Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Predictions for the 2014 Top 100


It is now April, which means we can officially say the 2014 SSA Popular Baby Names list will be out next month! It's Christmas in May for name enthusiasts and I, for one, can't wait to see what names made their move upward last year. I am not one who likes to make predictions, but there is something about this list that forces me to go out on a limb.

Here are 10 names I think have a chance to jump up into the Top 100 for 2014...

GIRLS

Alice
2013 Rank: #107
Once ranked as high as #8 in the 1880s and early 1900s, Alice is currently in the news as being one of the top contenders for the new English princess. But the name has already been climbing gradually among American parents since the 1990s and does not have too far to go to break into the Top 100. If it doesn't do it this time, a Princess Alice will surely help make that final push for 2015.

Cora
2013 Rank: #127
Cora has been rising from elegant obscurity since the 1990s, even before the influence of Downton Abbey's matriarch Lady Cora (but she didn't hurt the name either). This would be a return to the Top 100 for Cora, which made it as high as #15 in 1880 and remained in the Top 100 through 1912.

Elsa
2013 Rank: #528
Frozen came out in November 2013. With an entire year of Queen Elsa under parents' belts and the fact that the Elizabeth nickname was already gaining steam since the late 1990s, it would be no big surprise to see Elsa move up in 2014. The question is, can it jump more than 428 spots into the Top 100?

Everly
2013 Rank: #383
For a name that was barely even used for girls before 2000, Everly has made huge strides in the past couple of years. Honestly, this is my most far-reaching pick for Top 100 this year, but I think it has tremendous potential, especially after receiving some status in the celebrity baby name realm. I also love that I picked this name to enter the Top 1000 back in 2012 (which I got right)!

Vivian
2013 Rank: #119
Speaking of celebrity baby names, how much love has Vivian and Vivienne received in the past several years? That fact and knowing the name has gradually grown in usage since the 1980s, makes Vivian a pretty strong possibility to take over a spot in the Top 100. It held a spot from 1911 through 1934 and ranked at #64 at its highest, so it is not too far of a reach to expect it back there soon.

BOYS

Asher
2013 Rank: #104
Biblical names are both classic and on the rise. Asher is one of the latter. Admittedly, Asher doesn't have far to go to make it into the Top 100, but year by year, it just keeps gaining ground so this could be the year it will slip into the top group.

Ezra
2013 Rank: #143
Another Biblical name that is slowly clambering up the ranks, Ezra has been given to boys since 1880 but it is currently at its highest rate of usage. It also has the cool "z" sound that could help it continue to rise right into the Top 100.

Jayce
2013 Rank: #146
Jace and Jase are now firmly in the Top 100, so why shouldn't Jayce join them? I really don't see a reason why all three can't be in the top, especially with the continued popularity of Duck Dynasty and the ongoing need to vary the spelling of trendy names.

Leo
2013 Rank: #112
Leo was a steady Top 100 name from 1882 through 1937, but never made it higher than #38. Its raw numbers are reaching almost the same amount now as they were back then and they continue to soar. Leo is a true example of the old becoming new again and re-entering the Top 100 would be additional proof to support that assertion.

Maddox
2013 Rank: #169
The name Maddox wasn't even given to children before 1995 (at least it wasn't recorded until then), but it seemed to really start rising after Angelina Jolie used the name for her first child in 2002. At the rate it keeps rising I don't see it slowing down and the continued appeal of the "x" should help propel it into the Top 100 soon.

What do you think? Do you agree with any of these names or do you see a different name joining the Top 100 for 2014?

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Naming Your New Baby - 1979


A friend of mine gave me an old pamphlet entitled "Naming Your New Baby" that was published in 1979. The above picture is the helpful information presented at the beginning, but the rest of the pamphlet is a bunch of name suggestions. I found it all very interesting. Included in about 1,000 names, there was a fascinating mixture of classic and modern names alongside some pretty unusual choices for such a short list. Here are some of the name suggestions that really caught my eye...

