American Names · Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Modern names

Name Profile: Beverly

Do you like the sound of Everly but prefer something vintage? Is Evelyn, which ranks #9 in the U.S., too popular for you? You may love Beverly, an old English place name meaning something akin to “beaver stream” or “beaver meadow.”

Beverly: Surname, Place Name; Likely Meaning: "Beaver Stream" or "Beaver Meadow," or someone who lives near there; popular baby name from 1905 to 1999 for girls, until the 1950s for boys; Rare alternative to Evelyn and Everly; Vintage and Modern.

Beverly was one of the very first last-names-as-baby-names to become popular for girls. We’ve come a long way in that naming genre! I wager that most preschools have students named Harper and Avery, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if their moms or teachers are named Ashley or Taylor. Their grandmothers might be Leslie and Kelly, and their great-grandmothers could be Shirley or Beverly. The names change, but the style remains the same. Beverly was a part of the vanguard that made it cool to name a baby girl with a surname, or to name a baby girl with a boys’ name. Beverly’s old-fashioned now, but I think it’s one of the first truly modern baby names.

Beverly, like Shirley and other surname baby names, originally began as a men’s name. Indeed, Beverly became conventionally unisex for nearly 50 years before the 1950s, when it dropped out of the U.S. top 1000 for boys. I dare say that when Beverly first became popular for girls, for a brief period it was even gender neutral…as gender neutral as a name could be while trending before World War I! Even so, once it really took off for girls, there was no turning back. It was officially feminine.

What made Beverly popular to begin with? Those first names in that style didn’t come from nowhere; we know the concept of Shirley as a girls’ name came from a Bronte character . As it turns out, Beverly became popular because of a hit 1904 book, Beverly of Graustark, and a later 1920s movie based on the story. The timing is just right to imagine Beverly as a flapper or the baby of one. Beverly has a certain glamorous old-lady feel to it, making it a great choice for parents who want their daughters to sparkle and shine with confidence. There’s even the associations with Beverly Hills, California – for parents who want to evoke a sense of glitz, wealth, and celebrity – and Star Trek, for nerdy parents who love Beverly Crusher. Of course, the book that started it all isn’t even the most important literary connection to Beverly, at least not for modern parents. Today’s parents may wish to honor beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 104.

Like Everly, there’s well more than one way to spell Beverly. The most traditional alternate spelling is probably Beverley, which can be attested as a men’s name by the mid-18th century via Beverley Randolph (whose name came from a family surname). Other old spellings that aren’t currently in use for babies include Beverlee, Beverli, and Beverlye, though maybe surprisingly there’s no history of Beverleigh. There’s also Beverlyn, a rare name which peaked in the 50s but has the potential for trendiness in the 2020s and going into the 2030s thanks to the “Lyn” and “Lynn” endings that are so popular for baby girls’ names. Currently, the only two spellings parents are using are Beverly and Beverley.

Exactly how trendy is Beverly these days? Well, I think things are looking up. Beverly peaked in the 1930s and 40s before falling into near oblivion by the new millennium, eventually dipping reaching an almost 100-year-low in 2010 at just 99 girls in a year. Since then, it’s been creeping slowly back upwards – probably thanks to Everly, which started taking off right around then. Everly has actually dropped a little since its 2019 peak, but Beverly is still rising and was given to as many as 188 girls in 2021. Did Everly rise too quickly? Are parents already looking for something fresh but familiar with Beverly? Is it the vintage vibes? The nature meanings? If Beverly doesn’t take off now, I think it’s primed for the 2030s and 40s in a kind of 100-year-cycle.

What do you think of Beverly? Do you see it coming back soon? Let me know! 

Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

Name Profile: Benedict

I used to think Benedict was one of those names that was too stained by history for modern usage as a baby name. Growing up in a household with a parent enamored by Early America, and with my own interests in colonial history, Benedict Arnold’s treason always felt like the reason why nobody named their sons Benedict anymore. Why I didn’t consider Benedict‘s decades in the U.S. top 1000 or the more enduring popularity of Arnold never occurred to me. Maybe it’s because my generation grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and Hey Arnold, so our positive associations overrode the general’s surname. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked Benedict as a baby name! The fact is, until I was older I simply didn’t know of any living person who bore the name.

