Nowadays names can be rather unique. With celebrity babies such as Chicago and Blue Ivy, it’s no wonder that the most popular names for babies have changed over the last year, let alone the last decade and the last century. Or have they? According to the United States Social Security government website, the most popular boy name of 2017 was Liam while the most popular girl name was Emma.
Names such as Noah, William, James, Logan, Benjamin, Mason, Elijah, Oliver and Jacob rounded out the top ten for the boys in that order. For girls, it was Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Charlotte, Amelia, Evelyn and Abigail, who all finished after the name Emma.
The Social Security Administration or the SSA has been tracking the most popular baby names in the United States since the 1880’s according to Business Insider. According to that article, the name Michael, for example, first entered the list of most popular names in the 1940s, and quickly became the most popular boy’s name in America. It held the number-one spot for four straight decades from the 1960s to the 1990s, slipped to number two in the 2000s, and fell completely off the list for the current decade.
Another name that was popular in history but is now experiencing a ‘resurgence’ is the name ‘Emma.’ When this data was first recorded, Emma was in the top ten for most popular girl’s name but after the 1890’s the name ‘Emma’ didn’t make the top ten again for more than a century! Only in the 2000s did that name experience a ‘rise in popularity’ and became a staple in the top ten once again.
In an article done by verywellfamily.com, they tried to explain the popularity behind the name “Emma” by asking: why does a name that dates back several centuries (Emma of Normandy was a Viking queen of England in the year 1002) appeal to so many modern parents as the choice for their baby girl? They believe that its history and meaning are the answer to this question. Emma is a name that has references in literature, film, poetry, and art. This timelessness ensures that it will continue to be one of the most beloved baby names for many centuries to come.
The article went on to explain how the Germanic origin of the name “Emma” comes from “ermen” which means ‘whole’ or ‘universal.’ The name “Emma” was supposed to mark the beginning or origin of a new daughter. The name then grew in popularity in Matthew Prior’s 1709 poem Henry and Emma and continued to stay popular. The article continued to explain that “Emma” began to slowly climb the charts starting in 1977, finally cracking the top 100 names in 1992. After that, the name skyrocketed in popular culture and shot into stratospheric levels after Ross and Rachel named their baby Emma in Friends, back in 2002.
However, an interesting fact to consider is that babies in the United States are more likely to have unique names than any other nation. A study that analyzed Social Security naming data published in Journal of Applied Social Psychology, found that American babies are the least likely population to share names with their peers.
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