Monday, August 26, 2013

I Names: Then and Now

Although it wasn't planned, these "Then and Now" posts on beginning letters are becoming a series of sorts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

In 1880, Ira and Isaac were the two boy I names in the Top 100. They fell out after 1898 and in 1911, Irving briefly appeared for a few years. But from 1915 until 1981, there were no boy I names in the Top 100. In 1982, Ian broke in and was joined by Isaac (again) in 1995 and Isaiah in 1996.

In 1880, Ida was the only girl I name in the Top 100. In a few short years though, Irene joined Ida in 1883, and then Inez joined both of them in 1908 for six years. Ida fell out after 1931 and Irene fell out for good after 1950. From 1951 until 1997, there were no girl I names in the Top 100. In 1998, Isabella jumped in, followed by Isabel in 1999 and Isabelle 2005. While Isabel fell out after 2008 and Isabelle fell out after 2009, Isabella still remains strong.

In 2012, Ian, Isaac, and Isaiah are the boy I names and Isabella is the only girl I name in the Top 100. Looking beyond the 100, other I names in the Top 500 include Ivan, IsabelleIzabella, Ivy, Iker, Isla, Israel, Iris, Ismael, Imani, Izaiah, Itzel, Issac, and Ibrahim. Just out of curiosity, I checked the Top 500 in 1880 and found some other great finds: Iva, IrvinIna, Irma, Idella, Irwin, Iona, Isom, Ila, and Iola.

The letter I makes a few different sounds at the beginning of names, and those sounds may depend on how you pronounce them. According to my ears, of the I names in the Top 500, eight make the "eye" sound, seven make the "ih" sound, and two make the "ee" sound. Do you prefer one sound over the others?

What is your favorite I name? Do you think Ira, Irving, Ida, Irene, Inez or any of the other names from 1880 would ever come back?



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