Sunday Summary 11.5.17Happy Sunday!

Here’s a fascinating suggestion: if you want to find a name your child won’t share with half her class, maybe you should choose from the very top of the list. While you’ll still hear about preschool classes with three Emmas or two Olivias, that’s the exception these days. (Unlike earlier generations, when Ashley or Jennifer or Linda or Mary seemed pretty thick on the ground.)

There’s only one Ava in my kids’ entire school, and no boys named Noah or Mason. There are a handful of girls named Sophia/Sofia, and a few Isabellas. Alexander repeats across the grades, as does William. But names that you would never expect to repeat do, too, like Bernadette and Benedict.

I think there are plenty of reasons to use a popular name. And one of those reasons is this: Even a #1 name is less popular than it was in previous generations:

In 1907, over 5% of boys were John and more than 5% of girls were Mary. In 1977, nearly 4% of boys were named Michael, and over 3.5% of girls were called Jennifer. Today, a mere 1% of all children born each year receive the most popular name, and the percentage will probably continue to drop.

Does that mean that the perfect name for your next baby is Liam or Mia? I’m not sure, but I do think it means you shouldn’t necessarily rule out a name just because it’s near the top of the charts.

Elsewhere online:

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

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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What do you think?


  1. I completely agree about the most popular names and one of the things I try to point out when people are contemplating using a popular name or not.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out – credit to Kate at Sancta Nomina for pointing out that post! Great Sunday summary as always 🙂