We looked at the top baby name rises last month, so this month let’s look at the opposite: the top drops. That is, the baby names that decreased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next in the Social Security Administration’s data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year slides in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Clementine dropped 68% and usage of the boy name Neil dropped 76%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does become more accurate in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about a few of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it — leave a comment and let us know why you think any of these names saw dropped in usage when they did.
The popular TV show The Bionic Woman (1976-1978), which featured a main character named Jaime Sommers (played by Lindsay Wagner).
The character originated on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man* called “The Bionic Woman.” In that episode, Jaime was severely injured in a skydiving accident. She ended up with bionic legs, a bionic right arm, and a bionic right ear that gave her superhuman speed, strength, and hearing.
In the spin-off series, she put her new abilities to use by going on dangerous missions for the government.
The more common names Jaime and Lindsay (and sound-alikes Jamie, Lindsey, etc.) also saw much higher usage while the show was on the air. The rise of Jaime (as a girl name) was particularly dramatic:
1978: 4,002 baby girls named Jaime [rank: 71st]
1977: 5,906 baby girls named Jaime [rank: 46th]
1976: 7,836 baby girls named Jaime [rank: 29th]
1975: 915 baby girls named Jaime [rank: 263rd]
1974: 260 baby girls named Jaime [rank: 606th]
In fact, I remember quoting a person named after Jaime Sommers in name quote post a few years ago.
So what are your thoughts on the rare name Sommers? Would you use it? (How about the slightly more common Summers?)
So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
Today’s name interview is with Vincenza, a 29-year-old from Northern Virginia.
What’s the story behind her name?
My name is a skip-generational name, I was named after my maternal grandmother, who was named after her grandmother. The originator was one of a set of orphaned twins. Apparently people were very creative with names in Sicily back then because she was Vincenza and he Vincenzo. Family rumor has it that she traveled to the US with his documentation (he had passed away). But mostly, according to my mom, I was given the name because “it was pretty.”
What does she like most about her name?
I love the sound of it. I like the fact that it’s not very common, but it’s relatively accessible as most people have heard the masculine form at one time or another. It can really be an icebreaker.
(She’s right about the name not being common. Only about a dozen baby girls are named Vincenza every year in the U.S.)
What does she like least about her name?
I dislike the fact that there are so many people who simply cannot pronounce it, even after I have done so for them. I really don’t understand why this is, unless the Italian spelling has tied their brain in knots when they’ve tried for the “ch” sound in the middle. I usually go by Vincy, largely due to this pronunciation problem. I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of correcting and instructing, and the diminutive was what I used when I was younger. Vincy comes with issues, too, actually. I believe there are people out there who still think my name is Lindsay…
Finally, would Vincenza recommend that her name be given to babies today?
I honestly believe that babies should be given the name Vincenza if their parents feel inclined. I have an automatic discussion point when it comes to strangers (this includes job interviews), and I’ve found it helps build rapport to discuss something as deeply personal as a name. Of course, I could just be partial…