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The name that fell off a cliff

John Tillinghast points us to this blog entry by Hilary Parker. Here’s what she found:

bigdrop

hilary

Hey—nice graph!

P.S. Those of you who are interested in this sort of thing should check out the Baby Name Wizard blog which is full of thoughtful, data-based explorations about names.

14 Comments

  1. Fernando says:

    Celestine and Clementine peaked at the same time, both end in -tine, and they share four of the first five letters.

    Katina and Catina both peak in 1974.

    Umm

  2. Popeye says:

    The timing of Hilary’s decline is pretty interesting.

  3. Steve Sailer says:

    Dewey’s sudden peak in 1899 comes from Commodore Dewey’s victory in the Battle of Manila Harbor in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Farrah comes from Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels in the mid-1970s.

    In general, modern American kids names aren’t driven all that much by sudden celebrities. For example, it took Dylan a couple of decades or so after “Like a Rolling Stone” to become really common.

    “Hilary” is perhaps an interesting aspect of Celebrity Flight. Or, a couple of other possibilities: maybe some Hilary’s were given to boys (e.g., English philosopher Hilary Putnam), and the parents of boys avoided the name after Mrs. Clinton became famous. Or it became associated with middle aged women after Mrs. Clinton became famous. Parents like names for girls that are either fresh or grandmotherly. They don’t like names common to middle aged women. For example, there are a lot of 50-something Lindas today, but very few toddler Lindas. I will predict, however, that Linda will make at least a small comeback in a generation or so as parents try to memorialize their beloved late Grandma Linda in 2038 or whatever.

    • Andreas Baumann says:

      English has two interesting characteristics when it comes to names: first, there is a noted drift from male to female names. You mention Hilary, but other examples include Leslie, Kim or Evelyn. The drift the other way is very rarely seen.

      Secondly, the tendency to adopt surnames as given names: Dylan, Brooke, etc. As a native speaker of a Scandinavian language, I find that rather odd.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        We gave our sons first names that have been masculine for thousands of years.

        Surnames into first names (or middle names) seems to be mostly an English and Anglo-American thing. It usually starts off as a way to honor the mother’s side of the family. The Walker in George Walker Bush, for example, honors his grandmother’s father’s surname.

        I wonder if it has anything to do with family structure or attitudes toward women’s rights in England? But, Scandinavian names don’t exhibit that, Scandinavia is less different from England than just about anywhere else. So, I don’t know …

  4. Steve Sailer says:

    Clementine’s peak in 1881 is interesting. The lyrics to the tongue-in-cheek song “Oh My Darling Clementine” are attributed by Wikipedia to 1884.

    Cause? Effect?

    • Fernando says:

      I thought that maybe Clementine and Celestine are measurement error e.g. only one name but two spellings. Idem for Katina and Catina.

    • sestamibi says:

      On the other hand, a friend’s new granddaughter (born in October) is named Olivia Clementine. All the Jennifers and Heathers are having daughters named Olivia, Ava, Isabella, etc.

      And I know a 23-year old named Linda.

  5. Andrew says:

    Those of you who are interested in this sort of thing should check out the Baby Name Wizard blog which is full of thoughtful, data-based explorations about names.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I always wondered if Laura Wattenberg of the impressive Baby Name Wizard is the daughter or granddaughter of voting analyst Ben Wattenberg (1970’s “The Real Majority”). It sounds like a family talent / penchant for data analysis manifesting itself, but when I look for a connection between the two I find nothing.

    • Fernando says:

      Andrew:

      I saw the blog. Pretty impressive.

      However, the tool for choosing names is mostly stylistic. I suppose many parents would want to go beyond that and chose a name that helps the child be successful.

      Yes, I am talking causality. Why not? In many cultures names are chosen bc they are expected to provide health, fortune, etc. And certainly the literature on discrimination suggests CVs with certain names are not as successful.

  6. Brendan says:

    Huh. You think TV series don’t have an impact? Look at Brendan. Climbing in popularity until 1990 – then the brakes hit when 90210 started. Slow decline over the series, and then precipitous fall after.

    The only thing worse than having a name that 1970 school registration systems (or more likely, dumb admin folks) that “corrected” a parent’s registration mistake from Brendan to Brenda is having that dumb series.

    Now my name can die in the obscurity it deserves, confident that Hollywood will leave it alone.