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Name Distributions in the Social Security Area
November 30, 2001 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Name Distributions in the Social Security Area doesn't sound like hours of fun, but it's wasted a lot of my time today. After visiting a list of the top 100 names for births in 2001 you can check out similar lists going back to 1880.
posted by fnirt (46 comments total)

 
Excellent link, fnirt. Who knew my name was 405th-most-popular for boys in 1999? (Take that, Melvin!)
posted by gleuschk at 11:14 AM on November 30, 2001


The name "Milo" (for a boy) peaked in popularity in the 1910's as the 411th most popular name in that decade. It doesn't appear in the top 1000 for any year since the 50's.

Information like that is going to get me a better job, I'm sure of it!
posted by fnirt at 11:15 AM on November 30, 2001


I can't believe the stuff they waste my money on.
posted by thirteen at 11:18 AM on November 30, 2001


Excellent Friday link.
posted by coelecanth at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2001


Here's a weird thing. Jacob and Michael have been wrestling for dominance of the male list; not unlike their Biblical counterparts.

(OK, the identification of Jacob's wrestling partner as the Archangel Michael is rabbinic conjecture but still...)

Nifty link, fnirt!
posted by BT at 11:23 AM on November 30, 2001


I can't believe the stuff they waste my money on.

I don't think this is wasting money, by accuratly recording our history we can learn. It's interesting looking back to the 1900 and the names there, to say the 70's and then the 80's. It explains a lot and does offer theories on culture and how movements and people have changed it.

Hmm.. Ethel, that's a name I haven't heard in a while.
posted by tiaka at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2001


I am on hold with SS right now, I am going to find out if there is a way to opt out of this system. I had heard there was a form that could get you out if you agreed that you forefit the money you already paid in, and understood that there ws no getting back in later.
posted by thirteen at 11:30 AM on November 30, 2001


Hooray for actuaries!
posted by manero at 11:30 AM on November 30, 2001


Interesting to see the position of Juan, Jesus and Angel and other Hispanic names, and on the 1000-name lists, the Arab/Muslim names.

This data could be presented in so many other ways with so little effort. I'd like to see each name be clickable so it would take me to a graph of the name's rise and fall during the last hundred years. Maybe if I have the time...

Also, I am the only one who finds the spellings of many of these names to be imaginary and laughable? Codie? Jessy? Kalvin? Jonatan? Daron? (Maybe that's pronounced day-rahn, instead of dare-ren).
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2001


Madison, Brianna, Taylor, aiyaiyai. Future soap opera stars, all?
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 11:40 AM on November 30, 2001


Form 4361
posted by thirteen at 12:00 PM on November 30, 2001


That was really interesting. I found that my name (Shawn) did not crack the top 1000 until the 40's, peaked in the 70's and is now on the decline again.

God, I hope when I'm 80 people don't look at me and say "What an old fashion name he has"
posted by smcniven at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2001


I must say that the woman I talked to was a real sweetheart, and I am grateful for her kindly handling of my questions.
posted by thirteen at 12:04 PM on November 30, 2001


What about Jennifer? In 1970, from out of near-obscurity, she knocks Lisa out of the top spot, then holds it for the next thirteen years. Even more amazingly, for most of that time it isn't even close -- she's lapping the field.

Sometime around 2035, a whole generation of Jennifers will begin to retire. Thank goodness Government is prepared.
posted by coelecanth at 12:05 PM on November 30, 2001


Madison, Brianna, Taylor, aiyaiyai. Future soap opera stars, all?

If by "soap opera," you mean "porn movie", then yes.
posted by marknau at 12:08 PM on November 30, 2001


coelecanth, it's true that my generation has three Jennifers for every other female name, it seems.

