Just don't call him Sue.
July 14, 2003 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan. Emily, Madison, Hannah, Emma, Alexis. Wha? Who? These were the five most popular baby names for boys and girls respectively in 2002, according to the US Social Security Administration’s Popular Baby Names page. You can also get the top names by year of birth since 1880 (now I know why half my female friends are Jennifers), and best of all, see how the fortunes of your own name have waxed or waned over the last decade. (#79 with a bullet baby! Woo!)
posted by gottabefunky (105 comments total)
 
My name, Marc, is regularly in the 200s. I see that LeBron "is not among the top 1,000 names for 1991-2002." We'll see that change in the next couple years.
posted by msacheson at 6:58 AM on July 14, 2003


Earlier thread
posted by jpoulos at 7:13 AM on July 14, 2003


These were the five most popular baby names for boys and girls respectively in 2002

in the US.
posted by niceness at 7:28 AM on July 14, 2003


niceness - since the Social Security Administration is a part of the United States government, and was mentioned as such in the post, it was obvious to me what nation we were discussing.
posted by Irontom at 7:32 AM on July 14, 2003


Back in undergrad, we made a database from the SSA's popular names archive for use on a robot. We wanted the robot to read nametags.

Actually got the system to work--somewhat. One problem was that the conference where we were exhibiting was an international conference, and not many American babies are named Masahiro, Jorge, etc.
posted by tss at 7:34 AM on July 14, 2003


Mine is no lower than 11th at any point in the last 12 years.

Well, the dan part anyway. When I tried putting on the deadcow part, the results page asked me to stop wasting their time.
posted by deadcowdan at 7:35 AM on July 14, 2003


Great NY Times article on baby names from last week.

Geez, Frank's really taking it on the chin (115 to 218).
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:39 AM on July 14, 2003


Just don't call him Sue.

Great Title for a fun post!

(I wonder how often people put clever things up there, and how many people bother to look...)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:43 AM on July 14, 2003


Morgan is #273 for boys and and #32 for girls in the 1990s. This is why I hate walking through malls now, constantly hearing mothers calling out my name and seeing 8 year old girls running over to them.

Thankfully in the 70s when I was born it was #479 to #899 boys to girls... Still obscure, but at least I was still in the majority of Morgans my age.

The curse of androgynous names.
posted by KnitWit at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2003


Wow, I was #101 during the 1900s and am now all the way up to #15, after being in the 20s for most of the 90s

Another interesting note is I havent had to punch anyone I know personally for trying to name their kid 'Madison' yet. Yet.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2003


I had to spend some time in a nursing home a while back and was struck by how all the names on the doors were Dot and Ruth and Zoe and Mildred and Bessie and Ida and Flo and Peg.....you could almost hear a long vanished echo of ragtime.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:51 AM on July 14, 2003


In the 70s, the name I was born with (Earl), was only #210. Since then it has dipped all they way down into the 800s somewhere. The name I went by growing up (Robert, my middle name), hasn't been outside of the top 40 for quite some time. This is part of the reason I've started going by Earl more and more. At my sister's wedding, there were 4 Bob's involved in the wedding (myself, my father, my grandfather, and my brother-in-law's father), so when someone would shout "hey, Bob!" all of us would turn around.
posted by turacma at 7:55 AM on July 14, 2003


I'm still offering $50 to anyone who can find good evidence of the existence of another Nils Ferry, past or present.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2003


My cousin is something of a motorcycle enthusiast and a practical joker. As his groggy wife was wheeled out of the delivery room after a successful birth, he had one of the nurses replace the name placard (Timothy) with one reading "Harley Davisdon". I believe she began pummeling him with her IV stand...
posted by jalexei at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2003


Morgan is #273 for boys and and #32 for girls in the 1990s. This is why I hate walking through malls now, constantly hearing mothers calling out my name and seeing 8 year old girls running over to them.

Knitwit: If your parents were determined to name you after a car there could have been worse options. Rover, for example, and you would be getting called for in parks instead of malls.
posted by biffa at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2003


not many American babies are named Masahiro, Jorge, etc.

Jorge is #105 for 2002, right up there with Katie for girls
posted by jacobsee at 8:07 AM on July 14, 2003


Look at Lisa from '62 to '69.

This helps explain one of my favorite Surf Punks lines:

"Why is every other girl in the world named Lisa?"
posted by Ynoxas at 8:17 AM on July 14, 2003


My name's been moving steadily up in popularity--it's currently #30, as opposed to #108 in the 70's, when I was born. 100 years ago, it was #391.

