Baby Names on USA-Today

What caught my eye about this article was the Wordle of the top 50 baby names (both boy and girl) by decade, from 1890 through 2008. Here’s the one from 1890:

baby names wordle

But according to the article, we parents don’t like overused names. This is true for me! I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and choose “normal” names (ones that might be used at any time from 30-300 years ago), rather than trendy names (ones that gained in popularity more recently, like Nevaeh or Parker), and would choose typical spellings instead of alternate ones (Victoria vs. Viktoria, as an example — I’ve had to spell both my maiden name and my married name every time I give it for all of my life, so I don’t want to give my kids first names that they will constantly have to spell).

While I don’t want my kids to have such a totally unique name that nobody can spell nor pronounce it, I don’t want to have my kids be one of ten children with the same first name in their class. I am planning on homeschooling, but they will likely go to college. When I went to college, there was at least one Jessica and Jennifer in every class, and sometimes more than one. In naming my children, I did actually check to make sure that their names weren’t in the top ten, nor even top 25, in an effort to avoid that. Apparently I’m not the only one, with many people deliberately choosing non-trendy names.


10 Responses

  1. I thought I was picking un-trendy names for my girls, but it turns out, I was wrong. The two names we choose ended up being very popular. I guess I will chalk it up to “group think” in my peer age group. Weird.

  2. I’m with the previous commenter. I had no idea how many “Elaina’s” we’d run into (of various spellings as well). And when I named our second daughter I had NO clue that her name was in the top 10 or top 20- Abigail. Everyone and everyone is naming their daughter Abigail this year it seems.

    I don’t look at the lists. I just name my babies what I think they should be named!

    And I’d love to hear more about your homeschooling.

    • Well, not much to say about homeschooling yet — my older son is not yet 5. However, both my kids know the alphabet, large & small letters; their numbers (my older son can count to 100; my younger son tends to still count “twenty-nine, twenty-ten…” so he needs a bit more work 😉 ); plus most if not all of the states & capitals (we have a CD that they love to listen to). I’ve sat down with them and worked with them on reading — of course, lots of reading stories to them, but more recently I’ve found some “Hooked on Phonics” stuff at yard sales, so I’m doing that a bit. My older son wants to go on to the advanced stuff, but he’s not got the first few pages totally down. I think he doesn’t quite “get it” and thinks the other stuff will be easier (?) or more fun (?) or something. Not sure. So, I’m encouraging them to learn stuff and expand their horizons (they “help” me around the house a lot, and it only takes me twice as long with their help as without 🙂 ), but I don’t push it. My younger son is actually a bit stronger on knowing his letters than my older son is — a few months ago, Keith would still sometimes mix up J & L, but Seth would always know. They both sometimes mix up b/d and p/q, but not frequently any more. They like to color, and play trains and stuff. I’ve worked some on addition, but they’re not really into it yet, so I’ve put it aside for another time. That’s about it!

  3. My sentiments exactly! We “try” to pick names that haven’t been in the top 100 for the last 5-10 years. This is true for our first, at least. Then we eased up and named our second a name in the top 80 and our third is probably among the top 50.

    But I feel the way you do–not a trendy or too-common name, and the name we choose, spelled the traditional way, so they won’t have to pronounce it for others or spell it.

    Perhaps it’s because I agree with you, but I think your naming ideas are very practical and your children will appreciate your foresight.

  4. I agree — sometimes a name you’ve picked becomes trendy and catches you unawares. I’m not sure what the “names criteria” were for my brother & SIL when they picked their sons’ names (Jackson & Parker), except I think I remember Ellen saying that she liked “last names as first names”. Anyway, had they wanted a “not-popular” name, like I do, they got caught with Jackson’s name! I remember thinking it quite a unique name, and rare, when they chose it some 8 years ago, but it was #100 in 1998, and is now #32 (2008)! Between 1990 and 1992, it dropped from #318 to 223 — in *two years*! So, yeah, sometimes you just can’t predict popularity! [Fwiw, “Parker” has become more common as well, dropping into the 100s in 1996, but still not below 100 as of 2008. I remember an actor by the name of Parker Stevenson from the ’80s; and I remember thinking it an odd/unusual name.]

    I have heard that there is… not so much “group-think” among age groups… but some form of commonality of thinking, as grandparents and great-grandparents age and pass away. The trend seems to be that you “can’t imagine” naming your child some “quaint, old name” because you associate it so strongly with your aged relative, and it just seems to be too “old” a name for such a fresh, young baby. But, since the people of that time also had names that were “trendy” for their time period (so a lot of Minnies, Myrtles, and Mauds), that since fell out of favor; suddenly many people have old Great-Aunt Minnie who died before they were born, and nobody they know of named Minnie now, and “isn’t “Minnie” a nice name for a baby?”

    One problem I have, is that I *really* like the name “Victoria” for a girl, and my husband has agreed to it (if we ever have a girl, and I’m not pregnant, nor planning on it now — so no rumors! 🙂 ), but it’s been a popular name ever since Queen Victoria came to rule! It fell a little out of favor in the 1930s, dropping into the 200s; but other than that, it’s been the 100s, and more recently, much less than 100, and almost in the top 25 now! Sigh…

  5. I also like less then popular (but not too odd…I grew up with a hippie name) Owen was not too popular when I named my first that…now others like it.
    I like names that start with vowels!
    My SIL named her baby this year Abigal!!!!

  6. I ended up naming my son the same name as his dad. I am glad I did in a way because he is the only kid who has his name. I had my heart set on Max and there are about 15 Maxes at the playground. Oh well, I guess I wasn’t the only one the read “Where the Wild Things Are”….

  7. I’m not sure there are names that you aren’t required to spell out. I went from ‘Rice’ to ‘Roscoe’ – both easy names – and yet have always had to spell it out. Or, in the case of my maiden name, make a reference to chicken…

    • True enough. I have to say “Kathy-with-a-K” all the time, even though it’s “normal.” And my last name of PeterSEN [not PetersOn] is misspelled constantly. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some emails due to people typing my name wrong. Oh, well, if they can’t listen well enough to write/type it correctly, that’s not my fault! My husband and I (and his brothers & their wives do this too) look at the junk mail and the bills and say, “Oh, that can’t be us — that’s not the right last name!” 😉 But my maiden name was a lovely Dutch name — Formsma. Really quite simple, but it got misspelled in dozens of different ways; and mispronounced in other ways — though pronounced exactly like it’s spelled, and spelled exactly like it sounds. Still, I’m not sure how “Keith” or “Seth” could be spelled differently, except perhaps “Keeth”? Keath?

  8. I’ve got Christian, Daja, and Liberty (goes by Libby). I wanted fairly unique names but not so difficult that the kids would have a hard time spelling them or people have a hard time pronouncing them.

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