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 Up With the Popularity of Surnames Like Jackson, Kennedy, Lincoln and Reagan as Names for Babies?

I’ve never understood why parents would name their baby boys Jackson (and variations like Jaxon and Jaxson) instead of Jack. (Jackson is a popular surname; Jack is a classic boys’ name. I suppose Jaxon and Jaxson are attempts by parents to bridge the difference.)

Yesterday I read an article by Eleanor Jones (of Good to Know) called  “Could Maiden Names Be the Latest Baby Name Trend?” in which Jones argues that using family surnames (maiden names) as given names for baby boys and girls is a hot new trend.

To check out this trend I took a quick look at the latest Social Security Administration boys’ and girls’ top-100 lists in 2014. I noticed nine surnames on the boys’ top-100 list in 2014: Mason (#3), Jackson (#17), Hunter (#36),  Landon (#43), Tyler (#63), Parker (#73), Cooper (86), Carson (#90) and Lincoln (#95).  The only surnames I could find on the top-100 girls’ list were Kennedy (#54), and Taylor (#77).

But it’s hard to get excited about this “maiden-name trend” when you consider that of the eleven surnames I’ve just mentioned, only four increased in popularity last year: Kennedy (+10),  Lincoln (+8), Mason (+1) and Parker (+1) (the numbers in parentheses refer to the gains these names as they increased in popularity last year).

You may have noticed that six of the popular surnames I’ve mentioned (Mason, Hunter, Tyler, Parker, Taylor and Cooper) are trade names or occupational names (e.g., a mason is someone who does masonry; a hunter is someone who hunts). Of those trade names, only Mason and Parker increased in popularity last year, while the popularity of Hunter, Tyler, Taylor and Cooper declined.

But the surnames on the top-100 lists that exhibited the most dynamic increase in popularity last year belong to popular presidents: Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Seems to me the dynamic trend here is that more parents are giving their children surnames of famous namesakes they admire—a category that includes popular presidents and popular celebrities, like John Lennon and Jean Harlow and Jennifer Aniston. (Lennon, Harlow and Anniston are recent additions to the top-1000 list which I have written about in several recent posts. FYI, Anniston is the spelling parents prefer when they use Jennifer’s last name as a first name for their baby girls.)

You may want to browse the list of surnames Jones selected to illustrate the maiden-name trend. Notice that Jones left surnames that declined in popularity in 2014 (Jackson, Hunter, Landon, Tyler, Cooper and Carson) off her list. Consider that Reagan is the surname of a very popular president, Ronald Reagan; and that Marley is the surname of popular singer, Bob Marley. I should also mention that Taylor (-18) was one of the biggest losers on the top-100 girls’ list in 2014. That said, here’s her list:

Johnson
Carter
Archer
Campbell
Smith
Marley
Harper
Cole
Walker
Franklyn
Kelly
Mason
Reagan
Taylor
Cassidy

P.S. I know that Andrew Jackson was the 7th president of the United States. But I doubt he is currently as revered a figure as John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Abe Lincoln–but I could be wrong. Perhaps the huge increase in the popularity of Jackson, Jaxon and Jaxson over the last five years or so was due to President Andrew Jackson’s popularity in the South.

 

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.