What Are the Trendiest Popular Names of All Time?

A biotechnologist named David Taylor has come up with a new way to study trendy, popular names. Instead of looking at currently “hot” names from TV shows and movies, he used a chemistry algorithm called “chromatography” to analyze Social Security Administration data from inception to date for the purpose of finding the trendiest popular names of all time.

The names he found had made the biggest up and down moves are likely to surprise you. Perhaps you’re thinking of newly popular names like Khaleesi (“Game of Thrones”) or Arya (“Hunger Games”). Nope, Taylor was looking for “the trendiest popular baby names of all time”—which refers to all the Social Security popularity data in more than a century–since 1900. So, here are the top four names he came up with:

The Trendiest Popular Names for Boys:
Jason (extremely popular in the 70s)
Mark (extremely popular in the 50s and 60s)

The Trendiest Popular Names for Girls:
Linda (extremely popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s
Shirley (extremely popular in the 30s)

So if your name is Mark, or Linda you’re probably a grandpa or grandma. If your name is Shirley, you’re a great grandma or you’re under a gravestone. If your name is Jason, you’re just over or under the BIG 40.

What’s worthwhile about Taylor’s chromatography approach to popularity is that he focuses our attention on HUGE up and down trends, which makes the kind of trends most pundits write about pale in comparison. It’s worthwhile clicking on the link to read the vocative article, so you can see the magnitude of the trends (as demonstrated by Taylor’s charts.) They remind me of stocks that triple, quadruple or quintuple in a bull market, but if you don’t get out in time, you lose it all.

Knowing that names like Jaden (a combination of Jason and Hayden) and Nevea (heaven spelled backwards) are baby-naming fads should warn you that when the uptrend is over, the downtrend might look like Taylor’s charts for Jason and Shirley (both of which were extremely popular for only a single decade).

 

 

 

 

Pamela Redmond Satran’s Latest Thoughts About Names That Do and Don’t Age Well

After taking a brief vacation from blogging, imagine my delight at receiving an invitation from Google Alert to read an article by Pamela Redmond Satran about names that don’t age well–and how to avoid that problem.

Satran starts by pointing out that names popular enough to show up on top-ten (boys’ or girls’) lists are likely to give your age away. I listed some girls’ and boys’ names with one or two decades of popularity. I made separate lists of names that had much longer periods of popularity—from 30 to to 59, 69, 89 or more than years of popularity. For example, Mary has 69 years on top-ten popularity lists on the girls’ side and boys’ names with 89 or more years of popularity on the boys’ side include Robert, John James and William. (Of those boys’ names, only William has been listed among the ten most popular names from 1900 through 2014.)

Girls’ Names with One or Two Decades of Popularity

2000 to 2014: Isabella, Sophia, Madison
1990 to 2009: Samantha
1980 to 1999: Jessica, Amanda, Sarah
1970 to 1989: Jennifer, Stephanie, Melissa, Nicole, Heather
1960 to 1979: Michelle, Lisa
1950 to 1969: Susan
1940 to 1958: Linda
1930 to 1939: Shirley
1920 to 1939: Betty
1920 to 1929: Doris

Girls’ Names with Three or More Decades of Popularity

1980 to 2014: Emily
1980 to 2009: Elizabeth and Ashley
1900 to 1939: Dorothy
1900 to 1969: Mary

Boys’ Names with One or Two Decades of Popularity

1990 to 2014: Jacob
1990 to 1999: Tyler and Nicholas
1990 to 2009: Andrew
1960 to 1969: Jeffrey
1950 to 1969: Mark

Boys’ Names with Three or More Decades of Popularity

1980 to 2014: Daniel
1970 to 2009: Christopher, Matthew
1950 to 2014: Michael
1940 to 1989: David
1930 to 1969: Richard
1900 to 1969: Thomas
1900 to 1959: Charles
1900 to 1989: Robert, John, James
1900 to 2014: William

I agree with Satran that when names which have been popular for a decade or two (or more) drop off the top–ten list they start showing their age and the age of anyone who acquires that name while it was still highly popular. But keep in mind that the title of Satran’s article is “Names That Age Well.”

