The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


A nifty toy: The Social Security Administration allows you to display popularity of first names. You can query a name and see its rank in names given to children since 1990 (though only if it is in the top 1000). I did not expect "Floyd" to be among the top 1000, but lo and behold:


Year of birthRank
1997964
1996991
1995918
1994803
1993714
1992774
1991674
1990655


(After 1997 Floyd was no longer one of the 1000 most popular first names.)

Other great names have fallen by the wayside. Whither Shaquille?


Year of birthRank
1996635
1995424
1994230
1993185
1992433
1991743


Talk about fickle! Ten years ago Shaquille was a big guy just out of college who played on a mediocre team and couldn't hit free throws. Now he's a three-time national champion, and no one wants him as a namesake. If you're going to name your kid after a hoops player, shouldn't you wait to see whether he establishes a productive career? "Dad, why was I named Sam?" "Son, Sam Bowie was over seven feet tall and one of the greatest players in college basketball. But in his first pro season he fell down and fractured his leg."

(Update: Archaic preposition changed from "whence" to "whither" at the instigation of Aaron Haspel.)


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