Nowadays, Benedict is a semi-popular top 1000 baby name in the United States! A few things have happened in the last 20 years to revive Benedict from the tomes of history and become a suitable modern baby name:

  • The first time I think I heard the name outside of 18th-century history was the 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI. When he became Pope, the name Benedict received a substantial boost. With his recent death on December 31st, 2022, expect to see another bump to the name in the 2023 data (though, it will be interesting to see if his nearly unprecedented abdication dampens some of the effects here since the papal transition already happened).
  • Sherlock arrived on TV in 2010, quickly obsessing Americans. With that, Benedict Cumberbatch became a ubiquitous household name and at that point, I think the name began making its way out of purely religious circles. If anyone’s had a heavy hand in fading negative historical associations for Americans, he has. It helps too that Cumberbatch starred in a major Marvel role as Dr. Strange.
  • Cumberbatch isn’t even the only Benedict in Dr. Strange! Benedict Wong played another major role as Wong. What are the chances of two major acting credits in the same movie going to men both named Benedict? Either way, both actors have appeared across numerous Marvel productions.
  • One word: Bridgerton. The romance series first arrived over 20 years ago in novel form, but the Netflix series has been a massive phenomenon since its introduction late in 2020. Benedict is the name of the second child and son, and there’s a good chance that the characterization helped push the name back into the Top 1000 for 2021.

Besides all the current religious and pop culture associations, Benedict fits a few popular name aesthetics. It’s long, elegant, and Latin, landing squarely into the maximalist style of distinguished baby names. Benedict is old-fashioned, giving it a boost for parents who love vintage names. Bridgerton grants Benedict Regency vibes. Anglophile parents also may love its British-sounding appeal. It’s not super popular but with a rank of #991, it’s firmly familiar to American parents. If you want to honor a Benjamin but prefer something more unusual, Benedict has you covered. And if you go by meanings, its definition (“blessed”) makes it an honorific option for the Hebrew name Baruch too. Overall, I think Benedict finds itself in a perfect storm for creating a popular baby name.

What do you think of Benedict?

American Names · Analysis

Names from Wednesday

Have you watched Wednesday yet?

My fiance and I grew up with the 90s Addams Family movies and still quote them regularly, so we knew we had to watch this new take on the universe. We finally finished it Wednesday night (ha!) and can’t wait for another season to drop. Not only was it the kind of dark comedy we love, but the mood and environment felt like a New England Hogwarts with more werewolves and vampires in the student body. I wasn’t 100% sure what “dark academia” was before, but I think I know now.

Speaking of dark academia, I think the show’s character names more than qualify for the aesthetic. Nerdy names in a Vermont boarding school named after Edgar Allan Poe (Nevermore) with tragedies galore…yup, they count! If you’ve seen the show or don’t mind mild spoilers, here are the names of the major teenage characters! I fully admit to taking notes while watching.

  • Wednesday – As we’ve known forever, our title character is the ultimate goth girl with a cold personality and dry, dark sense of humor. Parents started naming their daughters Wednesday in the 60s when the first iteration of the Addams Family hit TV, but it’s only been in the last 10-15 years that the name has started rising out from ultra-rare status. 112 girls were named Wednesday in 2021, up from 76 the year before (this latest rise is probably due to the animated movie). If it doesn’t hit the 2022 top 1000, expect to see Wednesday there in 2023. As a side note, the show does explain how Wednesday got her name (from a nursery rhyme stanza: “Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe”).
  • EnidEnid is Wednesday‘s roommate. A bubbly werewolf with a zoo of stuffed animals and a social media following, she is the last person you’d expect Wednesday to befriend. All in all, Enid is a great person, and I love that the creators chose an “old-lady” name for such a vibrant, modern-day character. Don’t be surprised if the name Enid gets a popularity bump from this. 34 girls were named Enid in the U.S. in 2021, which isn’t its most recent but is part of a general rise from 10 years ago. It peaked between 1919 and 1921, which means it’s ripe to return per the 100-year-naming cycle! Enid is an old Welsh-derived Arthurian name too, which puts her in good company with names like Arthur, Guinevere, and Percival (all rising in popularity).
  • BiancaBianca begins the show as a competitive rival and nemesis to Wednesday (seriously, her fencing skills are par none!), but overtime you realize she’s dealing with her own personal issues like everyone else and the mutual animosity fades into something like friendship. SPOILER: Bianca actually chose her own name. Her mother calls her Brandy Jane, but Bianca seems to hate it. Bianca, a Shakespearean character name which means “white” in Italian, currently ranks #447 in the U.S.
  • XavierXavier knew Wednesday before Nevermore and holds a candle to her. His name is already popular in the U.S. with a rank of #100, but seeing as it peaked in 2009, I’m not sure how much of a bump he’ll give it. I’m honestly a little surprised they went with a Top 100 name for a major student character.
  • EugeneEugene is one of the few names that has never left the U.S. Top 1000, though that will probably change soon if the show doesn’t give it a boost. It’s a sweet, geeky name that’s about what you’d expect the nerdy prep school student to be named in popular media…that said, this beekeeping character is awesome and I’d love to see some babies named after him. Current U.S. Rank: #848.
  • AjaxAjax is a gorgon like Medusa, which means he has to keep the top of his head covered at all times (even from himself). Most modern parents probably think of the cleaning agent when they hear this name, but Ajax is a character name from the Iliad. That means like Atlas, Persephone, and Artemis, it sees its origins in Greek Mythology. 23 boys were named Ajax in 2021, which makes it unusual but proves it’s usable…that said, I hope babies named Ajax are named after the warriors, not the brand.
  • TylerTyler is a “normie,” which means he’s not a student at the school. He has a great name, but I think it more-or-less reflects the difference between the non-magical townies versus the “outcasts” who attend the school. Tyler currently ranks #157 in the U.S.

