Parenting

15 Boys' Names That Have Plummeted In Popularity

You might be surprised that these names were once fairly popular for boys.
07/26/2018 12:54pm ET
David A Land via Getty Images

Baby names drop in popularity for many reasons. Over time, they can start to sound outdated or come to be associated with controversy, for example.

Experts have also found that when a name traditionally associated with boys starts to become more common for girls, it tends to decline in popularity for boys.

With this in mind, we looked to the Social Security Administration’s baby names data to see which baby names for boys have plummeted in popularity. The agency has annual Top 1,000 lists going back to 1900, and raw data tracking every baby name given to at least five newborns in a given year going back to 1880.

Without further ado, here are 15 names that were once fairly popular for baby boys, but have since fallen into relative obscurity.

Clarence

Back in 1880, Clarence was ranked No. 22 on the list of most popular names for baby boys. The name went on to peak at No. 17 from 1901 to 1905, but from there, it gradually fell in popularity, completely dropping off the Top 1,000 list after 2010. In 2017, only 153 newborn boys were named Clarence. While many old-fashioned names like Clyde and Jasper are making a comeback, it seems modern parents aren’t as into Clarence.

Ashley

Gone with the Wind fans will know that Ashley used to be a more common name for boys. It didn’t even appear in the SSA girls’ names data until 1917, when five baby girls were named Ashley (compared with 45 baby boys that year). Ashley peaked in popularity as a name for boys in 1980 at No. 282, but the name fell off the Top 1,000 charts after 1994. This decline happened as Ashley became a popular name for girls, topping the rankings in 1991 and 1992. Today, Ashley sits at No. 122 for girls, with 2,517 girl Ashleys born in 2017, versus just 32 newborn boys with that name.

Taylor

After steadily appearing in the SSA data going back to 1880, the boy name Taylor peaked in 1993 at No. 51. Today, it’s down at No. 506. As with Ashley, Taylor’s decline as a name for boys came as it rose in popularity as a name for girls. Taylor first appeared in the data as a girl name in 1951, when seven baby girls were given that name. Meanwhile, 66 boys were named Taylor that year. Over time, it climbed the girl names chart and peaked at No. 6 from 1994 to 1996. Today, Taylor is the 112th most popular baby name for girls.

Adolf

Often, major news events can cause a name to rise in popularity. But associations with controversy, disaster or even mass murder can also cause a name’s popularity to tank. For obvious reasons, you aren’t likely to meet anyone named Adolf these days, but the name’s decline happened gradually. Adolf appears in the SSA’s earliest data from 1880, when six boys were given that name. Over the next three decades, the number of baby Adolfs born each year remained mostly in the single digits ― but then rose into the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s in the 1910s. Finally in the 1930s, the number of baby boys named Adolf dropped into the teens. Toward the end of World War II in 1944, only five Adolfs were born in the U.S. Over the subsequent decades, the number of newborn Adolfs never exceeded 12 in a given year, and the name finally fell off the list for good after 1990.

Whitney

Whitney was decidedly a boys’ name for many years, until it, too, fell victim to the Ashley-Taylor phenomenon. The name first appeared in the SSA data in 1884, when nine boys were named Whitney, and it peaked on the popularity charts in 1986 at No. 567 before falling off the Top 1,000 list in 1989. Whitney as a name for girls didn’t appear in the data until 1936, when six baby girls were given the name (versus 19 boys). The name gradually rose in popularity for girls, reaching the Top 1,000 in 1962 and peaking at No. 32 in 1986 and 1987. It’s currently the 838th most popular name for girls, with 323 baby girl Whitneys born in 2017 (versus 13 boy Whitneys).

Ernest

Ernest seems to be another old-timey name that isn’t making a comeback for boys. Back in 1880, it was No. 26, and it maintained a pretty solid hold in the double-digit rankings until the 1950s. Overall, the trend with Ernest has been steady decline. By 2017, it was the 967th most popular name for boys, with only 213 baby Ernests born last year.

