Old Person Names
October 21, 2020
What does your name say about your age? The answer: quite a bit. In fact, based on your first name, we can guess how old you are likely to be!
To do this, we looked at Social Security Administration data which lists the first names of people born in the United States in each year. Then we looked at actuarial tables to figure out the odds that a person born in a given year is still alive.
Based on this methodology, we can guess the average age of a person born in the United States who has any given name.
What were the names with the oldest average age, as of 2020?
* This only includes names where at least 10,000 living people have that name.
Average age: 77.25
Myrtle is a type of flowering plant. Its popularity as a name peaked in 1894, when it was the 27th most popular name for baby girls.
Average age: 76.30
Average age: 75.36
Average age: 75.05
Alternate spelling of Betty. You're going to notice a pattern here.
Average age: 74.37
Another Betty variation which occurred during the Betty crazy of the 1920s.
Average age: 73.91
Average age: 73.88
A long time ago, Ethel was a popular name. In 1896, it was the 6th most popular name for baby girls. But since the 1980s it has become virtually extinct. Only 23 babies named Ethel were born in 2019.
Americans might recognize Ethel as one of the main characters on popular 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy.
Average age: 73.51
Betty was the second most popular girl's name in the U.S. from 1928–1934. At its peak, more than 3% of baby girls were named Betty.
Average age: 73.91
Average age: 73.23
Appropriately, Blanche Devereaux was one of the characters on The Golden Girls.
Average age: 73.14
Another popular name from the 1920s. By the time The Flintstones debuted in 1960, the name had already become unpopular.
Average age: 72.63
Average age: 72.54
Average age: 72.52
Average age: 72.37
Average age: 72.33
Average age: 71.86
Average age: 71.80
Another one of the The Golden Girls!
Average age: 71.43
In the 1910s, there were actually more boys named Patsy then there were girls.
Average age: 71.37
The name Shirley exploded in popularity between 1933 and 1935 due to the emergence of child star Shirley Temple.
You might notice there are ZERO male names on this list. This is because male names tend to remain more constant over time but also because men die sooner. The oldest male name used by at least 10,000 Americans is
100 Oldest Female Names in the U.S.
It's surprising that both of these series, set in the modern day, feature names which are generally considered "old". Although I suppose there's always exceptions to the trends somewhere!
In fact, the name peaked in 1891 (15th) before disappearing in the second half of the 20th century. It has then known a regain of interest in the 2000s. There are currently 700 Mabels born every year, against 3700 in 1915 and 75 (only!) 51 years ago. Basically, the average age is misleading. In a decade or two, Mabel will become a young name again.
Given how iconic Gravity Falls is, it probably amplified the resurgency phenomenon. I suppose it'll be even more important when we, teens of the 2010s, will become nostalgic adults. For comparison, there are currently less than 5 babies named Dipper or Soos every year (thank God, keep going). Other names from the Gravity Falls, such as Mason, Stan, Jesus or Wendy, are all much too popular to draw any conclusions.
I've met a 40 years old Betty once, and a 18 years old Eulalie (french version of Eulalia). Never knew those names were that old (Betty) or popular enough (Eulalia) in the US.
The absence of male names in that list is very interesting. Perhaps people tend to choose them amongst their ancestors because they "carry on the legacy" whereas feminine names are usually more subjected to trends because they're mainly chosen to symbolise beauty etc. If so, I hope it'll change. Come to think about it, I really want some masculine names to "die" now lol