15 October 2008

Name That Name!

Because everyone from college is now having babies or thinking about having babies or thinking about NOT having babies -- in other words, going through their late 20s and early 30s -- the Grinnellians started talking about baby names the other day. Specifically, Secret Future Baby Names, those names you hold close to your heart for future children, names that are so beautiful and perfect that merely uttering them aloud would certainly spark a tsunami of babies with the same name. Secret Future Baby Names must be kept secret, or they run the risk or becoming the next Hannah, Madison, Emma, or Nevaeh:

Popularity of the name Nevaeh, 1880-2007

So then we were talking about our favorite secret baby names that have been RUINED by popularity or pop culture or whatever, and the lovely Sarah Aswell posted a link to this site, which generates bar graphs showing name popularity.

God, I love bar graphs.

So obviously, the first thing you do is search for your own name:


Mmm-hmm. Interesting. Looks like there were only about 2,000 Mollys the year I was born. Then there's some sort of weird spike around 1991, which I'll attribute to all the women who loved John Hughes movies as teenagers hitting their twenties and having babies. Still, the Molly trend isn't nearly as big as I'd feared, which is fantastic. I like being the only Molly people know. I was always the only Molly in school until my junior year of high school, when suddenly there were THREE Mollys in the freshman class. I numbered them and announced to each of them that they would be known as Molly #2, #3, and #4 henceforth. I, of course, was Molly #1.

Except... I'm not actually a Molly on the Census, I'm a Mary.


It looks like a boa who swallowed an elephant. Anyway, whew! Glad I wasn't born between 1920 and 1960! How embarrassing to be one of 70,000+ other Marys! No, I was born in the Carter administration, and there were only like 10,000 of us that year! That's practically zero!

Comparing the two, it's clear that no matter how much I worried about the growing popularity of Molly in the 90s, I'm still more unusual as a Molly than as a Mary. Especially considering how much time I spend hanging out in nursing homes.

Popularity of Mary (in green) Versus Popularity of Molly (in orange)

The next one is for those of you who grew up in the 70s and 80s:


Yep. That about sums up third grade, Jenny L, Jenny B, Jenny S, Jennie W, Jennifer L, and Jennifer B.

Finally, my niece's name, Elodie:


Twenty-two? Twenty-two Elodies, total, between 1880 and 2006?

So I guess there's good reason I had never heard this name until the day after she was born, when I got an email from my step-mother announcing Elodie's birth. "Elodie Esmee Cummins born October 21, 7 pounds 5 ounces!" My first thought was: "So... I can tell people I'm related to ee cummins?" It wasn't until I talked to Sally that I even knew how to pronounce it. Ay-lo-dee? Ell-uh-dee? (Most people use the second pronunciation, but her father uses the first. Elodie herself says "Ell-dee-dee.") (Have I mentioned that she's COMPLETELY ADORABLE? Not that I'm biased, of course.)

Anyhow, the name quickly grew on me, and now I think it's kind of perfect: absolutely unique, but not too weird or hard to say. It's just like Melody, without the M. Easy.

And yes, I looked up my Secret Future Baby Name. The bar graph would blow your mind. You can search for it yourself, as soon as I print up the birth announcements for Future Baby Backes....

...in about ten years.


MLE said...

There were 1200 babies named with my super secret baby name in 2007. I'll let you know in like 8 years what it is, if I have the right gender baby. haha

Adrienne Celt said...

my lord, the "Mary" bar graph really does look just like the image in The Little Prince. how odd.

Natalie said...

The Mary graph looks like a bowler hat.

Also - Super secret baby name for the WIN!

The middle name - not so much, though. Very popular.

Jennie said...

OF COURSE you knew another Jennie W! Of course you did!!! 95% of my junior high and high school classes where with another Jenny W. That's when my name stopped being Jennie and started being "Jennie with an IE" or just my last name.

Secret Future Baby Name is not even listed on the site. Which I find odd. It's not that uncommon.