im wondering what it is like to have a popular name. based on your experiences with the popularity of your name, how did it or how will it affect your choosing of names for a child?
i have a name that is confusing to say and spell. Therefore, it is important to me to give children names that are easy to say and spell. i do enjoy uncommon names but they cant be difficult uncommon names.
i find many name lovers on boards like these are lovers of uncommon names and would never choose a name in the top 100. i think thats exaggerated. if i look at the list from my birth year, there are names on there that i know 0-1 people with
IngaParticipant1 month, 3 weeks ago
I was a Jennifer (Jenny) born in the late 1970′s. I doubt any of the top names today are anywhere near as popular in terms of percentage of children with the name. It was annoying in high school to walk down the overcrowded halls and hear people calling for a Jenny … usually one of the many other Jennys. I stopped responding to my name in the halls, which drove my friends crazy. I also volunteered in a group, where there were three of us working together: Jennifer, Jenny (me) and Jen. That was sort of weird. Overall though, having a common name wasn’t a bad experience. I was never made fun of for my name. People could always pronounce it and at least get close on the spelling. People generally didn’t have a pre-conceived notion of what they thought I’d be like based on my name. Even though there were other Jennifer/Jennys at school, I often was the only one in a class. I don’t think I’ve ever even been employed somewhere with another Jennifer/Jenny/Jen. Basically, I think people over estimate issues related to popular names.
I named my son Ethan, so obviously having a popular name didn’t steer me away from giving my child a popular name. For me, it was more about naming him something that we liked that wasn’t already used by any family, friends or coworkers. While, we do occasionally come across another Ethan, my son has never been in any class or kid group with another Ethan. He’s actually the only one at his school. At the same time, I constantly see names that are considered much less popular used for multiple kids in a classroom. You just never know!
embraParticipant1 month, 3 weeks ago
I think the popular names vary to some extent state to state as well. If you are concerned about the popularity of a particular name, it might be worthwhile for you to track down how popular it is in your area in particular. As Inga-Jenny said though, today’s popular names aren’t as commonly used as the popular names of our childhoods %-wise, so even the Emilys and Madisons of the world probably won’t be found in swarms. I loved having a classic but not terribly common name growing up. The only downside was that I never was able to find the erasers and pencils and mini-license plates with my name on them at a time that that was exciting.
thanks for the interesting responses. i agree inga that problems with popular names are exaggerated and you just never know. like i work in a classroom with 3 other aides all named maureen. and there is a fourth maureen in the school in another classroom. i was under the assumption that maureen was an uncommon name. and all the maureens say they have never met anyone else with the name before this job. thats like you said, your son has classmates with names much lower on the charts than ethan. i guess whats most important is choose what you like.
also when you guys say popular names today arent as common as popular names of our birth years, does that mean that there were more jennifers than there are sophias?
My name was #2 the decade I was born.
I have mixed feelings about it. Overall I didn’t mind that much. My maiden name and married last name both trip people up, so I LOVE that my FN is really easy for people to remember, say and spell.
I did initially want to give our kids names outside of the top 20 but DH and I couldn’t agree on anything less popular. Their names turned out to be #4 and #5 the year they were born (they both went up in popularity after we named them) and one boys’ name has been the #1 boys’ name in our state for something like 13 years. I do hate that he always has to be “Will M.” in preschool, on his T-ball team, etc., but he doesn’t seem to mind that much. I figured there would be more that went by William, Liam, etc., but there are just a ton of Wills everywhere. I still love the name but by contrast we rarely run across another Alex. It was the #4 name nationally when he was born but IIRC it’s out of the top 10 in our state.
Oh and having just read the previous responses, I agree with everything they say!
And yes, the % of babies born today who are given any of the top 10 names is much lower than the % of babies in previous generations who had top 10 names. More parents these days are trying to go for “unique” names.
