Guest Blogging News: Will They Ever Make The Top 10?

top-ten

I am often shocked at which names never made the top 10. These are wonderfully appealing names, like Owen, Max, and Lucy.

I share this list of top 10 caliber names with Nameberry readers today.

Some of these names seem like they should have made the top 10 decades ago, such as Ann / Anne, while others, such Owen, Max, and Lucy, feel like they should be in the top 10 now.

Do you agree? Disagree?

To see the list and find out why I feel these names have top 10 appeal check out my guest post: Owen? Max? Lucy? Will They Ever Make The Top 10? 

Are there any names you are surprised never made the top 10?

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Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names? Part 3

Pottery-barn-fall-2012-pg39

This is the third part in a series addressing the burning question: Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names?

The long-standing theory is that names appearing on the personalized items in the Pottery Barn Kids catalogs are baby names on the rise.

To figure out if this is really the case or just a rumor, I took samples of names from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Pottery Barn Kids catalogs.

Past installments of this series were:
Part 1 which focused on 2010 (Names were examined from the Autumn 2010 catalog)
Part 2 which focused on 2011 (Names were examined from the Fall 2011 catalog)

And part 3, which focuses on 2012, examines names from the Fall 2012 catalog.

Findings from part 1 and part 2 suggest that the names appearing in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog were in reality slightly behind the baby name trends. I suspect I know why this is, but before drawing any conclusions, I want to complete the series and see if the findings remain consistent.

One finding is that many of the names from the 2010 catalog also appeared in the 2011 catalog. It seems that Pottery Barn likes to reuse some favorite names.

And while some of these familiar names were back in the 2012 catalog, there were also some new names in 2012–many which seemed more fashion-forward than names from earlier years.

In fact some of these new names were on my favorite list, and I even featured one recently.

Here are some guidelines that remain the same from part 1 and part 2 of this series:

Names used for girls are coded pink, boys are coded blue, and if the gender is undetermined (or cannot be assumed) the name is coded green.

For example, Chloe is always assumed to be a girl’s name, even if the decor in the catalog is unisex or even traditionally masculine. For a traditionally unisex name like Taylor, the gender is determined based on the decor in the catalog; depending on whether the decor is traditionally male, female or unisex, the name will be color coded accordingly.

Based on when each name peaked, each name is categorized as:

  • Current (on trend for the catalog year)
  • Traditional (never out of style)
  • Down-market (dated)
  • Up-and-coming (ahead of trends)
  • Original (unknown, invented or rare)

Names from the Fall 2012 online issue:

Current Names

These names from the Fall 2012 catalog peaked around 2012 (and in most cases these names are still at their peak):

Aiden
Bella
Blake
Brooklyn
Chloe
Ella
Emma
Isabella
Max
Mia
Noah
Olivia
Reese
Sophie
Walker

Traditional Names

Name from the Fall 2012 catalog that have been fashionable for at least a couple of generations:

Andrew
James
Matthew
Ryan*

*Could be considered down-market since it has steeply declined since its 1980s peak (when it was just outside the top 10), but has been in the top 25 for nearly 40 years and seems imaginable on a couple of generations.

Down-market Names

Names from the Fall 2012 catalog that statistically were on the decline in 2012:

Abby
Alex
Clayton
Danielle
Drew
Hayden
Hayley
Jake
Jay
Jennifer
Jordan
Madeline
Paige
Patrick
Peter
Riley
Savannah
Sydney
Tanner
Taylor

Now we are getting to the exciting part. The following lists of names are either up-and-coming or original, and were ahead of their time in 2012. If Pottery Barn predicts name trends, these lists should be the longest.

Up-and-coming Names

These names were on the rise and fashion-forward in 2012:

Anne
Asher
Blair*
Claire
Colton
Emerson
Emmett
Georgia
Harper
Henry
Jace
Leo
Liam
Miles
Oliver
Owen
Parker
Sawyer
Tucker
Zoey

*Only a few years ago, Blair would have been considered down-market, but in recent years it has made a comeback. After being moderately popular in the 1980s, it left the top 1000 in 2001 only to return in 2011. Its rank increased in 2012. Appellation Mountain recently wrote a post on Blair which gives some explanations for Blair’s recent resurgence.

