8 Baby Naming Trends for 2015 from Laura Wattenberg

I was attracted to Laura Wattenberg’s list of naming trends for 2015 I found on TheStir.Cafe Mom. Although many “predictions” are questionable, you’ll recognize many of the examples Wattenberg provides to justify hers. Few, if any of these trends are brand new–but it often helps to get a list like this to help you see the patterns which are emerging.

1. Androgyny

Names like Jaelyn, Addison, Dallas, which used to be exclusively boy names, have now crossed over to the unisex category (along with other names like Taylor, Alex, Jordan). (An interesting observation.)

2. New Endings

Names ending in “-tt” are very much on the rise, no doubt thanks to celebs Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who named their daughter Wyatt. That’s not all, though. Expect to see more names like Emmett, Elliott, Scarlett, Charlotte around in 2015 (Nothing new here.)

3. 19th Century Americana

Names from the 1800s are back. Take Kailyn Lowry, for example, who named her her youngest son Lincoln. But it’s not just the 16th president who’s inspiring new names. Names like Rhett and Wyatt (again) will be far more popular. (Nothing new here, either.)

4. Mark It With an ‘X’

The Jolie-Pitts have ushered in a new trend, (just think Pax and Maddox, and little brother Knox). Earlier this year, Kristin Cavallari welcomed son Jaxon, further solidifying the trend. (The Jolie-Pitt “x-names” are old news. So are “x-names.”)

5. The ‘P’ Is Back

While “x” is coming back for boys, “p” is back for girls. “Not since the 1950s, and the days of the Peggys and Patricias, has the letter ‘P’ been so popular,” says Watternberg. But now? We’re welcoming it back. Could it be in part due to the Kardashian’s Penelope Disick? There’s no doubt about it. And another surprise name that’s becoming popular? Piper from Orange Is the New Black. (Nothing new about Piper, but the popularity of “p”-names for girls is a nice find.)

6. Get Us to the Greek

More Kardashian inspiration here–Greek names are on the rise. Names like Chloe (or Khloe, a la Ms. Kardashian), Penelope (once again, the ‘Dashians), Daphne, and Phoebe will be populating your daycares and classrooms soon. (Nothing new about the popularity of Chloe and Khloe. I recall reading a prediction that Greek names would be hot in December 2013.)

7. Say Hi to the ‘O’

When Eva Amurri gave birth to daughter Marlowe, she started a trend. The popularity of names that end in an “o” sound without actually ending in “o” (very important distinction here) are tops at the moment. Marlowe, Winslow, and Margot will be even more prominent next year. (This strikes me as a new observation.)

8. New Inventions

Where would we be without some completely new names? Parents are getting all the more inventive, Wattenberg notes. Instead of sticking with standard names like Trent, Levi, and Max, they’re inventing brand new long-form versions. Trenton, Leviathan, and Maxton are here, completely expanding your name list options. (Like many baby name experts, Wattenberg doesn’t see the need to inform readers that Leviathan is a ridiculous name for a baby boy and Maxton is awfully contrived.)

As you can see, there isn’t much that’s new in this list of predictions, but I’ve learned how difficult it can  be to come up with new predictions every year. Reason, to make a prediction you need to extrapolate from recent baby naming data–which often leads to predicting that names that are “hot” this year are likely to be “hot” next year, too.



What Are the Trendiest Popular Names of All Time?

A biotechnologist named David Taylor has come up with a new way to study trendy, popular names. Instead of looking at currently “hot” names from TV shows and movies, he used a chemistry algorithm called “chromatography” to analyze Social Security Administration data from inception to date for the purpose of finding the trendiest popular names of all time.

The names he found had made the biggest up and down moves are likely to surprise you. Perhaps you’re thinking of newly popular names like Khaleesi (“Game of Thrones”) or Arya (“Hunger Games”). Nope, Taylor was looking for “the trendiest popular baby names of all time”—which refers to all the Social Security popularity data in more than a century–since 1900. So, here are the top four names he came up with:

The Trendiest Popular Names for Boys:
Jason (extremely popular in the 70s)
Mark (extremely popular in the 50s and 60s)

The Trendiest Popular Names for Girls:
Linda (extremely popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s
Shirley (extremely popular in the 30s)

So if your name is Mark, or Linda you’re probably a grandpa or grandma. If your name is Shirley, you’re a great grandma or you’re under a gravestone. If your name is Jason, you’re just over or under the BIG 40.

