Sunday Summary 5.28.23Thanks to all the new subscribers at Patreon! One of the benefits? There’s a special link to request featured Name of the Day posts. And since I’m currently trying to build out the calendar for late June into July, this is a great time to join and take advantage of that benefit.

Something that’s been on my mind: we live in a wildly polarized world. And yet we don’t name our children after politicians. Even though it was once standard practice. Look at the popularity data for any presidential election year, and there’s nearly always a sharp spike. Harrison in 1888; McKinley in 1896/97; Truman in 1945 – even Taft in 1908.

The trend is less noticeable even by the Kennedy era. It’s visible, if small, for Regan. But by the time we get to Clinton in the 1990s, it’s gone. You might argue that presidential surnames like Bush and Obama aren’t great as firsts. Trump doesn’t make the data at all. Biden was given to just eleven boys in the year he took office.

I’m not suggesting we return to naming our children after elected officials. But I wonder what changed between then and now? Is it about the names themselves? Or, as is so often the case, about something else, and names are just the proxy?


Pluto, Alchemy, Vandal. Laura has the list of new boys’ names, debuting in the extended Social Security data for the first time ever. It’s a fascinating list. Andor and Luxor seem really wearable to me; Lukasey is intriguing.

Kelli is back with the Playground Analysis! Because the Top Ten isn’t really the Top Ten if you combine all the spellings. Jackson from #23 to #3. And Adeline from #92 to #7! Find the whole list here.

Want to crunch some more numbers? Nancy has the data on unisex names, including how some formerly unisex names have shifted slightly to one side or the other.

I fell down a rabbit hole about Korean names the other day, and found myself looking at this name: Haneulbyeollimgureumhaennimbodasarangseureouri. The story behind it is fascinating; even more intriguing, it was one of the reasons South Korea now limits names to no more than five hangul – the characters in their alphabet. (There are twenty-four hangul.)

Speaking of random finds, how fascinating is the career of Clea Koff? She’s not the first forensic anthropologist, but her work has been incredibly important in recent decades. Her name is pronounced Clay-uh, and it’s a cousin to Cleo. I think the vowel sound might’ve shifted because Clea was used in French – Cléa – but I’m really just guessing there.

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

Boy Names 5.28.23 Girl Names 5.28.23

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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