More minor character names from their age cohort include:

  • RowanRowan was an important character for a couple of episodes. Though this is a popular name now, its association with the Rowan tree makes it a nature name and thus a great pick for a student of a magical boarding school. Current rank: #106 for boys and #241 for girls. 
  • Lucas – Like Tyler, a “normie” character with a standard name. Wildly popular internationally, Lucas ranks #8 in the U.S.
  • Yoko – Friends with Enid, Yoko‘s name probably reminds most people of Yoko Ono. Only 5 girls were named Yoko in 2021.
  • Davina – She appears to be a member of a secret society with Bianca and Ajax, but I only remember hearing her name once. Davina is a feminine form of David that currently ranks #576 in the U.S.
  • Kent – Like Davina, this was the name of a society member I only heard once. According to SSA data, 130 baby boys were named Kent in 2021.

I feel like I can’t complete a write-up on an Addams Family show without mentioning the following names:

  • MorticiaWednesday‘s mother’s name has been used very rarely since the 1960s, but expect to see a little bump up from the 10 baby girls who got the name in 2021. 
  • GomezWednesday‘s dad’s name only appeared in SSA data once in 1950.
  • Pugsley – Unless he gets his own show, I doubt Pugsley will ever inspire any baby names. Maybe a dog’s.

All in all, this show made for great baby name inspiration material! My fiance even said he wouldn’t mind naming a daughter Wednesday. As for me, I can’t wait to see what other names they might introduce in another season…hurry up Netflix!

Do you have any favorites from this list, or any you’d like to add? Let me know!

Sources: Besides my own notes, I consulted the Social Security Administration, Behind the Name, and Nancy’s Baby Names for data and information.

American Names · Analysis · Modern names

The Name Holly

Holly US Rank 465 Graphic.

For one reason or another, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the name Holly lately! Now that we’re into the month of December, that seems especially fitting.

Holly is the perfect name for a baby born around the Holidays because it evokes a sense of place and feeling for a joyful, magical time. It can take a religious association like the Holly & Ivy carol, but because it’s a plant it can also be as secular as the eggnog and jingles we fill our lives with in December. A baby Holly could be born to a family of any religious or cultural background who simply enjoys the time of year or celebrates a holiday in early winter and wants to commemorate the baby’s birth.

I’ve noticed that Holly is starting to rise in popularity again after a 40-year decline. It peaked in the 70s and 80s, but it doesn’t feel as dated as some of the other names that were trendy then. I suspect that’s because it’s never been in the top 10 or even the top 25, which makes it harder to associate with one specific era even if it belonged to one! At its most popular, Holly ranked only #48 in 1979 and 1983. Currently, it ranks #465 with 668 baby girls, slowly creeping from its most recent low point in 2016 at #526 (589 girls). Why has Holly stabilized and grown? My guess is that there’s a couple of things going on.

One of the biggest things the name Holly has going for it in the 2020s is that it’s a nature name. Nature names are massively trendy; I’m sure you know at least one baby girl named Violet, Hazel, or Willow. River is popular for any gender. Though Holly doesn’t have the vintage-American style laurels that Magnolia and Olive boast, it is the name of a tree (however seasonally specific). Today’s parents love tree names! You can’t find a corner of the internet where even tree-adjacent names like Asher and Oaklynn aren’t being discussed. For nature-loving parents having a December baby, Holly is the name to choose.

The other thing I think may be associated with Holly‘s growing popularity is the rising trendiness of similar-sounding names. Holland debuted in the top 1000 for girls in 2014, and now ranks its highest at #638 (462 girls; 87 boys also received the name). When one name becomes popular, similar names grow in turn; though Hollyn is still rare, it was given to 135 girls in 2021 – more than double the number named Hollyn in 2016 (56). Hollynn is an ultra-rare spelling at 11 uses, but 5 years earlier only 6 girls were given that spelling. You can also find babies named Hollynd, Hollin, and Hollan. Another increasingly trendy name to consider here is gender-neutral Hollis, which was given to 163 girls and 199 boys in 2021. Similar sounds boost names together by creating familiarity.

