The Atlantic

Why Don't Parents Name Their Daughters Mary Anymore?

Understanding the rapid decline of what was once America's most popular name
Source: 20th Century Fox
Each year I mark the continued calamitous decline of Mary as a girls' name in the United States. Not to be over-dramatic, but in the recorded history of names, nothing this catastrophic has ever happened before. Mary was the most common name given to girls every year from the beginning of record-keeping (at least back to 1800) through 1961 (except for a six-year dip to #2, behind Linda).

And then it happened. from the Social Security Administration (SSA), Mary fell three more places, to 112th. In absolute numbers, the number of girls given the name Mary at birth has fallen 94 percent since 1961. Here is the trend:

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic9 min readPolitics
Don’t Use These Free Speech Arguments Ever Again
Most speech, hateful or not, is protected by the Constitution. To pretend otherwise is foolhardy.
The Atlantic3 min read
Ready or Not Is a Clever Horror Comedy About Entitled Rich People
The new film retells a classic story of bored aristocrats hunting humans—with a subversive twist.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
Emmanuel Macron Expounds as the World Burns
It was a perfect late-summer evening when President Emmanuel Macron—tanned and super-energized in a dark-blue suit and crisp white shirt—held forth before the Elysée press corps on matters of international import. Posh Paris was largely out of town.