Friday, April 26, 2013

A Case for the Letter: M - Girls

Crochet Wall Letter M
Photo by NestingMagpie via Flickr

After going through the popular M boy names, the girls will take a little more time! There were 30 M boy names that reached the Top 200 in the decades since the 1880s. There are 75 M girl names in that same category. Let's get to it!

Some observations/questions:
  • Only three names have been consistently on top since the 1880s: Margaret, Maria, and Mary.
  • Several names dropped off the chart after making a jump in the previous decade: Mallory, Marcella, Marianne, Marsha, Meredith and Muriel.
  • The only name that fell out of the Top 200 and return after several decades is Madeline.
  • There are quite a few spelling variations of popular names included in the Top 200: Mabel/Mable, Mackenzie/Makenzie/Mckenzie, Madeline/Madelyn, Mae/May, Makayla/Michaela/Mikayla, Mamie/Mayme, Marcia/Marsha, Maria/Mariah, Marian/Marion, Marianne/Maryann, Marisa/Marissa, Mathilda/Matilda, Maud/Maude, Meagan/Megan/Meghan, Michele/Michelle, Mollie/Molly.
  • Mollie and Molly are the only variations that appeared in completely different decades. Mollie was the favored spelling in the late 1800s, while Molly is the favored spelling now.
  • There are also quite a few names that made an appearance in one decade only (not counting the 1880s or 2000s since we don't know if they appeared previously or will reappear yet): Mandy, Marisa, Maryann, Melody, Mercedes, Michaela, Mindy, and Myrna. 
  • Michaela entered with the highest popularity of its pronunciation in the 1990s (141) and then dropped off in the 2000s, while its spelling variations rose in popularity from the 1990s to the 2000s: Makayla (156 to 46) and Mikayla (169 to 139). 
  • The chart allows for some interesting visuals. For instance, you can obviously see the Mel- names enter in the 1950s: Melanie, Melinda, Melissa; with Melody added temporarily in the 1960s. Melinda has since dropped out of the Top 200, but Melanie and Melissa are still going strong. 
  • A similar visual with Megan: Megan entered in the 1970s and variations Meagan and Meghan entered in the 1980s. While Megan is still on the chart, the variations both fell off after the 1990s.
  • And finally, the ever-puzzling fall of Mary and, to a lesser extent, Margaret. Mary was at the top of the top for almost 100 years (and probably longer if records from pre-1880s were kept) and has fallen gradually since the 1960s. Margaret was near the top for about 60 years and has taken a fall since the 1940s, with a temporary gain in the 1980s, and could very well fall out of the Top 200 in the next decade or two. Maybe it’s not too puzzling if you consider over-use as a reason to seek out variety, but to hold the top for so long, Mary is a name to be respected and possibly renewed.
Which of these Top 200 names is your favorite? Can you think of any other M names that could enter the cart in the 2010s? Do you have any other observations?


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