Baby Names

Data Reveals 20th Century Baby Names Are Out, 19th Century Baby Names Are In

We are loving these Victorian era baby names.

Originally Published: 
Portrait of a newborn baby lying on a bed in the living room
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Every parent likes to think they are giving their child a totally unique name, but baby name data shows that’s not really the case. Certain names inevitably end up dominating an era, and like any trend, baby naming tends to be cyclical. First, a name becomes trendy, then becomes popular, then becomes overused, then becomes overused and unpopular, only to eventually become trendy again. And data shows that’s as true now as it’s ever been.

To dig into the latest baby-naming trends, MyHeritage researchers did an extremely deep dive into their historic Census archives to see which names are on the rise and which names are on the decline in certain centuries. And the numbers show that the most popular baby names from the late 20th Century have all fallen out of favor with parents.

Here’s What’s Not Popular

For proof, just look at Jessica, which was the top girls’ name for both the 80s and the 90s but now doesn’t even crack the top 300. Jennifer, which was the Jessica of the 70s, has seen a similar decline, as it now ranks 393rd for newborn girls’ names. And these two are hardly alone, as Amanda (405), Melissa (339), and Michelle (292) are among the many formerly iconic girls’ names that appear to be well past their prime.

“Classic” boys’ names have seen a similar decline, though not to the same extent as their female counterparts. Names like Michael (14), James (6), and Jacob (13) have managed to maintain their popularity into the modern eras but others have not been so lucky. Jason, which was the third most popular baby name for American newborns in the 1970s, has now fallen all the way down to 104, while Robert has dropped from the fifth-most popular boy name in the 60s to 76 in 2019.


Vintage Baby Names Are Ridiculously Popular

This begs the question: if all the names that dominated daycares for 50 years now considered so last century, what names are seeing a rise in popularity? The data suggests that while 21st-century parents are over the 1900s, the 1800s have become the go-to century for baby names. Ella (13) and Nora (29) have become two of the trendiest names over the past few years, nearly 200 years after they were initially popularized, and Theodore (36) has managed to become even more popular now than it was back in the 1800s (79).


So if you are stressed about giving your kid a basic name, you are probably better off avoiding names from the 1800s and may actually consider giving Jessica or Jason a try. After all, it’s only a matter of time before those names go from out of style to vintage and suddenly boom in popularity, so this is your chance to get ahead of the curve.

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