About Me

In fourth grade, I checked the baby name book out of my classroom library, and never returned it. It is still on a bookshelf at my parents' house... Oh, and I still haven't really gotten over Charlotte, Lillian, and Lydia getting so popular.

My Favorite Names
My Recent Blog Comments

Love it! I've thought the same thing about baby names - but phrased much less elegantly and without the solid math. If you choose a name that has never completely disappeared from the scene (and didn't appear out of nowhere either), and that has not had enormous peaks and valleys, it won't sound dated.

Your second prong - current popularity at high proportion of maximum - is something I'd never thought about. It really works - I might have guessed that the 1972 magic names were a group of women born in the 70s, meaning they sounded "fresh" at the time -- but also, if you told me they were born in 1942 or 2012 I wouldn't be floored.

May 31, 2013 07:25 AM

I wonder if the upswing of Eisley has to do with the popularity of the band Eisley (themselves named for Mos Eisley). It sounds name-ish, I guess.

Annabeth surprises me, only because it sounds like it would have been bigger in the 70s or 80s - it's the "beth" part, I guess. There's nothing wrong with it, and along with Percy Jackson, the relative popularity of Annabelle might have something to do with it.

As for Adalia: I know two adults with this name, both of whom pronounce it uh-DAH-lee-ah.


JnHsmom, your point about names that have been popular for years running is one I've thought about, too. My own name has been ranked around number 100 for most of my life - it was maybe 110ish when I was born, has made it to the 80s now, but typically around 100. That means that while it was never near a top 10 name, there are more people with the same name as me as the other girls with names in the 100s when I was born, whose names rose and faded within a matter of years.

There's a flip side, though. The plus of choosing a name with relative rank-stability is that it isn't as date-stamped. Brandi was a lot more popular than Molly in the 80s, but there have probably been more Mollys overall since then due to the stable rank - but therefore, Brandi reads more as an 80s name. Of course, this is without getting into how names are less common at any given ranking today than they used to be, because of increased name diversity and all that...

January 18, 2013 01:10 PM
In Response to Names You Can Hug

I'm a Molly, and have run across the Molly dog phenomenon so much that I recently wrote a blog post called You All Need To Stop Naming Your Dogs Molly!

I wrote that sometimes it's hard to respond when people tell me their dog is named Molly, and your last paragraph hits the nail on the head: "the dominance of diminutive forms and sounds represents childhood. The names we give pets reflect the roles we expect them to play in our lives."

"You have the name I gave to the slobbery, drooly, eternal child in my life" isn't an insult (I love my dog! Dogs are great!), but it isn't exactly a compliment either. But, "Names You Can Hug" is a nice way to put it, at least!

Incidentally,  my name, my sister's name, her two sons' names, AND our nephew's name all appear on the first list. My family certainly picks a style and runs wtih it!

June 8, 2012 12:28 PM

I think almost any name is vulnerable to confusion if it's similar to another, more common name; or, is so common in your generation that people forget it; or if you are speaking to someone with a different accent from your own.

PJ - I'm a Molly who gets called Holly and Polly. Oddly enough, I've gotten Paulie as well -although I don't say a short "o" as "aw". Holly is much more common for women my age, so I'm not surprised.

Also, occassionally, Melly, which I really don't care for. Again, though, there are tons of women my age named Melissa, Melanie, and Melody, so I suppose it's a reasonable guess. [NB: I probably know dozens of Mels, but no Mellys, except possibly with their families or when they were children]. And Emily, my God, Emily.

I think part of the problem is that I live in the Great Lakes region, in a city with VERY nasal vowels. I'm from here but don't have the accent (I'm forever being asked where I'm from), and this REALLY throws some people who are expecting to hear nasal vowels -- Molly sounds like Maahlly here, kind of.

I turn my head if I hear Somalia or Mali, or, occassionally and most frustrating, Mommy, if it's a little kid whose Ms aren't distinct yet.

ALSO: I have a seven-year-old dog named Harper (it wasn't so trendy yet, ok;)) and it's forever being misheard as Parker. Same vowel sounds, plosives in the middle. Just a heads-up if you're considering it as a baby name!

