Top Baby Names 2019: The Playground Analysis
What Is The Playground Analysis?
Almost ten years ago now, when the SSA list came out, I felt as though the name at #1 was not truly as popular as the names more frequently heard on the playground. Then it hit me that maybe those kids were named the same name but given different spellings, and therefore were listed as different names on the SSA list. So I started grouping names together based on their sound, and thus the Playground Analysis was born.
This task can be very challenging at times. Not everyone will agree on the pronunciation of a spelling, nor will they agree on whether a spelling belongs to a particular primary name. A common example would be Madelyn versus Madeline. I have heard many people pronounce Madeline like I would pronounce Madelyn, so I tend to group all of these spellings together.
Another challenge is the cultural differences in name pronunciation. The L or double L in Camila/Camilla, for example, could be pronounced with an L sound or a Y sound. If it’s the latter, then alternate spellings like Kamiyah could also be included. However, since I am unsure of the pronunciation, I do not include that spelling with the main group.
I use my best judgment to make the groupings, and that may or may not influence the rankings. But, hopefully, it is done is such a way that we can all enjoy the fun of wondering what is truly the most popular name in the United States.
Without further ado, here are the lists! Names are given in their most popular form, together with their SSA rankings and total combined births, plus all variant spellings given to 50 babies or more.*
Top Girl Names 2019
Sophia remains at the top, just as she was in last year’s Playground Analysis. Taking alternative spellings into account, the difference between Sophia and the SSA #1 Olivia is a little over 1000 births.
For those of us who feel as though the -line names are different from the -lyn names, if the variations of #10 Adeline are separated from the variations of Adalynn, Adalynn moves down to #20, while Adeline is pushed down to #86. Likewise, if the variations of #15 Madelyn are separated from the variations of Madeline, Madelyn moves down to #36, while Madeline is pushed down to #95.
17. Harper (9), 10442 births
29. Luna (16), 7812 births
39. Penelope (22), 6759 births
44. Grace (28), 6089 births
Top Boy Names 2019
Jackson keeps his title for another year with more than 2000 boys given a variation of the name over #2 Liam (which is the SSA #1)! With the Jackson spelling ranked only #17, this seems surprising, but it may not come as a shock considering what you hear on the playground.
7. Oliver (3), 13958 births
9. William (4), 13564 births
10. James (6), 13132 births
11. Benjamin (7), 13015 births
21. Henry (12), 10717 births
22. Daniel (15), 10584 births
23. Logan (16), 10534 births
26. Jack (19), 9393 births
27. Owen (21), 9341 births
28. Samuel (22), 9319 births
34. David (27), 8919 births
35. Wyatt (29), 8801 births
43. Gabriel (37), 7704 births
44. Anthony (38), 7695 births
49. Leo (40), 7486 births
Of course, when looking at all of the possible spelling combinations, it’s no wonder that these names jump around so much! Does this reflect what you are hearing in your kids’ classrooms or on the playground?
*NB: All variant spellings given to more than 5 babies are included in the figures above, but we have only listed those with 50 or more births due to length.
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on September 11th, 2020 at 1:16 pm
Great info! 😊
on September 11th, 2020 at 3:23 pm
I think this gets especially complicated with nicknames. You can think you’re getting a somewhat unusual name because Millie is #239 until you meet Amelia (#7), Mila (#19), Milani (#360), etc. all called Millie or sounding enough like Millie to cause confusion. Even more so with Emmie (#617) & Emmy (#489) and their counterparts Emma (#2), Emily (#12), Emilia (#42), Emery (#93), Emersyn (#148) & Emerson (#152), Ember (#193), etc., etc.
on September 12th, 2020 at 10:29 am
The little Camila I know pronounces it the traditional Spanish way, Cah-mee-lah, versus wife of prince Charles, Camilla (Cah-mill-uh).
I also know (well, through social media) a baby Camilla who goes by Millie.
on September 12th, 2020 at 3:10 pm
Id be interested in a similar analysis, but looking at the ‘nickname name’ for boys here in the UK – so add together Alfreds + Alfies, Charles + Charlie, Theodore + Theo, Frederick + Freddie etc. – there are SO many. I think Theodore + Theo would possibly come out on top!
Emma Waterhouse Said
on September 12th, 2020 at 3:58 pm
I think you’re right re. Theo! I hear it a lot where I live (still love it though).
I like the idea but it could be tricky to do accurately – I know several Alfreds who go by Freddie, not Alfie, and more Theodores who go by Ted or Teddy than Theo.
My own son has a name that is towards the bottom of the Top 200, but heard more frequently because it’s used as a nickname for another name. Definitely worth thinking about if popularity is important to you!
on September 12th, 2020 at 8:08 pm
I look forward to this post every year. I do think it’s a bit of a stretch to count Ayla and Isla as the same name though.
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