What effects do names fashion?


Birgit Eggert

Associate professor, University of Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen

Dec. 4, 2022, 3:45 p.m.


In the article linked to below Jane Plicher, Birgit Eggert and Katrine Bechsgaard reveal the most important causes for parents often choosing the same names for their babies, even though most of them believed they chose a name for their child that was not too widespread. In the UK, names like Evelyn or Arthur used to feel dated, but somehow, they now feel fresh and beautiful.

It seems that the choice of names has become a matter of taste rather than custom during the last c. 150 years. This has, among other things, lead to parents liking the same names at the same time coursed by for example generational preferences and cultural influences. These preferences and influences vary just like other expressions of fashion.

One of these preferences is that parents-to-be seems to avoid names for their child that are typical of their own generation and of their parents’ generation. Thus, girls' names such as Alma and Clara have become popular after the year 2000, approx. 100 years after they last peaked in Denmark. The civil rights movement in the US, meanwhile, saw popularity in African-American naming patterns shift from biblical options like Elijah and Isaac to names such as Kareem after basketballer and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Baby names: why we all choose the same ones