I'm hoping you can help me. My husband and I are adopting and so are in the process of weeding through my 300 names-long list to find the perfect fit for our new little one. We seem to be doing fine with boys, but are having more trouble with girl names. We have a short list to choose from - all classic but slightly less-used names. Here's the problem: we're thinking ahead and trying to plan which names we would use in combination with each other for future children. Both Esme and Eliza are at the very top of our list, but we would not want to use both because they seem very "matchy". The only factor that might help us decide which to use is the popularity of each. Right now Eliza is at #328 and Esme has not broken into the top 1000. However, I have been seeing Esme more and more and am worried that it will become the next Emma. (Not to mention the Twilight series and its impact on the name!) So, with all your experience with names (and maybe with the help of your readers) maybe you can help us figure out the future popularity of these names? We appreciate your help and love your blog!
I am pretty sure it was The Baby Name Wizard that brought to my attention the way an unusual name can FEEL more common than it is. That is, if you hear the name Maverick two times in a year it seems like it must be WILDLY POPULAR, but you can hear the name Jacob twenty times without hardly noticing. A less-common name can make more of an IMPRESSION, and so a name like Maverick, which was #511 in 2008 (source: Social Security Administration), might get tiresome on the ears sooner than the #1 most popular name in the United States, just because it is more noticeable.
(This can also work the other way, incidentally: a name can feel all boring and used up when actually no one is using it anymore and it's less common than the "unusual" names.)
My guess---and I hesitate even to guess---is that Esme won't get as popular as Emma, but I think there is the possibility of it being more noticeable than the more familiar Eliza (which I would have guessed was more common than it is) and therefore SEEMING more common. And there is the danger that a generation of teenagers is going to grow up and start using the names they've "always loved," and that some of those names will be from the Twilight craze.
I'd choose Eliza, and it's because Eliza seems so much more stable to me: Esme seems more likely to make a sudden startling move. I also prefer the easier spelling/pronunciation of Eliza. But my main reason for choosing it is that it would go better with other names I like, so it's not a fair comparison.
What do the rest of you think about the futures of the names Eliza and Esme?