• Fri, May 10 2013

Official ‘Top Baby Names’ List Of 2012 Proves No One Really Named Their Kid Katniss

shutterstock_27655645As my co-worker, and everyone’s favorite Mommyish writer, Eve Vawter, would say: doublefuckingnewsflash, people. The Social Security Administration (SSA) just released the official Top Baby Names 2012 and one thing is obvious — you totally did not give your baby that name you said you loved (and neither did I).

I love Nameberry. They are up-to-date on baby name trends, they compile lists like the best names for babies born in winter, or names inspired by Downton Abbey. Once a year, the people over at Nameberry compile the most popular names of the past 12 months and publish it at the end of December to be consumed along with the Top 40 hits, Barbara Walters‘ Top 10 Most Fascinating People, and the Top 100 most ridiculous Real Housewives moments (I might have made that last one up, but surely there would be plenty to fill that quota).

Then, five months later and nearly halfway through the next year, the SSA gets around to publishing their own list and somehow the two “Top Baby Names” are completely different. Either something fishy happens between December and May, or parents just aren’t naming their kids those names they said they loved. Turns out to be the latter and the proof is in the methodology.

Nameberry compiles their best of list from their 13 million page views, while the SSA bases their list on the official U.S. government documentation required after a baby is born. So whatever those parents are clicking on Nameberry — those are the names they love. Those are the names that catch their attention. Those are the names they say out-loud over and over, wondering could they really imagine calling Adelaide for dinner or demanding she clean her room. Those are not, however, the names they are actually giving their children.

Turns out there is zero overlap between the Top 10 Names on the great parenting resource Nameberry and the U.S. Government’s official SSA list – for either girls or boys.  In fact, the number one top name on Nameberry – Katniss – doesn’t even break the Top 1000 on the SSA list.  The top Nameberry boy’s name – Finn – gets closer, but still peaked at #291 on the SSA list.

Even though a lot of couples passed on the cool name Katniss, there were other pop culture phenomenons that U.S. parents just couldn’t resist, namely Liam Neeson, Game of Thrones, and Nine By Design. Liam broke into the Top 10 for the first time, while Arya and Major took the top spot for the biggest leap of the year.

I knew I wasn’t alone in my obsession with GOT (and the sword-wielding, spunky Arya), but who knew I wasn’t the only one fascinated by those Novogratz and their genetically superior children? Bellamy - sister of the seventh child, Major Novogratz - was on the short list for our two-year-old daughter. Alas, when the day came and our little girl was born, she just didn’t look like a Bellamy.

Without further ado, here are the top 5 comparisons.  Nameberry says you wanted to name your daughters Katniss, Charlotte, Imogen, Seraphina and Amelia but when they were born the SSA records show Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava were the top choices. For your sons you practiced Finn, Asher, Henry, Milo and Avery but ultimately decided on Jacob (#1 for the 14th year in a row), Mason, Ethan, Noah and William.

Of course, naming your child is often a compromise — sometimes a group effort. Personal favorites of mine that found their way on the top of the Nameberry list – like Isla or Imogen – were either rejected by my husband or “stolen” by a friend. Maybe that’s what happened to you too.

(photo: R. Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock)

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  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    DOUBLEFUCKINGNEWSFLASH NO ONE LIKES YOUR LAME BABY NAMES

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      HA! Everyone loves the baby name debate – EVERYONE! By the way, lest I spoil you with too much love, I left out the fact that Eve is one of my all-time favorite names.

    • Yves

      Hey don’t mess with the original. (lol get it…1st woman joke…) I am so lame.

  • allisonjayne

    The folks who visit nameberry are also a self-selected group, no? I don’t know what the demographics of that site are, but it’s obviously folks with regular internet access and a fair bit of free time…probably mostly first time parents I’m guessing as well….and probably more women than men, and based on anecdotal evidence, I’m going to say that a lot of ‘unusual names’ that women love are vetoed by their male partners.

    I’m in Canada and there doesn’t seem to be a comparable list for Canadians (the ‘official’ list of actual registered names I mean) but I do recall browsing the American one when I was pregnant. We wanted a name that was out of the top 100, but not so unusual that the kid would have to spell it or repeat it a lot. Of course, it also varies a lot depending on where you live. An unusual name across the country might be super popular in like, Williamsburg or whatever.

    Anyway, glad to see that the name we chose still hasn’t cracked the top 100. But it does seem to be relatively popular in our ‘community’ (urban/leftie/artistic/queers). Oh well. At least it’s not Sophia or Emma or Isabelle. Beautiful names but I’m guessing a lot of those kids will be known as ‘Sophia M.’ or whatever in school.
    And my name (Allison) is at 38! I’m surprised.

