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July 25, 2014

Anniston lending its name to growing number of babies

206 children were named 'Anniston' in 2013

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Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 5:28 pm | Updated: 8:47 pm, Mon May 19, 2014.

Parents across the nation are naming their daughters Anniston. Well, a few, anyway.

According to data released last week by the Social Security Administration, the name “Anniston” is becoming more popular among parents — 2013 saw 206 children named Anniston, an all-time high. The name first surfaced in SSA reports in 1996, but didn’t start seeing significant popularity until 2009, when 89 children were named Anniston. That number jumped to 149 in 2010, and increased again to 164 in 2011. That trend continued in 2012, as 204 children were born named Anniston.

Cassie McCord, a two-year resident of the Model City, automatically assumed people were simply spelling their children’s names wrong when she heard of the trend.

“My first thought is Jennifer Aniston,” McCord said. “I have no idea. I think it’s kind of weird.”

Laura Wattenberg, creator of the website Baby Name Wizard, offered a few reasons as to the rising popularity in the name. The first reason, Wattenberg said, is probably due to actress Jennifer Aniston, who first put the name in the spotlight of American pop culture.

Another potential reason Wattenberg listed was the androgynous nature of the name, which may be appealing to parents who want newer, fresher names for their children.

“Anniston is part of a special category of names,” Wattenberg said. “It is a name that is androgynous enough for people to give their children an interesting name, but it can also be shortened down to nicknames like Annie. You saw the same thing happen with names like Madison.”

Ironically, Anniston’s name derives from the name Annie. The city got its name in the late 1800s, when town officials named the city in honor of Annie Tyler, the daughter-in-law of Daniel Tyler, one of the city’s co-founders.

They called it “Annie’s Town,” which eventually got shortened to Anniston.

The SSA revealed a few other interesting trends related to the state of Alabama. Eleven babies were named Saban in 2011, the most of any year since Nick Saban became head coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007. Fourteen people in the U.S. named their childrenAlabama in 2013, bringing the total number of babies named Alabama to 73 since 2009. None came from the state itself.

The report showed interesting national trends as well. Jacob’s 14-year reign as the most popular male baby name in the country came to an end in 2013, being ousted by Noah by a mere 114 names. Female name popularity saw relative stability, as Sophia was reported as the nation’s most popular name for the third consecutive year.

Two names from popular culture saw significant growth in 2013, however. “Daenerys” and “Khaleesi,” names derived from characters on the popular HBO show and book series “Game of Thrones,” saw all-time popularity in the U.S. in 2013.

Daenerys jumped from 21 names in 2012 to 67 in 2013. Khaleesi saw even greater growth, rocketing from 146 children named so in 2012 to 241 in 2013.

“Barack” had its weakest showing in the U.S. since 2007, with only 11 children being named so in 2013. It’s the lowest total since 2007, when five children were named Barack in the U.S.

Still, Wattenberg said, the decrease in popularity isn’t a result of any political cause. The name was never popular, she said, and presidential politics don’t really give names a boost.

“It used to be, every new generation would see a spike of baby names named after presidents,” Wattenberg said. “But, ever since Watergate happened, that just doesn’t happen anymore.”

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