Girls
Aileen
Alma
Augusta
Babette
Bernice
Bertha
Beulah
Bonny
Cherry
Clarice
Cleo
Consuela
Cornelia
Daphne
Deirdre
Della
Dinah
Dione
Elvira
Eudora
Fern
Fifi
Freda
Fritzi
Gay
Gilda
Gwynne
Gypsy
Hatty
Hedda
Helga
Hulda
Ilka
Inez
Lenore
Lolita
Lotty
Lucinda
Luella
Lulu
Madge
Maisie
Marcella
Minerva
Moira
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Olga
Ophelia
Peony
Poppy
Prudence
Queena
Rae
Rhoda
Rowena
Selma
Sybil
Tallulah
Tillie
Udele
Undine
Wallis
Xanthe
Xenia
Xylina
Zelda
Zenia
Zinnia

Boys
Abbot
Adolph
Alastair
Alden
Aldo
Alonzo
Angus
Archibald
Arlo
Ashley
Averill
Barclay
Barnaby
Bartley
Basil
Baxter
Beman
Bently
Bertram
Beverly
Booth
Boris
Boyd
Brewster
Brock
Burgess
Caeser
Carey
Chalmers
Clement
Crandall
Crawford
Creighton
Cyril
Dana
Denton
Dick
Durward
Edsel
Ellery
Emil
Errol
Erskine
Fabian
Farley
Fletcher
Fritz
Garrick
Giles
Godfrey
Hall
Hilary
Hiram
Hobart
Horace
Hubert
Jarvis
Kelly
Kendall
Kermit
Kim
Kingsley
Kip
Kirby
Konrad
Lamont
Langley
Lars
Launcelot
Leigh
Lindsay
Llewellyn
Lucian
Lydell
Lyman
Maynard
Merle
Merton
Monroe
Mortimer
Myron
Nigel
Oakley
Ogden
Olaf
Pierre
Porter
Prescott
Raleigh
Remus
Rolf
Rollo
Shelley
Sherwin
Sinclair
Sloan
Sol
Thurston
Upton
Uriah
Vladimir
Whitney
Winslow
Winthrop
Wolcott
Woodley
Wylie
Xenophon
Yancey
Yardley
Yates
York

Were they seriously still suggesting Adolph as a baby name in 1979? Although 44 boys were given the name in 1979.

Why suggest Bonny instead of Bonnie? The more popular spelling was obviously Bonnie... 1,626 girls were named Bonnie in 1979 while 81 were named Bonny.

And, as an example of some of the very rare names on this list, where did Chalmers, Durward and Erskine come from? Only 5, 6, and 17 boys were given those names, respectively, in 1979.

These suggestions are just so random, but oh so fun!

Which of these would you use?

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Friday, January 30, 2015

THE Names


I am currently in love with the name Thea. The debate between Thea on its own or using it as a nickname for Theodora is ongoing. In any case, I decided to look up the popularity of both, as well as other names that begin with The- (with the th pronunciation; I do not include Theresa or Therese). There are several fabulous one!

Theodore is, of course, the most popular of the bunch. 2,397 boys were given the name in 2013 and it ranked at #170. Theodor was given to 45 boys.

Theo is the second most popular, given to 358 boys in 2013. It ranked at #666.

The first girl's name on the list is Thea! The short form for Theodora (as well as Dorothea) is more popular than the long form. It was given to 209 girls in 2013, but it was not ranked. I also found 18 girls were named Theia.

Next comes Theodora. 94 girls were given the name in 2013, and 15 were named Theadora.

Theodore, Theo, Thea, Theodora all showed increases from 2012. Will they continue to rise? We'll see when the 2014 numbers come out in May!

Now let's check out the rest of the THE names from 2013...

Theron* M 86
Theophilus M 37
Theseus M 31
Thelma F 19
Theon M 15
Thelonious** M 14
Theodoros M 14
Theoden M 13
Theory F 9
Theodis M 8
Theda F 7
Thessaly F 5
Theofanis M 5

*There were also 6 boys names Theran and 5 boys named Therin. Not sure if they are all pronounced the same, as Theron could be pronounced like Charlize Theron's name or with the first syllable stressed.

** There were also 5 boys named Thelonius.

Theron means "hunter" in Greek. Theophilus is Biblical, as Luke wrote the book of Acts to him, and means "friend of god" in Greek. Theseus was a hero in Greek legend. Theon has Greek roots, but is currently popular from a character in Game of Thrones. Theda is another nickname for Theodora. Thessaly is the name of an area in Greece. And Theodis and Theofanis (spelled Theofanes) also have Greek origins. As you can see, most THE names are Greek.