    • Blueathena623

      There will always be kids known as name last initial. In 2007 I knew of a classroom that had 4 Conners (all spelled differently, but that doesn’t make a difference when you’re saying the name aloud). In the 90′s my sister stopped going by Katie and went by her real first name Mary because she was tired of being Katie G. In the 80′s I was friends with Jennifer K, Jennifer L. and Jennifer B. and considering how many of my semi-order coworkers are named some version of Christina, I’m sure the 70′s were full of christy R, christy g, etc.

    • allisonjayne

      Oh totally. And picking a name that isn’t in the top 10 or 20 or 100 doesn’t mean your kid won’t end up being one of two or three in their class.

      Oh the Jennifers! I met a Jennifer recently who is in her late 50s, and I was so surprised because yeah, it’s such a 70s/80s name.

      The thing I find the most interesting about names is the whole boy names/girl names thing…like how some names used to be boy names but once they started to be adopted as girl names, they are now seen as really weird for boys/men. I knew older men named Vivien, Beverley, Lindsey and Leslie. Nowadays those are definitely considered girl names. I assume the same will happen with names like Riley, Rory, Taylor, etc. Because it’s ‘cool’ to give a boy name to a girl, but not vice versa.

    • Yves

      I love the name Quinn for a boy but everyone is naming their dang girl that now. So I don’t wanna use it for fear that when he’s older he’ll be looked at as “weird”

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      I also liked Quinn for a boy! I had the same problem with Riley too, which I like for a boy but my son has two Riley girls in his class now.

    • Justme

      My daughter goes to school with a boy Quinn. I never thought of it as a boy or girl name…I think it’s fairly gender neutral.

    • k_milt

      I know one of each, and don’t really have a preference as to whether it’s a boy or girl name. We have a family friend with a boy Quinn and one of my children has a girl cousin who is a Quinn. I think it’s cute on both.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      One of my best friends is named Rory and I used to make fun of him in college by calling him Rory Gilmore. I think the whole phenomenon of giving boys names to girls but not being able to do the opposite is very telling about our society.

    • Blueathena623

      Yes! I will not go on the long rant/tangent that I normally do about this topic, but I don’t think that people realize how wide-spread the “men are good, women are bad” mentality is, and what it says about how we view women in society.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Totally. With my youngest child I was told I was having a girl when I was pregnant so I started buying girlie things. Not a lot because I already have two girls. When I gave birth *surprise* I had a boy. Everyone immediately started telling me how much it sucks that I wouldn’t be able to use the new things I bought. That would never have happened if the opposite had occurred.

      I used most of the things anyway, and I still get the sideways eye about my pink canopied Bug-a-Boo. I got that thing for $20 at a garage sale and dammit I’m not going refrain from using it because of some gender role bullshit.

    • Blueathena623

      My dad bought my son an inflatable chair. My mom — who is very progressive and knows I’m progressive — apologized up and down because my dad didn’t realize that he got a pink chair. God knows what harm is being done to his 15 month old psyche because he has a pink chair.
      Similarly, my son had an EI assessment the other day, and the lady asked if he likes any stuffed animals or dolls. I said no. She then asked “would your husband allow your son to have a doll?” I must have given her a look, because she laughed and said “I have to ask”. It’s sad that she has to ask, because there a million things wrong with that question.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      My son has a baby doll that he is super attached to. He sleeps with it every night and drags it everywhere. When my MIL was watching him she wouldn’t let him have it the entire time he was there because she was afraid it would “make him gay”. I was outraged when I found out. She tried to say he didn’t ask for it but my middle child told me he cried for it every night. It still gets me riled up just thinking about it.

    • Blueathena623

      THats awful, I’m so sorry!

    • allisonjayne

      You know, I know lots of gay dudes, and none of them are into dolls.

      The book ‘William’s Doll’ is so great. [Spoiler alert] – The grandmother tells her son that he should let his son have a doll, because it will make him nurturing and a good dad (or something like that anyway).

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      My son tells everyone that he’s the baby doll’s daddy. It’s adorable and probably really good for him. I hate that anything nurturing is considered “feminine” and therefore bad. I was raised by my dad and he was nurturing and also manly as f*ck. He is into all the stereotypical “masculine” things and he had no problem putting on a tiara for tea time, lol.

