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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 2018. Of the 36 names that fit both of these criteria, 30 are female names and only six 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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  • #35. Bill (tie) (for boys)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1920s (Rank: #87, 22,292 babies), 1930s (Rank: #62, 32,329 babies), 1940s (Rank: #75, 37,757 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 46

    Perhaps it was tennis legend “Big Bill” Tilden that inspired folks to name their babies after him or maybe a nod to tradition. Back when Bill Clinton’s parents decided to call their son Bill, the moniker was still popular. Bill Murray and Bill Gates may have been dubbed Bill while the name was still in fashion, but there aren’t many Bills in preschool today.

  • #35. Jeanne (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1920s (Rank: #98, 29,119 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 46

    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.

  • #32. Sherry (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1940s (Rank: #97, 32,757 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 45

    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.

  • #32. Jennie (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #74, 9,988 babies), 1910s (Rank: #81, 23,068 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 45

    Long before Jennifer Lopez dubbed herself Jenny from the Block, the name Jenny was spelled Jennie and was a nickname for Jane. Jennies today include actress Jennie Garth and a chimpanzee named Jennie in a novel by Douglas Preston.

  • #32. Gladys (tie) (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #14, 30,285 babies), 1910s (Rank: #21, 65,813 babies), 1920s (Rank: #31, 72,561 babies), 1930s (Rank: #68, 34,761 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 45

    Some may start singing “Midnight Train to Georgia” when they hear the name Gladys. Although mothers are no longer naming their daughters after the famous singer Gladys Knight today, back in the 1900s, it was the moniker of choice for mothers and romance novelists, perhaps inspired by Gladys Gerant of the 1870 Ouida novel "Puck."

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  • #31. Hilda (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #99, 6,783 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 44

    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.

  • #30. Jo (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1930s (Rank: #90, 28,653 babies), 1940s (Rank: #60, 48,447 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 40

    Jo is the name for the protagonist in “Little Women” as well as the motorcycle-riding character played by Nancy McKeon on “Facts of Life.” But these references have fallen out of fashion, as it has not appeared on the baby name list for decades.

  • #29. Wilma (for girls)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1910s (Rank: #90, 21,383 babies), 1920s (Rank: #68, 39,125 babies), 1930s (Rank: #75, 33,187 babies),
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 39

    Long before it became synonymous with Fred’s wife on "The Flintstones," Wilma was a popular name in the early 1900s. Track and field star Wilma Rudolph put the name in the spotlight in 1960 when, despite being told as a child she may never walk again due to illness, she won three gold medals. She was the first American woman to win triple gold in track and field at the same Olympics.

  • #28. Jim (for boys)

    - Decades this name was popular: 1900s (Rank: #88, 2,718 babies), 1930s (Rank: #94, 20,824 babies), 1940s (Rank: #84, 35,627 babies)
    - Number of babies born in 2018: 39

    Although only 39 babies born in the United States in 2018 were named Jim, the name has been a favorite in fictional works and in the celebrity world. Remember Jim in “Huckleberry Finn,” “Lucky Jim,” or “Lord Jim”? Although America treasures Jims including Morrison, Henson, Carrey, and Parsons, there’s a slim chance this year’s parents will be naming their sons Jim.

  • #26. 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 2018: 37

    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.

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