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Names Now and Then

Updated on October 15, 2012

It seems like everything else, names go through changes with each decade. Unique names become more and more popular as each parent decides he doesn't want his child to have the same name as everyone else! In order to find unique names now though, some parents are just making up there own!

I read an article in our local paper (Daily Freeman) about the 'new' names people are using and how they are often "asexual", having no sex and no way to tell if it's a boy's name or a girl's name. After reading that article I decided to look into the matter and came up with this short piece about names.

I knew there was a plethora of new names on the books, names like Chaqita, Aisha, Afiya and more. What ever happened to John and Mary? Maybe they sank with the Mayflower!

If you look back to the early 1900s you find names like Evelyn, James, Elizabeth and William. Common, standard names of the time. Interestingly enough the two top names in the early 1900s were John and Mary according to! ( I do not point this out because my name is Mary, but because they really were!)

As we move to the 1920s John and Mary are still up there and they are joined by names like James, Charles, Helen and Margaret. (I'm taking most of this information from the Social Security website on Popular Baby Names. Yes, they have a website like that. They actually have ones with popular names for the last 100 years.) Although it was the "Roaring Twenties" names were still pretty common. Another way to tell the names of the decade is to look at the famous people of that decade. Henry Ford was certainly a very basic name. Charles Lindbergh, Louis Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway...all famous names that we're used to hearing.

In the 1950s...according to Social Security still James, Mary, and Linda joined by Michael. Funny, every site I visited listed these same four names as the most popular so I guess they really must've been. Even the psychedelic '60s have common names with the top names being Michael, Lisa, David and Mary.

The 1970s ah, the names begin to change. The top names now are Michael, Jennifer, Christopher and Amy. A departure from what we've seen in the past but still pretty common and distinguishable. 1980s,,,Michael, Jessica, Christopher and Jennifer. 1990s...Michael, Jessica, Christopher and Ashley. 2000...Jacob, Emily, Michael, and Madison.

Are you seeing any patterns here? I know I wouldn't want to name my son Michael because there's got to be thousands of them out there in every age group. The names have changed slightly but I repeat they are still common and distinguishable.

The difference comes when you look down the list in 2000 and see names like Hayden, Devon, Riley, Peyton, Braden, Trenton...they're moving away from common names and while they are more creative they are still recognizable names. Parents are becoming creative but conservatively so.

Popular Baby Names Through History

Sophia, Ava, Emma
Aiden, Mason, Lucas
Sophia, Chloe, Lily
Aiden, Logan, Liam
Isabella, Sophia, Olivia
Aiden, Jackson, Jacob
Emma, Madison, Ava
Aiden, Jayden, Caden
Sophia, Addison Emily
Aiden, Ethan, Noah
Emma, Kaitlyn, Abigail
Aiden, Ryan, Jack
Emma, Hannah, Makayla
Aidan, Nicholas, Tyler
These statistics were taken from (Note Aidan in 2005 was spelled differently than in other years, this is not a typo.)

So we've taken a quick glance at the past. Names didn't really make any drastic changes. They were what we would call 'normal' names. Still names you can understand and think of as common names.

What happened? That's the million dollar question. How did names go from John and Mary to Shawna, Seferino, Lizandra, Ajamil, Ambakisye ...these are real names taken from my local newspaper! (The last two are boys names.)

Well, as is to be expected, celebrities are the first to change the direction of baby names. How about the following in 2008;

Zahara, Pax, and Shiloh Jolie Pitt
Suri Cruise
Nahla Aubry (Hally Berry & Gabriel Aubry)
Sunday Rose Kidman (Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban)
Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz)

If celebrities can do it why can't we? People are beginning to look at 'alternative' names. For example, would you seriously name your son Bubba? It is a suggested name for a future chef! How about Atticus for a future lawyer? We all know Atticus is from "To Kill a Mockingbird" but are people really using it? (Actually I kind of like Atticus.) has several lists you can choose from to make your baby's name unique. Select groups include Irish names, Arab names, exotic names from around the world, Japanese names, etc. Now don't get me wrong I think exotic names are lovely if you come from exotic places but, and to me its a big but (not my butt, this but), names like Adisa (a girl's name from Ghana), Naira (a girl's name from Quechuan - I don't even know where that is!), Lindell (a boy's name from Sweden), Lawan (a boy's name from Thailand) just don't seem right here. And pity the poor teacher the first day of school! She looks down at her roster and sees Ajamil, Bronx, Seferino and more...are they boys or girls? How should she make her seating arrangements? She doesn't want a group of four boys and one girl or whatever, you get the picture. There's no way to tell!

