Girls named Madison – since when and why?

Looking at a parents magazine, I was amazed to find that the 4th most popular name for girls in 2001 was Madison. This amazed me. I don’t know anyone male or female named that. Further web research revealed it’s been in the top 10 list of names for girls for a few years now – but only a few.

A quick glance at the social security web site

shows that it’s not in the top 10 AT ALL from 1880 until 1997, when it arrives at #7.

My questions: why did the last name of a U.S. president become a hip name for girls? (Am I going to see little girls named Nixon soon – [no Bush jokes, please]?) and what happened in 1997 to make people start naming their daughters it?

If history is any indication, I’d bet that a girl in a movie was named “Madison,” and instantly every yuppie who had a kid just so they could dress it in Baby Gap clothing and never considered the kid would someday actually be an adult though it was just so next year’s latté. Why name you kid Madeleine when you can give her such a cool, updated version of it? These same parents also sometimes name their daughters “Mackenzie” and their sons “Carson.”

Sorry, not much of a GQ response. But look for a pop culture reference; I’ll bet that’s what it is.

I can’t answer the Madison question, but I did notice that Jennifer also had a sudden rise to fame (and then a sudden demise). In 1969 it appeared in 2nd, then was first from 1970 to 1984. In 1985 it was 3rd, then never to be heard from again. No wonder there’s about a billion Jennifers out there in their 20’s.

In reference to RickJay’s post, I think the mermaid character (played by Daryl Hannah…which leads to the question, what’s up with her first name?) in “Splash” was named Madison. This movie, as you may remember, was quite popular when it came out in 1984. Perhaps the popularity of the name Madison for girls now is some sort of ripple effect.

The Jennifer Effect was due to LOVE STORY (1970) with Ali MacGraw playing a Jennifer. Why would you name your kid after the character who DIES?

“Hey, I’m gonna name my new boat TITANIC.”

>> Looking at a parents magazine, I was amazed to find that the 4th most popular name for girls in 2001 was Madison

Is that in Wisconsin?

One of those take-your-chances trivia lists that flies around the internet claims that not only did Darryl Hannah’s character in “Splash” popularize the name, but that the movie ‘invented’ the name, if you will, for girls.

This was discussed one time on the snopes message board, and nobody could debunk it.

She was named Madison in the movie because he asked her what her name was, as they stood at the street corner of Madison Avenue and some numbered cross street. There is even a crane shot looking down at them, to emphasize the view of the street sight that reads, “Madison”.

Let us all take a moment to express our deep gratitude that they were not standing at the corner of Bowery and Bond.

The mind reels… :eek:


A quick search on the IMDB seems to confirm that the earliest use of “Madison” as a female character’s first name in the movies was in Splash.

The only thing earlier that I see is a character simply named “Madison” (is that first name or last?) played by Nita Martan in the silent Lady Be Good released in 1928.

That’s funny–a friend of mine has twins named Madeline and Carson. In all fairness, Carson is a 3rd, and goes by his middle name (Carson) to differentiate himself from Dad and Grandpa. Just made me laugh!

In the movie Splash, Madison was considered a totally stupid choice for a name. It was a joke, a point of humor.

I know I heard it on a real person sometime in 1995, because I was working at a job with a guy who’s last name was Madison. So we laughed at the idea of Madison Madison. So, it was used as early as 1995.

When I was a wee lass, my next-door-neighbor and I saw “Splash” at her house. (This was in 1985-6.) Subsequently, she always called her doll Madison when we played Barbies. She would be 27 now, which would put her at prime baby-having age.

Who knows? Maybe many young, impressionable girls were similarly convinced that Madison was an appropriate name for a girl and have been anxiously waiting to have a family all these years so their dream could come true.

It wouldn’t be the first time a name made the jump from fiction to reality. “Wendy” was invented by J. M. Barrie for his female heroine in Peter Pan.

My 16 y/o daughter had a classmate in elementary school named Madison - the girl would have been born in 1985…

Gosh, I was just taking a shot in the dark that “Madison” had come from the media. I had completely forgotten that the mermaid in “Splash!” was called that.

The sheeple who name their daughters Madison should be ashamed.

In 12-18 years I assume college campuses will be overrun by girls named “Ally,” “Rose,” and “Grace.” Could be worse.

Well, in SIX years they’ll be overrun with my daughter, Rose, if she doesn’t take her Dear Papa’s advice to skip the academic crap and opt for Air-Conditioner Repair School.

I understand the Ally and Grace comments, but who’s the “Rose” currently on teevee?

Man, I got to suck up more popular culture.

Rose is Kate Winslet’s character in TITANIC. Since a lot of the billions of $$ it pulled in was repeat viewings by 12 old girls …

Let’s say you have a child at 27, that’s 2012. That plus 18 years gives us millions of college girls named Rose in 2030.

Names go through cycles. I was reminded of this when I found two women in the same office with the same last name. Their first names were Mary and Janet and I just somehow assumed that Janet was the younger one. For when I was growing up, Mary was an older woman’s name and there were loads of Janets. But of course, now all those Janets are my age and Mary has gone round and regained a certain currency. And indeed in the that case, the older one was Janet and the younger one (her daughter-in-law, in fact) was the Mary.

It was perhaps 10 or 15 years ago that there was a New Yorker cartoon showing a kindergarten teach calling role: “Scott, Jennifer, Jeniffer, Scott, Scott, Scott,…”

"Names go through cycles. "

Right, BUT the whole point of this thread is that Madison has come out of nowhere. It was not part of any previous cycle. It did not exist until a few years ago, and we’re all wondering how it came to be. SPLASH is as good a reason as any.

Though I don’t see Ripley or Leia on any Top 10 name lists. QED: It’s the mothers doing the naming

Actually, there are a lot of little girls right now with Rose as their middle name. I know, because our daughter’s first name is Rose so people often mention it.

(Our Rose is Rose not because of Titanic, which we hated, but because it was my grandmother’s name. Just like our son Sam is named for my wife’s grandfather.)

According to Wendy, this is not true.