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Top 20 Baby Names 2011 – Plus Names People Hate

Before our little girl was born, my wife and I spent a lot of time deciding what to name her. We decided to find out the sex of the baby, and so at least we only had to think about girl names. Did you worry about the effect name choice might have, like I did?

I created this graphic of the top 20 baby names of the past 10 years according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. The larger they are, the more often the appeared in the top 20. Click the graphic to view the list by year, or to look up a specific name.

Top 20 baby names in the past 10 years - InfographicAccording to an informal survey done by Laura Wattenberg, author of a book entitled The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby, there are certain names that people particularly dislike. Here are the top 5:

Top 5 Hated Girl Names:
  1. Nevaeh
  2. Destiny
  3. Madison
  4. Mackenzie
  5. McKenna
Top 5 Hated Boy Names:
  1. Jayden
  2. Brayden
  3. Aiden
  4. Kaden
  5. Hunter

It seems people often dislike names that cross gender lines, such as when the boy name Addison is used as a girl name. They also tend to dislike names that were popular for a short time, e.g. Brittany or Tiffany, and people don’t like names they can’t spell.

Some parents choose names that when pronounced sound like a common name, but are spelled differently. That may seem cute, but please remember that someday that name will appear on a job or college application, and unconscious biases may well kick in.

Studies show the same thing can happen with so called “linguistically low-status” names. Among white families, Alexandra may be spelled Alekzandra, and for African Americans an example is the use of the prefix “Sha” rather than the more highly regarded “La.”

There are small subsets of people who dislike more ordinary, traditional names. I think a less popular name is fine, even good, but I’d suggest choosing a name that will stand the test of time, and avoid trendy or unusual names. What do you think?

What’s your favorite name? Are there any you don’t like?

If you like this post you may also enjoy: Vampire Baby Names!

27 comments

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  1. Kelley Simpson

    Ok, I do have a biased about names and I think for a really good reason. I’m a person who believes a child’s name should be traditional and not trendy. I also believe it should be a name that ties them to their family somehow. I have a daughter named after her great Grandfather and Step-grandmother, another daughter who’s middle name is my younger sister’s name and my third daughter’s middle name is her grandmother’s name. I really like to keep it all in the family.
    My issue with names is because I was a Deputy Sheriff and I noticed a trend on the booking cards. So many of the inmates had weird or unusual names, and when they had “normal” names they were spelled weird as mentioned in your blog. A child’s name is the first time you tell them who they are and what their identity is in their world, make it worthy and meaningful, not kooky or extra “special” Just saying…

    1. Michael Schmid

      I was a Deputy Sheriff and I noticed a trend on the booking cards. So many of the inmates had weird or unusual names, and when they had “normal” names they were spelled weird as mentioned in your blog. A child’s name is the first time you tell them who they are and what their identity is in their world, make it worthy and meaningful, not kooky or extra “special” Just saying…

      Thank you for the super input, Kelley! I know most parents who choose names that may put there kids at a future disadvantage are not doing it on purpose. Part of the point of this post is to at least start a discussion about it. I’m certainly no expert, so I’d love to hear other opinions. Thanks again!

  2. christopher (@twistedxtian)

    Naming our kids was one of the most stressful things I’ve done, and with both of them we didn’t have something nailed down until after they were born, and even then it took us another 6-8 hours of deciding. I had three criteria when choosing a name: easy to spell with common spelling, easy to pronounce when read, not super popular, but also not super weird.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Christopher! I think you’re name choosing criteria make a lot of sense, “easy to spell with common spelling, easy to pronounce when read, not super popular, but also not super weird.” So you went with Seymour Butt and Polly Esther, right?

  3. Denise

    I know at least 1 child under the age of 5 with every name on that list. I am convinced there is a school in Hollywood just for children with strange names to avoid them from getting beat up in the general population. Seriously, who in their right mind names their child after fruit (Apple)? I love i when a name ties back to the family somehow but a lot of last names don’t lend themselves to that very well.

