Maximiliano: The Social Security Adminstration Cranks It Up To 11

May 7th 2010

In the fastest-rising names post earlier today, I named Maximiliano the #1 fastest-rising boy's name. But it seemed weird. It turns out it was weird. Check this out. According to the official Baby Name Wizard Hotness Formula, the fastest rising boy's name in America was Maximiliano...and the fastest falling boy's name was Maximilian! Unlikely, eh?

Clearly, something is afoot. The name Maximiliano never cracked the top 1000 list until this year. This year, it checks in at #460. And miraculously, it now also appears on every top 1000 chart for the past decade! Meanwhile the popular favorite Maximilian has been downgraded for that same time period.

See the pattern? Yep, it seems that until now, the SSA didn't look past the first 10 letters of the name.

For a long time Christopher was the only name that ran afoul of that rule. Indeed, when I first started crunching SSA data, some years showed incredible spikes for the name "Christophe." They fixed up Chris, but somewhere in the data-processing funnel, the fundamental problem remained. So to all of the Maximilianos out there: welcome to the fashion mainstream, where you belong.


By knp-nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 1:56 PM

wow-- crazy!

May 7, 2010 2:02 PM

And I bet a lot of parents used those 11 letters to get to simple, lovable Max.

By CB, nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 2:06 PM


By Philippa The First (not verified)
May 7, 2010 2:20 PM





May 7, 2010 2:28 PM

you reversed a couple syllables: max-i-mill-ee-ah-no.

but other than that, yes. though pronounce maximilian more like: max-uh-mil-yun or max-ih-mil-yin. no "ee" song in there for me.

May 7, 2010 3:11 PM

Ack! So much to catch up on! But Eleanor's still not in the top 200, only up to 218, phew!! :)

But Penelope--our 2nd choice for a girl, jumped more than 100 spots from 358 to 252!

By Philippa The First (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:23 PM

Ha! I did get the penultimate syllable messed up. That's a long, tricky name. Six syllables!

And not to get hung up on pronunciation again, but I have noticed that Americans tend to blur those end syllables: as in Maximill-yun, Jul-ya, Amel-ya, Will-yum, whereas other English speakers sound them all out: MaximilEEan, JulEEa, AmelEEa, WillEEam and so on. I forgot about those when I was trying out pronunciations, above.

And I see from the new numbers that if we continue choosing from our current shortlist, our short short-list is Alexander and William. Numbers 4 and 5 on the 2009 list. (Number 1 (W) and 19 (A) in Australia). I was thinking yesterday, when there were two baby Wills in parent/child yoga, that I must be in a Will pocket. But I guess there really is no Will pocket. Will is everywhere. Do you this this level of popularity will make those names sound dated, or just classically strong?

By Rook (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:39 PM


Two quick questions. Where did you get the list? The SSA website says they will not post it until May 14. And when do you expect to finish updating the Namipedia with the new information? Thanks!

By knp-nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:53 PM

it is only the STATE postings that aren't going to be in until May 14th. The national ones are up.

By Rook (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:55 PM

Okay, thanks for the clarification! I got it now.

By Joni
May 7, 2010 3:59 PM

So, is Maximiliano really the hottest name? And is it really the fastest faller? If it never show up until this year, but then was 'grandfathered in', does it change everything? As in last years fastest risers and fallers?

By Joni
May 7, 2010 4:03 PM

wait, I just went back and reread the post and I see how I was confused. But my question still is this: does Maximilian really get the label of fastest falling name when the 'fall' is clearly related to the fact that in the past Maximilianos were part of the rank?

May 7, 2010 4:25 PM

i know what you mean about blending end syllables, though i wouldn't say it's an american thing. for me it depends on the word. for example, i definitely blend the last syllable of maximilian (max-i-mil-yun), but i definitely separate julia (ju-lee-uh). i think it varies within the states.

and i think alexander and william are just classic names; they don't sound dated to me.

By JessicaM, Insurance Agent (not verified)
May 7, 2010 4:25 PM

Wow good catch. It's funny how stuff like this gets released and no one at the SSA questions it first.

By moll
May 7, 2010 4:52 PM

Good catch - if I hadn't known about the character limit, I would have just guessed that some of the Maximillian parents switched over to Maximiliano :)

To me, the big "falling name" story is that, for the first time, Mary is not in the top 100. Not that it fell that many places from last year - though through the decade, yes - but just the idea that Mary isn't a top 100 name anymore!

Anne with an E, I'm glad I'm not the only one checking the future prospects of my favorite names! I'm glad Eleanor is safe for you, and a little disappointed my own name has risen a bit.

May 7, 2010 5:42 PM

Just to clarify -- and it really has been confusing! -- neither "Max" name is in the true top 100 rising or falling. I'll update the Hottest Names post to give the true boys' champion Kellan its due.

