How Popular Is Too Popular?
We spied this question in the forums and thought it was so good we’d ask the Nameberry community at large:
How popular is a name before it gets too popular for you?
Would you avoid the Top 10? The Top 100? The Top 1000?
Or maybe you’d happily choose the Number 1 name if you loved it enough. Or only want names that nobody else, literally, is using.
When it comes to baby names, how popular is too popular for you?
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on September 16th, 2015 at 11:42 pm
I currently am in this very struggle. I started with the idea to stay out of the top 100, but wound up with boy #1 at 90, with my second son settling in at #45, now 8 months along with our third boy seriously considering #29! I wish them all to be more unique than they are, but it would seem only the top 20 are deal breakers for us.
on September 16th, 2015 at 11:45 pm
I wouldn’t choose a top 10 name. All of my kids ended up with names just out of the top 100. One of them is currently in the top 30, twice actually because of spelling. But we still don’t meet many kids with her name. And she’s always been the only one in her class. As an Amanda born in the 80s I just didn’t want her to have the same name as 5 other girls in her class like I did.
on September 17th, 2015 at 12:10 am
Out of the top 300 for girls and out of the top 150 for boys. But for first names only. I may choose a more popular name for a middle name.
on September 17th, 2015 at 12:46 am
I would avoid the top 30, but strive for beyond the top 100, love beyond the top 500, and swoon at something beyond the top 1000, but popularity isn’t everything – either end of the spectrum.
on September 17th, 2015 at 1:01 am
My kids names aren’t in the top 100 of any name lists. I think I’d be fine if they were between 50-100 but more popular than that and I might feel I should have chosen another. Interestingly, my daughter has her favourite names for future babies and would not be happy with a top 100 name, but my son thinks it would be pretty ok to have a more common name.
on September 17th, 2015 at 2:52 am
I agree with Nutmeg73, anything 50-1, I probably wouldn’t use. I’d consider it if it was a beloved family name, but it’d probably be a middle name. The year they were born, my sons’ names were around 115 & 500. One is below 100 now (popularity-wise, not number-wise) and I’m not thrilled especially since I’ve had his name picked out since 6th grade. It’s my grandpa’s name- a classic but it wasn’t too popular again until just recently.
on September 17th, 2015 at 3:10 am
Anything in the top 100 is a no for me. I grew up with several kids that had the same name as I so I wanted to try to avoid that with my kids. On the other hand I don’t want my kids to have a name that no one has ever heard of or something that they have to always spell for everyone.
on September 17th, 2015 at 3:57 am
Anything in the top 1000 is off limits as a first name – to me, at least. Because if the name in question isn’t already popular, then it stands to reason that, on day, it might very well be. And the last thing I want is for my future child’s name to become standard and later dated. Plus, it’s a question of originality. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that a unique name will make a unique child, but when the general reaction you get from naming a baby James or Sophia is “Oh, ANOTHER one?”, I personally would want to steer clear of what’s currently trending. And since a majority of the top 1000 names are either trending or will do in future, my goal is to keep well away from said list and any name on it…
on September 17th, 2015 at 4:48 am
For me it depends on how much I love the name- two of my favourites are in the top 20 and some of the others are within the top 50, but I don’t mind. Hopefully they will become less popular over time but if they don’t I’d still be happy to use them in the future.
on September 17th, 2015 at 4:52 am
This question. The reality is that, for the most part, the only people who care about popularity are name nerds. Most people just do not agonize over a name that much. Popularity, despite the stats, is still a very local thing. Combining spellings, my daughter has the seventh most popular name in the country. Everybody who meets her says that she’s the only one they know. Her middle name is Milena, which didn’t even chart a few years ago and is now zooming up the charts. So saying you wouldn’t choose a name in the top 1000 doesn’t guarantee it won’t be in the top 1000 next year. I feel sometimes Berries limit themselves and exclude beautiful names because they are “too popular” and also look down on those of us who choose them. There is a huge huge difference between popular and trendy. And the “it’s too popular” has become almost an insult around here. It’s really turned me off to NB lately.
on September 17th, 2015 at 5:12 am
I completely agree with @Dindlee. It sounds somewhat paranoid to me to say that any name in the top 1000 is sure to be used. Unique names don’t necessarily have to be unpopular or unheard of. In my case, it’s just as important that the name is easy to spell and pronounce, as it is that the name is “unique.” And being unique is totally subjective anyhow. I love Ella which is ridiculously popular at the moment where I live, I have heard of a number of Ellas or Ellies, but I still love the name and would use it. Partly because name popularity where I live is different than in the US or elsewhere, we have a population of 1.6 million in South Australia, Charlotte was the most popular name last year; yet was only given to 128 little girls. It’s a miniscule number really, so I don’t see any reason to let it deter me. Furthermore, I think if you love the name, why try and found yourself something less popular. There truly is nothing damning about being an Amanda, an Emily or (in my case) a Jessica.
on September 17th, 2015 at 5:48 am
Ideally I would try to avoid anything in the top 10, but if I really loved it I would use it no matter what. My boy name of choice for this baby is #65 in Australia where I live and my girl name of choice is #45. I chose these names because I love them, not because of their popularity. I think some people get too caught up in popularity, unless you’re choosing a top 3 name, chances are your child won’t meet too many children with the same name and won’t be bothered by the popularity at all. My name was #8 in the year I was born. Growing up I knew one other girl in my grade with the name, and 1 girl in a different grade. Even the most popular names aren’t as popular as they used to be. I agree with @Dindlee as well.
on September 17th, 2015 at 6:24 am
I don’t deliberately leave off names in the top 100 or 200, but I find the more I hear/see a name, the more I lose affection for it. Case in point is Matilda, a name DH and I absolutely adored a few years ago, but since then I have met parents of Matildas, as well as a lot of celebrities using it, and now the appeal of the name has been lost for us.
