Name Inflation, Scrabble Style

Sep 22nd 2004

You see a car drive by with a metallic avocado finish, and you know you're looking at the pride of 1973. You see a blouse in neon chartreuse, and it's 1999. As colors are to fashion, letters are to baby names. They sweep in and out of fashion, alone and in combinations. The hot letters today sound quirky and exotic, the kind of letters that beg for individual attention.

But how do parents know which letters are most exotic? No problem. That question was answered generations ago by an unemployed architect named Alfred Butts, who invented the game of Scrabble. Butts chose point values for letters based on popular usage of the time, with the workhorse letters (vowels, l, n, r, s, t) worth one point, and the rare birds far more.

Those depression-era value assignments remain an intuitively accurate portrait of letter "exoticness." The letters that jump out from a rack of Scrabble tiles -- Z and Q (the 10-pointers), X and J (8), and K (5) -- also catch the eye in a name. They're beloved by the brand-name consultants who've coined such names as Exxon and Verizon, and they're the first stops in the alphabet for parents who want to give their children's names punch.

Here you see the percentage of American babies whose names include at least one high-value tile, either as the first letter (blue) or anywhere in the name (green):

Since 1900, the rate has nearly doubled. American parents' instinct to avoid the "ordinary" has created a name-scoring explosion.

A few points to ponder about that graph -- first, note that the first letter of the name accounts for more than half the occurrences of high-value letters. The exotics, fittingly, don't mingle with the commoners. Letters like Q seldom venture into the middle of a name, unless it's a foreign import (Jacques, Enrique) or an African-American invention (Tyquan, Laquita).

Second, consider that J is a great leveling factor. It's rare in common English words, with their Anglo-Saxon and Greco-Roman roots. But names more often have Hebraic roots, making J a common naming letter. A handful of biblical standards like John, James and Joseph were enormously popular a century ago, and their frequency swamps the growth of names like Xander and Quinn. If you look only at the rarest, most aggressively exotic letters, the trend is far more dramatic:

To Be Continued...


By Anonymous (not verified)
September 24, 2004 6:14 PM

ohhhhhhhhh this is so exciting :)-shawn

By Izette (not verified)
February 14, 2005 9:39 AM

Wow. My parents made up my name: IZETTE (female form of IZAK/ISAAC - biblical) - I've only found 2 other Izette's ever and I've never found the exact spelling in any 'baby name guide'! And for a bonus I've got a Z in it!!

By darren oldman (not verified)
February 16, 2005 7:47 PM

It's strange how increasingly popular quentin has become over the past 30 years, but similar names quinton and quinten have declined.

By kjones (not verified)
March 2, 2005 7:31 PM

So the most valuable name would be something like... XyQyzjyk? (Zuh KWIZ jik)

By Anonymous (not verified)
March 6, 2005 2:40 AM

I've met someone with the last name Izette, although I can't remember how it was spelled.

By Anonymous (not verified)
March 8, 2005 2:49 AM

If you look at the Saints of the Church, you'll find plenty of "exotic" names that people are known to use if it fits their faith. Take Xavier for instance. It comes from St. Francis Xavier with I think is cool!

By Anonymous (not verified)
March 23, 2005 5:49 PM

I have a friend who's name is Zheng, Qiong. By your theory, the name must score high, at least score 20.Don

By Anonymous (not verified)
March 29, 2005 8:29 AM

My daughters name is Abrina and i have yet to this duplicated. She is now 14 and loves her name. I feel it has made her very popular.

By Anonymous (not verified)
April 30, 2005 2:30 AM

this site sucksJoan

By Anonymous (not verified)
June 24, 2005 2:38 PM

My friend has a theory: if you're 32 years old there is a 5% chance your female name is Carey. Or the same name with a different spelling. My cousin split from his wife for a trophy wife 20 years younger. When I heard her age, I said, "I bet her name is Carey." I was right, and the wager paid me $32--her age. Any Carey you meet will be 32 give or take a yr.

By Anonymous (not verified)
July 12, 2005 8:44 PM

iv eyt to met any one named adina,it very unpopualr

By Antoinette (not verified)
November 22, 2005 3:58 PM

Does V count? I'm using Violet for a girl and also love Sylvia, Virginia and Evelyn.

By Christina (not verified)
February 27, 2006 8:57 PM

Hey, thanks for the idea, kjones! When I have a daughter, I'll name her XyQyzjyk!

But she can go by Carrie.

By elena (not verified)
April 21, 2007 10:21 AM

I am looking for a name for a new male pup which is an akbash a cattle protection dog from Turkey and he will have a sister which is already on the farm her name is Maggie.

By Adina (not verified)
May 28, 2007 12:09 PM

my name is adina and in my country it`s very popular...

