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Where Have All the Shaunnas Gone?

My name is Shaunna, and there are a few variations on it like Shauna and Shawna. Where have all of the Shaunnas gone? I went to school with at least 3 others. I can't even find my name spelt differently anymore. --Shaunna

In the Case of the Missing Shaunnas, I'll give you a clue: follow Kerri. And along the trail, keep an eye out for Trisha, Brandi, Geoffrey and Brent. I suspect you'll find them all together, doing something that was unimaginable back when you were a girl in school. They're being adults.

Yes Shaunna, your name has crossed the generational divide. It peaked, in all of its many spellings, back in the late 1970s. (Check out the NameVoyager graph of Shawna's popularity.) That means that the name is still out there, but the typical Shaunna is now a thirty-something with kids named Emily and Jacob.

I can't blame you, though, for feeling like your name has vanished overnight. Its decline as a baby name was undeniably swift. In the space of a single generation, Shawna went from mainstream hit to rarity. Why? 

One factor is that Shauna was riding the coattails of Shaun, a super-trendy boy's name in the 1970s. Shaun, in turn, was a variant of the more traditional Sean. Most often, when a name trend starts to cool off, the creative spellings fall the fastest. The rapid end of the Shaun Cassidy teen idol era helped make Shauna fade before its time.

There's also a clue in that pointy name popularity graph. When it comes to baby name trends, the faster they climb, the harder they fall. Take a look at the the popularity of the name Adrienne for a contrast. Adrienne and Shawna were equally popular in the '70s, but it took Adrienne decades of steady climbing to get there. That help protect it from feeling "date-stamped," and has kept it more current.

I'm afraid you're not likely to find a new wave of Shaunas any time soon. It takes a few generations before a name returns to parents' shopping lists. But that doesn't mean people don't like your name. I'm sure its smooth simplicity goes over well with most everyone you meet. And hey, there's nothing wrong with adulthood.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

February 20, 2012 5:19 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

For fans of Ferris Bueller: do you think Jeannie sounds more modern (and hotter) than Shauna now?

February 20, 2012 11:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

To anonymous: When I think "Shauna," I think of people my own age (20's) and older. Jeannie is old enough to sound fresh.

February 21, 2012 2:54 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

My name is Helen. It's popularity peaked in the 1940s, so when my mom named me in 1958 it was already past its prime. Growing up in the 60s I wanted a trendy name or at least a name whereby you could have a nickname, but that was not to be. Everytime I meet someone who knew a Helen, it was their mother, grandmother or great aunt. Alas, I was named after my dad's aunt who was born in 1901.

February 21, 2012 5:15 PM
By A Rose (not verified)

Re. Helen: I know a 17 y/o Helen, so it's not just grandmothers!

February 21, 2012 8:35 PM
By M (not verified)

I think a lot of it has to do with where that name was popular versus mixed with where your life has taken you. If you grew up with other Shaunnas (including different spellings), and they stayed in the area, but you moved away to where the name wasn't as popular, there wouldn't be that many for you to interact with here. For instance, I graduated with five Brittanys and four Ashleys(with different spellings, not to mention the many others in different grades), but when I went to college, I only knew one Brittany and no Ashleys (both schools were small). So I think location and fields have a lot to do with the names we encounter.

Re Helen. I was friends with a girl named Helen growing up; she'd be 26 now.

February 21, 2012 11:06 PM
By Tanya (not verified)

My name has gone the same....

February 22, 2012 3:56 PM
By Kerri (not verified)

I'm a has-been? I have only met one other Kerri in my life, and she lived on my block growing up!

And yes, I'm 42 with 2 kids...not Emily and Jacob, but Ian and Elliott...

February 22, 2012 3:57 PM
By Kerri (not verified)

wait, I'm 41! I'm only 41! eek, prematurely aging myself....

February 23, 2012 12:09 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)


February 26, 2012 12:09 AM
By Zoe (not verified)

Valenz, I know a 22 year old and a 17 year old Helen. It's still around.

I think that Helen's problem is twofold- one, the lack of obvious nicknames with the inevitable shortening "Hell." The second is that even though it would seem a natural to follow in Alice's upward footsteps, the name Helena is just as old fashioned but more elegant.

And I fear my name shall be of a victim of the "the faster the climb the harder they fall" problem.

February 28, 2012 12:58 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

Thank you,ladies, for giving me hope that my classic name will not die! I gave my kids classic names, Andrea and Marco, so that they would truly be unique in the unique name world of today.

February 29, 2012 9:14 AM
By Em's Mom (not verified)

I know a 1-year-old named Helena. She goes by Nella.

March 3, 2012 6:29 PM
By valerie (not verified)

If my name were Helen, I would try to go by the nickname 'Hel'. Of course, that wouldn't be appropriate for work.

March 5, 2012 12:28 PM
By Annee (not verified)

Oh, but what is old is new again ... and I think Helen will make her way back up the chart along with the equally elegant Ellen ... ;-) We just have to wait for the next generation to come along and think all the three- and four-syllable names ending in a vowel are overly fussy ... :o)

March 6, 2012 7:03 PM
By elleireland (not verified)

I know a teenage Shauna, but I did think when her mother named her that it sounded a little...dated. Kind of like the baby Stacy I know.

As far as Helen goes, the variation that has endured is the Latin sound of the name. The Spanish "Elena" is so pretty. My daughter has friends named Alayna, Aleyah, and Aliyah. I think people heard "Elena" ad decided to Anglicize it.

I do like Helena, though. And the actress Bonham-Carter has kept the name current.

March 10, 2012 2:04 AM
By Chawna (not verified)

LOL... I am here! Spelled different but pronounced the same! I am thirty something and have 4 children... one being Emmalee. For years I swore I was going to have a boy and name him Jacob... but never did!

Honestly though... I have never liked my name. I do like the spelling of it though.

This is funny! Thanks for the laugh!!

March 15, 2012 3:09 PM
By Moroni'a little sister (not verified)

Never fear, Shaunna! I have a friend named Shawna and a cousin named Shaunase(shawn-uh-see)

March 16, 2012 1:39 AM
By Zoe (not verified)

It depresses me but I can see it happening. I'm 21, when I was born their weren't any Zoe's around and it was considered a rare name. Now they are everywhere and it's making the top 15 girl names. Very sad.

December 25, 2012 1:52 AM
By daisy (not verified)

Its amazing to see someone put so much passion into a subject. I'm glad I came across this. I'm glad I took the time to read on past the first paragraph. You've got so much to say, so much to offer.

March 21, 2013 4:19 AM
By (not verified)

Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it.

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