The Themes Behind the Fastest-Rising Boys’ Names in 2012

You may have read articles about “hot names” written before the Social Security Administration released their authoritative list of the 1,000 most popular names in 2012. Forget all about them. They were based on “clicks” on websites rather than on the names that actually appeared on birth certificates during 2012. Here is my report on the trends behind the fastest-rising boys’ names in 2012. On this list I’ve tried to explain the rapid rise in popularity of names which seemed to be rising for the same (thematic) reason. Most reports about “hot” or fast-rising names focus on celebrity tie-ins. I’m more interested in looking for patterns that connect several fast-rising names to a particular underlying theme.

1. Pompous titles
Three of the top 10 fastest-rising boys’ names were Major, Messiah and King. A little farther down the fast-riser list was Prince.

2. Nicknames for Jason
Jase was the third fastest-rising boys’ name, along with variations, Jayce and Jace. I noticed that Jason’s overall popularity declined to 76 in 2012 (from 69 in 2011). Apparently parents were looking for informal, one-syllable nicknames.

3. X-names
Knox was the 12th fastest-rising boys’ name. Also rising quickly were Jaxson and Jaxon, Paxton and Braxton, Dexter and Maxwell.

4. Z-names
Zayden was the 14th and Zaiden was the 19th fastest-rising boys’ name. Not far behind were Zachariah and Zander. In terms of overall popularity, Jayden declined to seventh (from fourth in 2011) and Aiden declined to tenth (from ninth in 2011). Apparently, parents were looking for more distinctive soundalike options to Jayden and Aiden.

5. “-Ett” suffix names
Fast-rising “-ett” suffix names include 16th fastest-rising boys’ name Barrett, followed by Everett, Bennett, Emmett and Beckett.

6. Weapon/hunter/military names
Remington (a popular rifle brand) was the 17th fastest-rising boys’ name. Also rising rapidly were Gunnar, Gunner and Archer, along with Cason, Kason and Kasen — names that sound like caisson, a military ammunition box celebrated in the U.S. Army’s official song, “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” The name Major also fits this military theme.

7. “-Ton” suffix names
I’ve already mentioned Remington, Paxton and Braxton. Other fast-rising names that fit this theme were Weston and two K-names: Kolton and Kingston.

8. Variations of Leonardo
Leon was the 22nd fastest-rising boy’s name. It was followed by Leo and Leonel (which is also a variation of Lionel).

9. Place names
Fast-rising place names included Orlando (Florida), Kingston (Jamaica), Hudson (River) and Davis (California).

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