Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's in a name?

These are the most popular baby names of last year --  according to the website As usual, my name doesn't make the list. But I think that's because it's just not WEIRD enough. Holy shit! I can't believe some of these names. Khaleesi? How many pregnant women watch GAME OF THRONES? Hazel is back? Sadie is back? Katnis? Daenerys? Gemma?  Declan? Bodhi? Lachlan?

These names will show up in Levine scripts you can bet.  

Imogen is the number one girl's name?  Maybe it's popular in the UK but I don't know any Imogen's.  

Names go through phases.  When LOVE STORY was the big movie of the day, Jennifer was the most popular name.  Wendy is actually a made up name for PETER PAN that caught on.  Debbie Reynolds in the '50s inspired lots of Debbie's back then.   My name was popular until the fucking Barbie dolls came out. 

Studies have shown that parents do their kids no favor by giving them an unusual name.  Potential employers look less favorably on applications by job seekers with odd names.  Exact same resumes have gone out with more common names (like Susan) and more creative ones (like, well... Daenerys).  By a wide margin, the more common-named applicants get called in for an interview.  So think about that before you tag your darling baby with Eustacia

And then there's the "getting beat up in the schoolyard" factor.  Poor Dudu Fisher -- can you imagine?

Anyway, here they are.  Good luck finding souvenir mugs with the name Maisie or Wren or Jasper


1. Imogen
2. Khaleesi
3. Charlotte
4. Isla
5. Cora
6. Penelope
7. Violet
8. Amelia
9. Eleanor
10. Hazel
11. Claire
12. Adelaide
13. Adeline
14. Ivy
15. Lucy
16. Alice
17. Olivia
18. Evangeline
19. Genevieve
20. Maisie
21. Lila
22. Beatrice
23. Rose
24. Maeve
25. Scarlett
26. Ava
27. Aurora
28. Nora
29. Willa
30. Elizabeth
31. Eloise
32. Elodie
33. Caroline
34. Emma
35. Matilda
36. Clara
37. Grace
38. Cordelia
39. Clementine
40. Aurelia
41. Ellie
42. Poppy
43. Arabella
44. Elsa
45. Ella
46. Harlow
47. Harper
48. Iris
49. Seraphina
50. Katniss
51. Luna
52. Mila
53. Ruby
54. Aria
55. Sophia
56. Mae
57. Mia
58. Juliet
59. Eliza
60. Evelyn
61. Audrey
62. Josephine
63. Maya
64. Isabella
65. Emmeline
66. Emily
67. Stella
68. Chloe
69. Olive
70. Anna
71. Sadie
72. Wren
73. Louisa
74. Annabelle
75. Lily
76. Piper
77. Daenerys
78. Jane
79. Gemma
80. Lola
81. Esme
82. Margaret
83. Willow
84. Zara
85. Ada
86. Frances
87. Everly
88. Mabel
89. Lydia
90. Daisy
91. Pearl
92. Madeline
93. Phoebe
94. Delilah
95. Kinsley
96. Isabel
97. Georgia
98. Hannah
99. Abigail
100. Millie


1. Asher
2. Declan
3. Atticus
4. Oliver
5. Silas
6. Henry
7. Jasper
8. Finn
9. Milo
10. Ezra
11. Leo
12. Levi
13. Jude
14. Wyatt
15. Felix
16. Sebastian
17. Soren
18. Beckett
19. Miles
20. Theodore
21. Bodhi
22. Jack
23. Liam
24. Archer
25. Owen
26. Emmett
27. Ethan
28. William
29. Sawyer
30. Caleb
31. Benjamin
32. Oscar
33. Josiah
34. Julian
35. James
36. Andrew
37. Hudson
38. Knox
39. Hugo
40. Alexander
41. Zachary
42. Dashiell
43. Ryder
44. Ryker
45. Ronan
46. Lucas
47. Thomas
48. Elijah
49. Luke
50. Samuel
51. Callum
52. Noah
53. Arthur
54. Isaac
55. Jacob
56. Theo
57. Weston
58. Axel
59. Roman
60. Rhys
61. Everett
62. Zane
63. Grayson
64. Rowan
65. August
66. Kai
67. Harrison
68. Beau
69. Gabriel
70. Jackson
71. Griffin
72. Austin
73. Nolan
74. Xavier
75. Daniel
76. Nathaniel
77. Charles
78. Nash
79. Simon
80. Jonah
81. Holden
82. Micah
83. Flynn
84. John
85. Wesley
86. Christian
87. Elliot
88. Graham
89. Nathan
90. George
91. Nicholas
92. Lincoln
93. Cassius
94. Tristan
95. Gideon
96. Maxwell
97. Tobias
98. Lachlan
99. Arlo
100. Matthew