    • bookworm81

      My son regularly rides in a pink McClaren I got for $25 :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique VĂ©ronique Houde

      it doesn’t beat the fact that when my dad met his now wife 15 years ago, they found out that they had daughters of the same age… and same name. My dad let me move into my own apartment when i went to college, just to avoid having to deal with answering the phone and asking the person to identify which VĂ©ronique he wanted to talk to ;). I also have two stepsisters named Catherine. True story yo. Which is why I kind of sort of invented my daughter’s name: AdelĂ©a – which is based after my Grandma who was named AdĂšle, and Lea, which is my favourite name. At least I know that 1- people won’t have a hard time learning how to pronounce it, and 2- she won’t get confused with anyone else

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      There were 4 Kayla’s in my daughter’s class once. Also spelled differently but still Kayla J, Kayla C, and Kayla M.J. since there were 2 Kayla Js, lol

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      Last year my son had two Lucys in his preschool and there were two Juliets in our building. It’s true – there will always be multiple!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I feel bad for my Sophia. She was named after my great grandmother (who kicked serious ass back in the 1930s). I’m hoping there won’t be as many Sophias in her class since it wasn’t as popular when she was born as it is now.

    • bookworm81

      Fwiw Nameberry is full of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time parents. If you check out the message boards they’re full of people getting advice on which of their short list of names are the best match for their older kids’ names.

  • Blueathena623

    I’m not surprised name berry has a different greatest hit list because there might be multiple clicks per kid, but only one name for the SSA list. So you might click on the weirder ones but then settle for the conventional.

  • CG

    People also use Nameberry for a variety of reasons. I have an account and don’t hate any kids…I just enjoy looking at names (although often Nameberry’s descriptions sound extremely judgey)

    • CG

      have*

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Downton Abbey has definitely influenced my list of fantasy baby names (I’m a long way from having kids), particularly since I am a Crawley and have successfully pretended that they’re my real family in exchange for higher marks from a professor who was a fan, getting to cut in the airport security line because the scanner person was a fan, etc. Edith and Josephine are two of my absolute favourites, who cares how old-fashioned they are. Hopefully the trend will pass by the time I get around to babies, though, because I was one of several MyName’s throughout childhood and it sucked. Top 10 names will never be given to my kids.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I like both of those name. You could call her Edie too, which is a favorite of mine.

    • bookworm81

      There were five girls with my first name in my grade in elementary school (5 out of about 30 girls) so I swore I wouldn’t give my kids names anywhere near the top 10. In 2008 (the year before my son was born) his name was 79th on the chart and no one I knew had ever met anyone with that name *including* the kindergarten teachers I worked with who had 20 years of experience. His super rare name – Liam. Now I have an 18 month old daughter named Maeve and Nameberry put that on their list to watch for 2013. Clearly I can’t win.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Liam? Man, I know like a million of them of all ages, that surprises me, and Maeves are rare. You must live in opposite land.

    • bookworm81

      Maeve is still a rare name, I’m just concerned about it spiking like Liam did. After his name started to go up like that we deliberately stayed even father down the charts and it’s frustrating to go to the effort and then have a site like Nameberry basically go “Hey everyone, name your kids Maeve.”

    • Sally

      That happened to us, too. We have a Liam born in 2006, when it was hovering in the 80′s or 90′s. Lo and behold, now it breaks top ten. At least our kids will look like trendsetters! :)

  • Yves

    The thing with a lot of common names is the names were uncommon during the parents generation… so they still think it’s “different.” Hence the bijillion Ava’s and Sophia’s out there now. Won’t lie… I’m thinking about using Sybil as a middle name if I have a girl (i’m pregnant) because I love Downton Abbey and I just love the name.

  • Catherne

    Nameberry would also be full of crazy teens.
    At least… I know me and my friends used to vote on name websites… when I was 14 my favourite girls names were Chakyrahane, Passion and Stardust. The last two were on baby name websites and I voted, the first I submitted, then voted for.

    You will all breathe a sigh of relief to know that I grew up, and named my daughter Nicole. Yes much more popular, but a much easier name to live with.

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      I had no idea teens were into it too, but it makes sense. I loved baby names even back then. Nicole is very pretty!

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    I must be the least original woman ever because I have a Sophia AND a Jacob. Though both were named after family members and their names weren’t nearly as popular when they were born as they are now. Also, I was told that my son was a girl when I was preggo so he was supposed to be Charlotte, lol.

    • http://twitter.com/carinnjade Carinn Jade

      If you have a story (like family history) it always gives the child substance without feeling like they are “just another” popular name. And those are really great names!

    • k_milt

      Dude, I have an AIDAN. He was born just as the name had started to move up the popularity list, so he’s never had another one in his class, but oh man did that change. If you walk down the hallway where the younger kids’ classrooms are located and yell “Aidan!!” about four hundred kids will show up. The Braydens and Kaydens and Haydens and Jaydens will very likely show up too, just in case they misheard you. Talk about least inventive!

  • allisonjayne

    Every Aimee I’ve known pronounces it like “Ah-May”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique VĂ©ronique Houde

    yeah but… I’m french ;) with mainly french people around me. It’s not an issue. lol

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    My last name is super simple, Locke, yet I get all kinds of weird pronunciations. Lock-ee, Low-k, lake, lakee. Especially from telemarketers from non-western countries, but even Americans.