Girls names like Mary, Dorothy, Doris, Betty and Shirley sound like great-grandmother names. Boomer names like Linda and Susan are now grandma names. On the boys’ side, Boomer names like Mark and Jeffrey are now grandpa names. But names like Charles, Thomas and Richard, though associated with great grandfathers, still tend to maintain a level of acceptability as what Satran calls “classic” (and I call “traditional”) names that “old-fashioned” girls’ names like Betty Doris and Shirley don’t retain.

In her article, Satran makes a case for using names that have “deep meaning,” by which she means

“the name of someone you loved and admired, the name of your favorite fictional character, the name of the lake where you spent every childhood summer. That deep meaning will resonate far more for you and your child than any swings of fashion.”

And I think she means that if you love your great grandmother Betty or Doris or Dorothy, that “deep meaning” trumps how old and arthritic or dead and buried those names now sound.

But parents who are picking names for their child rarely only consider one name. And when making the final selection, it would be folly to pick a name that has been passed down from generation to generation and has always been a source of embarrassment or teasing. Hand-me-down family names like Pierpont or Francis or Carroll or great-grandmother names like Doris or Mildred or Shirley are just as likely to frustrate your child as they bothered other relatives who got stuck with them (except perhaps the original Betty who was given the name when movie star Betty Davis was still popular). You don’t want your child to complain about his or her name to friends who share the sentiment: “What were they thinking (or drinking or smoking) when your parents made that inconsiderate choice?”

But what interests me most about Satran’s article is her queer notion that picking highly unusual names will help parents “sidestep” the problem of sticking their child with a name that won’t age well.

“Unusual names, which we might define (at least for American parents) as those that lie outside the Top 1000, can transcend time, especially if they’re not among those unusual names that seem poised to zoom up the popularity charts…The trick is to pick an unusual name that’s appealing yet sidesteps stylishness. Augusta and Delphine might qualify for girls, while Noble or Leopold might work for boys.”

I can’t understand how she or anyone can maintain that archaic names found in the “recycle bin” whose popularity is below 1,000–like Augusta and Delphine, Noble or Leopold–would be more appealing, attractive, comfortable to live with and age better than almost any other name you could pick out of a hat, blindfolded. In fact that’s just what Augusta and Noble sound like: names picked out of a hat on an unlucky day. To be more specific, why is Delphine more likely to “age well” than Delia, Delilah , Dulce or Diana? Why is Leopold a better choice to stave off aging than Leonardo, Leonard, Levi or Lorenzo? I don’t know and I don’t think Satran does either.

Here’s a thought to keep in mind when someone suggests a name that has a low (sub-1,000) popularity rank: If it’s a relatively recent name like Apple, Blue Ivy or North, the name could have a low popularity rank for two reasons: 1) Not many people have heard of the name. 2) People have heard of the name, but don’t like it. But if the name under discussion is one or more centuries old, like Delphine, Augusta and Leopold, the main reason for it’s low popularity is that people don’t like the name.

There’s nothing wrong with calling attention to out-of-favor old names to bring in the hope that people who hadn’t heard of them might like them. But Satran’s recommended names are very old, so it doesn’t make sense to say they will “age well.” They will always sound like very old names.

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn’s Rise Brings Popularity as a Baby Name, But Locals Say Fuhgeddaboutit.

A highly readable article by Michael R. Sisak of Associated Press about Brooklyn (whose rise in appeal as a popular borough of New York seems to have produced an extraordinary rise in interest in Brooklyn as a place name for girls) provides an interesting new perspective on place names.

It turns out that Brooklyn has moved up in the popularity rankings from #912 in 1990 to the top 30—where it seems to have leveled off over the past three years. The strange thing is, according to Sisak:

“Of the 41 states where Brooklyn is now the most popular girl’s name beginning with B, New York is not among them. Real Brooklynites say naming your child Brooklyn is strictly for out-of towners.”