And the mention of checking state popularity and not just national popularity seems to make a HUGE difference, as I can tell by boys with the #4 and #5 names nationally, and yet we run into tons of boys in our city with that #5 name and very few with that #4 name. I do feel like if you go outside the top 5-10, you are less likely to encounter multiples in one class.
But like you said, it can be totally random. We had two Tristans in our nursery at church for a while, and that’s not even in the top 100 (and there were only about 15 “regulars” in the nursery) so really, what are the odds?
Inga/Jennifer, I TOTALLY forgot about that, but your post reminded me that when I was in college, I stopped responding to “Amy” in crowds, too. We had a college “mugbook” where everyone was listed in alpha order by FN and that’s how I discovered that Amy was THE most popular name at my university (followed closely by Sara(h), my sister’s name). I joked my freshman year that I was going to start going by Dominique instead, so a bunch of my friends called me that for a while. And when I was in 1st grade, out of a class of 16, there was Amy K, Amy W, and an Aimee Jo.
If Will at some point gets tired of being “Will M.” everywhere and decides to go by Gabe instead, I’ll be OK with that.
IngaParticipant1 month, 3 weeks ago
To address the % question. If you look at the SSA list of most popular names by state, you can see quick a difference over the years in how names are spread out.
In Missouri during the year I was born, 1977, there were 1427 Jennifers born (#1) and 811 Amys (#2). By the time you get to the #10 spot there were only 467 Kimberlys, which is only 1/3 of the number in the top spot. By the time you get down the #100, that name is only used 4% of the time that the #1 name was used, so you’d have 100 Jennifers for every 4 Julias!
Compare that to 2013, where the top spot has 422 Emmas (#1), 362 Olivias (#2) and 216 Madisons (#10). It trickles on down in numbers. Parents now are choosing from a much wider range of names which makes popular names a lower percentage total of all the babies born.
Funny enough, I also had two Tristans in my daycare class, but that was 10 years ago. I had never met one before and haven’t met another since. Ethan’s baby class of 8 kids had two Penelopes and that name was #252 in the US the year they were born. There was also an Emerson and an Emersyn in his small gymnastics class, again the ranking was 200+ the year they were born. It’s always interesting how these things work out.
Great analysis, Inga! That puts numbers to the anecdotal observations I’ve made.
DH told me as a kid he didn’t like having an uncommon name … I looked it up and it was #12 the year he was born!! (Granted, it may have been lower in his state, but still.) As a kid he wished he had a more popular name. So when I see people consider a name that is, say, #50 “way too popular” or refuse to consider anything in the top 100, top 500 or even top 1000 … I feel like they’re making it harder on themselves than they really need to.
And DANG, that is a crazy difference between the #1 and #2 names! I wouldn’t have thought it would be that big a difference.
TheWishingStarParticipant1 month, 3 weeks ago
My name was #26 my birth year, and #23 the year after. So not like, top ten, but there were always several other Kelseys in my grade in school, if not another in my class. Enough of us that it seemed painfully common – I’ve honestly met more Kelseys than Ashleys or Jessicas, which were #1 and 2 that year.
But, I feel like #26 shouldn’t be that common, and being that high on the list, I should have had a lot fewer issues with people misspelling it that I do (How does EVERYONE assume it’s Kelsie??). That’s a big part of why I dislike my name – I knew a ton of people with the same name, but no one could spell it. Or they’d assume it’s Chelsea, which is even worse. That’s more of a concern for me – easy and logical to spell and pronounce, and not too similar to other popular names (Like, I’d avoid Isabelle and Sophie right now for sure). But I’d deal with using a really common name over one that my kid will constantly have to spell for people. I’d prefer it to be something a little less common, but a lot of the names I love are in the top 50, if not even higher.
I also would completely avoid names that I know people who live near me have used recently. Like, if someone in the neighborhood just used a name, even if you don’t know them that well, the kids will be in school together, and that’s how your kid will end up forever being called their first name and last initial… You’ll never be able to completely avoid it, but at least you can try a little.