The 50-Year Rule: 1962 names revisited
Conventional wisdom holds that baby names tend to follow the Hundred-Year-Rule, cycling back after a century has passed. But with everything speeding up exponentially in modern life, and with the great interest in all things mid-century, we’re thinking maybe we should change that to the Fifty-Year-Rule.
Which prompts us to a close look at the Top 1000 names of 1962.
At first glance, the Top 10 are not very inspiring—mostly classics for boys: Michael, David, John, James, Robert, Mark, William, Richard, Thomas, and Jeffrey, and for girls names very much of the period: Lisa, Mary, Susan, Karen, Linda, Patricia, Donna, Cynthia, Deborah, and Sandra.
But digging deeper into the data, we find an interesting mix of revival possibilities—all of them missing from today’s Top 1000, and most of them gone for decades. Towards the lower end we find vestiges of a still earlier time—names like Percy and Virgil, Myrtle and Minerva— as well as nickname names that have been lost to time, some ethnic choices no longer prominent here, plus more archetypal midcentury names which might possibly be ready to return.
VANISHED VINTAGE NAMES
Agnes * (already celeb-sanctioned)
MORE MIDCENTURY-ISH–AND MISCELLANEOUS
A TOUCH EXOTIC
*Used by at least one celeb
So which of these do you think could come back—at least into the Top 1000? Any of them already on your list?
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on August 27th, 2012 at 11:36 pm
I’m quite concerned about Della climbing the popularity charts… short with the “a” ending, and the similarity in sound to “Ella” making it usable but different. I like the name very much, but I have 5ish years until we’ll start trying, and by then I know it will have caught on!
Rowena I’m toying with using as a future middle name for a girl- it was my great grandmothers middle name.
on August 27th, 2012 at 11:42 pm
I absolutely love the name Portia. The only reason I would never use it as a name for my future daughter is because it’s my name… ^_^
My grandma named me after the Shakespeare character in the Merchant of Venice. She didn’t like the way the t made the shhh sound so she put and sh there… so it spelled Porshia. ^_^
I also enjoy the names Dolly and Dottie as well.
on August 27th, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Zelda I adore.
Celestine – Gorgeous.
Dinah – A Biblical favourite of mine.
Viola I love, along with the even more unfashionable Iola. Flora, Minerva,& Rowena I would all consider using. I find Winifred winsome (lol) but I would probably rather find another source for Winnie as a NN.
Boys side, I like Hal but prefer Hale, if it’s not short for Henry. I like Edmund, Virgil, and Ulysses though I don’t know that I’d be brave enough for any. Virgil is the name of a favourite superhero of mine, I admit nerdily, and I like Lemuel but prefer the equally unfashionable Kemuel.
I like a number of the Penny/Kitty/Roxie girls names, but I would want a full name that cuts down to one of those.
on August 28th, 2012 at 12:09 am
I love Minerva, but this really horrid lady ruined the name for me.
A lot of these are the names I tend to favor — I’ll probably end up using one, or some!
on August 28th, 2012 at 12:38 am
I like a lot of these names, and especially the nickname names for the girls. They are so cute!
on August 28th, 2012 at 1:40 am
Can we PLEASE go back to the days when you could name your child Portia without people thinking you named your child after a car?
On another note, I love Agnes, Lucinda, Augustine, CLYDE, Hiram, Leander, and Rosalind.
on August 28th, 2012 at 2:03 am
Benedict is in my top three boys names right now! I also really like Robin, Terrance, Clyde, Clarice, Jill, and Minerva.
on August 28th, 2012 at 3:39 am
Georgina, Pauline, Maxine, Rosalind and Roxanne are all names I really love, though I prefer the less buttoned-up Georgia to Georgina (but using Georgina would honor my grandpa George and my grandma Regina all in one shot).
Maxine is a name I hope my future husband likes because I’ve loved it for years (andyearsandyears)!
The boys names don’t really do anything for me but I do like Roscoe, Booker and Parrish.
on August 28th, 2012 at 5:40 am
I second leonielee’s comment! I almost named my daughter Portia (as in, getting prepped for c-section), until the nurse asked me if I had a name picked out. After I responded, she sad “oh, my daughter is named Mercedes!” ^_^ And, at that moment, I realized that 99% of the population would assume that I named her after a car. And thus Bianca Felicity made her debut instead. I still have moments where I wish that I would have used the name Portia. Oh, how I love it so! And now I’m remarried and my last name starts with a P, so it would sound horrible. 🙁
on August 28th, 2012 at 6:52 am
Booker makes me think of George Clooneys Character from Roseanne! Homer is great but everyone would think he was named for a simpsons character.
I can see Barney and Neil getting a revival thanks to Neil Patrick Harris (his Character on How I met your mother is named Barney)
on August 28th, 2012 at 7:35 am
I don’t think Linda is useable even though it is the name of a wonderful friend of mine (born in 1968!). However, I think using Rosalind is a great way to honor her and I hope I get a chance to someday. 🙂
on August 28th, 2012 at 7:39 am
I see so many family names!
