picked her name because of the story, we love the meaning; it’s not just something that sounded good to us. At 2 1/2 she loves her name and doesn’t seem to mind sharing it. And I use both her names, so if there are too many Hannahs in the setting she’s in she can be Hannah Jane instead of Hannah C.
I was one of 3 or 4 Jessicas my age growing up, but I moved in high school and there are no Jessicas my age now. I don’t think I know a single Jessica here–but so many my age are Jenn or Sarah (and almost all the Jenns have 2 ns). For the guys it’s Steve. Most likely it will be similar in my children’s generation–there are certainly more Masons and Spencers and Lucias than there are Peters and Rebeccas in my circle.
I think in general, the name you love is the right name, even if it’s popular. If you can find a name you love as much that isn’t as popular, great.

Linelei Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 9:37 am

It’s funny how many people say, “if you really love a name, you should use it even if it’s popular, because that’s better than using an obscure name just to be obscure.” I agree wholeheartedly with this, but what about people who DO love obscure names? There’s something about them that makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. And although more popular names, such as Charlotte and Clara, are names I am always going to love, they don’t get me as excited about naming my future child as a really rare (but meaningful to me) name does.

Andrea Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

In an age when everything you do on Facebook or on the Internet is preserved forever and can come back to bite you with future employers, a common name might have some advantages. If your Hannah or Emily or Jacob or Caden happens to post drunken pictures from spring break or say something embarrassing online, employers might have no way of knowing if it’s the Hannah, Emily, Jacob or Caden he is interviewing.

Auntie A Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

My favorite names are all over the place! The boys names I like do seem to be more popular in general than the girls names I like. I think if i really, really love a name I would use it no matter how popular it is. Most of the time if I start hearing a name that I like all around me than I tend to not like it as much. I guess that just means I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did.
ycw: I love that your daughter can be called Hannah Jane instead of Hannah C. One of my favorite names is Lila (yes, I know, it’s getting really trendy but I still think it’s beautiful). My combo is Lila Jane/June so if I ever have a Lila she can go by her first & middle name that’ll help her stand out from the other Lilas!
Linelei: I agree! It is like warm & fuzzy to think that your child’s name will make people stop & think for a minute…just because it’s something they might not have heard before! 😀

Mommato4boys Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I pick names I love first and then consider people I know who have those names – and with our sons’ names, I loved that they were unusual at the time (Eli, Silas, Abram, Jasper – when I was pregnant with each one, either I knew nobody with that name or maybe had heard of 1 other distant person with that name). I liked the name Caleb for our fourth son, but I know more than 10 Calebs so it didn’t seem so special because of that, and we decided not to consider it. I don’t care as much about the popularity rankings, it’s more the people I know and who my kids interact with.

Joslyn Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Had to give up Isabella, which has been my first choice my whole life after my Aunt Isabel. Wanted to call her Bella Bettina (Bettina is my Godmother). Cute, right? But, I heard that there are an average of 3 Isabella’s per 3rd grade class these days and that is just way too popular. My sister is an Ashley from back in the day when that name hit the top charts and in every facet of my life I have had an Ashley; the girl next door as a child, my middle school best friend, my college roommate was an Ashley. My best friend is an Ashly, no e. Get’s a little redundant if you ask me and I won’t put my child in the position of being identified by a nickname or last name because of it.

georgia Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

i think i would in most cases. but there is a name i have been set on using for many years if i ever had a daughter… savannah. it always seemed like an appropriate and fun name, since my name is georgia. plus, i just love the name. but at three months pregnant, i am seeing from my research that it is a very popular name, and growing in popularity. my first instinct is to abandon the name. but i keep returning to it because it is at the top of my list of name i love if we have a girl.

there are, however, other names i have love so much… like sophia and charlotte that are becoming so popular, that i don’t think i will use them.

Emmy Jo Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

My worry about popular names is this: once a name becomes too common, it loses much of the appeal which originally attracted parents to it in the first place. For example, forty years ago I could imagine someone hearing the name Jessica and thinking, “Oooh, what a pretty Shakespearean name. It sounds so fresh and feminine.” Or parents considering using Jennifer might have thought, “What a unique name! I’ve never heard another girl name that ends in -fer. I love that it’s so different from all the other girl names everyone else is using that end in -a, like Linda and Lisa and Debra and such. Oh, and it’s a form of Guinevere — how neat is that!”

