Girls’ Names Popular in Every Year Since 1880

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 2.22.54 PM

What defines a timeless name?  Is it a name that never seems to age?  Or is it a name that stays popular throughout the centuries?

In the U.S., a name is considered popular if it falls within the top 1000, as tallied by the Social Security Administration.  Every year, the SSA publishes baby name data going all the way back to 1880.  Amazingly, hundreds of names have managed to remain popular every single year since then!  If that’s not the definition of a timeless name, then I don’t know what is. 

I will post all of these classic names, though today I’m starting with the girls’ list. The names are listed below with their ranks in 2016; whether they rose, fell, or remained stable from 2015 to 2016; and by how many places in the rankings that they rose or fell.  Any rank change over ±30 receives the “quickly” modifier, while changes up to ±3 are described with “slightly.”  At the bottom of this list, I’ll summarize and relist the names that rose and fell the most between 2015 and 2016.

  1. Alice – #76; rising (+10)
  2. Alma – #723; falling (-36)
  3. Amanda – #329; falling (-13)
  4. Amelia – #11; rising slightly (+1)
  5. Amy – #176; falling (-18)
  6. Angela – #214; rising (+6)
  7. Angelina – #175; falling (-11)
  8. Angie – #619; falling quickly (-30)
  9. Ann – #992; falling quickly (-95), critically endangered.  Unless Ann pulls a Judith* in 2017, this name is almost guaranteed to exit this list in May.
  10. Anna – #51; falling (-7)
  11. Anne – #554; rising (+12)
  12. Annie – #287; rising quickly (+36)
  13. Audrey – #39; falling slightly (-2)
  14. Barbara – #856; rising (+9)
  15. Bridget – #594; falling quickly (-61)
  16. Camille – #243; rising slightly (+3)
  17. Caroline – #56; rising (+6)
  18. Carolyn – #810; falling quickly (-58); endangered.
  19. Catherine – #195; falling (-18)
  20. Cecilia – #179; rising slightly (+2)
  21. Celeste – #495; rising slightly (+2)
  22. Celia – #837; rising (+18)
  23. Charlotte – #7; rising slightly (+2)
  24. Christina – #390; falling quickly (-57)
  25. Christine – #729; rising quickly (+61).  No guarantee that gains continue in 2017; sometimes dying names will zig-zag up and down for a few years before completely falling out of popularity.  Indeed, Christine was never outside the top 200 until 1999, and has mostly continued downwards since then.  Hopefully, the large rise between 2015 and 2016 will continue in 2017.
  26. Claire – #40; rising (+9)
  27. Clara – #99; falling slightly (-1)
  28. Claudia – #761; falling (-19)
  29. Cora – #87; rising slightly (+1)
  30. Corinne – #796; falling quickly (-64); endangered, but don’t expect a 2017 exit.
  31. Cynthia – #561; falling (-21)
  32. Daisy – #190; falling (-7)
  33. Deborah – #815; falling (-8)
  34. Edith – #488; rising quickly (+36)
  35. Eleanor – #41; rising (+19).  +19 is a huge jump within the top 100, so this was one of the trendier names of 2016.
  36. Elisabeth – #684; rising (+31)
  37. Elise – #166; rising (+8)
  38. Ellen – #655; rising quickly (+51)
  39. Elsa – #622; falling quickly (-136) and possibly endangered.  Elsa spiked up to #286 in 2014 because of Frozen; either its correcting back to pre-movie levels or will drop out of the top 1000 in a couple years.
  40. Emily – #9; falling slightly (-1)
  41. Emma – #1; stable (0)
  42. Elizabeth – #13; stable (0)
  43. Esther – #183; rising (+20)
  44. Eva – #73; rising slightly (+2)
  45. Evelyn – #12; rising slightly (+3)
  46. Frances – #446; rising quickly (+69)
  47. Genevieve – #188; falling (-6)
  48. Georgia – #227; rising slightly (+3)
  49. Grace – #19; stable (0)
  50. Hannah – #33; falling (-5)
  51. Helen – #408; rising (+12)
  52. Helena – #518; rising (+16)
  53. Irene – #656; falling (-26)
  54. Iris – #186; rising (+31)
  55. Isabel – #145; rising (+4)
  56. Jane – #279; rising (+9)
  57. Jessie – #642; falling (-27)
  58. Joanna – #248; rising quickly (+57)
  59. Johanna – #555; falling (-14)
  60. Josephine – #114; rising quickly (+17)
  61. Josie – #237; rising quickly (+13)
  62. Judith – #889; rising (+38).  Rebounding?  *Judith ranked as low as #992 in 2013; incidentally, that’s Ann‘s exact ranking for 2016.
  63. Julia – #88; rising slightly (+1)
  64. Julie – #482; falling (-27)
  65. Kate – #231; falling (-9)
  66. Katherine – #90; falling (-6)
  67. Kathleen – #841; falling (-12)
  68. Kathryn – #398; falling quickly (-79)
  69. Katie – #364; falling quickly (-54)
  70. Laura – #346; falling quickly (-24)
  71. Lea – #690; rising quickly (+48)
  72. Leah – #37; falling slightly (-1)
  73. Lena – #276; falling (-4)
  74. Leslie – #413; falling quickly (-42)
  75. Lillian – #28; falling slightly (-2)
  76. Linda – #669; stable (0)
  77. Lucia – #213; rising quickly (+13)
  78. Lucy – #55; stable (0)
  79. Lydia – #80; stable (0)
  80. Madeline – #91; falling slightly (-1)
  81. Maggie – #242; stable (0)
  82. Margaret – #139; rising (+15)
  83. Maria – #113; falling (-4)
  84. Marie – #583; falling (-21)
  85. Martha – #727; rising quickly (+62).  Martha is in a similar position as Christine.  I hope that Martha continues to trend upwards, but usage has been erratic this decade.
  86. Mary – #127; falling (-4)
  87. Miriam – #293; rising slightly (+1)
  88. Molly – #157; falling (-14)
  89. Nancy – #900; falling quickly (-78); critically endangered.  After Ann, this is probably the next most likely to fall out of the top 1000 in 2017.
  90. Naomi – #74; rising slightly (+2)
  91. Natalie – #31; falling (-4)
  92. Nina – #309; falling (-10)
  93. Nora – #36; rising (+5)
  94. Olivia – #2; stable (0)
  95. Paula – #824; rising quickly (+64)
  96. Priscilla – #474; rising (+28)
  97. Rachel – #173; falling (-6)
  98. Rebecca – #207; falling (-19)
  99. Regina – #437; rising quickly (+80)
  100. Rosa – #639; falling (-10)
  101. Rose – #154; rising (+12)
  102. Ruby – #71; rising (+12)
  103. Ruth – #299; falling (-7)
  104. Sara – #152; rising (+10)
  105. Sarah – #57; rising slightly (+1)
  106. Sophia – #4; falling slightly (-1)
  107. Susan – #922; rising (+6)
  108. Sylvia – #505; falling (-21).  On the other hand, the French form Sylvie was new to the top 1000 in 2016.
  109. Teresa – #667; rising slightly (+1)
  110. Veronica – #414; falling quickly (-46)
  111. Victoria – #21; falling slightly (-1)
  112. Virginia – #517; rising (+6)
  113. Vivian – #95; stable (0).