Anonymous said...

Dudu Fisher is Israeli. Dudu is a common Israeli nickname for David.

canda said...

There was a time when Catholic parents often named one of their daughters Mary (or some variation, like Rosemary), and some boys would be named Joseph. Neither is on this list.

It says a lot about our culture.

byrd said...

As sure as you say Imogen is a British thing, I am reminded of a female electronica-pop singer from there named Imogen Heap.

Anonymous said...

These are only the top names on, not in actual reality.

Anonymous said...

Seems like my name is the most popular poster on your blog, but isn't in the top 100 on that web site. I trust your site more than the name one.

Ben Kubelsky said...

@canda what about Peter and Paul? I always think of the wedding scene in Goodfellas where all the menn share those names, and all the women are named Marie

Bill Jones said...

I don't think this is an accurate list, as least not for the US. The Social Security Administration tracks baby names every year (Google it), and while the 2014 SS list isn't out yet, this list doesn't even faintly resemble the 2013 SS list. Are you sure this isn't a UK list, or a list of the most popular names by the users of that web site? (We have a one-year-old, and I've never heard of "")

PG said...

My moniker, growing up, was Toby, later feminized, to no avail, as Tobi. Kids didn't bother me much, but teachers and other adults would constantly draw unwanted attention by asking me why I had a 'boy's' name? When my Grade 4 teacher decided to read the novel, "Toby Tyler" out loud, every single day, to the class, I had to endure frequent, barely suppressed titters, brought on by the very mention off the protagonist's name.
Every time the school librarian caught sight of me, he would declare that iconic question, posed by the great W. Shakespeare, himself, "Tobi...or not Tobi?"
It didn't help that, in the fifties, every prospector's mule on TV westerns, and every family pooch in TV sitcoms also bore my name!
When I became a parent, I deliberately gave my own children (and dogs) rather pedestrian names, so they wouldn't be tortured in this way.
As a teacher, myself, I am very careful not to single out students with unusual names. This has become quite a challenge. Besides the strange names you list, there is a tendency for immigrants from some countries, to give their offspring school identifiers which are simple nouns for common objects!
What are people thinking?

Anonymous said...

YOU KNOW THIS IS A GREAT ARTICLE. THANKS FOR BRINGING THIS UP. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME WHEN I AM DONE WITH MY SCRIPTS. I spend lots of time thinking about the best names for my characters when I am done with scripts. If I am not done, I work at it until I am done.

Really appreciating this article Ken.

Marvelously on time for career in screenwriting when of course I am done with sale of my script.

I wish some forums who should name nameless who spot being so nasty and oldy foldy and post interesting articles like this.

Bill Jones said...

Follow-up to my previous comment... these are most popular baby names in the US for babies born in 2013, according to the Social Security Administration:



Most of these are pretty traditional names (indeed, the current trend is names that were popular a century ago). The boys' names still have a pretty decent Biblical bent (with the other usual suspects--Peter, Paul, Joseph, James--still well represented after the top 10).

Anonymous said...

Both Mulva and Delores fell off the list?

Curt Alliaume said...

Note those are the most popular names on Nameberry. I have no idea what that means - "I like that name, so I'll click like"?

The most popular names in the US - based on actual names given, I suppose (Nameberry doesn't cite its sources) - are here:

McAlvie said...

