Adventures in Baby Name Charts

Ryan Noonan

Ryan Noonan is an economist with a small federal agency. Fields in which he considers himself reasonably well-informed: literature, college athletics, video games, food and beverage, the Supreme Court. Fields in which he considers himself an expert: none. He can be found on the Twitter or reached by email.

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39 Responses

  1. Matt Huisman says:

    So my name is Matthew, and my brother is Lucas (who is only known as Luke)…and it got me to wondering if Lucas would count. I would say no.

    Now I would expect much of a bump from adding Lucas, but what about Marco (or other possible variants of Mark)? Do you think it would make a difference?Report

    • Actually, given that Lucas is the 29th most popular baby name for 2011 (and has been in the top 100 for a while), adding it would provide a much larger bump for Luke than would adding anything to Mark. For reference, the 2011 rank of names similar to Mark:

      Marcus 145
      Mark 159
      Marco 280
      Marcos 339

      (There are more, but they’re all negligible.)Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        It’s just bizarre to think that in the 1960s “Luke” was such a rare name. What about Cool Hand Luke?

        Something tells me the data in that chart must be defective. Or was “Luke” hovering just below 200 for a while?Report

        • Here’s the full series for 1960-1979:

          1979 110
          1978 139
          1977 190
          1976 222
          1975 256
          1974 265
          1973 285
          1972 320
          1971 346
          1970 351
          1969 367
          1968 397
          1967 408
          1966 398
          1965 392
          1964 374
          1963 389
          1962 391
          1961 392
          1960 384

          I think Star Wars is rather clearly the cause of the spike, but your point about Cool Hand Luke is quite interesting.

          Edited to add: Cool Hand Luke was released in 1967. You could certainly attribute the beginning of a trend to it, as that’s where the name’s popularity starts reversing course.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Growing up, in the 60s, the only referent I had for Luke was Dick Crenna in The Real McCoys, which made it the equivalent of Jethro or Jedidiah, a biblical name that had fallen completely out of favor except among hillbillies.Report

  2. Jason Kuznicki says:

    This seems as good a place as any to announce that I will be attending Leaguefest under a pseudonym. I’m thinking “Erik” has a nice ring to it….Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    Has anyone read the Freakonomics study of baby name trends? Very interesting.

    BTW, our yet-to-be-conceived child was going to be named Isabel. This was a name I’ve loved for years and has a special connection because the first child I cared for had it. Now it is super popular (my wife blames “Twilight”) and she is afraid to use it (though technically the real popular one is “Isabella” which we can’t use because it conflicts with our last name).Report

  4. Scott says:


    Can’t resist the cheap shot at Repubs can you? Ironic that that you accuse TVD of such borish behavior but do it yourself.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    The obvious next step would be John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We should not be surprised at an enduring disparity between John and Ringo.Report

  6. Tod Kelly says:

    Ryan (and everyone else, I guess) – First of all, no worries on the picture thing. A lot of us aren’t doing it on a consistent basis. I’m going to be “cleaning” the site on a daily basis, starting yesterday. To that end:

    ** The best possible thing to do is put up the picture when it is posted.

    ** If you don’t know how but have a pic you really, really want to use, email that jpg to me and I will upload it for you.

    ** If you don’t upload your own picture and don’t send me one, then I’m going to put up a pic myself. I do not mind doing this, but you give up any rights (positive or negative!) to bitch about the picture selection.

    Also, posts that feature videos get funky once they fall from the larger major slots to the older minor slots. Because the video preview acts as a great visual while the post is in the majors I don’t think we should change. But when they fall into the minors, I’ll be adding an appropriate picture so that it doesn’t look funky.Report

  7. Miss Mary says:

    All this talk of baby names is making me want to have a baby. Although, at this point, I wouldn’t know what to name the dang thing.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Miss Mary says:

      My wife and I recently had “the talk”. We spent half of our trip back from DC deciding on names. With that done, we figured we were halfway there. There is no way we are incorrect that regard, right?!?!Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

        Among the odds and ends to consider in choosing a name, some to account for the innate meanness that the child will encounter at various age levels… How easy is it to pronounce first and last name together in that order? Same question, applied to most likely shortening of the first name (I go by “Mike”, but always answer the phone as “Michael Cain”, because the consecutive /k/ sounds can be easily misheard). Do the initials spell something that can be made fun of (my father was known as Doc throughout his time in the Navy because seabags all carried initials and his were DOC; worse things are possible)?Report

  8. Mike Schilling says:

    The weirdest part of this chart is the rise and fall of Mark. Does anyone have any theories?Report

  9. Mike Schilling says:

    At my previous job, we had a satellite office in Buenos Aries. Every woman who worked there was named Maria, and each one went by her middle name or a nickname, for the obvious reason. Yrah, no one is named Maria anymore — it’s too popular.Report

  10. Ian M. says:

    My son is named Max, but my wife and I were sorting through “Max” names to figure which one to choose (just plain Max? Maximillian, Maxim, Maximo?). In any case, type “Maximus” into the SSA site popularity search and it appears in 2000 (same year as Gladiator) at 850 and then stays above 500 (last year 212) ever since. A bit similar to Luke and the Star Wars example.
    We settled on Maxwell.Report