How popular is your name?

Have you ever wanted to know the popularity of your name, or how its popularity has changed over time since 1880?  If so,  go to this link for an excellent data visualisation tool.  Key in your name (or any name; the site is intended for people choosing a baby’s name) and you can see in graphical form how popular it is and was.

"Maxine", for example, was barely known in the 1880s but had a huge spike of popularity in the 1900s, peaking at about 1,300 per million babies in the 1920s, which is 84th in popularity in whichever population is counted by the site. Its popularity decreased almost as rapidly, so that by the decade I was born it was 276th and by the 1980s it had vanished from the scale (less than 10 per million, it seems). I had no idea that "Maxine" is an "old" name, though I do know that my mother found it in the back of Chambers’ dictionary and awarded it to me when I was born.

I have not looked into the parameters of this measure (is it international? what are the ranking criteria?), but it is mildly diverting. If you look up your own name, please do note its popularity in the comments to this post. If I get enough comments I will create a "top ten" list 😉

7 thoughts on “How popular is your name?

  1. “Where does this information come from?
    “The NameVoyager tracks names of babies born in the United States, as reported by the Social Security Administration (SSA). We have cleansed the raw SSA data and performed statistical transformations to allow meaningful historical comparisons.”

  2. My name was 4th most popular when I acquired it (now 565th!). My mother insisted on it, my father said “I wouldn’t call a DOG Susan!” (arf, arf)
    Your mother did very well by you, Maxine! Can you imagine what it was like for me in the school system? Every classroom had four or five Susans and so the teachers would ‘refine’ the designation, addressing by name-and-surname-initial sometimes, and occasionally cutesy-ing it to Sue or Susie. I don’t mind the name, it was something of a nuisance though. (On the bright side, my father lost the battle – he would have called me Agnes!)

  3. Yes, Susan, although I now know, thanks to Dave, that the data here are US, it is true that when I was a girl at school everyone seemed to be called Mary, Jane or Susan, and now, very few people are. (They are all called names like Kylie or Kayla).
    I have never liked my name, though. That’s why I gave my children “classic” names.
    When Cathy was about 4, she longed to be called “Leia”. And Jenny quite often changes her mind about what she’d like to be called (so long as not Jenny), for a while it has been Robyn. I guess the unsurprising message is that parents can’t win whatever they do.

  4. Nobody else was named Isabella from the 50s thru the 80s. Now it’s #6. Everyone I went to school with was named Jennifer.

  5. Nobody else was named Isabella from the 50s thru the 80s. Now it’s #6. Everyone I went to school with was named Jennifer.

  6. Isabelle or Isabel is very popular in the UK currently, as are Rebecca, Eleanor (“Ellie”), Katie, Amy, Lucy.
    Jennifer is not so popular these days, though my own Jenny has had to put up with another girl of the same name while at primary school. She is just about to start secondary school in September, and is relieved that nobody in the 180-strong intake is called Jennifer.
    Incidentally, did you know that Jennifer is the modern version of Guinevere?

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