Biggest gains?  Regina (+80), Frances (+69), Paula (+64), Martha (+62), Christine (+61), Joanna (+57), Ellen (+51), Lea (+48), Judith (+38), Annie (+36), Edith (+36), Elisabeth (+31), Iris (+31)

Biggest losses?  Elsa (-136), Ann (-95), Kathryn (-79), Nancy (-78), Corinne (-64), Bridget (-61), Carolyn (-58), Christina (-57), Katie (-54), Veronica (-45), Leslie (-42), Alma (-36), Angie (-30)

I think it can be said that all 113 names on this list are classic, though not necessarily ageless or even timeless.  Names like Barbara and Paula certainly have a dated “grandma” quality to them, and yet they’ve remained popular choices for parents across three centuries at least!  Truly, one of the best reasons to use a classic baby name is that it’s time-tested.

And what about the names that might leave the top 1000 (and this list) in 2017, like Ann and Nancy?  We can hope for a revival, and comfortably rest in the knowledge that leaving the top 1000 does not mean name-extinction.  The sad part is that the number of names that have been perennially popular since 1880 will continue to dwindle.  Names that were trendy in the mid-to-late 20th century are in danger of obscurity as many of their bearers become parents and (especially) grandparents.  In 2016, once-classic Jenny fell victim to Jennifer‘s ongoing decline.  Many of today’s most popular names were also popular so long ago that most of their bearers have died off, leaving today’s parents with few previous impression of older generations.  This is probably part of the reason why names like Edith and Eleanor are trendy, and why names like Matilda and Adeline have returned to the top 1000 after decades of obscurity.

Thoughts, anyone?  I’m going to post the boys’ names later, so watch out for those. 

Sources:

4 thoughts on “Girls’ Names Popular in Every Year Since 1880

  1. I find it interesting that Anne is rising (if only slightly) while Ann is falling precipitously. The name seems to be falling out of favor generally, but perhaps parents who do choose the name are just flocking to the -e spelling, leading to Ann’s demise. It seems that Ann has always been slightly less popular, but Anne really started gaining ground in the 80’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Boys’ Names Popular in Every Year since 1880 | The Well-Informed Namer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s