May 10, 2013

Babynameitis: It's a Real Thing, I Swear

2012 stats: Noel #418, Jessica #138, Eleanor, #135
I was going to write up a little "what Eleanor and I have been reading" post for you.

But... then I saw that the Social Security Administration had released the 2012 name states (which they do just before Mother's Day each year), and all bookish productivity was thrown out the window.

I may or may not have emailed all my family members to tell them what their name ranked last year, the year they were born, and how many people with their name were born in the last century.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I'm totally obsessed with baby names. I think a large part of it is due to the commonality of my name. 

(In case you're really curious: 1,036,278 Jessicas were born from 1913-2012, making it the 9th most used name of the century. Of that, 469,395 of us were born in the 1980s. For only the 2nd time since 1969, Jessica was not in the top 100 girl names last year!)

The rest is from teaching at church for years, and being an avid reader. I have really strong associations with lots of names - some from real life, some from fiction. In middle school I used to check out baby name books from the library and obsessively pore over them... resulting in my short stories having rather hilariously named participants. (Stephania and Carlton anyone?)

Noel, on the other hand, has never met another Noel in real life, except for the grandfather he was named after. Lots of people just call him Noah, since they mishear his name, and he gets hilariously misspelled renderings sometimes.

My two favorites: at his old job he got faxes addressed to both Knoll Howard and Knowles Howard, ha! Due to the latter, his coworkers jokingly called him Beyonce. Due to the former, he keeps saying that one of these years for Halloween he's just going to wear a strip of fake turf for Halloween (thus making him "the grassy Noel").

So, when we were coming up with Eleanor's name, I didn't want it to be too trendy, and Noel didn't want it to be too uncommon. I think we struck a nice balance.

It's risen a bit in popularity since she was born: last year it was #135, but it'll never be overwhelmingly trendy the way Sophia or Emma or Ava are.

Oh, and I checked all the potential names we're considering for the Jellybean. None of the girl ones are in the top 100, and none of the boy ones are in the top 200. Phew!

Now, if you want to do some obsessive baby name sleuthing of your own, here is the main SSA baby name webpage, and here is a fascinating page that tracks names based on their rising/falling popularity. Here is the list of the top names of the century. And you can't go wrong with any of the Baby Name Wizard's articles about the name trends.

Do you like baby names?