Naming a baby is one of the most fraught decisions a couple makes. Should they go with a traditional moniker or a distinct one to separate their child from everyone else? In the past, parents tended to prefer tried-and-true names, typically handed down from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives. (To track how naming traditions have changed over the years, see the most popular names in America since 1880.)
Today, parents feel no obligation to follow any tradition, and so often get creative. No one wants their child to have the same name as three or four other kids in kindergarten. But names go through cycles. A trendy name can quickly become passé if too many kids have it, which explains why fewer and fewer boys may be named Braden.
On the other hand, names once considered too old-fashioned can recycle back up the list in time. However, it’s difficult to imagine anyone naming a child Gertrude or Aloysius these days.
Pop culture has much to do with baby-naming, too. It’s not surprising that the name Karen, with its current negative connotations, has sunk down the list — although it hasn’t completely disappeared. Books and movies supply names, too. After the movie “Frozen” was released in 2013, Elsa, the name of the Snow Queen character, shot up the list (temporarily) of favorite girl names. (Here are 20 of the most popular literary-inspired baby names in America.)
Using data from the Social Security Administration to compare the popularity of boy and girl names between 2016 and 2020, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of names that are disappearing the fastest. Only names that were among the top 1,000 most popular names in 2016 but not among the most popular 200 in 2020 were considered. Different spellings of similar names were considered as different names.
The results reveal that some traditional names are never out of favor. Names like Elisabeth, Cynthia, Jeffrey, and even Larry, remain on the list even as their rank fluctuates up and down with trendier names taking their place. Glance down this list and perhaps you’ll find your name — or the name of your future child.
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