I have a grandmother whose nn was Della and she had a brother named Benedicte!
on August 28th, 2012 at 7:42 am
I love all of these and think they should make a come back of some kind. * means it’s a favorite:
Etta — I love this for a nickname
Merlin — I think this would be a cool mn
on August 28th, 2012 at 7:48 am
I went to high school or met people since graduating named these names (all relatively close to my age):
Muriel — she was 15 when I graduated
Myrtle — same as above
Anita — was 26
Beverly — 30’s
Rita — 23
Rochelle — 8 yr old in my group
Ulysses — met a college
Leif — He’s 17 now I think
on August 28th, 2012 at 7:59 am
Love Etta, Flora, Helene & Rosalind
on August 28th, 2012 at 9:12 am
My dad (Mark) and uncle (Jeffrey) are both in the top 10, both born in the 60’s. I don’t know if I see them coming back just yet. We may be naming our baby Edmond if it’s a boy, after my grandfather born in the late 30’s. I hope it doesn’t become too popular, everyone seems to love it so far.
on August 28th, 2012 at 9:16 am
Edmond is quite atrocious imo. I do love Leif!
on August 28th, 2012 at 9:56 am
I lovelovelove mid-century names. Bonnie, my fave pick for a girl, was at its peak in the 1940s, and I think I could happily name a dozen children off the Top 100 list of 1950.
The trends of the day really appeal to me, with so many shorter, sharper, unfussy names, strong sounds, lots of consonant endings, and plenty of Ds, Ss, THs, and Ns. I think they’re both pretty and strong, and they’d be so unexpectedly cute on a kid today. Some of my favorites are Susan & Suzanne, Sylvia, Marjorie, Kathleen, Judith, Cynthia, Christine, Dorothy, Yvette, Ellen, Lois, Phyllis, Mark, Kenneth, Gregory, Douglas, Lawrence, Alan, Philip, Clifford, Neil, and Howard.
on August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
If I am ever brave enough, I would happily use Agnes, Celestine, Dorothea, Eugenia, Georgina, Ida, Myrtle or Viola for a girl.
From the boy list I’d only use Augustine, Benedict or Clement.
Of the other names, I would consider these:
Helene (my mom is called Helen)
I wouldn’t use nickname names though.
on August 28th, 2012 at 5:32 pm
Please don’t tell me that Americans pronounce Portia und Porsche the same way. O_o
on August 28th, 2012 at 8:07 pm
Augustine FN MN
MORE MIDCENTURY-ISH–AND MISCELLANEOUS
Avis – BOY
Parrish – girl
A TOUCH EXOTIC
on August 28th, 2012 at 8:15 pm
I love a lot of these (although, admittedly, they’re primarily the vintage revivals). My favorites:
Nellie (as a nickname for Helena)
Agnes (I’ve been warming up to this)
Jed almost made it…
on August 28th, 2012 at 9:00 pm
I LOVE Portia (and the character) and Rosalind (though I haven’t read the play it’s from); they’re two of my favourite names! I’m also totally in love with Eugenia, Georgina, Ulysses, and Federico. They’re not all to my taste, but some great names here.
@jennai- I’m Canadian and we don’t pronounce Portia and Porsche the same way, thank goodness! Portia is “por-shah” while Porsche is technically “pohr-shuh” (or something like that, not sure how to spell it phonetically) but many people pronounce it “porsh”. Quite similar, but distinct enough one shouldn’t be confused.
on August 28th, 2012 at 9:56 pm
I know a baby Clyde and a baby Clifford!
on August 29th, 2012 at 4:22 pm
From the list I love:
Cornelia, Dinah, Flora, Geneva, Georgina, Portia, Carolina, Dolly, Kitty, Frankie, Mamie
Wallace, Leif, Chuck, Mack, Fred/Freddie, Tim
I feel like there are more reuseable/recylable girl names than the boys. Why is that?
It seems like the boys name pool dwindles more and more. Not only do they get out dated more, it seems, but the also get taken by the girls. I didn’t realise how many out date boys names there are until reading this post. I mean, I can’t imagine names like Kermit, Jarvis or Floyd ever getting popular again.
on August 29th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
@bonfireazalea: Thank you for clearing that up.
To me those are two completely different words in spelling and in pronunciation. “Portsia” and “Porsche (with that schwa sound at the end)”.
on August 29th, 2012 at 9:22 pm
I love this list!
I know (Australian) babies with the names
Chester is my absolute favourite boys name but rhymes with our surname. Morris is #2 but DH doesn’t like it. Penny has also been vetoed.
Other names I’d use from this list are: Etta, Clement, Dottie, Frankie
on September 27th, 2012 at 10:35 pm
Two of my faves are Clarice (love it sooo much!) and Minerva nn Min. However my husband is not crazy about my love of vintage (he clearly doesn’t know the first thing about “beautifully cool”… 🙂 I may never use them for children, but they will be forever etched in my heart
on October 20th, 2012 at 6:46 am
Love Jarvis – we think it might be THE name for our third baby boy.
on March 18th, 2013 at 4:03 pm
Has anyone else noticed that JK Rowling seems to have used these lists to name most of the people in the Harry potter books ha ha
on March 18th, 2013 at 5:15 pm
But of course!
on May 23rd, 2014 at 3:50 pm
Jarvis, Minerva, and Celestine are great, but my absolute favorite is Lucinda. It sounds light and fiery (I’d even be tempted to spell it Lucinder to accentuate that) and it has plenty of spunky nn options: Lindy, Luca, Cinder, Indie etc etc. Perfect!
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