The Themes Behind the Simultaneously Fastest-Rising Boys’ and Girls’ 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 themes behind the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ 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, simultaneously on the lists of fast-rising boys’ and girls’ names. 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. Ari- or Ary- variations
Arya was the No. 1 fastest-rising girls’ name, followed by soundalike name Aria and root names Arielle and Ariel. How interesting that Ari was the ninth fastest-rising boys’ name. Ari and Arya/Aria could be nicknames for either Ariel and Arielle (Hebrew) or Aristotle (Greek).

2. Shakespearean names
Romeo and Juliette (whose Shakespearean origin is obvious) were fast-rising names on the boys’ and girls’ lists, respectively. Orlando (the name of the romantic male lead in “As You Like It”) was a fast-rising boys’ name.

3. Christmas names
Noel (a fast-rising boys’ name) and Noelle (a fast-rising girls’ name) zipped up the lists simultaneously, at about the same pace.

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