Clancy and I were talking about baby names the other day. We already have a consensus name if we have a daughter (whenever the time comes, of course). We’re at odds with male names, though. So I was looking up names.
I ran across a couple sites (boys and girls) that had some interesting data on name-frequency rankings. It’s no surprise that you have traditional names that have fallen somewhat into disuse and you have names that came out of virtually nowhere and became prominent. I was curious which names were at the top of each list. So I found a site that has names that keeps track of the most popular names last year, in the last five years, the last twenty-five years, and the last 125 years. The most interesting distinction for me was last 25 vs last 125. I created a spreadsheet and created lists of names that are in the top-100 for the last 125 years and ordered them by what percentage of those occurred in the last 25 years. The list of names will be at the bottom of the post.
I guess it’s no great surprise that female naming is apparently a much more fickle art than male naming. Female names seem much more likely to both suddenly surge and die off. Notably, 13 of the top 100 female names are “dead names”. Only one of male name is dead, and even that name (like one of the 13 female names) may just be on life support because it’s only the last year that it wasn’t used).
The most surprising to me was Jacob, which I don’t associate with being a “trendy name”. I was surprised at the trendiness both ways on Biblical names, which I consider to be more immortal. Part of me would love to dust off some of these unused names. While names like Mildred and Doris seem dated, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the name Beverly and I think Carol is a fabulous name. Interestingly, prior to even seeing this list, the name Walter was mentioned.
Before I get to the names, a little bit on the limitations of the data. First, only names that made the list are counted. That includes names that are in the top-100 in the last 125 years. I’m sure that there are a lot of dead names that were never as big as the ones listed. Similarly, there are obviously names now that did not exist 25 years ago. So it’s a limited sample. And it’s a bit outdated. By “last year”, I mean 2004. The last five years encompasses 1999-2005. And so on. Lastly, these names are spelling-specific. So a name like Theresa takes a hit because it competes with Teresa. Catherine has three spellings, which dilutes its significance. The dead names are names that have not been used in the last five years. Names that have not been used in the last year are also listed, but with an asterisk.
The trendy male names: Tyler (96.5%), Zachary (94.3%), Austin (92.5%), Brandon (89.1%), Jacob (87.4%), Kyle (86.41%), Justin (85.4%), Joshua (84.8%), Ryan (80.1%), and Nicholas (78.9%).
The dying male names: Fred (2.38%), Harold (3.03%), Ralph (3.42%), Howard (3.59%), Harry (3.63%), Earl (4.3%), Clarence (4.43%), Eugene (4.98%), Walter (5.53%), and Stanley (5.95%).
The dead male name: Fred*
The trendy female names: Brittany (99%), Ashley (96.9%), Samantha (91.3%), Lauren (88.9%), Megan (88.9%), Amber (84.3%), Jessica (83.5%), Amanda (77.9%), Danielle (77.6%), and Emily (76.9%)
The dying female names: Florence (.09%), Mildred (.14%), Lois (.2%), Doris (.68%), Betty (.72%), Joan (.9%), Dorothy (1.16%), Jean (1.31%), Shirley (1.48%), Carol (1.86%)
The dead female names: Florence, Mildred, Lois, Doris, Betty, Joan, Jean, Judy, Debra, Beverly, Cheryl, Tammy, Lori*
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