The 100-Year Rule Could Predict Popular Baby Names This Decade

We might want to look to the most loved names of the 1920s for the monikers we'll be choosing in the decade ahead.

From Amelia to Maeve and Jasper to Theodore, you don't need to look much further than the top baby names of 2019 to see that millennial parents love a good retro-inspired baby name. But what about the baby names we can expect to see in the next decade?

Apparently, baby name trends take about 100 years to circle back around, according to a theory floated by Australian parenting site Kid Spot. And to hypothesize which names will be popular over the next 10 years, it's a theory worth taking into consideration.

mother with baby
Woman sitting next to infant in bassinet, circa 1920. Universal History Archive/Getty Images

What Is the 100-Year Rule?

Referenced by Nameberry at the start of the last decade, the "100-Year Rule" is "based on the assumption that it took a full century for a name to shake off its dusty image and sound fresh again." While the site's co-founder Linda Rosenkrantz wrote that "the process of name resuscitation has speeded up wildly," there's still merit to looking at the baby names that were popular 100 years ago.

What Names Were Popular in the 1920s?

According to both Nameberry and U.S. social security records, the top 10 most popular boys names of the roaring '20s were:

  1. Robert
  2. John
  3. James
  4. William
  5. Charles
  6. George
  7. Joseph
  8. Richard
  9. Edward
  10. Donald

For girls, the top names were:

  1. Mary
  2. Dorothy
  3. Helen
  4. Betty
  5. Margaret
  6. Ruth
  7. Virginia
  8. Doris
  9. Mildred
  10. Frances

While several of these (cough Mildred and Frances) might still seem too outdated to use in 2020, others are very much in style (Mary is #126 right now and James is #4 for boys and also being used for girls!).

And with early 20th century names like Eleanor, Alice, Henry, and Emmett growing in popularity as of last year, who's to say that Doris, Virginia, Edward, and Joseph won't come back into style?

After all, at some point, what's old is new again. And that point may very well be after 100 years.

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