What’s in a Name? A Closer Look at Popular Baby Names Then and Now
Mar 08, 2017 Blog
If you’re having trouble deciding on a name, this may help
Have you ever heard what a celebrity couple named their baby and scratched your head in bemusement? The often-bizarre choices are usually good for a chuckle, but if you’re pregnant, they may make you stop and think for a moment. After all, an unusual name is hard to forget, and shouldn’t you give one to your baby that will be as unique and special as they are? Or is going with something tried and true the better choice?
To help answer those questions, let’s start backwards:
You could probably guess what the popular baby names were a hundred years ago. For boys, John, William, and James were the top three. For girls, Mary was number one, and Elizabeth and Margaret were in the top 10.
The most common baby names didn’t change too much in 10 years. Robert took over the top spot for boys, though John, James, and William were right behind. Mary held on to her top ranking, and Margaret was number five. But Elizabeth got knocked out of the top 10 and Barbara – which wasn’t even in the top 50 in 1917, came in at number 10.
Barbara continued to climb in 1937 and made it all the way up to the second spot behind – again – Mary. New names such as Nancy and Joan now cracked the top 10. The boys continued to be boring, with the same top four from ’27.
James surpassed Robert for top spot in ’47, though the rest of top ten was uneventful, except for the emergence of Michael at 7. He was at 27 a decade earlier. Mary was finally taken down a peg and replaced with Linda at number one. Susan and Sharon were other notable names in the top 10.
Wouldn’t you know it, but Mary was tops again in ’57, though Susan did creep up to number two. Both Debra and Deborah made the top 10. For the boys, there was a new number one: Michael, though John, William, Robert, and James continued to have a hold in the top spots.
Things start getting a little more interesting in ’67, at least on the female side. Lisa was the most common girl’s name, followed by Kimberly and Michele, with Mary at number four. Jennifer just cracked the list at number 10. Michael held on to the number one position for the boys, though now David was at two. Brian, who was at 26 ten years earlier, now claimed the tenth spot.
Again, Michael was number one for the boys, though he was followed closely behind by newcomer Jason, who wasn’t even included in the top 50 in 1967. Christopher came in at number three. Jennifer grabbed the top spot for the girls, and Melissa and Amy rounded out the top three. Heather – a name that wasn’t common at all 10 years earlier, was now at number five.
Once again, the boy’s list didn’t vary a whole lot. Michael was number one, though Justin and Andrew broke the top 10. Things continued to change for the girls, however. Now number one belonged to Jessica. While Heather dropped to nine, Ashley and Amanda were very popular, as was Brittany.
Emily was the most popular girl’s name in 1997, and she would hold that spot for years. A couple of new additions to the girl’s side are worth noting: Taylor and Madison. Michael was still number one for the boys, though things finally started getting interesting with the likes of Austin and Tyler joining the top 10.
The top spot for the boys in 2007 wasn’t Michael! It was actually Aiden, a name not on anyone’s radar 10 years earlier. This was also the period where it seemed like every other name ended in –den: both Jayden and Caden made the top 10. As for the girls, Sophia was tops, followed by Isabella, Emma, and Madison.
So now we’re up to date. Emma has moved up to number one on the girl’s list, with Olivia at number two and Isabella right behind. Some uncommon names including Amelia, Harper, and Aria, are all in the current top 10. A plethora of biblical names populates the boy’s side; Noah comes in at number one, with James and Elijah both on the list.
Other interesting names popular right now:
For girls, Brooklyn, Paisley, and Aaliyah are all in the top 50. For boys, Jaxon, Grayson, and Carter are all now commonly used.
If you’re indecisive about what to name your baby, hopefully this gave you a little insight, or at least provided some food for thought. Reach out to me for help with all aspects of your pregnancy from conception to naming to birth.