I'm rather suspicious of the list. What's their source?

But, yes, there are always trends when it comes to naming kids. 30 years ago there were a lot of little girls named Tiffany and Crystal. But worse than that are the creative spellings. Why do parents burden their kids with names nobody will ever spell right? Why start your kid's life out already burdened?

Scooter Schechtman said...

The retro-biblical thing is weird and disturbing. I live in Oregon and the wrecked tweakers in the mugshots are named Eli, Josh, and Levi. The girls have names like Kayla, Ardala and Leia.

canda said...

@Ben Kubelsky (or should I say Mr. Benny), never take anything Marty Scorsese does as any indication of true Italian culture, but the gross distortion he always makes it. Yes, Mary or Maria WAS often used in Italian households as a name for daughters, but I'm sure that's the last thing Marty ever got right

CRL said...

Imogen proves that all the cool parents are still watching 'Your Show Of Shows'.....

Roger Owen Green said...

I agree with Bill Jones. The nice thing on the SSA site is that you can track the trends of a name. Mary was massive for a half century.

As for Ken, it did crack the top 200 briefly: 1964 192; 1963 178; 1962 181; 1961 188; 1960 177; 1959 182; 1958 186. The last time it was in the top 1000 boy names was 1995, when it was 992.

Now Kenneth is much more popular, in the top 20 from 1924 through 1964, and in 2013, still at 187.

Matt said...

With names like these strippers will have to start calling themselves Mary and Barbara.

Pete Grossman said...

A name I rarely see anywhere today on any of these lists that was once popular: Bertha.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Per Bill Jones's post, Michael usually ranks in the Top 10 for male names (not that I have a vested interest). But it didn't make it in the Top 100 of the list you posted. You sure isn't affiliated with Soap Opera Digest. :)

Here's Top 10 list from SSA office for the last 100 years.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Meant Top Five, not Top 10.

Hilrity by Default said...

Imagine growing up with my name - Demosthenes - although I've never really minded the fact that it was quite strange. Most people just assumed I was a Greek god. It was a tough way to live but I never refused a ceremonial feast or a sacrificial goat in my honor. That would just be rude.

Dan Ball said...

My wife manages a child neurology office and she's always talking about the weird spellings of names that she sees on a regular basis. My theory is that some of these parents just don't know how to spell the names they give their kids, so they spell it out phonetically on the birth certificate at the hospital.

I think it's funny that #5 and #6 on the boys list are Silas and Henry. My great-grandpa and grandpa both (father and son) were Silas and Henry. In fact, my wife and I have already decided on Henry if we have a boy someday. We'll call him Hank, though, just because it doesn't have any airs about it, but it's also not boring. I mean, most of the time you come across a Hank, he's a pretty decent guy. Just look at what the pluralized form's done for Tom Hanks!

Anonymous said...


Not all stripper names imply promiscuity.

If you marry one, they will get a new name.

My friend married a stripper called Heaven and when they got married she was named Sally. I like that name.

tim said...

Not sure what you mean about your name losing popularity. What does "Beaver" have to do with "Barbie?"

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I knew a lady from Alaska named Beaver.
She looked like Amanpour:

All I am saying, names are complicated.

Yes, it has power, but takes time to figure out.

benson said...

@Demos, judging by your picture, you're probably too young to remember Telly Savalas' series, Kojak, in the 70's. His brother, George was a part of the supporting cast, and his screen credit was Demosthenes.

YEKIMI said...

Pete Grossman said...

A name I rarely see anywhere today on any of these lists that was once popular: Bertha.

I remember Bertha. Bertha Butt. She was one of the Butt sisters.

[If you get the reference......congrats!]

Noi Busakorn said...

For what it's worth, Ken Tiradet is a big-time Thai movie star. kinda like the Brad Pitt of Thailand.

benson said...

Totally off topic, but Ken and all the radio geeks may laugh.

"Ken Tiradet is a big-time Thai movie star. kinda like the Brad Pitt of Thailand."