What’s worthwhile about Taylor’s chromatography approach to popularity is that he focuses our attention on HUGE up and down trends, which makes the kind of trends most pundits write about pale in comparison. It’s worthwhile clicking on the link to read the vocative article, so you can see the magnitude of the trends (as demonstrated by Taylor’s charts.) They remind me of stocks that triple, quadruple or quintuple in a bull market, but if you don’t get out in time, you lose it all.

Knowing that names like Jaden (a combination of Jason and Hayden) and Nevea (heaven spelled backwards) are baby-naming fads should warn you that when the uptrend is over, the downtrend might look like Taylor’s charts for Jason and Shirley (both of which were extremely popular for only a single decade).





Where Do the Fastest-Rising Boys’ and Girls’ Names Come From: 10 Celebrity and Media Backstories


I can’t think of a sillier way to name babies than selecting names associated with popular movies, TV shows and celebrities. Just think of the ridiculous names foisted on their children (and their fans) by these sources in the past. I’m referring to outrageous celebrity baby names like North West and Blue Ivy, movie & TV show characters’ names like Katniss (“Hunger Games”) and Daenerys (“Game of Thrones”), and reality TV show names like Khloé (“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”).

And yet every year the fastest-rising names reported by the Social Security Administration, on or around Mothers’ Day, are usually derived from just these sources. In fact, Laura Wattenberg has written: “Reality TV stars are the biggest source of new names today.” Let’s take a look at some of the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names to see precisely what inspired large numbers of parents to pick them in 2013:

Fast-Rising Boys’ Names

-Jayceon (2013: #206; 2012: #1,017)
Backstory: Jayceon is the given name of popular west-coast rapper, Jayceon Terrell Taylor. Taylor’s stage name is “The Game” or “Game.”

-Jase (2013: #89; 2012: #270)
Source: Jase is a fictional characters on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular reality TV show. In the show, Jase is Phil and Kay Robertson’s son. In the show, he’s the COO of Duck Commander, the family business–although Jase would rather hunt and fish than go to work. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Milan (2013: #484; 2012: #1,159)
Backstory: Milan is the name of Shakira’s baby boy. Shakira is a popular Columbian recording artist who is a singing coach on “The Voice,” a popular reality TV show.

-Castiel (2003: #956; 2002: #1374)
Backstory: Castiel is a fictional character portrayed by Misha Collins on “Supernatural,” a series presented by the CW TV Network. In the show, Castiel is an angel who introduces the theme of Christian theology.

-Kyrie (2003: 590; 2002: 868)
Backstory: Kyrie Irving briefly played college hoops at Duke and was the #1 draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He was named an all-star in 2013 and 2014–his first two seasons in the NBA.

Fast-Rising Girls’ Names:

-Daleyza (2013: #585; 2012: #3,769)
Backstory: Daleyza is one of singer Larry Hernandez’s daughters on “Larrymania,” a popular Spanish-language reality TV show.

-Everly (2013: #383; 2012: #907)
Backstory: Everly is movie star Channing (“21 Jump Street”) Tatum’s baby daughter. He also made a movie in 2012 called “Magic Mike,” that documented his 8-month “career” as a male stripper. (I suppose that would make Channing Tatum an “inspiring figure” to some people.)

-Sadie (2013: #50; 2012: #120).
Backstory: Sadie is a fictional character on “Duck Dynasty,” a popular realty TV show. In the show, she is Willie and Corrie Robertson’s daughter. (Are you aware of the fact that “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, has revealed himself to be biased on both racial and gender issues?)

-Kendra (2013: #187; 2012: #387)
Backstory: Kendra Wilkinson is the star of the eponymous reality TV show “Kendra.” She is also one of the stars of a reality TV show called “The Girls Next Door.” which documents her life in the Playboy mansion where she is one of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends. (I suppose that would make her an “inspiring namesake” to some people.)

