The Case of the Phantom Classic Baby Name
With so many old-fashioned names making a comeback today, style can seem mysteriously choosy. Why has Emma risen from the ashes but Ida stayed idle? Why hasn't an old favorite like Hans come roaring back to the top the way other old-time names like Caleb and Lucas have?
Every name has its own story. In the case of Hans, the answer may surprise you. Hans can't "make its way back" because it was never really here to begin with.
Yes, Hans is a classic. But it's not an American classic. Even during the 1880s, when German immigration to the U.S. was at its peak, Hans didn't make much of an impact. Forget Emma-- even names like Omer, Floy, General and Green were more popular than Hans.
What sets Hans apart from other uncommon names is history. You hear Hans and you hear the likes of Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, German artist Hans Holbein and Dutch storybook character Hans Brinker. So it's completely familiar, even though most of us have never met a real-life Hans. (The name isn't even common in Germany these days.)
From a style perspective, this can be a fine thing indeed. You've stumbled on a name that's traditional, familiar and easy to spell, yet nobody's using it. Better yet, it doesn't sound dowdy because there wasn't a generation of Grandpas Hanses to weigh it down. Those are some of the same ingredients that propelled Caleb and Lucas to the top. Because -- shh, don't tell -- those two "old timers" weren't really big in the old days either.