For years Anne was dismissed as nothing more than a boring middle name. Now that one syllable names are becoming stylish, this seemingly classic choice could experience a revival.
Passed over in recent years for its frillier counterpart, Anna, the sparse Anne had languished. Until recently that is.
Anne came up twice in our series exploring whether Pottery Barn predicts the next popular baby names.
While the results of our research suggest that Pottery Barn more likely follows the trends then sets them, there were a few names to watch that appeared in the Pottery Barn catalogs.
One of those names was Blythe and another one was Anne.
Now is a good time to admit I was inconsistent in my judgement in the Pottery Barn Series. In part 3 which focused on 2012, I categorized Anne as “up-and-coming,” (meaning it was ahead of trends) and in part 4 (2013), I categorized Anne as “down-market” (meaning it was past-peak).
The inconsistency resulted from an inner conflict between what my gut told me and what the numbers told me. When I examined the 2012 catalog my gut said Anne had reached bottom and was destined to turned around.
A couple of days later when I examined the 2013 catalog, I was in a “by the numbers” frame of mind, and would only classify a name as “up-and-coming” if I saw a steep incline on the trend graph indicating the name was rising sharply.
Beyond the numbers, my instincts tell me that Anne is about to turn around for a couple of reasons.
While Anna has gently declined the past decade from its most recent* peak at #19 in 2001 to #35 in 2012, Annie and Anne have slowly climbed the chart.
- Annie climbed to #377 in 2012 from its most recent low of #420 in 2007 (it has never left the top 450).
- Anne climbed to #561 from its lowest rank ever at #606 in 2010.
*Anna’s highest rank ever was #2 from 1880 – 1899.
Anna is still a lot more popular than both of its sisters, but as the naming landscape changes, Anna will naturally retreat from the top ranks. Fashion-forward parents who like the idea of Anna could rediscover less frilly alternatives. The prime alternatives are Annie and Anne.
I predict the swinging popularity of Anne vs. Anna to mimic the swinging popularity of Alice vs. Allison.
For years Alice was the favorite and then parents got tired of Alice. It was seen as too “old-fashioned”. Allison became the fresh! modern! exciting! alternative and began to surpass Alice.
Then suddenly, while Allison was still respected as a new classic, Allison started to go through a natural decline and many parents rediscovered the vintage Alice, which is once again on the upswing.
This analogy is not perfect because, while Alice was once more popular than Allison, Anna has been consistently more popular than Anne. But I use the Alice vs. Allison comparison to show how a small change can make a big impact and that the mainstream preference can switch on a dime. I can see this on-the-dime switch happening with Anne and Anna.
Perhaps spawned by the growing nickname-as-given-name trend Annie is more popular than Anne at the moment, but for parents who like Annie but want a formal version, Anne is the natural choice.
And for those who worry that Annie may seem too childish and unprofessional as a child reaches adulthood, Anne is undeniably professional, perhaps one of the most professional names around.
I also foresee a growing trend with “smoosh” names that could propel Anne to a higher rank.
Anne works well in many smoosh names such as Anne-Marie, Lee-Anne, and Lou-Anne. Some parents may like the idea of Anne-Marie or Anne-Sophie, and end up omitting the hyphen while keeping the space between the two names on the Social Security card application and birth certificate.
Lastly, Anne has classic children’s literature credibility. The single syllable and appearance in Pottery Barn catalogs isn’t the only things Anne has in common with Blythe. Both are character names in Anne of Green Gables.
There seems to be an interest in names from literature, even among parents who aren’t that literary. To Kill a Mockingbird has been credited for the rise of Atticus (a character name) and Harper (the author’s name). The Madeline and Eloise book series have also been credited with popularizing those names.
What’s amazing about Anne is that it feels like a former top 10 name but it never made the top 10. Most likely this is due to the combined popularity of the two common spellings: Anne and Ann.
Anne peaked in 1915 at #52 and Ann peaked in 1936 at #28.
Anne is one of those names that, until recently, I dismissed as boring. Lately I find myself appreciating Anne more and more, and I suspect more people will soon share my sentiments.
Readers: Which name is your favorite?