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

August 15, 2013 upswingbabynames

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:

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

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.

About the author


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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