"Monica"

"Monica"

"Monica"

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Jan. 5 1999 5:50 PM

"Monica"

Among Monica Lewinsky's many accomplishments is that she's achieved the type of fame where people know your last name as soon as they've heard your first. Just as Oprah Winfrey is "Oprah" and Elvis Presley is "Elvis," Monica Lewinsky is "Monica." Monica's notoriety coincides almost perfectly with the previous calendar year. Nobody had ever heard of Monica before Jan. 15, 1998, but everybody had heard of Monica by Feb. 1, 1998, and felt they had known Monica since birth by Jan. 1, 1999. This makes Monica ideal for being judged by a most unforgiving standard: How many Americans are naming their babies "Monica"? Sadly, not as many as last year. According to a tally of popular names in the U.S. by Michael Shackleford of the Social Security Administration, "Monica" ranked 97th among names given to baby girls in 1998, down from 83 in 1997. It's possible, however, that the name rallied late in the year: Shackleford's 1998 calculations are based on samples taken between January and September.

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--Timothy Noah