2016 Naming Trends, Predictions, and Warnings

Naming Themes and Sounds behind the Fastest-Rising Baby Names

When selecting names, parents often consider options that are similar in some way. For example, they may consider root names against their variations (Adeline and Adaline), names that sound similar (Aiden and Jayden), names with similar endings (Emmalynn, Avalynn, and Gracelynn), or names with the same theme (nature names, place names, trade names, or brand names). Below are some themes and sounds that help explain why similar names rise (and fall) together.

Girls:

  • Names that end in “ani”—Meilani (+1,836), Milani (+295), Kalani (+236), Kailani (+108), and Alani (+88)
  • Names that end with the sound of “rye-ah”—Ariah (+181), Ariya (+142), and Sariah (+142)
  • Names that end in “ya” or “ia”—Alaia (+2,002), Taya (+1,107), Kaya (+145), Aya (+100), and Zendaya (+91)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lin”—Aislin (+1,385), Adilynn (#329), Addilynn (+193), Roselyn (+85), Kaelyn (+54), Emmalynn (+70), Raelyn (+70), Avalynn (+66), Kaelinn (+61), and Gracelynn (+59)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lee”—Adley (+495), Heavenly (+318), Zaylee (+314), Kinslee (+175), Oakley (+154), Hadlee (+116), Tinley (+107), Everleigh (+101), Annalee (+87), Karlie (+69), Harley (+68), and Carlee (+59)
  • Names that end in “anna” or “ana”—Alannah (+189), Giavanna (+143), Avianna (+142), Aviana (+141), Lillianna (+64), Giovanna (+62), Elianna (+54), and Ivanna (+52)
  • Names associated with music, musicians, or bands—(Annie) Lennox (+416), (John) Lennon (+183), Journee (+90), and Harmoni (+89)

Boys:

  • Athletes—Jabari (+194), Kyrie (+172), Kyree (+140), Beckham (+129), and Hank (+69)
  • Brand names—Otis (+160), Mack (+145), Ford (+143), Oakley (+90), Stetson (+64), and Coleman (+60)
  • Place names—Cairo (+164), Denver (+155), and Houston (+86)
  • Pompous titles—Royal (+105), Bishop (+61), and Messiah (+54)
  • University names—Baylor (+152), Princeton (+85), and Duke (+64)
  • Biblical references—Canaan (+271), Shiloh (+149), Ariel (+143), Malakai (+127), and Eden (+97)
  • Biblical names—Jedidiah (+562), Adriel (+148), Azariah (+135), Kohen (+131), Immanuel (+105), Tobias (+103), Hezekiah (+96), Joziah (+79), and Chaim (+72)
  • Classical gods and legends—Titan (+190), Achilles (+155), Apollo (+151), Atlas (+149), and Legend (+149)

Predictions for the Coming Year

  • Girls: Last year, I picked Harper to break into the top 10. I was right—Harper was #10 in 2015. Now I’m picking Amelia (#12) to jump onto the top 10 next year and Emily to fall off the top 10 list in the next two years.
  • Boys: Last year, I picked Logan to break into the top 10. I was wrong—Logan fell a notch to #14 in 2015. Now I’m picking Oliver (#19) to move into the top 15 next year and into the top 10 the following year.

Warnings

  • Don’t be the last family on your street to pick a name that rhymes with Jayden—whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl. Most names that rhyme with Jayden (such as Ayden, Hayden, and Brayden) have been dropping in popularity for the last few years. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Jayden fell five notches on the boys’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#15 to #20). But did you know Jayden fell 117 notches on the girls’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#540 to #657)?
  • Naming children after young, attractive pop stars and athletes is fraught with danger. Most parents sensibly lose interest in naming their child after a favorite child celebrity when that star morphs from a cute, clean-cut adolescent to an awkward adult. Most people familiar with the careers of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan understand that the cutest and cuddliest celebs are likely to go off the rails at some point—if only because they have more disposable income than you ever did at the age of 20. For this reason, it’s a lot safer to stick to historical figures—about whom unpleasant surprises rarely pop up.
  • Names that create the impression of perfection or excellence are likely to cause unintended consequences, including disrespectful back talk. Some of the fastest rising names for boys could be accurately described as “pompous titles,” such as Royal. If you’re not the Duke or Duchess of Cambridge, your child isn’t royal. Also, in the “Star Kids” section of this book, you’ll notice that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian named their son Saint. No child behaves like a saint for long on any given day—even a child named Saint.