I will say this for the burgeoning popularity of Natalie as a name: I can finally get pencils, stickers, toothbrushes, and other cheap shit emblazoned with my name. This was a major source of angst when I was 8 and my friends (all named Jennifer) were able to get that sort of thing and I wasn't.

For both of my SOs, their names are falling in popularity--one more precipitously than the other.
posted by eilatan at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2003


can we talk about MANY DIFFERENT WAYS there are to spell kaitlyn (caitlynn, katelin, ad nauseum). i counted like 8.

argh!
posted by sugarfish at 8:25 AM on July 14, 2003


I can finally get pencils, stickers, toothbrushes, and other cheap shit emblazoned with my name.
So can I... unfortunately they're all pink now.
posted by KnitWit at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2003


heh. my girlfriend has 5 siblings, and *every damn last one* of their names is in the top 10 for 1994.
posted by shadow45 at 8:34 AM on July 14, 2003


Dot and Ruth and Zoe and Mildred and Bessie and Ida and Flo and Peg

These are going to be (in Zoe and maybe Bessie's case, maybe already are) the hot new names. Eleanor's already come back - Margaret and Florence are probably next.

The one classic name that's probably safe for a while is George. The chic East and West Coast parents that precipitate these trends wouldn't be caught dead naming their kid after Dubya.
posted by transona5 at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2003


My name will never end up on any of those lists. my name is too odd for a man to have. my parents must have been playing a cruel trick
posted by shadow45 at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2003


my friends (all named Jennifer)

I've got to say, it's a little weird living in a state where the governor is named Jennifer.
posted by transona5 at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2003


Is this going to get posted every year?
posted by johnny7 at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2003


Oh fun, in my year of birth, my name was #2. Curse you Mother, you spite me again!
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2003


Ugh. Madison. How pretentious can you be? (sorry to those that have that name/named their kids that name.)

My in-laws are Howard and Loretta. I told them straight out that sorry, our kid-to-be is NOT going to be named after them. That was ok with them.

I wonder how many kids out there are still named after their parents-it used to be done more than now, I think.
posted by aacheson at 8:53 AM on July 14, 2003


Johnny7, you don't need to read it every year if you don't want. Personally, I don't think it's really. fully, a double post because the names change every year. Maybe a 1 1/2 post. :)
posted by aacheson at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2003


Is this going to get posted every year?

Yeah, I know. You'll never get those 5 seconds back that you spent reading the post and recognizing the site. Someone owes you for your time.

I like name analysis from the Kabalarians. There's a lot of thought put into the reports.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:55 AM on July 14, 2003


My name was reigning champion from 1991 until 1999, when "Jacob" took the lead.

I was an up-and-comer, and now I'm a down-and-outer. You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it. It was you, Jacob. It was you, Jacob.
posted by Ljubljana at 8:57 AM on July 14, 2003


Marshall is at 305 for the 1970s, with Lamont at 304. Damn you, Sanford & Son.
posted by emelenjr at 8:59 AM on July 14, 2003


Tiffany,
Heather,
Cody,
Dylan,
Dermott,
Jordan,
Taylor,
Brittany,
Wesley,
Rumer,
Scout,
Cassidy,
Zoe,
Chloe,
Max,
Hunter,
Kendal,
Katlin,
Noah,
Sasha,
Morgan,
Kira,
Ian,
Lauren,
Q-bert,
Phil
posted by trigfunctions at 9:06 AM on July 14, 2003


Mohammad seems to be losing popularity in the US (500s) 0 but isn't it the most popular guys name in the world ?
posted by Mossy at 9:08 AM on July 14, 2003


Well, my name, Bonnie, ranked 168th in the decade of the '70's, but as of the year 2001 has slipped to 907th. I've never really been all that fond of it, but I am happy to say that there were no other "Bonnies" in school when I was a kid.

Please don't confuse me with this Bonnie, though.
posted by greengrl at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2003


My parents went crazy out of their way to find names for their children that were simple, pleasant and pronounceably spelt, yet weren't trendy and/or obsencely common (my given name is Ellen, #500 when I was born, #474 now).

Sure, I never had anything with my name on it as a child, but I cannot tell you how happy I am daily that my parents weren't the kind to saddle me with something like "Gesyka" because they thought it was cute/important to give a child a name 23744 other people had, and that somehow a "clever" spelling would make up for never being the only one in the room with the name. (case in point)

It's one of my personal pet raging peeves that people like the above described actually exist (yes, I know a Gesyka, who has since renamed herself simply Jess). There are so so many great names that aren't "weird" and aren't stupidly common and aren't last names. A child isn't just your newest vehicle for demonstrating hip-ness, people!
posted by nelleish at 9:19 AM on July 14, 2003


trigfunctions-- I didn't get the list until Q-bert came along.

