Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Name Diversity

When you hear a name you usually identify it with a certain gender. I read an interesting article a few days ago about names and how they've evolved over the past century. Names that were once 100% male have flip-flopped and are now 100% female. Here's a list of names that were mentioned in the article:
  • Addison: Of all children named Addison in 1880, 100% of them were male. In 2012 98% of children with that name were female.
  • Lindsay/Lindsey: 100% male in 1880. 100% female in 2012.
  • Whitney: 100% male in 1884. 99% female in 2012.
  • Beverly: 100% male in 1880. 100% female in 2012.
  • Ashley: 100% male in 1880. 100% female in 2012.
  • Kelsey:  100% male in 1891. 100% female in 2012.
  • Lauren: 100% male in 1884. 100% female in 2012.
  • Meredith: 100% male in 1883. 100% female in 2012.
  • Darcy: 100% male in 1915. 94% female in 2012.
  • Hilary: 100% male in 1882. 100% female in 2012.
  • Emery: 100% male in 1880. It was 50-50 male/female in 1996 and is now 80% female.
  • Sandy: 100% male in 1880. By the 1950's it was 50-50 male/female. 91% female in 2012.
  • Quinn: 86% female in 2012. The switch for this mostly boy name happened quickly. The  website conducting the survey believes the female character on the TV show Glee is responsible for accelerating the change. 
  • Michele: 100% male in 1905. Surprisingly, this name was only 86% female last year, meaning 14% of the Michele's are male.
I was familiar with the fact that most of the names on the list started out as male names, but a few of them surprised me, like Beverly, Hilary, Meredith and Michele. It just seems so odd to think about a little boy being called most of these names!

Here's some other names that have shifted from male to female, or have become gender-neutral:
  • Haley/Hailey 
  • Jordan 
  • Taylor 
  • Cameron/Kamryn 
  • Morgan 
  • Avery
  • Kim 
  • Aubrey
  • Kelly
  • Elliott
Another trend I've noticed in names is that lots of old names have made a resurgence and have become "new" again. Here's some of the ones I came up with off the top of my head that apply:
  • Caleb/Kaleb
  • Eli/Elijah
  • Henry
  • Isaac
  • Stella 
  • Charlotte 
  • Grace 
  • Claire 
  • Cora 
  • Hannah
  • Eleanor
  • Sadie
  • Scarlett
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Lucy
I think it's interesting how names come in and out of fashion. Who knows, maybe names like Dorothy, Mabel or Alice for girls and Frederick, Norman or Walter for boys are just on the horizon. 

Another name trend growing in popularity these days is using last names as first names, like Parker, Kennedy, Mackenzie, Sloane, Emerson, Bailey, etc. There are really a lot of popular names these days that are quite strange and unusual. I guess my taste in names is just too traditional for me to be able to really like/appreciate different, non-traditional names. 


Anonymous said...

The use of surnames as first names has been going on in certain parts of the American South for a very long time. It is usually done to sometimes honor a mother's side of the family.

Britt said...

That first list threw me for a loop! i can't imagine some of those being male names at any point in time.
I wonder what it'll be like in 200 years. There will be women named William and men named Shirley haha
Britt @ One&20

ionamin-W8FW8 said...

Britt, Shirley actually WAS a male name!

Lisa said...

My husband's cousin is named Lori and "he" is over 6 feet tall with a full beard!

Rosannah said...

I love this and it's especially interesting comparing what's popular/normal in the USA compared to here in the UK! My mum is called Hilary and a relative of hers who'd only heard the name written down thought she was a boy for the first two years of her life until they met (we're talking like 60 years ago here). I laughed a lot when she told me that story as I hadn't realised either that it used to be a male name.

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