What do you think of Holly? Would you use it? Do you have any other ideas why it’s getting more popular? Let me know!

American Names · Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Popular Boys’ Names in 1917 *and* 2017

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Do you want to give your baby a name from 100 years ago that’s still usable today?  Here is a list of all the boys’ names that were popular (i.e. in the U.S. top 1000) in both 2017 and 1917!  You can also read my list of popular girls’ names from both years.

A: Aaron, Abel, Abraham, Abram, Adam, Adrian, Alan, Albert, Alberto, Alden, Aldo, Alec*, Alex, Alexander, Alfonso, Alfred, Alfredo, Allan, Allen, Alonzo, Alvin, Amos, Anderson, Andres, Andrew, Andy, Angel, Angelo, Anthony, Anton, Antonio, Arlo, Armando, Aron, Arthur, Arturo*, Asa, August, Augustine, Augustus, Austin, Avery

B: Ben, Benjamin, Bennett, Benson, Benton, Billy, Blaine, Bobby, Bradley, Brady, Brooks, Bruce, Bruno, Bryan, Bryant, Byron

C: Caleb*, Calvin, Carl, Carlos, Carmelo, Carson, Carter, Charles, Charlie, Chris, Christian, Christopher, Clark, Clay, Clayton, Clyde, Coleman, Conrad, Craig, Curtis, Cyrus

D: Dallas, Dalton, Daniel, Danny, Dante, Darrell, Darwin, David, Davis, Dayton, Dean, Dennis, Denver, Dexter, Dominic, Dominick, Donald, Douglas, Duncan

E: Eddie, Edgar, Edison, Edward, Edwin, Eli, Elias, Elijah, Elisha, Elliot, Elliott, Ellis, Emanuel, Emerson, Emery, Emilio, Emmet, Emmett, Emmitt, Emory, Enoch, Enrique, Eric, Ernest, Ernesto, Eugene, Evan, Everett, Ezekiel, Ezra

F: Felipe, Felix, Fernando, Finley*, Fletcher, Ford, Forrest, Foster, Francis, Francisco, Frank, Frankie*, Franklin, Frederick

G: Gabriel, Garrett, Gary, George, Gerald, Gordon, Grady, Graham, Grant, Gregory

H: Harlan, Harley, Harold, Harrison, Harry, Harvey, Hayden, Hayes*, Hector, Henry, Hezekiah*, Houston, Howard, Hudson, Hugh, Hugo, Hunter

I: Ignacio*, Ira, Isaac, Isaiah, Israel, Ivan

J: Jack, Jackson, Jacob, Jake, James, Jason, Jasper, Jay, Jefferson, Jeremiah, Jerome, Jerry, Jesse, Jessie, Jesus, Jimmy, Joe, Joel, John, Johnny, Jonas, Jonathan, Jordan*, Jose, Joseph, Joshua, Juan, Judson, Julian, Julio, Julius, Junior, Justin

K: Keith, Kendall, Kenneth, King, Kyle

L: Lamar, Larry, Lawrence, Lawson, Lee, Leland, Leo, Leon, Leonard, Leroy, Levi, Lewis, Lincoln, Lionel, Logan, Lorenzo, Louie, Louis, Lucian, Luis, Luke, Lyle

M: Mack, Major, Malcolm, Manuel, Marcel, Marcus, Mario, Mark, Marshall, Martin, Marvin, Mason, Mathew, Matt, Matthew, Maurice, Max, Maxwell, Melvin, Michael, Micheal, Miguel, Mike*, Milan, Miles, Miller, Milo, Mitchell, Morgan, Moses, Myles

N: Nathan, Nathaniel, Neil, Nelson, Nicholas, Nickolas, Nicolas*, Noah, Noel, Nolan

O: Oakley*, Oliver, Omar, Orlando, Oscar, Otis, Otto, Owen

P: Pablo, Parker, Patrick, Paul, Pedro, Peter, Philip, Phillip, Pierce, Porter, Preston, Prince

Q: Quentin, Quincy

R: Rafael, Ramon, Randall*, Raphael, Raul, Ray, Raymond, Reed, Reese, Reginald, Reid*, Rene, Reuben, Rex, Ricardo*, Richard, Riley, Robert, Roberto, Rodney, Roger, Rocco, Roland, Roman, Romeo, Ronald, Roy, Royal, Royce, Ruben, Rudy, Russell

S: Salvador, Salvatore, Sam, Samuel, Santiago, Santos, Saul, Scott, Sebastian, Seth, Silas, Simon, Solomon, Spencer, Stanley, Stephen, Sterling, Steven

