Names wax and wane in popularity and it isn’t always obvious why. Sometimes they suffer from negative associations with unpopular people or unfortunate events. Sometimes they get a boost from real-life heroes or even fictional characters.
Using data going back more than a century, 24/7 Wall St. set out to identify once-popular names that had previously fallen out of favor but are now making a comeback.
Some of the names on our list are thousands of years old and are associated with biblical prophets and priests. As the Bible itself says, “What has been will be again … there is nothing new under the sun.” Others are truncated versions of familiar names that have become newly popular in their own right.
Our list may also highlight how popular culture influences the popularity of names. It may not be a coincidence that two of the entries, Emmett and Jasper, are also the names of characters in the phenomenally successful Twilight novels and movies. The first novel in the series was released in 2005, and our list incorporates data up to 2017.
Meanwhile, the popularity of the name Eli may have been boosted by New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in 2007 and in 2011.
To determine the old-fashioned names making a comeback, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 200 most popular boy and girl names in each year between 1880 and 2017 from the Social Security Administration. To be considered, names needed to have appeared in the top 200 between 1880 and 1930, be completely absent from the top 200 lists between 1931 and 1999, and back on the top 200 at some point after 2000. The names on our list, ordered alphabetically, are the only names in the SSA database that meet this criteria. The SSA only collects data on names with at least five birth certificates. Alternate spellings of similar names were treated as discrete names.