I was one of 4 or 5 Aimee/Amys in my year group at school, and it was a bit confusing but never bothered me, I still like my name and there’s nothing wrong with choosing a ‘popular’ name if you really love it.
on September 17th, 2015 at 6:48 am
I like names that aren’t so out there they are completely unheard of, but not so popular my children will have 10 others in their classes. That being said my son has a name that hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the early 1900s. I picked his name when I was in 5th grade and stuck with it until he was born 16 years later. That being said he has had another child in his class with his name and there were 2 others in his last school of only 500. We picked my daughter’s name as our girl choice when I was pregnant with my son. At that time it was hovering right around the 500 mark. When we named her 4 years later it had just entered the top 100 and this year has come close to the top 20. She has never had another child in her preschool class with her name and their isn’t another girl in our very large neighborhood with her name. I have definitely heard of other little girls with her name much more frequently, but have not personally met them. Also one thing that happens quite frequently is my daughter can find her name on things at places such as Disney World. My son can’t, and he hates this. I remember feeling the same way as I have an unusual name, one that is now actually climbing the charts. I found a tiny cup at Michaels when I was in college and bought it as I knew I’d probably never see another. Fortunately, my son has a literary name and we can read those books to him so he can feel “special” (for lack of a better word) when it comes to his name. Now I am pregnant with my third, a girl. We have chosen a name that has never made the top 1000 in the US, but I believe is popular in Britain. However, if this baby had been a boy it would have had a top 5 name in order to honor my uncle, who is struggling with cancer, and 3 grandfathers who all shared the same name. Initially the popularity thing with this particular name bothered me a little, but the significance of the name would have outweighed that greatly. So in general, it really just matters what you like, and having a name that isn’t in the top 1000 doesn’t necessarily mean your child won’t be the only one and a popular name doesn’t guarantee there will be “thousands” in your child’s class. I’ll just stick to what I like and what goes well with our other children’s names.
on September 17th, 2015 at 7:06 am
Really the only name I think is beautiful but won’t consider because of popularity is Emily.
on September 17th, 2015 at 7:35 am
I did some research last night and found that even our top 10 names aren’t nearly as popular as the top 10 names 20 or more years ago. I used to think that once a name reached the top 20 or so it was off limits, but after looking at the numbers I’m not quite as worried. Jessica was the most popular name the year I was born and I know way too many of them. Even our number 1 name, Emma, is given to only half as many babies now than Jessica was back in the 90s. That ends up meaning that our most popular names aren’t really as popular as we think because parents are using a much broader range of names nowadays. The numbers really spoke to me and now I’m more concerned about finding names that DH and I both love. And if our child shares a name with a couple classmates, so be it. I’m sure it wasn’t traumatic being Jessica B or Mike L all through school.
on September 17th, 2015 at 7:38 am
I agree with @dindlee too! I also relate to what @Pebbles says; I’m a Sara and still love my name despite going to school with countless girls of the same name (mostly spelled with an H; I liked being no-H). Also like Pebbles, when a name is super popular in my area (friends and acquaintances using), I too lose my affection for the name. I tend to look more at my state stats than the entire U.S. too, because my state seems to vary quite a bit from the U.S. stats.
on September 17th, 2015 at 7:52 am
I steer clear of names in the top 100, and I’m weary of names in 100-200. However, I also agree about popular versus trendy. You got to watch out for those names that are soaring to the top versus ones that are always at the top ( we can call those classics).
@pebbles320 I’m one of those Matilda moms, and I have yet to meet a Matilda of any age! I’m in the U.S. But I understand it may be different in Other countries. The great thing about it and other such names is if it gets to popular, you can use a nickname- something you can’t do with say, an Emma or a Noah.
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:05 am
I want to add that there’s nothing wrong with a popular name, but parents should be informed, so they are not surprised when their kid starts kindergarten and has to be called Liam B.
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:13 am
I don’t think popularity would really put a damper on a name with me. If I love a name, to me, it doesn’t matter if it is #1 or #800. Though I will say it may depend on how many kids I know with that name. I know probably 3 Emma’s, and 2 Olivia’s. I know a few Oliver’s but I haven’t met anyone who named their child Noah yet.
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:22 am
The boy name my husband and I liked best has moved to the bottom of our list because it’s top 30. None of the others for boys or girls are top 100, and the more I like a name, the more likely it is to be VERY low on the lists (if it even makes any lists). My top boy name isn’t on any top 1000 except Nameberry’s, and my top girl name hasn’t made the Social Security top 1000 since 1910. I like me some unique names…
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:51 am
I like out of the top 100, but rarely out of the top 1000. There are always exceptions though. I don’t mind a popular name if it is steadily popular (meaning for decades!). I inherently dislike names that skyrocket to popularity, then plummet a few years later. My son’s name is Theodore (#167 I think) which lies right about in my comfort zone.
on September 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am
@maple10, so right! Do they not check a single naming website before deciding?