 Sisak tells the story of a girl named Brooklyn Presta who was born in Kansas and now lives in Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn Presta says her parents in Kansas were thinking unique, not New York, when they named her. Now 26 and living in Brooklyn, Presta says she often gets questions about whether she changed her name to fit her chosen borough. ‘It’s kind of crazy to be Brooklyn in Brooklyn, Presta says.’”

Apparently, Brooklyn is an appealing name for girls—as long as you don’t live there. If you live in Brooklyn, fuhgeddaboutit. I wonder if that’s the case for girls named Madison who live in Madison, Wisconsin (or work on Madison Avenue) or girls named Charlotte who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

FYI, Madison is currently the most popular place name for girls. It rose from #627 in 1985 to #2 in 2001–a rise fueled by interest in the mermaid character played by Darryl Hannah in “Splash.” Twelve years later, the name is still among the top ten girls’ names, but it’s now #9.

Charlotte was ranked at #306 in 1984, the year “Splash” was released. And it was ranked #307 fifteen years later in 1999. That must have been when the “place-name” trend (popularized by Madison) caused parents to realize that Charlotte was a place name in addition to being a literary name (made famous by Charlotte Bronte, whose popular romance novel, Jane Eyre, was published in 1847). Since 1999, Charlotte has ridden the “place-name” trend all the way up to #11–and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charlotte hop into the 1014 girls’ top-ten list when it is published by SSA next May.

Speaking of the SSA popularity statistics, my recent article about the most rapidly rising girls’ names in 2013 mentioned fifteen girls’ names that were streaking up the list. (And because both Brooklyn and Madison both seem to have peaked, the place-name baton seems to have been passed on to names like Ireland, Milan, Phoenix, Asia, Dakota and Londyn, and others.)

P.S. I’d love to hear from you if you have a place name and you live or work in that place. Is your experience like Brooklyn Presta’s? Or is it different? In my most popular article about place names, I discuss places that sound like they would be appropriate as names for people and places that might not work well for people. But I didn’t discuss what it’s like to live in a place you’re named after. If that describes you, please write a comment.

 

 

 

Where Do the Fastest-Rising Boys’ and Girls’ Names Come From: 10 Celebrity and Media Backstories

 

I can’t think of a sillier way to name babies than selecting names associated with popular movies, TV shows and celebrities. Just think of the ridiculous names foisted on their children (and their fans) by these sources in the past. I’m referring to outrageous celebrity baby names like North West and Blue Ivy, movie & TV show characters’ names like Katniss (“Hunger Games”) and Daenerys (“Game of Thrones”), and reality TV show names like Khloé (“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”).

And yet every year the fastest-rising names reported by the Social Security Administration, on or around Mothers’ Day, are usually derived from just these sources. In fact, Laura Wattenberg has written: “Reality TV stars are the biggest source of new names today.” Let’s take a look at some of the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names to see precisely what inspired large numbers of parents to pick them in 2013:

Fast-Rising Boys’ Names

-Jayceon (2013: #206; 2012: #1,017)
Backstory: Jayceon is the given name of popular west-coast rapper, Jayceon Terrell Taylor. Taylor’s stage name is “The Game” or “Game.”

-Jase (2013: #89; 2012: #270)
Source: Jase is a fictional characters on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular reality TV show. In the show, Jase is Phil and Kay Robertson’s son. In the show, he’s the COO of Duck Commander, the family business–although Jase would rather hunt and fish than go to work. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Milan (2013: #484; 2012: #1,159)
Backstory: Milan is the name of Shakira’s baby boy. Shakira is a popular Columbian recording artist who is a singing coach on “The Voice,” a popular reality TV show.

-Castiel (2003: #956; 2002: #1374)
Backstory: Castiel is a fictional character portrayed by Misha Collins on “Supernatural,” a series presented by the CW TV Network. In the show, Castiel is an angel who introduces the theme of Christian theology.

-Kyrie (2003: 590; 2002: 868)
Backstory: Kyrie Irving briefly played college hoops at Duke and was the #1 draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He was named an all-star in 2013 and 2014–his first two seasons in the NBA.