February 11, 2012 08:05 AM
In Response to You Have Two Names

I have a nephew named Nicolas, chosen because his mother's first language is Spanish and his father's is English. When speaking English, we call him NICK-o-las and in Spanish, nee-ko-LAHS. My brother and his wife figured that most of the time Nicolas would use English (in school, for instance) and go by NICK-oh-las. Instead, my brother's mother-in-law scolds my brother for "pronouncing his son's name wrong" when he's using English. Now they wish they had just gone with Nicholas! For their second child, they chose a name that is pronounced and spelled the same in both languages. But, Elizabeth T., I think your story is so interesting because as far as I've seen, they don't switch back and forth when using the same language. I wonder what Lena will grow up introducing herself as! I do think both pronunciations are pretty.

January 26, 2012 12:08 PM

I love playing this game when someone I know has a new baby - guessing the missing new baby name out of the siblings' names! #2 is cracking me up because it includes 5 of my nephews' names (in a row!) and my own name, as well as two girl names that were the alternative choice if one of my nephews had been a girl. I'm going to guess a comfy "great-grandma"* name like Lucy, Rosie, Lily, or Daisy, which were other names my sibs had in the running if the boys had been girls. (Though I'd maybe be more likely to pair Lucy with sisters like Charlotte and Caroline). #4 - maybe Steven, Christopher, or David? #6 - Alexander? #3 contains the oddest mix of names I love (Beatrix, Paloma, Gideon) and loathe (Emerson, Sawyer), so I'm at a loss there! *Yep, I'm fully aware that a lot of ACTUAL, more likely great grandma names like Barbara, Gladys, and Thelma would make an entirely different sib list!

October 13, 2011 11:23 AM

(1) Almost everyone sang "Good Golly Miss Molly" to me, especially as a child/teen and (2) all of these people thought it was super-original. I also got a healthy dose of Molly Malone, usually from middle aged and older Irish Americans - though actual Irish people have never given me that. I adore the name Clementine but may never use it because I don't care for that song, and I'm sure a child with that name gets treated to "oh my daaarlin'..." more times than they'd like.

May 5, 2011 03:57 PM

Alison1981: I think Avery's popularity is in part associated with the popularity of Ava, as well as the popularity of first names that can also be surnames JulieRB: Ad- names have been popular for several years - Adeline, Adelaide, Addison, Addalee. There's also a trend towards.. how to say... already-popular names with the starting consonant removed? Vowels are hot. EG, Madeline/Adeline (yes, I know Adeline is an independent name), Madison/Addison, Kayla/Ayla. Adalyn fits in with that. I also would guess that quite a few new parents already know a little Maddie or two, so Addie might sound fresher, and Adalyn might be a name some parents use to get to the nickname they want. Barnacle: I don't lump Eamon in with the -aden names at all, maybe a few people would if they didn't know its origin, but that's it. I might associate it with the larger Celtic trend though - Liam, Seamus, Declan, etc. It's a wonderful name, and Ted is a great nickname!

May 5, 2011 07:45 AM

Looks like some names made big jumps in the rankings (Stella, for instance). I was surprised to see Melanie climb a bit, I thought of it as more of an 80s/90s rising name that was now on the decline. So busy today, but can't wait to look at some of the changes - and see how the ranking changes correspond to the changes in the number of babies born with the name.

April 7, 2011 09:46 PM

Well, I agree with everyone else. Ruby Rose, I hear nothing wrong with the different C's in Lucy, Grace, and Clare/Clara. I also think they are a similar name "type". But, If YOU don't love how the combination sounds, then that's probably not the best choice for you. In terms of connotation - how the names make me feel or the image they conjure up - Molly and Jane are also great matches (promise I'm not speaking from a personal bias ;) ). You seem to like the s/ soft "c", but your other names have an old fashioned feel, unlike Mason. Maybe consider Cecilia/Celia/Cecily, Betsy/Bessie, or Tess/Tessa/Tessie if you want the combo of old-fashioned and s/soft c sound. Others? Off to a good start, best wishes! LucGoose - I know of so many young kids (<5 yrs) with Ad- names that Adalaide sounds, possibly, too YOUNG for a 12-yr-old, but not at all impossible, especially if you mention that it's a family name or something. It's less popular than Hannah and Natalie, though Rose balances the set a bit. I would also expect the parents of a Hannah, Natalie, and Rose to use the more standard spelling, Adelaide, unless it's somehow explained. Just my $.02, good luck with your work!