Pure comedy gold.
posted by trharlan at 9:29 AM on July 14, 2003


I used this data earlier this year to show that the chance that I would have had relationships with 11 women whose names started with consonants and been rejected by 3 women I adored whose names started with vowels — which is just what's happened — was roughly one in 5000. Gives me a handy heuristic when I meet women now...
posted by nicwolff at 9:38 AM on July 14, 2003


Oh, and I still haven't gotten trig's list. But then I never got the Spy list either.
posted by nicwolff at 9:39 AM on July 14, 2003


nicwolff: Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel
posted by PrinceValium at 9:53 AM on July 14, 2003


Interesting, my older daughter's name - "Miranda" is on the decline over the past 12 years, while my younger daughter's name - "Lillian" is on the upswing. I can't tell if I'm hip or not.
posted by phong3d at 9:53 AM on July 14, 2003


"Gesyka" ?

holy cripes

my mother teaches elementary school in South Central LA. She had two boys a few years back named (I kid you not) Datsun and Nissan. Thing is, that's not even the wierdest. Other classics include "Princess" ("oh, does your mother call you that because you're her little princess?" *evil look* "what you talking about? you messing with me?" -- actual conversation, the 10 year old girl didn't know what a princess was, other than it was her name), "Junior" (not xxxxx Jr., the kid's name is Junior), and the family Dominic, Dominesha, Dominade... ah, the things some parents do

personally, lump me in with nelleish' parents -- I named my girls Isabel and Ava. both seem to be on upswings (at #83 and #84 respectively)...
posted by badzen at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2003


Another interesting note is I havent had to punch anyone I know personally for trying to name their kid 'Madison' yet. Yet.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:49 AM CST on July 14

My best friend plans to name his kid Jacob. My response was that every kid I knew growing up with that name was a prick. Now I've got another reason to steer him away from that name - ubiquity.
posted by notsnot at 10:13 AM on July 14, 2003


Ugh. Madison. How pretentious can you be?

pretentious? don't you mean trashy?

It's really interesting to me the gestalt that seems to be involved with naming though. I know a number of people annoyed that their friends or relatives chose names they had intended (all their lives! etc) to name their own kids - Max, Zachary, Hannah, Zoe, leap to mind.

Good to hear Miranda's on the way down again. It was a fairly unusual name when I was a kid, but the last ten years or so has been seen as more ordinary. Not that unusualness in itself is a good enough criterion for a name choice, but it seems reasonable to consider it as one of your variables, along with euphony, meaning, family/cultural tradition, famous people or characters with the name, etc.
posted by mdn at 10:13 AM on July 14, 2003


If I somehow manage to accidentally have children, I'm continuing the family tradition of naming the oldest son John David Bell, making him VI (and that's only sequentially in the family tree, too). Why change something that isn't broken?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2003


"The name Crash is not among the top 1,000 names for 1991-2002."

Figures.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2003


KnitWit: What helps you extremely is that you've got a big star, Morgan Freeman, who's also male and a Morgan. You gotta feel sorry for the people who have seemingly girlish names, and don't have a famous example they can point to :-)

I know a guy called Courtney, and I can't think of any famous male Courtney's at all (although I guess there probably are some).
posted by wackybrit at 10:19 AM on July 14, 2003


My name (Graham) has been no higher than mid-300s at any time in the survey, and bottomed out in the 1940s around 800.

That would explain why I could never find my name on a bicycle licence plate, pen or notepad whenever my family went to DisneyWorld.

*sobs*

I loved the read the Hardy Boys books when I was a kid, and a couple names from that stood out:

- "Biff", one of the Hardy Boys friends, has never appeared on the top 1000 list for boys in the past 100 years.
- Their other friend "Chet" only appeared on the list (in the 600s/700s) during the 1960s and 1970s.

So where did they get the names from?
posted by grum@work at 10:21 AM on July 14, 2003


geez, looks like "Stewart" hasn't been higher than, oh, 500 and is now currently dwelling in the 900's somewhere.

Oh well. It's "unique".
posted by 40 Watt at 10:22 AM on July 14, 2003


I had a student in a class I was substituting last year, name of "Precious Johnson". I couldn't figure out if it was supposed to be a porn name or what.
posted by notsnot at 10:23 AM on July 14, 2003


There was great merriment in my office last week when someone was dealing with a female American client who went by the name 'Joi'. Pronounced 'Joey'.
posted by i_cola at 10:23 AM on July 14, 2003


Actually, check that. "Stewart" hasn't even made the list since 1998.

I blame "Beavis and Butthead".
posted by 40 Watt at 10:24 AM on July 14, 2003


"Actually, check that. "Stewart" hasn't even made the list since 1998.

