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Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Makes a Name Trendy?

I have been frequenting a baby name message board recently, and people frequently are surprised when a name they like is called "trendy" by other users. When I have time, I like to bother answering them. Today I had a lot of time, and thought, hey I did so much research on this, surely it is worthy of a blog post.
Question: I don't understand what makes a name trendy? I have not heard the name Kenzie anywhere around me and I've lived in 3 states and worked in a pre-k class for 2 years before my daughter was born. Is it super common now or something or is it just common around where you all live?

Answer:  Many factors go into determining if a name is "trendy", and in this case, the label is very apt. 

(Rapidly) Increasing Popularity: If a name was not popular, and then rises very quickly, that is a sign that its trending. Kenzie has risen from 871 to 270 in the last 20 years. That isn't insanely quick, but its a good pace. 

General Style: Even if a specific name isn't popular, it may have the feel of many popular names. Kenzie is not top 100, but it has the same feel to it (cute, "ee" sound ending, casual sound) as the top 100 names Hailey, Kaylee, Riley, Kylie, Bailey, as well as other "trending" names like Paisley (104), Rylee (109), Sadie (120).. .etc. The list could go on. On top of this stylistic match, there is the fact Kenzie has both a "z" and "k", both "sought after" letters that are drawing parents in.

Name Family: A single name that rises quickly but stays out of the top 100 isn't really trending... but if it is part of a name family, all of which are gaining in popularity, it is definitely trendy. This is the strongest argument for Kenzie's trendiness. It is actually a nickname for the longer name Mackenzie, so we have to consider the popularity of this name as well. Mackenzie is ranked 71st, then add in Makenzie (150), and McKenzie (152). These four names combined make up .4756% of all girls born in 2012, that is as popular as Ella, the #12 name for the year. Also, all of these names are on the rise, along with the very similar McKenna (226), Makenna (229), Kendall (116), Kendra (387) and Kenley (449). 

All in all, yes, Kenzie is definitely trendy. That is a piece of information expectant parents should have, but its not necessarily a bad thing. There are all sorts of reasons for why trendy names are good, but that would require its own post.

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