    The funny spelling of normal names gets me all the time – why make it complicated? No one is ever going to get that right so why put your kid through that?

    Samantha, William, David surprised me on that list – they are not real common names these days. I think there is more of a tendency for traditional boys names because there are still so many who name their boys after the dad while the girls names evolve so much over the years.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hey Denise. Thanks so much for stopping by. Actually the names in the graphic are the top 20 names given babies during the past 10 years. I sized them such that those that are largest, showed up in the top 20 the most often, etc. If you click the graphic you can see the latest list and look up the history on any given name. The name “Samantha” has actually been in the top 20 for 20 years.

      Popularity of the female name Samantha
      Year of birth Rank
      2011 17
      2010 15
      2009 14
      2008 11
      2007 12
      2006 10
      2005 8
      2004 9
      2003 10
      2002 9
      2001 7
      2000 7
      1999 5
      1998 3
      1997 6
      1996 5
      1995 4
      1994 4
      1993 4
      1992 6
  4. Casey Gustavo

    You are very conscious parent no doubt. I like you and your opinion. Also i think about it. I like an uncommon little name as a nick name. But also like as a good name follow by them who are great in his every job. Thanks a lot.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Casey. Hope you are having a super day!

  5. Timmi

    Naming our kiddos was really important to me because my mother decided to name me all on her own and had a book thrown at her by my dad. (She signed the papers while he was out and its Timmi by the way, not very traditional like my dad wanted). I have to say that I really don’t like my name and really never have, people pronounce it Tammy, spell it wrong or I was teased many times in school and don’t get me started on all the fictional Timmys out there where more jokes can come into play., and forget about finding something personalized.

    1. Michael Schmid

      You provide a perfect, personal example of some of the issues that may arise from a poor choice of name. Of course you and others have risen above it, but why put a child at a disadvantage day one? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experience, Timmi.

  6. Timmi

    oh I should mention that I am female since it isn’t very clear in my post which makes more sense why I don’t like my name very much, Kinda like naming a boy Sue only I wasn’t tougher for it I just cried

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yeah, you kind of hit the lottery on bad name choices. People often dislike names that cross gender lines, and names that when pronounced sound like a common name, but are spelled differently. Ah well, it could be worse. Case in point:

      Ima Hogg (July 10, 1882 – August 19, 1975) was the daughter of James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg, the Attorney General of Texas and also a Texas Governor. The urban myth she had a sister named “Ura” is not true, however. Poor thing.

  7. Rene

    Is it just me or do some of the names in the girls list sound like boys names? That could well be why they are disliked?

    1. Michael Schmid

      It’s not your imagination, Rene, and yes, that is one of the reasons people don’t like them. Personally I don’t mind some of them so much, though.

  8. Julia

    I like an uncommon little name as a nick name. But also like as a good name follow by them who are great in his every job. Thanks for letting me stopped by.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Julia. Have a super day!

  9. Valarie Kings

    I hate names that are difficult to pronounce and spell. For me, a name should be simple not one that the tongue has to be twisted for them to be pronounced…

    1. Michael Schmid

      It’s better to keep it a bit more simple if possible. No point in making things harder than they need to be on our kiddos. Thanks for dropping by.

  10. Timmi

    I always have to ask when my daughter talks about a classmate, “is this person a boy or a girl?” She looks at me like I’m dumb every time

    1. Michael Schmid

      I know, it’s hard to tell sometimes. I knew a girl named Madison, though she went by Maddy. :)

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    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much, cj. I’m honored to receive the Illuminating Blogger Award. I found much useful information on your site as well. I hope you have a super afternoon! :)

  12. Eunike Killy

    Names tell a lot about us. We need to keep them simple and easy to remember. I don’t like names that can’t tell whether the bearer is male or female.

    1. Michael Schmid

      H Eunike. I looked, and your name is not in the top 1000 female names for any year of birth in the last 20 years. How has that affected you positively or negatively? I agree with your feelings about names that are hard to spell or discern the gender. Thanks for your comment!

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