Fast-Rising Girls’ Names:

-Daleyza (2013: #585; 2012: #3,769)
Backstory: Daleyza is one of singer Larry Hernandez’s daughters on “Larrymania,” a popular Spanish-language reality TV show.

-Everly (2013: #383; 2012: #907)
Backstory: Everly is movie star Channing (“21 Jump Street”) Tatum’s baby daughter. He also made a movie in 2012 called “Magic Mike,” that documented his 8-month “career” as a male stripper. (I suppose that would make Channing Tatum an “inspiring figure” to some people.)

-Sadie (2013: #50; 2012: #120).
Backstory: Sadie is a fictional character on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular realty TV show. In the show, she is Willie and Corrie Robertson’s daughter. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Kendra (2013: #187; 2012: #387)
Backstory: Kendra Wilkinson is the star of the eponymous reality TV show “Kendra.” She is also one of the stars of a reality TV show called “The Girls Next Door.” which documents her life in the Playboy mansion where she is one of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends. (I suppose that would make her an “inspiring namesake” to some people.)

-Jurnee (2013: #896; 2012: #1467)
Backstory: Jurnee Smollett is an actress who played the role of Eve in the movie “Eve’s Bayou” and the role of Jess in the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” In  2013, she was seen on TV in these roles: Heather Hall on “Parenthood,” Nicole Wright on “True Blood,” and Ms. Young’s daughter on “Do No Harm.”

If you read my post about the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names, I focus on the “themes” or “clusters” that are rising together (rather than individual names that rely on a particular celebrity or TV show which is likely to disappear when the show tanks or the celebrity steps in doggy-doo, as Phil Robertson and Paula Deen did, quite recently. It’s no fun to be named after a TV show that was cancelled for good reason or a celebrity who developed an awful reputation after his or her name was written on your birth certificate.

 

 

 

2 Hot Naming Trends That Have Cooled Off: Aiden Sound-Alikes & Nevaeh

I frequently warn readers not to give their children red-hot fad names–because  what gets hot eventually cools off. People who give their children hot names usually do it for silly reasons:

-It’s the name of a currently “hot” celebrity who is boyishly or girlishly cute like Justin Bieber is now or like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears used to be.

-It’s the name of a character with a hard-to-spell and hard-to-pronounce name like Daenarys and Khaleesi from a “hot” TV show like”Game of Thrones.”
-You scream louder than your daughter every time you see (name of the latest teen singing sensation goes here).

A lot of good these warnings do. I don’t think I have the kind of readers who would out-scream their teen age daughters at a Justin Bieber concert. But I’m writing this post to let you know that several popular naming fads are in the process of cooling off. There’s nothing “cool” about being the last kid on your block sporting the previous year’s “hot” fashion and the previous decade’s hot name.

Names to Avoid Now that The Fad Has Cooled Off:

-Aiden Sound-Alike Names Trends:

             Aiden: 12 (2008) 9 (2010 & 2011) 12 in 2013

             Jaden: 154 (2000) 74 (2007) 141 (2013)

             Braden: 204 (2000 ) 146 (2006) 336 (2013)

             Hayden: 129 (2000)  71 (2007)  129 (2013)

             Caden: 195 (2001) 91 (2006) 182 (2013)

Exceptions:

             Zayden: 881 (2000) 192 (2013 (a continuous 13-year downtrend)

             Kayden: 782 (2000) 93 (2013) (a continuous 13-year downtrend)

Question: Is it safe to keep using Zayden and Kaden despite the fact that most other Aiden sound-alike names have peaked and popularity is now trending down

My recommendation: Why risk it on a fad name when there are so many other cool Z-names and K-names to use? (And keep in mind that there’s nothing original about a Jaden/Aiden sound-alike names. People liked the sound of Aiden and decided to try different consonants in front of Aiden to give their child an “uncommon,” “creative” name.

