Lessons I learnt: the popular name debate

This is a very interesting thread and I totally agree with this summary. I have an extremely popular name for my age --I am a [name]Sarah[/name] born in the late 70s–and I absolutely hated it growing up, and even into my college years. It wasn’t just known, it was crazy popular. I was always [name]Sarah[/name] [last initial] and sometimes even [name]Sarah[/name] [full last name] because there was another [name]Sarah[/name] with the same last initial as me. I hated when people would snicker “another [name]Sarah[/name]!” when I told them my name.

Because of this, I have tried to give my kids names that are not in the top 50. I don’t want a completely off the wall name, but I also don’t want my kids to have the experience I had.

I have a mildly common name and have met tons of other [name]Tina[/name]'s. I have lots of friends with very popular and very unique names. The popular ones were always struggling with their individuality and coming up with a nn to not be another first name dot initial. Those with unique names were always so proud of them. That being said there is a difference between a unique name and a bad weird name. Celebrity example, [name]Suri[/name] vs [name]Apple[/name].

I had a really popular name and always had to put an initial by my name. I’ve checked the SSA charts for my state (Ohio) for the year I was born, and I was one of 1800+ kids with my name. I hated that and always wanted a more uncommon name so I would stand out among the sea of other girls. I never felt like my name helped me fit in. It just made me feel blah. In fact, I know of at least three other people with my FN/LN combo. Granted, I love my name now, but my experience throughout my school years has made me shy away from overly popular names. I think so many factors go into naming and popularity is only one of them. But to me, it is a major issue.

I’m a teenage [name]Olivia[/name] - which was only vaguely popular in the 90s. I was the only [name]Olivia[/name] in my first school for most of the time and I never thought much of it, until a new girl with my name started in the year below me - I was seriously angry, and I don’t even remember being a try-to-stand-out child! I do also remember thinking it was cool I had an unusual initial rather than anything else.

In my school now there are over 1200 pupils, and 3 Olivias including myself (To put it into perspective, there are also 3 Matildas, 3 Poppys and 3 Marthas)

Sometimes I wish I had a more uncommon name. I often imagine myself as something like an ‘[name]Octavia[/name]’ rather than [name]Olivia[/name] and wonder whether it would have made any difference to my life. Overall, I think that my name is pretty great if I do say so myself. Classic, beautiful, Shakespearean and I get so many compliments despite the fact it’s the #1 name in the UK.

[name]Just[/name] a thought… how does gender play into this popular name concept?
Does it play a part? what do people think?
For example Is a boy with a unusual name less accepted than a girl with an unusual name?

emiliaj :slight_smile:

I’m a guy with a name that was top-5 the year I was born([name]Matthew[/name]). There were always many others, and I had to use to my last initial a lot. I hate being one of hundreds and wish I had a less popular name. I’d thinking about changing my name because it is too popular. At least consider name popularity for boys.

The name I have like for a boy for about 18yrs is [name]Liam[/name]. [name]Way[/name] before it was popular. [name]William[/name] is also a family name. I would [name]LOVE[/name] to have [name]William[/name] nn [name]Liam[/name]. But is exactly comments like yours [name]Matthew[/name] that make me second guess my top favourite. The other one I like best is [name]Oliver[/name] which is not as highly ranked.

I hated my name in school aswell i was the only one and got bullied for it but from about the age of 14 onwards i really started to love the fact that it was different. I’ve went nearly 30 yrs without coming accross another [name]Tamsin[/name], met a [name]Tamzin[/name] last year with the different spelling. My gran always hated it and a lot of people call me [name]Tammy[/name] (which I hate!) purely coz they cant say it properly, I get Tazmin, Tazmind, [name]Tamasin[/name], and even [name]Jasmine[/name].

There are a few names I like that I like to think of as my “guilty pleasures” because they are names pretty high on the popularity list ([name]Olivia[/name] being the “guiltiest” at #4) Then I realized my name is actually higher than some of the names I like to consider guilty. But at the same time I’ve only met to date (I’m 25) 3 other people with my name. And even then I’m not sure if they had the single “n” or the double “n” spelling (I have the double “n”)

My dad named me and he’s never been able to tell me his reasoning anything beyond that he just really loved the name. And you know what? That’s a great reason to name your child! He loved the name so much and through his love, I love my name so much too <3

For me, it’s more a personality thing than a rebelling against my popular name thing that has me looking for the rare and unusual. I’ve always liked going against the flow and not being popular or mainstream. But this post has given me pause for thought. Just because it’s what I like doesn’t mean t would be good for a child. Though I’m in a bit of a different situation than some anyway (but not a unique situation) My DH is Uzbek and we’re likely to give our kids Uzbek names, which are going to be very unique among their peers here in the US. I hope they can love their names and the heritage that comes with them even if they never meet another person with their name until they visit their father’s motherland.

There is no way to know what kind of name the child will like, so I would pick something I liked and not worry about it too much.

My take on popular names: Only the top 20 is so popular to seem overused to me - in real life. But on the internet, names that are currently unusual, but heard all the time on name boards - [name]Atticus[/name] and [name]Adelaide[/name], for example - feel just as overused to me as a top 20 name. Also, names that all have a similar sound also seem overused. For example, [name]Zayden[/name] might be unusual according to the rankings, but since the name has a very common sound, [name]Zayden[/name] also feels overused.

A name that ranks somewhat high on the popularity charts (top 100), but doesn’t feel overused to me is [name]Naomi[/name]. There may be a couple of names similar to [name]Naomi[/name], but not too many. For example, I would rather be 1 of 2 or 3 [name]Naomi[/name]'s in a class, than a [name]Kaylee[/name], in a class with a [name]Keely[/name], Kaisey, [name]Karly[/name], etc…

Intersting point about similar sounding names. I like [name]Naomi[/name] too for similar reasons you mentioned.
I teach and in recent times I have had so many J names that even though one boy was [name]Jeremy[/name] (unusual- yet know) his name blended in with all the other J names like [name]Jack[/name], [name]Jackson[/name], [name]Jayden[/name], [name]Jonathan[/name], [name]Jacob[/name], [name]Jake[/name], [name]Jay[/name] and [name]Jesse[/name]. So somehow it didn’t sound as unique after all.

I also agree with your point about overused ‘unique’ names. If people chooses the same one to be unique I guess they aren’t so unique anymore. There seems to be almost a subset of ‘popular unique name’.

Maybe my #1 son has the perfect unique name afterall- as I have never heard anyone else with the name, or indeed never seen anyone mention it as a unique name. LOL Yet he still hated it for most of his childhood.


[name]Tamsin[/name] has been one of my loved name for many years. It is such a pretty sounding name. It is interesting hearing your plight about what people call you. That is the reason I would only ever use it as a mn. Being constantly having to correct people must drive you mad?

Edited for privacy.