I would use a popular name if it was considered a classic. My biggest concern is for it to become dated. But looking back, some dated names are charming because they’re tied to their eras, so even that’s not too bad. Nothing’s worse than being told your name (Ashley) is a trailer park name. My mom is not from the US, and it sounded very unique and American to her.
on September 17th, 2015 at 9:04 am
The top 10 is the no-go zone for me (while I do like Liam Shiloh for a boy). I wouldn’t even use a Top 500 name. I’d make an exception for Athena but other than that if it’s popular I stay away. Emma, Sophia, Ava, Mia, Harper yadda yadda make it stop! Let’s get some new names up there.
on September 17th, 2015 at 9:05 am
A few months ago at my church there were 2 Noah’s in a group of babies being baptized. You see what I mean?
on September 17th, 2015 at 9:42 am
I have a general question for anyone who might be able to answer – how long can we expect a trendy name to stay in the top 10? Sophia, for instance, or Emma. Those have been the most popular names for several years running now. Is there any sort of pattern to when they might begin to fade or at least drop a ways? Are we talking 10 years? 20?
on September 17th, 2015 at 9:43 am
I try to stay out of the top 100 to make me feel more comfortable. Either way I think it’s pretty much inevitable that you will meet someone with your own name or kids name. I’m a Maggie, just Maggie which was never really popular however I’ve always been Maggie A my whole life. But I would rather be one of 2 Maggie’s in my class than one of 15 Katie’s and that’s why I tend to stay of our the top 100. With that being said, both of my children’s names were no where near the top 100 when I chose them and now they are top 50. I still love my name choices regardless of all the little Oliver’s and Penelope’s now!
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:02 am
I will always appreciate classic names, no matter how popular they are. But I will steer clear of the names in the top 20 from the national list as well as in my state/area. For boys, I am less determined to use a name that is really uncommon. Our top pick for a boy hovers around the 65th place nationally but is not in many States top 100. For girls, I prefer names that are less common, below say the 400th place or out of the top 1000 completely. However it is a good point to remind us that some names that rank high among smaller populations (State or area) are not actually given to a great number of babies so running into three girls named Chloe in the same class could be very unlikely in some areas. Also, I find it interesting that even name aficionados may not consider worldly trends as well considering the good possibility that your babies may live/study/work/marry, not just in another region of the same State or Country, but in another area of the world at some point in her/his life. One’s name isn’t important only during childhood and primary school.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:21 am
@maple10, thanks for that comment, that’s exactly been our focus since we wrote our first book Beyond Jennifer & Jason: An Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby. At that time (1988), there was no national popularity list in the US and only some states kept lists that were very limited, so it was very difficult for parents to get any sense of how widely used the names they were choosing really were. Especially first-time parents who hadn’t been around little kids since they were kids themselves chose names that were highly unusual when they were growing up in the 1950s and 60s — Jennifer and Jason, say — and then were shocked and dismayed to find so many other parents made the same choice.
So @dindlee, Nameberry has been concerned with popularity since way before there was a Nameberry. But the point was to be informed, not to put down popular names — though yes, wide popularity is a turnoff for many parents, not only berries. On the plus side, Top 10 names get so popular for a reason, because they have so much going for them! My older son is named Joseph and I didn’t care how popular it was because it had a lot of meaning for me….and he’s never met many other boys named Joe. My younger son is named Owen which has gotten a lot more popular over time, which he LOVES because the name is so widely liked!
@magrgu2, great question! We will try to investigate and get back to you! It does seem that once a name climbs into the Top 10, it tends to stay there for at least a decade and often — especially with boys’ names — longer.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:34 am
I don’t particularly care about popularity, but it is nice that we have easy access to the Social Security list for the sake of being informed. I just plain don’t like many of the names in the current Top 10 for either boys or girls, but if I loved one of them I would certainly choose it. While other people lament over how popular their favorite name gets, I smile when I see my favorites moving up. Good names should be used, not hidden away.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:35 am
For our son, Eli is at 49. His middle Joaquin is at 326.
Calvin a name I love for another boy is at 182
Laurel, my favorite at the moment, is at 817
I say use a name you love. These are the names I just so happen to love.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:43 am
To add. The middle for Calvin, Jacob is number 4 and the middle consideration for Laurel, Juliet is at 258, or Natalie at 23 or Eden at 151.
Honestly, the top 10 really are no goes for me as a first name. But I’ve loved Emma for a long time as a nickname for Emmeline. I’ve also loved Elizabeth as a middle or first and that’s number 14.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:51 am
Maybe because I appreciate that my name isn’t that popular, we will avoid anything in the top 500. My husband’s name was a top 50 when he was born in the 70’s and we know at least 25 other people with his same name- so lame. Ideally we would like it to be around 1000 or more.