By Catherine (not verified)
April 6, 2008 8:33 AM

causes as the like fluctuations in that of all other commodities. The frequent loss of those Before the reformation of the gold coin, the price of standard gold bullion in the market had,

October 26, 2008 8:17 AM

Wouldn't surprise me. Wasn't Mr. Xypq. . .(something of other, I don't remember his fullh name), an impish opponent of Superman in some of the early comics?

By khas
February 24, 2016 6:09 AM

Our commitment is to provide our customers the best shopping experience possible with our personalized customer service at a safe and secure environment. We proudly stand behind the quality of products that we sell because we believe in providing our customers the best quality and affordable fine watches together with excellent customer service

Online watches Pakistan / Watches in Pakistan / Watches prices in Pakistan

March 5, 2016 12:19 AM

I want to nice meet with you.Your post have opened my heartbeat.Really it is awesome nice and useful,helpful also.I have taken many many information from your post.I think scrabble word generator  will help you,after your visit.So visit and take ,fun and enjoy.

August 10, 2016 5:38 AM

My friends was expecting this year :)

Let's hope that this chart can really help him and her wife!

Pray for her!

ISO Audit Company

By gelo
August 15, 2016 1:49 AM

Experience to top and trusted sportsbook online where you can entrust your money safe and sound. Agen Bola Sbobet Agen Bola

By gelo
August 29, 2016 10:43 PM

It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanksthe vales EC the brownstone EC

June 24, 2017 8:46 AM

Andai kita harap berwisata saya sarankan memilih Pariwisata yang cukup raksasa contohnya misalnya adalah travel ini atau travel ini mengingat kedua tempat wisata itu merupakan Pariwisata cukup baik sekali dan berbeda dengan cara tour guide ataupun mampu juga sana tour guide. Maka dari itu sewaktu berlibur anda disarankan untuk pun melihat hasil pertandingan olahraga dari setiap agen bola terpercaya dan situs berita tentu saja semua itu pasti memanjang bertambah oke adanya. Persisnya terdapat merupakan langkah tertinggal jua untuk yang sedang diharuskan memakai timbangan lantai anda bisa membelinya untuk timbangan gantung karena demi toko sebelumnya jua menyediakan beragam macam memiliki angka timbangan digital sebagaimana timbangan dengan harga dan Baik dan atau baca juga timbangan duduk yang saya merasa ini benar banget prediksi bola

June 27, 2018 1:09 AM




/* Style Definitions */
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;

An incredible Publish which I possess actually observed! Your own Publish handles first and foremost the actual factors associated with the subject.  Properly offered info on this page, I favor to see this sort of things. The caliber of content material is okay and also the summary is actually benefited. Right now follow-up Congratulations!

July 16, 2019 3:51 AM

We Are here to just provide information about the type of content we are offering at our website named and currently I am working as a writer for them to provide articles on topic such as health, PR news for business, automation, home etc.
our current topics include

How to choose the low-cost IVF centre for infertility treatment?

10 Best Tik Tok Stars in India

5 Best Roller Shutter Repair Companies in London

July 20, 2019 12:39 PM

Thank you for excellent article.You made an article that is interesting. Tavera car for rent in chennai|Indica car for rent in chennai|innova car for rent in chennai|mini bus for rent in chennai|tempo traveller for rent in chennai Keep on the good work and write more article like this... innova car rental chennai|Tavera car rental chennai Great work !!!!Congratulations for this blog

August 30, 2019 5:20 AM

I’m a big fan of Astrid for a girl, and Remy for a boy. But I’ve gone through several names that have at one point been a top contender, but then you go and meet someone with that name and that person end up being, well not your favourite. And all of a sudden that name sounds less and less interesting. That’s me at least, anyone who thinks the same? I also like nerdy names, like tech names, remember George from Seinfeld with his seven name? And celebrities with like Apple? 

August 4, 2019 2:52 AM

There is nothing fancy about the undrafted tight end Kanken Bag Wholesale Nike Shoes Adidas Stan Smith Shoes Sale For Sale Sale from Grambling, except he catches ball and he knows how to get to the end zone.
The Clark trade Wholesale Fashion Shoes Australia for a seventh-round pick in 2016 is contingent on his Discount Nike NFL China Wholesale passing a physical.
Jacksonville did not have TE Julius Thomas (broken hand), receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) and rookie running back T.J. Yeldon (sprained finger).
"It's not as easy as you say (to) punt it out of bounds," Coughlin said. "We punted it for distance. We got some distance. They would have had 5 seconds left had we covered it. It would have been beyond midfield. They would have had one Hydro Flask ?terf?rs?ljare play. That's all fine."
"I don't think it's any surprise or any secret where I want Wholesale Jerseys China to play next year," he said.

September 7, 2019 2:52 PM

Great Article. I personally love this name Mits :)