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Monday, November 04, 2013

Least Popular Baby Names

I was amused by a piece by Arika Okrent about the popularity of baby names. This year, the most popular names for newborns are Sophia and Jacob. But she wanted to know what the least popular names were, so she checked data from the Social Security Administration, which has records for each year's top thousand names all the way back to 1880. For instance, in 2012, the least popular names were Dangelo, Foster, Briggs, Sloan, Karlie, and Meadow -- but it was the names from the late 19th century that were most interesting.

In 1883, they were Commodore for boys and Lovey for girls (several decades before "Gilligan's Island"). The next year, 958 boys were named Spurgeon.

In 1888, 989 girls were named Indiana while a bunch of boys were named Boss, which I assume came from an employer saying, "Jenkins, when your kid pops out, you better name it after me!"

In the next decade, it got weirder. In 1893, 933 girls were named Leafy and 1,000 boys were given a name impossible to rhyme in a song: Orange.

In 1898, 915 girls were named Tiny, a name now associated with men weighing over 400 pounds. Their male counterparts were named Pleasant, which is only one step above Mediocre.

But the best year for least-popular names was 1894, when 986 families named their daughters Ova, the Latin word for eggs. So, were there also hundreds of boys named Sperm? Nope.

That year, 1,000 boys entered the world marred by the name Flem.

See Okrent's entire list from 1880 to 1932 here.