Why is it that parents are less creative in naming their baby boys than their new daughters?
You don’t think that’s true? Well, a new report from the Arizona Department of Health Services suggests otherwise.
Consider: Three decades ago the most popular name for boys born in the state was Michael. It also was the most popular in 1989 and in the second spot 10 years after that.
And it remains popular, at No. 8 this year.
But 30 years ago the most popular name for girls was Jennifer. This year it didn’t even crack the Top 100.
Put quite simply, new parents turn to pretty much the same tried-and-true names for their son. And many of them come directly from the Bible or at least history.
But girls? That’s different.
Parents seem to look to pop stars, celebrities and even names in literature.
And that is far more volatile.
Isabella was the most popular name for Arizona girls this year. It even was No. 2 five years ago.
But it was nowhere in sight in 1999, the year when Samantha was at the top of the list. This year Samantha came in just 10th.
Or what of other names on that top 20 list in 1979 like Melissa, Amanda, Stephanie, Crystal and Amber? Of those, only Stephanie survives among the 100 most popular — but just barely at 91.
Now look at the list of popular boys’ names from 30 years ago.
After Michael at No. 1 at that point there was Christopher, Jason, David and Robert. All remain among the top 100 in Arizona, though their popularity varies widely: David is No. 7 and Christopher is three slots back; Robert was at 49, with Jason at 87.
Jacob was the No. 1 boys’ name in 2009.
About the only major trend to emerge during the last three decades has been the increasing popularity of names traditionally associated with Hispanic newborns, a shift not unexpected given the state’s changing demographics. Names that were nowhere in the top 20 in 1979 now appear there regularly, including Angel, Jose and Jesus.
But even within this group, patterns are changing.
Five years ago, Jose topped the list of most popular baby names in the entire state. This year it did no better than No. 12.
All this isn’t to say that the question of what to name your newborn baby boy remains relatively static, especially over long periods of time.
Justin was a very popular name for boys two and three decades ago. This year it came in at just 62.
And remember Jeremy? Didn’t even crack the top 100 this year.
So things do change.
Once upon a time people talked about things that appealed “to every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
Well, in 2009, Tom — Thomas to be specific — scored no better than 80th among the most popular name for boys. And neither Richard nor Harry were anywhere in the top 100.