Few names last forever. This year a dozen names vanished from the U.S. top-1,000 baby name list after a steady run spanning generations – and in some cases, centuries. Join me in a tribute to the departed.
|NAME||SEX||TOP 1000 EVERY YEAR SINCE|
A closer look at the vanishing names:
Mike. The everyday nickname of millions of Americans, Mike had also been a top-1,000 stalward as given name. Its departure is a powerful symbol of the decline of All-American "nice guy" names.
Mercedes. This classic Spanish name pays homage to divine favors, yet its strongest cultural association is a decidedly material one: German luxury cars. Read the story of how Mercedes became the name we know today.
Clinton. The name Clinton has deep roots in American history, including a Revolutionary War General, a Vice President and a President. It has been declining since President Bill Clinton's election in 1992, as contemporary parents avoid names linked to living politicians.
Randall. A favorite name of the mid-20th Century, Randall had a long, gentle decline. This is a rare case where the nickname has shown greater staying power, as Randy still ranks #570.
Renee. This classic French name meaning "born again" is a victim of its own huge 1960s-'70s success. Renee's smooth sound still fits fashion, but it's too familiar for parents seeking fresh, creative names.
Sonia. In the United States Sonia is considered a full formal name, but it's a traditional diminutive of Sofia in many languages. Ironically, its decline comes even as Sofia reigns as the global baby name queen.
Ramiro. This venerable Spanish name was a quiet, steady classic for generations. How steady? It maintained a popularity ranking between #400 and #600 for 67 years straight.
Cindy. It's not just about nicknames; the formal Cynthia fell out of the the top 500 for the first time as well this year. With the decline of Mike and this quintessential baby boom name, Bobby is now the only "Brady Bunch" name left standing in the top 1,000.
The newly released baby name statistics for England and Wales show Oliver and Amelia reigning for the third straight year. The new top names (with last year's rank in parentheses):
|1||Oliver (1)||Amelia (1)|
|2||Jack (2)||Olivia (2)|
|3||Harry (3)||Emily (4)|
|4||George (7)||Isla (3)|
|5||Charlie (5)||Ava (6)|
THE ROYAL BABY BOUNCE
Among highly popular names, the fastest riser was George. The name of Britain's young prince now ranks #4 among all boys' names, up from #14 five years ago. The royal trend didn't hold for the whole family, though: newborn Princess Charlotte's name actually fell in popularity.
There's still plenty of hope for Charlotte. The baby name George also took a temporary dip in England in the year of Prince George's birth, only to surge back stronger than before. Parents may shy away from the media whirlwind of a brand-new royal baby name, but over time the association becomes a draw.
Prince George: Image via kensingtonroyal/Instagram
• Beyond the top of the charts, the fastest-rising names for boys were a mix of old-timers and two-syllable names ending in N:
• The fastest-rising girls paint a more varied picture:
• Double-a's were a huge rising trend in Indian and Islamic names. Kiaan and Riaan (two names of children of Indian celebrities) both ranked among the top-10 risers for boys, and Aairah, Inaaya and Menaal rose fast for girls.
• Notable trends for girls include classically inspired names (Octavia, Penelope, Aurora) and floral names (Flora, Fleur, and compound names ending in -Rose). The rising boys list included a surprising number of surnames associated with American history, like Lincoln, Edison and Hudson.
• Some rising names that haven't taken off in the United States, yet:
Girls: Cleo, Nellie, Ida, Ophelia, Reeva
Boys: Rogan, Rafe, Bear, Angus, Rafferty
A region rich with history and instrumental in the establishment of our nation, the Northeast offers all sorts of fantastic names. Some are well-known, and others are just beginning to come into use - which names do you prefer?
Salem. A biblical name meaning “peace,” Salem is serene, pleasant, and accessible. It’s also become a genuinely unisex option - over 160 girls and 130 boys were given the name Salem last year. Now, it may still have that connection to the infamous witch trials of the 1600’s (a rather glaring caveat), but as far as form and feeling go, Salem shines brighter than any of its negative connotations.