The problem is, no one thinks of Jessica as a pretty literary name or stops to ponder how Jennifer has such a different feel from most girls’ names. They’re such common everyday names now that we don’t think to appreciate their beauty anymore. I’m afraid that parents who choose Isabella or Sophia because they sound sophisticated or old-fashioned or literary (or because they are different from the “boring” names that they grew up with) will have a similar experience. The parents might appreciate how the names are different and beautiful (because they are different from the names in the parents’ generation), but the children given those names will have a very different impression.

I want to give my children names that won’t lose their appeal like that, because when you start hearing a certain name EVERYWHERE, it just doesn’t seem exciting anymore. My naming “comfort zone” seems to be around 200-600 or so (Julius, Gideon, Frederick, Theodore, Clara, Eleanor). I’d use a somewhat more popular name, though, as long as its popularity weren’t rapidly increasing (like Catherine or Henry). I also have several names on my list that aren’t even in the top 1000 (like Susannah, Isannah, Beatrix, Leta). In general, I want to find a name that is familiar to most people but where most people probably wouldn’t already know someone by that name.

Of course, using a name that you love and that has personal significance to you is the most important thing — so it’s foolish to automatically rule out a name because of popularity. It’s just one factor to consider.

guest Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Good points made by many on this topic. I agree with Andrea, having a popular name can have its advantages in this day and age of social networking, and if employers are looking up potential canadites, its probably high ranking colleges that will also do so.

There is alot of sigma about having a popular name, however people need to realize that the amount of people getting popular names has dropped, so its really not oversaturated as it once was. The # 1 girls names account for 1 % of the population whereas 20 years ago, the #1 girls name accounted for around 3% of the population.

Also, as Ive read through these posts many say they would choose a classic popular name over a trendy popular name, but they really arent getting to the heart of WHY they would choose it. Are they choosing a classic because they feel it has a longer shelf life as compared to a trendy name(not sure that is always the case)? Are they choosing a classic because they like the history behind the name? Are they choosing a classic because its a name that has been carried down through their families? Also what names are classics? Its not really as cut and dry as we all think, read through the message boards and you will see the name “classic” thrown around alot. Ive seen people refer to Clementine as a classic. There are the obvious classics, but what about the names coming back from a 100 years ago, are those classics? Does a real classic need to hold its place on the charts (top 200) for the past 100 years? What about all the rest, names like Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Amelia, Abigail, Madeline which fell out of use and then have been rediscovered, I hear many people refer to these as classics, but are they really? A classic is supposed to be timeless, but if this group of names fell out of favor and dropped of the charts at one time, then they really arent timeless or so it would seem. I think the word classic gets thrown around too much. I would love to see a complete list compiled by Pam and Linda as too what are valid classics. To me the solid classics Elizabeth, Catherine, Sarah, etc…because these names have been steady on the charts for years and they have history. I wonder is Rachel, or hannah a classic…they were in high use = trendy at one time and now people are seeming to abandoning them, yet they are names with history, so are they now doomed to being retired because they were once in high use. I should add Sarah to that category as well as she seems to be slipping on the charts as well.

I have heard people say, classics never go out of style, but I have to wonder if thats really true, as names do seem to slip on the charts. And when I hear statements like that, that classics never go out of style, it makes me think that people who do choose classics still DO care about style and trends. Classics seem to have many layers of names and it can be a very gray area. I would like to see this area more clearly defined by name experts.

bounceparty Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

For me, it really depends. Even though Elizabeth is very popular, I am much more likely to pick it than a trendy name like Jayden, regardless of popularity. However, my favourite name has stayed the same for years now: Violet. But Violet is climbing the charts pretty steadily, so I am starting to shy away from it. So I guess if I had to put a mark on it, I would say in the top 200 is too popular for me, unless the name has sentimental value.

Vanessa Says:

December 11th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Popularity alone would never knock a favorite name off my list. It’s just not an important consideration for me. My son’s name was in the top 20 the year he was born and is now in the top 10. We have yet to meet another his age, but even if we do, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

That said, I do draw a line between popular and trendy. I’m not interested in any name whose sound defines a generation. Zaiden and Brylie may not be in the top 100, but they’re still way too common for any child of mine.

Catherine Says:

December 12th, 2010 at 4:33 am

I’d say a name has to see pretty solid intergenerational use before it qualifies as a ‘classic’. At least the top 200 of each year, with the addition of royal names and saints names.