T: Taylor, Terry, Thaddeus, Theo, Theodore, Thomas, Timothy, Tomas, Tommy, Tony, Travis, Troy

V: Van, Vance, Vaughn, Victor, Vincent, Vincenzo*

W: Wade, Walker, Walter, Warren, Wayne, Wesley, Weston, Will, William, Willie, Wilson, Winston, Wyatt


  • *Alec, Arturo, Caleb, Finley, Hayes, Hezekiah, Ignacio, Jordan, Nicolas, Oakley, Quincy, Reid, Ricardo, and Vincenzo were new and/or returning in 1917.  Frankie, Mike, and Randall returned to the top 1000 in 2017.
  • 379 (37.9%) of the 1000 most popular boys’ names in 2017 were also popular in 1917.
  • The initials with the greatest percentage of shared boys’ names between 1917 and 2017:
    1. O: 72.72%
    2. P: 70.59%
    3. W: 68.42%
    4. H: 65.38%
    5. E: 65.22%
  • And the initials with the smallest percentage of boys’ names shared between the 1917 and 2017 lists:
    1. U/X/Y/Z: 0%; no shared names between 1917 and 2017
    2. K: 6.94%
    3. B: 25%
    4. C: 26.92%
    5. D: 30.65%

Thoughts?  Are you surprised by any of these?  For me, it’s interesting to see how archaic many of these so-called modern baby names (especially the surnames) actually are.

American Names · Analysis

Girls’ Names Popular in Only One State in 2017

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The state-by-state baby name data is out!  Every year, there are dozens of names that reach the top 100 in just one state or Washington, D.C.  While any name in the U.S. top 1000 is considered popular nationally, a name generally has to be in a state’s top 100 to be considered popular at that level.  Additionally, just because a name is popular at the state-level doesn’t mean it’s popular throughout the whole country (unless said name is popular in California or Texas). 

Here are all the girls’ names that made it into the top 100 of just one state or D.C.:

Alaska: Alana, Diana, Noelle

California: Alina, Amy

Colorado: Sloane

Delaware: Lia

District of Columbia: Amina, Amira, Dakota, Egypt, Helen, Nyla, Zara, Zuri

Florida: Nicole

Hawaii: Alexandria, Anela, Journey, Kaia, Kailani, Kaiya, Kalea, Kalena, Kira, Leia, Leila, Mahina, Maia, Moana

Idaho: Lola

Iowa: Brinley

Louisiana: Amari, Camille, Kali

Maine: Gracelyn

Maryland: Logan

Michigan: Payton

Minnesota: Aisha, Lucille

Mississippi: Heaven, Kayleigh, Kennedi, Laila, Makenzie, Malaysia, Paris, Raelyn

Montana: Emberly, Freya, Greta

Nebraska: Adelyn

New Hampshire: Paige

New Mexico: Selena

North Dakota: Adley, Alayna, Gemma, Hayden, Kinley

Rhode Island: Alanna, Rosalie

South Dakota: Hattie

Texas: Daniela

Utah: Adelaide, Annie, June, Millie, Navy

Vermont: Beatrice, Brynn, Lena, Lila, Mira, Octavia

West Virginia: Arabella, Gracelynn, Kendall, Maci, Mckenna

Wyoming: Charleigh, Harley, Kimber, Maggie, Sierra


  • Names popular in a single state that are rare nationally: Anela, Kalea, Kalena, Mahina, Moana, Navy
  • Moana is up nationally because of the movie
  • Egypt (D.C.), Emberly (Montana), and Octavia (Vermont) were new to the U.S. Top 1000 in 2017.
  • Compare to the 2016 list.  Very few of these names stayed uniquely popular in the same state over two years.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by any of these?  Let me know, and stay tuned for the boys’ list!

American Names · Analysis

Popular Girls’ Names in 1917 *and* 2017

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With the new Social Security Administration name data available, I thought it would be fun to compare today’s popular baby names to popular names from 100 years ago.  So, here is a list of girls’ names that were in the top 1000 lists for both 1917 and 2017!