-Jurnee (2013: #896; 2012: #1467)
Backstory: Jurnee Smollett is an actress who played the role of Eve in the movie “Eve’s Bayou” and the role of Jess in the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” In  2013, she was seen on TV in these roles: Heather Hall on “Parenthood,” Nicole Wright on “True Blood,” and Ms. Young’s daughter on “Do No Harm.”

If you read my post about the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names, I focus on the “themes” or “clusters” that are rising together (rather than individual names that rely on a particular celebrity or TV show which is likely to disappear when the show tanks or the celebrity steps in doggy-doo, as Phil Robertson and Paula Deen did, quite recently. It’s no fun to be named after a TV show that was cancelled for good reason or a celebrity who developed an awful reputation after his or her name was written on your birth certificate.




2 Hot Naming Trends That Have Cooled Off: Aiden Sound-Alikes & Nevaeh

I frequently warn readers not to give their children red-hot fad names–because  what gets hot eventually cools off. People who give their children hot names usually do it for silly reasons:

-It’s the name of a currently “hot” celebrity who is boyishly or girlishly cute like Justin Bieber is now or like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears used to be.

-It’s the name of a character with a hard-to-spell and hard-to-pronounce name like Daenarys and Khaleesi from a “hot” TV show like”Game of Thrones.”
-You scream louder than your daughter every time you see (name of the latest teen singing sensation goes here).

A lot of good these warnings do. I don’t think I have the kind of readers who would out-scream their teen age daughters at a Justin Bieber concert. But I’m writing this post to let you know that several popular naming fads are in the process of cooling off. There’s nothing “cool” about being the last kid on your block sporting the previous year’s “hot” fashion and the previous decade’s hot name.

Names to Avoid Now that The Fad Has Cooled Off:

-Aiden Sound-Alike Names Trends:

             Aiden: 12 (2008) 9 (2010 & 2011) 12 in 2013

             Jaden: 154 (2000) 74 (2007) 141 (2013)

             Braden: 204 (2000 ) 146 (2006) 336 (2013)

             Hayden: 129 (2000)  71 (2007)  129 (2013)

             Caden: 195 (2001) 91 (2006) 182 (2013)


             Zayden: 881 (2000) 192 (2013 (a continuous 13-year downtrend)

             Kayden: 782 (2000) 93 (2013) (a continuous 13-year downtrend)

Question: Is it safe to keep using Zayden and Kaden despite the fact that most other Aiden sound-alike names have peaked and popularity is now trending down

My recommendation: Why risk it on a fad name when there are so many other cool Z-names and K-names to use? (And keep in mind that there’s nothing original about a Jaden/Aiden sound-alike names. People liked the sound of Aiden and decided to try different consonants in front of Aiden to give their child an “uncommon,” “creative” name.

-Neveah (Heaven spelled backwards)

  Trend: 69 (2005) 25 (2010) 47 (2013)



The Latest Trends: Why The Popularity of 76 Girls’ and Boys’ Names Dropped in 2013

When parents search for baby names, they often consider several names with the same theme, such as ethnic names, religious names–or names that sound alike or have different spellings. Here are some themes and choice clusters  that explain the rapid decline in popularity of 76 girls’ and boys’ names in 2013, as reflected in the official Social Security popularity data.


Girls’ Names That Declined in Popularity


Religious & Faith-Based Names: Names that reflect religious or faith-based themes are on the decline for girls. The most common examples of this trend are the declining popularity for Faith, Trinity and Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backwards).


Spanish Names: Perla is the 13th fastest-falling girls’ name. Others include: Mercedes, Fernanda, Paola, Estrella, Marisol, Raquel, Carmen, and Esmerelda. (Spanish boy’s names are also in a deep decline, even though the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. is rising.)


Jasmine, Variations & Sound-Alikes: Jasmine became popular in 1992 when Disney produced the blockbuster movie, “Aladdin.” (If you saw the movie, you’ll recall that Princess Jasmine was Aladdin’s love interest.) Jasmine quickly became the most popular name for both African-American and Hispanic girls. Jasmine has been declining steadily since 2006, Now Jasmine is sliding more rapidly; it has just fallen off the top 100 girls’ list.