Original Names

And here are that names that were completely original in 2012–so uncommon they weren’t on many people’s radar (and in many cases are still under-the-radar):

Addy*
Blythe (One of UBN’s recent Names to Watch!)
Celia
Geoff
Maddie*
Penn

*As nicknames for several fashionable names, Addy and Maddie may not come across as original, but as given names they are rare. If statistics on nicknames (which are very difficult to track) were available, these names would probably count as current or up-and-coming, but I can’t prove that and I had to count nicknames as if they were given names.

Insights from Pottery Barn Kids Autumn 2010, Fall 2011 & Fall 2012 catalogs:

Here’s how Pottery Barn names compare from 2010 – 2012 based on the samples I took from the online archives:

2010 2011 2012
Current 30% 25% 23%
Traditional 16% 9% 6%
Down-market 33% 42% 31%
Up-and-coming 12% 22% 31%
Original 9% 2% 9%

 

Based on the samples from the 2010 – 2012 catalogs, the group of names labeled “traditional” shrunk over the course of three years.

The exciting part is the gradual increase in up-and-coming names each year. I’m curious to see if the up-and-coming names continue to increase in part 4, when I sample names from the 2013 catalog.

Do you think Pottery Barn is trying to live up to its reputation as a baby name trend-setter? Have the marketing people at Pottery Barn begun reading baby name blogs? Or is the increase in up-and-coming names coincidental?

Stay tuned for part 4, the last installment of this series for the conclusion.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Fall 2012 Catalog

Does Pottery Barn Really Predict The Next Popular Names? Part 2

pottery-barn-fall-gear-2013-pg29After repeatedly hearing the theory that Pottery Barn predicts the next popular baby names on the personalized items in their catalog, I set out to determine if this is true.

I sampled baby names from the Pottery Barn Kids online archives from 2010 – 2013.

What I learned from part 1, which featured names from the 2010 Autumn catalog, is that most of the names featured on personalized items in 2010 were—in fact—slightly behind the trends.

But before I draw any conclusions, I am going to sample names from the 2011 – 2013 catalogs.

This time, in part 2, I am examining names from the Fall 2011 catalog.

For the benefit of those who missed part 1, here are the guidelines:

Names used for girls are coded pink, boys are coded blue, and if the gender is undetermined (or cannot be assumed) the name is coded green.

For example, Chloe is always assumed to be a girl’s name, even if the decor in the catalog is unisex or even traditionally masculine. For a traditionally unisex name like Taylor, the gender is determined based on the decor in the catalog; depending on whether the decor is traditionally male, female or unisex, the name will be color coded accordingly.

Based on when each name peaked, each name is categorized as:

  • Current (on trend for the catalog year)
  • Traditional (never out of style)
  • Down-market (dated)
  • Up-and-coming (ahead of trends)
  • Original (unknown, invented or rare)

Names from the Fall 2011 online issue:

Current Names

These names from the Fall 2011 catalog peaked around 2011 (and in most cases these names are still at their peak):

Abby / Abigail*
Blake
Brooklyn
Carson
Charlie
Ella
Gabriel
Georgia
Jack
Lillian
Lily
Natalie
Noah
Tyson

*Abby and Abigail were used interchangeably in the same decor on the same page, leading me to assume Abby was a nickname for Abigail. In this case, I looked at the Social Security rankings for Abigail leading up to 2011.

Traditional Names

Name from the Fall 2011 catalog that have been fashionable for at least a couple of generations:

Allison
Elizabeth
James
Matthew
Nathan

Down-market Names

Names from the Fall 2011 catalog that statistically were on the decline in 2011:

Alexa
Bradley
Brandon
Bryce
Cameron
Clayton
Devon
Dylan
Gabrielle
Gregory
Hayley
Jake
Julia
Madison
Morgan
Riley
Roland
Ryan
Samantha
Sasha
Scott
Taylor
Tiffany

Now we are getting to the exciting part. The following lists of names are either up-and-coming or original, and were ahead of their time in 2011. If Pottery Barn predicts name trends, these lists should be the longest.

