Does your name reveal your age?

Did you ever catch yourself guessing the age of someone just by hearing his or her first name?

In which era would you guess people with names like Debbie, Bob, Linda, George,  Bill, Jim,  or Michelle were born?

It’s true that your name just might reveal more about you than you realize. And if you’re a Kathy or a Gilbert, it’s safe to bet that you’re near or within Boomer age.

The only people I know that, for generation after generation, who tend to name their children traditionally (after relatives or saints –who were probably named for saints to begin with) are ethnic groups like mine.

Ever see the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?   As the main character’s father proceeds to introduce his “dry as toast” in-laws-to-be to his crowd of relatives on his front lawn, he repeats, “And over here are Nick, Nick, Diane, Diane, Nicki, George, Dino, Nick, Diane  . . .”

From 1946 to 1964, the most fashionable girls’ names were Mary, Linda and Lisa while top names for boys were James, Robert and Michael, according to records at the Social Security Administration.

So why don’t you hear of babies named similarly these days?  Is it because these names have, well, become dated?

Among the most popular baby names right now are Emily and Jacob – which don’t sound all that new age to me, but are attractive and traditional-sounding nonetheless.  Other popular names are Madison, Isabella, Ashley, Christopher, Ethan, Joshua, Andrew, and Olivia.

I remember hearing criticism for naming my now 20-something daughter Sophia back in the ‘80s because one set of grandparents considered it too “fresh off the boat.”  As fate would have it, her name became one of the most popular girls’ names over the past decade or so.

Did I know that?  Heck no (does my choice of words tell you how old I am???)  I just wanted to name her something melodic enough to match her last name (an Italian one). And, SHOOT,  it didn’t hurt that the word itself is the Greek word for wisdom while representing a religious martyr and a relative as well.

Many of the rest of us have names like Linda, Bob, Jim, Pat, Carol, Sue, Ron, Jerry and Wally.

And just think about the name Mary. For most of the 1950s, it was the most popular girls’ name in the country.  By 2005, it didn’t even make the top 50.

Cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff implies that Boomer names tend to be  “vanilla and middle-of-the-road.”

Today, names can be unisex, illustrated by the  MacKenzies, Tylers, Taylors,  Alexes and Sydneys, Tracys, and Stacys among us.

And as luck would have it, names like Sandy, Gary, Pat and Joan are reserved for – you guessed it — friends, bosses, and  grandparents.

Darn it! Heck!  Shoot!  Now I have to write another article just on Boomer word usage . . . .


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Filed under Dena's Lady Boomer Column and personal musings

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