how much does popularity matter?

So I’ve been going nuts picking a name for my second born and I really don’t want a name in the top 100 or really top 200 if I can help it. Another non-baby-name message board I’m on we just had a huge discussion about name popularity and I was the ONLY one who cared how high a name is on the popularity list.

Everyone’s argument was: “my kid’s name is [name]Aidan[/name] and I have yet to meet any other babies by that name, so what does it matter that it’s #1?” or “My kids are [name]Ethan[/name] and [name]Aidan[/name] and they are 6 and 8 and are the only Ethans and [name]Aidan[/name]'s in their school”

I work in a very small elementary school (under 100 kids) and I have 3 Kaylees all in 5th grade or lower. I looked up [name]Vermont[/name]'s social security on the popularity of the name [name]Kaylee[/name] in the year these girl’s were born and yes, it was in the top 100, but not awfully high on the list, like in the 50’s. So. . .it seems you can pick a not-that-popular name and your kid could still end up in school with several others of the same name.

So, how much stock should be put in popularity charts? What do you say to people who say, “I only know 1 other [name]Emily[/name] in the world and she’s 30 years old”

Thanks, looking forward to your opinions on the matter!

For me, I’m not as bothered by the popularity of boys’ names as I am by the popularity of girls’ names (I mean, I still love [name]Henry[/name], [name]Oliver[/name], and [name]Nathaniel[/name], for example), but even when it comes to girls’ names, if I love a name, that’s more important to me than popularity ([name]Elizabeth[/name] comes to mind). (And popularity is different than trendiness. Classic but popular names, such as [name]Elizabeth[/name], have staying power, while trendy names don’t.)

[name]Even[/name] more important to me than popularity charts though, is how often I’ve personally heard the name, and whether or not I still love it despite hearing it often. For example, [name]Annabelle[/name]/[name]Annabel[/name] is getting more popular, but I have yet to meet even one [name]Annabelle[/name]/[name]Annabel[/name], so it still feels fresh to me. By the same token, there are less popular names than [name]Annabelle[/name]/[name]Annabel[/name] that I’ve heard a lot (I mean, A LOT), so they don’t sound as fresh to me as the more popular [name]Annabelle[/name]/[name]Annabel[/name].

I once wrote on here that I love gummy bears, but if I eat too many, they lose their appeal to me, and I don’t want anymore. Names are the same way to me. If I hear a name too often, it stands a good chance of losing its appeal. [name]Sophia[/name] comes to mind. It was an aunt’s name and I still think it’s beautiful, but I’ve heard it so often that I now can’t see myself using it. :frowning: (I’d use it as a middle, though.) But like I said, I still love [name]Elizabeth[/name] despite hearing it so often, so I guess it just depends on the name.

Another factor is meaning: I love personal meanings, and if a name has personal meaning to me, that’s more important to me than the name’s popularity, provided I still love the name despite hearing it over and over.

Now that I think about it, I guess popularity only bothers me if I’ve heard a name so often that it no longer appeals to me. (Trendiness, on the other hand, bothers me all the time.) :slight_smile: If you have a name you love, despite its popularity, I think that’s a great thing, and it would be a shame to let it go.

Plus, popularity can be unpredictable. All it takes is one celebrity to use an obscure name, and the next thing you know, it’s popular! It seems like no name is truly safe (aside from [name]Dorcas[/name] or Mulva). :slight_smile:

(Sorry for writing so much!) :slight_smile:

Good luck!

Popularity does matter: people with young [name]Aiden[/name]'s and [name]Isabella[/name]'s [name]WILL[/name] be meeting other children with those names as their baby grows up. [name]How[/name] many will certainly depend on where they live and where their kid goes to school etc. But the top 100 names in particular will be commonly heard.

Most people who pick popular names for their children don’t think the name is popular when they pick it. One reason for this is that names tend to grow in popularity over a period of five years or more: so it is not always obvious that a name is really popular until it has been around for several years. There are also a lot of spelling variations, that when added together, make a name and its variations overall much more popular than any one particular version: [name]Kaylee[/name] and [name]Aiden[/name] are good examples since people use all kinds of different spellings.

If you keep your choices out of the top 100 for your state you can probably feel secure that your child won’t have several other classmates with the same name. If you want to rule out both the top 100 names for state and for the nation that would help even more. Choosing a name further down the list (that is not simply a less popular spelling/version of a more popular name) will increase the chance that your child’s name will be less commonly heard in his/her class/age group.

Another idea is to choose a very classic name like [name]Elizabeth[/name], [name]Margaret[/name] etc. that has many nicknames so that if there are two [name]Lizzie[/name]'s she can go by [name]Elsie[/name] or [name]Eliza[/name] or [name]Liz[/name], or [name]Meg[/name] or [name]Daisy[/name] or [name]Margie[/name].

