Big name drops in the news

A few more suggestions have come in for cultural events upending name trends.

The story behind these name shocks seem self-apparent. Both Monica and Ellen were mildly popular, though trending downward, before their names were associated with sex in a bad way, apparently leading to their collapse. Forrest was enjoying a run-up in popularity, tragically cut short by the movie Forrest Gump.


My series of posts on names is here.

The names database is here.

10 thoughts on “Big name drops in the news

  1. Phil,
    I have meant to suggest this for awhile. (It’s really most relevant to Mary, but I’ll say it now.) Put “rank” on a log scale. Unless it takes the same number of new babies getting a name to move up from 8 to 7 than it takes to move from 80 to 79, the linear scale is wrong. If Mary is moving down at a steady percentage loss per year, it would show up as a straight line of decline on the log scale and be easy to remember. Logging the scale on Monica, Ellen, and Forrest would allow us to instantly compare the relative rate of decline for Monica and Ellen. No matter what you do to the scale, though, Forrest has to be one of the great collapses of all time.


    1. Yes good point. I’ll redraw some to compare. Representing the trends over time is hard because birth numbers have changed, and the density has changed (increasing diversity). But rank also has a meaning separate from the total number of births because people really are choosing between available names, not just choosing Mary yes or no. Anyways, you will see on the log scale that Mary fell much faster at first, which is the opposite of what the raw rank shows. Thanks.


  2. Some older ones: Ichabod and Rudolph, both common in their respective eras, I believe, though I don’t have data. Ichabod was very common until what? Late 1800s? These two were done in by Ichabod Crane and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or so I’ve always assumed.

    Ezekiel, Obadiah. Religious names both common in the 1800s. I have no idea what caused their downfall. But it seems as if naming moved away from these kind of specifically religious names by 1900 or so.


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