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What’s Your “Name Age”?

January 16, 2020 laurawattenberg 8 Comments

What’s Your “Name Age”?

January 16, 2020 LauraWattenberg 8 Comments
Caitlyn: 21, Jeffrey: 49, Michelle: ??

Can you sort these three American males in age order from youngest to oldest, based just on their names?

Richard
Kaden
Kyle

Chances are, you’d call Kaden the youngest, Kyle the middle, and Richard the oldest. That order feels right. But what is it based on? Certainly not on recent popularity—the three names have been used equally over the past decade. The key is not the present, but the past. While a young boy is as likely to be a Richard as a Kaden, a Richard is more likely to be an old man than a young boy.

As you can see in this chart of historical popularity, the three names have traveled wildly different paths to the same current point.

Graph of popularity of the boys' names Kaden, Kyle and Richard 1900-2018

The typical Richard is 65 years old; the typical Kyle 30; the typical Kaden just 12. Those historical curves and typical values guide our “name age” intuition, shaping our preconceptions. It’s why a baby girl named Eileen sounds more surprising than one named Anya, even though the two names are equally common. And it’s why a middle-aged Mason can look forward to sounding perpetually youthful.

How old does your own name sound? Try the Namerology Name Age Calculator to find out. (Read more background.) Type a name in the blank field at the bottom of this table. The table ABOVE the entry field will automatically update with your answer.

Namerology Name Age Calculator

wdt_ID Name Gender NameAge
1 Aaden M 9
2 Aaliyah F 12
3 Aanya F 8
4 Aarav M 7
6 Aaron M 33
7 Aarush M 8
8 Abagail F 17
9 Abbey F 25
10 Abbi F 24
11 Abbie F 40
Name Gender NameAge
LauraWattenberg
LauraWattenberg

Namerology founder and "Baby Name Wizard" author Laura Wattenberg is a globally recognized name expert, known for her scientific approach to understanding name trends and culture.

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8 Comments

  • Evie
    Evie January 16, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    That graph is fascinating! I was also really surprised to see that my (real) name age is 29. It’s more popular now than it has ever been, so I expected to see a younger age. Then again, it has never been out of the top 1000, so I guess that consistency of usage skews it up.

    Also surprised to see my nom de plume Evie at 35, when again I think of it as trendy amongst the little set—coincidentally pretty close to my actual age, though, so I guess it was a representative choice!

  • Amity January 16, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    So interesting! All of my kids’ names are much older than the kid, except for Wyatt, which was rare when we used it but gained in popularity a lot since then.
    My name is younger than me, but hubby’s is way older.
    Fun tool!

  • Daniel January 17, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Is this a “living” age name?

    If you meet a Hazel today, I’d guess she’s more likely 7 years old than 77, despite the name being roughly as popular in the 1940s as in the 2010s. Quite a few of those Hazels born in the early 20th century are no longer with us.

    • Namerology
      Namerology January 17, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Daniel, the short answer is that it discounts but does factor in names of past generations, because the goal is to capture the impression a name gives rather than the practical likelihood of an individual’s age. And like ANY attempt to capture this in a single number, it’s unfortunately least effective with names that had two separate popularity waves generations apart, like Hazel.

      I go into this a bit more on the background info page: https://namerology.com/about-the-namerology-name-age-calculator/

  • TheOtherHungarian January 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    I wonder if there’s a way to exclude those stray erroneous-gender numbers from the data, and whether that’d help or hinder the age calculation itself. (Right now, almost every name I’ve tried comes up with both a male and a female line, with a blithe prediction of age even for the highly improbable one, like female David or male Hazel.)

    Unsurprisingly (to me, at least), my name comes up 30 years older than my actual age. The estimate is several years older even than the aunt I was named after. (But she was named in a different country with quite different name statistics.)

    Just to illustrate the pitfalls of trying to sum up a name in a single number: my sister’s name comes up almost exactly with her actual age, which of course means that my mom’s name comes up 25 years younger than her actual age. (My mom and sister have the same given name.)

    • Namerology
      Namerology January 17, 2020 at 4:09 pm

      Unfortunately, the only way to eliminate the “erroneous gender” names from the data is by name-by-name personal judgement. Any algorithmic attempt to eliminate them fails because the error rate turns out to be name-specific, not just a steady rate of noise. It’s actually pretty interesting how different names lead to different error rates. Then when you consider how that might have affected the stats for names with actual unisex usage, the mind reels. 🙂

      One potential interface fix: I could switch the order of the columns, putting Gender first to encourage users to specify a gender before entering a name. The downside is less instant gratification. What do you all think?

      • Namerology
        Namerology January 17, 2020 at 6:02 pm

        UPDATE: I decided to go ahead and hand-cull the cross-gender names. I reviewed every name that appeared for both genders, and deleted any that I felt confident consisted largely of errors, based on patterns in the data itself, likely confusions, and global historical usage patterns. Hopefully the experience of using the calculator will be better now.

        It was a bit of a slog, but it had its moments. I learned about some names with real and surprising cross-gender usage histories…maybe a future article in the works!

  • nedibes
    nedibes January 17, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    My name (Megan/Meghan) is thirty (younger than me), which is interesting because I feel like it has really “come of age” in the past year or two. A year ago there were two of us at my workplace who had both been here many years, and then this school year there are suddenly eight. One out of every 22 voting faculty are now some variant of Megan! This experience almost exactly echoes my experience several decades ago when I went from “did you make up that name?” and not being able to find kitschy name swag anywhere to suddenly hearing “Megan! Put that down!” and similar everywhere I went.

    Also, my mother was really ahead of her time, naming-wise! All of our names are more than a decade younger than we are. I already suspected this (when my thirteen-year-old started kindergarten, he had classmates with all three of my brothers’ names), but it’s fun to have a clear way to quantify this.

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