Good luck!

I think name popularity is very deceiving. For example, the year I was born [name]Heather[/name] was in the top 10. As far as I recall, I have NEVER in my life met a [name]Heather[/name] my age. I think I might have met one several years older, but that’s it. On the other hand, out of roughly 60 girls in my school there were FIVE Margarets, a name marked number 90 that year. One went by her middle name and the other by [name]Megan[/name].
And really, I’ve known a million Sarahs, but very few of the other top 10s.

And name popularity for boys doesn’t bother me that much either. I feel like I wouldn’t want a name in the top 100 for girls, and top 50 for boys.

I agree that popularity is deceiving. More parents are picking unique names for their children so even if a name is in the top 100 the ABSOLUTE number of babies with that name that year is not that high.
So if there are 100 kids there are 6 [name]Henry[/name]'s, 5 [name]Nathan[/name]'s, 4 Ethans, 3 Noahs and 2 [name]Williams[/name] and 80 "other names then [name]Henry[/name] is going to look extremely popular but 6 out of 100 kids is not that bad…and that’s for #1…so being in the top 100 doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Years ago being in the top 25 was more significant because more babies were being named one of those 25 names. Nowadays less baby names are coming from the top 25.

Popularity doesn’t bother me to a point and I agree about classic names. I would use the name [name]William[/name] over [name]Aiden[/name] or [name]Ethan[/name] anyday though.

It bothers me a little. I never had anyone in my class at school with the same name as me and I loved it. In fact I’ve only ever had two other people in my school with the same name and never actually talked to them (big school).

I think sometimes you look for the right name and when you find it it feels really special but then you find out a bunch of other kids have the same name and even if you never meet them it loses that spark, that special something that felt special to just you. Suddenly it belongs to everyone else and isn’t just yours and your childs. Suddenly they’re just another person with this name like everyone else. It feels to me like almost dooming your child to just be another face in the crowd.

Saying that, I think it’s more difficult for a boy to pull off a more unusual name than a girl. For a girl it can be exotic but on a boy exotic usually gets them beaten up or something unless they are clearly from a different ethnicity or something. So I wouldn’t be so bothered about giving a boy a really familiar name like [name]William[/name] or [name]David[/name]. One of those names that people will never react to by sayin “Oh you don’t hear that much,” or “Oh, that’s so unusual”

My daughter’s name is [name]Emily[/name], and my husband and I named her because we loved the name, and it flowed well with our last name. However, I did get nervous that she would meet too many [name]Emily[/name]'s, as it has been in top 10 for many years.
Guess what - she is in 2nd grade now, and she is the only [name]Emily[/name] in her grade! (She does meet a lot of [name]Emma[/name]'s, and she says she likes her name better.) So what I am trying to say is that name popularity should not matter when you are picking a name you love for your child.

i definitely think popularity matters. my name was ranked #5 for girls the year i was born and was even more popular before that. i have discovered that this “being one of many in a classroom” thing doesnt end just because we end school. i belong to a club through my gym and i am one of three melissa’s in the group. so for 3 times a week i am confused with whether people are talking to me or one of the other melissa’s. you try to define yourselves by other ways but we all are blonde (go figure) and two of us are [name]Melissa[/name] M. its the same issue with the older women at the gym who all seem to be named either barbara or nancy. “is it the tall nancy with the short brown hair?” “no the medium height nancy with gray hair.” while i dont think that going off the deep end of unusual names is necessary (as it opens up a whole new can of worms) i will certainly be avoiding the top 100+ when i name my own kids someday.

Location plays a bigger role now. I look at the local hospital births and [name]Abigail[/name] in various forms seems to be very popular. Since I plan to live around here I take that into consideration a bit more then the SSA list. My name wasn’t that popular when I was born but now even when I’m out shopping lots of moms are calling their little [name]Emily[/name]'s and I can’t help but turn to see if they’re talking to me. So, popularity is definitely something I’m going to consider but also the direction a name is heading in popularity too. I do agree that it matters less for boys.

I’m not so concerned with popularity. I think that if you love a name, than you should use it. My name is [name]Amanda[/name], which was number 3 the year I was born, and I think I have only ever met 6 other Amandas in my whole life - 3 from school (none in my grade) and 3 others. I think it is actually nice to have a name that is maybe not too popular, but that you will still hear from time to time. I think I would have felt very self-conscious if I had a name that no one else had.

so this thought probably has no basis, but with everyone saying that the popularity mattering more to girls names than boys i started thinking… i was wondering if you think that guys refer to eachother by their last names because many of them have popular first names? guys also seem to come up with their own nicnames for eachother, often regarding sports etc. i wonder if these are both ways of coping with popular first names?