Along the same lines, thirty years ago, two of us radio guys are driving to a meeting, and listening to WLS. Lyle Dean delivers the news story that "the Larry Lujack of St. Louis", KMOX's Jack Carney had died the night before. Lujack interrupts, saying "what do you mean, the Larry Lujack of St. Louis? I'm the Larry Lujack of St. Louis. Our signal gets down there. Good Morning, St. Louis. I'm still around".

Carolyn said...

I never thought I would see my Mom's name (born 1909) get popular again -- Adelaide. Did you know that "Heidi" is the nickname for it?

For fun, go to Baby Name Voyager. You can put in a name, and it will graphically show you when that name was most popular. Ken peaked around the late 40's - early 50's.

Can I throw in a Friday question? With approximately 5 million actors in LA , why do some shows use the same actors over and over for different characters? We've been watching a LOT of MeTV, and I think, for instance, William Schallert has appeared on _everything_ at least three times. More lately, there is a webpage that lists "repeat offenders" on Law & Order, with some actors guesting four or five times, again, playing different characters.

ODJennings said...

As someone with an unusual first name, the worst part of it was scanning the rack full of little souvenir license plates they used to sell at every tourist trap in American and never finding my name.

On the other hand I'll always have a soft spot for the guy at Disneyland who sewed the names into the mouse ear hats. I told him my name and without slightest hesitation he had those Mickey ears turned inside out and was sewing my name onto the hat.

When he was done I got the distinct impression that he was pleased to have had a break from the endless Tom, Bill, Mary and Sally hats and demonstrate what he was capable of when a name worthy of his talents appeared.

Mike Botula said...

The Johnny Cash song, "Boy Named Sue," came instantly to mind.

VP81955 said...

Some of the names on that list (which, as someone has pointed out, is not to be confused with the SSA list) are a bit perplexing. I never heard of "Everly" as a first name, much less a girl's name, and I can't imagine many parents of childbearing age in 2014 were doing it as a memorial to Phil. And "Declan" #2 on the boys' list? Perhaps it's a roundabout way to honor Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick McManus). BTW, were you working on "Frasier" when he guest-starred? He's come a long way from his angry young man of "Pump It Up" days. ("Imogen" to my eyes looks to be a misspelled Ms. Coca.)

Some years ago, I wrote an entry for my Carole & Co. blog (, using the SSA list, on the history of the name "Carole." To my non-surprise, its highest ranking, 35th, came in 1942 in the wake of Lombard's fatal plane crash -- although "Carole" ranked among the top 100 between 1934 and 1946 and in the top 1,000 from 1913 (when Lombard was 5-year-old Jane Alice Peters) to 1977.

Diane D. said...

Dan Ball, I doubt you are a fan of Ayn Rand (most people go walleye crazy at the mention of her name), so I thought I would just mention, in case you didn't know, that Hank is one of the main characters in her novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Against all odds, her philosophy seems to refuse to die out, and in my age group, anyone with that name has been asked, more than once, if his parents were "followers."

No, I'm not a fan, but I was when I was young.

Aaron Hazouri said...

As an elementary school art teacher, the most popular names I'm seeing (and I see over a thousand kids) are all some variation on "Aiden." Aiden, Hayden, Jayden, Kayden, Jaiden, Haiden, Braiden, Brayden, Braydon, Drayton, Layton, Payton, Peyton... It's strange to only have one "Michael" or "Jonathan" but seven kids named "Kayden."

Anonymous said...

OK, this list is really an early April Fool joke...right? It must really be a sign that I'm getting old when I'd never name a kid of mine from 95% of the names on the list. Now, where's my metamucil? And how come that wasn't on the list...makes as much sense as "Farquar" or "Anonymous"

Hamid said...

I wish a Simpsons fan would name their kid Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo.

Deanna said...

You sure this isn't the list of most popular names in 1914? There's a whole lotta grandmama names on that list!

Anonymous said...

Top names come from the wealthy and trickle down, particularly for girls.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm amazed that none of my family names are included--Gloria, Robert, Linda, Wendy, Denise, Kristine, and Stephanie. Granddaughter Sofia is a variant of #55, Sophia. The year I was born my name was #1 for boys, but hasn't been since.

