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Popculture naming trends


Steve and I finally got a baby name book. He liked this one in particular the first time he got to peruse it at a maternity clothing store. What I like about this book that makes it unique from other naming books is that it doesn’t solely list name origin and meaning, in fact, it doesn’t have meaning on every single name. The author researched name trends for this book in a method that reminds me of the Freakonomics authors.


Wattenberg looked at birth names to alumni of ivy league colleges, name histories and trends from foreign countries as well as the U.S. lists from registered birth names for social security. Once she created a super huge database of names and dates, she created a software program that comes up with name matches. I’m still reading the book to understand how the name matcher works, but for every name, it has complimentary names for boys and girls–consideration for name alternatives that may be appealing, names for siblings of your child, sometimes names of spouses appear as complements to the primary name. Whatever the case, this author did some serious compilation to create a pretty cool book.


Her claim is that parents try to pick unique and original names, but for their particular education level, social status, community, etc., they’ll end up with the same baby name as 10 other people on the block because people’s ideas of fashion and trends among names have had the same influence as their friends and neighbors.


Wattenberg describes more of those influences, and each name has a graph analysis of the name’s peak popularity and decade, or whether it’s climbing on the popularity scale.

We’re no where closer at deciding on names for our baby, but at least we’re armed with an intriguing book. You can also check out the baby name wizard name voyager online. Type in a name, any name, and look at it’s popularity and frequency of occurrence. Wattenberg’s Name News blog is also fun reading.

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