What’s in a Name?

Updated October 2014

Top Baby Names
(according to Social Security website)

1890  John           Mary

1900  John          Mary

1910  John          Mary

1920  John           Mary

1930  Robert       Mary

1940  James        Mary

1950  James        Linda

1960  David         Mary

1970  Michael     Jennifer

1980  Michael     Jennifer

1990  Michael      Jessica

2000  Jacob          Emily

2010  Noah        Sophia

Bought any baby gifts lately? If so, you might have bought a rattle for Jacob or Isabella, Ethan or Olivia. When I was a child, I’d more likely give a stuffed animal to Jennifer, Lisa, Michael or James.

I think baby names are fascinating. Here’s a site where you can spend a whole lotta time seeing baby names popular when you were born, when your kids were born, or anytime you’d like. Despite all the unusual celebrity baby names making the news, a majority of baby names follow trends.

Turns out, “Susan” was the 3rd most popular name for the year of my birth, surpassed only by Lisa and Mary. Looking through the popular names for that year is like a stroll down the memory lane of my childhood: Karen, Cynthia, Debbie, Julie, Lori, Kim … and it’s interesting that almost every popular boy’s name is very traditional: Michael, John, David, James, Robert … no Forest or Cullen or Aiden to be seen.

I always wanted to choose names for my girls that weren’t popular. Maybe this comes from years of being “Susan B” or sometimes even “Susan Ba” during my youth. I’m happy to report that Caroline hasn’t become any more popular than #62 on the list for girls in the  past ten years. Isabel reached its peak at #83, and Sophie apparently was my least-successful choice, reaching #59 in 2010 (although, the year she was born, it was #151).

One thing I’ve noticed, and perhaps others have felt the same, is that once I give a name to my child, it starts becoming more popular. I have particularly noticed this in the crowds of Isabellas and Sophias out there. No doubt, other parents noticed my good taste and felt free to embellish my names a bit :).

Check out your name. How popular was it when you were born? Is it a popular name now? I suppose if I really wanted a unique name, I should have named a daughter after me. In 2010, Susan was #792 for girls.

You may also enjoy:

Most Unusual Celebrity Baby Names


7 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. It looks like the most popular my name (Kristine) has ever been was the year I was born – and it made #104. The problem with having a “unique” name is that people just can’t seem to get it right – and it’s not even like my name is difficult. Besides the spelling issue, I frequently get called “Kristin,” “Kristina,” or even “Karen.”

    In my 6th grade class, we had a Kristine (me), a Kristina, a Christine and a Christina. Seriously.

  2. My name was #408 for the year I was born. In 2003 it was #47, which was the height of its popularity. I named my daughter Julia, which was ranked #33 the year she was born. My boys are Joel and Nathan. Those names were ranked #112 and #31 respectively for the years of their births. Fun topic, Susan!

  3. What a glorious time-waster, lol! Irresistible… my name, spelled the way it is, has never been particularly popular. But I like it fine. Even though nobody spells it right… 😉

  4. I see in 1941 my name, Sharon, was fifteenth on the list. Had I been a boy, I would have been Stanley.

  5. Well, I just learned that my name was 46th most popular the year I was born. Yet in my very small high school, there was an Elaine a year ahead of me. In nursing school, which was a class of about 62 of us, I believe, there was at least one other Elaine, and maybe two. I was supposed to have been named Eleanor, but I’ve probably already told you that story.

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