Sellons Says:

December 12th, 2010 at 9:36 am

I think it just boils down to the person. If you want to name your child Jacob or Isabella, Emma or Ethan you’ll have to live with the fact that your child is probably going to go by Isabella G or Jacob H.

Danni Says:

December 12th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

As a Danielle who grew up in the 90s with 3 other girls in my central school who shared my name AND as someone who also endured completely butchered pronunciations and spellings of my name (it’s really surprising how many people say Danny-elle, Daniel, or even Din-yull, or spell it Danniel, Daniellee, or Dannil [all true occurrences]), in a strange way I have been blessed. I say this because I know how boring it can be to have a common name, but I also know what it’s like to have a name that no one knows what to do with. From these experiences, I am at once hesitant of naming my future children anything within the top 500, but I also don’t want to saddle my kids with names no one can spell or pronounce just because I want them to be unique.

On the one hand, I am completely in love with unusual names like Sirius, Dartagnan, Odette, and Ianthe, but I can foresee MAJOR problems for children with those names in my own family and in this country (US). I also have a pretty strong aversion to a name that I hear on an actual person more than once, i.e. Isabella, Courtney, Jocelyn, etc, and thus I usually dislike any name in the top 200 because I know so many people with those names.

My goal is to not rely too heavily on the top 1000 list and rather go by how many people I know or have met with the same name. Even though Eva, Ruby, and Milo are growing in popularity with celebrities and the SSN list, I have never met anyone with those names, and I would be happy to bestow such easy-to-spell/say names on my children.

VIcky Says:

December 12th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I am one of those people who loves names that have never hit the top 1000. In fact, I am so freakish about it, I am scared of sharing my kids’ names on forums like these because I’m scared people are going to steal them and they will become popular (silly, I know). I am pregnant with our third girl and so we are again in the position of naming another child. There are some names I love that are around 350th, and even that makes me slightly uncomfortable. Our top name right now, will never be popular in the States, though it is 29th in Ireland. It’s really hard for me to relate to people that name their kids out of the top 20 list, though that seems to be most people I know.

Kylie Says:

December 13th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I think choosing a name solely based on it’s “uniqueness” or standing in the Social Security list is just as bad as coming up with a creative spelling so your child will stand out. If you choose a name just because it isn’t popular, it’s bound to shoot up the charts a few years later, and the name will be ruined for you. A problem, since you can’t change it later based on name trends (I mean, you can, but that would be crazy). I think you should carefully choose your child’s name based on what it means to you, if you like the sound, and it’s appropriateness for later in life. Getting too wrapped up in rankings will nearly always lead to disappointment.

Ruth Says:

December 13th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

If I really love the name I don’t think popularity would matter. Although I wouldn’t like to pick a trendy name I would consider a classic popular name. My name is Ruth Grace and when I was little I was sad when my sisters Rachel and Sarah could find things with their names on it but I couldn’t. My name isn’t really popular but I can find things with my name on it from time to time and it is always exciting when I do. If I can’t find things with my name on it I can usually find things with Grace on it. I would like to name my kids a name that is not really popular but is not unheard of like my name.

Filipa Says:

December 14th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

“once a name becomes too common, it loses much of the appeal which originally attracted parents to it in the first place”. I totally agree with Emmy Jo!

Isabelle Says:

December 15th, 2010 at 1:53 am

I was born in 1971. My mom is French and picked a very popular French name (it was #3 that year). But it was extremely unusual here (Long Island) and I was the only one with my name in elementary, middle, high school and college (a school with about 5000 students). I grew up having my name butchered, mispelled and made fun of because it was so “weird”. I could never find any cute personalized items with my name on it, which made me sad…but I loved the name and overall loved being unique. To me it wasn’t so weird bec when I traveled back to France for the summer, I knew 10 other girls around my age with the name and I always thought it was pretty. Well now in 2010, when I play at the park with my boys, I am often caught off guard. I’m just not used to hearing my name called around, how funny is that….my name was not even on the Social Security charts for years and years…and now I’m almost 40 and constantly hearing other Isabellas and Isabelles (my name)! So, you might pick an unusual name now for your baby…only to have it suddenly become popular years later. Pick the name you love!! I ended up picked 2 boy names I just loved even though they are popular (noah & henry)

Side note: my brother was named David — a VERY popular name in the late 60s. He hated being Dave X. in classes and there were so many Davids growing up. He ended up picking unpopular/unique names for his kids that are not in the top 500 or even on the charts.

