Thursday, July 13

I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

The Baby Name Wizard is a fun place to be if you’ve got some time to kill and have a curious mind. Type in any name, and the pink and/or blue graphs will indicate its usage per million babies as well as its overall ranking from the 1880s to the present.

I enjoy analyzing the data. What are the general trends? I’ve noticed that A names are rising in popularity. Names beginning in B remain consistent. C names for boys are on the up while names for girls are moving down. D and F names are on the downward slope. E name for both sexes were huge in the late 19th and early 20th century, and have experienced a spike upward recently. And so on and so forth.

Some names shot to the top from out of nowhere: Jason, Heather, Ethan and Jennifer—if you’re my age you probably had at least two Jennifers in your class. Some quickly fell out of favor: Barbara, Robin and…Kanye. I’m also surprised to see many names I think of only as girl names were used for boys between the 1880s and 1930s—in small numbers, mind you. But whoever heard of a boy named Doris? True to Shel Silverstein’s song, the Baby Name Wizard reports “The name SUE was not in the top 1.000 boys’ names in any decade.” Shirley for boys dropped out of the top 1,000 in the thirty years between 1930 and 1960. Paula and Tuan, I don’t know if you’ll be glad or not to know that John is at it’s lowest point ever at number 18 in 2005.

We might be surprised at some names making a comeback. Believe it or not, Hazel is on the upswing. Sonny has had a rocky history and Westley is very mysterious. Did The Princess Bride bring it out of obscurity in the 1980s? I’m pleased to note that most of my personal favorites—the ones I’m hoping to use someday—are on the low end of the popularity scale. Sure, every kid wants a spellable, pronounceable name, but who wants to be one of three Emilys in her third grade class? Maybe that's a bit reverse snobbish of me.

How does your name place? Were you named as part of a trend, or were your parents rebels?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Geof F. Morris said...

Normal parents don't name their children Geoffrey. Well, normal American parents, anyway.