Category: 20th century baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The mid-20th century in America was a great time for D-named boys. As exemplified by Mad Men’s Don Draper, there were about forty D-names in the top half of the 1950 boys’ list—including not just Donald but Don, Donn, Donnie and Donny; Darrell, Darrel, Darryl and Daryl; Duane and Dwayne; and Dennis, Denis and Denny, to name just a few.
So it follows that there are lots of the above who are now members of the granddad generation, whose descendants, not too keen on a baby Dwight or Delbert, in search of some updated honor names. To help, we first offer a few specific, directly related suggestions, followed by some more all-purpose D boy names.
By Arika Okrent
Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon. Thanks to Arika for permission to reprint this article from The Week.
Like a lot of people, I was entranced recently by this animated map of the most popular baby names for girls by state over the past 52 years. It shows how the country shifted from Mary to Lisa before giving over completely to Jennifer, after which the Jessica/Ashley and Emily/Emma battles eventually resolved into the current dominance of Sophia. The map was created by Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin using baby name data from the Social Security Administration. The SSA website gives the top 1,000 boy and girl names (as reported on social security card applications) for each year from 1880 onward.
There’s a theory that baby names come back in style about every 80-100 years. Names that come back in style after 80-100 years are often called vintage or revival names.
Based on that theory, baby names from the 1930s (about 80 years from time of writing) should be the next wave of vintage revival names, poised to appear on monogrammed nursery accessories within the next 10-30 years.
But here’s the thing: the biggest revival names aren’t usually the mega-hit top 10 names from 80-100 years ago. The biggest revival names are usually the names that were moderately popular the first time around.
A perfect example of the 80-100 year rule is 2012’s top girl name, Sophia. Sophia had been somewhat popular over a century ago and then gradually declined, only to turn around in the 1990s when it rapidly climbed the Social Security list. However, Sophia is a lot more popular now than it was during its first peak back in 1882 at #116.
Based on that knowledge I set out to find names from the 1930s that weren’t always super common top 10 names, but rather names that peaked during that time and seem to represent the style of the decade.
VINTAGE NAMES: What era are you?
Unless you’re a baby namer focused on finding a newly created or cutting-edge name, chances are you’ve considered using one from the past. But which part of the past? An ancient name or one from earlier in the 20th century?
So, the question of the week is: Which of these, if any, are you partiularly attracted to?
- Ancient names like Atticus?
- Medieval names like Isolde?
- Puritan like Prudence?
- Frilly Victorian valentines?
- 1880s-90s names like Minnie or Oscar?
- 1900s-10s choices like Ruby or Raymond?
- 1920s-40s like Betty or Billy?
- 1950s-60s such as Kimberly or Kevin?
- 1970s -80s like Amy, Ashley or Amanda?
Needless to say, many if not most names move across time and are rarely connected to only one decade or even era–future berries just might think of Atticus as a 2010s name.