Up-and-coming Names

These names were on the rise and fashion-forward in 2011:

Amelia
Asher
Charlotte
Clara
Julian
Lucas
Mason
Oliver
Reagan
Scarlett
Tucker
Zoey

Original Names

And here are that names that were completely original in 2011—so uncommon they weren’t on many people’s radar (and in many cases are still under-the-radar):

Cate

Yup—that’s it, one original name that could be up-and-coming or current as a nickname, but since statistics on nicknames are very difficult to collect, I use the Social Security Administration statistics on given names. Cate as a given name never reached the top 1000 for any year since 1880, making it very unusual (as a given name on the Social Security card application).

Insights from Pottery Barn Kid’s Autumn 2010 & Fall 2011 catalogs:

Here’s how Pottery Barn names from 2010 and 2011 compare based on the samples I took from the online archives:

Autumn 2010 Fall 2011
Current 30% 25%
Traditional 16% 9%
Down-market 33% 42%
Up-and-coming 12% 22%
Original 9% 2%

In the Autumn 2010 catalog the down-market group was the largest, but only by a small margin. There were almost as many traditional names in the catalog.

There were even more down-market names in the 2011 sample. In the Fall 2011 issue, the number of down-market names grew while the traditional group shrunk.

However, there were also more up-and-coming names in the 2011 sample.

Never the less, Pottery Barn names appear slightly behind the trends based on the 2010 and 2011 fall catalogs. I have some theories, which I will share at the end of this series if the findings remain consistent in 2012 and 2013.

Readers: What do you think about the names used in the Pottery Barn Catalog?

Image credit: Pottery Barn Kids Fall Gear Guide 2013

Failure to Launch: Mindy in the 1970s

This series is a subset of Spotlight Names dedicated to names that had the potential to become huge for a certain decade. They represented a certain era well, but for whatever reason never made it to the top 100. Perhaps for these names, their time is yet to come.

Mindy in the 1970s

Mindy-Smith

Musician Mindy Smith

Mindy (along with Beverly) inspired the Failure to Launch series, a series on names that never became as popular as they could have for a featured decade. But there was a problem. I arbitrarily decided that Failure to Launch names must fall short of the top 100 for the featured decade. For example, Mack did reach the top 100 (once in 1900), but not for the featured decade (the 2000s).

The problem was that Mindy did reach the top 100 in the 1970s, once at #81 in 1979. For that reason, I held off on featuring Mindy. Then I realized that an #81 ranking back in 1979 was a lot less common than it seems now. Clearly I was obsessing too much over Social Security rankings.

While Mindy did reach the top 100 during the 1970s, what is surprising is that Mindy didn’t hit those ranks earlier and didn’t stick around longer. Consider the following names like Mindy that were in the top 100 during the 1970s (and at least part of the 1960s):

  • Cindy (as a given name not as a nickname for the popular Cynthia): was in the top 100 from 1953 – 1973.
  • Melinda (Mindy’s long form): 1967 – 1980.
  • Wendy: 1959 – 1981.

Clearly Mindy would have been too matchy as a sibling for any of these  names. But Mindy would have been a great sister to any of these other top 50 names from the 70s: Amy, Kelly, Lisa, Lori, Melissa, Michelle, Tammy, Tina, Tracy, and Stacy (or Stacey).

Parents preferred these names over Mindy. I set out of discover why. Mindy is one of those names that spiked. It soared from #170 in 1978 to #81 in 1979. And then in 1980 Mindy fell to #131 and continued to fall. It left the top 1000 in 1997.

My theory was that the name was too strongly associated with the title character from the TV show Mork and Mindy. Some research revealed that the TV show both helped and perhaps eventually hurt the name. 1978, the year before the baby name rose to the top 100, was the year Mork and Mindy hit the air.

