It’s easy to confuse popularity with stylishness. Many baby names feel “popular” when they’re merely stylish: We’re hearing them a lot, they’re in step with the baby name fashions, and we worry that if we choose them, our little Matilda is going to be one of many.
And perhaps if you live in some edgy, baby-centric enclave – Park Slope, Brooklyn, say, or Bernal Heights in San Francisco – that will be true. But for the most part, the numbers tell a different story, with many of the most stylish names used by very few parents.
One note: Names can be popular and stylish, so many of those in the popular column also qualify as stylish.
Looking just at girls’ names today, here’s a statistics-based reality check on what’s stylish vs. what’s truly popular. (Numbers in parentheses represent how many babies were given that name in the most recent U.S. count.)