A name can say a lot about the year someone was born.

By Melissa Locker
April 06, 2017
Advertisement
Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Minnie, Chester, Tammy, and Kyle all have something in common—they are some of the most distinctive names of the past and present.

The clever folks over at Mental Floss dug through the Social Security Administration's baby name database and then crunched the numbers to determine which names are the most distinctive. They made the determination by figuring how often a name appears per gender within a generation versus how often it appears throughout the entire period from 1883 to 2015. Like we said, clever folks.

The results of all that number crunching are a fascinating trip through time to an era when names like Effie and Elmer were as common as Madison and Jayden are today. These names are so distinctive, that simply hearing them is a clue to the year someone was born, such as how Mental Floss notes that "girls named Linda were most likely born in 1947."

Back in the so-called Lost Generation, between 1883 and 1900, the name Maude became popular thanks to a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. (Can you imagine a poem inspiring a popular name these days?) Effie and Minnie were also considered distinctive for girls of the era, while Will, Harry, and Charlie were most distinctive for boys.

Girls born in the G.I. Generation of 1901-1924 had names like Gertrude, Mildred, and Viola, while boys were dubbed Elmer, Clarence, and Chester (after President Chester A. Arthur, of course). You can spot someone born in the Silent Generation of 1925-1942 thanks to names like Dolores and Betty or Gene and Norman. The name Joan was also found to be quite distinctive to the generation thanks to the popularity of Joan Crawford. (Because they hadn't seen Mommy Dearest or Feud yet).

You might also be interested in:

Baby Boomers can be spotted by names like Judy, Gail, and Gary while Gen X's are most likely to be Chads, Tammys, and Todds.

While you should never (and would never) ask a woman her age, the next time a woman named Mildred claims she's a baby boomer, simply smile and tell her she looks wonderful.