Your RDA of Irony

The Name Game

When it is not threatening to go bankrupt, the Social Security Administration occupies itself with compiling statistics. You probably are not interested in the date of your projected death, so here is the list of the most popular names of new-born children.

For kindergarten classes in 2012, the most monotonous monikers will be Jacob, Emily, Michael, Isabella, Ethan, Emma, Joshua, Ava, Daniel and Madison. You etymologists will note that the boys’ names are all Hebrew. For some reason, the ancient Hebrew ad agencies just were not as good at female names. Bathsheba and Abishag never caught on. Miriam did–but only after some cosmetic editing into Mary. (God presumably had the omniscience not to implant the Holy Spirit into the Virgin Zipporah; that would have undermined Christianity’s appeal.)

Furthermore, the social security’s database goes back to the 1880s.

Now you can find out how unoriginal your name was when you were born. Learn the passing fads of names.

For instance, Clarence was one of the more popular names of 1900. And no one thought of naming a daughter Madison until the 1980s. Herman was the 50th most popular boy’s name in 1908; it now is the 979th. Gee, I wonder if any historical events made the name less endearing. (No, Adolf hasn’t made the top 1000 since 1928.)

In fact, I had to wonder how the popularity of the name George has fared over the past 8 years. Nero once had been a popular Roman name, but one psychotic emperor apparently ruined its appeal. Had the worst president in American history given George a bad name? Of course, you have to be willing to believe any statistics from the Bush administration, but the name George is still surprisingly popular. In 2007, it was the 147th most common name among newborn males. Seven years of unsurpassed incompetence, correction and malevolence have only had a marginal effect on the name. In 2000, George was the 130th most popular name for infant boys.

Furthermore, Bush policies may have had an insidious influence on the names of children. Over the last eight years, there has been a surge of infant boys named Rex and King.

In any case, have fun with the website. (Type in the name Mahmud or Ahmed at your risk.)

  1. SwanShadow says:

    As a proud owner of a Hebrew first name (although I insist on pronouncing it in goyische fashion), I must concur that it’s odd that the corresponding feminine names just didn’t endure. Somehow, it’s tough to imagine shouting “Oh, Jocheved!” during the throes of passion.

    That said, however, I did notice that Elizabeth is back in the top ten this year. One also still encounters a fair number of Deborahs, Leahs, and Dinahs.

    I remember that about 20 years ago, someone observed that in the mid-21st century, old age homes would be populated by doddering grannies named Heather, Bambi, and Amber.

  2. Dear Mikhiyel (in case you want to hear the first draft),

    The second most popular girl’s name–Isabella–is the Hispanic mutation of the Hebrew Elizabeth.

    The Latin/Hispanic form of Joshua ranks as 77th among newborns. (It ranks first in worshippers–although there is a possible tie with Rama.)


  3. Peggles says:

    Just think – casual Christians could have been venerating the
    Blessed Virgin Zippy!

    (Should I expect a few extra years in hell for that one?)

  4. Jason says:

    Regarding George, we still have Mr. Washington to lend it some decent credibility. And as for two female names of the Bible, I can think of “Jezebel” and “Salome” as two notable bearers of the moral compass….unfortunately they bore it right into the gutter. Jezzy led a life of wickedness and debauchery, so not too many little girls have that name. But Sal? I’ve known a few Salomes, nice ladies! Too bad the namesake danced like a harlot and asked for certain prophets to be beheaded, but hey, at least she wasn’t Jezebel.

  5. Welcome Jason (a nice Hellenistic name),

    Jezebel was a shiksa; so her name is supposed to be infamous.

    Salome was certainly a J.A.P. (Jewish Aramaic Princess); but the New Testament is not exactly enthusiastically Jewish. Otherwise, the lead character would be Yeshua and not some Greco-Latin form of the name.

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