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

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Yesterday we looked at the fastest-rising boy names of all time, so today let’s look at the fastest-rising girl names.

Here are all the girl names that increased in popularity by more than 10,000 babies in a single year:

  1. Linda, +46,978 baby girls from 1946 to 1947
  2. Shirley, +19,514 baby girls from 1934 to 1935
  3. Ashley, +18,435 baby girls from 1982 to 1983
  4. Deborah, +12,954 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  5. Mary, +12,842 baby girls from 1914 to 1915
  6. Jennifer, +12,455 baby girls from 1969 to 1970
  7. Amanda, +11,406 baby girls from 1978 to 1979
  8. Linda, +11,239 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  9. Brittany, +10,969 baby girls from 1988 to 1989
  10. Michelle, +10,937 baby girls from 1965 to 1966
  11. Debra, +10,866 baby girls from 1950 to 1951
  12. Jennifer, +10,626 baby girls from 1970 to 1971
  13. Patricia, +10,452 baby girls from 1945 to 1946
  14. Cindy, +10,268 baby girls from 1956 to 1957
  15. Debra, +10,015 baby girls from 1952 to 1953

Linda is clearly the winner here.

Linda’s spike in 1947 is like the perfect storm of spikes. The name was already on the rise, and then the song “Linda” (1946) became a huge hit in mid-1947 — at the beginning of the post–WWII baby boom.

Several performers recorded the song, but the most successful rendition was the one sung by Buddy Clark (backed by Ray Noble’s orchestra):

If the song had been released just one year earlier — which is theoretically possible, as it was written in 1942 — the Linda spike might have been even bigger, as the largest one-year increase in births in U.S. history happened between 1945 and 1946.

The song “Linda” was created by songwriter Jack Lawrence at the request of his attorney, Lee Eastman, who wanted a song written for his 5-year-old daughter.

Being a good friend, I obliged and wrote a song for five-year-old Linda. When I made the rounds of publishers I met with frustration. Most of them like everything about the song but the name Linda. “Why Linda?” they would ask. “That’s not a popular name”. One guy said: “Call it Ida — after my mother-in-law and I’ll publish it”. I had to remind him there already was an “Ida — Sweet as Apple Cider!” Another maven suggested the name Mandy. He felt that had a more musical ring than Linda. I reminded him that Irving Berlin had thought so too, years ago he had written: “Mandy, There’s A Minister Handy”, etc.

Jack Lawrence stuck with Linda, and the song made musical (and baby name) history.

And 5-year-old Linda Eastman also made musical history, in a sense, by marrying Beatle Paul McCartney in the late 1960s.

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

P.S. One of the fastest-rising names of 1947, Jolinda, was no doubt riding on the coattails of Linda.

Sources: Linda – Jack Lawrence, Songwriter, List of Billboard number-one singles of 1947 – Wikipedia, SSA

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

[Latest update: May 2023]

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

  1. Two great guesses. And another good one from Twitter: Katrina.

    But today’s answer is another case of “bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

    It’s just Linda, which fell from 90,986 baby girls in 1949 to 80,437 in 1950.

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