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Owen? Max? Lucy? Will They Ever Make the Top 10?

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by Angela Mastrodonato of Upswing Baby Names

These names could be your middle-aged neighbor or a kid in your child’s class. These names are all familiar. Most are traditional. Most are likable. Most are timeless.

And not one has ever made the top 10 on the Social Security list since 1880.

To me, this seems remarkable.

These names seem like they should have hit the top 10 by now. Take a look at the list and tell me if you agree:

Girls:
Ann / Anne – peaked in 1936 at #28 & 1915 at #52 respectively
Cecilia – peaked in 1904 at #190
Jane – peaked in 1946 at #35
Lucy – peaked in 1880 & 1881 at #44
Molly – peaked in 1991 at #74

Boys:
Evan – peaked in 2009 at #35
Felix – peaked in 1884 at #137
Luke – peaked in 2012 at #37
Max – peaked in 2011 at #96
Owen – peaked in 2012 at #38

Why do these names feel like top 10 names? Part of the reason is simply due to the name’s style. For example:
Cecilia shares the four-syllables and vintage style of 2012’s #3 name, Isabella.
Evan and Owen have the popular n-ending.
Felix has the fashionable vintage style and a popular consonant: X.
Luke has the approachable Biblical style of 2012’s #1 name Jacob.

But often these names show how there is more to a name’s perceived popularity than its rankings. Rankings are only part of the story.

For one thing, rankings are based on given names. Nickname aren’t counted in the Social Security data, which could explain why Max seems more popular than it really is, being just outside the top 100 as a given name and a nickname for Maxwell, Maximus, Maximilian, and Magnus, among others.

Another well-known consideration is that variant spelling are not combined in the Social Security data. If variant spellings were combined, the combined ranking of Ann and Anne would surpass each spelling’s individual ranking.

But there is another less obvious consideration–rankings are only relative.

Many of the names on this list never reached the top 10, but did reach the top 50 or top 100 in the past when more babies were given top ranking names.

This is significant because a mid-century top 50 name could represent the same number of babies as a contemporary top 10 name.

For example, Jane peaked at #35 in 1946, and was given to 8,969 babies that year or 0.56% of births.

Fast forward to 2012, and Jane’s 1946 birth numbers are similar to the #9 name Madison, which was given to 11,319 babies or 0.59% of births.

Madison’s 2012 birth numbers might be slightly larger than Jane’s 1946 birth numbers but, due to the growing population, the percentages of births are close.

Most of these names missed their top 10 opportunity decades ago, but some of you might have noted that two of these names, Luke and Owen, peaked most recently in 2012, the most recent year for name rankings. Could these names be on the rise? Could the top 10 be in their future?

I think so, and one of these names is in my predicted top 10 in my book, The Top 22 in 2022.

Do you think Luke and/or Owen have a good shot at the top 10? Which names do you feel belong in the top 10?

Angela created Upswing Baby Names to help parents find that different but not too different name. She muses about names on their way in and on their way out in her book, The Top 22 in 2022.  She is also an avid runner, wannabe foodie, and devoted mom of two.

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About the author

upswingbabynames

Angela Mastrodonato created Upswing Baby Names to celebrate names on the upswing. She is a big-time name watcher, and has a growing list of names she watches by tracking their popularity each year. Sign up here to get your copy of this Watch List.
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16 Responses to “Owen? Max? Lucy? Will They Ever Make the Top 10?”

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augusta_lee Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 12:36 am

Oh, I love this post. I could see Lucy hitting the Top 10, though I think Lily is more likely. There are also names that seem far more popular than they actually are due to having a familiar, trendy sound — Everly, for instance.

Guest Blogging News: Will They Ever Make The Top 10? | Upswing Baby Names Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 5:03 am

[…] share this list of top 10 caliber names with Nameberry readers […]

upswingbabynames Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 5:13 am

@augusta_lee: Lily not only has many long forms (Lillian, Liliana, even Elizabeth) but it also has a few other spellings, Lilly comes to mind. Perhaps Lillie? I can clearly see how Lily can feel like a top 10 name.

I’m so surprised Lucy doesn’t rank any higher than #66. It’s trending upwards, but slowly.

GrecianErn Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 8:43 am

I have such a sweet spot for Molly and Lucy.

And there are times when I think that would be such a cute sib set… but then other times when it feels too simple? We have such a simple last name, I feel like we need less common names for our children.

but we know so many boys named Max, Owen, Evan… here in Iowa, they are common place.

Aurra Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 9:31 am

I think that although Lucy and Cecilia are on the rise, I doubt either are top ten material.

However, these days pop culture plays a huge roll in baby names. Isabella might have never hit the top if it wasn’t for Twilight, and Jacob’s reign might have been shortened if it wasn’t for the werewolf. Mason might have not jumped to number 2 in 2011 if it wasn’t for Kourtney Kardashian’s son. So, who knows? But, then again Lucy has countless references in pop culture but it still has been rising very, very slowly.

For top ten material, I got my eyes on Harper and Mila. Harper’s been skipping through the ranks at an alarming rate, but I think Mila’s got the better chance, due to it’s similarity to Mia, actress Mila Kunis and the nickname of the Bush baby, Margaret Laura.

alphabetdem Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 11:35 am

I’m really devastated by how popular Max is. It’s really a love of mine and I’m tempted to use it (when the time comes!) despite its popularity, even though I said I’d never do that.