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:02 am
Really good question….Popularity is generally a turn off for me..But, I feel like there are a lot of factors, as some of the others have touched on. Such as, Popularity for the country, doesn’t always mean popularity for the state you live in. And sometimes, the meaningfulness of a name is more important to you than its rank. For example, my daughter was born in 2014 and we named her Isobel after my grandmother. While Isobel (using the Scottish spelling) isn’t in the top 100 for 2014, Isabella is #4. So, an issue we run into is people hearing her name and assuming it’s Isabella. Which is annoying, but not the end of the world because I love her name and the significance it has for me. We tend to call her Belle anyway. Names we’re considering for #2 are Rowan, Kieran and Soren for boys and Rosalie, Evelina and Esme for girls. Most are not very popular and the couple that are gaining popularity (Rowan and Esme) are unheard of in our area, so I’m OK with that.
I don’t think popularity should dissuade you from using a name you adore, but it should at least make you think about how a super popular name might affect your child in the future.
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:09 am
Ooh, this one’s a toughie. I think generally speaking, once a name hits the top 100, I’m immediately turned off. I don’t even think it processes like an “oh, it’s too popular now, I don’t wanna use it” but it just kind of becomes less appealing.
For example: Harper. This name has been my FAVORITE for pretty much my entire life. I always dreamed of having a little girl and naming her Harper, and she would be unique and bookish and not have to be called Harper H. or Harper E. because there wouldn’t be thousands of other little girls with the same name. And then it became TRENDY. Ugh. I’d like to point out, though, that I’ve been slowly falling in love with Harper for a little boy, but I’m afraid that Harper will become like Ashley- totally handsome for a little lad but completely out of the question because of its popularity for girls.
Another point I’d like to make is that I don’t think it’s so much the popularity of the name as the trendiness. (at least where I live) Harper is trendy. Peyton is trendy. Other surname names on girls such as Palmer and Emerson have become very trendy. Yet, I think certain names that are increasingly popular don’t bother me as much: Sophia, Isabella, Emily (my own name; though I’ve only ever met 2 others), Olivia, Ella, Elizabeth, and Charlotte don’t bother me as much because they don’t strike me as trendy I think simply because they are timeless names. Popularity charts will fluctuate but classics will always be classics.
Anyway, beyond my rambling, I think I would be willing to name a daughter within the top 150 if it were a name I really loved (plus I think you’ve got to take regional popularity into consideration- Amelia & Charlotte are within the top 20 nationwide, it’s rarely used where I live). Though, generally, I’d try and keep outside of the top 1,000 if possible. For a boy, however, I’d be much more lenient, especially considering my style for boys is more classic and biblical, which tends to be more popular. I’d try to stay outside of the top 100 for a boy, but it wouldn’t kill me if it were a more popular name. Names like Benjamin, Levi, Wyatt and Thomas… I don’t care so much that they’re in the top 100, maybe because they aren’t trendy like names such as Mason, Jackson and Jayden. I’d be willing to use a more popular name for a middle name than I would a first name, too. But, I’m still holding out for Atticus, praying it doesn’t gain any more popularity and just quietly slips off the top 1,000 once again. 🙂
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:15 am
As far as I am concerned, I think that popularity should be the least important aspect when naming a baby. I never had “rules” concerning popularity, for example chosing a name out of the top 10 of my country. When I was a child, I didn’t use to like that I was the only Rea I had met (I go by my middle name, Leonora, but in school they used to call me by my first name Rea of course), and then I was the only Eleonora at work. Sometimes people frowned when they heard my name. Anyway, when I was pregnant, expecting a baby girl, my only daughter, me and my late boyfriend had decided to name the baby Daniella Christine, in order to honour our mothers. Sadly he died while I had been pregnant so I named my daugter after him. He was named Marian (a form of Marianus) Daniel and he used to like the name Amalia. I named our daughter Maria Daniella Amalia in 1998. I think that Maria was Number 1 then in Germany, but I didn’t care at all, because I was an 18-year-old mother who had lost the love of her life and wanted to honour him. Daniella is also my mother’s name but I used it in order to honour my boyfriend and not my mother. It was quite popular and so was Amalia. Of course we have met many girls and women of all ages named Maria or Marie, but I needed to honour a beloved one, and so do many people around the world. It is my firm belief that in such cases, popularity is the last that matters.
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:52 am
I always said popularity did matter, that I wouldn’t want a super popular name. Now, I don’t want anything limiting me when it comes to choosing a name (popularity, theme, syllables, etc). That said, I will probably end up choosing a name that’s less popular if it came down to two. My name was in the 200 range in 1988 and I still had a girl with the same name here or there. I was pleased that the name I chose for my daughter in 2008 was in the 300 range. So it’s recognizable and we’ve met another here or there (never the same age though) but she isn’t one of a bunch. The popularity I’m most concerned with is state popularity. My daughter’s name is higher on the popularity list for our states than most others. It was something I was concerned with at the time so when I did start meeting other children with the name, it took me by surprise. Then I learned about individual state popularity and it made more sense.
on September 17th, 2015 at 12:11 pm
I would try to stay clear of the top 100, but with many of the names I love climbing the charts, it might not be possible when the time comes. My husband’s name is also in the top 10 boy names and he would like a #3 for the family name, so we’ll see. 🙂
on September 17th, 2015 at 12:23 pm
I try to stay out of the top 1000 and my daughter’s name definitely is, but the other names I love for future babies are climbing fast! (Dang it!) So I’ll probably have to settle for out of the top 100. The only reason I stress about popularity at all is because my family has an extremely common last name.
