We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
My partner and I are expecting a daughter before the end of the year. Most likely this will be our only child.
We keep coming back to one name: Peggy.
It doesn’t have any meeting or significance, though my partner does have a great-grandmother named Margaret. That’s not why we like it, though. The name just makes us both smile.
Several people close to us have suggested naming our daughter Margaret and calling her Peggy, but we’re not interested in that. First of all, neither of us really knew Peggy was a nickname for Margaret until the name came up, so I feel like we’d be in for years of explaining that we call her Peggy, not Maggie or Meg. Second, we don’t really like the sound of Margaret.
We’re mostly wondering if Peggy is too old-lady of a name, but I guess we’re also wondering if Peggy is too cute to be a full name? (Can both things be true? They sound like opposites.)
Our daughter’s middle name will be my last name, which is like Matthew-with-an-S, and her last name will sound like Albert-with-an-H.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your new daughter!
I’m laughing a little at the whole “why not name her Margaret” comment, because it sounds like the kind of well-meaning thing I might say.
While naming your daughter Margaret might give you options, it also potentially causes a hassle.
Because yes, Peggy isn’t intuitively derived from Margaret.
It goes a little like this: Margaret shortened to Meg, which became Peg, and then Peggy, courtesy of the same rhyming magic that transformed Robert to Bob and William to Bill.
People know … but you’re right. At the same time, they don’t know that Peggy comes from Margaret, and I agree – you’d probably find yourself explaining that she’s Peggy, not Maggie.
So we agree, you’re going to skip the formal name.
Now let’s talk about the whole too-cute old-lady name dilemma.
Because you’re right … it can’t be both. But somehow it is.
That’s because we use terms like “too cute” and “old lady” as pejoratives. They’re shorthand for “you shouldn’t use that name because it’s not a good name because I say so.”
If someone said that about Sadie or Hazel, you’d shrug and say, “But Sadie/Hazel ranks in the current US Top 100, so you’re wrong. It’s a completely reasonable name for a girl born now, and the numbers prove it.”
The trick is that Peggy is stuck in style limbo.
It ranked in the US Top 100 from 1927 through 1962 as an independent name. Layer in popularity of Margaret in same era, plus a healthy number of girls named Mary Margaret, and Peggy? There were plenty of Peggys in the US in the middle of the twentieth century.
The name’s image seems to be shifting. During the late 1980s and 90s, Married With Children’s Peg Bundy wasn’t much of a namesake, but three decades later, Mad Men’s fabulous Peggy Olson made many of us reconsider the name. (Though, yes, the latter is a Margaret.)
PEGGY: BY the NUMBERS
It’s impossible to know how many Margarets answer to Peggy.
But we do know that just 18 girls were named Peggy in 2021.
That’s a huge decrease from peak Peggy, circa 1958, when over 10,000 girls received the name.
And yet, Peggy has lots of advantages.
- Everyone knows how to spell and pronounce Peggy. Is there a Peggie, Peggye, or Peggi out there who disagrees? Possibly. But this is one of those names with a strong, uncontested default spelling, and that’s an advantage.
- It fits with Penelope and Piper. We love the pop of so many P names for our daughters. Paisley. Parker. Persephone. Poppy. Peggy fits right in. You just thought of it first.
- We know it will age well, just like the other nickname names in this generation. The whole argument about Peggy being too cute? Sure, it’s a sweet name for a child, just like Millie and Birdie and Winnie. And just like those names, it will age – gracefully – across the years until it’s an old lady name once again. After all, it’s happened before.
Naming your daughter Peggy today seems just daring enough – a name that’s slightly ahead of the curve.
The one challenge, of course, is that she won’t really have a fallback name, since her middle is a surname. That’s completely fine. But if you’re hesitant, it’s always possible to add one more name. Peggy Charlotte LastName LastName. Peggy Genevieve LastName LastName. Peggy Rose LastName LastName. The options are many.
But that’s only if you are so inclined.
Because I think Peggy is a great name for your daughter.