Can you match the popular baby name to its era?

Torrance Grey

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About This Quiz

Almost everyone says they want to give their newborn a special, individual name -- and yet, baby names go through trends like everything else. How savvy are you about baby names? Find out with our quiz! (Note: this quiz is based on the Social Security Administration's rankings of baby names, so it's about U.S. trends in baby-naming).

Which of these 1990s names could be described as "androgynous"?

"Androgynous" means equally suitable for a male or a female. The 1990s saw a boom in androgynous names: Avery, Kendall, Kelsey, Tyler were among the most popular in that decade.

Which of these recently-popular boys' names means "worker in stone?"

Quality stonework, like the kind many churches have, is called "masonry." Millennial parents seem to like the name -- even if they'd rather their boys grow up to be architects, not the guys actually cutting and laying the stone.

The popularity of the name "Isabella," in the late 2000s, might have been inspired by what series of books?

It's true that "Isabella" also goes with a recent trend toward 19th-century names. But the vast popularity of "Twilight," and its heroine, Isabella Swan, probably didn't hurt. Besides, it's not like parents could name their daughter "Katniss" without a lot of eye-rolling from friends.

Which girls' name cracked the Social Security Administration's top five for the first time in 1934?

"Shirley" means "meadow" in early English and is related to the names "Sheryl" and "Cheryl." If you're interested in trends in baby-naming, you can visit the Social Security Administration website, where you'll find top-five rankings, name popularity by decade, and an engine that lets you track the rise and fall of individual baby names. Fun stuff!

In which era was the name "Helen" most popular?

"Helen" used to be synonymous with beauty, because of Helen of Troy. Now, it's more popular in variant forms, like "Elena," the protagonist of "The Vampire Diaries."

Which masculine name has held the SSA's No.1 spot most often in the past 100 years?

Surprisingly, it's not "John." That name is popular all over the world, with variants from "Ian" to "Juan." But Michael edged it out for a long time in the United States.

In what decade would a "Christopher" most likely have been born?

The 1980s were a boom time for "Christopher." You can see some of these 80s-born Christophers on the silver screen today: Chris Pratt, Chris Pine, and Chris Evans, for example.

When did the name "Linda" become popular?

The rise of "Linda" reflects a growing Latin-American influence on U.S. culture. "Linda" is a Spanish word meaning "beautiful;" it's considered a step up from the more common word for "pretty," which is "hermosa."

A "Harry" was most likely born in what era?

Short for Henry, "Harry" could be a standalone name back then, and was fairly common. It might come back into favor nowadays, with namesakes like Harry Potter and Prince Harry making it cool again.

In what era was "Mary" popular for girls?

The eternal popularity of "Mary" has its roots in Christianity, especially Catholicism. The name of the Virgin Mother has long been considered one of the most auspicious names a girl could have.

Which name bumped "Mary" from the No. 1 spot in girls' names for the first time in the 1950s?

"Mary" reclaimed the title in the 1960s, but has never held it since. In an era of sophisticated "Sophias" and hip "Dakotas," it's hard to imagine the very traditional "Mary" being in the top spot anytime soon.

Which of these New Testament names has been the least popular in the U.S.?

For a secular society, the United States takes a lot of masculine names from the Bible, both Old and New Testament. The exception is the name "Jesus," which in Anglo-American culture is off-limits. In Latin American culture, though, it's considered perfectly normal to name your son after Jesus.

Which popular Biblical name has held the top spot for boys only once in the past century?

The name of one of the Bible's most fascinating heroes, "David," gained popularity in the U.S. in the 40s, but cracked the top spot only once, in 1960.

A girl named Brittany was most likely born in the ______.

"Brittany" is one of the classic millennial names. Bearers includes Britney Spears, Brittany Snow, and Brittany Murphy.

In what decade would a "Braden" most likely have been born?

"Braden," "Jayden," and "Kaden" are very 2000s names, and starting to drop off in popularity. "Aidan," a traditional Irish name, is likely to have more staying power.

Debra/Deborah became popular in which era?

Deborah is a name from the Bible, a hero of the Hebrew people in the book of Judges. The spelling, "Debra," makes it a little more contemporary.

In which decade was the name "Zelda" popular?

This was a bit of a trick question. While "Zelda" is inextricably linked to the 1920s because of flapper Zelda Fitzgerald, it was never a common name. The names that dominated the 1920s were Dorothy, Betty, Helen, and of course, Mary.