So what accounted for its sudden emergence? Was there a famous Jennifer? Thinking about this issue, I looked for a spike in Dianas in the 1990s, but in fact Diana is down from the 80's, in which it squeezed into the top 50; it's average through the 90's is 97, barely making the top 100. It went up, oddly, in 2000, to 70 -- and then dropped off the 2001 list altogether. I admit to some surprise.
posted by BT at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2001


My name made it to 108th in the 1900's... went through the floor after that though.
:(
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2001


Power names in vogue, writes Maryln {sic} Schwartz of the Dallas Morning News. Times have changed. Madison and Hunter are the new Susie and Debbie. "No," a friend informed me, "they are not the new Susie and Debbie, Hunter and Madison are the new Hillary and Courtney. And Hillary and Courtney are the new Michelle and Nicole. And Michelle and Nicole are the new Susi and Debbi. Add an 'e' and you've got Susie and Debbie. That is a long, long way back." "Carol Anne" is way, way back!
posted by Carol Anne at 12:27 PM on November 30, 2001


While someone may solve the Jennifer mystery, I think it'd be harder to find out why Linda popped up in the early 40's.
posted by fnirt at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2001


Did anyone notice "Jesus" was 58th for boys' names?
Who names their kid "Jesus?"
posted by starduck at 12:34 PM on November 30, 2001


my name started out at around 200 in the 1900's, and dropped by about 150 places every decade to a low of 905 in the 60's (when I was born). Now it's number 2. I'm the only person of my age with my name I have ever met ;)
posted by hannahkitty at 12:34 PM on November 30, 2001


When my I was born in the 1970s, Courtney was more frequently a boy's name than a girl's name. My parents thought they were bucking the trends. When my brother Morgan was born, however, they were giving him a name still predominantly ascribed to boys. Wacky.

And to think I laughed when my grandparents told me I should be an actuary. Damn.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:36 PM on November 30, 2001


Starduck, lots of Latino boys are named Jesus. Pronounced hey-SOOS. The rise in the ranking may reflect the rise in the Latino population in the U.S.
posted by BT at 12:37 PM on November 30, 2001


hah. my name's not even on the 2001 list.
posted by moz at 12:44 PM on November 30, 2001


No "Neale"s, just "Neil"s. My google ranking is safe...
posted by Neale at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2001


BT: Good question, and inspired idea. I can't think of a famous Jennifer but then I think it would have to be a famous person indeed to actually move a name into the top spot. You could maybe make the case that "Michael" conflates the fame of Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson and, Idunno, Michael Bolton. As for Diana, I'd have to say that by the time Princess Diana was famous, "boutique" names had become a lot more popular. I mean, we went from "Mary" in the 50s to "Ashley" in the 80s.

Another interesting thing: there sure do seem to be a lot of "J" names. No correlation to the number of "j" words in English. I guess all our names come from ancient languages anyway.
posted by coelecanth at 12:46 PM on November 30, 2001


Glad to see Thomas is still up there, at the heels of Noah and Hunter in slot 35.
posted by tomorama at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2001


You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. Or at least I'm not. Brian was the #8 male given name for the 1970's...
posted by phalkin at 12:54 PM on November 30, 2001


I could have told you "Jennifer" was the most popular name the year I was born without looking at this list...

My mother claims she chose that name for me because she didn't know any one with the name. She thought it was unique!
posted by jennyb at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2001


Actually the letter J is pretty new - only fifteenth century according to m-w.com, whereas Q, X and Z are all before the 12th.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 1:00 PM on November 30, 2001


Reflective of coelecanth's observation that we've moved toward "boutique" names, John is down from #1 at the turn of the century to its current slot at #13 for 2001. Fairly consistent slide, accelerating in the last 30 years: by decade 1-1-2-3-3-4-3-6-9-14.
posted by JParker at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2001


That link has "Top 100 Names of 2001" at the top and bottom of the page, yet there are 105 (103 for female) male names in the table. Is this part of the SS surplus?
posted by joaquim at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2001


melissa was in the top ten from 1967 till 1985.

I've known several other melissa's, but not a whole lot. I had a couple classes where there were two of us, but it was never a big deal.

There is actually a site devoted to melissa's on the web: melissa.net. I was contacted by the site owner to add my URLs to the list, which I did. Her categories include:

Famous Melissa
Everyday Melissa
Melissa Etc.

