This is the biggest week in the name business. No, I’m not talking about the new royal baby name, though that certainly adds to the frenzy. The big scheduled event isn’t about one baby, but about millions. The Social Security Administration is releasing statistics on the most popular baby names of 2018.
At the top of the popularity charts, the name stats are a snapshot of modern style. Names like Emma, Noah, Liam and Ava show off a light touch compared to the years of Jennifer, Christopher, Michael and Jessica. But those top hits just hint at the full story. If baby names are a fossil record of culture, then this week marks the start of a huge fossil dig, seeking revelations about the state of our society.
In the past, we’ve seen names of Star Wars villains and Teen Mom babies soar in popularity. We’ve seen a historic decline in the classic English baby names, and a new dominance of sound-based style. We’ve seen a rise in traditionally masculine and unisex names for girls, and a corresponding rise of hyper-macho and exalted names for boys. We’ve seen that American parents no longer name babies after political leaders, but do name after firearms. And so, so much more.
It all starts with the stats coming out this week. Here are the essentials:
What: The U.S. national baby name statistics for 2018. The Social Security Administration releases popularity figures for every name given to at least five boys or girls—typically over 30,000 names.
When: Just before Mother’s Day, most likely Thursday or Friday, May 9-10. State-by-state popularity figures will follow a week or two later.
Why: Because you’re naming a baby, or fascinated by name trends, or interested in popular culture, or you just care about the ever-changing tastes, obsessions, values and dreams of the American public.
Where: Right here, and on Twitter (@NamerologyTalk). I’ll be crunching data and reporting on trends, movers and curiosities. I’ve even been known to announce the new top names on Twitter before the Social Security Administration does.
Happy Name Week to all, I hope you’ll join me!