My wife and I have two daughters with a third on the way. Going through names can be stressful, especially for parents like us who believe that a name can have some determination on how a child behaves.
After all, Dale Carnegie mentions in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People that one should “give a dog a good name.” Since reading such wisdom, I’ve regularly related this advice to friends about people who name their dog Stupid and wonder why he’s still taking a dump on the rug five years later.
Contrarily, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner relate a true story in the book Freakonomics about a father who named his sons Winner and Loser. Loser, called Lou by friends, became a well-respected police officer, and Winner was anything but.
Erring on the side of caution we found that we liked the name Abigail, which means “joy of the father.” We had been set on this name until we found that Abigail is in the top 10 names for girls this year.
Searching for Names From the Bottom Up
Searching the database on BabyCenter.com, we decided to search from the bottom up. There are more than 17,000 names, but it turns out that many of them are not uncommon names, but uncommon spellings of common names, such as Ashlee (Ashley) and Jozy (Josie).
Among these, we found Christopher — for a girl — is about as popular as the names Chicken and Lizard. Needless to say, after 3,000 names like this, we had to refine our search strategy.
Where do Your Children Rank?
Being very happy with our daughters’ names, we decided to baseline off of their rankings, which are around 550 and 5,000.
Among those names, we found that little girls this year are more likely to be named Ho, Hoor, and Nugget than Hillary. And the names Momo and Meme are ranked about 8,000. This process was becoming tougher than we had anticipated.
Finding a Name to Settle on
All this never would have happened had the name Mary — and the variations such as Mariana, Maria, and Maryann — not meant “bitterness” or “sea of bitterness” or some other version of being unhappy.
We’ve personally never met a Mary we didn’t like, but we’ve also never known a Mary who did not have a tough motherhood. And our data goes back about two millennia!
On the plus side, we’ve ruled out some names, leaving only 9,000 to sort through in the next four weeks.