Mindy’s success as a baby name mirrored the success of the late 70s/early 80s sitcom. The show’s debut season in 1978 was extremely successful. The show’s Nielsen rating was #3.
The following year, due to some changes to the cast, storyline, and time slot, the show’s Nielsen rating fell to #27. Mork and Mindy continued to decline in it’s third and fourth season. Mindy also declined as a baby name through the early 80s.

There may have been other subtle influences that caused Mindy’s spike in the late 80s. Mindy’s contemporary Mandy saw similar rankings during the same time; it hit the bottom of the top 100 in 1977 and 1978, and declined through the early 80s.

Mindy has a mid-century modern style, which includes nickname-names like Lori and Tammy, many of them newly created during this time. This style doesn’t have much appeal now. But as a name that isn’t terribly popular on 30 and 40-somethings, but still imaginable on that generation, Mindy has top 10 potential for the 2060s when today’s 30-40-somethings will become great-grandparents.

As I have mentioned before, most revival names are more popular the second time around. For example, Isabella, a hot great-grandma revival name hit #1 in 2009 and 2010, but never ranked nearly that high on the great-grandmother generation. For that generation, Isabella only reached #215 in 1880. Being a name that has never hit the top 10, Mindy has great revival name potential but not for at least a couple more generations.

Currently, people may start to think of Mindy from The Mindy Project, a Fox comedy, that launched this past fall. The reviews have been generally favorable. Regardless of the show’s reception, whether or not The Mindy Project will inspire more baby Mindy’s in the future is uncertain. Sometimes TV shows help a name and other times they have little or no effect.

If Mindy has any potential now, the potential is as a nickname. Nameberry unearthed the 18th century Minta, and suggested it as a less obvious formal version for Mindy. Perhaps Mindy would also work as a nickname for these Minta related names: Araminta and Aminta.

Readers: Which is your favorite formal option for Mindy?

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Whoa! These Were Once Boy Names!?!?

surprised-boyGender-crossover and androgynous names cover a spectrum. There are those that lean on the girl-side, but aren’t unimaginable on boys, such as Jordan and Morgan.

Then there are the ones many people vaguely remember playing for the blue team, but few can imagine on boys anymore.

Ashley is a prime example. My niece is named Ashley. Most people only know female Ashley’s today, but also remember Ashley was once a boy’s name. Except for my Mother-in-law, who must have never seen Gone With The Wind.

OK. So I’ve never seen it either. All I know is the leading male character was named Ashley.

Ashley doesn’t seem all that masculine to me, but I did know a boy named Ashley when I was a kid in the 80s. The idea of a male Ashley isn’t completely foreign to me, but perhaps could be foreign to those under 30.

Many people remember Ashley as a boy’s name because the crossover was somewhat recent, happening within the past 30 years. Yet the crossover hasn’t been so recent that if you named a boy Ashley in 2013 you wouldn’t get funny looks.

But I was floored when I read a Babble post about the surprise reactions Samantha Kemp-Jackson gets from having a son named Aubrey. Aubrey’s crossover happened more recently than Ashley’s. Aubrey was bound to end up on some girls, due to the similarity to Audrey.

Apparently people have already forgotten that Aubrey was once a male name, and it was in the boy’s top 1000 as recently as 2002. Yes, people have short memories. But maybe something else is at play.

The one thing most gender crossovers have in common is that they were only mildly successful (at best) on boys but became mega-hits on girls. For example:

Ashley

  • Peaked on boys at #282 in 1980 when it was given to 746 boys.
  • Peaked on girls at #1 in 1991 when it was given to 43,482 girls.
  • The same year Ashley peaked on girls, there were only 180 boys named Ashley.
  • This means for every boy named Ashley in 1991, there were nearly 242 girls.

Aubrey

  • Peaked on boys at #224 in 1912 when it was given to 236 boys.
  • Peaked on girls at #20 in 2011 (the latest year data is available) when it was given to 7,135 girls.
  • That same year Audrey peaked on girls, there were only 142 boys named Aubrey.
  • This means for every boy named Aubrey in 2011, there were nearly 50 girls.

Another recent crossover is Addison.