Most Popular Names of 2015

Every year the Social Security Administration releases the latest baby name popularity information. Here’s what I think are the most interesting and salient trends from the past year.

  1. The Top 10 Names

Girls: Emma, Olivia, and Sophia maintained their rank order of #1, #2, and #3, as did Mia at #6. Ava, Abigail, Charlotte, and Harper each moved up a notch to #4, #7, #9, and #10. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s “crowning” choice to name their daughter Charlotte last year undoubtedly helped that name’s rise in popularity. Isabella and Emily each fell a notch to #5 and #8. Just like last year, Emily is the only name in the top 10 that ends in an “ee” sound. I expect Emily to quietly slip off the top 10 list in the next year or two.

Boys: The top 6 boys’ names maintained their rank order from last year, as did Alexander at #8. However, the rank order of the remaining three names changed, with James rising two notches to #7, Michael falling two notches to #9, Daniel falling out of the top 10 to #12, and Benjamin entering the list at #10. Notice that five of the top 10 names have biblical roots and five use soft consonants (e.g., Noah and Liam).

  1. The Next Ten Names

Girls: Every name on the next 10 list changed rank. Names that rose two or three positions included Amelia (#15) and Grace (#19). Names that lost two or three positions included Madison (#11), Sofia (#14), and Avery (#16). Notice that of the two names on the next 10 list that end with an “ee” sound (Avery and Chloe), only the one that didn’t feature the letter y rose in rank.

Boys: Two names on this list that had strong gains were Lucas (+3) and Oliver (+13). Notable declines included Daniel (-2) and Jayden (-5). Considering Olivia’s #2 position on the girls’ top 10 list, I wouldn’t be surprised if Oliver moved onto the boys’ top 10 list in the next few years.

  1. The Top 100 Names

Girls: The names that made the biggest gains were Hazel (+42), Aurora (+37), Alexa (+31), Quinn (+29), Mila (+19), Eleanor (+18), Violet (+17), Stella (+15), and Riley (+12). Notice that four of these names end with an “ah” sound and only one ends with an “ee” sound (Riley). The names that took the biggest hits in popularity were Annabelle (-35), Alexis (-21), Arianna (-16), Peyton (-16), Aubree (-16), Hailey (-13), Gabriella (-11), and Anna (-10).

Boys: The names that made the biggest gains were Theodore (+27), Ezra (+26), Lincoln (+21), Mateo (+21), Grayson (+16), Sawyer (+16), Hudson (+15), and Oliver (+13). The names that took the biggest hits in popularity were Ayden (-13), Brandon (-11), Jason (-11), Evan (-9), Tyler (-9), Andrew (-8), Joshua (-8), Jayden (-5), and Kayden (-5). Notice that rhyming names Ayden, Jayden, and Kayden all declined, which suggests they and all their variations are falling out of favor.

  1. The Top 1,000 Names

Girls: The fastest-rising names were Alaia (+2,012), Meilani (+1,836), Aitana (+1,721), Aislinn (+1,385), Taya (+1,107), Adaline (+1,029), Briar (+#597), Zelda (+512), Thea (+312), and Addilyn (+208). The fastest-falling names were Annabell (-500), Anabel (-500), Cindy (-343), Anabella (-333), Aranza (-324), Anabelle (-272), Elsa (-201), Annabel (-174), and Annabella (-139).Note that many variations of Annabelle—a name currently in the top 100 but whose rank change was -35—lost favor. Also of note is a name that fell off the top 1,000 list: Isis. In Egyptian mythology, Isis is the goddess of love and fertility. In 2014 the name ranked #705. Now the name brings to mind ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which likely explains why the name’s popularity has plummeted.

