Thursday, August 8, 2013

N Names: Then and Now

There were NO boy names that started with N in the Top 100 in 1880. Norman showed up sporadically starting in 1886 and then stuck around after 1897. It was the only N boy name on top until 1955, when again, there were none. Not until 1972 did both Nathan and Nicholas come on the scene and then Nathaniel joined in 1978. Noah showed up in 1995 and finally Nolan appeared in 2011. Other than Norman, all of these names are still in the Top 100 and have had their strongest years in the 2000s. So, unlike F boy names, N boy names are coming more into fashion now than before.

What about the girl N names? Well, in 1880, there were 4 of them in the Top 100:


What a fascinating group of names! Nannie disappeared from the top for good after 1889, Nettie fell out after 1901, and Nora dropped after 1905. Nellie stuck around until 1925; Norma and Nancy kept her company for a few years, entering the Top 100 in 1918 and 1919 respectively (Nancy also briefly appeared in 1917). Norma eventually fell off after 1947 and left Nancy alone at the top for 21 years, until 1969 when Nicole jumped in, followed by Natalie in 1976 and Natasha in 1980. Nancy stayed firm until after 1978. Nicole's popularity brought Nichole into play, albeit temporarily, from 1982 through 1985 and Natasha fell after 1989. The 2000s gave us Nevaeh in 2005 and Natalia for brief appearances in 2006 and 2010. Nicole dropped out of the Top 100 after 2007, but soon after was replaced by Naomi in 2010. So, while we started with four rather nicknamey names in 1880, we are now with three very different names in Naomi, Natalie and Nevaeh in the Top 100. Naomi is the only one currently on the upswing.

What do you think about the progression of N names in the Top 100? The boys are straight forward with the addition of Biblical and other classic names, but it's interesting how all the girls start out a little informal (as a lot of names were back then) and become pretty conventional with Natalie and Naomi. Nevaeh is an exception, of course, as it is "heaven" backwards and not very conventional, but it has quite a following and could remain at the top for a while longer. Do you have any other observations about these possible trends?

Check out similar posts on the history of F names and H boy names in the Top 100 since 1880.



  1. Kelli,I love this blog and your analysis but I can't resist this one comment. You missed me! Nancy was in the top 100 every year from 1920-1978. Also in the top 10 from 1935-1955. Highest ranking was 6 in 1950, the year I was born. I well remember 4th grade where there were 3 Nancys in my class. I guess most Nancy's are now grandmothers like me! FYI Retirement is great!

    1. oh my goodness! you are totally right! how could i forget Nancy? i highlighted the information on my spreadsheet and somehow Nancy missed being highlighted. thank you! off to edit...

  2. I've never liked N names all that much. Nolan and Nora are nice though, probably my favorites if I had to choose. Very interesting info though! And yes, can't forget Nancy!

    Kara @ TheArtofNaming

  3. Hey Kelli, I just came across your blog! I've enjoyed the comments you've left on mine, I had no idea you had this blog up and running. Didn't you have a family blog? What's the address to that? Speaking of N names, I always thought if I had twin girls I'd name then Natalie and Naomi. I always liked those names. My mother-in-law's name is Nancy, but I can't really imagine naming one of my kids that. It screams 1950s like Debra (my mom's name) and Barbara and Wendy and Sherrie and so forth. But maybe it will make a comeback.


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