Lucy Says:

December 15th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I don’t like popular names for girls, mostly because right now in the UK, most of the popular girl names are things like Lexi and Tilly. Urgh, no. Although, I was thinking about this the other day, and my two top names for lads are Jack and Harry, currently #2 and #3 in the UK respectively. Both nicknames. It’s a strange world ^^

brittany Says:

December 17th, 2010 at 4:29 am

I grew up as a Brittany, born in 1984. My parents had never met anyone named Brittany when I was born, they named me after Bretagne, the region in France. They’d spent time in France a year before I was born. There was always at least one other Brittany in my classes growing up. I hated my name for years. It was so cliche, so played upon, Brittany’s were blonde, popular, cheerleaders, and I was not. I wanted to drop my first name and go by my middle name, Noelle(by birthday is December 10th, thus the middle name) because I didn’t know any Noelle’s. It was until I was 20 years old and they told me where it actually came from, that I learned to love my name. I feel like I’ve grown into my name. I was embarrassed by it in high school, but now I’m proud of it. It meant something to my parents. It’s purposely French. It’s a place I cannot wait to go. And they never pronounced it Britney. I’ve always been BrittAny. (and I was almost Hannah, Ashley, Dominique or Victoria)

As for naming my own kids, 11 years ago I decided that one day when I had kids I would name them Isabella Allison and Elijah Atticus. I’d never met an Isabella or an Elijah before. Today I’m talking marriage and babies with my boyfriend. Isabella Allison is off the table. Replaced with Violet Austen. We also love Lilah, Charlotte and Sophia but fear trendiness with Charlotte and Sophia. Elijah is still a possibility as is Atticus, Holden and Jeremiah. I think all of our names are strong, beautiful and classic and while I’m trying to avoid the top 50, or at the least the top 20, I won’t settle for a name I don’t LOVE just to avoid popularity.

Jessi Says:

December 24th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I suppose I’m a little biased on this topic, because my mother named me Jessica. She insists that she didn’t know how popular it was at the time, but since I don’t have a middle name, I’ve spent my life blending in with the crowds of Jessicas everywhere I go. I suppose because what I’ve always wanted is a unique name, I’m willing to go out of my way to find a pretty yet uncommon name for my kids.

chakrateeze Says:

December 26th, 2010 at 10:51 am

I prefer classic names that are classically spelled and unusual, but not PECULIAR! Like Genevieve, Evangeline and Adeline and Xavier, which might be trendy in other parts of the US and Europe, but not where I live. Maybe, a stranger I meet on the street might have a great-aunt named that, or read a novel with an Adeline as the protagonist, but they don’t know any other kids named that. In other words, names that aren’t popular, but won’t make their future teachers go “HUH?”

Elizabeth Says:

December 28th, 2010 at 12:52 am

Having a name so common that you learn not to respond to it crowds is not fun. Being Liz-Lastname all the time is annoying. Just because a name is classic and won’t get dated the way Amanda and Jennifer did doesn’t mean that your kid won’t have to experience being one of 5 in their class on a day to day basis.

Cracking the top 50 is a deal breaker for me. I’d prefer something below 200 but that may not be compatible with my husband’s taste.

Jamie Abigail Says:

January 7th, 2011 at 11:50 am

I would NEVER go with a top 25 name. I would try to go with a name that wasn’t even listed, but if its a name I really like then it wouldn’t matter.

I remember in my 3rd grade class we had 4 girls named Ashley, 3 Jessica, 3 Sara, 3 Rachel, and 2 Michelle…I would never want that to happen to my child!!

Sheila Says:

January 17th, 2011 at 11:25 am

I think it’s silly. If you love a name, who cares where it ends up on the list? Sure, they may be four Olivia’s in your daughter’s class, but there may be two Matilda’s or three Penelope’s. Would you regret naming your daughter a name you loved just because someone else loved it enough to name their daughter the same name? I think more regret would be had if you dismissed a name you loved because of its popularity (like Isabelle) only to find that there are no other Isabelle’s in her class- this actually happened to a friend of ours. Our daughter is Grace and we have yet to encounter another Grace in her age group. However, even if we did, it wouldn’t matter. Our Gracie is the only one that matters to us.

A lot of people want to name their child a unique name to make their child unique, but the name does not make the child, the child makes the name.

As long as you name your child something you love, everything will be fine.