Boys: The fastest-rising names were Riaan (+1,360), Huxley (+392), Wilder (+360), Canaan (+271), Kaison (+251), Omari (+198), Matteo (+182), Kyrie (+172), Killian (+163), Adriel (+148), Legend (+144), and Beckham (+129). The fastest-falling names were Arnav (-666), Jayse (-257), Neymar (-240), Rylee (-228), Brenden (-187), Gannon (-120), Jase (-77), Jayceon (-63), Peyton (-50), and Jonathon (-41). Knowing that Jason was losing popularity on the top 100 list, I wasn’t surprised to see that less popular variations of that name also lost favor.

What’s the Most Popular Girls’ Name in the World ?

Go ahead and guess.

In an article in Live Science, Rachel Cruze revealed that after studying baby-name statistics from 49 countries, Laura Wattenberg discovered that the most popular baby name for girls in the whole, wide world (in it’s five most popular forms) is:
Sofia
Sophia
Sofie
Sophie
Zsófia

More specifically, Wattenberg discovered that Sofia and related names is the #1 name in 9 countries and either #2 or #3 in 20 other countries. Here’s what she said when she realized how dominant Sofia/Sophia was:
“It just blew me away that so many different languages and cultures would arrive at the same sound at the same time. I guess that really says something about the way culture is transmitted today.”

I suppose in about 25 years Sofia/Sophia/Sophie/Sofie/Zsófia will be considered “grandma names” and won’t be the world’s most popular girl’s names any more. For the moment, these are probably the last names you should consider for your baby girl (apart from ridiculous names like: Nutella, Cheese, Hashtag, and other names that make people wonder, “What were they thinking?”)

FYI, Sophia is a Greek name that means wisdom. This positive meaning has helped the name achieve worldwide popularity. So have famous namesakes like movie actress Sophia Lauren, movie director Sophia Coppola and TV star Sofia Vergara.

 

12 Names That Convey Class and Character in 8 Letters or More

I was surprised to find an  article about baby names in Travel and Leisure. It was called “25 names that make character count.” Although Laura Woods’ commentary about the names she selected focused more on popularity rank than character, I found 12 names on her list worth considering for parents looking for dignified names likely to make a positive impression. (Sorry to say I was more impressed by the girls’ names Wood’s suggests than the boys’ names.)

If you want to consider all 25 suggestions, use this link to find them.

Girls’ Names

Katherine is a name of English origin that means “pure.” Several saints and members of the royal family have held this distinguished name that is currently ranked No. 83 for baby girls in the U.S. Give your daughter a name that’s fit for a queen!

Alexandria is a form of Alexandra, which was originally based on the Egyptian city that was founded by Alexander the Great in 322 BC and named in his honor. Beautiful, elegant and historical.

Elisabeth means Sabbath and is etymologically defined as “God is my oath.” It is the spelling of Elizabeth that’s used in the Authorized Version of the New Testament and in most modern European languages. The name was also held by many biblical characters.

Jacqueline is a French name that originated as the female form of Jacques, but became very popular in the 1960s due to the glamourous Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Give your baby girl this elegant name that simply exudes class.

Gwendolyn is of English and Welsh origin. It was most popular in the 1950s, when it had an average rank of 126, but has been trending up during the last decade. This is yet another name that offers an easy nickname, if you decide to take that route.

Evangeline is a fanciful name derived from the Latin word for Gospel “evangelium.” It means “good tidings” and is also the title of a narrative poem by the famed American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There’s nothing sweeter than giving your baby girl a poetic name!

Boys’ Names

Christopher is derived from the Greek name Khristophoros and was commonly used by early Christians, as it means to bear Christ in your heart. It is the 30th most popular name for baby boys in the U.S.

