Saturday, October 13, 2007

Name Voyager

If you're interested in names, you'll enjoy the Name Voyager, I promise. Even if you have no impending need to select a baby name. (Me, I do. Baby girl ETA December 5th.)

Basically, it's a little flash application that graphs the popularity of a given name that you enter, by decade, based on U.S. Social Security data. There are other sites that do this, but the execution of Name Voyager makes it fun to use. It shows you all names which match the pattern you type. So if you type "Joseph" you'll see the stats for both Joseph and Josephine, and you get to watch the graphs rise and fall like so many ill-fated civilizations as you type every letter. It's quite diverting.

A few examples of what I learned from typing random things on Name Voyager:

  • Orange was the 970th most common name in the 1890s, but Apple doesn't show up in the top 1000 in any decade (Gwyneth Paltrow probably checked).
  • Frank seems, frankly, headed for extinction.
  • Names whose heyday came and went in the mid-20th century: Stuart, Barry, Nancy, Janice.
  • A name that didn't survive World War II: Archibald.
  • A name that didn't survive the Spanish-American War: Horatio.
  • Norma and Stephanie have steadily been more popular (although sometimes only slightly so) than their respective counterparts Norman and Stephen.
Names really are a language of their own. Not that it makes it any easier for my wife and I to pick one.


Torben B said...

Rikker, I think you should bring Frank back. I think it would make a lovely girl's name :)

Thomas said...

We just had a baby last month and named him Noah. I was quite surprised to see just now that the name has been rising exponentially in popularity.

Rikker said...

Hmm.. Frank. I'll think about it. And that is a surprising big leap for Noah. From 500-600th rank for like four decades, to 15th place last year. Crazy. I have two high school friends named Noah, which means they were named in the 1980s, when Noah was still at the beginning of its big comeback.

And one thing--I misstated that the application is in Flash. It's Java. My bad.

Grabloid said...

I'm bringing Alvin back.