Most Common Character Names

Hey everyone!  Here is my slightly off-the-wall thank you for 100 subscribers.  I’ve been working on this for months (not continually).  This was like an experiment for me.  I noticed that certain names kept cropping up in books and I decided to track the names of the main character and their love interest to see which names were most popular.  The results were somewhat surprising, as I’ll show you.

*All of these names came from books I’ve read over the last 5 years or so.  (It gives me a bigger sample to pull from that way.)

** Girls **

What name I thought would be most popular: Kate / Rose

Top 5 girl names:

1. Kate/Katherine/Catherine/Cate/Cathy – 15

2. Amy – 6

3. Anna – 6

4. Lily – 6

5. Sophia/Sophie – 6

Compare that to:

Top Baby Girl Names of 2012: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Ava  (Lily was 16th, Anna was 35th, Katherine was 64th, and Amy wasn’t in the top 100)

Top Baby Girl Names of 1995 (when most of these characters would have been “born” if they are 18 today):  Jessica, Ashley, Emily, Samantha, Sarah (Katherine was 30th, Anna 31st, Amy was 74th, Lily and Sophia weren’t in the top 100)

Findings:

I thought these were incredibly interesting results.  As I suspected, Kate was the most common name in book.  But I was very surprised to find that two of the names I kept thinking I encountered all the time, Rose and Violet, weren’t in the top 5.  (Rose had only 3 and Violet fell just short of the Top 5 by having only 5.)  It’s also interesting to note that every one of the girls names I listed as the top 5 for their year have a main character that shares their name EXCEPT Ashley and Emily.  Maybe it’s because those two names were incredibly popular and writers want something more unique for their characters.  But it’s kind of cool to see where the names may have their roots.  Obviously, more of the names are coming from more current name trends rather than when they would have been born if they were real people.

** Boys **

What I thought would be most popular:  James / Lucas

Top 5 Boy Names:

1. Henry – 9

2.  Jack – 7

3. James – 7

4. A 9 way tie between Dave/David, Derek/Derik, Gabe/Gabriel, John/Johnny, Matt/Matthew, Nate/Nathan/Nathaniel, Noah, Tristan/Tristen, and Will – 6

5.  (Those totally count for #5 too, right?)

Compare That To:

Top 5 Baby Boy Names of 2012: Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Noah, William (Matthew 12th, James 14th, David 19th, Gabriel 24th, John 28th, Nathan 29th, Henry 43rd, Jack 46th, Tristan 89th, and Derek was not in the top 100)

Top 5 Baby Boy Names of 1995: Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, Jacob (David 13th, John 14th, James 17th, William 20th, Nathan 39th, Gabriel 60th, Derek 88th, and Henry, Jack, Noah, and Tristan did not place in the top 100)

Findings:

Boy names play by totally different rules than girl names.  First of all, did you notice that there are a ton of different spellings and nicknames for the guys?  The girls encountered a few (Clare/Claire, though this wasn’t enough to chart), but the guys have an insane number of them. Also, boy names seem to be more evenly spread out.  The same names kept appearing, but in an even amount.  I was really surprised to see that a vast majority of their names come from what is currently popular, even though there’s a serious push with boy names now for something old-fashioned.  Their names tend to be less adventurous than girl names, but there are still tons of them.

Conclusions:

It seems that boys tend to have the same names used continually, while girls favor a couple of names yet still include a lot of variety.  These results come from a list of 546 names, so this is literally just the tip of the iceberg.  It continually changes as I read more books (though I never count series books more than once unless they follow different characters every book).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this!  I had a lot of fun compiling this information and I hope to maybe someday look back at it and show how it’s changed again.

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3 thoughts on “Most Common Character Names

  1. Interesting! I’ve been noticing a trend in unusual or unique girls names in YA books lately, but maybe it’s because I have been reading more dystopian and fantasy books. How many books do you think you read/included in your findings?

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