By Pamela S (not verified)
May 7, 2010 6:27 PM

I think William will always be classically strong. Willy is dated, Bill is dated. Will will probably be dated next, then Liam, then back to Bill.... Here's to hoping Willy doesn't come back.

That's my guess, for what it's worth.

I'm looking at the captcha... "form Guillermo"! How funny is that? The Spanish form of William!

Reminds me: I once know a William who went by Gui (pronounced hard G, long EE) for Guillermo because all the other options were too common for his taste.

May 7, 2010 6:57 PM

Wow, so much to catch up on! Not much time now, but we'll be home this weekend (we're usually away) because I'm due tomorrow (!), though no signs of baby Ruthie yet. Names I checked:

Ruth: only up two spots, from 359 to 357. Yay!

Judah: up 66 spots from 392 to 326. Could be worse. When we named Judah in 2003 it was only at 649. Guess we were ahead of the curve.

Levi: already super popular, but now has officially cracked the top 100 :( It was at 132 in 2007 when Levi was born.

Funny story about Maximiliano. We know one who was born in 2008. The family is South American (maybe Argentinian or Venezualan...can't remember) and his Mom told me it was a family name. They thought it was too much to use in whole and Max was too popular so he goes by...MILO. Cute, right?

I haven't had a chance yet to really look at the lists, but I've looked at the changes in some heavily discussed names here (I've only had a chance to look at the girls list so far). Isla obviously had a huge jump. Others are:

Violet at 141
Evelyn at 39
Juliet at 319 (up 134 spots!)
Amelia at 55

By Panya (not verified)
May 7, 2010 7:26 PM

Pamela S -- My husband is a William and I speak French so I call him Guillaume a lot of the time. That gets shortened to Gui. Totally useful when we're in the grocery store, so 10 Bills don't turn around when I call his name. ;-)

I'm saddened by Liam's continued rise. We've been planning for almost a decade now to name our first son William and call him Liam. When we originally chose it, Liam wasn't nearly as popular as it is now.

By CB, nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 7:30 PM

With this William talk, I just had to throw out a name I saw on the credits of a cartoon, not long ago - Billiam. I've wondered if it's some bizarre stand alone name or if it's a Bill, William blend...

By EVie
May 7, 2010 11:44 PM

I noticed Juliet's rise too--scary, because it's near the top of my list! If I were having a baby right now, I'd probably still use it because it's still in the 300s, but we're probably waiting until 2012 or 2013--I shudder to think how high it might go by then.

I looked at the numbers for all the -bel- names, since we were talking about them recently, to see if they reflected the meteoric rise of both Isabella and Bella. The following -bel- names also rose: Annabelle, Izabella, Isabela, Annabella, Arabella, Anabelle, Annabel, Anabella. In sum, all the variant spellings of Isabella, most of the Annabel variants, plus Arabella, which matches Isabella very closely in style.

However, the following -bel- names fell: Isabelle, Isabel, Isabell, Maribel, Izabelle and Anabel (the last two out of the top 1000 completely).

I think this is really interesting in a couple ways. One, it looks like Isabella is cannibalizing Isabel's previous popularity, and that is consistent across every spelling. Two, it suggests that frilliness wins the day--of the Annabel variants, the only one that fell was the minimalist Anabel, and simple and classic Annabel made the most modest gains (397 total births in 2009, as opposed to 359 in 2008). And three, the fact that Maribel fell and no other -bel- names entered the top 1000 suggests that the other -bel names are not in fact tied to the -bella trend. So, hopefully that means that Rosabel, Mirabel, Claribel and the other nice -bel names we were discussing are safe for the moment.

By JenRose82 (not verified)
May 9, 2010 1:23 PM

Funny about William nn Liam. I too have planned for a decade to name my future son William and call him Liam and again, this was once a more unusual choice. But, I suppose if the Liam nn falls out of favor or gets too popular, he can always go by Will or Bill. I still really like the name Liam though and I don't mind as much for a boy to have a more popular name.

By Panya (not verified)
May 9, 2010 9:57 PM

JenRose82 -- Will and Bill may be options for you, but not me! My husband is Bill/Billy and his dad is Bill/Willie. Plus, he has a cousin called Billy, and I dated both a Will and a Billy back in the day. Our son will have to be Liam, or we'll have to get REALLY creative with nicknames!

May 20, 2010 3:30 PM

I'm remembering from earlier comments getting referred to a sister site that had you input names you like (in bubbles or something?) and it worked through a stream of different names. And the site also had ability to access the minds of other people who are absurdly focused on names. Anyone know what the address is?

September 15, 2014 2:47 AM

Really interesting and attractive article here guys. I really enjoyed reading this post and I totally agree with your opinion. It is great to see such blogs like this one. Thanks again.