Fastest-rising boy names of all time in the U.S. baby name data

hot air balloons

Every year, when I get the latest batch of baby name data, one of the things I check out is popularity change. And every year, as I do that analysis, I say to myself, “I wonder what the biggest popularity jumps of all time are…”

But I kept putting off the analysis. Mainly because it involved manipulating a large amount of data, and…I’m lazy.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I took a look. And I came up with a list of the all-time biggest (raw number, single-year) popularity increases of all time.

Today we’ll look at the boys’ list, and tomorrow we’ll look at the girls’ list.

Before we get into it, though, let me tell you why these lists aren’t so great. The raw numbers (which I’ve become used to focusing on) just don’t work well in this sort of analysis. The top names, as you’ll see, are simply popular names that got a lot more popular. Not very insightful.

I’ll post the lists anyway, but I’m already planning a do-over that focuses on percentage of increase. That ought to be a lot more interesting.

So, now that that’s out of the way, here are all the boy names that jumped by more than 10,000 babies in a single year:

  1. Robert, +14,194 baby boy from 1945 to 1946
  2. John, +13,131 baby boy from 1945 to 1946
  3. James, +12,993 baby boy from 1945 to 1946
  4. Richard, +12,828 baby boy from 1945 to 1946
  5. David, +11,381 baby boy from 1946 to 1947
  6. Michael, +11,268 baby boy from 1945 to 1946
  7. John, +11,140 baby boy from 1911 to 1912
  8. Jason, +10,788 baby boy from 1969 to 1970
  9. James, +10,450 baby boy from 1941 to 1942
  10. Nicholas, +10,274 baby boy from 1977 to 1978

Notice how neatly the top six correlate to the post-WWII baby boom.

Do you have any theories about the other four?

Trivia question of the day: Only one boy name ever decreased in popularity by more than 10,000 baby boys over a one-year period. Can you guess the name?

Image: Adapted from Turkey-2036 by Dennis Jarvis under CC BY-SA 2.0.

4 thoughts on “Fastest-rising boy names of all time in the U.S. baby name data

  1. Its like a top10 of my most hated boy names haha.

    Adolph maybe? Or was that never popular?

  2. If you look at the raw numbers you’ll see lots of other names (for both genders) that had a large relative jump in the 1945-1947 period; nothing name-trend related but rather the onset of the post-war baby boom. If you knew the number of births for those years you could adjust the stats to reflect the percentage of births (the SSA’s main lists already have that option, but they’re restricted to the Top 1,000).

  3. I’m going to guess Richard dropped… you would think the Watergate scandal would have done a number on it…

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