I have a confession to make. It has been weighing on me, a dreadful little tingle of guilt every time I look at the new 4th edition of the Baby Name Wizard book. Now it’s time to come clean and try to make amends.
Readers, I left out Eleanor.
It’s terrible but true. If you browse through the book’s “name snaphots” for girls, you’ll leap straight from Eileen to Elena. The entry for Eleanor, a staple of all past editions, has simply vanished.
Those of you who have noticed have been extremely kind. You’ve bent over backwards to give me the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I was reacting to a sharp decline in the popularity of the name? Perhaps I treated it as a variant of another name? Alas, no. It’s just plain gone, and for the most unplanned, unromantic of reasons.
I write the Baby Name Wizard books in a database rather than a word processor. Given the many types of information I track and compile for each name snapshot, it would be impossible any other way. One piece of data that’s linked to each name record in the 4th edition database is a simple checkbox: “In the book, or not?” For want of a click, the name was lost.
It could have happened to any name. A simple click in the wrong field on an entry form is all it would take. That the victim was Eleanor particularly rankles, because Eleanor is not just any name. First off, it’s both classic and popular, currently ranked #32 among all girls’ names in the U.S. That kind of name always earns a full snapshot entry. What’s worse, Eleanor is a name lover’s name. It’s a favorite of the kind of parents who dive into name research, looking at names from every direction…in short, the exact kind of people who reach for the Baby Name Wizard.
My heartfelt apologies to all Eleanors and the people who love them. Here’s the new, revised entry that was supposed to fill that shameful void between Eileen and Elena.