When the melissa virus came out, I was teased a little but not much. I felt like someone who had a hurricane with the same name as them.
posted by melissa at 1:19 PM on November 30, 2001


#835 in the 70s = P

I guess there are more P Diddies than I thought.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 1:21 PM on November 30, 2001


I can't think of a famous Jennifer but then I think it would have to be a famous person indeed to actually move a name into the top spot.

A famous Jennifer in the era when the name first became really vogue? I can't think of one either. This iMDB search doesn't pop up any names in entertainment that jump out as popular in the 70s, and I don't recall any political or media or sports figures by the name either, at least not in the US.

That said, it's nice to see good old-fashioned Biblical names strong for girls too -- Hannah, Sarah and Elizabeth are still top ten. Meanwhile my birth name is not to be found on the list anymore, nor the names of four of my five kids, which suits me well.
posted by Dreama at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2001


"Matthew" has been holding steady in the #4 spot since, like, the Polk Administration.

Over at Babynamer.com, they have a huge database of names, and each name features a "drawbacks" section which features common "teasing nicknames" that other twerps might call your kid. So if you ever get into a flamewar with me, you can use it to find such clever monikers like "Matt the Brat" (heard it), "Door Mat" (heard it), "Mattchew" (heard it) or "Muffin" (uhhhhh, what?).
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2001


Geoffrey is on the list! I have yet to meet another Geoffrey. Sure my name might only be 652 but it's getting there. Maybe at some point people will stop calling it "ge-off".
posted by geoff. at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2001


there were 4 Melissa's just on my floor of my dorm my freshman year of college (1992 - born 1974) - and I knew so many Mikes and Jasons that each one had a nickname or descriptor.

Elaine - 267th name of the 70's. just rare enough that I only knew one other all the way thru school.

must second on the Jesus thing - lots and lots of hispanic guys named Jesus...including one of my sister's best friends. she loved getting Christmas cards from Jesus. :)
posted by epersonae at 2:35 PM on November 30, 2001


Iain is not on any of the lists as far as I can see. Just not popular in America, despite being 2 a penny over here.
posted by imh at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2001


In the years between 1940 and 1950, Jasper plunged 210 points (or 21% for the division impaired) from the almost mid point down to below 2/3rds. It's hovered there (720 in 1950, 688 in 1990) in the intervening 40 years. However, in the last 10, it's jumped up almost 10% to 593.

I assure you this had absolutely no bearing on our decision to name our upcoming kid. Nor did the fact that despite being seemingly gender neutral, it is apparently a "boys" name. But, I think it's perfect for our baby bouncing girl.

Thanks for the link!
posted by daver at 4:19 PM on November 30, 2001


Sadly, my name (which was so unusual in the '70s, not even ranking in the top 1000 for girls) has become very popular since the release of "The Little Mermaid."
posted by arielmeadow at 4:19 PM on November 30, 2001


So what's wrong with Dermot? Lovely name(ho ho). Anybody out there with a full name (in my case Dermot Oates) for which they have never found anybody else in the world with the same name? It will be crushing if I ever do. Any John Smiths? Happy? Not trying to sound smart, but given names are just what they say, surnames are another matter, like you can pick your friends but not your family, or as they said on SNL, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friends nose.
posted by Zootoon at 5:31 PM on November 30, 2001


Thanks for the link. I'm goint to name my firstborn child "Fnirt."
posted by Loudmax at 11:27 PM on November 30, 2001


Legend has it that "Jennifer" became popular after the huge success of Love Story in the early 1970s. Why so many people decided to name their babies after a fictional spunky coed who dies of leukemia, I'm not quite sure.

I read somewhere that the top name for new baby girls in England last year was "Chloe."
posted by suemoss at 11:51 PM on November 30, 2001


While someone may solve the Jennifer mystery, I think it'd be harder to find out why Linda popped up in the early 40's.
posted by fnirt


Just a guess...maybe the Lindy (Hop)?
posted by HTuttle at 5:35 AM on December 2, 2001


I tracked my name.

From obscurity before the 70's, I am in 16th now and clearly on the rise!
posted by sycophant at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2001


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