Kayla/Makayla: Kayla and Makayla tied for the largest decrease in popularity on the top 100 list. Also declining rapidly was Kaylee. (This trend might be connected to the decline in popularity Katherine, the root name for Kay, Kayla and Kaylee.)


Boys’ Names that Declined in Popularity


Jayden Sound-Alikes: Jaidyn is the 4th fastest declining boys’ name. I counted more than 15 sound-alikes that were declining rapidly, before I stopped counting: Jaeden,,  Aydan, Bradyn, Braeden, Aidyn, Jaydon, Aaden, Braden, Aidan, Kaden, Hayden, Braydon, Brayden, Jaiden, Jaden, Ayden and, most importantly, Jayden (which slipped from t#7 to #9 (a drop of 22%).  (I think this is the beginning of the end for the long list of names that rhyme with Aiden–which is probably why they became popular, in the first place)


Spanish Names: Carlos, Jose, Juan and Luis are all top-100 names that have declined at the same time as the Hispanic population of the U.S. is rising. Other Spanish decliners include Pedro, Alejandro, Joaquin, Javier, Angel, Fernando, Jorge, Andres  and more. (This suggests that  Spanish-speaking parents are more interested in assimilating than in celebrating their ethnic identity by giving their boy a Spanish-sounding name.)


Giovanni & Variations: Giovanny, Jovani, Giovani and the original Italian root name, Giovanni, are in a state of rapid decline.


Brandon & Variations: Brennen is the 7th fastest declining boys’ name followed quickly by Brendon, Brenden, and Brenton. Even sound-almost-alike Landyn is falling.


Amare & Sound-Alikes: Damari is the fastest-declining name that sounds like Amare. Others include: Jabari, Kamari, Jamari, Jamarion, Jamar, Amari, and Omari. Even sound-almost-alike Armani is declining.


Tristan & Variations: Trystan is the 19th fastest-falling name. Also declining are variations Tristian, Tristen, Triston, and the original (legendary) name, Tristan.

How The Social Security Administration’s 2013 Top-10 Names Compare with Baby Center’s 2013 Top-10 Names

The Social Security Administration’s top-ten List for 2013 has just been published. However, Baby Center’s Top-Ten List (based on the names reported to them by registered users of their website) was published about five months ago–and it’s been the best indication we’ve had about baby-naming trends for 2013 until the SSA popularity data was published. Keep in mind that parents who register with Baby Center are likely to have higher socio-economic status than SSA’s data base, which includes all American babies born.

In this post we will show the data two ways:

First, we will look at the SSA 2013 data in the left-hand column and compare it with BC 2013 data and SSA 2012 data, for the top-10 Boys’ and Girls’ Names.

SSA 2013   vs. BC 2013   vs.   SSA 2012            SSA 2013 vs.   BC 2013   vs.   SSA 2012

1. Noah           #5 BC13      #4 SSA 2012          1. Sophia       #1 BC 2013      #1 SSA 2012
2. Liam            #3 BC13      #6 SSA 2013          2. Emma        #2 BC 2013      #2 SSA 2012
3. Jacob           #9 BC13      #1 SSA 2013          3. Olivia        #3 BC 2013      #4 SSA 2012
4. Mason         #6 BC13      #2 SSA 2013          4. Isabella     #4 BC 2013     #3 SSA 2012
5. William     #20 BC13      #5 SSA 2013         5. Ava             #6 BC 2013     #5 SSA 2012
6. Ethan          #8 BC13       #3 SSA 2013         6. Mia             #5 BC 2013     #8 SSA 2012
7. Michael     #14 BC13      #7 SSA 2013         7. Emily          #9 BC 2013     #6 SSA 2012
8. Alexander #17 BC13      #9 SSA 2013         8. Abigail     #14 BC 2013     #7 SSA 2012
9. Jayden         #7 BC13      #8 SSA 2013          9. Madison   #12 BC 2013     #9 SSA 2012
10. Daniel     #24 BC13    #11 SSA 2013       10. Elizabeth   #46 BC 2013  #10 SSA 2012

Major Findings:

When you look at the SSA 2013 top-ten rankings and compare them with the BC 2013 rankings, the differences are striking for the boys’ list, but fairly modest for the girls’ list.

