Congratulations to Emily and Jess for guessing the first Unfairly Dated Name!
Unfairly Dated Names are a subset of Spotlight Names most people don’t consider old-enough to recycle. Most of these names peaked around 15-60 years ago and are often typecast as parent and grandparent names. But their timeless and sometimes modern attributes make them stylish stand-outs for modern children. At one point these names were ahead of the trends, and likely will be again.
Unfairly Dated Name: Beverly
Long before Avery became a popular girl’s name, another gender cross-over surname-name with vowels wrapped around a V charmed American parents.
Beverly very well could still be popular on today’s babies – as a middle name to honor grandma or possibly great grandma. As a first name, Beverly is scarce among today’s babies, but was prevalent for a few decades. Beverly certainly makes a wonderful middle name. One of my friends from high school named her daughter Olivia Beverly. In this case Beverly is to honor grandma, but the combo is also cohesive for one reason – the shared V.
And it’s that V, a now stylish letter, found in modern powerhouses, Ava, Olivia, and Evelyn that makes Beverly an unexpectedly fashionable choice, even if the name last peaked in 1937 (at 14). Beverly remained popular for a couple more decades after its peak, staying in the top 50 for almost 20 more years, and the top 100 for almost 10 more years. As a result, most people can’t picture Beverly on anyone under 50.
If the fashionable V isn’t enough to convince you, consider a famous Beverly created two beloved children’s books characters with stylish, but not yet popular names, Beatrice, and her more famous little sister Ramona. By the way, Beverly Cleary has a fascinating middle name, Atlee.
Beverly is a surname derived from a place-name meaning “beaver stream.” In the 19th century, Beverly was actually a masculine name. Like most gender cross-over names, such as Ashley, Meredith, Vivian and Addison, Beverly didn’t see great success as a boy’s name.
On boys, Beverly peaked at 521 in 1885 (1880 is the earliest year data is available). As a boy’s name, Beverly’s rankings ranged from the 500’s to the 900’s until it left the top 1000 in 1955, and has yet to return. In 2010, (the latest year data is available), Beverly was given to fewer than 5 if any boys.
Beverly was introduced as a girl’s name in the novel Beverly of Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon in 1904. The title character was a woman named Beverly Calhoun. Presumably Beverly on a woman seemed fresh and fun to early 20th century parents, perhaps in the same way many modern parents see Avery, Addison and Hayden on girls.
Just one year after the book was published; Beverly first entered the top 1000 as a girl’s name in 1905 at 926. The following year the name soared for girls nearly 300 places to 642. The book became a silent film in 1926, and while the name was already trending upwards, that same year, Beverly entered the top 100 at 74.
To compare how Beverly fared on the sexes, when Beverly first entered the top 1000 for girls in 1905 there were still twice as many boys as girls named Beverly. Then there was a dramatic shift. The very next year, there were almost twice as many girls as boys named Beverly.
As a girl’s name, Beverly had an impressive run, staying in the top 1000 for almost 100 years, until 2000. In 2010 there were only 96 girls named Beverly, but I wouldn’t write off Beverly’s staying power. The name was still in the top 200 as recently as the early 1970s.
As a modern alternative, The Baby Name Wizard suggests chopping off the B and using Everly, which is also a great option. But my gut tells me in a few years, Beverly will be the more celebrated name due to its familiarity. Once formerly popular names have been out of fashion for a while, something fascinating happens: the names become rediscovered. The names were never really forgotten, just dormant in most people’s minds. Eventually the names awaken and are seen through a new lenses, hitting that right balance of unexpected yet familiar.
Also consider that Everly lends itself to the nickname Evie, a name with a case of Lily and Max syndrome, meaning the name is a given name and nickname for several other names, making it more prevalent than name stats suggest. Beverly, however, lends itself to Bev, which has a chic sound like Neve.
For parents looking for that golden mean of “different but not too different” Beverly could be the answer, if parent’s can open their minds and see how Beverly can work on all ages. While most names don’t graduate from dusty old relic to charmingly vintage status until they have been out of fashion for at least a century, there are some exceptions: Laura peaked in the 1880s, and came back in the 1960s, 40-50 years before it was supposed to.
Beverly has what it takes to join Laura and become an exception to the 80-100 (or 80-120) year rule.
Readers: What do you think of Beverly?
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