In what decade would a "Liam" most likely have been born?

"Liam" was once short for "William," but has become a standalone name. It was the #2 name in popularity in 2016, and might yet unseat "Noah."

Which name had an astounding 12-year run as the top choice for girls from 1996 to 2007?

The 1960s through the 1990s were the Wild West of baby naming. After three decades of hippie names like "Starbright," androgynous names like "Madison," and (ahem) "stripper names" like "Jasmyn," inventive naming got a bad name. The backlash took the form of 19th-century names like "Ava" and "Emily" for daughters. Case in point: the name that replaced "Emily" at No. 1 after 12 years? "Emma."

Which boy's name held the top spot from 1999 to 2012?

The reigns of "Jacob" and "Emily" -- which, we should point out, were consecutive -- ran almost parallel to each other in the 2000s. Mark your calendars now: in the 2020s, you're going to get a wedding invitation from at least one "Emily & Jacob."

The name "Betty," popular in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, is short for what?

"Betty" is listed as a standalone in the Social Security Administration listings. However, it got its start as a shortening of "Elizabeth," a name that might have more nicknames attached to it -- from "Bess" to "Libby" -- than any other female name.

Which name meaning "stranger" was popular in the 1960s and 70s?

"Barbara" was one of the most popular girls' names in the U.S. at mid-century. It's derived from "barbaros," the Greek word for "foreign."

Which name was so popular in the 1980s it inspired the title of a cult film?

"Heathers" was a black comedy about a high school clique consisting of three girls named "Heather" and one named "Veronica." Veronica was the outsider and heroine, of course, played by Winona Ryder.

Which name had a brief vogue in the 2000s and quickly dropped out of sight again?

"Ethan" first appeared in the top-five listings in 2002, at #5, and clawed its way up to the #2 spot by 2009. But it just didn't last: perhaps its slightly feminine sound and association with home-design firm "Ethan Allen" doomed it.

In which decade was a "Kimberly" most likely born?

"Kimberly" or "Kim" has never topped the girls' list, but it will likely never fall radically out of favor. In its shortened form, it has an androgynous appeal: a "Kim" can be male or female.

Before "Jacob," which name held the #1 spot from 1961 to 1998?

Far more than girls' names, the boys' list is dominated by a single name for years on end: "James," "Robert" and, later, "Jacob" all had long unbroken runs. Girls' names fluctuate more rapidly, suggesting that they're more prone to trends.

In which decade was a "Jennifer" most likely born?

If you're a Generation Xer, you likely went to school with quite a few "Jennifers" -- many of whom lopped off two syllables to become "Jen" in college.

In which decade was a "Mildred" most likely born?

It's no coincidence that the noir novel "Mildred Pierce" was published in 1941. Those "Mildreds" would have been coming of age all around writer James M. Cain.

What year did "Noah" crack the top five?

It's been a meteoric rise for "Noah," going to No. 1 just two years after cracking the SSA's top-five list. It's likely that it will be supplanted just as quickly, discarded as "trendy," despite its roots in Judeo-Christian culture.

In what decade did "Christian" peak in popularity as a boy's name?

"Christian" is one of those split-personality names. Religious in nature, it nonetheless has a modern, sexy appeal. See also Christian Grey, the hero of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.

When did "Christian" peak in popularity as a girl's name?

"Christian" has never been hugely popular for girls, hovering around the 700s to 900s in ranking. But in the 1990s, it reached its height, ranking #280.

"Piper" is growing in popularity as a name for which gender?

"Piper" is traditionally a girls' name. It ranked #67 in 2016, up radically from #507 in the year 2000.

What name was #1 for boys in 2014, 2015 and 2016?

As with girls' names, millennial parents are reaching for traditional names for their boys, including "Noah." However, hipsters might carry the trend too far: unusually rare names, like "Atticus," have been popping up recently.

Which of these was NOT among the top five names for girls in 2016?

The 20-teens (shouldn't there be a name for this decade by now?) have seen a return to old-fashioned, feminine names for baby girls. In other words, "The Matrix" is out; "Downton Abbey" is in.

Which of these was NOT one of the top five names for boys in 2016?

Boys, too, have been given traditional and old-fashioned names in recent years, some from the Bible. However, "Jacob" peaked earlier and didn't make the top five in 2016.

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