What about the non-Greeks? Thelma was invented for a Norwegian novel. Thelonious is a Latin form of Tilo, which is German. Theoden comes from The Lord of the Rings. Theory is a word.

Because of my love for all things LOTR, I happen to adore Theoden. Thessaly also catches my eye, although some could see it as a tongue-twister.

Which is your favorite THE name?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Spellings of Katherine

As we read in Name-alytics, there are three spellings of Katherine that have been in the Top 100... Catherine, Katherine and Kathryn (the Big 3). Catherine reached its peak in 1914, Katherine reached its peak in 1988, and Kathryn reached its peak in 1951. That alone is quite fascinating to those interested in the history of name popularity, but it is not enough to satisfy my detail-specific thirst.

How have each of these spellings fared over the years in comparison to each other as well as to other spellings of the name? The graph below shows each spelling's percentage of use from 1938 through 2013. (My database only has the percentage of use information from 1938 onward because the raw data from the SSA is not available prior to that year.)


If I only wanted to prove that the Big 3 were and are the dominant spellings over the years, you can see it here. But even more interestingly, you can see where exactly the spelling preference changed from Catherine to Katherine. In 1973, parents made the switch from C to K, which probably goes along with the trends of the time.

Another impressive pattern you can recognize in the graphic are the two humps. In the 1940s and 1950s, there is a swelling of usage for all of the Big 3, with Catherine taking the lead, followed by Kathryn, and then Katherine. The 1960s and 1970s brought a decrease in usage, and then another boom occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s, this time with Katherine taking the lead, followed by Kathryn, and then Catherine, who only seemed to go down from its peak in the 1950s.

To take this observation even further, I present the next graph. Because they are Top 100 names and therefore subjects of my Name-alytics research, I have the percentage of usage data for the Big 3 from 1880 through 1937...


Do you see the slight hump in the 1910s? And Catherine and Katherine may very well be coming down from another hump occurring off-graph prior to 1880. You can also see exactly how popular Catherine was at its peak... 8 out of every 1,000 girls were named Catherine in the mid-1910s. Catherine was more popular at its height than Katherine or Kathryn ever were at theirs.

But let's move on. Referring back to the first chart, starting in the late 1990s, and continuing currently, you can see the trend is moving away from Katherine, no matter how you spell it. Katherine is still the most popular of the Big 3, but Catherine overtook Kathryn at the turn of the century.

As for the non-Big 3 spellings, the upswing of Katherine and Kathryn in the 1980s helped Katharine have a rise in popularity during that time as well. Katharine still has the highest popularity out of the rest, followed by Katheryn, Cathryn, Catharine, and Catheryn. (There are plenty of other spellings of Katherine that have been used... I just chose to concentrate on these for the purposes of this post.)

So, what does all of this mean? Well, Katherine has shown to be quite a roller-coaster of a name. Making this discovery leads me wonder if the wave will continue and another influx of Katherines will appear in the next decade or so. If so, I wonder which spelling will take control then? What do you think? Will Catherine join the trend towards older favorites and come back into the forefront?

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Name Madness 2014 Winners!


HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to the post announcing the winners of Name Madness 2014! As we may have surmised from the entire tournament, one matchup was a blowout, while the other was tremendously close. Forty-five of you voted, and the results are...

Vivien 67%
June 33%

Rhys 49%
Harrison 51%

Congratulations to Vivien and Harrison!

Vivien continued her dominance, wiping out June the same way she did against Annette, Angelina, Viola, and Dorothy.

Only one vote separated Rhys and Harrison. Harrison also beat Hugh, Heath, Gable, and Dean on his path to glory.

So the Hollywood Names battle ended with a 1930s-1950s starlet name and a 1930s-1950s star surname/modern action star given name as the victors. Is this how you would have predicted the outcome? Are you happy or disappointed with the results?

One sidenote... do you like the spelling of Vivien? Interestingly, Vivien Leigh's birth name was Vivian. The spelling was changed when she started acting.

Thank you so much for making this tournament and fun success! Onto the 2015!

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