  • Peaked on boys at #382 in 1883 when it was given to 20 boys.
  • Peaked on girls at #11 in 2007 when it was given to 11,940 girls.
  • That same year Addison peaked on girls, there were only 341 boys.
  • This means for every boy named Addison in 2007, there were about 30 girls.

* And-Addison had been in the top 1000 for boys as recently as 2009!

And then there’s another recent A-crossover, Avery, whose recent success on boys could be atypical:

  • Peaked on boys at #201 in 2011 (the most recent year data is available) when it was given to 1,776 boys.
  • Peaked on girls at #18 in 2011 when it was given to 7,303 girls.
  • For every boy named Avery in 2011, there were about 4 girls.

Avery is still clearly more popular on girls, but peaked on both genders in 2011 and has been trending upwards for both genders. Look at that. Perhaps Avery belongs in the same camp as Jordan and Morgan. It’s not out-of-the-ordinary on boys.

Avery’s success on boys could be temporary. There are cases of gender-crossovers that have trended upwards on both genders only to drop off for boys once the name heads into girl’s top 100. Dana, for example, had gone up in popularity on both genders in the 1950s, reaching the top 200 for both boys and girls. And then in the 1960s, Dana continued to climb for girls, but dropped off for boys.

Will Avery follow Dana’s path nearly 50 years later? Or could Avery dispel the belief that once a name goes pink… ? You know the rest. I was trying to come up with a clever rhyme, but the best I could do was “Once a name goes pink… people never re-think.” Somehow that doesn’t seem catchy.

Avery could be an exception to the rule. What makes Avery unique is that it is steadily climbing for boys, despite Avery’s top 20 status on girls. Despite the name’s popularity on girls, for the moment, a few parents aren’t giving up on Avery for their sons.

With Aubrey and Addison, however, this doesn’t seem true. Those names’ crossover to team pink has been fairly recent. Yet the crossover has been so complete in so many people’s minds already, that there are people who don’t realize these names are traditionally male.

But then there are other crossovers that seem completely feminine, even to me. One such name, like Ashley, has connections with Gone With The Wind. The name of the actress who played Scarlett O’Hara was Vivien Leigh. Her name is the French form of Vivian. Both Vivian and Vivien have history of use on boys. Vivien is still more common on boys in France.

This was an incredible discovery even to me as a name fanatic. Vivian doesn’t seem the least bit masculine to me. Here are some other gender-crossovers (along with Vivian) that seem to have completely lost their masculinity:

Beverly
Dana
Evelyn
Jocelyn – has never been in the U.S. top 1000 for boys, but has history on boys and is still strictly a male name in France.
Joyce
Kelly
Kristen
Leslie
Madison – explains the recent crossover for Addison.
Meredith
Tracy
Vivian

One common complaint is that gender-crossovers almost always go from boy-to-girl, not the reverse.

That may change soon. The U.S. Military allows women in combat, more men are choosing to be stay-at-home dads, and we may see more traditionally girl names go blue. Here are some traditionally girl names that might work on boys:

Hazelprobably because I knew a guy with the last name Hazel. It was in the top 1000 for boys from 1886 to 1940, but never got nearly as popular as it did on girls.

JanI initially thought of this because it’s only one vowel removed from Jon. Then I learned Jan is masculine in some European countries (where it could be pronounced YAHN) and was in the U.S. boy’s top 1000 as recently as 2008.

Tatumthis surname became familiar as a first name due to actress Tatum O’Neal. This is a modern name that is traditionally used on girls, but has seen more use on boys lately. It entered the boy’s top 1000 in 2010 at a respectable #752, and rose almost 30 places to #723 in 2011. It has a way to go to catch up to the girls, where it ranked at #344 in 2011.

Perhaps the line between boy’s name and girl’s name is truly blurred in some cases. As for me, I’m a fan of girly names on girls and all-boy names on boys, but I’m intrigued by gender-crossovers. They are considered stylish now by many name bloggers, but like surnames, they have never really gone out of style.

Readers: Are there any girl names you feel could work on boys? Which of these names do you like best for boys?

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