by Linda Rosenkrantz
Since the days of George Washington, American parents have used their babies’ names to honor present and past presidents. Think George Washington Carver, probably the most famous example. The surnames of revered leaders such as Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt have been used in an aspirational way to pay tribute to those political heroes.
These days, presidential surnames are as popular as ever, but—with certain exceptions—they don’t usually relate back to the presidential source. How many parents who name their kids Tyler or Taylor, for example, are thinking of 10th Prez John Tyler or the 12th, Zachary Taylor? Perhaps the office itself isn’t as venerated as it once was.
So let’s take a look at the ranking of past Presidents’ names, in order of their current popularity. With a number of them, a pop culture link might be more of a connection, as indicated in parens.
Has been in the Top 20 since 2013, was always in the Top 1000.
CARTER 24 (Gossip Girl character)
Now at its highest point ever
Peaked in the 1990s, when it was in the Top 10 for 6 years
Has been at its top rank ever for the past two years
Peaked in 1997
A gallant classic now on the rise again; a Top 20 name in the early 20th century
Way more popular now than ever, and rising fast
Became a Top 100 name for the first time in 2013. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard pulled a gender switch when they named their daughter Lincoln Bell in 2013, and a number of other parents have followed suit.
NIXON 482 (popularity of letter X)
Nixon entered the popularity list for the first time in 2011
Taylor entered the boys’ list in 2000, has been on a downward path ever since.
PIERCE 522 (‘Community’ character)
Has been on the list more or less consistently since 1900
A consistent mid-list name
On and off the list since 1900
Has definitely gone to the girls
MADISON 17 (the movie ‘Splash)
Jumped onto the list in 1985 and had a spectacular rise, in the Top 10 from 1997 to 2014, several times in the 2nd and 3rd spot, given to as many as 21,000+ girls in a single year.
KENNEDY 58 (Camelot mystique)
In the Top 100 for girls since 2011
Entered the girls’ Top 100 in 2012, the Regan spelling also on the girl list
TAYLOR 112 (Swift)
Taylor hit a high of #10 in 2000, when it was given to over 15,000 girls
McKINLEY 437 (popular ley ending for girls)
One of the popular Mc names since 2006; not used for boys since 1966
Entered the girls’ list in 2013
Peaked in 1910 at #225–could it return as a place name, with cool nickname Cleve?
Peaked when Truman took office in 194 at #249, was still in use until a few years ago
Unlike Jackson, only reached the Top 500 in the early years of the last century
Peaked pre-presidency, in 1981, at #124, fell off the list in 2014