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.
“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.
Most of us are probably not familiar with the name “Wendell Willkie,” but a number of babies were named Wendell, Willkie, or both in the early 1940s.
They were named in honor of politician Wendell Lewis Willkie, the liberal Republican who ran against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election.
“His rise to political prominence was meteoric. Willkie astonishingly outstripped early favorite Thomas Dewey for the Republican candidacy and pulled more than 22 million votes in his bid to unseat FDR.”
Willkie may have lost the race, but he gained a number of namesakes:
Here are some Wendell Willkie namesakes that made the news:
Wendell Willkie Wiener, born in late June, 1940, to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard B. Wiener of Washington. “Wiener said he had been a Democrat but had decided to “switch over to Mr. Willkie–not the Republican party, just Mr. Willkie.””
Wendell Delano Barovich and Franklin Willkie Barovich, twins, born in mid-1940 to Mr. and Mrs. Vas Barovich of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “Mrs. Barovich is a Republican and her husband a loyal Democrat. She insisted that the baby be named Wendell Willkie if it happened to be a boy. Mr. Barovich was equally determined that it be named for the President.” They had twins, so they compromised.
Wendy Cuttita, Louise Cuttita and Willkie Cuttita, triplets (two girls and a boy) born on November 4, 1940 (election eve) to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Cuttita of New York City.
Willkie ended up becoming one of Roosevelt’s most unlikely allies, and he traveled around the world as FDR’s personal representative. Willkie wrote about these travels in his bestselling book One World (1943). The next year, at the age of 52, he died of a heart attack.
“Happy Compromise.” Palm Beach Post 13 Aug. 1940: 4.
If your due date is December 21, why not commemorate the date with an end of the world-inspired baby name?
No, I’m not suggesting you go with something ridiculous like Armageddon or Apocalypse. (Though I have seen both used as names. Examples: Rev. Armageddon James Margerum, born in England in 1833, and Ulysses Apocalypse Johnson, born in California in 1992.)
Instead, try a name with a less obvious EotW connection. Perhaps one of these:
Maya – the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is most commonly associated with the Maya
Jeremiah – ending sounds like Maya
Nehemiah – ending sounds like Maya
Deedee – short for doomsday
Ann – short for annihilation
Catherine – inspired by cataclysm
Arma – short for armageddon
Armand – inspired by armageddon
Armando – inspired by armageddon
Gideon – inspired by armageddon
Don – inspired by armageddon
Or try one of the dozens of names that happen to contain the word end (short for end of the world, of course).
A reader named Laurie is trying to find a name for her baby boy:
I am white, my boyfriend is black. […] The problem is he does not want a “ghetto” baby name, but I don’t want a plain old “Matt or Jeff” name. He seems to be stuck on the name Martell but it reminds me of the name Martin…I hate it. He has now said he wants the name to end in -tell, as in “Dontell” (his brother). I am not creative enough to think of any names that end in -tell, please help me.
I couldn’t come up with many -tell names, either. But there are plenty of names that end with an L-sound, such as: