Not Just Another Jenny from the Block

If you’ve read the about section on my blog you are aware that I am a bit sensitive to the fact that I share my first name with a billion other women (possibly a few men too, you never know). Just the other day someone mentioned to me how many Jennifers they know. Yeah, popular name, especially in the 1970s and 1980s–I get it.

I just didn’t realize how popular until I looked at this list from the Social Security Administration (not sure why they are spending time on stuff like this, but here goes):

Popular names for births in 1910-2009
Rank Name Number
1 Mary 3,716,510
2 Patricia 1,566,458
3 Jennifer 1,452,299
4 Elizabeth 1,450,852
5 Linda 1,445,876

As a kid you want to feel unique, hard to achieve that when at least four other people answer “yes” when your name is called.

When selecting monikers for our kids, my husband and I kept this potential problem in mind. We went out of our way to pick names, while not as unique as say, Apple, not as common as Jennifer. That’s what we thought at the time anyway. Five years after the birth of our daughter, her name caught fire. Racing up the most popular list, to the number two spot–for three consecutive years. Needless to say, my little progeny did not like this. In the fifth grade, she dropped the last letter of her name in an effort to make it a bit more distinctive.

Son has faired a bit better. His name, while wildly popular in Scotland, has not taken off in the U.S. And believe it or not, he takes pride in this fact. He has said that he loves his name and is glad that only a handful of boys from his school, where the age range is 2-18, share it with him.

Having written all of this, and meant it, I have to add that I feel like a Jennifer. Whatever that means. I like my name. And, if given the choice, I wouldn’t change it.

How about you? Do you like your first name? How did you, or will you, select names for your kids?

The same person who mentioned knowing a bunch of Jennifers told me about this song. There are many tunes that contain the name Jennifer, but this one in particular sums up my experience perfectly. Enjoy!


21 responses

  1. I haven’t always been a Bernie. But when I started college and there were as many as 4 hallmates named Chris, it became a necessity.

    My wife’s a Jennifer too. We often compare how many classmates we had with the same name. Sure, it was neat at first being referred to as Chris B…but it got old quick.

    We too have tried to choose distinctive family names that will establish our kids as unique and not group them into an automatic classroom subset. If that doesn’t work we may have to move to a Hippie Freak commune.

    • Your first name is number 11 on the list of most popular male names (thanks for the info. SS Administration!). Yet, there are more Christophers in the U.S. than Jennifers so you win!!! Let me know if they follow college football at the Hippie Freak commune–if so, I might join you.

  2. I love my name. Sadly, no one can ever spell correctly due to parents driven desire to make it different and as biblical as possible. Rebekah Eve…both as the Old Testament spelled it.
    We’re not a religious family either…Oh well.

    • I was almost named Rebecca, but my mom didn’t want me called Becky, so they stuck with Jennifer. You wear your name well–exotic spelling and all. Maybe if I spelled it Jenifa (as in the De La Soul song Jenifa Taught Me) I wouldn’t be so bitter? 😉

  3. I am happy with my name. Always was. My oldest son has a very uncommon name, which as a teenager, he despises. My middle son has a name that, like your daughter, wasn’t popular until after I used it, and he despises it. My youngest’s name falls somewhere in between the two. He is only four, but will ultimately find a reason to despise it. So the moral of the story is…

  4. I’m all for rather traditionally standard names. Of course I am Thomas (Tommy, Tom) and my wife is a Jennifer. We chose Melanie, Michael, and Kenneth for the kids. Melanie being the only name on her short list and mine.

    I never wanted a different name, probably never gave it a thought.

    I do think the originality angle has gone too far as my wife’s experience in the teaching world has revealed:

    Abcde – (ab-suh-dee)
    Yestidy and Tomara..hmmmm
    I could go on and on.

    • Another wife named Jennifer… you guys are making my point for me. On the bright side, you can tell Melanie that she is one in every 2,012–who knew I’d get to use that fact twice–and in the same blog!

      Okay, Abcde–no freakin’ way. And, Yestidy? Tommy, think you have made me feel better about Jennifer. Thanks!

  5. What can I say…I do like my name too. It has versatility – Jen, Jenny, Jennifer…for whatever your mood is. Okay, so I dropped the Jenny option in about 6th grade, but it’s good to know it is still there if I ever want to go back to it!

    Great meeting another Jennifer, happy with her name!


  6. For the record, I LOVE the name Jennifer! I always wanted to be a Jenni, Yes Jenny with an i! I have no idea why. I am completely shocked that Patricia is number 2!! I can think of maybe 1 Patricia I know.

  7. With a name like Suzette, what can I say. I loved being the only one in my entire home town with this name! In fact, a classmate in grade school was tasked to get our class list for her mom since she was having a girl… yup, she got named after me!

    My daughter loves her name too, except when she wants to buy a personalized object like a key chain since it’s not all that common, yet. BTW, her brother picked her name. It was out of his favorite movie when he was three, “The Rescuers'” Bernard and Bianca!

  8. Since I was a kid, I morphed my name in many ways. It started off with a unique spelling, not to be unique, but because my mom thought that’s how it was spelled.


    When I saw my first episode of Brady Bunch, I decided that I wanted to go by Cindy. My mother wasn’t having any of it. I went by Cinthya until the fourth grade and changed schools. Cindy caught on.

    By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was DONE being Cindy. The only song I knew how to play on the piano was Twinkle Twinkle, so I picked up the name Twinkle.

    Sometime in my mid twenties, I picked up Sugar. My mom doesn’t like calling me Sugar, either. She still calls me Cinthya. The misspelled way.

    Did I mention that Cinthya means Goddess of the Moon? So sometimes, I like being called “Your Highness” or “Moonbeam”.

    I gotta lay off the coffee.

  9. I did not like my name Noël growing up, I was shy and it always invited comments. My parents chose it since I was born near Christmas. I remember wishing my name was something simple like Amy! I would have been thrilled with Jennifer too. Only one of my Son’s names became popular later “Cole”.

  10. I have to admit to laughing throughout this reading. A few comments. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s late, but hey, I just arrived. Patricia you’ll find among many senior citizens. Think about why it would have been popular back then and into the fifties.

    As for being uncomfortable with your own name, there’s a theory that a person’s name helps define the person during their life. Either it fits or it doesn’t. Mine never did.

    I was the only Claudette in my home town. Dad was enamored with Claudette Colbert when I was born and took that opportunity to tell the world about it. But that’s not as bad as baby bro’s moniker. He got stuck with my Mom’s late brother’s name as an honor. Nothing against the name, but it was a bit too past century for even my Dad. So bro is still called Buck.

    My name never fit me, so I do understand about Jennifer. I have at least five aliases that I go by just so that I don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis. When I told my mom what I would name any children I had, she was glad to go along with my plan to have none.

    Loved this posting.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment Claudsy. I think your name is very cool, and love the story behind why you were named Claudette, but I do understand why you feel the way you do. I feel like a “Jennifer,” and like the name very much–just bummed I have to share it with so many others. 😉

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