The old joke about the Chinese naming their kids by throwing a handful of silverware into the air may have a variation for Americans today. They toss up a bunch of Scrabble tiles and hope for the best.

Hamid said...

I'd like to know what possessed the parents of The Waltons actress Michael Learned to give her a male name.

John John said...

What keeps me up at night is wondering in 50 years what name will replace the ubiquitous Great Aunt Freida that everyone seemed to have?

Interesting thing about names: I rarely meet someone whose name does not fit them. But the opposite corollary to that is that I do not think a movie character's name has ever fit Tom Cruise or even Johnny Depp other than Jack Sparrow. Perhaps that is why they are movies stars.

And for all the celebrities that like to come out with wacky names because they are just so darn special and we all must recognize their specialness: ultimately the kids grow up and a Zowie Bowie decides to become Duncan Jones. Sometimes the kids are the adults.

VP81955 said...

FWIW, "Hank" was the name of Bessie Love's character in 1929's "The Broadway Melody," the first talking film to win a best picture Academy Award. (Her co-star, Anita Page, who played her sister Queenie, was the last surviving attendee of the first Academy Award ceremonies, held at a second-floor room at the Roosevelt Hotel; she died in September 2008 at age 98.)

AlaskaRay said...

I'm sure Ebola will be at the top of next year's list.

Unanimouse said...

Cap'n Bob; Cap'n Crunch; Cap'n Kangaroo. You're right, it was a popular rank and name! Cap'n Bob and I are practically neighbors but I was only an E-5, so we don't socialize.

Hank Kimball.

Imogen Poots.

Johnny Walker said...

I too am skeptical of, but I'd love to believe the future is going to have some interesting names floating around in it... Well, the ones I liked, at least. Some of them... No thanks.

I wonder why Atticus is making a comeback? Good name, but why now?

Hank Gillette said...

My friend married a stripper called Heaven and when they got married she was named Sally. I like that name.

Still a stripper name.

D. McEwan said...

Zachary made the list? That name wasn't even popular with my brother Zachary. Zack went to court and legally changed his name to "Zachariah." Frankly, I didn't see the improvement, but it was his name to do with as he pleased.

When I met Jon Stewart, he said to me: "You're a Douglas? That's a good, strong masculine name. You don't hear Douglas much anymore." I made him laugh when I pointed out that I heard it every day. Douglas is a very butch name. It means "Dark River" or "Blood River." It refers to a river past a battlefield that is dark with blood.

Cap'n Bob said...

Unanimouse: Kangaroo is Captain, but Crunch is Cap'n. Mine is not a military rank, however. I was a Spec 4 in real life.

RCP said...

Hamid said...

I'd like to know what possessed the parents of The Waltons actress Michael Learned to give her a male name.

I'm fairly certain Learned once said it was because her parents wanted a son; after all, they could have used Michaela. This may have also been the case with author Anne Rice, whose first name is actually Howard. Or maybe they were named in honor of a beloved male relative - it's hard to imagine parents who basically name you so that you'll always be reminded that they wished you had been born the opposite sex.

My brother Jean (French) didn't have it easy in school. There were teachers who actually asked, 'Why are you named Jean?'

Buttermilk Sky said...

Where is Ryan? Doesn't every major league baseball team have at least one Ryan?

I assume Cora and Violet are popular because of "Downton Abbey," so maybe this is a British list after all.

bryon said...

Just as an annotation, J.M. Barrie didn't invent the name Wendy; he did popularize it, though.

DBenson said...

"I'm Harry. I was named after Dad's left leg."

"We named her Champagne, to recall the night she was conceived. Her younger brother is Bud."

Hill's Angel: "The boys call me Fanny."
Benny: "Call your fanny what?"

Kid: "Just how old were you and Mom when you got married?"
Father: "Why do you ask, Spongebob?"

Okay, that's out of my system.

