“What is in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,
So Romeo would were he not Romeo called retain such dear perfection to which he owes without that title,
Romeo, Doth thy name!
And for that name which is no part of thee, take all thyself.”

We all know William Shakespeare penned this famous line and so I got to thinking about the most popular names from the 1800’s and how they differ from the names of today.  Of my four little munchkins born in this decade, Everley, Kyra, Madison and Lila, can you guess which name made the present day Top
Ten list?

If you guessed Madison, you’d be right.  But wait, why don’t you close your eyes (so you don’t see the list below) and guess which boy and girl names were most popular in the 1880’s.   And then take a guess at which boy and girls’ names made the list from 2010-2015.    Can you guess what boy and girl names were the only ones to make the Top Ten from both time periods?  Hint-both names are of English royalty.

Spoiler Alert… Don’t read until you guess!


Top Ten 1880 List












Top Ten Present Day List












What do these names mean?  I have to credit The Best Name for Your Baby book. It’s helped me immeasurably in garnering names of my characters and seeing if the name origin fits with my character’s traits.  Let’s take the Top Boy and Girl names of 1880.

John is Hebrew for “God’s grace.”  The Celtic variations of John are Ian and Sean.

Mary is the New Testament’s form of Miriam which is Hebrew for “bitter”.  Namesakes, Mary Queen of Scots, William and Mary.  Pairs well with Jane, Alice and Ellen.   Variations are Maria, Mariette, Mara, Marian and Madonna

William is Old German for “valiant protector”.  And of course who comes to mind when you think in royal terms?  Prince William!  Variations are Willie, Wilhelm, Wiley, Wilfred and Bill.

Anna is from Anne which is Hebrew for “gracious.”  Namesakes are Princess Anne of England and Anne Boleyn. Variations are Ann, Annis, Anya, Anika, and Anita.

Here are the meaning of the names of hero and heroine in my newly released Taming the Texas Cowboy!

Maddie comes from Madeline which is Hebrew for “tower of strength”  Variations are Marlene, Magdelena, Madlin, Madge and Madalena. Also May, Lena or Lene

Trey is Middle English for “third born”.

Did you play along?  Did you guess any of the Old Names?   What do you think of the names of today?   Post a comment and win a $5 Amazon Gift Card picked at random. Winner will be announced at the end of the day!!   Thanks for playing along!! 









































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  1. I did guess John and Mary for the 1880s and thought perhaps Elizabeth would fit in somewhere, but had no idea for current times. As it turns out, my neighbors’ two granddaughters are Sophia and Olivia, numbers 1 and 3, and I also ow a young Abigail and Isabella, so I always find it amazing how names just seem to go in waves. I seem to remember a time when Jennifer was everywhere, and when I was in school there were three of us with the same first name sitting in a row alphabetically by our last names but had the same first name! Amazing, isn’t it?

    In the various lists I’ve looked at over time, I always seem to find the names James, John, William, and Daniel for boys, and Mary and Elizabeth for girls. Other than for William, I suppose it’s the biblical influence. Michael, Matthew and David show up quite a bit too. Also, four of the boys’ names on the list for today are biblical: Jacob, Noah, Michael and Daniel. I just don’t quite see the same pattern for girls as I do for boys, though. Huh.

  2. I love looking at those lists ans seeing names that have come and gone. Thanks for the intriguing post.

  3. I like more of the traditional names. Some of today’s names can be a bit strange and I often think that I will feel sorry for the kid when they get old enough to go to school. My name is always pronounced wrong.

      • You got it right. 🙂 But a lot of people don’t look. I get called Janie, Janet, Janice among others. I have lived in this house for 16 years and my neighbor still calls me Jeannie. I have stopped correcting him and just go with it.

  4. I did guess William! I know that has become very popular again – or was never UNpopular. I do not like the new fangled names that seem to be so prevalent in today’s society, they seem strange. I like old names – one of my daughters is Sylvia. I adore it when little old ladies hear that and squeal in delight saying that is their name!

  5. It seems like I’ve read John was the number one name for boys for several centuries leading up to the 1900’s, so I guessed that one, no problem! I tend to like more old-fashioned names, so I like the return of Emma and Olivia and such, but I don’t think I could name a child Minnie or Bertha.

  6. Now neither of my maternal grandparents names are on the list for 1880’s which I guess would make there names unique in a way. I think the names of today are cool.

  7. I have a doll that was my grandmother’s that I have always called “Bethany” but never named my daughters it.My oldest is Mandy. I do not care for the name Amanda but liked Mandy and figured she would be called it through out school. Her middle name is Marie. Marie came from a lot of people , my Aunt Marie, and friends with Marie as a middle name. Now, my youngest is Melissa. She was very seldom called Missy. In fact , her new adult friends call her Mel, which , I do not like! She also has two middle names that have a hyphen. Now that she’s married she has the two middle names hyphened but two last names hyphened! As she says’ her name is complicated. When I was in high school there was 5 Pamela’s! 4 of us rode the same school bus and three of us sat together!!!

    • Hi Pamela,

      I love the school bus story! Thanks for sharing all your stories! I think in my munchkin’s pre-K class there are two Tyler’s and two Liam’s. And that’s just out of 8 boys.

  8. Two of my grandchildren have popular names, Ethan and Emma. I am always interested in names used in books.

  9. My grandfather called us three sisters Lizzie,Maggie,and Izzie for our middle names. Having always disliked my middle name I don’t understand the current love of the name Isabelle. Maybe because My sisters used to tease, “Alice is a bell.” Meaning I was shaped like one. I laugh now but used to get really mad at them.

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