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Friday, August 15, 2014

How to gauge the true popularity of a name: Can it really be done?

The Top Ten most popular names in the United States are as follows (In case you don't remember from a few days ago!)

1. Sophia
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Isabella
5. Ava
6. Mia
7. Emily
8. Abigail
9. Madison
10. Elizabeth

1. Noah
2. Liam
3. Jacob
4. Mason
5. William
6. Ethan
7. Michael
8. Alexander
9. Jayden
10. Daniel

I've seen so many parents get frustrated when they try to pick a name that's unusual, and find out that there are several kids with that name in that area. I also work in a daycare, so some of the names that are popular within the school aren't even close to being popular on the charts. So, that being said, I'm going to give a few tips on how to pick a name that isn't so popular:

1. Don't go by the above lists. Yes, you heard me correctly. Those lists are not totally accurate because it generalizes the names of millions of babies a year born in this country. So, first of all, don't take this list to heart. It's kind of like an outline, rather than a very descriptive research paper. Does that make sense?

2. If you would like a more specific popularity guide, check out the SSA website, and look at the popular name by State. Each state has a Top 100 most popular names, and you are likely to get a more accurate idea of the popularity of a name in your area. Now these lists are very similar, it's true. But more accurate, for sure.

3. Do you see a trend with the Top Ten girl names? Look at the first six: All of the top 6 end in an 'a.' Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't use a name because it ends in an 'a', but be aware of what the popular girl names in your area are beginning and ending with. Are there a lot of Alias and Avas? Then chances are there will be several Arias too, and you shouldn't be surprised if there are.

4. The boys Top Ten is a little trickier. Most of them are classics. Jacob, William, Michael, Alexander, and Daniel have been used for centuries. So let me just give you a cheat sheet on this one: Any name that ends in -Ayden/-Aden is popular right now. No, it doesn't matter how you spell it. Unfortunately, the popularity charts don't include all of the many variations of spellings of names, so the -Ayden/-Aden names aren't technically counted because there are SO many different ways to spell them. Same deal with Jackson/Jaxon. It's a super, super popular name as well. Now, am I saying not to use these names? Not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying if popularity bothers you, you should steer clear of Jayden/Cayden/Brayden/Hayden/Aidan/Jackson. And any other spellings or mashups of the above mentioned names that I missed.

5. Mainly, just pay attention to popular names in your area. Name Nerds like myself in my area would know how popular Charlie is on a girl. They come in all different flavors of spellings, and all different kinds of cutesy middle names paired with them. But Charlie hasn't even busted the top 200... and yet I've never even met a Daniel under the age of 5, and Daniel sits at Number 10 on the charts for 2013.

This whole list doesn't apply to you if the popularity of a name doesn't bother you. And by all means, IF YOU LOVE A NAME, USE IT! This post is just meant to help people that are turned off by name popularity have a better chance of picking a less popular name. Plus, this method isn't fool-proof by any means. You could pick a name that is #5034 on the charts, and your child have friends in his class with the same name. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. So to answer the question in the title of this post: There is no way to be sure that your child doesn't have to share their name with someone they know. But, it doesn't hurt to be informed about name-trends to help your chances.
And I know most people aren't ^^ THAT concerned about popularity, but you non-Name Nerds would be surprised.

That covers my little name series in popularity this week, guys. I'll be back to writing on more unusual names soon, and I really can't wait to return to that!

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