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Baby Names from the Phone Book

You're pregnant -- time to look for a name! You crack open the nearest baby name book, read the first page, then the second, then the third...have your eyes glazed over yet?

Alphabetized lists of names that that go on for hundreds of pages aren't exactly the most inspirational things to read. So, if the "baby name book" route isn't working for you, why not try your phone book?

Now, before you say anything -- yes, I realize the phone book is yet another long, alphabetized list of names that goes on for hundreds of pages. :) But this list is arranged by surname, so the forenames are listed more or less randomly and are therefore easier to scan.

Also, phone books do a better job of mirroring reality than baby name books do. In a baby name book, each name gets an entry. In a phone book, popular names pop up often while unpopular names pop up rarely (if at all). For instance, in the white pages you'll probably see names like Robert and Jennifer multiple times and names like Zefirino and Ariadne only once or twice. (Just remember that today's popular baby names won't be won't reflected in the phone book for another couple of decades, so the "popular" names you spot will be a bit out-of-date.)

Do you travel? Flipping through phone books from other locations can be particularly fun. For example, here are some names I've seen in several phone books from other states:

Maybe you don't have your local phone book handy. Or, maybe you'd like to skim through names from other areas. Not a problem -- many phone books (e.g. Alaska, Kansas, Rhode Island, etc.) can be found online.

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