Sunday Summary 5.14.23If you’re celebrating today, Happy Mother’s Day!

And if today is hard for you, sending love.

By now you’re probably aware the Social Security Administration has unveiled its annual gift to the world on Friday – the new popularity data.

When I first started following the data with intention, this was The Best Day Ever. A mix of Christmas morning and Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s become less exciting as time has gone by, and I found myself wondering why. My enthusiasm for names has never waned.

I think it comes down to this: by the time we have the data, it’s a little stale. Heck, many of the babies included in that data are already walking and talking by the time the report comes out!

Instead, we have lots of real-time data, from mega-sites like, Baby Center, and Nameberry on their most-viewed names that come out closer to real time.

Make no mistake, I love Data Day. I block my calendar and refuse to answer my phone while I’m deep into the numbers. But we’re fortunate to have an abundance of resources in 2023, and so it feels like one more interesting piece of information, not the linchpin of my whole year.

I talk about this a little more in my Friday letters. Thanks to those of you who have reached out and said that they miss the letters and columns in my weekly newlsetter. I’m pleased to announce that they now live in, drumroll please …

The Appellation Mountain Patreon Community

It’s brand, brand new and I’ve been tempted to keep it quiet longer. But I’m really loving the chance to write the Friday letters, so I didn’t want to keep it under wraps too much longer.

Please consider joining! There are lots of privileges and benefits, including priority access to #namehelp posts on the site and discounts on consulting services.

Now, on to the news.


The shrinking top 10 sits atop a diverse, creative and rapidly changing cohort of names—names with stories to tell. Well said by Laura Wattenberg.

A new spin-off of The Good Wife focuses on character Elsbeth Tascioni … and is titled simply Elsbeth. Will it boost this uncommon, contracted form of Elizabeth? Too soon to say, but I’ll be watching.

John Isner is best know for winning tennis tournaments, but it was the name of his fourth child that caught my eye. Welcome to the world, Chapel Lee. Mom is jewelry designer Madison McKinley. Chapel joins siblings Hunter Grace, John Hobbs – known by his middle – and James “Mack” McKinley. They sound like family names, but the only obvious one is McKinley.

Can you imagine welcoming a newborn in Ukraine right now? Javelin and Javelina seem pretty perfect. Nancy has the country’s popularity lists and more. Thinking of all these children and their families in such unbelievable circumstances. And the video for Stefania? I have chills.

The New York Times’ coverage of Generation Connie is so many things. A reminder that a single person can influence hundreds – even thousands – of parents. And that a name can symbolize so much more than we initially observe. This quote, from one of the many Connies interviewed, says it all “What it means is your parents want you to work hard, and be brave, and take chances.”

That’s all for today. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

Girl Names 5.14.23 Boy Names 5.14.23

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. I’ve always liked Elspeth and it’s quite common where I live. I would really love to see Embeth used more! I hope you had a great Mothers’ Day.