I’ve written on this before, so sorry if its repetitious for some. Popularity is really important to me, although my boys have pretty popular names. I chose [name]Henry[/name] not thinking it was very popular - it was not in the top 100 five years ago. [name]Jacob[/name] was #1 at that time. Yet, my [name]Henry[/name] was one of THREE in his daycare class which had only FOUR boys! And now we know three or four other [name]Henry[/name]'s. There were no Jacobs around . . . I think i thas a lot to do with your socioeconomic status and where your kids go to school, where they are enrolled in activities, etc. So, what’s popular who run in your circles is not necessarily what’s popular nation or even state-wide.

I [name]LOVE[/name] the name [name]Henry[/name], and I don’t know that I could have given it up (I’ve had it picked out since my sister had a girl in 1992 - it would have been her boy’s name) even if I knew all those little [name]Henry[/name]'s at the time, but I would have really struggled with it. It would really bother me to give a name if I already knew several kids with that name. This brings me to our latest choice, [name]Charlie[/name]. It still kind of bothers me that I know several grown-ups named [name]Charlie[/name], but I’m working on not thinking of them whenever I think about my son (they aren’t even friends really, just acquaintenances). But I was able to go with [name]Charlie[/name] for our son since I don’t really know any little boys named [name]Charlie[/name].

Finally, I have a [name]Jane[/name], and I [name]LOVE[/name] that we know not a single other little girl named [name]Jane[/name]. But she asks sometimes why there aren’t other [name]Jane[/name]'s . . . why only older people share her name . . . it doesn’t seem to bother her really, she just wonders why. Still, I would choose it again in a heartbeat, and I love that its not climbing the popularity list!

I think that’s more about sports and football players for example having their last names on shirts. Also boys seem more prone to nicknames, usually as a friendly form of making fun of each other than girls. Boys for example don’t think anything of giving nicknames about how their friends look, they know it’s just joking. Girls don’t do that to each other.

Something worth mentioning is my analysis on how popular names aren’t as common as they used to be. What I mean is the percentage of babies given the top names; for example (I’ve mentioned this in a reply to a blog on here before) that in 2008 the top name for each gender had only between 1/3 and 1/4 (percentagewise) of births that the #1 names in 1978 (30 years earlier) did. So naming a baby [name]Jacob[/name] or [name]Emma[/name] today is more like naming him/her a name ranking in the teens 30 years ago, and not like using the #1 name from the same amount of time ago ([name]Michael[/name]/[name]Jennifer[/name]).

I know of a time when having a popular name can be as much of a concern (if not more) for a boy than for a girl: when the last name is very common. Although issues can arise for anyone when mixed up with someone else who has the same full name, I think it’s more of an issue for males because a popular male name is more likely to be shared across multiple age groups than a common female name (since a mix-up can happen with anyone and not just those close to your age) and because a woman is more likely to change her last name upon marriage (making the issue largely moot after that point unless her husband’s last name is also very common). In other words if the baby’s last name will be something like [name]Brown[/name] (won’t be the actual last name in my case) I’d be more likely to name a girl something like [name]Isabella[/name] or [name]Abigail[/name] than a boy [name]Michael[/name] or [name]Joseph[/name] for that reason, although the effect would be reversed in terms of the all-ages popularity with names like [name]Elizabeth[/name] and [name]Aiden[/name].

I do think popularity is important but only when the name is more trendy than classic. This point has been made already here (by [name]Jill[/name], I think :slight_smile: if I remember rightly) and I totally agree. For instance, my name is [name]Elizabeth[/name] and although it’s been in the top 10 for like 100 (probably more) years, it’s a classic, and I don’t feel like it’s “popular” but more “well-used” in all generations. I’ve only ever encountered about 4 other Elizabeths my age in all my years at school and university. My point is that a name’s ranking is deceptive and that classics hold their ranking better than trendy names like [name]Kaylee[/name]/[name]Kaleigh[/name] or whatever.

Giving my children names that aren’t super popular but are known is important to me. It’s tough though, you never know the demographics of their future classes and whatnot, so you do have to go with your gut to a certain degree. I think if you love a name, it’s popularity shouldn’t matter too much. My favourite names (which have been favourites for a while) are [name]Lillian/name and [name]Gabriel[/name] - both in the top 50 in nearly all countries, but my love for them (and their classic name status) means I will probably still use them.

I personally tend to like more uncommon names, but that is simply a mater of what I like. If I loooooved the name [name]Emma[/name], I would name my kid [name]Emma[/name].