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Baby names that have faded into obscurity

  • Baby names that have faded into obscurity

    Thank the duke and duchess of Sussex for the name Archie skyrocketing to the top of the baby name charts for 2019. Before the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the moniker was associated with a comic book character with a best friend named Jughead—and a blue-collar loudmouth in the television series “All in the Family.” Only 49 sons in 1998 were named Archie; classrooms will be brimming with Archies soon.

    The scenario demonstrates how names, like fashion, pop in and out of popularity over the years, and got Stacker thinking about aliases that have fallen into obscurity over the last century. Every day scores of parents-to-be research baby names to check out which monikers are trending.

    Stacker used the Social Security Administration’s Popular Baby Names database to explore names that were once popular, but have since fallen out of favor. Each name on the list was one of America’s 100 most popular names in at least one decade between 1900 and 1950, but was given to less than 50 newborn babies in 2019. Of the 39 names that fit both of these criteria, 32 are female names and only seven are male names. The names are ranked in this slideshow by how many babies were given this name in 2018, from most enduringly popular at #35 to most obscure at #1.

    This list showcases the now-unpopular names and illuminates some salient facts about them, including people (both real and fictional) that have kept names in the spotlight. Ask Aunt Dolores or Uncle Bob about the story of their name, or better yet, click through the slideshow to find out.

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  • #39. Pauline (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #55, 13,310 babies), 1910s (Rank: #34, 50,076 babies), 1920s (Rank: #37, 64,072 babies), 1930s (Rank: #74, 33,682 babies) 
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 49 (Rank: #3,202)

    The name Pauline means little or small. Fans of Ninetendo’s Donkey Kong will recall Pauline as Mario’s first love interest. The first female network newscaster, journalist Pauline Frederick was the first woman to garner a Peabody Award.

     

  • #38. Hilda (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #99, 6,783 babies),
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 48 (Rank: #3,251)

    The name Hilda is of German origin and means “war and battle.” St. Hilda, however, was known as a patron saint of culture, learning, and poetry, which may have inspired mothers to name their daughter after her in the 1900s. Anyone who was reading the comic strips in the 1970s may recall Broom-Hilda, the 1,500-year-old witch that loved men and beer.

  • #37. Willard (for boys)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1910s (Rank: #83, 15,364 babies), 1920s (Rank: #97, 18,442 babies),
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 45 (Rank: #2,750)


    The name Willard has English and German roots and means strong, brave and valiant. Broadcast media personality Willard Scott is better known for his voice than his moniker. Willard Van Orman Quine made an indelible imprint in the field of philosophy and was the author of three books: Word and ObjectThe Roots of Reference  and an autobiography, "The Time of My Life."

  • #36. Sherry (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1940s (Rank: #97, 32,757 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 43 (Rank: #3,533)

    Was it Colette’s novel “Chéri,” published in 1920 that inspired mothers to name their daughters Sherry or the fortified wine from the Spanish sherry triangle? Former Paramount Studios CEO Sherry Lansing got her name when the handle was at its height and brought it to the forefront when she became the first woman to be head of a major movie studio.

  • #34. Claude (tie) (for boys)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #69, 3,704 babies), 1910s (Rank: #92, 12,792 babies) 
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 42 (Rank: #2,878)

    The name Claude conjures up images of the famous French painter Claude Monet. The moniker is of French origin and means lame, Another French artist named Claude was the famous composer Claude Debussy. 

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  • #34. Kay (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1940s (Rank: #98, 32,651 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 42 (Rank: #3,588)

    Kay is derived from the name Katherine and means pure. Fans of the Eloise book series think of Kay Thompson when they hear the name Kay. Actress Kay Panabaker is best known for her role in the remake of Fame and now works in Disney as a zookeeper.

     

  • #32. Dolores (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1920s (Rank: #48, 51,987 babies), 1930s (Rank: #25, 77,127 babies), 1940s (Rank: #93, 33,099 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 41 (Rank: #3,647)

    Topping the charts in the 1930s, Dolores may have been brought to fame by Hollywood siren Dolores del Río. Author Vladimir Nabokov may have contributed to the name’s decline by naming his character Humbert Humbert‘s 12-year-old stepdaughter Dolores before he called her Lolita.

  • #32. Jeanne (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1920s (Rank: #98, 29,119 babies),
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 41 (Rank: #3,647)

    The name Jeanne has a regal ring with its connection to Jeanne (or Joan) of Arc. Those who were moviegoers in the ‘70s may uncomfortably recall Jeanne from Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris” while fans of “I Dream of Jeannie” will smile when they remember Barbara Eden’s title character.

  • #30. Cheryl (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1940s (Rank: #43, 70,959 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 40 (Rank: #3,701)

    The name Cheryl means darling or beloved. Fans of the television series Charlie’s Angels recall Cheryl Ladd playing Kris Munroe. Another famous Cheryl is supermodel Cheryl Tiegs.

     

  • #30. Marcia (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1940s (Rank: #90, 34,394 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2019: 40 (Rank: #3,701)

    Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! The name Marcia conjures up the image of the elder sister on "The Brady Bunch," but it’s also an ancient Roman moniker derived from the god of war, Mars, used in Dante's "Inferno" and by novelist Thomas Hardy. Marcia is also associated with actress Marcia Gay Harden.

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