Monday, April 30

The SSA List: Names to Watch

from last May, photo by laliseuse via Flickr

For this, my hundredth post here on Eponymia, I thought I'd take the last day of April to spotlight some names I'll be checking up on when the Social Security Administration releases the statistics for 2011, which as any good namer knows, should be very soon. 

Enjoy these up & comers!

Adele — like most "adal-" names, Adele means "noble." Super popular singer Adele (full name Adele Laurie Blue) may have contributed to its appearance, in 2010, at #908 on the charts. It hadn't ranked in the top 1,000 since 1969, when it disappeared after a long fall from its highest recorded spot at #187, in 1914. Will it drop off the list again, or rise even higher?

Cullen/Kellan  — Cullen (a surname derived from the place name Cologne) appeared on the list in 1978 and has been there ever since, hovering around the 500-700 zone since the late '80s. It shot from #782 to number #484 in 2009, probably thanks to the Twilight franchise. Last year it was at #413, and I think it's probably a sure bet that it will rise again. As for Kellan, whose popularity can also be attributed to Twilight, I'd bet it'll continue to rise as well, though not as meteorically as its recent nearly 300-spot leap (it's currently at #366 after appearing at #626 in 2009)

Flynn  Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr's son Flynn was born in January of last year, giving that influence ample time to take effect. The name hasn't appeared in the top 1,000 for the past 132 years, and in 2010, the name went to just 14 girls and 81 boys  the names that currently hold the #1000 spot (Crew & Dania) were given to about 200 babies. I wonder if the Kerr-Bloom child had enough influence to launch it onto the list ...

Harper — Abby at Appellation Mountain has Harper pegged to crack the girls top 100, and I have to agree with that prediction. Skyrocketing from #887 in 2004, Harper is currently at #119. If it makes the same jump it made from '09 to '10 (53 spots) then it would be around #67, well within the top hundred. I certainly hear it enough to believe that is a very real possibility

Leo  one I am starting to hear a lot of. Leo was a top 100 name from 1880 'til the late 1930s when it started to decline in popularity. It reached its lowest point in 1995 and since then has bounced up a little to its current position at #193. I'm guessing it'll see another rise this year 

Luca — Lucas is a top 40 presence, and parents searching for something similar but more unusual may choose lovable Luca, currently enjoying its highest ranking since appearing on the list in 2000. It's at #272 right now and I wouldn't be surprised if it continues to gain popularity

Nola — Nola's one I was hearing all the time a year or so ago. It was on the list from 1880 to 1964, then reappeared in 2008 at #920. It fell a bit in 2009, and in 2010 ranked at #859. I'm curious about where it'll rank for 2011 because it seems like such a great fit for parents looking for an Ava/Sophia/Lola/Nora/Ella-level "safe" old-lady name

Ruby  — compared to some of the names on this list, Ruby's always been quite popular. Back in the 1910s it was a top 30 name, ranking as high as #23 (the modern day equivalent is Avery) in 1916. It's never dropped below the top 400, though from 2009 to 2010 it dropped 5 points. Will Ruby move up or down, for 2011, that's the question!

Willa/Willow — Willa popped onto the scene in 2010, coming in at #968. I'd venture to guess it'll rise again, though I wonder if it's got staying power. Willow's a little more established — it appeared on the list in 1998 at #853 and has risen almost steadily ever since. It's currently at #290 and I'm sure it will have risen at least a few spots in 2011


  1. Logically, it doesn't matter what other people name their children. Illogically, I hope that Nola drops in popularity because it's one of my favorites and I don't want my (yet-to-be-born-yet-to-be-conceived) daughter to have three other kids in her class with that name.

  2. Mine and my husband's contribution to the 2011 list was George, so I'll be looking for his name first.

    I'm also waiting for Dorothy to pop back into the top 1000.

  3. I remember being pleasantly surprised when I found out that Luca is currently inside the England&Wales top 100. I'm not sure what other names one could call out as ones to watch, maybe Pippa or Harry? I'm not exactly as in tune with American naming trends, so it's an interesting conundrum to mull over.

    1. I would think Pippa will probably make an appearance after the royal wedding.
      When I lived in England, surrey and west Sussex, I knew four little Luca/Luka. I had never heard it before.
      It has started to become more used in the US, but I hear Luke and Lucas more often.

  4. Happy 100th post! I'd like to say that Adele gained popularity after I chose it for my confirmation name, but I think the singer might have a little more to do with its rise in popularity....Nola is interesting because I have been hearing a lot of it, too, and wondered when everyone started picking that name...?

  5. My sister is named Adele and I know another and I know two Pippa's who would both be the same age

  6. Flynn is top 100 in Australia so very interesting it is nowhere near that in the US though Miranda Kerr is Australian and Finn is also top 100.


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