Maybe I'm just old fashioned but it seems to me if you're American you should have American names, or at least names you can pronounce and possibly spell. I know Sanasha is fairly easy to spell but would you name your little girl Sanasha or Jarnie? What happens when you want to buy one of those cute little toothbrushes with your daughter's name on it? Do you really think you're going to find one with Sanasha on it?

I guess the bottom line here is, its none of my business what someone else names their child. It is a personal thing between parents, however, even though names now and then have changed, think about your child. I always thought about kindergarten and how hard it would be for them to learn to spell their name....think about their little five year old friends, will they be able to even pronounce this new name you've found? Then there's the word play that can turn a simple name into a torment in junior high school. These are things parents need to think of when choosing an exotic name whether it was then or it is now. So that's my little recap of names now and then.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

What do you think about names?

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Howlermunkey it is interesting how names change with the times. I wonder how many Susan's there are now.

      Jessefutch you are so right. I agree with everything you've said. "Cute" doesn't necessarily mean an adult is going to be able to live with the name when they are in high school.

      Thanks cleverowlsoftware.

    • jessefutch profile image

      jessefutch 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I've met people named Latrina, then recently met someone named Latrine. These were girl's names. I've met people named Snake, Byson and Tyger. Those are boy's names. I have three sons and all of them have biblical names. I do not think that "creative"names are a bad thing per se, but parents really need to think about what they're doing when they name their children. I think a lot of it has gotten WAY out of hand. You are not doing your child any favors by naming them Latrina or Byson... Just because you add "La" or "Le" to a girl's name does not make it exotic. Just because you switch out vowels for a "y" does not make your son's name better. Generally it just makes it worse. A name that is "cute" for a baby will not be so for an adult.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Great hub, i think the trend of names is fascinating..., crazy how the human psyche works, and how were all connected. Up and sharing

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Glad your parents liked the Beatles...the name fits, you "go together well". Being Catholic, I was named for Mary, the Virgin Mother. Thanks for stopping by.

      Thanks for reading Alecia...parents really need to think before they name their baby, whatever that name may be. Yours is a lovely name.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      My name is a unique take on a fairly common name however everyone pronounces it differently. It is something I've come to expect. But in general, I enjoy my name- it's different and easy at the same time.

      As far as names like Sunday or Bronx- I don't understand it either but at least those are pronounceable. Names with multiple pronunciations are challenging but I guess parents didn't see the big picture.

      Either way I think you're right names are names and people have to live with the decision they make. Great hub!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Interesting, Mary!! is a site I'll pop by for a checkout. I was named Michelle because my parents loved the song by the Beatles. Interesting hub I'm voting up and sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for stopping by Vellur. Names can be family names we've never heard of as well.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Names have a meaning and popular names keep changing over time. An alternate name sounds awesome. Voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      You are so right Docmo, if mind altering substances weren't involved when Geldof chose his children's names perhaps he needs a padded cell!! Now our grandparents' names (in the States anyway) are starting to come back in vogue.

      My Tara is 43 years old Nell! I wanted something different, but believe it or not when she went to school there was another Tara in her class!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Really? Wow! I had never heard the name Tara before my neighbor moved in, I really like it, and I didn't know the connection to Gone with the wind until my mother told me, how strange! lol!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Well written and entertaining facts Mary - ( I like the 'did they sink with the mayflower' quip!)- and how did you manage to find the perfect song/video to fit the hub- great choice! I too am fascinated by the trends in names - a lot of new names are also due cross fertilization of cultures and cultural/ media trends as well as celebrities.

      I suppose every country goes through tends. I remember my mum telling me that my grandparents weren't too fond of 'Mohan' which they felt was too modern for a Hindu name- in my generation and now Mohan is popular but we viewed names of my grandparents as old fashioned!