By the by, anybody ever know a girl actually named Bambi? I've seen it crop up in shows and such, and I always remember Bambi was a boy deer.

Barry Traylor said...

These poor kids that are saddled with goofy names that are spelled oddly will spend there entire lives having to spell it for people. When my granddaughter who just turned nine was in kindergarten she had a friend, when I asked the little girls name my granddaughter said it was Presley. I thought she was calling her by her last name, but no her mother was an Elvis fan. Thank goodness this little girl wasn't given Elvis for a first name.

Barry Traylor said...

It just occurred to me that if your name was Anonymous how much fun it would be to be asked for your name at a job interview.
And you would have to reply, "it's Anonymous".

Johnny Walker said...

Wow. Anne Rice's real name is Howard? Amazing. That's the PERFECT name for a joke about woman with an usual name. Even better than "Bob" (which they used in BlackAdder for that very purpose).

I'll never understand why parents name their kids things like "Edward Woodward". With parents like that around, it's a world the world isn't even more screwed up than it is. I went to school with children called, "Michael Jackson", "Michael Douglas", and even "David Isaacs" -- although the last one was probably completely innocent :)

Storm said...

@Yekimi: I'll sock it to ya, Daddy!

My first name is Avril, and in my entire life, I've yet to ever meet another.

It is constantly misspelled and mispronounced; it is French for April, and pronounced "Ahv-reel". I always have to spell it out slowly to people when I give my "real" name, and cringe when people say "AV-rill" (Yes, I know that it's also a British name, and that that's how they pronounce it).

When people say what's the difference, I always quote Data, when he corrected Dr. Pulaski's pronounciation of his name as "DAT-uh": "One is my name. The other is not."

Cheers, thanks a lot,

(Easier to explain/spell than my real name; I've been nicknamed after my favourite comic book character since I was 15. People just assume my parents were hippies.)

Daniel said...

I'm always afraid I'll go to a children's party and every child will be named Bella or Edward.

DBenson: Only the left leg?

Atticus Asher Finn said...

What's wrong with these names?...

Atticus Asher Finn said...

What's wrong with these names?...

Danny said...

I read an article not long ago about how much television influences baby names. For example, there were a lot of little girls who got named "Tabitha" after Samantha and Darrin had their daughter on BEWITCHED.

I have a friend who is named Brett, after James Garner's character on the old show MAVERICK.

A former co-worker of mine wanted to name his son Spock, but his wife overruled him.

VP81955 said...

Some years ago, I was on a flight with a young woman named Sabrina, who told me she was named for the Audrey Hepburn movie, not the Archie Comics witch...though she added her mother gave her a doll that resembled the Melissa Joan Hart character when the TV series was popular.

Cap'n Bob said...

Regarding people's names that should belong to the opposite sex, when I was a lad in Virginia I had male classmates named Beverly, Carroll,and Lynn. I don't recall them getting teased.

YEKIMI said...

TRUE story: I had a friend who, before he became a cop, worked security at a hospital that dealt with more.....well, let's just say economically disadvantaged and undereducated people and some whose parents by name only. They had a young pregnant lady come staggering in who was giving birth and after she had the kid [a girl] they were wheeling her up to a room and they asked her what she was going to name her baby. She said "I'm going to name her Vagina because it's such a pretty sounding name" Before he busted a gut laughing he ran out of the hallway and into a bathroom. He found out from the nurses later on that they ended up explaining to her what a vagina was and she wisely decided to give her daughter another name. So at least that name isn't going to show up in any baby name books.....hopefully.

Roger Owen Green said...

My grandmother worked for a married couple, doctors, in Binghamton. NY. They were both named Beverly Dorsey. So it was Dr. Mr. Dorsey and and Dr. Mrs. Dorsey, or some accommodation to note which one you wanted.

Loosehead said...

"Bill, or George! Anything but Sue!"

Don't see a Holly or a Natalie, so my kids are out. No Loosehead on the boys side either.

cadavra said...

I was in San Francisco Monday and met a woman named Imogen: American, and I imagine in her 30s. So there ya go.