on September 17th, 2015 at 12:27 pm
I’ve always tried to stay clear from the top 100 but, of course my daughter’s name is now : , (
on September 17th, 2015 at 1:15 pm
Although I’m well up on what’s popular and trending, the main thing is to stay away from names used by my generation of extended family and close friends. That’s hard, though, because there are lots of cousins and a few favorite family names, like Elizabeth and Caroline. We may yet end up with Lizzie, Beth, Caro and Carly!
on September 17th, 2015 at 1:32 pm
I’m with you, @Pebbles230, that a name starts to sound less appealing to me as soon as I’ve heard it for the 30th or 50th time! That’s why I’m not particularly fond of classics. It’s not to be a name snob, it’s just that I’m bored of those names! And I don’t want to name my kid the “Ashley” or “Brittany” of my generation, though the Ashleys and Brittanys I grew up with (80s baby here) all seemed really cool to me as a kid since their names were popular.
I guess I just pride myself on being a little creative and original and that’s why I prefer names out of the top 100. Once a name I like hits the top 100, it goes off the list of possibilities. Not because I’m a snob but because I don’t want to be sick of that name before my child is even born! I’m gonna be saying my child’s name like thirty times a day for the next 18 years–it has to feel fresh at some point! When I named my daughter in England last year, I’d literally never met another human being with her name. I’d loved it since the age of 12 and it was The Name. Then I moved to the US when she was 5 months old and everyone told me it was a really popular name over here. But it’s only in the top 400 and I still haven’t met another girl with that name. Yes, she might have a few others at her school, but I’m not gonna cry over that.
So how popular is too popular? For me, the top 200, plus any other name I’ve heard on more than 10 or 20 people in my life. I just get bored of names I’ve heard too much. Our second daughter’s name is not in the top 1000 in the US, but I’m not going to make that a requirement for future siblings. As long as my child is the first or second _____[insert name here]___ that I meet, and the name isn’t trending upwards at 100mph, I’m happy.
on September 17th, 2015 at 1:56 pm
I’ll use any name I love for the first and any name with meaning for our family as a middle. I don’t care at all about popularity.
on September 17th, 2015 at 1:58 pm
I look more towards my state’s popularity rankings than the national ranking. I would only choose a name that is not currently being used in my state.
on September 17th, 2015 at 2:19 pm
For boys, it doesn’t really matter to me. My favorite boys name is Matthew, which is well within the Top 100, but I’ve never met someone with that name. For girls, however, I tend to stay away from the top 100, but anything below it is fine. My favorite girls names are Mary (which is at #120 I believe) and Matilda (which is hovering somewhere around #500). I also love Rebecca (#180-ish). I just tend to not like names that are popular.
on September 17th, 2015 at 3:02 pm
Anything above 200 gives me pause and I would love to use names outside the top 1000, but at the same time I have other more important considerations than popularity. For example, one of my favorite boys names ever is William, a consistently very popular name, but it’s a timeless classic so the numbers have a lot less weight.
on September 17th, 2015 at 3:09 pm
I don’t care about popularity, and personally I think it’s silly to consider everything in the top 1000 ‘too popular’. The name in the 1000 spot in the US is given to what, 100 babies? That really isn’t many.
I’ve got some popular names on my list (Olivia for a girl and Jackson for a boy). Let’s pretend I had two kids, a boy and a girl, and gave them those names. On the first day of school, I’d be informed that both of them had another kid with their name in their class. The teacher would address them as Olivia W. and Jackson W. And you know what? I’d be fine with that.
Overall, I go by how much I love a name rather than it’s popularity. My favorite name for a boy is Dallas and my favorite for a girl is Lucy. If those two names suddenly shot up to number 1 (or at least to the top 10) by the time I’m ready to have kids, it wouldn’t matter. I’d still use them if they were THE names.
on September 17th, 2015 at 3:19 pm
I dislike top ten, not only for popularity purposes, but just because names that are like Mackenzie and such are absolutely not my style!
By nature I like names that are a bit uncommon, so I’ve never had to encounter the difficulty of having to lose a too-popular name… All my names, I think, are at least out of top 100. But if I absolutely loved a name, and it was popular, I wouldn’t care. Popularity is a paltry matter. 🙂
on September 17th, 2015 at 4:41 pm
Well, ideally I’d want a name that I had no associations for – even a passing acquaintance – that was quite uncommon, but still familiar. I don’t tend to think of popularity in terms of the Top 100, but rather how many people I’ve known with that name. But I’m pretty picky, and if I’ve heard a name even once I can be put off.
That said, this is all in an ideal world, and when compiling my list I rarely keep to this list because I fall in love with names very randomly. So right now I’m seduced by Emma despite its popularity, and Shoshana even though it’s both potentially pretentious (being international) and new to my ears.
