The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet

The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989

While I was gathering one-hit wonders recently for a post, I found a whole bunch of typos like Christop and Alexandr among the top U.S. baby names of 1989.

I figured all the typos must be coming from a single source, so I checked the top baby names of some of the larger states. Didn’t see anything in California, didn’t see anything in Texas…but then I checked New York, and there they were:

Typo # in U.S. # in NY % in NY
Christop (m) 1,082 1,082 100%
Alexandr (f) 301 301 100%
Alexande (m) 301 299 99%
Elizabet (f) 445 419 94%
Katherin (f) 277 248 90%
Stephani (f) 638 489 77%
Christin (f) 927 499 54%

A few of the above may not be typos. But the fact that so many are concentrated in a single place suggests that most are.

Given the time period and consistent truncation, my guess is that one of the counties in New York started using a computer system in 1989 that only allowed the input of up to 8 characters per name.

Now the big question: Did this glitch skew the national baby name rankings?

Yes, but only for Alexandra:

Name(s) # in U.S. Rank in U.S.
Alexandra 7,675 43rd (old)
Alexandra + Alexandr 7,976 41st (new)

All 301 of the baby girls named Alexandr were born in New York, so it’s likely that all of them are typos. If we add these 301 to the total for Alexandra, the new number nudges Alexandra up two spots to #41. (And bumps the names Brittney and Hannah down one spot each.)

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UPDATE, Sept. 2010: I scanned the full list for 1989 (i.e., looked over thousands of baby names outside the top 1,000) and found even more typos:

One-hit wonder baby names | 1930s: Torchy | 1940s: Drene | 1950s: Frosty, Eisenhower, Judalon, Bimbo, Gogi, Theonita, Kookie | 1960s: Bonanza, Apasra, Twiggy, Ondina | 1970s: Corelle, Sirica, Comaneci, Ebay, Jitu, Kairaba, Kizi, Kuntakinte, Lavare, Travolta, Spanky | 1980s: Kimario, Lencola, Nykeba, Fame, Nahema, Chachi, Senchal, Jeopardy, Tyecha, Mergeron, Calizza, Lutece, Marlesa, Tereva, Matlock, Christop | 1990s: Keemo, Ziyadah, Corvina, Picabo | 2000s: Sensi, Euphoria

7 Responses to The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet

  1. I think you are completely wrong about the name Aleksandr. This is the Russian spelling of the name. And the fact that it is found in NY area , where the largest Russian community in US is located and started in 1989 , when the third wave of emigration from the Soviet Union began, only supports that theory.

  2. @Mura – The Alexandr in the post is a girl name, so it’s not a variant spelling of the Russian male name Aleksandr.

  3. This is fascinating!!! I am doing an analysis on baby names and found this glitch with the name “Christin.” Thanks for writing this up!!

  4. You’re welcome! Glad you liked it. :)

  5. Everyone, check out Hilary’s terrific post Hilary: the most poisoned baby name in US history.

    It was even picked up by New York Magazine — wow! Congrats!

  6. Thank you Nancy! Finding your post was the most exciting part of the analysis! :D

  7. [...] it would have been filtered as a fad. And the “Christin” spike might very well be due to a computer glitch that truncated the name [...]

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