I blame "Beavis and Butthead"."


I'd be more inclined to blame Mad TV.

I hate that character. And his psycho mother.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:32 AM on July 14, 2003


Crazy Miranda lives on propaganda
she believe anything she reads
It could be one side or the other
Free Press or Time Life covers

Follows newsprint anywhere it leads
but still she can't seem to read
and nobody knows
nobody knows what she needs
It could be gloves

- Grace Slick

posted by SteveInMaine at 10:42 AM on July 14, 2003


My little guy (5 months next week) is named Hamish. Wasn't on any of the top 1000 lists for the whole century.

Our biggest problem is people mispronouncing it (like Amish with an "H" in front of it). I had to correct the priest 3 times at the baptism.

My cousin named his 6 month old daughter Madison. Mommy already has her wearing that sunglasses and those headbands with bow on it.
posted by smcniven at 10:47 AM on July 14, 2003


My given name has climbed from 544 to 319 in the last 10 yrs. It also inspired two songs (by the Beatles and the Turtles). I absolutely hate the the name and the songs, since I was teased about it relentless in grade school.
posted by lola at 10:48 AM on July 14, 2003


"My little guy (5 months next week) is named Hamish."

Big fan of Baby Blues, are we?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2003


So where did they get the names from?

Biff, at least, is a long-time nickname for preppy types. The real name would probably be "bryce" or something like that. These days, more folks are naming their kids with nicknames - lisa, liza, libbie, beth, bess, etc were all originally nicks for "elizabeth", eg, but many of them have become names in their own right.
posted by mdn at 10:57 AM on July 14, 2003


I'll be excited when my name shows up in the top billion.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2003


Please, for the love of god, do not name your children Mike or Michael.

Thank you.
posted by drezdn at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2003


Hmm. My name peaked in popularity in the 70s (the decade in which I was born) at 34, and is now a dismal 258. It surprises me that it was most popular in my birth decade, as a child I never saw pens, magnets, etc. with my name on it. They're out there a little bit now, but are still pretty rare.
posted by aclevername at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2003


How does one pronounce Hamish if it's not "amish" with an H in front of it?
posted by aacheson at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2003


Wendell peaked at #210 in the '40s (obviously the popularity of Wendell Willkie), and was #238 when I was born. For the 1990's, it's #700 (right behind the single-m spelling of Mohamad), but hasn't made the top 1000 yearly chart since '95...

Some names are affected by spelling variations: I wonder where the combination of Wendell, Wendel and Wendall would place... That may also be depressing the Mohammed/Mohammad/Mohamads and the Stewart/Stuarts, not to mention the Marian/Marions like my mother.

I'm just relieved to see Beavis is NOT on any list since 1990, or Mike Judge would have to die.

Speaking of a Boy Named Sue, here's A Girl Named Johnny Cash, courtesy of Martin Mull. And Shelby (Shel Silverstein's formal name) is in the Top 100; Martin is not.
posted by wendell at 11:04 AM on July 14, 2003


i was the only Emily in my class, school, and possibly entire hometown when i was a kid, though it was #64 in popularity in the 70's. now Emily reigns supreme -- it's been #1 since 1996. i don't get it...is there some whisper campaign i should be involved in?
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:16 AM on July 14, 2003


Please, for the love of god, do not name your children Mike or Michael

Is it that bad? (I ask as a closet unused middle name michael myself). Michael's a fairly common name in the UK.

aacheson: Hay-mish
posted by biffa at 11:20 AM on July 14, 2003


grum: Biff and Chet are both nicknames. Search for "Chester." Biff can be short for anything, it's a generic nickname much like "Buddy".

"Miranda" makes me think of the Phil Ochs song:

Her name's Miranda
She's a Rudolph Valentino fan
And she doesn't claim to understand
She bakes brownies for the boys in the band.

posted by PrinceValium at 11:24 AM on July 14, 2003


Crash: That's great, never seen that comic before. I'll have to show my wife.

We picked Hamish for several reasons but mainly because I have Scottish roots (among other nationalities), we liked the sound of it (Prime Minister Hamish McNiven..) and because he'd be the only one in his classroom (my wife is teacher).
posted by smcniven at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2003


grum@work: On preview, what PrinceValium said about Chet/Chester. Chester is in the top 100 for the Oughts and Teens, then completely disappears until the 80's and 90's. That's interesting in itself. I wonder if any other name had that sort of fall from grace and why.

