“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.
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…
A man named Edward Lloyd founded a coffee house in London in the 1680s. Lloyd’s Coffee House was a meeting spot for London merchants and ship-owners, and soon became known as a place where ship-owners could obtain marine insurance. Many years later, this evolved into the famous insurance market Lloyd’s of London.
But going back to the marine insurance thing: “[F]or the past century or more, the name [Lloyd]…has been freely borrowed by maritime companies around the world in the belief that it added cachet.” And this is why the surname Lloyd — which is based on the Welsh word for “gray” — pops up so often in the names of shipping companies worldwide.
What are your thoughts on name Lloyd? Do you prefer it as a name for a baby, a coffee house, or a shipping company?
The James Michener novel Sayonara came out in 1953. Set during the Korean War, it told the story of U.S. airman Lloyd Gruver, stationed in Japan, who fell in love with a Japanese entertainer called Hana-ogi. (Her namesake is a historical courtesan; hana means “flower” and ogi means “fan”).
Originally, the book was going to be adapted into a stage production à la Michener’s South Pacific. With a musical in mind, Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Sayonara.”
Instead, the story was turned into a movie (starring Marlon Brando) a few years later, and so Irving Berlin’s song ended up on the soundtrack.
Both Sayonara the movie and “Sayonara” the song came out in late 1957. The film made a bigger splash than the song did, so it may have had more of an influence on baby names.
In March of 1958 the film won four Oscars, including one each for supporting actors Red Buttons (who played Joe Kelly) and Miyoshi Umeki (who played Katsumi).
Miyoshi Umeki, both a singer and an actress, was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award. Her win drew attention to the Japanese name Miyoshi, which debuted in the data as well in 1958:
1965: 6 baby girls named Miyoshi
1964: 9 baby girls named Miyoshi
1963: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
1962: 7 baby girls named Miyoshi
1959: 8 baby girls named Miyoshi
1958: 20 baby girls named Miyoshi [debut]
A few months later, Umeki appeared on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” Here’s how she signed her name:
Miyoshi was Umeki’s birth name, but at the start of her singing career in Japan, she used the stage name Nancy Umeki. She reverted to her Japanese name upon relocating to America, ironically.