Walden Pond: Image via Morrowind/Shutterstock
Walden. Once a simple English surname, Walden is now affiliated with the Transcendental movement of the nineteenth century (along with Emerson, included below). Walden Pond was the temporary home of Henry David Thoreau and the title of his influential book on the experience. Today, the name Walden maintains that sense of tranquility and earthiness, but fits in with other “en” ending names - and it was only used for thirty-nine boys last year.
Augusta. Another capital name, Augusta, Maine was named for Founding Father Henry Dearborn’s daughter. While this regal, elegant name once graced hundreds of birth certificates a year, it hasn’t been recorded in the top 1000 since 1944. The name means “esteemed,” and still carries the grandeur of royalty in its sound and aura. To tone down its sophistication, the nicknames Aggie or Auggie have pretty, retro vibes.
Trenton. Named for prominent colonist William Trent, the city of Trenton is now the capital of New Jersey, and formerly a major manufacturing center of the eastern seaboard. However, the popularity of Trenton as a name probably has more to do with it’s trendy “on” ending, as well as the handsome nickname Trent. Both Trenton and Trent are in the top 1000, with namesakes abounding throughout athletics, music, and film.
Rose. With a long history as a classic, feminine name, Rose is currently trailing in prevalence behind botanical sisters Lily, Violet, and Hazel. But this state flower of New York is still in the top 200, and it’s rising up the ranks. Rose is also popular as a middle name, an honorific choice, and a vintage option; it really has too many positive qualities to list!
Hudson. A river running through much of New York State, the Hudson was a major route from the Atlantic Ocean to the interior country for much of its history. But the name is more popular in contemporary times than it’s ever been, #65 last year. Hudson fits in with the surname trend, along with Carson, Harrison, and Madison - all names that also cohere with the preppy New England sound. Hudson is a sweet boyish standard that is bound to rise even higher.
Acadia. In French, L’Acadie has long been used to refer to Nova Scotia and parts of Maine; today, an Acadian is an American individual who can trace their lineage back to early French colonists. The name Acadia has been used rarely since the 1980’s - over 300 years since the word came into use. It’s feminine “ia” ending and vowel-heavy melody make it a beautiful choice, as well as its original meaning - “idyllic place.”
Laurel. Another gorgeous botanical name, Laurel was slightly more popular in the mid-twentieth century, but has begun to rise again. The mountain laurel is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, a plant native to the region with lovely pink and white blossoms. It may be mistaken for Laura or Lauren, but Laurel has its own triumphant personality - laurel wreaths have symbolized victory since the days of Ancient Greece.
Garnet. Along with Augusta, sparkling Garnet dropped off the top 1000 after 1944. But this name is less majestic, and far more friendly and brilliant. The garnet is a state mineral of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, and the gemstone is associated with passionate love and longevity. It could be a unique alternative to Ruby or Pearl today, and it’s a bit more approachable than Diamond or Quartz.
Oriole. The state bird of Maryland and a popular Baltimore baseball team, the cheerful oriole has potential as a bird name; if Robin, Griffin, and Wren are all usable, why not Oriole? It has only been recorded once in US name history - in 1928, five baby girls were named Oriole. It’s not too far from Aurelia or Orion, and has the adorable nickname Ori. The bird is known for its bright plumage and sweet song - pretty, natural qualities that lend themselves to an excellent name.
Nashua. A rare name worn by a river and small town, Nashua comes from the Nashaway Native American tribe - the meaning can be translated as either “the place between two rivers” or “beautiful stream with a pebbly bottom." The sound is similar to darling Joshua, but allows for the trendy nickname Nash (now at #344 on the top 1000). Nashua could also be a unique alternative to number-one Noah or Elisha.
Emerson. At #180 for girls and #301 for boys, Emerson is a classic unisex name that’s grown in popularity for its “Em” beginning, “son” ending, and literary feeling. Ralph Waldo Emerson was an influential writer and orator who promoted the above-mentioned Transcendental movement, advocating individualism and appreciation for art and nature. While Emerson does fit into current trends, it’s a name that will endure the test of time.