Chet might have been popular in the 50's and 60's because of Chet Huntley or Chet Nimitz. (or come to think of it, because of the Hardy Boys books -- isn't that when they were on TV?)
posted by joaquim at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2003


A friend just named her girl Naimh. It is pronounced 'Neeve'. Not anywhere on that list.
posted by oflinkey at 11:38 AM on July 14, 2003


Is it that bad?

Pretty much. It's been in the top ten roughly as long as I've been alive, and as such I've had to learn that everyone has at least 2 friends named Michael, and not to turn around until someone calls my name a second time.

Even in my five person band, two of us are named Michael.
posted by drezdn at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2003


"The name Crash is not among the top 1,000 names for 1991-2002."

Nor is Turbo, putting a wrench in the plans for my future son. My wife and I also think it would be funny to name a daughter Jamie, Jr. after dad.
posted by jalexei at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2003


A friend just named her girl Naimh. It is pronounced 'Neeve'. Not anywhere on that list.

I'm sure it will be though - I've come across that name a few times over the last few years. It's amazing how these things grow.

wow, grace slick and phil ochs. how did I miss that?

re: michaels, they do tend to get referred to by their last names a lot...
posted by mdn at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2003


My name, Trent, didn't make the list until the 50's and has been climbing steadily ever since. Interestingly enough, some of the male names more poular than mine during the 50's were Gregorio, Norberto, Ivory, Linda (??), and the ever-popular Dickie. At least I beat Laverne, Esubio, Raymundo, and Shirley (#1003 in the 50's, no kidding).
posted by ttrendel at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2003


It looked to me like Bill was pretty much off the radar until I slapped my forehead and went back to check on William.
posted by alumshubby at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2003


Even in my five person band, two of us are named Michael.

There's a group of us who get together every Monday night to play pool. The Johns have numbers - all four of them, out of maybe two dozen regular attendees.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:21 PM on July 14, 2003


Please, for the love of god, do not name your children Mike or Michael.

One of my friends named his first child Michael.

She is going to be put into a lot of the wrong gym classes come high school....

At least their second child (Jack) won't have that problem.
posted by grum@work at 12:37 PM on July 14, 2003


Recent additions from where I work within the past month: Reese, Margaret, Nora, Grace, and Kaitlyn for girls. Matthew, John, and Harrison for boys. Never realized Brent was that low on the list.
posted by brent at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2003


My sister's name is Caryn. Which is a fairly unusual spelling, but my parents didn't name her that because they wanted her to have an originally spelled name; my dad's college roommate named his daughter Caryn and my dad liked it. And, in a weird way, Caryn's named after both my parents: her middle name is Jean, which was our mother's name, and she shares initials with our father, CJL.

I have no idea where he got Natalie from, other than the fact that my mother rejected the now-forgotten Hawaiian name (I was born in Hawaii), Naomi, and Natasha before agreeing to Natalie. I share a middle name with about 75% of women my age. Or so it seems.

I went to high school with a girl named Buffy. It wasn't a nickname. There was also a plethora of Carries and Kims.

What I don't get is parents who name their kids with a diminutive--Ellie instead of Eleanor, Kate instead of Katherine, that sort of thing. I think people forget that their tiny bundle of joy is going to grow up to be a 40 year old with a resume.
posted by eilatan at 12:58 PM on July 14, 2003


I'll be excited when my name shows up in the top billion.

When I was growing up, my next door neighbor was named Mars. You're not him, are you?

My name didn't start showing up in the top 1000 until 1999, when it made 884. Last year it was 838.
posted by emmling at 1:31 PM on July 14, 2003


Oh, what can I say about the name Madison? It's a name that people with no taste think is classy, and apparently a lot of people have no taste. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant, and "Madison" is on the top of my "No Way In Hell" list. Rounding out the list is: Ashley, McKenzie, Amber, MaKayla, Kaylee, Taylor, Destiny, Peyton, Jasmine, Savannah, Crystal, Tiffany, Brianna and Haley and Blair for girls, and Hunter, Tyler, Jordan, Dylan, Dakota, Cody, Coby, and Dylan for boys. We're agreed on the names we hate or think are nice, but too common (like Caitlin or Hannah), or don't go with our somewhat unusual last name. (For instance, we love Niamh, but we agree it would sound just awful with our last name). So far we haven't agreed on many names except "Virginia". (I have a favorite late great-aunt named Virginia, and he's from Virginia and misses it. On the other hand, it reminds me of that god-awful "Meet Virginia" song.) We are stumped on a boy's name, we are thinking of making a boy a Mr. Shoeburyness, Jr., but we aren't wild about that idea.
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:40 PM on July 14, 2003


It's a cruel, sad statement that Joey Jo Jo Jr. Shabadoo is not to be found in that list.

