Monday, April 19, 2021

How Common is Your Name?

How Common is My Name?

You know you’re one-of-the-kind. But what about your name? Have you ever wondered just how common your name is, and what it says about you?

Before the internet, those questions were likely to remain questions. After all, you would literally have had to go to records offices all over the world to see how many other people shared your name. Thankfully, that’s no longer true.

Beyond knowing that people share your name, you might also be curious about if these people share any characteristics. Are these people like you in any way, or do any similarities end with a shared name?

The following highlights the options you have to research your name, and to find out more about how common your name is:

Name Popularity Through the Years

Popular first names ebb and flow from year to year, and from one generation to the next. A character in a book, popular TV show, or movie can influence names for a brief time. But  other more “standard” names hold strong over the years. Over the past 100 years, for example, names like James, John, Mary and Patricia have been the most common in the U.S. overall. However, you wouldn’t know it to look at the most popular baby names in 2020: Liam, Noah, Sophia, and Olivia.

Does your first name speak to the time when you were born? Or are you an outlier?

Your last name is not so much influenced by popularity…at least, not currently. But go back far enough, and you will find your last name can say a lot about your heritage and ancestral line. At one point, your last name was chosen by your ancestors to describe their status amongst their peers at the time. Or it described a trade for which your family was known (anything with “Smith” in it, for example).

Spellings and pronunciations may have changed somewhat over time. But some careful genealogical research should be able to guide you back to your last name’s origins.

What Your First Name Means

Much like how your last name points to a common familial origin, your first name also has certain meaning based on where it originated. But unlike your last name, your first name may not actually point to your heritage. Your parents may have just liked how a certain first name sounds together with their last name. A first name may have struck them as pretty or unique or strong. But it doesn’t directly tie you to any particular region or culture.

You are likely already familiar with what your first name means. But you can refresh yourself on its meaning and where it comes from by using resources like Simply look up your name to discover its origin, meaning, if it’s a variant of another name, and if it’s considered typically male or female. In some cases, you may be surprised to find that your name does not necessarily mean what you thought it did.

How to Find Others with Your Same Name

And we’re back to the internet. By going online, you have a number of options to help you satisfy your curiosity about your name or how common your name is:

  1. Search your full name via a general online search. This won’t necessarily give you a fixed count of people with your name around the world. But it can reveal some, especially people with that name who have done something newsworthy, currently or in the past.
  2. Search for your name on a dedicated people search site. With access to public records, this could show you a list of all the people that share your name in the U.S. and where they reside.
  3. Look for your name on social media. Not everyone who shares your name may be on social media. However, given the billions of people that are on social media, odds are you’ll find quite a few (if there are quite a few, that is).

There is no one quite like you. But there is a certain sense of kinship that can come from finding that you share your name with others. How many? Start your search today to try and find out.

For more information about names and other pieces of data that can be used to identify and set people apart, browse through the People Data articles available on the PeopleFinders blog.

Photo credit: MichaelJayBerlin –

PeopleFinders was launched in 1999 to give people easy access to public records data. The PeopleFinders mission is to find, organize and make information accessible - empowering people with meaningful answers.

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