Classics on the Decline: Paul, Jesse, Frank

boy names falling out of fashion

A few weeks back, a reader named Caitlin emailed me a cool list of well-known names that were decreasing in usage. Her list included:

  • Andrew, now ranked 40th — lowest ranking since 1963
  • Michael, now ranked 12th — lowest ranking since 1942
  • David, now ranked 23rd — lowest ranking since 1924

She also generously told me that I could share her findings (thank you Caitlin!).

The names that intrigued me most were the “lowest ever” names: names that had been in the data since 1880, but that saw their lowest usage ever (in terms of rankings) in 2017. Three of the boy names on her list — Paul, Richard, Robert — were “lowest ever” names, so I decided start with these and search for others.

I checked hundreds of potential candidates. Many (like Andrew, Michael, and David) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Stanley, Alvin, and Clarence) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017.

In the end, I was able to add 15 names to the list:

  • Allen. Ranked 401st in 2017; peak was 71st in the 1940s/1950s.
  • Dennis. Ranked 544th in 2017; peak was 16th in the 1940s.
  • Edgar. Ranked 353rd in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1880s.
  • Edwin. Ranked 332nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1910s/1920s.
  • Frank. Ranked 373rd in 2017; peak was 6th in the 1880s/1890s.
  • Gerald. Ranked 824th in 2017; peak was 19th in the 1930s.
  • Glenn. Ranked 1,288th in 2017; peak was 55th in the 1960s.
  • Herman. Ranked 2,347th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1880s/1890s.
  • Jerome. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 93rd in the 1930s.
  • Jesse. Ranked 186th in 2017; peak was 37th in the 1980s.
  • Lloyd. Ranked 1,570th in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1910s.
  • Martin. Ranked 281st in 2017; peak was 62nd in the 1960s.
  • Marvin. Ranked 559th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1930s.
  • Paul. Ranked 225th in 2017; peak was 12th in the 1910s/1930s.
  • Raymond. Ranked 293rd in 2017; peak was 14th in the 1910s.
  • Richard. Ranked 175th in 2017; peak was 5th in the 1930s/1940s.
  • Robert. Ranked 65th in 2017; peak was 1st in the 1920s/1930s/1950s.
  • Wayne. Ranked 816th in 2017; peak was 29th in the 1940s.

Interestingly, all 18 have spent time in the top 100. And one, Robert, is still in the top 100. (How long before Robert is out of the top 100, do you think?)

A handful of girl names also saw their lowest-ever rankings in 2017. I’ll post that list next week…


6 thoughts on “Classics on the Decline: Paul, Jesse, Frank

  1. Fantastic analysis, thanks.

    It would be great to also see the opposite, say Classics at the Top. So many of this year’s top 10 are classic names and some, like Oliver, are at a peak in terms of number. Would be nice to know about rank.

  2. Most of them which are still top100 are there because of dad’s giving their own name to their sons, quite simple. If not for that, names like Robert would’ve been out of the top100 ages ago.

  3. I would consider Allen (spelt Alan), Edgar, Jerome, Jesse (except “Jessie is a girl’s name!”), Lloyd, Paul and Richard. The others I really don’t like – far too clunky for my taste! ;-)

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