Shoeburyness: from your list of Forbidden Girls' Names, I take it you don't want a daughter to be a stripper? You should also rule out Bubbles then. Or names spelled funny, like Gynyfyr.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:42 PM on July 14, 2003


Looking at my post... I guess I REALLY don't like Dylan. Heh. Actually, I like that name for a boy, but it's far too common and it's trending towards being a girl's name.
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:46 PM on July 14, 2003


I'm relieved to see that my name - Bethany - is falling in popularity, from 108 in 1990 to 182 in 2002. Whew, I'd thought it was climbing. Still too high though. Just what I want, to be followed through life by a herd of Bethanys 20+ years younger than me.

My mother was a teacher and it drove her bonkers to go into a class and call out "Jason" and see five heads pop up. She was determined that wouldn't happen to her children. I won't tell you what my four siblings are named due to privacy issues, but one of the alternates to my name was Phoebe.

I've inherited her taste and I like names that aren't common and yet don't sound made up or pretentious. The made up spelling thing drives me nuts too.

The best test for a name I've heard is - picture your child walking into a boardroom and introducing his or her forty-year-old self. Is there anyone snickering?
posted by orange swan at 1:50 PM on July 14, 2003


Why do people name their children with weirdly spelled or pronounced names? My friend just named her child Mikayh. WTF is that? And sorry, Hamish is a nice name, but you're dooming the child to a lifetime of correcting people's pronunciations of the name.

Shoeburyness, all the Yuppies in my rich neighborhood (what am I doing here?) have all named their kids the ones you hate (and I do, too): "Ashley, McKenzie, Amber, MaKayla, Kaylee, Taylor, Destiny, Peyton, Jasmine, Savannah, Crystal, Tiffany, Brianna and Haley and Blair for girls, and Hunter, Tyler, Jordan, Dylan, Dakota, Cody, Coby, and Dylan for boys. " I think they are pretentious because all these little bratty rich kids have those names. Frankly, a lot of those girls names sound like strippers to me.

The thing about names is that one man's trash is another man's treasure, I guess. What I might think is awful might bring tears of joy to someone else's eyes.
posted by aacheson at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2003


oops, I meant "what am I doing there?" living in a rich neighborhood?
posted by aacheson at 2:12 PM on July 14, 2003


Xeno, yep, stripper names are definitely out. I can't imagine why anyone would name their daughter Savannah, Tiffany, Crystal, etc. Funny spellings are out, too. My husband gets enough grief just from having a perfectly accepted variation of a very common name. His is the spelling more common in the UK, and very few of our fellow Americans can pronounce or spell it correctly.
posted by Shoeburyness at 2:13 PM on July 14, 2003


I love stuff like this. For some reason I've been thinking lately about what I would name my kids (even though having to make a decision like that is probably a long time coming). I guess part of it is that I have two sisters, one 20 and one 30, and they each recently had kids and they both have friends having kids too. And they all have trendy weird names.

I hate the new names. I don't mind names that are a little different (look at me-- my name won't show up in the top anything of anything), but some of these new creations have got to go. Looking at a stretch like 108-112 in the new boys of 2002 list-- that's Carter, Kaleb, Spencer, Dakota, and Tanner-- makes me retch. (I guess Spencer's got some classic roots, but Carter still strikes me as a last name, and the others, um, suck. Caleb is spelled with a C, Tanner is a profession, and Dakota...) Dakota? Sierra (#64 among girls)? What's up with naming kids after trucks named after U.S. geography?

Morgan is #273 for boys and and #32 for girls in the 1990s. This is why I hate walking through malls now, constantly hearing mothers calling out my name and seeing 8 year old girls running over to them.

I feel you. I decided I would name one of my sons Morgan (when that time came), because I like it and I wanted to stem the tide of its shift to a girl's name. Some names are already lost-- I can accept Courtney and Ashley as being gone to the girls-- but this one I like. I want to keep it.

My given name ... inspired two songs (by the Beatles and the Turtles).

Wasn't there one by the Kinks? That's the only one I know about.

It's a cruel, sad statement that Joey Jo Jo Jr. Shabadoo is not to be found in that list.

Well, of course not! That's the worst name I've ever heard! ... Wait... Come back, Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo!

Shoeburyness, I think you and I are pretty much in agreement on names.


This has probably been here before, but it's a pretty humorous look at what makes good and bad names and which names are acceptable and which are not.

