Thursday, September 27, 2012

Margaret: Nickname-Rich Name of the Week (September 27)

For the final name in this series we're covering another more-or-less classic: Margaret. In recent decades she's been in fashion limbo though, but some hipster namers are reconsidering her. Here's some of the many nicknames (some of which relate to Margaret's international forms): Mag(gie), Marge, Margo(t), Meg, Rita, and Daisy (derived from the French form Marguerite, which is my favorite version). This is also another name where sometimes the initial consonant changed, which gives us nicknames like Peggy and the like. What are your favorites (both among the aforementioned nicknames and any others you can think of)? As for Margaret herself, do you think it's time to revive her or should we wait a little longer?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Henry: Nickname-Rich Name of the Week (September 20)

For the second "added" name here's another name found throughout history that's seen a recent revival: Henry. Although he's very nice on his own, it has spun off nicknames like Hank (currently in limbo) and Harry (now the #1 boy's name in England/Wales but handicapped on this side of the pond probably due to sounding like "hairy" in an American accent). Any others I didn't think of, and what do you think of Henry and his nicknames?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Melissa: Nickname-Rich Name of the Week (September 13)

Note: Today's post was originally going to be another name and the last one, but since my original plan for this series I've come up with two more names to cover. The other name (a boy's name) that was added will be next week, and the end of the series will be two weeks from today.

She's probably very familiar to today's parents, being very popular during the 1970s and 1980s, and was (and still is) one of my favorites for a girl. The name is Melissa; although now a bit dated it would still fit in with today's other frilly girl's name picks. If the frills are a drawback, some shortened forms are Mel (if you want the tomboy-nickname effect), Mia (a more current nickname if you want to offset the "mom name" feel of Melissa), and Missy (which is even more dated than the parent name). What do you think of Melissa and those and other possible nicknames? Do you find Melissa too dated, or is it still good for a contemporary girl?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Initial Letters and Name Fashions

There is a game on The Baby Name Wizard's forums going on where a list of names featuring the most popular one from each of the letters of the alphabet is given, and you guess which birthyear it's from based on the SSA list. I decided to compose a list myself from the year I was born; on the girl's list many of them are what you'd expect, such as the perennial favorite Elizabeth and names that were in style at the time such as Heather and Nicole. On the other hand there are some surprises, such as the O and P tops: Olivia (ahead of its prime) and Patricia (behind its prime). The names like the latter two got my attention and led me to do some NameVoyager experiments to observe the general trends of each of the initial letters from the alphabet. As with individual names, many of the letters exhibit style peaks and troughs.

A - Shows an "antique revival" pattern - popular in the early years of the SSA list, had its low point around the mid-20th century, and has come back stronger than ever before in recorded history.
B - No strong trends, although Barbara and Betty spiked the letter around the 1930s.
C - Once again no strong generational trends.
D - The opposite of "A": A mid-century favorite letter, less popular before and after that time.
E - Similar trajectory to "A" but more popular at its original peak as opposed to its second one.
F - A letter that was more common at the commencement of the SSA-list era but hasn't come back into vogue.
G - More common among Boomers and earlier generations than after; had its low around the time most of today's new parents were born, and is showing signs of coming back.
H - Another "older" letter, with its low point in the 1960s and a lesser return since.
I - Notice how the vowels are showing the classic "100-year revival" pattern, similar to how "A" and "E" have followed.
J - Despite the plethora of Jasons, Jennifers, and Jessicas among today's parents, this letter has been pretty perennial but is now showing signs of falling.
K - A "modern" letter, much more popular from the second half of the 20th century forward than before (although starting to decline).
L - Gradually declined through the 1990s, but is now returning fairly strongly.
M - Another perennial letter, although a little less common now than in the past.
N - Fairly perennial, but more common in recent years (Nancy did most of the mid-century propping for the letter).
O - Same pattern as the other vowels (hence Olivia sneaking in a generation earlier as I described when not many "O" names were popular).
P - Like "D" a letter that peaked mid-century (once again allowing Patricia to show up a generation later when the letter was going out of style).
Q - You'll start to notice that many of the "high Scrabble value" letters were pretty uncommon until recently, and have spiked in the past decade or two.
R - Another "mid-century consonant" now in more of a fashion limbo than at its height.
S - More common among today's living adults than in earlier or later years, but only modestly lower now.
T - A Gen-X favorite letter, at its highest in the 1960s and '70s.
U - Follows the same "vowel pattern" as the more common vowels, apart from the "Unknown" placeholder.
V - Most common in the early years of the 20th century, but on name forums is showing growing approval (and thus a potential for coming back in style in a few years).
W - Like "F" a letter more common with the early years of the stats than later, although William itself did most of that contribution.
X - Same path I cued you in on with Q's entry.
Y - Uncommon at the start of the chart, but among the living generations has had its ups and downs (with a limited set of names though).
Z - Similar to "Q" and "X" but did show some use earlier on the charts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nicholas: Nickname-Rich Name of the Week (September 6)

For the last boy's name (there will be one more girl's name next week) in this series I'm covering one that had his U.S. peak in the 1990s, but is classic enough to work on a boy or man of any age: Nicholas. Many Nicholases shorten their name to Nick, but I've also heard of Cole as a possible nickname. Any other ideas you can think of? Is Nicholas himself starting to get a bit dated, or is it still a strong choice for a boy?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Charlotte: An example of an early comeback name?

In the name-enthusiast community, it's often been said that for a name to come back in style it has to wait until the prior cohort group it was popular with has died out. On the other hand, there are some counter-examples of that. Another one that is certainly experiencing an earlier-than-expected comeback is Charlotte. As you can see, its prior peak was in the 1940s which originally put the name in the same time period as for example Barbara or Patricia, both of which have yet to show any sign of returning. As recently as the 1990s Charlotte was clearly locked in fashion limbo along with those other at-the-time middle-aged names, but then in recent years the name has really spiked back up, and there's a good chance when the 2012 stats come out next May we'll see Charlotte at the highest the name's ever been on record. So what's behind the revival? I'm not sure, but it may have to do with the fashionable (for both genders) nickname Charlie. What do you think?