The Names Really In Danger of Extinction

The Names Really In Danger of Extinction

If you follow baby name news, you may have noticed a peculiar trend. Every few months or so, a headline about extinct names will pop up that reads something like this:

The Name Gary is Headed for Extinction

The Name Karen is Going Extinct

The Name Nigel is Now Extinct

Gary, Karen, and Nigel are the most commonly cited "extinct" names, yet hundreds of American parents use them every year. Gary is still in the Top 1000! Even in the UK — where some of these headlines originate — these names remain in use.

Names like Gary, Karen, and Nigel are falling in popularity, but it's too early to tell if they're headed all the way to extinction.

The names that are going extinct have something in common. For the most part, they're diminutives or nickname names popular among today's grandparents. Patrick and Patricia are still used today, but no one is putting Pat on the birth certificate. Margaret and Dominic are in the Top 150, but Meg and Dom are on their way out.

Here, we have the scoop on the names that are really going extinct, from those currently endangered to the ones that have already vanished.

Endangered Names

These names are not extinct yet, but they're endangered species — given to only 20-50 babies in 2022.

Granted, some of these names still are used for babies, but as nicknames rather than full names. Greta Gerwig's son Hal is legally Harold, while Will Arnett's Denny is Alexander Denison.

Below, the names in danger of extinction:

Almost Extinct Names

Some of the most popular nicknames of the Baby Boomer generation — Al and Rob, Mel and Sue — are now teetering on extinction.

These were once ubiquitous names that represented everyday people — used on sitcoms like The Brady Bunch and Father Knows Best. These days, names like Nirvana and Lucifer are statistically more representative of the youngest generation.

The names that are almost extinct were given to 5-19 babies the last year on record:

Truly Extinct Names

These truly extinct names have left the charts, and aren't likely to return anytime soon. Classic nicknames like Pam, Stu, and Deb need another few decades before they sound fresh again, and full forms Pamela, Stuart, and Deborah will come back into fashion first.

Here, the extinct names given to fewer than five children in 2022:

This begs the question — if names like Jen and Doug can go extinct, which currently popular names may eventually disappear? True classics like William and Eleanor are unlikely to vanish, but Liam and Ellie could one day be endangered.

About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top 2020s names, Gen Z names, and cottagecore baby names. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest.

Sophie Kihm's articles on names have run on People, Today, The Huffington Post, and more. She has been quoted as a name expert by The Washington Post, People, The Huffington Post, and more. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at Sophie lives in Chicago.