-The top-ten girls’ names for SSA 2013 and BC 2013 are very closely correlated. Elizabeth is the only girls’ name that shows a glaring difference. (It is #10 on the SSA list and #46 on the Baby Center list.)

-And looking at the SSA changes from 2012, the changes were minor. Mia moved up two notches; Olivia moved up one notch–as Isabella, Emily and Abigail moved down one notch.

-By contrast, five of the top-ten boys’ names for SSA have glaring differences with Baby Center’s top-ten rankings. The rankings for William, Michael, Alexander, Noah and Jacob are all significantly higher on the SSA list than on the Baby Center list.

-And looking at SSA changes from 2012 to 2013, the big news is that Noah and Liam hopped over long-time #1 Jacob to get the top two ranks on the SSA list.

Now we will look at BC 2013 data in the left-hand column and compare it to SSA 2013 data and BC 2012 data for the Top-10 Boys’ and Girls’ Names.

   BC 2013   vs. SSA 2013  vs. BC2012            BC 2013 vs.  SSA 2013 vs.  BC 2012

1. Jackson  #16 SSA 2013     #2 BC 2012           1. Sophia      #1 SSA 2013   #1 BC 2012
2. Aiden     #12 SSA 2013     #1 BC 2012           2. Emma       #2 SSA 2013   #2 BC 2012
3. Liam        #2 SSA 2013      #4 BC 2012           3. Olivia        #3 SSA 2013   #3 BC 2012
4. Lucas    #23 SSA 2013      #7 BC 2012           4. Isabella     #4 SSA 2013   #4 BC 2012
5. Noah      #1 SSA 2013      #6 BC 2012            5. Mia            #6 SSA 2013   #9 BC 2012
6. Mason    #4 SSA 2013      #5 BC 2012            6. Ava            #5 SSA 2013   #5 BC 2012
7. Jayden    #9 SSA 2013      #9 BC 2012            7. Lily           #27 SSA 2013  #6 BC 2012
8. Ethan     #6 SSA 2013      #3 BC 2012            8. Zoe           #31 SSA 2013   #7 BC 2012
9. Jacob      #3 SSA 2013      #8 BC 2012            9. Emily        #7 SSA 2013    #8 BC 2012
10. Jack    #40 SSA 2013    #11 BC 2012          10. Chloe     #14 SSA 2012  #10 BC 2012

Major Findings:

When you look at the Baby Center top-ten rankings and compare them to the SSA 2013 rankings, the differences are even more evident.

-Baby Center’s #1 boys’ name, Jackson, ranked #16 on SSA.  Aiden, Lucas, Jack and Jacob are three other names that ranked much higher on Baby Center’s top-ten list than on the SSA list.

-The correlation between the two lists was closer on the top-ten girls’ lists but Lily and Zoe ranked a lot higher on Baby Center than on the SSA list.

-The changes between BC 2013 and BC 2012 are not nearly as great as the differences between BC 2013 and SSA 2013.



A Most Amazing Trend: The Rise of Boy’s Names Ending in “N” from 1960 to 2012

I just read an article on Baby Center by Stacie Lewis which revealed an amazing statistic. She claims that 36% of boys’ names end in the letter “n.” This came to the attention of several people in the year 2009 because Robert T. Gonzalez noticed that 40 of the top-1,000 boy’s names rhymed with Jaden.

But this isn’t a 2009 phenomenon. I just counted the number of boys’ names  among the top-100 names listed in order of popularity by the Social Security Administration for the year 2012 that ended in “n.” I counted 38 (or 38%) of the top-100 names. And of those top-100 names, five rhymed with Jaden—which projects out to about 50 names in the top-1000 that rhyme with Jayden (which confirms that 2009 was not a fluke).

Lewis’ article focuses on her son Ieuan’s unusual (and universally mispronounced) Welsh name (it’s pronounced YIGH-an). But what interested me more was a chart that showed the increase in popularity of boys’ names ending in “n” from the 1960s through 2012. It’s worth a look.