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Baby boomer baby names that have gone out of style

  • Baby boomer baby names that have gone out of style

    Some names seem so ubiquitous that it is hard to imagine that they will ever be anything other than everywhere in the popular consciousness. However, a look at the history of popular names goes to show that such enduring popularity is far from given.

    When the parents of the baby boomer generation came back from World War II, an array of social factors influenced the names they would give their children, including the names of beloved presidents and popular actors. From models to actresses to singer-songwriters, many of the most famous baby boomers had the most popular names of their day, from Jerry Hall to Bob Dylan to Pat Benatar.

    However, for some names, in the time between the boomer years and now, other figures have emerged with the same names that cause these monikers to lose their luster. An unpopular television show character, a kidnapper, murderer, or other unsavory character, or simply a dramatic downturn in fortune on the public stage can all contribute to a name losing its popularity. President Richard Nixon, for example, was famously called “Tricky Dicky” for his crimes in office, making the name Dick far less appealing for parents.

    To determine which names popular with baby boomers have since lost popularity, Stacker consulted the Social Security Administration’s baby names database. We compiled a list of 974 names which were given to at least 5,000 baby boomers (or, using the Pew Research Center’s definition, babies born between 1946 and 1964). We then selected 25 girls’ names and 25 boys’ names from this list which were given to fewer than 25 babies born in 2018. The names are ranked in this story according to their popularity for baby boomers, or the total number of babies given these names between 1946 and 1964.

    Click through for a look at the 50 popular boomer names that have now gone out of style—some to the extent that there were fewer than five children in all of 2018 given the boomer-centric name.

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  • #50. Blanche (girls)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,024 (#430 most popular name for baby boomer girls)
    - Peak popularity year: 1949 (Rank: #410; 379 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: #15,589 (5 babies born)

    Two short years after Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” opened on Broadway, the name Blanche peaked in popularity. Williams’ play was later turned into a film in which the character Blanche is a truly down on her luck—contributing perhaps to negative associations that have led the name to fall from favor.

  • #49. Earlene (girls)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,036 (#389 most popular name for baby boomer girls)
    - Peak popularity year: 1947 (Rank: #401; 407 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: Not ranked (fewer than 5 babies born)

    Although Earlene is hardly as popular a name as it once was, parents hoping for an athletic child may wish to consider naming their child after Earlene Brown. Brown was an Olympic athlete famous for her prowess in track and field—and later in roller derby.

  • #48. Jerry (girls)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,245 (#427 most popular name for baby boomer girls)
    - Peak popularity year: 1946 (Rank: #345; 475 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: Not ranked (fewer than 5 babies born)

    Jerry had been out of high fashion as a girl’s name for ten years when Jerry Hall’s parents named her in 1956. But that didn’t stop Hall from running away to model in Paris at 16 and then marrying Mick Jagger.

  • #47. Cleveland (boys)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,612 (#414 most popular name for baby boomer boys)
    - Peak popularity year: 1947 (Rank: #361; 359 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: #4,337 (23 babies born)

    Cleveland peaked just after World War II, but generations later the name was given a new twist on fame, if not widespread usage. The popular sitcom Family Guy includes a main character named Cleveland, one of the show’s more beloved characters.

  • #46. Merle (boys)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,685 (#313 most popular name for baby boomer boys)
    - Peak popularity year: 1948 (Rank: #321; 432 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: #4,452 (22 babies born)

    Country music legend Merle Haggard is one reason for parents to continue considering naming their children Merle. Counting against the name? That it also means the hair of a dog’s coat.

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  • #45. Earnestine (girls)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,734 (#407 most popular name for baby boomer girls)
    - Peak popularity year: 1948 (Rank: #356; 475 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: Not ranked (fewer than 5 babies born)

    Earnestine may no longer be a popular name, but it has an auspicious contemporary claim to fame. Earnestine & Hazel has been called by VICE the most haunted bar in America.

  • #44. Dick (boys)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,912 (#309 most popular name for baby boomer boys)
    - Peak popularity year: 1946 (Rank: #208; 828 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: Not ranked (fewer than 5 babies born)

    One reason the name Dick may no longer be as popular as it once was? President Richard Nixon was famous disgraced in office and nicknamed “Tricky Dicky” for his crimes in office.

  • #43. Carey (boys)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 5,972 (#300 most popular name for baby boomer boys)
    - Peak popularity year: 1957 (Rank: #354; 459 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: #4,452 (22 babies born)

    Carey has fallen out of favor as a name for boys, but it has at least one high-profile avatar, who is a woman. The actress Carey Mulligan is widely considered one of the most talented actresses of her generation.

  • #42. Garland (boys)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 6,090 (#169 most popular name for baby boomer boys)
    - Peak popularity year: 1949 (Rank: #335; 402 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: #4,713 (20 babies born)

    The most common connotations with the word garland today are likely garlands strung up for the holidays, and President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who never got a hearing. Given these associations, it may come as no surprise if parents do not continue naming children Garland.

  • #41. Bettye (girls)

    - Total baby boomers with this name: 6,120 (#197 most popular name for baby boomer girls)
    - Peak popularity year: 1947 (Rank: #284; 739 babies born)
    - Popularity in 2018: Not ranked (fewer than 5 babies born)

    Bettye peaked in popularity just a year after the singer-songwriter Bettye LaVette was born in 1946. Alas, LaVette’s illustrious career and hit singles weren’t quite enough to keep the name in heavy rotation.

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