-Neveah (Heaven spelled backwards)

  Trend: 69 (2005) 25 (2010) 47 (2013)

 

 

Lil’ Kim Gives Her Brand New Lil’ Girl a Grandiose Name That Comes wth It’s Own Baby-Shower Theme: Royal Reign

Picking up on the royal theme that has produced grandiose celebrity baby names like Jermajesty (Jermaine Jackson’s son) and Prince Michael (Michael Jackson’s son), Grammy winning rapper, Lil’ Kim, has given her Lil’ baby girl an alliterative name with a built-in royal baby-shower theme and a good chance to compete for win, place or show in the 2014 Worst Celebrity Baby Name competition. People disclosed that the father is “reportedly” a rapper named Mr. Papers.

 

The Latest Trends: Why The Popularity of 76 Girls’ and Boys’ Names Dropped in 2013

When parents search for baby names, they often consider several names with the same theme, such as ethnic names, religious names–or names that sound alike or have different spellings. Here are some themes and choice clusters  that explain the rapid decline in popularity of 76 girls’ and boys’ names in 2013, as reflected in the official Social Security popularity data.

 

Girls’ Names That Declined in Popularity

 

Religious & Faith-Based Names: Names that reflect religious or faith-based themes are on the decline for girls. The most common examples of this trend are the declining popularity for Faith, Trinity and Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backwards).

 

Spanish Names: Perla is the 13th fastest-falling girls’ name. Others include: Mercedes, Fernanda, Paola, Estrella, Marisol, Raquel, Carmen, and Esmerelda. (Spanish boy’s names are also in a deep decline, even though the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. is rising.)

 

Jasmine, Variations & Sound-Alikes: Jasmine became popular in 1992 when Disney produced the blockbuster movie, “Aladdin.” (If you saw the movie, you’ll recall that Princess Jasmine was Aladdin’s love interest.) Jasmine quickly became the most popular name for both African-American and Hispanic girls. Jasmine has been declining steadily since 2006, Now Jasmine is sliding more rapidly; it has just fallen off the top 100 girls’ list.

 

Kayla/Makayla: Kayla and Makayla tied for the largest decrease in popularity on the top 100 list. Also declining rapidly was Kaylee. (This trend might be connected to the decline in popularity Katherine, the root name for Kay, Kayla and Kaylee.)

 

Boys’ Names that Declined in Popularity

 

Jayden Sound-Alikes: Jaidyn is the 4th fastest declining boys’ name. I counted more than 15 sound-alikes that were declining rapidly, before I stopped counting: Jaeden,,  Aydan, Bradyn, Braeden, Aidyn, Jaydon, Aaden, Braden, Aidan, Kaden, Hayden, Braydon, Brayden, Jaiden, Jaden, Ayden and, most importantly, Jayden (which slipped from t#7 to #9 (a drop of 22%).  (I think this is the beginning of the end for the long list of names that rhyme with Aiden–which is probably why they became popular, in the first place)

 

Spanish Names: Carlos, Jose, Juan and Luis are all top-100 names that have declined at the same time as the Hispanic population of the U.S. is rising. Other Spanish decliners include Pedro, Alejandro, Joaquin, Javier, Angel, Fernando, Jorge, Andres  and more. (This suggests that  Spanish-speaking parents are more interested in assimilating than in celebrating their ethnic identity by giving their boy a Spanish-sounding name.)

 

Giovanni & Variations: Giovanny, Jovani, Giovani and the original Italian root name, Giovanni, are in a state of rapid decline.

 

Brandon & Variations: Brennen is the 7th fastest declining boys’ name followed quickly by Brendon, Brenden, and Brenton. Even sound-almost-alike Landyn is falling.

 

Amare & Sound-Alikes: Damari is the fastest-declining name that sounds like Amare. Others include: Jabari, Kamari, Jamari, Jamarion, Jamar, Amari, and Omari. Even sound-almost-alike Armani is declining.

 

Tristan & Variations: Trystan is the 19th fastest-falling name. Also declining are variations Tristian, Tristen, Triston, and the original (legendary) name, Tristan.