Chloe Says:

January 20th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I have had this popular vs unique baby name debate in my head for years now. I am a 25 year old Chloe. In elementary school, I desperately wanted to be a Nicole or Tiffany because all my friends were Nicoles and Tiffanys (or Ashleys and Brittanys). My mom could never find anything with my name on it, and back in the late 1980s/early 1990s there was no ordering things off the internet… I used to get so sad not having a Chloe pencil or backpack lol But, I started loving my name in middle and high school because I was the only Chloe. You said my first name and everyone knew you were talking about me. I got constant compliments on my name from strangers. I felt like an individual.

I’ve heard that kids with popular names of their generation get better grades and more positive attention from their teachers. It also helps in elem school to be one of many- “My name is Ashley” “Cool, my name is Ashley, too. Let’s be friends.” I’ve settled the debate in my mind by pairing a trendy popular baby name that I like (ex Olivia and Jacob) with a much less popular middle name (ex Lorelai and Sebastian). That way it gives the child options. And I definitely haven’t ruled out the classics… I swoon over Elizabeth and James!

I just want my child to be normal, you know?? Not be teased and picked on because of a name.

anne Says:

March 3rd, 2011 at 4:48 am

I think it only matters if you like the name. Popularity should not matter.

Bronwyn Says:

March 4th, 2011 at 9:04 am

It seems pretty common for people to say – ‘Don’t worry, even the most common names aren’t that common’… I don’t know but certainly in primary school there would have 5 names that were doubled up in my class of 25… More than anything I can remember Nick F and Nick M. Then in high school it was less obvious but we had at least three Stephanie’s in the year level. My best friend Steph simply said her mum took it as a compliment to her taste in names.

Personally when I go about naming my children I want to look for names like my own. I have never shared a class with a Bronwyn, always been unique to my year level. But everybody knows somebody named Bronwyn. When I was in grade ten there was 5 Bronwyn’s in my school – one for every year – but never two in a year.

Of course my area had a particular concentration of Bronwyn’s I meet others not from home who are shocked to meet another Bronwyn. Basically I don’t thing the Top 100 or 1000 listings mean much. Instead its simply a case of monitoring names around you – and no if several people I knew having kids about the same time were using a name I wouldn’t use it. As for popularity after having used the name – I’d take it as a compliment. I would however bounce perspective unusual names off my friends, coworkers etc too – no point using a name people haven’t heard of – and depending on where you are depends which names those are.

Katie Says:

May 24th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I will not use anything in the top 10, the top 20, and I would really hesitate before using something in the top 100.

My son’s name is not in the top 1000 but its an awesome name. I am considering a name for the new little girl I’m pregnant with that is #300 something which I am okay with. I also pay attention to how fast the name is rising in popularity though, not just the # it is for this year or last year.

Tori Says:

July 20th, 2011 at 9:05 am

I would say I try to avoid names in the top 100 however I’m lying if I say I 100% do because I really quiet honestly don’t. My favourite boys names are: Jacob (hello! That’s so popular i’m literally in shock), Levi (this is in the top 100 and I feel because of celebrities using the name on their own children it will become even more popular, Noah (another name in the top 100) and my final two August and Angelo don’t feature to my belief in the top 100. Still that’s three outta five that do. I like strong biblical names and intriguing classics these names at the moment tend to feature in the top 100 names because they’re considered cool due to the current trends.

As for the girls my favourites are Rose (which is a popular middle name many little girls have the name Rose as a middle name because it works so I would say it is popular), Isabella (like with Jacob scarily popular), Audrey (becoming popular because of trends), Vivienne (prediciting it’ll come popular) and Imogen (again will come popular) also loving Rosalie which has become popular too.

So as you can see even though excluding Jacob & Isabella from this generalisation of my favourite names, my favourite names that I would gladly call my child are becoming increasingly popular, but hey I believe if you love a name enough to call your future child it then use it! Who cares about popularity everyone is an individual even if your child shares the name with five other boys in their class 😉

emilymaryjane Says:

December 16th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

There are so many common names I would consider using like Emily, Madison, Emma, Ruby, Chloe, Olivia, Charlotte, Mia and Lily. All names are in the Australian top 10 but they are all really cute

cannebella Says:

March 16th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Popularity isn’t an issue for me. I like Mason, Ethan, Jacob, Noah and Caleb but I also like names like Breccan, Maxton, Elias and Jax.

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