Find Out If Your Name Was Ahead of Its Time
This interactive will tell you if your name was a trendsetter, a bandwagon choice or after its time
Bad news for all the new baby Sophias born in 2016: The name, while still wildly popular, is past its prime, according to newly released baby name data from the Social Security Administration. After a three-year run as the top choice for baby girls, from 2011 to 2013, Sophia fell to third place in 2014 and 2015 and fourth in 2016, behind Emma, Olivia and Ava.
To find out how popular your name was when you were born—and how it has fared since then—enter your gender, birth year and first name into this interactive. We'll tell you which of eight categories your name fits into based on your birth year, like "trendsetter," "Mr. or Ms. Popular," or even a "snowflake"—a name that was never common.
Those who named their child "Sophia" in 2016 are just one example of a common psychological phenomenon in naming children: Parents often believe they are ahead of the curve with a name, or at least not riding the bandwagon, when in fact thousands of other parents have come to the same conclusion.
As the University of Virginia social psychologist Timothy D. Wilson wrote in his book Strangers to Ourselves, not even psychologists who study these trends are immune to name crazes. He writes that when he and his wife chose to name their son Christopher, "it seemed like a pleasing but not-too-fadish choice." They soon learned it was among the most popular boy names of the year.
Full disclosure: Wilson and his wife, Deirdre Smith, are this reporter's parents.
The Social Security Administration publishes all names that appear at least five times in a given year. This interactive includes every name that passed that threshold in at least 25 different years going back to 1880, a total of 23,868 names. To determine categories, TIME first determined the "local maxima" for each name—times when it peaked in popularity, even if that peak was not the all-time highest level for a name. (Many names peak two or three times over the course of 135 years.) We did not count small peaks or ones that occurred in the course of a name's overall downward trend.
Names are considered popular if they occur within two years of a peak year. "Classic" names are those that most recently peaked more than 20 years ago. "Snowflake" names are those that never surpassed 0.01% of all names in their peak year. "Comeback kid" names must have a least 50 years between peaks.