A: Ada, Adaline, Adelaide, Adele, Adelina, Adeline, Adrienne, Aileen, Alice, Alicia, Allie, Alma, Amalia, Amanda, Amelia, Amy, Ana*, Anastasia, Andrea, Angela, Angelina, Angie, Anna, Annabel, Annabelle, Anne, Annie, Audrey, Aurelia, Aurora, Ava

B: Barbara, Beatrice, Bella, Belle, Bonnie, Bridget

C: Callie, Camilla, Camille, Carmen, Carolina, Caroline, Carolyn, Catherine, Cecelia, Celeste, Celia, Charlie, Charlotte, Chloe, Christina, Christine, Claire, Clara, Clare, Clarissa, Claudia, Clementine, Cora, Corinne, Crystal, Cynthia

D: Daisy, Dana*, Daphne, Deborah, Delilah, Diana, Dorothy

E: Edith, Eileen, Elaine, Eleanor, Elena, Elisabeth, Elisa, Elise, Eliza, Elizabeth, Ella, Ellen, Ellie, Elsa, Elsie, Eloise, Emelia, Emilia, Emily, Emma, Emmie, Esperanza, Estella, Estelle, Esther, Eva, Evalyn, Evangeline, Eve, Evelyn, Evie

F: Faith, Faye, Florence*, Frances, Frankie

G: Genevieve, Georgia, Gloria, Grace, Gracie, Greta, Guadalupe, Gwen, Gwendolyn

H: Hallie, Hannah, Hattie, Hazel, Helen, Helena, Hope

I: Irene, Iris, Isabel, Isabella, Isabelle, Ivy

J: Jacqueline, Jane, Jenny*, Jessica, Jessie, Jewel, Joanna, Johanna, Josephine, Josie, Joy, Joyce, Judith, Julia, Juliana, Julie, Juliet, Juliette, June

K: Kate, Katherine, Kathleen, Kathryn, Katie

L: Laura, Laurel*, Lea, Leah, Leila, Lena, Leona, Leslie, Lila, Lilian, Lillian, Lillie, Lilly, Lily, Lina, Linda, Lola, Louisa, Louise, Lucia, Lucille, Lucy, Luella*, Lydia, Lyla

M: Mabel, Macie, Madalyn, Madeleine, Madeline, Madelyn, Mae, Magdalena*, Maggie, Magnolia, Margaret, Maria, Mariam, Marianna, Marie, Marilyn, Marjorie, Martha, Mary, Matilda, Mavis, Maxine, Melissa, Meredith, Millie, Mina, Miriam, Molly, Monica, Myra

N: Nancy, Naomi, Natalie, Nathalie, Nina, Nola, Nora, Nova

O: Octavia*, Olive, Olivia, Opal*, Ophelia

P: Patricia, Paula, Pearl, Phoebe, Priscilla

R: Rachel, Ramona, Rebecca, Regina, Renee*, Rhea, Rosa, Rosalie, Rosalyn, Rose, Roselyn, Rosemary, Rosie, Ruby, Ruth

S: Sadie, Sandra*, Sara, Sarah, Savannah, Serena*, Sofia, Sonia*, Sophia, Sophie, Stella, Stephanie, Susan, Sylvia

T: Teresa

V: Vada, Valeria, Valerie, Veda, Vera, Veronica, Victoria, Violet, Virginia, Vivian, Vivienne

W: Willa

Z: Zelda, Zoe

A total of 270 girls’ names in the 2017 top 1000 were also in the 1917 top 1000.

*Ana, Dana, Laurel, Sandra, and Serena were new/reentries in 1917.  Florence, Jenny, Luella, Magdalena, Octavia, Opal, Renee, and Sonia returned to the top 1000 in 2017.

The initials with the greatest percentage of shared names between 1917 and 2017 out of all the popular names with the initial in 2017:

  1. V – 73.33% of names in the 2017 top 1000 starting with ‘V’ were also in the 1917 top 1000
  2. O – 55.55%
  3. C – 46.56%
  4. F – 45.45%
  5. E – 43.66%

And the initials with the smallest percentage of 2017 names that were on the 1917 list:

  1. Q/U/X/Y – no shared names between the 1917 and 2017 lists
  2. T – 5%.  Just one shared name (Teresa) out of twenty ‘T’ names for girls
  3. K – 6.41%
  4. Z – 13.33%
  5. B – 15.79%

In terms of raw numbers, ‘A’ and ‘E’ are tied for the greatest amount of names on both lists (31).  ‘M’ follows at 30.

Thoughts?  Any surprises?  I’ll post the boys’ names later, so stay tuned.

American Names · Analysis

The Top 1000 Baby Names of 2017: Entries and Exits

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New names in the U.S. top 1000

My favorite part of reading a new list of the top 1000 American baby names is finding out which names are in and out!  For reference, here are all the names that entered or exited the top 1000 in 2017, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  If they entered, they’re officially popular now; if they left, they’ve become rare.


