Margaret’s Pseudo-Resurgence

One of the working titles for this post was, Old News: Margaret’s Coming Back. I decided in actual use that title could turn away people. Who wants to read about old news? No one, obviously, but Margaret is certainly worthy so let’s talk about Margaret.

The real surprise is when looking at the numbers; Margaret doesn’t seem to be coming back. Not yet.

While Margaret has been MIA from the top 100 for a while, Margaret was among the Top 5 Girl Baby Names from the 1880’s to the 1920’s. And then after that, she disappeared, not only from the Top 5, but the Top 10.

Thus began Margaret’s steady decline, but she never left the Top 200. In fact, in the face of some research, I learned that Margaret was actually more popular 30 years ago than she is today, ranking at 107 in 1981, compared to 182 in 2010.

The findings surprised me, because Margaret seems to fit today’s style more than the 80’s style, when Brittany, Crystal and Tiffany were all in vogue. I also have anecdotal evidence from other name sites where name writers and parents were singing Margaret’s praises.

But perhaps a rank of 107 in 1981 can’t compare to a ranking of 182 in 2010. I decided to look at the number of babies instead of the rank. Margaret in 2010 represented 0.0863% of newborn babies (1,676 births). Margaret in 1981 represented 0.1562% of newborn babies (2,792 births).

When looking at the real numbers, Margaret was still given to nearly twice as many babies in 1981 as in 2010. Perhaps Margaret’s resurgence isn’t old news, but is all in my head? Or is Margaret’s resurgence really old news – as in 130 year old news?

But I still maintain that Margaret will come back and probably sooner than later. She has that old-fashioned style like Alice and Clara. She is among classics like Katherine, and she is among what I call the Nickname Elite. Many of Margaret’s nicknames are now up-and-coming names: Maggie, Maisie, Daisy, Greta.

Let’s look at the statistics of these nicknames as given names in 2010 vs. 1981:

Rank 1981 2010
Maggie 440 225
Maisie ** **
Daisy 328 151
Greta* 782 666

*From 1983 to 1998 Greta was absent from the top 1000. ** Not in the top 1000.

Well what do you know! Three of these four nicknames have all seen increases in popularity from 30 years ago. And perhaps that is Margaret’s real appeal – as another path to Maggie, Daisy, and Greta.

Maisie has not been in the top 1000 in the past 35 years nor has Maizie or Maisy, but Maisie was ranked at 14 in the UK for 2010, up 20 spaces from 2009. (Maisy ranked at 100 in the UK for 2010.) And popular UK names often become popular in the US a few years later.

These findings also suggest, as mentioned in Nicknames as Given Names, that US parents may be more willing than ever before to put traditional nickname-only monikers on the birth certificate.

Readers: What do you think? Is Margaret ready for a revival? Will her nicknames surpass her, give her a boost or both? Does Margaret offer other selling points besides a formal version of Maggie, Maisie, Daisy, and Greta?

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  1. In my generation the most common nickname for Margaret was Peg or Peggy, followed by Margie. Perhaps their usage has dwindled in lieu of the more modern nicknames like Maggie, Maisie, etc….which I happen to prefer.

    Although it has never been a favorite of mine I do think it has a classic appeal and has an aura of strength about it – perhaps because it always makes me think of Margaret Thatcher.

    • I had forgotten about Margie and Marge! I’m not sold on the sound either. The “garet” part I pronounce “grit” which reminds me of gritty. But there’s something about the name that garners respect.

  2. I didn’t know Maisy and Daisy were nicknames for Margaret. I knew about Maggie, Meg, and Peggy though.

    • Geeze. How could I forget about Meg. For my generation, Meg was usually short for Megan, but I believe the Margaret in Little Women was Meg too. Edited to add: Meg Ryan is actually Margaret.

      Daisy may not make sense, but recently I heard the French form of Margret, Marguerite, translates to Daisy in English. I haven’t been able to verify that though.

      • I’m a Meg! I’m a Margaret by birth (1981) and have gone by Meg or Meggie my whole life. My husband calls me Margot and my kids call me Medgie. It’s the name that keeps on giving!

  3. We named our baby girl Margaret and we call her Maggie. I love how strong and classic the name sounds, and I think Maggie is an adorable nickname. I would not have considered putting a nickname on her birth certificate though. It will be interesting to see if it makes a comeback.

    • Just named my daughter Margaret Ruth Anne. She’ll be Maggie for short. Strong, powerful, and most importantly TIMELESS female name. I grew up with Margaret Thatcher and Margaret Houlihan.. so definately connetations of strength for me.

      Like Kelly, I would never have put a nickname on the birth certificate.. or a crazy spelling like seems to be all the rage these days. My son goes to preschool with a little blonde girl named JerZee.


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