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The Surprising Story of Boys Ending in -A

April 13, 2021 LauraWattenberg 2 min read No Comments

Once upon a time, something happened to boys’ names ending in the letter A. Or rather, two somethings. Starting around 1970 the typically female -a ending was twice transformed, and the sound of American boys hasn’t been the same since. See for yourself. The top black line in this chart […]

Vintage cartoon with the caption "Joyce means 'sportive'"

Is There Any Hope for the Names of the ’40s and ’50s?

March 26, 2021 LauraWattenberg 2 min read 6 Comments

These are strange times for Carol and Glenn. As hot baby names of the 1940s and ’50s, they’ve fallen into a black hole of fashion. They’re not yet antiques, and they’re not aggressively contrarian in style like Mildred or Floyd. They’re just invisible, a stylistic blind spot that parents don’t […]

Look Ma, No Consonants!

March 18, 2021 LauraWattenberg 2 min read 5 Comments

Vowels have been squeezing out consonants in names for years. Now they’re cutting out the middleman. More and more, vowel sounds follow one another in baby names without any consonant buffer—just ask Liam or Noah.

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The Secret Lives of Jenny and Jessie

March 12, 2021 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 3 Comments

Psst…you know Jenny and Jessie, right? They’re the standard nicknames for Jennifer and Jessica, the two names that dominated American fashion for decades. No names could be more familiar. Well, once upon a time Jenny and Jessie weren’t the same nicknames-next-door that we know and love. In fact, they weren’t […]

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The Bridgerton Names Show Off an Age-Old Cultural Bias

March 5, 2021 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 8 Comments

The TV series Bridgerton offers up Regency romance with a modern sensibility. The aristocracy is multiracial, the orchestras play Taylor Swift, and a dashing nobleman can show up for a ball without proper neckwear. But even in this winking mashup of a historical setting, one cultural line cannot be crossed: […]

A Baby Name Gender Gap Is Closing

February 18, 2021 Namerology 4 min read No Comments

Parents choose different names for boys and girls—and they choose names differently for boys and girls as well. For centuries, female names have been more creative and more subject to the shifting winds of fashion, much as female clothing has been. Male names, like male clothing, remained more conservative. Until […]

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A Baby Name Gender Gap Is Closing, Part 2

February 18, 2021 Namerology 4 min read 2 Comments

In Part 1 of this series, I described how a longstanding gender difference in American baby naming is rapidly disappearing. Boys used to be named more conservatively, while girls’ names were more trendy and creative. Today, boys’ names too are objects of fashion, subject to shifting tastes. What does this […]

Namerology Challenges

Can You Guess the Top Name Ending in Every Letter?

February 9, 2021 LauraWattenberg 2 min read No Comments

Endings are the overlooked keys to baby name style. The final “t” is the power behind fashionable names like Scarlett and Violet. The final “r” lends names like Cooper and Sawyer extra energy. Yet we alphabetize names in the standard order, starting at the beginning. Here’s a chance to give […]

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