What Will Happen to the Name Lance?

Barbara's Baby Named Lance
Newspaper headline from March, 1936.
The baby name Lance started picking up steam in the U.S. in the late 1930s.

Why?

Because on February 24, 1936, American socialite and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and her Danish nobleman husband, Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, welcomed a baby boy and named him Lance.

What really gave the name a boost, though, was the couple’s divorce in 1938. Little Lance was mentioned in the news a lot that year.

  • 1939: 291 baby boys named Lance [rank: 322nd]
  • 1938: 267 baby boys named Lance [rank: 339th]
  • 1937: 70 baby boys named Lance [rank: 724th]
  • 1936: 72 baby boys named Lance [rank: 704th]
  • 1935: 41 baby boys named Lance

The name remained moderately popular during the second half of the 20th century. It even reached top-100 status in 1970 and 1971.

By the 1990s, though, it was in decline.

Then Lance Armstrong (b. 1971) came along, “winning” the Tour de France seven years in a row (1999 to 2005):

  • 2006: 1,001 baby boys named Lance [rank: 319th]
  • 2005: 1,253 baby boys named Lance [rank: 264th]
  • 2004: 1,161 baby boys named Lance [rank: 275th]
  • 2003: 1,166 baby boys named Lance [rank: 269th]
  • 2002: 1,232 baby boys named Lance [rank: 261st]
  • 2001: 1,285 baby boys named Lance [rank: 256th]
  • 2000: 1,221 baby boys named Lance [rank: 267th]
  • 1999: 1,003 baby boys named Lance [rank: 287th]
  • 1998: 880 baby boys named Lance [rank: 316th]
  • 1997: 918 baby boys named Lance [rank: 297th]

Lance Armstrong

Usage of the name Lance was buoyed temporarily by Armstrong, but as soon as his run was over, it started sinking again:

  • 2011: 574 baby boys named Lance [rank: 467th]
  • 2010: 602 baby boys named Lance [rank: 444th]
  • 2009: 638 baby boys named Lance [rank: 438th]
  • 2008: 749 baby boys named Lance [rank: 395th]
  • 2007: 825 baby boys named Lance [rank: 372nd]

Now that the Lance Armstrong’s reputation has been trashed, will the name Lance fall out of favor even faster?

UPDATE, 7/2014: In 2013, the name fell out of the top 500 for the first time since 1937.

  • 2013: 454 baby boys named Lance [rank: 570th]
  • 2012: 537 baby boys named Lance [rank: 495th]

P.S. Before you name your kid after a sports star


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