The Name Game
The concept of baby names is something that I’ve always found interesting…I remember as a kid picking up a Baby Names book (my mother, as a writer, had it as a reference, I suppose) and finding out what various names meant. Freakonomics had a very interesting chapter about whether a baby’s name predicted his or her life, or whether it worked the opposite way, and repeated the urban myth about two girls named lemonjello and orangejello.
The Social Security Administration just released the most popular names for 2006, and once again Matthew is in the top 10. That’s right, though we slipped to #5 from #4 last year. Since about 1973, my name has been in the top 10 non-stop, something I can’t really attribute to anything in particular. And boy names are pretty straightforward – the top ten are not particularly exotic – Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Ethan, Matthew, Daniel, Christopher, Andrew, Anthony and William. Of those, perhaps Ethan is a little unusual, and certainly the only name here I didn’t go to school with as a kid.
The girls names? Much more unique, I should think. The top ten was: Emily, Emma, Madison, Isabella, Ava, Abigail, Olivia, Hannah, Sophia and Samantha. I should state that I pretty much like all of these names, but where is Michelle (#80)? Jennifer (#51)? Elizabeth came in at #11, but just right above Ashley, Mia and Alexis. The name Brooklyn (67) for a girl is kind of cool but way more popular than I’d have thought (thanks to the Beckhams? Their Brooklyn is a boy…) and ranked above names like Audrey, Nicole, Michelle and Claire. Along the same tier of boys names? Jeremiah (71) ranked above Brian (72), Sebastian (76) above Eric (77), and Brayden (79) above Kyle (80), Ian (81) and Henry (95).
Blake was the 97th most popular name for boys, which is concerning to me since I’ve never met a guy named Blake I didn’t at least slightly dislike.
For what it’s worth, Jacob and Emily were the top two names for the second straight year. There’s going to be a lot of Jake’s and Emily’s getting married in about 25 years or so.
Going down the list is where it gets fun. I’ve always been a little fascinated by how many parents are willing to give their daughters names that almost scream “Future Stripper.” Apparently, Brianna is the 20th most popular name for a girl, and Addison #27. Kayla rang in at 26, Jasmine 29th, Savannah 30th. Destiny hit the charts at 37 while Nevaeh was the 43rd most popular name for girls last year.
Nevaeh, you say? Yes, it’s Heaven spelled backwards, popularized by some religious singer who named his daughter awhile back. Putting aside the fact that Heaven backwards sounds a lot to me like something bad, it’s just an insane name. But most humorously – to me, anyhow – is the 996th most popular name for girls: Neveah. Yes, that’s Haeven spelled backwards, which means…nothing. It’s just now an utterly non-sensical name.