I can’t honestly even see myself sticking to my own rules when I have kids.
on September 17th, 2015 at 4:42 pm
I tend to stay away from names in the top 500 but most of my favorites aren’t in the top 1000.
on September 17th, 2015 at 5:01 pm
Since my own name was top of the list the year I was born and the years either side of it and I was in a school class with 4 others with my name, I’d personally want to stay out of the top 20 for any future children
on September 17th, 2015 at 6:19 pm
Honestly I would probably avoid a top 10 name for the first name spot, but am comfortable using a top 10 in the middle of its to honor my or Dh’s family.
on September 17th, 2015 at 6:26 pm
I always liked names that are lower down the list.
on September 17th, 2015 at 7:26 pm
No name is too popular to use for us. All that matters is how much we love it. Our son’s name and nickname (William/Liam) were in the Top 10 the year he was born (and still is), and if the baby I’m pregnant with now is another boy, there’s a good chance he’ll be named Alexander, another Top 10 pick. (Although Dominic (69) is our second choice.) Our daughter is Catherine, which is in the 100s, but once you add up all the Katherines, Katharines, Kathryns, etc., the ranking would be a lot higher. If the baby is a girl, we’re debating between Veronica at 375 and Isobel, which technically isn’t in the Top 1000, but considering the major popularity of Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella,. you might as well call it the most popular name. (And the main reason we’re planning to use the uncommon spelling is not to avoid popularity, but to make Zoe (another very popular) more reasonable as a nickname.)
Now, the middles we use tend to be on the more unusual side, but it’s not like we made a specific rule that they couldn’t been in the Top 1000. It’s just kinda happened that way since I love the pairing of an unexpected middle with a familiar, classic first.
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:16 pm
I think popular isn’t what it used to be. The names being used are much more diverse now than in the past. My name, Jennifer, was #1 in my birth year, and given to 60,000 of us. The #1 Emma from last year was only given to 20,000. That being said, growing up as a Jennifer in what felt like a sea of Jennifers has made me steer clear of common names. I don’t really care what # a name is on the list, I am more interested in how often do I hear it and does it seem common in my community. There is so much variation. Take Aria, a name I like and was considering for #3, I though it was unusual and had not really heard of it, but come to find it has been in the top 100 for the past 3 years, and in our state it was #19 last year. However numbers are deceiving because it was only given to 86 little Arias in our state. These days we are all trying to be different with our name choices, so just go with what you like and you will not regret it.
on September 17th, 2015 at 8:30 pm
I try to avoid names in the top 100, and if I can, top 1000. That’s just my preference. Having to share a name with more than two people takes away the originality and uniqueness of the name. If a name is too popular for my taste, I look for names that sound similar but are clearly different. For example, Piper to Fifer. I do, however, make some exceptions if I love a name enough, but it cannot be in the top 50. As you can probably tell, I’m very picky :P.
on September 17th, 2015 at 10:31 pm
I don’t care about numbers, but if a name feels stale I would not use it. Such as Emma. Nice name, have taught 500 of them in my life.
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:48 pm
I can see both sides of the argument and I do think you should always go with your heart at the end of the day. That said, if any of my absolute favorites REALLY became popular in an Emma or Noah way, I would be very disappointed and I’d maybe reconsider. I despise the idea of my child being date-stamped in forty years, and of having to label all of her school things with an initial. I have a quite popular name for my decade and I always pined for something more creative and original – something that people would hear and NOT think: “Oh, I have a niece and a former girlfriend and two coworkers and a mail lady with that name.”
I don’t think I could bring myself to choose anything in the top 50 for those reasons. Top 20 is definitely too high for me. My preference would be well out of the top 100. Luckily for me, my favorite girl name only JUST ranked on the SSA list last year with seven births. So I think it’s about as safe as it can be for the moment. None of us have control over those numbers, of course, but I’m fairly confident it’s not going to rise too high before I have my chance.
on September 18th, 2015 at 12:14 pm
I usually gravitate toward names that are around the top 500, anything more popular just sounds too familiar and tired to me. My daughter’s name just hit # 287, though, which is starting to be a little too popular, but I love the name so there. When she was born it was #529 Most of my other favorites are solidly in the top 500 or higher like Dorian, Seren (actually, not even in the top 1000!), Thea, Thessaly. But the names I like five years ago like Aria and Violet are sky rocketing! I tend to like names that become really popular, I used to love a lot of the names in the top 100 until, well, they become the top 100 and I met many, many babies with those names.
on September 18th, 2015 at 1:18 pm
I prefer not-too-popular, but sometimes my choices are simply on-trend and I just live with it. Top 100 is kind of “Oh, really? Darn.” Whereas top 10 would make me re-consider (but not necessarily give up, depending on what the name means to me). Anything less than 100 I don’t worry about at all. No need to be that “unique”. Sometimes classic is where it’s at.
on September 18th, 2015 at 2:55 pm
My rule is nothing given to more than 1000 babies in the UK (where I live) in the most recent year. Anything higher is a GP. In an ideal world I’d only use names below the top 1000, but the so many of the names on the list are just too brilliant :). I absolutely love that my name isn’t overly popular here, so much so that it kind of bugs me that it’s popular elsewhere. Of course my future kids might not agree, but then again they might love it. Either way, they’ll probably end up with pretty unusual names :).
on September 18th, 2015 at 5:08 pm
My favorites are across the board. Arden is below the top 1000, but Savannah is #39, I think. In my opinion, it only matters if you love the name. Don’t overthink popularity. I’ve met more Katherines than Emmas of the same age.
