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Where Have All the Gregorys Gone?

I was folded forward this morning during yoga, in the middle of eka pada rajakapotasana, when it occurred to me that there was no one in the twins’ class named Greg.  Greg used to be enormously popular when I was in school.  Every class had “a Greg and a spare,” as I liked to say.  Actually, I never said that until today, but you immediately see the truth in the clunky phrase.

Josh looked it up for me.  (This is the benefit of doing yoga in your living room while your partner makes the school lunches.  You can call out the random things you think up from the mat, and he can Google them.)  Greg has not broken the top 1000 most popular names in the last twenty years.

The same with Melissa.  Every class had at least a dozen Melissas.  I may have inflated that number a bit, but Melissa was a very common name where I grew up.  And now it’s as if the Melissas have all scattered into holes in the baseboard, never to be seen again.  I meet Jennifers and Jessicas all the time, but all the Melissas have seemingly disappeared.  I can’t remember the last time I met a Melissa, even one my age.

I get that names go in and out of vogue.  The people who make those name pencils and name necklaces need a little variety in their world.  (I assume those are the people who decide the popularity of names because they have the ultimate power as they choose which names to etch onto shot glasses and which names to leave in the dust.)

But shouldn’t the people who had that name back in childhood still be around?  I used to know 3000 Melissas. (Again, that number may be a little smaller.)  Now I know zero.  Well, I know one.  Myself.  I am cognizant of my own existence.

Where have all the Gregorys gone?  All the Melissas?  Where are the Coreys and Bretts and Cynthias?  Where did the Candices run and hide when the 80s ended?

I’m starting an Ex-Popular Name Club.  Are you in it?


1 Lori Shandle-Fox { 10.06.16 at 8:18 am }

I found this interesting because none of those names were popular when I was a kid- mid 70’s, early 80’s. I used to joke that every boy had one of five names: Michael, Mark, David, Steven, and Jeff. I was usually one of 3 Loris. Jill was also big.

2 katherinea12 { 10.06.16 at 8:25 am }

Interestingly, I actually know a couple of Melissas (other than you, of course). Names do seem to go in and out of vogue.

While not part of the Ex-Popular name club, I’m definitely part of the “Common-Middle-Name-Used-As-First-Name” club with my real name. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve introduced myself to people and had them respond “that’s my middle name” or “that’s my daughter’s middle name”. Apparently fairly popular as a middle name but I’ve met only a couple other people that have it as a first name.

3 Nicoleandmaggie { 10.06.16 at 8:27 am }

I know multiple Melissa’s. Maybe they all went into academia.

4 torthuil { 10.06.16 at 8:28 am }

In the 80s and 90s every other girl seemed to be a Jenny but now the only one I can think on is the daycare director (she goes by Jen). I guess it’s different when you leave school.

5 a { 10.06.16 at 8:32 am }

There are 2 Melissas at my lab. No Greg’s though. A Stephen and a Stephen. There were 4 Mikes but we’re down to 3. Christines and Jims come and go. We had 2 Abbys for a while. There is 1 Jennifer. A Susan and a Suzanne. 3 Brian’s (although 1 is a Bryan…along with a detective from one of the agencies who comes in frequently.

I know 2 Kerrys and 2 Caris and 1 Carrie. My daughter can’t keep my friends Mary and Maria straight…and my mother, cousin, and niece were/are Mary Something. And my grandmother was also Mary. My other grandmother was Gertrude, though. My BIL and my nephew are Matthews. My other BILs are Jim and Tim.

I can’t be in the club, since my name has apparently been in the top 500 since 1880. But it’s drifting downward, so maybe someday…

6 loribeth { 10.06.16 at 8:53 am }

How many little Loris have you met lately? :p 😉 When I was in Grade 8, between two classes, I think there were three Loris, two Lauras & one Laura-Lee.

I’m about a generation older than you… late baby boomer/early Gen-Xer. My peers were named Debbie, Terry, Sandy, Sue, Brenda, Cathy, Tammy and Linda, and the guys were Rob or Bob, Mike, Dave, Gerry and Jim. You don’t see many parents giving their kids those names anymore. Maybe the guys’ names a little more so than the girls. I do still meet people my age with those names, though.

7 Beth { 10.06.16 at 9:27 am }

I grew up when Elizabeth was very popular and still allegedly is. However, since graduation high school with two Elizabeths (one other Beth, one Liz), I have only met one other one around my age and she is always Elizabeth, nothing shorter. I know multiple people who have it as a middle name. I have come across the occasional Elizabeth here and there, and even know a couple of younger kids with the name, but no one goes by Beth any more.

Ps – my closest friend is Melissa and we are both the same age-ish as you. However, I did recently meet a Cindy who is 30 and my first thought was, who is named Cindy any more?

8 KeAnne { 10.06.16 at 6:53 pm }

Elizabeth is my first name but I go by my middle 🙂

9 ana { 10.06.16 at 9:35 am }

I know some Melissas our age. And loads of Jenny/Jen/Jennifer. But where are the Ashley’s? And the heathers? I just met a Greg at the gym, but you’re right, they are scarce. Though I don’t remember too many gregs growing up either. All Matthew/mark/Chris/david

10 Working mom of 2 { 10.06.16 at 10:03 am }

I have a very rare ethnic name, so…

But yeah, lots of Melissa, Laura, Jessica, Jennifer. Sherri/Cheryl/Shelley plus variations. (IPhone keeps adding errant apostrophes so singular it is) Diane, Deanna, Lisa, Julie. Nancy, Patty, Rachel, Heidi, Cindy, Cathy and varaiations.