Blair

In 1881, the only Blairs that appeared in the SSA data were five newborn boys. In 1914, 43 baby boys and six baby girls were named Blair. Come 2017, the trend has switched ― with 73 baby boy Blairs and 609 baby girl Blairs. Blair as a name for boys peaked in 1953 at No. 435 and dropped off the Top 1,000 list after 1995. Meanwhile, Blair as a girls’ name peaked in 1988 at No. 423. With Blair characters like Blair Waldorf and Blair Warner, the name has maintained moderate popularity for girls. Today it stands at No. 511.

Herbert

Once a U.S. president’s name, Herbert seems destined to go the way of Clarence and Ernest. In 1880, 424 baby boys were named Herbert. By 2017, the number had fallen to 77. Although the name peaked at No. 25 in 1928 and 1929, it gradually decreased in usage and left the Top 1,000 rankings after 2002.

Leslie

In 1880, 79 newborn boys and only eight newborn girls were named Leslie. As a name for boys, Leslie peaked at No. 85 in 1902 and remained relatively popular over the following decades. However, as Leslie grew in popularity as a name for girls in the mid-20th century, the opposite happened for Leslie as a boy name. Leslie peaked at No. 56 for girls in 1981 and today stands at No. 448. Leslie fell off the boy names chart after 1997.

Dana

The number of baby boys named Dana outnumbered the number of girls until the 1930s. While Dana peaked in popularity for boys at No. 166 in 1954, it reached its apex for girls at No. 44 in 1971. Despite the popularity of comedian Dana Carvey in the 1990s, the name Dana for boys fell off the Top 1,000 list after 1997. Today, it ranks No. 940 for girls.

Floyd

Back in 1905, Floyd was the 44th hottest name for baby boys. That turned out to be its peak in popularity, as it gradually declined in popularity over nearly a century until its final appearance on the Top 1,000 list in 1998, when it ranked No. 978. Despite popular band and “30 Rock” character namesakes, it doesn’t appear Floyd will be making a comeback anytime soon. The similar-sounding Lloyd has also experienced a drop in popularity over the years.

Lynn

You may be surprised to learn that Lynn was initially a more common name for boys than for girls. In 1880, 30 baby boys and five girls were named Lynn. In 1900, Lynn ranked at No. 341 for boys and No. 957 for girls. The trend switched in the 1940s. Lynn peaked as a name for boys in 1941 at No. 141 and its last year on the Top 1,000 list was 1986. As a girls’ name, Lynn peaked in 1956 at No. 58 and didn’t fall off the chart until 1997. In 2017, 88 girls and 20 boys were named Lynn, and it remains very popular as a name-ending syllable for girls.

Luther

Luther is another vintage name that has passed its heyday. In 1901 and 1905, the name reached its apex at No. 79 on the popularity charts. Luther saw a steady decline before completely dropping off the rankings in 1995. In 2017, only 99 baby boys were named Luther, but perhaps the popularity of the popular Idris Elba show by the same name will give it a boost.

Aubrey

While people tend to think of Aubrey as a name for girls these days, Drake fans know that it has also appeared on boys’ birth certificates (though, of the Canadian sort in the case of Aubrey Drake Graham). Prior to the 1970s, the name Aubrey was more common as a boys’ name, peaking in 1912 at No. 224. Aubrey as a name for girls first appeared on the Top 1,000 list in 1973 at No. 882 and peaked in 2012 at No. 15. Aubrey fell off the boys’ list after 2002, while it remains in the girls’ name rankings ― reaching No. 31 in 2017. Last year, 5,891 baby girls and 138 baby boys were named Aubrey.

Meredith

Meredith is yet another name that dwindled in popularity for boys as it came into more widespread use for girls. Although it reached its peak on the boys’ names list at No. 582 in 1941, Meredith dropped off after 1954. By that year, Meredith was at No. 530 for girls. It went on to peak at No. 140 in 1980 and 1981, and remains on the charts at No. 496.