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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 […]

Photo of Bridgerton characters

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 […]

graph of gender ratio of -i names from 1900-2018, in the shape of a sharp bell curve

The Three Ages of -i Names: An American Tale

August 20, 2020 LauraWattenberg 4 min read No Comments

Name endings can define style eras. The names Marlene and Carlene sound like babies of the 1940s, while Marleigh and Carleigh have the touch of the new millennium. But for names ending in -i, the story is more complicated. It’s a tale of three different American eras. As you can […]

The Abandoned Classic Girl’s Name

December 5, 2019 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 10 Comments

If you tuned in to the recent historical tv drama Gentleman Jack, you quickly found yourself awash in Anns. The series is based on the real life of Anne Lister, an Englishwoman of the early 19th Century sometimes called “the first modern lesbian.” We meet Anne Lister as she returns […]

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