Ashley and Heather were later but I knew some Heathers. I’m gen-x. I knew a couple Gregs but there weren’t a ton.

My kids also have rare ethnic names but they’re more pronounceable than mine. DH has extremely common vanilla name. At least his last name is ethnic and fits with kids’ first names.

I could list some of the common names in my kids’ era and roll my eyes but don’t want to offend anyone…

11 Cristy { 10.06.16 at 10:03 am }

My era was Jennifers, Dans, Johns and Lauras. Still see a number, though I do agree that names come in and out of vogue. That said, I wonder if people with common names change them or go by a nickname instead. Know many people who go by their nickname or middle name.

12 Ashley { 10.06.16 at 11:30 am }

My parents joked that they started the trend for my name. I don’t know many Ashley’s my age, they are generally younger. The big names (which my mom’s wanted them to give me) for girls when I was in grade school were Jessica and Jennifer. There were a regular plethora of Jenny with the last initial or Jess so-and-so. My brother’s name, Justin, is one that seems to have been popular and has now disappeared. And Derrick (with a dozen different spellings) was a common name I don’t hear anymore. It is interesting the ebb and flow of a names popularity. Just think of all the Emma’s and Jaden’s having this same conversation in another few decades….. 🙂

13 Elizabeth { 10.06.16 at 11:45 am }

So here is my theory. When we’re in school we are locked into a social group that is all exactly the same age (within a year or two). So when a name is popular within a really narrow window in time, we have a graduating class of 16 Jennifers and 15 Amys (my college class of 500). But as we get older, we interact with people from a much broader spread in time and so name diversity increases and the trends dissipate a little.

14 Elizabeth { 10.06.16 at 11:46 am }

There were so many Davids at my college that I know 3 who went by other names they chose themselves (Lester, Otis, and Corwin for the record)

15 loribeth { 10.06.16 at 1:22 pm }

I can’t resist: 😉

16 Sharon { 10.06.16 at 1:23 pm }

I don’t know any Melissas under age 30. BUT I do have a friend (coincidentally named Melissa) who has an 8-year-old son named Gregory. 🙂

Names certainly do come and go. One of our sons has a name that I would have considered quite uncommon 5-6 years ago, before he was born. However, it hit the top 3 in popularity the year he was born, and there are now two other [Twin B]s in his class out of 10 boys.

17 Jenny { 10.06.16 at 2:32 pm }

I’m an ex-popular name. I don’t know of anyone under the age of 30 named Jennifer. I always hated my name growing up because it was so popular and unoriginal. That may have had something to do with my decision to give very uncommon names to my boys (which they will probably hate me for!).

18 Chris { 10.06.16 at 3:49 pm }

Funny, the only Greg’s I know are teenagers. I didn’t know any in school. But we did have our share of Melissa’s. And, my mom specifically named me Christine because they didn’t know ANY Chris’. Yeah. Sure. I never was in a class in school (And I went to 13 different schools with fewer than 4 in my class with the Christine/Kristen/Chris.) In fact, even now I work at a very small company and there were at one point 4…LOL

19 nicoleandmaggie { 10.06.16 at 7:04 pm }

There’s also a class dimension. If you grew up in a different class or went to school with mixed socioeconomic groups you’re going to see a different grouping of names as an adult if you’ve changed socioeconomic status or only work within a specific socioeconomic status.

20 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.06.16 at 7:49 pm }

I’m in the club! Does that make me newly popular?

I think it would be easy to be in the name-a-shotglass business. You just watch the personalized bike license plate business and copy them 15 years later. No further research necessary.

21 Cyn K { 10.06.16 at 7:59 pm }

Here’s one Cynthia (never Cindy).

I hadn’t thought about how Greg-less the world has become. I had one coworker at my previous job on a college campus but I don’t think a single student that I encountered had the name.

22 Persnickety { 10.07.16 at 12:36 am }

I grew up with a very unusual name for the USA, so never experienced being one of a multitude, but then I moved to Australia. I have now met many people with my name but generally none younger than me. It ceased to be a popular name around the time someone with it became a huge pop star. And only a week or so ago, a fellow Kylie noted that it was a “nana name” – ie it’s the name of grandmas now. Which is true in Australia, it is very much of an era. Then again I am married to a Greg!
Back in childhood the multiple names were Nina, Sara and Misty.

23 Jess { 10.08.16 at 4:05 pm }

You know, I haven’t seen a Greg in forever! I see lots of names come through my doors as a teacher, and I see a lot of Jaydens (and lots of spelling variations), Aidans, Olivias… but not a whole lot of Jessicas anymore. And no Gregs. My senior year homeroom had 5 Jessicas including me…and now it’s pretty infrequent! I knew a bunch of Melissas when I was in school, but don’t see that one anymore, either. I feel like there’s a lot of “ayden” names now — Jayden, Caiden, Aidan, etc. So interesting!

24 loribeth { 10.08.16 at 8:57 pm }
25 Betty M { 10.09.16 at 4:16 am }

No Gregs in the UK. Not when I was a kid or now. Particularly not now as Greggs is a ubiquitous cheap sandwich and snack place. I have 5 Andrews in my team at work but have not met any Andrews in the under 15s. Name gluts are odd though – I know 3 girls called Lila in my kids’ school all of whom are 7 – did everyone watch an interview with Kate Moss mentioning her daughter at the same time or what?

26 Working mom of 2 { 10.22.16 at 1:40 am }

My daughter’s K class has both a Kay.leb and a Kal.ob. Still room for a Cal.eb.

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