      In UK we also have the typical celebrity trendsetting ' Brooklyn Beckham' being one example. But my all time fav celebrity children names are what Bob Geldof gave his daughters and stepdaughter ' Fifi Trixibelle, Little Pixie, Peaches Honeyblossom and Hevenly Hirani Tigerlily'

      I am sure there were mind altering substances involved in these parental naming discussions! But hey, they are quirky and memorable.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Names like Audra are not only unique but 'normal' and likeable...might be my age showing but as I said names like Tanarikkaa or whatever just don't cut it! Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a great day.

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      A great quality hub of great interest to me. I like this subject! My name is Audra...named after Linda Evans on "The Big Valley" and!

      I like the common American names, but like different ones too. The different ones make telemarketers screw up when they! Voted this up high this morning!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Uh, Oh, did I tell you my oldest daughter is Tara...named after Tara in Gone With the Wind? It's okay, she really is a Tara, a wonderful, strong and intelligent woman, someone you can always count on! Melanie wasn't so bad either ;)

      Glad you enjoyed the hub and I have to agree the "ish/eesh" is over the edge.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, I don't like the names with an 'ish' in, for example charneesh, not sure if thats spelled right! lol! drives me mad, all the ish's! lol! I was named after Gone with the wind! my mum loved the name Melanie, so I got stuck with it, now its mel or nell, its okay, but it could have been worse, I could have got stuck with Scarlet! the funny thing was my neighbor was called Tara! how strange is that? loved your humor! lol!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Made. It really is fascinating to watch the trend in names over a long period of time. Glad you enjoyed.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

      This is an interesting hub. Names have always fascinated me. It seems like people here in Finland give their children unique names too, or old names that only people over 80 years of age are named. (I'm pretty sure Lindell isn't a boy's name from Sweden, but a Swedish last name.) I have to agree that parents should think about that the child and people around it should be able to pronounce the name. Really good hub. Voted up and interesting!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Ah Linda, but, what goes around comes around. Maybe in another ten years our names will be popular again. Maybe I could say "What's old is new" :)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      What a great Hub! I just tickles me to no end when I hear some of the names being used these days -- especially the ones celebrities come up with for their offspring. When I meet another Linda, I know she had to be born a few years before or after me. I never thought my name would date me! Right, Mary? I guess our names have outlived their usefulness. Great read! Voted up, funny and interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Susan. Names are ever evolving, who knows what they'll be twenty years from now!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Don't forget about Frank Zappa. He and his wife sure picked some different names. Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

      Interesting topic and great comments!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Okay Effer St. Paul!

      I'm with you bac2basics. If parents only think of what is going to happen to their child when they go to school with that name! I don't believe Geldof was 'thinking' probably 'taking'.

      I agree Brett, the name Sophia has a certain class to it. Thanks for sharing.

      Thanks Rosemay. I first heard the name Hunter when my daughter's friends named their son Hunter. They had met at Hunter Mt. in NY and chose to name him after that!

      That's the problem Peg, unspellable is one thing, unpronounceable is something else for sure.

      LABrashear, call me old fashioned but I can't reconcile with Nevaeh. I don't even no how to pronounce it properly.

      Well EclecticFusion nice to know your name is Lisa ;) My mom's name was Eva, which she didn't like. When she started school she told everyone her name was Marie (her middle name). Everyone thought Marie was her name up until she died at the age of 88. Scout would be interesting and I do like Atticus.

    • EclecticFusion profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Tennessee

      Interesting, awesome, and up!

      I was born in 1966 and I have one of those popular names for that time - Lisa. When I was growing up and in school, it seemed like every girl's name was Lisa and for a little while I only answered to my middle name - Michelle! I just had to be different!

      As for the name Atticus, I love that name! Probably because I loved the movie. If I had had a child, I always said I would have named her/him Scout because of that movie, too!

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      My husband and I both have pretty common names (Mike & Laura), so when we had kids we wanted to go unique. First child - Colten. It was somewhat unique until we came across about 8 others after he was born. Second, Braidynne (Braden). We liked the idea of a non-gender name, but took a lot of flack from our family for naming a girl a boy name. So, we changed the spelling to "girl" it up. That poor child had a heck of a time learning to spell her name in preschool! Third is Aubrey. A couple of years ago, this was pretty uncommon for a girl, but now we're seeing a lot of Aubreys. We stuck with traditional for middle names though. We just wanted our children to have their own identity - instead of being Jessica C. or Jessica S. or as it is lately Nevaeh (there were 3 in my youngest daughter's small class!)

