What’s in a name? Less and less with each passing year

This New York Times story about the 48-year reign of Michael as the most popular name for boys born in New York state reminded me to check the numbers for this part of the world.

When I last compared North Carolina’s favorite baby names with those of the country as a whole, in 2009, I found that differences had steadily shrunken over half a century. In just three years that divide has become even narrower: The girls’ names making up the U.S. top five for 2012 differ only in order from the names  making up the North Carolina top five. And the only exception in the boys’ top five is North Carolina parents’ preference for Elijah over Ethan.

We could hardly come closer to duplicating the national consensus if we tried. (Are we, in fact, trying?)

Footnote: After seeing a baby-names website tout North Carolina’s most historically distinctive names, Zebulon and Zeb, as among 2012’s “hottest,” I was expecting to see them rise in the national rankings. Alas, no. How hot can a name be and still not crack the top 1,000?