Girls: Alisa, Alora, Aminah, Amora, Dream, Egypt, Emberly, Emerald, Ensley, Everlee, Florence, India, Jenny, Jurnee, Kimora, Legacy, Luella, Lyanna, Magdalena, Malani, Marlowe, Meilani*, Melania, Miley, Mylah, Oaklee, Oaklyn, Oaklynn, Octavia, Opal, Paisleigh, Raylee, Renee, Saanvi, Samira, Selene, Sonia, Spencer, Sunny, Tara, Treasure, Xiomara, Yara

Boys: Aaden, Alaric, Ayan, Bishop, Bjorn, Briar, Caspian, Colson, Decker, Dilan, Frankie, Gatlin, Gianluca, Jaxx, Jaxxon, Jovanni, Juelz, Kace, Kairo, Kaiser, Khari, Koa, Kylen, Kyng, Ledger, Mike, Nova, Randall, Rashad, Reign, Shepard, Shmuel, Simeon, Wells, Yadiel, Zahir, Zayd


Girls: Aislinn, Alianna, Ally, Alyvia, Amya, Anabella, Ann, Anniston, Antonia, Arden, Aryana, Aubri, Ayana, Azaria, Briley, Bryleigh, Chandler, Cherish, Ciara, Elin, Emilie, Farrah, Heather, Jasmin, Jaylynn, Julianne, Kaylynn, Kensington*, Lilia, Lilyanna, Madyson, Marisol, Mariyah, Maylee, Milania, Montserrat, Moriah, Nathaly, Sharon, Shayla, Tabitha, Wendy, Yasmin

Boys: Ahmir, Amare, Benicio, Bode, Braiden, Brantlee, Brent, Creed, Gauge, Gilbert, Giovani, Hakeem, Harris, Immanuel, Jair, Jamar, Jamarion, Jericho, Jonathon, Justus, Kamdyn, Karim, Kolby, Konner, Krish, Kylo, Kymani, Marquis, Menachem, Mikael, Neymar, Ralph, Riaan, Rolando, Steve, Turner, Urijah 


  • There are 43 new girls names and 37 new boys names in the American top 1000.
  • Octavia is the highest ranking girls’ entry at #593 (with 502 girls).  This name’s newfound popularity is attributed to actress Octavia Spencer, who might also be partly responsible for the debut of Spencer (#975 with 266) as a girls’ name.
  • Colson is the highest ranking boys’ entry at #736 (with 321 boys).  I initially wondered if Colson was a variation on the Marvel character Agent Coulson’s name.  While Marvel may have a little influence on Colson, this particular spelling is associated with author Colson Whitehead.  His 2016 novel The Underground Railroad won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • R.I.P. Ann, Gilbert, and Steve.  They were in the top 1000 every year from 1880 to 2016, and now they’re gone.  Last year, 251 girls were named Ann (6 below the minimum 257 needed to join the top 1000 on the girls side), 194 boys were named Gilbert (7 below the minimum 201 for the boys’ side), and 186 boys were named Steve (15 below).
  • The #1000th most popular girls’ name was AloraBryleigh and Winnie were just as common for baby girls last year, but were prevented from entry by preference in alphabetical order.
  • The #1000th most popular boys’ name was JaxxKamdyn, Marquis, and Turner were just as common, but missed the cut.
  • Melania (#930 with 283 girls) replaced Milania (205 girls) as the standard spelling of that name, due familiarity with the First Lady.
  • Lyanna (#858 with 317 girls) and Yara (#987 with 262 girls) are character names from Game of Thrones.
  • *With the annual blessing of a new top 1000 also comes an annoying update to earlier years’ data sets that shifts a few names around (usually not by much, but enough for name researchers to notice).  Meilani was in the original 2016 top 1000, but in 2017 the updated top 1000 for 2016 shows Kensington instead.  They’ve swapped places again; for 2017, Meilani is considered a reentry and Kensington an exit.  Kensington wasn’t initially in the 2016 top 1000, but it is now.  This is confusing, I know.  I wish the Social Security Administration would provide a definite answer for why they do this…my guesses are that it’s to correct a) some parents’ failure to apply for Social Security within a certain time-frame, b) data-entry errors, and/or c) legal name changes.  Do my fellow name-writers have any other ideas?

Do you have any thoughts or questions about the new names in the top 1000, or the names that have left?  Favorites, least-favorites?  Are you happy or disappointed about some of the names?  Let me know!

American Names · Analysis

The Top 100 Baby Names of 2017

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All the names in the 2017 Top 100

Now that we’ve gone over the top 10 most popular baby names of 2017, let’s go over some of the changes to the top 100!

As of yesterday, we know that the following names have entered the American top 100:


  • Emilia (#74)
  • Everly (#82)
  • Isabelle (#92) – Returning customer.  Isabelle has been in the top 100 a few times over the past 20 years.  Meanwhile, Isabella also ranked up (from #4 to #3).
  • Valentina (#94)
  • Nova (#95)


  • Ezekiel (#82)
  • Maverick (#85)
  • Santiago (#93)
  • Kayden (#98) – Reentry
  • Jameson (#100)

Besides Isabelle and Kayden, none of the other new top 100 names have ever been that popular before.  Some of them are quite old, however; for example, Valentina is Ancient Roman and Ezekiel is Biblical. 