(Nice thing about having a name like mine: Any time you answer the phone and the person on the other end can't pronounce it, they're pretty easily identified as a solicitor. Makes my life easier.)
posted by nath at 2:28 PM on July 14, 2003


I've always been a big sci-fi fan and have always liked the unique names that the authors often come up with for characters. I figure someone has to start naming their kids things like Ender.
posted by woil at 2:49 PM on July 14, 2003


Nath: That is an advantage of an odd name. Since I got married, I have many times told someone "You know, if you don't know how to pronounce my name, you are obviously no one that I want to talk to" and hung up. I had a fairly common maiden name, and it still got mangled. Why are so many Americans unable to pronounce names? Or even make a reasonable attempt? Is this a uniquely American problem? I used to know a man whose last name was "Noblitt". He was roundly surprised that I pronounced it correctly (nahb-lit) just after reading it. I couldn't imagine how else you WOULD pronounce it.
posted by Shoeburyness at 2:54 PM on July 14, 2003


I have many times told someone "You know, if you don't know how to pronounce my name, you are obviously no one that I want to talk to" and hung up.

That is awesome.

Why are so many Americans unable to pronounce names? Or even make a reasonable attempt? Is this a uniquely American problem?

I dunno (I've never left the US), but almost literally nobody, upon seeing my name for the first time, nails it. (Here's a hint: My first name doesn't rhyme with "Math", but rather it's just an abbreviation of "Nathan", albeit an unusual one. My last name is a long, and somewhat obscure, Italian name, so I don't expect anybody to ever get that one. Doesn't seem that hard to me, though; it looks pretty much how it sounds, I think.)
posted by nath at 3:01 PM on July 14, 2003


I've spent more time than is justifiable thinking about what I'd like to name the anklebiters when they eventually put in an appearance. I know the significant other will have a say, but I'd love to call a little girl May. Simple, cute, slightly retro, and just happens to be three-layer word play from my SO's mother's, sister's, AND step-mother's names, so lots and lots of "named after" mileage.

For a boy, I really love Norsk names--Trond, Gar, etc. (Yes, I know a gar is a fish. Shut up.) I'd love to name a son Eero, just like the Saarinen who built the arch in my old hometown...and a droolworthy Finnish exchange student who attended my high school.

Let's see you find THOSE names in a top 1,000--unless they've compiled a purely Minnesotan list since the last time I checked.
posted by clever sheep at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2003


My first name Theodore is enjoying comfortable obscurity at #301. That's *not* Ted or Teddy, and Alvin (#459) and the Chipmunks appeared to have no effect on popularity over time.

I suppose there are worse cartoon names I could've been given.
posted by moonbird at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2003


by 12 years ranking, my name declines each year at an average of 5.58. In 1990 was ranked in the low 50's now it has dropped down past the 100's. Might be why folks share with me a their family/friend with the same name.

Feel a name will grew into a person, not always. Ever meet people having the same name and have similar traits or even looks?

My first name doesn't rhyme with "Math", but rather it's just an abbreviation of "Nathan", albeit an unusual one.

Names were my living, put them on hats so have heard your name pronounced many ways.
Nathan, first A both short and long;
Nate, long A;
Nath, A both long & short;
& Nathen spelled this way with the E pronounced as a short A.
Best way to know someone's name is upon introduction, listen how they want their name pronounced, its theirs. But I still made them write it down before stitching a hat.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2003


my name seems to have enjoyed a rather steady 30-ish point increase in popularity throughout the 80's and every year since, up until 1998 and 1999 when the popularity jumped 49 and 67 spots, respectively. goddamn TRL. the backlash has begun, however.

as for mine own children, i've got the names all planned out. Firstborn, boy or girl, Doctor. For the next boy, Normal (i'll probably nick him Norm). For the next girl, Khamir. It just sounds so pretty! Next, because I loved her so and she was a wonderful woman, I have a backup name in case there's an accident and I have another girl; Grandma. Finally, another backup name in the case of another boy or girl, Dana (pronounced moo-fah-sah), after my very best friend.

now i just have to find a wife who'll go along with my plan....
posted by carsonb at 4:09 PM on July 14, 2003


It is good to see the name Brandon taking an ubiquity nosedive. Still in the top 20 though. Fucking 90210. That show will plague me to the end of my days.
posted by furiousthought at 5:09 PM on July 14, 2003


Well, the trends in girls' names are pretty well understood, in all of their banality. But I'm not hearing as much about the boys, who, for what seems like the first time, aren't dominated by Davids and Michaels and Roberts and Richards and Johns. The new names, names like Caleb and Forrest and Jordan and Jaden, basically sound to me like overdone attempts to shape gentle, urbane, slightly mischievous yet morally erect boys. Some of the names seem phonemically feminine (fair retribution for all the old Pa ulines and Marions, I'll admit). Most of them sound mock-sophisticated -- eh, all right, we've beaten that dead horse, too.

