Do you have a great aunt named Stella? Odds are good that you don’t know any ladies your own age named Stella. In fact, during most of the 90’s this moniker was virtually unused. It was, however, a fairly common name for women born in the early part of the twentieth century. Its vintage charm may be what’s helping this name make a comeback. The fact that it sounds so similar to another popular but worn out name – Ella – may also be helping. Stella barely inched its way back into the Social Security Administration’s top 1000 most popular names in 1998 but has steadily moved forward on the list since then. In the last ten years it has jumped from the 656th spot all the way up to the 85th position on the SSA’s list of most popular names in 2010.
Another name that was popular in the 1900’s was Henry. Some parents have steered away from similar old fashioned names, thinking of them as too elderly sounding and not suitable for a baby or little boy. Names like Frank, Richard, and George were also very popular around the same time as Henry, but Henry has managed to escape the old-man label. Henry is a classic name that has never really gone completely out of style. A family name, it has been passed on from father to son or grandson. It’s a classy, strong, and smart sounding name. For a while it dropped out of the top 100 most popular names but since 2006 it’s been slowly making its way back up the list.
Aubrey, once used primarily as a boy’s name, is now more commonly used for girls. It started being used for girls in the 70’s but it wasn’t until recently that this name has really caught on. In the last 5 years it’s moved up over 100 places in the SSA’s list of most popular names. Aubrey is one of many gender-swapping names gaining popularity. However, most of the popular unisex names like Riley, Quinn, or Avery are not traditional. It’s not just the gender-neutrality that makes this name appealing though; it seems that names starting with “Au” like Autumn and August are also growing in popularity.
While Jack has never been a number one name, it has always been a favorite name for boys. Peaking on the SSA’s popular names chart in the 20’s, it slowly moved out of favor. In 1997, the movie Titanic came out in theaters. Its lead character, Jack, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, may have rekindled interest in this name. Since regaining popularity in the 90’s, it has continued to be one of the top fifty most used names for boys. Celebrities, who tend to be known more for their crazy baby names than ordinary ones, may have had a slight hand in making this name popular again. Ozzy Ozbourne, Dennis Quaid, Val Kilmer, and other celebs all have babies with the name Jack.
Leah, pronounced Lee-ah or Lay-ah, is a Biblical name meaning weary one. We all remember Princess Leia from Star Wars. All the little girls from the 70’s wanted to be like pretty Princess Leia. The spelling of Leia never caught on, but the name did. Shortly after Star Wars was released, people began to use the name more frequently; although, it never became remarkably popular. It wasn’t until almost thirty years later that the name really took off. Kate Gosselin, sextuplet mom super star, may have had a little something to do with this. One of her adorable little girls named Leah (pronounced Lee-ah) may have helped inspire the resurgence of this name. Leah was at the bottom of the SSA’s baby name list, pulling in a spot at number 68 in 2007, but by 2010 it had moved all the way up to 24th most popular name for girls!
Son of Sarah and Abraham, Isaac was conceived when Sarah was very old. According to the Old Testament, Sarah laughed when God told her she would have a son. The meaning of this name, he will laugh, comes from the Hebrew word for laughter. Isaac historically had been a commonly used name for males. However, for nearly a hundred years, this name was rarely given to little boys. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that people started using this name more often, and still it wasn’t all that common. Isaac fits the bill for the hundred year rule, which states that it takes about 100 years for a name that’s gone out of style to make a comeback. The name has moved from the bottom of the SSA’s top 100 names list to the 39th spot over the last ten years.
Evelyn, another classic name from days gone by, is shooting up the list of the SSA’s most popular names. In the last ten years it has gone from being the 150th most popular name for girls all the way up to the 39th most popular. Sophisticated sounding Evelyn may be catching the attention of parents who go for names like Ava and Olivia, but want something not so trendy. If history repeats itself, it’s quite possible that Evelyn could make it into the top ten most popular names for girls in the next few years.
Samuel originates from the Hebrew language and means name of God. It’s been a fairly common name for over a century, never dropping out of the top one hundred names for boys. Its popularity has been kind of stagnant for the last ten years, but it has slowly moved up a few spots during this time. One reason Samuel is a winner for new parents is because it’s traditional but not boring or overused. It’s likely this will never be a number one name, but that may be part of the appeal of this name.
For fear of being associated with Charlie Brown’s sidekick, parents have long avoided this name. At its lowest point in 1978, only 290 babies were named Lucy. It remained a rarely given name for all of the 80’s and 90’s. While still seldom used, you started seeing more babies named Lucy at the start of the new century. Following suit with other names on our list, Lucy may be rebounding due to the 100 year rule. Use of the name Lucy has nearly doubled since 2005. Parents are no longer associating the name with characters from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. It has a whole new fun and cute sound to it.
Not Maxwell, Maximilian, Maximus, or Maxim, just plain Max is trending up in popularity. The shorter version of this moniker is simple and stylish, not weighed down with too many syllables. Like Leo and Alex, less is more. Max, currently the number 98 name for boys, peaked in popularity in 1914. Its use, along with other variations, declined significantly after that. In the 90’s it was used slightly more often, but it didn’t start jumping up the chart until 2006. Since 2006, use of the name Max has grown by almost 50 percent. In 1914, at its highest point, Max was only the number 99 name for boys. Will it reach a new level of popularity this time around?