Monday, February 15, 2016

President's Day!

Salutations, readers!

Today I'll be copying two posts from last October and November - Presidential Names! It seems most pertinent to look at the names of US presidents on this national holiday.

#609 - Jefferson 
As the Jeffrey's of yesteryear become fathers and grandfathers, Jefferson might be a great way to honor a paternal relative. Sure, the nickname Jeff could still be used, but why not try Sonny to ensure some uniqueness? Jefferson has been hanging low on the list for awhile, but it's a well-established formal name that deserves some use. 

#9 - Madison
While this name is connected more to the movie Splash than the fourth president, Madison is much more than a trend. It was a well-used name for boys between 1880 and 1940, returning briefly in the 1990's. I think the name still works for any gender - see the above nickname Sonny - but the girls have claimed Madison wholeheartedly for the time being. 

#787 - Monroe
This name has gotten a lot of buzz recently, with a few celebrities choosing Monroe for their daughters. Like Madison, it was on the list for boys for awhile but dropped off in the 1970's. Another multi-gender name, it's connected to the Roe river in Ireland, and might be a great heritage choice.

#17 - Jackson
With JackJaxon and Jaxson following Jackson on the top 1000, it seems that parents are more interested in the sound of the name over the connection to Andrew JacksonJack was originally a nickname for John, but has now created a class all its own. Jackson has been steeply climbing upwards since the 1990's, and I don't expect it to drop anytime soon. 

#127 - Harrison
The popularity of movie star Harrison Ford pushed this name back up the charts through the 1980's and 1990's, but this name has never left the top 1000. The name started climbing again around the time Showtime's serial killer Dexter named his son Harrison after his father, Harry. It's got multiple positive connotations and some great nicknames, so Harrison will definitely stick around. 

#72 - Tyler
This trend of the 1990's is finally starting to disappear - for the boys, at least. I think the girls could claim Tyler due to its similarity with Taylor and SkylerTyTysonTyrone, and Tyree are moving up the list with a fresher sound, too. I'd skip this name and look for something more unique. 

#77 - Taylor
Another name originally for boys overtaken by the girls, Taylor reached its peak in the 1990's and has started to fall back down the list. Its sound is definitely popular - Baylor and Saylor have recently joined the list. But I think there are are newer occupational names that will fit the bill - WeaverFletcherJaggerSawyer, and Draper

#470 - Pierce
Pierce has been up and down the top 1000 over the years, but is now hovering in the middle. The strong, single-syllable sound and the dangerous connection to weaponry will appeal to some parents, but I think Pierce is better as a middle name. Sidenote: Pierce is viewed by many historians as one of the worst presidents in American history, so make sure you're not choosing it to be patriotic. 

#87 - Lincoln
One of the nation's favorite presidents, Lincoln is now at the highest it's ever been on the list. The similar sound to other ends-in-N names and the excellent history make it very popular. Abraham is a bit further down the list, at #180, and could also be a great way to honor the sixteenth president. And now that one celeb-baby girl has been christened Lincoln, it might be more accepted as unisex. 

#155 - Grant
With a steady sound, Grant is a name that can transition from childhood to adulthood gracefully. While its etymology connects it to the French for "large", it can also be seen today as an English word name. And it's a much better choice than old-fashioned Ulysses!

#545 - Hayes
An early last-name-turned-first-name, Hayes started on the charts at #708, then shot up and down after President Hayes left office in 1881. It's definitely got a highbrow sound and classic feel, with an albeit lackluster meaning - "hedged area". Still, it could work well as a more traditional response to trendy Hayden or Hayley

#306 - Arthur
It seems to me that Arthur has been an established first name for so long that a simple president wouldn't influence its popularity. Arthur, meaning "bear", topped out at #14 in the 1880's, 1890's and 1900's, but it's been decreasing since the 1940's. It just skyrocketed up the charts in the UK, however, so it won't be too long before Arthur is back on top!

#381 - McKinley
Oddly enough, McKinley's steep rise for boys stopped when the president took office in 1901, then plateaued and dove. For girls, McKinley began rising through the 1990's, as an alternative to McKenzie or McKaylaMcKinley has been in the news recently - Mount McKinley will be officially renamed Mount Denali

#594 - Wilson
An excellent alternative to the well-loved WilliamWilson did get a boost between 1913 and 1921 - Woodrow Wilson's years in office. Wilson has been on the decline for awhile, but with dozens of namesakes and an American sound, I think it's a great choice. 

#961 - Truman
Meaning "loyal one", Truman today is more often associated with writer Capote or Will of Will & Grace. The first president after twelve years of FDR, Harry Truman brought on a jump of almost 200 places in 1945, but began declining steeply right after. Though it's got a great nickname - "True" - it's still a little clunky. 

#54 - Kennedy
Kennedy briefly appeared on the boy's list in the 1960's, but skyrocketed for girls starting in the mid-90's. Why so long after JFK? I'm on the hunt for reasons - the name didn't make the list until 30 years after his death, and started halfway up the list before climbing. If you've got a theory or factoid about Kennedy, let me know in the comments!

#587 - Nixon
Interestingly enough, Nixon is only on the list because of its popularity in Utah, where it's at #85. It jumped on the scene in 2011, over 10 years after Richard Nixon's death. I think the closeness to Jackson, Nolan and Nicholas may be why. 

#883 - Ford
Ford is on the list this year for the first time since 1951. The solid single-syllable sound, masculine feel, and trend towards brand names may be the culprits. Ford could make a standout middle name, or honor a familial namesake.

#27 - m - Carter; #785 - f - Carter
Carter is an example of what happens when a president isn't so well liked - when Jimmy Carter was president, the fairly stable name dropped off the list completely, only to return in full force when Carter left office. For boys, it follows the occupational trend, as well as being the name of many pop culture characters. Girls often get the names second - Carter entered the girls' list in 2013

#106 - f - Reagan; #999 - m - Reagan
Reagan was used a few times for girls in the 1970's, but didn't catch hold of the list until the early 1990's on either side - perhaps as a response to the Clinton presidency? (Just a theory). On the boy's side, Reagan has stayed in the lower ranks, while it's been climbing for the girls, peaking in 2012.

#923 - Clinton
Clinton began dropping in the 1990's during the presidency, perhaps due to the current trend of uniqueness - when your child's name is in the news everyday, it seems to lose its personality. Clinton is currently plateauing at the bottom of the list, and with the upcoming elections, it may fall out of use for awhile.

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