Name Comebacks

It’s interesting to see how names that went out of style, similar to fashion, are becoming popular again. Names like Henry and Charlotte were fairly popular 100 years ago before nearly dying off and then seeing a revival in the last decade or so. Two of my coworkers have daughters named Charlotte; Chelsea Clinton named her daughter Charlotte; and my friend’s sister recently named one of her twins Charlotte. I have a college friend who named her son Henry and Julia Roberts did the same. Yet I can’t think of a single person around my age named Charlotte or Henry except for a friend of a friend named Charlotte who lives in my apartment building.

These names sound fresh and cool- for whatever reason, it’s adorable (to me and others, at least) to currently name your baby son George, Jack or Henry, names we traditionally think of for old men. People are going back to the classics, perhaps picking a name their great-grandparents had (or could have had). After many years in the 1990s and 2000s of girls being given boy or masculine-sounding names like Jordan, Riley and Taylor, parents started going back to more feminine names that were popular long ago, like Emma, Olivia, Ava, Alice, and Olive, many of which end with an “a” instead of a “y” sound like most popular 80s/90s names like Ashley, Brittany, and Mackenzie. It’s rare for boys to have an “a”-ending name- exceptions include “ah” names like Elijah, Micah, Ezra, Jonah, and Joshua- all Biblical names. Dakota, Dana, Ira, and Luca/Luka make up the few “a”-ending, non-Biblical names that are at least somewhat commonly assigned to boys, but the first three are also frequently assigned to girls. I’ve noticed from following pro tennis, which has become very international, that many European women on tour have “a”-ending names, like Maria, Anna and Martina, and tend to be more traditional; much more so than the American women, whose names are all over the board, from Venus to Madison to Shelby.

The graph below shows several names experiencing comebacks after dying off following the 20s and 30s. I noticed that they started going downhill around the time of a low-point in US births (see this post to see how many babies were born in the US each year) but they obviously didn’t go back up during the baby boom, indicating a major decrease in popularity. Emma is the most popular of all these and I’m curious if that peak in 2003 happened because of Rachel from the popular show Friends naming her daughter Emma in a May 2002 episode. Or it could have just been that it reached its max popularity before it became too popular for everyone, but I bet Emma Geller Green had at least some impact!

Click to enlarge
Comebacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s