1940s Baby Names

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Choosing baby names can be one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy, and parents looking for names can find inspiration everywhere. If you’re a World War II buff, love old-fashioned names or want to honor your family’s history, you might consider exploring popular 1940s baby names to see if one of them is right for the newest member of your family.


Most Popular Names

James, Robert, John, William and Richard were the top five boys’ names in the 1940s, while Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia and Carol filled out the top five spots for girls’ names, according to the Social Security Administration. David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald round out the top 10 boys’ names, and Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan finish the top 10 girls’ names list. Most of those names seem a little old-fashioned today — only Michael cracked the top 20 list of boys’ names for 2010. Not one of the top 10 girls’ names from the 1940s even made the top 100 names list for 2010.

Still-Popular Names

Girls’ names seem to have changed most significantly since the 1940s. Only Audrey and Charlotte appear in the top 100 lists for the 1940s and 2010, according to BabyCenter.com. Boys’ names fared better: Of the top 10 boys’ names in the 1940s, only Richard, Charles and Ronald failed to crack the top 100 list for boys’ names in 2010. Other boys’ names like Sam, Nicholas and Henry also made the top 100 list in the 1940s and in 2010.

Name Origins

English names held four of the top five boys’ name spots in the 1940s. John, which means “God is gracious,” comes from Hebrew, but James, Robert, William and Richard are all English in origin, according to “Parents” magazine. Popular boys’ names had meanings tied to strength, like James, which means “supplanter;” William, which means “protector” abd “Richard,” which means “wealthy and powerful ruler.” Girls’ names were more eclectic in the 1940s. Barbara, which means “foreigner,” and Patricia, meaning “noblewoman,” are both derived from Latin, Mary comes from Hebrew word “bitter,” Linda is Spanish for “beautiful,” and Carol comes from French word for “song,” indicating that popular girls’ names were more globally inspired.

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