About Wildly Popular Names—Like Jacob

Just read an interesting article by Laura Wattenberg, proving (with the aid of convincing charts) that usage of an extremely popular (#1-rated name like Jacob) peaks when it achieves #1 status and fairly quickly thereafter begins to decline in usage (presumably as people decide against using the #1 name because it is “too popular”). The point she makes is that you shouldn’t give up on using a name you love–because usage will decline—even if the name remains #1 in popularity. And, her conclusion does make sense for people who don’t realize why they are hanging on to the name as though it were the only name in the world good enough for their baby.

Here’s a completely different interpretation of Laura’s charts. Don’t pick a name that has just climbed onto the top-ten list. It is already very popular and might get even more popular. So popular there will be other Jacobs or Masons or Liams or Jaydens in your son’s nursery school, kindergarten class and college class. And don’t forget the reason everyone “loves” these names: they keep seeing the names mentioned in birth announcements, in articles about the most popular names and in kiddie parks where it seems every other mother is calling her baby–and using the name they “love.”

“Hot” names are like “hot” stocks. If your hair stylist (or barber) touts either a “hot stock” or a “hot name” forgetaboutit! If everybody else likes it, you don’t really like it. You just wish you had bought the stock or picked the name about three years ago (for your first child) before it was discovered by almost every mother (and her stylist). By the time a name is on everyone’s lips it’s time to start looking for a name that every other mother in the park is not bragging about.

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