March 27, 2011 06:53 AM

Molly has been the #1-3 name for female dogs for coming up on 20 years now, and the worst is that people always tell me, in astonished tones, that "OhmyGOD my DOG is named Molly!". First of all, that isn't really a compliment, and secondly, your dog name is super common, so I'm not exactly awed at the coincidence of us both being named Molly. I now have nephews named Ch@rley, H3nry, J@ck, and M@x (among others), so they'll understand the dog name thing someday... My pets are H@rper and M@bel - M@bel being a human name I like but don't feel bad forfeiting on a pet, and H@rper before the recent H@rper boom, after H@rper Lee (I'm a law student, so).

March 17, 2011 02:36 PM
In Response to Justin: Forever Young

zoerhenne, you pose a tough question! Eternal youth is definitely hard to come by in a girl's name, since they fade in and out so fast -it's hard to think of one that's stayed young since the 70s! I was born in the 80s and, while many names from my generation - e.g., Natalie, Jessica, Alyssa - are still popular, they don't sound like 7th graders forever. I will say that my name, Molly, has stayed relatively constant ranking-wise for about 20 years, and sounds a little like an eternal preschooler name to me. Molly is always a sloppy 4-year-old. But there's my problem - I can think of some names, maybe Samantha, Brianna, or Taylor, that have had a youthful image since the mid-late 80s tops, but I'm having trouble reaching back to the 70s or before. Hmm.

July 22, 2010 04:01 PM

Sica, I've wondered that about at least the first batch of American Girl characters. The authors did historical research, and I would have guessed that would include names. But most of the names of the early characters existed at the time of the stories, but were uncommon. Artistic license? Trying to appeal to girls of the 80s and 90s? Or, maybe to the authors the more representative Mary, Helen, and Elizabeth were just too boring. From the comments here, it looks like even though Bewitched without a doubt is responsible for launching this name, for women who grew up in the late 80s and beyond, the all-American girl image of Samantha is in part due to, well, the American Girl.


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 4, 2010 06:44 PM
In Response to Name Spotlight: Sawyer

How badly do I want an audio feature on this board?! I love how the accent in Australia has actually affected the name charts. Tayla actually makes the list! I wonder how often people correct others for saying their or their child's name with the wrong accent. I don't mean mispronouncing Julio as JOOL-io, but more like when Dawn becomes Don, or Theresa becomes Thereser. Personally I think people's accents are what they are - none is better than the other - but I also fear I'd have trouble keeping quiet if I were a Diana that was being called Dianer. I had a friend named Lisa who used to get upset at her father for calling her Liser!

May 3, 2010 08:09 PM
In Response to Name Spotlight: Sawyer

I say Eeen-glish and SOY-er; do with that what you will. I'm also from a region where pen/pin, caught/cot and dawn/don are very distinct - but none of those involve the tense E, so maybe that's neither here nor there. I agree with the poster who said that it's not a drawn out Eeeeee, and actually sounds rather close to I - but not exactly. "SAW-yer"'s mom reminds me of my friend named Anna who becomes incensed when people pronounced it ANN- a instead of AH-na. I understand being upset if you've already told a person how you say a name, but you have to expect that the first try will yield the standard pronunciation. L!NNEA! So pretty! It's a name I see tossed around by NEs, but have never run across in real life. And - topic - good sleuthing, Laura! I knew a Sawyer growing up - now 23 or so - and always made the Twain association rather than the occupation-name association.


@NJ: That's an interesting observation, and I wonder if maybe the nickname over formal name preference is cyclical, too. If you look at the SS rankings for 1880 - 1900, quite a few of the popular names are nicknames: Bessie, Lottie, Carrie. And you're right, it looks like we might be in it again - think Maggie, Jack, Max. Of course, there's some counter-evidence for that, since a lot of today's parents were born in a nickname-name era: the 1970s, with its Lauries and Tammys. @ the '80s babies: 1986 here! I think it's funny that our grandparents' generation used to say how ridiculous it was that someday there would be a Grandma Brittany or Nana Tiffany, and now what we're worried about is seeing babies with our generations' names! Luckily, these shouldn't come into style til we're great- or great-great grandparents, so we have a while to think about it. This whole conversation illustrates why so many people choose "classic names", like John, William, Elizabeth, and Katherine: no generational friction! Azalea is really very pretty.