Owen and Luke will probably reach the top 10, but I don’t think Felix or Evan will.

Lily probably will, but I doubt Cecilia or Harper will. I hope Lucy doesn’t either, but it might. It’s such a sweet name.

This was a great blog.

Lo Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 11:55 am

I’m surprised Grace didn’t make it to the top 10 nationwide. It was top 10 in my state for several years.

itskitty Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I don’t think Molly will ever make the top 10 due to the drug association. I can definitely see Cecelia, Lucy and Evan in the top 10.

EmilyVA Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I am fascinated by the information on Jane. I love this name and would totally use it if I didn’t know someone with this name.

I think Owen is definitely headed for the top ten. It reminds of Ethan. I don’t think so with Luke but names like Daniel and Michael have made the top ten so maybe. I am now thinking of Luke and Owen Wilson.

I think Cecilia could rise higher. Being a saint, it’s a very Catholic choice to me. Since there are more Catholics now than in 1904, I could see this getting closer to the top ten now. Cecilia suffers from multiple spellings and variations.

I would add Lily to this list which peaked in 2011 at #15.

rosierose Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Hmm, not to be a spoilsport, but only Anne/Ann surprised me as never having been in the top ten. Cecilia has never been very common, even now. I’ve only known 2 or 3 Cecilia’s, compared to dozens of women and girls named Emily, Sarah, Jennifer, Jessica, Isabella, etc.

Jane has always had to compete with Jean (a top 20 name all through the 1920s) and Joan (top 10 name from 1930-1938, peaked at #5 1931-1933), not to mention that Jane has often been used a double barrel second name (Mary Jane, Sarah Jane, etc.)

I agree, Lucy seems like it could go top 10 someday– but it was never very common in the past and I Love Lucy put a forty year long damper on it (though I love Lucille Ball!) Lucille has peaked much higher in the past than Lucy ever has, either. It was top 30 in the 1910s.

Molly is cute but like many nickname names, its presence in the actual statistics is skewed by the fact that in the past it was not as commonly a standalone name and more often a nickname for Mary. I also think Molly’s chance is shot for another generation because I know many women my own age (mid-20s) with the name– too many for me to think it will be popular when we are naming our own girls.

On the boys list, none of them surprise. Owen and Evan haven’t been in standard use long enough to have hit top 10 in the past if they aren’t already there, and Luke and Max are both diluted (like Molly) because they are often nicknames for longer forms like Lucas and Maxwell. I do think Owen has a strong chance at top 10 status since it has no alternate forms, fits in well with Aidan, Liam, etc. Evan seems like it might have peaked by now plus I’ve heard it on several girls. It’s doubtful Luke or Max will ever be top 10 because too many people put longer forms on the birth certificate, even if they never use them.

Not to be a downer, and I do think this is an interesting topic!

If I was making my own list, the #1 surprise would be Grace, which has never been top 10 in the US as far as records go back to 1880. Yet it was top 20 from 1880 to 1909 (almost 30 years!) and again from 2000- present. All without ever breaking top 10. Very odd. For a name with no other mainstream variants besides Gracie, that is a quite unusual run.

littlebrownpony Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I’m surprised about Luke, Evan and Molly. I feel like there are a lot of them around.

As the mother of an almost 4 year old Owen, I really hope it doesn’t hit the top 10, but if it does, it does. I fell in love with the name Owen when I was a young teenager, and at the time, it was not a popular name at ALL.

RoseMarion Says:

August 16th, 2013 at 10:38 pm

IMO Lucy will hit the top 10. I don’t think the others will.

smismar Says:

August 17th, 2013 at 12:13 pm

No! I don’t want Felix to sky-rocket!! He’s my near the top of my list if we ever have another boy.

sarahdoodle Says:

August 17th, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Aack! I agree with this post, but please, please, please, Lucy and Molly, never get more popular!! They’re two of my favorites! Cecilia is too, as a matter of fact, and I’m hoping they all stay on the down-low.

Erinm Says:

August 18th, 2013 at 4:28 am

Lucy is Number 23 in Australia as of 2013. I know several people with daughters called Lucy (at least 3 or 4) so it’s on the rise. Names also differ regionally here so it’s probably number one in my neighbourhood!
Max is number 18. Seems too much like a puppy name but it’s ok.
Owen surprisingly only at number 70- such a nice name
Evan and Felix arent even in the top 100. Don’t like Felix but like Evan. Though it sounds too similar to my name (Erin)
Luke is number 40. Lucas however is number 7!
Molly is 56. I don’t see this ever moving much further up or down.
Jane and Anne seem dated and clunky and I don’t want them to come back (no offence)
Cecelia is nice enough but I don’t see it moving up unless a celebrity name-wave occurs.
The Australian top 100 list is so different to US in some ways and similar in others!

Could Anne Be A Name To Watch? | Upswing Baby Names Says:

January 4th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

[…] amazing about Anne is that it feels like a former top 10 name but it never made the top 10. Most likely this is due to the combined popularity of the two common spellings: Anne and […]

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