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Analysis Proves the Most Popular American Baby Name Ever is… Linda

Don't think you saw this one coming.

Baby names are always going in and out of fashion. There was a Lauren boom and bust in the 1980s. There was a surge of Nathaniels. There is now a trend toward vintage-sounding baby names that almost certainly has an expiration date. Though it’s hard to nail down exactly why certain names become popular at certain times (beyond the ones obviously inspired by TV), it is popular to use government data to track what’s trending. Biotechnologist and blogger David Taylor did just that in an attempt to determine that the most popular American baby name of all time and what he found was kind of shocking. The name in question is neither common nor obscure. It’s, well, Linda.

READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Baby Names

What’s interesting about the name Linda is that despite its status as the most popular name of all time, it doesn’t have any unique cultural truck and it hasn’t been particularly popular in the last 50 years, which is fairly stunning if you consider the drastic rise of the US population in that time. As names like  Jennifer (most popular from 1970-84) and Emily (most popular from 1996-07) flourished, Linda took a back seat. But it wasn’t always thus and, importantly, Lindas never flirted with extinction. There are new Lindas being made, there just aren’t many of them.

All that said, it’s not as though Linda was never very popular. It was. In 1942, 5.5 percent of baby girls in the US were given that name. But, according to data from the United States Social Security Administration, Linda didn’t crack the top 10 again until the sixties and has petered out considerably since that time. Still, it’s not an unusual name. Baby girls get named Linda. It didn’t evaporate.

While certain baby names may always have some place in the world, everyone knows someone named after someone else, it seems names like Amanda, Jennifer, and Linda, are on their way out. The most popular names for baby girls names in 2017 were Sophia, Olivia, Emma, and Ava. Beyond that more millennials are opting to give their children names that are entirely made up or have never been popular before.