on September 18th, 2015 at 5:45 pm
I tend to steer clear of the Top 100, but I draw the line at the Top 50. I tend to hear the names too often after that point anyway, and they become boring to me. My own name was in the Top 20, and I was always having to go by my middle name or last name. I couldn’t even just use my first name with my last initial. I still respond to Wolf (my maiden name) as if it were my first name. I don’t want my children to have to give up their first names, because there are so many other kids who share them.
on September 18th, 2015 at 8:18 pm
I would like to stay away from the top 100, but I will make exceptions for certain names with special meaning. I definitely agree that local popularity matters more than national. My own name was number 86 the year I was born, but yet I had two other girls with the same name from K-8 and always had to attach my last initial. Since being out of grade school, I occasionally run into people with my name, but not nearly as often. I run into a lot more dogs with my name than people now!
on September 19th, 2015 at 7:36 am
I think whether you love the name is the most important factor. But after love of the name, I’m more concerned with the sounds in the name than with the actual name itself. For example, many names with El- are popular for girls (Eleanor, Elizabeth, Eleanora, Ellie, Ella, Elliana, Elena, etc.). Whether you name your daughter Ella (#15) or Ellison (#946), she’s still part of the Ellie group. I picked a name in the top 50 for my baby, but it’s got a much less common sound pattern and few other names rhyme with it, so we don’t come across that feel of name very often.
on September 19th, 2015 at 8:48 am
We chose a pretty common name for our daughter (Isabel) fully aware that between our daughter’s spelling and all of the Isabelle, Izabelle, and Isabella s out there she will be Izzy G. in pre-K. Before we were expecting we wanted to chose a more unusual name, but her name just clicked as soon as we knew she was a girl. My husband has a very unusual name, and he just hates having to correct people all the time, and people mis-gendering his name, so we did want to avoid a name that was unheard of.
All that to say, I think if we loved even the #1 name enough, we’d use it, but I totally understand why many other parents wouldn’t.
on September 19th, 2015 at 9:27 am
To be honest, my goal with names is to not put my kid through what I went through, growing up with an unusually spelt name.
Years of misspelt birthday cards (and birthday cheques) and having to spell my name every single time someone has to search for me in a system or write my name down kind of grates on a person. It’s automatic now, every time I give my name I spell it.
But that’s just a personal idiosyncrasy
on September 19th, 2015 at 12:34 pm
My name was #15 for my area the year I was born, and although everyone I have met knows at least one other person with my name I have never personally met someone with my name. I have never had to be Amber L and I can almost always find my name on gift shop items. That being said I know that’s a very unique situation. I don’t think I would pick a first name for a child that was above the top 50 spot, and if I had a common name I really loved I would put it in the middle spot. I would be more willing to give a child extra middle names than have my child be the third person in their class with their name.
on September 19th, 2015 at 7:11 pm
If I’m being idealistic I’d love to stay out of the top 100, at least for girls. But I honestly don’t think it matters. When I name my first child I won’t have the slightest idea if she or he will have 7 other classmates with the same name (which was my experience) or be the only one even if they have a top 10 name. Just love the name you pick and hope your child loves it too. I’m just going to be vigilant enough to not have my children share the same nicknames as their older cousins and be reduced to having to go by their nn and last initial at family functions (thanks, mom!)
on September 19th, 2015 at 8:40 pm
My boyfriend is German, I’m Dutch.
My number one name for a girl right now has been used once in the Netherlands (where I live) last year. I would even spell it a little differently, so my hypothetical daughter would be the only one bearing that name in the entire world. It sounds quite special while actually having a great history behind it, many potential nicknames and a lovely meaning.
And the name I would pick for a boy hasn’t been given to anyone last year in the Netherlands, in any spelling that I would choose, and is just outside of the top 1000 in Germany. It’s a play on my grandfather’s name.
Meaning and sound (with (family) history as a bonus) mean more to me than ranking, but I wouldn’t want my children to have the same experience I had with my name. I was “Sanne 1” at my babysitter and “Sanne 2” al throughout my middle school.
on September 20th, 2015 at 12:29 am
Name popularity definitely means something to me, but in a very inconsistent and hard-to-describe kind of way. Our daughter’s name was #423 when we named her, and now it’s in the 500s (I like that a lot). But I was lucky to get away with that, because my husband is very much into more traditional, more common names (her name was a bit more common in the state that we are from). My favorites are usually a little less common, but not always. Elizabeth made the list, despite its consistent popularity, and I’ve been in love with the name Savannah since Lucy Camden on the show 7th Heaven named her baby that. We won’t be naming our next child Elizabeth (#14), but not for popularity reasons. We won’t be naming our child Savannah (somewhere around #39), but that’s because it’s become too popular too fast (probably because Savannah Guthrie is awesome). The name Alexandra is our front-runner, should baby #2 be a girl, but in reality, it still seems more common than I’d like (hovering somewhere around #90). But we would name our child James, despite its popularity, because my father’s name was James. He died in a car accident a few years ago, and we’d like to honor him. I’m truly sorry you had to read all of my ramblings to get to this conclusion:
1. I guess trendy matters to me more so than a “classically popular” name.
2. If a name has tremendous meaning for a person, popularity is nothing.
3. Some people (like my husband) like more common names, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing for everyone.
on September 20th, 2015 at 2:17 am
Most of my favourite names are nowhere near the Top 500 (indeed, most aren’t in the Top 1000). That is not a concerted choice – I just don’t seem to like what everyone else does!