Maximilian is derived from the Latin name Maximilianus, which was the name of a 3rd-century saint who was noted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. The name is very popular in the U.S. and has also made the top 200 lists in England and Wales, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden.

Francisco is the Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of Francis. It is occasionally used in reference to the U.S. city of San Francisco, similar to a host of other city names, including Brooklyn, Chelsea, and Rio.

Broderick is a transferred use of the surname, which is derived from the Welsh personal name Rhydderch. It has been trending up over the last decade in the U.S., earning the rank of 973 in 2014.

Zachariah reached peak popularity at a rank of 338 in the 1990s and has maintained steady popularity over the last decade. This is another name that offers plenty of options, as you can nickname your son Zach or keep things more formal.

Demetrius is the Greek form of Dēmētrios, meaning follower of Demeter, the classical goddess of fertility. The name is hugely popular in Eastern Europe, but has been trending way down in the U.S.

 

 

 

Brits are giving their dogs and babies the same names

Get ready for a lot of “Oh, no, I meant my dog; not your baby” moments. According to a new survey from Rover.com, Brits are giving their dogs, cats, and babies the same names. Think that’s weird? Apparently, people think of their pets as children, suggests Ellen Scott of Metro.co.uk.

Top male dog names:

  1. Charlie   6. Fred
  2. Jack         7. Simon
  3. Jasper     8. Simba
  4. Dexter    9. George
  5. Milo        10. Boomer

Top female cat names:

  1. Lily        6. Maddie
  2. Chloe    7. Emma
  3. Lucy       8. Coco
  4. Bella      9. Molly
  5. Luna      10. Callie

Other notable Rover.com survey results:

-18 of the top 20 dog names are also on the most popular names for babies in 2014.

-Charlie and Jack are high up on the list for both dogs and babies.

-Lily, Chloe, Emma, Lucy, and Molly top both cat and baby names.

-Dogs are more likely to have alcohol names, like Whiskey and Kahlua.

-Cats tend to have dessert names.

-Star Wars leads in the category of nerdy pet names, like: Chewy, Leia, Yoda, and Vader.

-More current pop-culture-inspired pet names are: Elsa, Daenerys, and Piper.

 

 

22 TV Characters to Name Your Baby After

Here’s a list of 22 TV characters whose names Mashable.com thinks are worth considering for your child. Check out the list and  see my objections to some of the names under the list. Then visit Mashable.com to see the photos they’ve collected to help you visualize all of the characters.

  1. Veronica (Veronica Mars)
  2. Olivia (Law & Order SVU)
  3. Titus (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
  4. Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
  5. Jane (Jane the Virgin)
  6. Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  7. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock)
  8. Joan (Mad Men)
  9. Carlton (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
  10. Archer (Archer)
  11. Peggy (Mad Men)
  12. Aria (Pretty Little Liar)
  13. Selina (Veep)
  14. Daria (Daria )
  15. Dexter (Dexter )
  16. Hannibal (Hannibal)
  17. Fez (That 70’s Show)
  18. Rory (Gilmore Girls)
  19. Lorelai (Gilmore Girls)
  20. Nancy (Weeds)
  21. Maeby (Arrested Development)
  22. Cookie (Empire)

I agree with Mashable.com that their list of colorful TV characters provides a useful option if you’re thinking of using the name of a character from  Game of Thrones–many of which are hard to spell and pronounce and come across as confusing to people not familiar with that show. But I question the appropriateness of using some of the names in Mashable’s list for your baby:

Hannibal (the name immediately calls a cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lector, to mind )

Fez (the name immediately calls a Turkish felt hat with tassel on top to mind)

Maeby (this character in Arrested Development has an affinity for her first cousin and often stumbles into potentially incestuous situations; if that doesn’t dissuade you from using the name, consider that it’s likely to be misspelled more often than not)

Jane (the name immediately calls “plain Jane” to mind)

Cookie (the name sounds more like something sweet to eat than a little girl–or a grown woman)