And the following names left the top 100:


  • Katherine (#105) – This is the first time Katherine has been outside the top 100 since the 1930s, and the lowest this name has ever ranked in the U.S.
  • Taylor (#112)
  • Kylie (#114)
  • Faith (#119)
  • Brianna (#123)


  • Kevin (#101)
  • Bentley (#102)
  • Zachary (#103)
  • Tyler (#106)
  • Brandon (#114)

I’m also curious about the names whose rank changed the most within the top 100.  Here are the names that ranked up more than 10 places, excluding new entries:


  • Luna (+40 rank change; 2017 rank #37)
  • Bella (+28; #50)
  • Kinsley (+28; #59)
  • Elena (+27; #67)
  • Mila (+18; #30)
  • Aurora (+15; #51)
  • Willow (+15; #81)


  • Theodore (+20; 2017 rank #62)
  • Mateo (+17; #42)
  • Ezra (+16; #69)
  • Greyson (+16; #80)
  • Elias (+15; #78)
  • Leo (+13; #61)
  • Logan (+13; #5)
  • Asher (+12; #59)

And these names fell more than 10 places within the top 100:


  • Arianna (-16; 2017 rank #87)
  • Alexa (-14; #65) – The baby name Alexa hasn’t recovered from its association with the device.
  • Mackenzie (-14; #99)
  • Kaylee (-13; #84)
  • Ariana (-11; #66)
  • Madeline (-11; #100)
  • Piper (-11; #78)
  • Sadie (-11; #71)
  • Allison (-10; #60)
  • Autumn (-10; #75)
  • Samantha (-10; #54)


  • Gavin (-16; 2017 rank #96)
  • Evan (-15; #84)
  • Jace (-11; #87)


Thoughts?  If you’d like to read the entire top 100, check out the Social Security Administration’s website, or simply stare at the word cloud at the top of this post. 🙂

American Names · Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names


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Let’s talk about the name Severus.  It’s an Ancient Roman name that’s belonged to several emperors and early saints, and yet was exceedingly rare until very recently.  The Harry Potter series brought Severus into everyday usage in the 21st century, and even then, it took 10 years since the first movie (and 14 since the first book) for it to appear in American (SSA) baby name data.  Severus debuted with 5 boys in 2011, the same year that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came to theaters.  Since many viewers don’t read the books, that would have been the year that many fans learned (spoiler alert!) of Professor Snape’s vindication and redemption.

Once people started naming their sons Severus, it seemed like it was going to be a rarity only a few hardcore fans would be brave enough to use.  Despite Roman names having been trendy in recent years, prospective parents are probably deterred by the “sever” part (or even by Snape’s less savory aspects).  So, from 2011 to 2015, only 5-7 babies received the name every year.  2016 is when it gets strange.

Just 7 boys were named Severus in 2015, but 32 got the name in 2016!  5 alone (15.625%) were born in Texas, though without other state data it’s impossible to make a geographically-based assessment.  Regardless, going from 7 to 32 boys?  That’s a ginormous jump for an extremely rare name.  What’s the influence?

A couple of things happened in 2016 that might have influenced the spike:

  • The actor who played Severus Snape – Alan Rickman – died on January 14.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit the stage on July 30.  Snape appears in the play, and one of the main characters is named Albus Severus Potter.  Although the production didn’t come to the U.S. that year, many American fans would have read the script.

Curiously, another name associated with Death Eaters – Bellatrix – jumped from 5 girls to 24 girls in 2016.  Bellatrix didn’t physically appear in Cursed Child, but she was discussed in it.  Additionally (and proving this isn’t just an infatuation with the magical dark side), Albus debuted in SSA data in 2016 with 8 boys.  Dumbledore himself couldn’t make the name appear!  Harry, Ronald, and Hermione all rose in 2016 too.  Weirdly enough, the nuclear Malfoy family (Draco, Scorpius, and Astoria) didn’t experience spikes in their names.  Lucius rose, but that used to be a popular name and so something else could be happening there.

If Alan Rickman hadn’t died, then we could to point to Cursed Child as the singular reason why usage of the name Severus more than quadrupled between 2015 and 2016.  But he did die, so we can’t.  After all, why name the baby Alan (which could refer to *any* Alan) when you can name him after the character you fell in love with?  I think it will be very interesting to see whether the name Severus maintains its surge in 2017.

What do you think of the name Severus?  Do you think there could be another reason why it spiked in 2016?  Let me know what you think.