However, I certainly wouldn’t rule out a name just because it was popular. If my favourite girls’ name (which is not even in the Top 3000 in the UK and has never appeared on the Social Security List in the USA) was to suddenly be in the Top 100, I’d probably still love it and use it (although I’d be sad so many others found it so soon). I also think that if popularity doesn’t ruin a name for you, then it is probably a winner! For example, I like Abigail a lot and would consider it, despite being #7 or 8.
I do think you have to consider your last name though when choosing. As a former university lecturer, I sometimes saw kids called Michael Smith or Mary Johnston – and that kid almost always tried to go for a cool nickname, just so they didn’t blend into the endless seas of smiths and johnstons. If you’ve got a common last name, I do think you should try to be more original, if only so people can actually remember your kids name!
on September 20th, 2015 at 4:24 pm
To me, popularity is so fickle. You can pretty much guess what names will be popular IF you are closely monitoring it, but if you are talking about the SS list itself, you aren’t going to get anywhere.
For example, say my parents wanted to give me a name outside the top 50. In 1997, the year before I was born, Grace was at 69. Perfect!
In 1999, Grace was at 27. Obviously it’s different than using a name that’s already in the Top 20, but I think it’s short-sighted to assume that names won’t move up in the few years after your baby is born.
All that said, I did not mind at all being one of three Graces.Being Grace M. hasn’t hurt me and being William X. won’t hurt my son.
on September 21st, 2015 at 5:09 am
I think the most important is liking the name. My name was in the top 10 the year I was born, but there was only ever 1 other Tiffany in my class. That being said, I still like names outside the top 100… but it would be a bigger issue to me if we had a common surname. But there is a practical aspect to it. Right now DH is applying for a US visa, and they run your name through a database to make sure you’re not a terrorist, criminal, etc. If you have a common name in your home country, this process can actually take over a year. So, different can be better. I love that my daughter’s first and middle (Emili@na P@ri) are both outside the top 1000, and always have been. Even more, I love that they are not Nameberry favs. I’d be shocked to see posters (or even the blog) recommending them. I tend to think Berries have great powers to predict, so if everyone on here likes it, I tend to be wary of it’s future popularity… like Ezra, Sullivan, Rowan, etc. So, while my boy’s name choice’s (Raphael) current popularity doesn’t bother me, the fact that so many Berries tend to like it does. At the same time, it’s not like our surname is Johnson or Miller… so it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference in the long run…
on September 21st, 2015 at 6:34 am
I never liked popular names because my name was pretty individual and I saw others struggle through initials. In my class there are currently three Noahs. I have two in one class and there last names both start with S.
on September 21st, 2015 at 8:28 am
Well, I’ve got a list of six names that I think go beautifully together. They all go with my boyfriend’s Greek culture.
Aristotelis Jr (Boyfriend at least Aristotelis the 10th)
Phila Mitzi (He tells me it roughly translates to Kiss Me, Mary)
Lecotha (Greek word for Sunshine written in english letters)
Calliope (Family Name but its a bit too popular for my taste)
So, for me, if you are going to name them something unique with meaning that is just the way to go. But nothing obscure just for kicks. And avoid the top 100 like the plague.
on September 23rd, 2015 at 7:14 am
My name was out of the top 1000 when I was born and yet there was another girl in my year at school with the same name and another in my university cohort with the same name as well, needless to say my parents were very shocked as they had tried to give me a unique name after giving my older sibling a very common name and them always having children with the same name around them. I think its important to understand that even if the name is very uncommon, other parents who give their child the same name as yours may be right on our street, it’s just luck of the draw.
on December 3rd, 2015 at 11:10 am
I worked at a preschool for 7 years, so I have seen the last decade of baby names in a pretty up close and personal light. Therefore, I know that having a child with a top 10–heck, even top 100!–would drive me absolutely batty. I have met more Madisons, Emmas, Cadens, Jacksons, and Olivias than I knew existed in my small town. I met so many moms who thought they were so unique with their baby Addisons or Adalynns, but changed the spelling (Addyson, for example), when there were three or four others with the same name in class. The name might be beautiful, but if it’s been done to death, it’s not for me.
on November 12th, 2016 at 1:37 pm
I prefer to stay out of at least the top 100 for my country simply because I tend to lose interest in a name that I hear everywhere. We also wanted a name that we didn’t know anyone by, not even in passing!
My first daughters name was just outside the top 1000 when we chose it. We fell in love with everything about it, and we get compliments on it all the time. Now it’s just inside the top 1000, around 960 I believe. We feel it is a very classic vintagey feeling name.
We have just found out we are having a second girl and the name we have chosen is very different to our first. Much more unique than classic, yet it is just inside the top 500. Completely opposite to what we ever thought we would choose but once again we fell in love. I have never heard of the name being used outside of fiction so it definitely doesn’t feel popular.
And the name we are saving for a boy is actually pretty popular in our country. Top 100 at the moment, but I love the name so much that it hasn’t changed my mind on it. I’ve only heard it used a few times and it is always shortened to a nickname, and not the nickname we have picked for it.
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