If Romeo and Juliet had been called Ethelbald and Hildegarde, would their names be synonymous with romance?
Names have been on my mind lately, since we have to choose one for our fourth daughter next month. Our first and third daughters have traditional, mainstream names, Elizabeth and Theresa, and we didn’t catch any flak about those. Our second daughter, on the other hand, we called Cordelia, and we got an earful from a couple of relatives about it. The relatives have come around and now really like the name, and most importantly, Cordelia herself loves it.
When we chose it, I didn’t think Cordelia was that much more unusual than some of the other old-fashioned names that have seen a resurgence of popularity recently, but the Social Security Administration says otherwise on their Popular Baby Names website.
This is a site where an expectant mother can really waste some serious time. You can see the top 20, 100 or 1000 baby names of both sexes for the United States and for each state individually. You can also track the popularity of any name over the past hundred years. For example, Cordelia usually came in between #400 and 700 for the first few decades of the twentieth century, then dipped slowly downward until 1950, then disappeared without a trace. In 2003, the year we named our Cordelia, I was amazed to find that names like Imani (#329), Itzel (#434 and yes, for a girl), Justice (#451), Isis (#585), Teagan (#636) and Meadow (#761) far outranked it.
I think we’ve finally decided on daughter #4’s name, but I’m keeping mum on the blog until it’s official, except to say that it’s not on this year’s top 1000 list either.
And no, it isn’t Hildegarde.