Name Popularity Playing Out Unexpectedly in the Real World

Swistle: Baby Names had a great post recently about name popularity playing out unexpectedly in the real world. I loved reading the responses, and I thought it would be fun to open it up to Berries as well!

So, using the prompt from the post:

“What we are looking for today is stories where there was an interesting difference between a name’s national/statistical popularity and its local/specific usage. Two Garys in one class, as Ashley mentions, or two Emilias. Two families both attempting to avoid the popularity of Isabella by both choosing Isadora, and the two Isadoras end up in the same classroom (with no Isabellas). Three Joeys in the same classroom, and two of them have the same middle name. Giving up on favorite name Olivia because it is too common, and using second-favorite Stella instead, and then there are two Stellas in that grade and no Olivias. Using the name John because it’s an important namesake name but feeling a little sad because it is just SO POPULAR, and then there isn’t a single other John in the entire school system. Etc.”

My example: In elementary school, there were two Claytons in my grade of ~55 students. It was not at all popular in my area when they were born, and I haven’t met a Clayton since!


In my primary school class of twenty, we had three sets of twins! One set of identical twin boys, one set of identical twin girls and one set of fraternal boy-girl twins. Of the two sets that contained girls, one of each of the twins in both sets was an erin! Not at all a common name in my area when we were born and I couldn’t tell you of any other I know of since!


There are 2 th3as in my high school class! I’ve always found it interesting that two separate sets of parents trying to find a unique vintage name ended up picking the same one.

When I worked at a summer camp, some of the more surprising repeated names were fr@nces and ily@. There were 3 of each in the same group at one point!


I follow Swistle, too, and weighed in on the topic on her page, so I’ll just copy/paste my comments here. :smile::two_hearts: Such a fun topic.

"I love this phenomenon, and I use it as an example every time a person mentions that they love a name, “but it’s too popular”. You never know!

I’m raising two young kids right now, so we’re immersed in the name world, and I’ve always been a name enthusiast, so I’m familiar with the SSA lists and the trends. I’m fascinated by the fact that I’ve never met one [name_f]Ava[/name_f]. Not a single one. I like the name, I know it’s popular, but it just doesn’t exist in my social circle at all. We’re in the US Midwest.

We do know two Atticuses, two Clarks, two Junipers, and three [name_f]Marys[/name_f].

Another thing that happens all the time is that people pick an individual name that isn’t high on the charts, but neglect to consider the differing spellings or the sound families. That I can think of, we know 17 girls whose names start with El-, and 7 that start with Ev-. Several of those are different spellings of [name_f]Ellie[/name_f] and [name_u]Everly[/name_u].

I have a friend whose daughter is named [name_u]Ellison[/name_u] Starts-with-B-and-rhymes-with-Lawyer. She gave her a backpack with “E. (Last name)” on it and sent her off to kindergarten. It’s a relatively small class (let’s say, a dozen kids or so). In that class is a little girl named [name_f]Ellen[/name_f], whose last name also starts with B and rhymes with [name_m]Lawyer[/name_m]. There is one letter difference in the last names. [name_f]My[/name_f] friend would never have guessed that that backpack would not have been sufficient, given that the last name is not common, and the chances of those two girls’ names being so similar.

I was born in ’86 in [name_u]Arizona[/name_u] and named [name_u]Ashley[/name_u]. Hugely popular name at the time of my birth and my parents had no idea. Typical story. But we knew no other Ashleys at the time. After kindergarten, we moved to [name_u]Texas[/name_u]. Suddenly, there were Ashleys EVERYWHERE. It was normal that I was one of three in a classroom. In one of my classes, there were three [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] Ws, so we all had to go by our last names as if they were our firsts. I hated it. But in high school, we moved to [name_u]Kansas[/name_u]. While there were plenty of Ashleys still in my graduating class, I was usually the only one in a classroom. And I moved to another [name_u]Kansas[/name_u] town in adulthood, where I vaguely know two other Ashleys, but we’re not generally in the same circle. All of that to say, even when a name IS crazy popular, like it was in the days before internet and no one knew it was popular, it still ebbs and flows throughout life. I’ve been one of many, and I’ve been the only. It’s hard to know what a child might experience ahead of time.

Always pick the favorite name!"

"Thought of another one.

[name_f]My[/name_f] son is named [name_u]Rory[/name_u]. It was in the 400s on the SSA list the year he was born. But he started going to a weekly church gathering when he was 3, and there was another boy named [name_u]Rory[/name_u]. 2 Rorys in a class of maybe 30 kids."


I think I’ve shared some of these before but:

  • in one year group at work, there are three students called K@iya (that spelling)
  • at my old job I had a class with two Saskias in it (have never met another since).
  • when I was in school, the only repeated name in my class was Amn@
  • I’ve met four kids called [name_f]Honey[/name_f], two kids called [name_u]Rex[/name_u], four Aoifes, two Hermiones and two Tallulahs, but I’ve never met a little [name_f]Poppy[/name_f] and [name_f]Elsie[/name_f]
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There were two girls called [name_f]Saskia[/name_f] in my high school class, though I’ve never met another since then or before then!


You seem to have had a great time name-sighting!

I have met two girls and a boy named Moon, with one of the girls and the boy being in the same class. It’s not all popular in my area. I have also had the pleasure of meeting an Atticus, a Mairead, a Matilda and a Leo. I have never met anyone named Olivia or Emma or Liam or Jack.

One of the classes I attended also had two Khushis (Sanskrit name and word meaning happiness. They both had Indian heritage btw).

Hopefully this what was meant :slight_smile:


In my area, names follow the top ten pretty solidly. I’ve had multiples of [name_f]Olivia[/name_f], [name_u]Elijah[/name_u], [name_u]Elias[/name_u], [name_f]Mia[/name_f], [name_f]Emma[/name_f], [name_u]Noah[/name_u], so on.

I’ve had every girls name in the top ten visit my class this year. But I haven’t encountered a [name_u]Liam[/name_u] — the top here — in about five years, and even then, only one. I’ve never met a child named [name_u]Henry[/name_u], period.

I have had multiples of names like Xara, [name_u]Arya[/name_u], and [name_u]Zaire[/name_u], though so I’ve realized there’s no getting out of your little sharing a name with somebody unless you’ve literally invented it. So I tend to agree, use what you love! But having three to four Olivias in one split classroom was pretty confusing. We did start using last names, which were thankfully pretty cute, and calling the one with the alternate spelling of [name_f]Alivia[/name_f] AY-livia. :sweat_smile:

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[name_f]My[/name_f] name’s [name_u]Shelley[/name_u] and it was already quite dated when was born, and always more commonly used in the US than the UK where I am. I was the only one in both primary and secondary schools I attended (elementary, middle and high school). Then in a university class where 3 disciplines combined for one subject, I was one of 3 in a class of 35 ish! One was a [name_u]Shelly[/name_u] short for [name_f]Michelle[/name_f] who exclusively went by [name_u]Shelly[/name_u], the other was a full given name [name_u]Shelley[/name_u] like me. It had to use my last initial - an alien experience!

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oh, i was about to make a topic like this! i know five €sme’s! one of them has an accent over the second e (é), three of them pronounce it esMAY and two pronounce it esME. one of my €smes in turn knows 3 other unrelated €smes, one or two of whom are esMAYs i believe.

i feel like i probably have funny other multiples but i can’t think of any atm. i’ll come back if i remember!