I still haven't found a really satisfactory boys' name in the Anglo vocabulary. For girls, though, allow me to extol the virtues o f the name Mira. The beauty of its sound has been recognized in Russia, parts of India, Italy, and New York, among other places where it occurs as a name. In Spanish it signifies vision; in English it's not far from "mirror," a looking-glass.rf
posted by aws17576 at 5:22 PM on July 14, 2003


That show will plague me to the end of my days.

Maybe you are in luck, notice more Bradens now, has jumped 319 places since 90 maybe this name is taking your names place, since no one likes a copy cat.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:31 PM on July 14, 2003


I think people forget that their tiny bundle of joy is going to grow up to be a 40 year old with a resume.

At the same time, remember that attitudes toward names are going to change significantly in the 40 years between "tiny bundle of joy" and "corporate executive." All the names we're bitching about today will likely be so commonplace and prevalent that no one will think twice about an Ellie, Caitlyn or Sierra in the workforce. And meanwhile the Dylans and Ambers of the world will be busy bemoaning the current crop of baby names ("Harvey? Genevieve? What the hell are people thinking?").

However, this is coming from someone with relatives that take up 4 out of this year's top 10 (Olivia, Emily, Hannah, and Madison, all under age 9). They're good little kids. I think they'll survive the ubiquity.
posted by brookedel at 5:39 PM on July 14, 2003


I'm #25! I'm #25! I went through most of my grade school and high school years not knowing too many other Rachels. High school was the first time I had another Rachel in any of my classes. When I went to college, though, it seemed like there were a ton of Rachels in my dorm.

Interesting that Jennifer has gone down in popularity (not completely, it is still #28). I'm guessing that it's because people of childbearing age grew up when every third girl (it seemed) was named Jennifer and didn't want to have their kids deal with it. : ) When I was in my local Junior Miss program in 1991, out of sixteen contestants, four were named Jennifer. I had at least two Jennifers in my classes up through high school. I also went to school with a lot of Jessicas, Kims, Nicoles, Lisas, Michel(l)es, and Amys.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:55 PM on July 14, 2003


The name Namespan is not among the top 1,000 names for 1991-2002.

That's all right, it's really more of a meta-name anyway.
posted by namespan at 10:24 PM on July 14, 2003


"Would you have any objections to naming our child Vladimir? *hic* Even if it's a girl?"
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:17 AM on July 15, 2003


Morgan is #273 for boys and and #32 for girls in the 1990s. This is why I hate walking through malls now, constantly hearing mothers calling out my name and seeing 8 year old girls running over to them.

There was a brief period when my mother was pregnant with me that they thought I might be twins. (Turns out the second heartbeat was just an echo). The other twin was to have been named "Morgan", partially because of a family friend, and partially because it is a name that could never, in a dozen years, be mistaken for "Sylvia", thus avoiding the rhyming curse. (Mom actually threatened "Trudy" and "Judy", which also rhyme with my last name, but she was joking.)

"Sylvia" appears to have hit a small resurgence in the 90's and has dropped back down to more normal levels. I found that being in the 300-500 range worked well for me - common enough for people to recognize the name, but not so common that I run into many duplicates.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:23 AM on July 15, 2003


Hmm, another Graham! It's in that good range, 300-500 as Karmakaze mentioned, not too ubiquitous, not too weird. My BASIL are having a kid in the new year, maybe they'll get a few ideas from the lists.

And what about all the bloody Rhiannons that were born during the late 70s/early 80s? Bloody Fleetwood Mac. Sod being trendy. Though Irish girls names are nice even though they don't sound much like they're spelt (especially without the diacritics); Niamh, Siobhan, Roisin, etc.

Any kids I have will have good Biblical names like Salome, Herod and Nebuchanezzar. Failing that, Mungo.
posted by GrahamVM at 7:15 AM on July 15, 2003


Any kids I have will have good Biblical names like Salome, Herod and Nebuchanezzar. Failing that, Mungo.

Don't forget Haman and Judas and Pilate! And Pharaoh too!

I've long cherished the thought of saying "...and this is my son, Herod." Almost as good as Snivelinglittleratfaced, but my surname isn't Git.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:02 AM on July 15, 2003


I know the significant other will have a say, but I'd love to call a little girl May.

As an April, I feel the need to warn you about the incredibly stupid jokes your hypothetical daughter will deal with:

How can your name be May if it's January!?
posted by aclevername at 9:11 AM on July 15, 2003


My best friend's brother's wife has a couple kids from before they met. I met them today...one of them is named Aryan. At least, that's how it's spelled. I don't think it's accidental.
posted by notsnot at 8:55 PM on July 27, 2003


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