      Great job! Voted up!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Names are so important. To each person, the sound of someone saying their name out loud is special. Some of the names I hear today are unique and yet unpronounceable to the unpracticed ear or lips.

      You've given the reader something to think about here, Mary. It was funny and deep, yet understandable.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I see parents who are now making up their own names for their children or just altering the speeling of a name. But I also see many using the old names. My nephew's children are jacob, Noah, Isaac and Ruby.

      My youngest grandson is called Hunter.

      I called my son Shane, In the 70's in the UK this was fairly unique, but moving to Australia found every other child his age was named Shane. You can't win em all. Lol

      A very interesting and thought proking hub.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Interesting read. Names will always change, as people continually struggle to be different and individual in a world where it is hard to stand out. Found it interesting that Sophia is holding strong though, as I think it is a great girls name.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi. Interesting hub.Celebrities are the worst when it comes to naming their kids. Look at Bob geldof´s daughters. Fifi Trixabelle, Peaches and Pixie and even worse Heavenly Hiranni Tigerlily, I ask you..what was he thinking / taking ? They are ok as pet names, but what normal little girl would want that called out in class during registration? Maybe when you are as rich as him it´s OK.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      You can call me Saint Paul if you like, Till.....just so you don't become offended when people laugh their butts off at that!!! Oh yeah....I'm a precious little "Saint.".......omg.....I just told a big fat lie!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I didn't know about Nicholas Cage...pity Kal-el! As for Herodotus, I really hope they don't go back to that. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Great topic! Still amazed how Nicholas Cage named his son Kal-el. Names evolve with the times and situations. Kim was famous after Korea, and... well, no one would name 'Herodotus' to any of his/her kid nowadays. Voted useful and interesting!


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      You are so observant Effer! Actually research shows parents are going back in time to pick names. "Sophia" is seeing a rise in popularity.

      GF who better to name your daughter after if you're Catholic! In "those" days it was the thing to do. So, should I call you St. Paul now ;)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Till....Great topic for an interesting hub! And one I've given a lot of thought to. Names have taken a ride on the weird side for awhile now. I believe the precise motive of these parents was to get as far away from the "standard" and "traditional."

      This is not a bad thing, but I have noticed that young parents now (in the past 4 or 5 years,) must have come to the conclusion that THAT particular phase lasted long enough. The reason I believe this is that I'm seeing our old standards coming back.....the good old-fashioned names of the know, like a hundred years ago when we were born, GF!!

      My 2nd son and his wife have 4 kids ....and you cannot get more old world and simple than Jane, Benjamin, Henry and Thomas!! When I glance at the birth announcements lately in the local paper, I'm actually seeing names like "Theodore," "Millicent"....I even saw "Ida!!"

      Everything comes around in cycles, Till.

      I kind of like the concept of a name literally created from imagination.....once in awhile, as long as it's not something ridiculous or outrageous.

      But speaking of "Mary,"....I gotta tell ya.. In my small graduating class, of about 65 girls....30 of them had to be Mary....and if not, it was their middle me, Paula Mary!! lmao. I guess back then, GF, all the Catholics felt compelled to name their daughters after the Blessed Mother!! Great Hub as always!! UP++

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I have to admit Shesabutterfly, I like the names you've picked as well. Common and unique don't have to be exclusive of each other but you've found the point...easy to spell and pronouce! Have a good day.

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great hub! I like the table, very helpful. Personally I like knowing the definitions of names before picking one out for a child. To me that's important as well as not having three other children with the same name as my child in their class. I like common, but also unique names that are easy to spell and pronounce but may be a little less popular.

      For example, I like Alana Reagan and Noelle Alexandra for girls and Elijah Thomas and Isaiah James for boys.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      It seems Bill, your family believed in "unique" names. Remember, "Don't Mess With Bill" (the Marveletts)

      SS - great era, great names, great ladies - what more can I say ;)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Look at that Linda and Mary were popular names in the 50's! We go way back, don't we! I'm very happy with my name. Celebrities need to really think before they name their kids. Fun hub!:)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The perfect choice of videos for this hub. My mom's name was Evelyn, my sister Darlys and my grandmother Belva! Thank God they decided Bill would be fine for me. :)

      Great hub and quite interesting!