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.

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Recently Popular Names

Every year we add the latest newly popular names to 100,000+ Baby Names, so people considering them for use can look them up and learn about their meaning and origin. Specifically, we add names which have gained enough popularity to be added to the Social Security Administration’s lists of the 1,000 most popular boys’ and girls’ names.

Many of the newly popular names are new variations of names already on the list, such as Lorelai, a variation of Lorelei. Some are familiar only to people who watch  certain TV shows, like Khaleesi, a name popularized by “Game of  Thrones”. (Needless to say, the problem with names like Lorelai and Khaleesi is that they are often difficult to spell and/or pronounce.)

Some newly popular names are place names, like Maylasia and Ireland. Some are the last names of celebrities and athletes, like Anniston, Lennon and Beckham. And some are combinations of two names that just sound good together, like Lillyana.

Just for fun, I thought you might enjoy a quick look at some of the most appealing newly popular names I’ve come across over the last few years. However, instead of giving you the precise origins and meanings I use in my book, I’ll just mention the reason I think some of these names might be of interest.

Newly Popular Boys’ Names Over the Past Few Years:

Baylor (the name of a great, Texas university)
Beckham (the last name of an English soccer star)
Dash (a name that implies speed and energy)
Nash (the name an old car brand and a game-theory expert featured in “A Beautiful Mind.”)
Ronin (a feudal Japanese samurai)
Rylee (a fun new spelling for Riley)
Tiago and Thiago (a Brazilian basketball star who plays in the NBA)
Xavi (a nickname for Xavier and the name a Spanish soccer star)

Newly Popular Girls’ Names Over the Past Few Years:

Anniston (the last name of the actress who played Rachael  in “Friends”)
Elliot (a boys’ name that’s now being used for  girls)
Everly (the last name of two famous brothers who made music in the ‘50s and ‘60s)
Henley (the location—on the Thames river—of a rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge)
Journee (the French word for day)
Juniper (an evergreen shrub whose aroma can be found in gin)
Lennon (the last name of one of the most famous Beatles)
Lillyana (a combination of two names that sound great together)
Malaysia (a country that has become a name for girls)
Oakley (a sporty and cool brand of sunglasses)
Sutton (an upscale street on Manhattan’s chic east side)

9780684039992 100,000+ Baby Names is available in stores and online.

 

The Increasingly Individualistic Nature of Baby Name Selections in Ontario, Canada

An article in the Ottawa Citizen featuring information released by Service Ontario describes the increasingly individualistic source of popular baby names.

Diane Pacom, a professor at the University of Ottawa, specializing in the sociology of culture and change reports a trend away from naming children after grandparents. In North America, she says, people often don’t have close relationships with the past.

“We live in a society that is very individualistic. We’re looking for uniqueness. You want your kid to stand out. Not only because of their looks or the way they’re dressed but also because of their name.”

Increasingly in Ontario, the source of popular baby names is often:

a favorite character from a novel orTV show, e.g.:Claire (“House of Cards”), Christian (Fifty Shades of Grey), Anna (“Frozen”), Arya (“Game of Thrones”), Jax (Son of Anarchy), and  Piper (“Orange is the New Black”),

an appealing aspect of nature, e.g.:Winter, Lily, Autumn, Summer, Ivy, Raven, Sky, Rain, River, or Maple

a sports hero from North America or Europe, e.g.:Sidney (Crosby), Peyton (Manning), Kobe (Bryant), Serena (Williams) or Christiano (Ronaldo)

an appealing political leader, e.g.:Stephen (Harper), Justin, Trudeau, Elizabeth (May), or Thomas (Mulcaire)

The article also includes a list of the top ten baby names in 2013:

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Liam
  4. Ethan
  5. Lucas
  6. Noah
  7. Sophia
  8. Benjamin
  9. Jacob
  10. William

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn’s Rise Brings Popularity as a Baby Name, But Locals Say Fuhgeddaboutit.

A highly readable article by Michael R. Sisak of Associated Press about Brooklyn (whose rise in appeal as a popular borough of New York seems to have produced an extraordinary rise in interest in Brooklyn as a place name for girls) provides an interesting new perspective on place names.

It turns out that Brooklyn has moved up in the popularity rankings from #912 in 1990 to the top 30—where it seems to have leveled off over the past three years. The strange thing is, according to Sisak:

“Of the 41 states where Brooklyn is now the most popular girl’s name beginning with B, New York is not among them. Real Brooklynites say naming your child Brooklyn is strictly for out-of towners.”

 Sisak tells the story of a girl named Brooklyn Presta who was born in Kansas and now lives in Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn Presta says her parents in Kansas were thinking unique, not New York, when they named her. Now 26 and living in Brooklyn, Presta says she often gets questions about whether she changed her name to fit her chosen borough. ‘It’s kind of crazy to be Brooklyn in Brooklyn, Presta says.’”

Apparently, Brooklyn is an appealing name for girls—as long as you don’t live there. If you live in Brooklyn, fuhgeddaboutit. I wonder if that’s the case for girls named Madison who live in Madison, Wisconsin (or work on Madison Avenue) or girls named Charlotte who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

FYI, Madison is currently the most popular place name for girls. It rose from #627 in 1985 to #2 in 2001–a rise fueled by interest in the mermaid character played by Darryl Hannah in “Splash.” Twelve years later, the name is still among the top ten girls’ names, but it’s now #9.

Charlotte was ranked at #306 in 1984, the year “Splash” was released. And it was ranked #307 fifteen years later in 1999. That must have been when the “place-name” trend (popularized by Madison) caused parents to realize that Charlotte was a place name in addition to being a literary name (made famous by Charlotte Bronte, whose popular romance novel, Jane Eyre, was published in 1847). Since 1999, Charlotte has ridden the “place-name” trend all the way up to #11–and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charlotte hop into the 1014 girls’ top-ten list when it is published by SSA next May.

Speaking of the SSA popularity statistics, my recent article about the most rapidly rising girls’ names in 2013 mentioned fifteen girls’ names that were streaking up the list. (And because both Brooklyn and Madison both seem to have peaked, the place-name baton seems to have been passed on to names like Ireland, Milan, Phoenix, Asia, Dakota and Londyn, and others.)

P.S. I’d love to hear from you if you have a place name and you live or work in that place. Is your experience like Brooklyn Presta’s? Or is it different? In my most popular article about place names, I discuss places that sound like they would be appropriate as names for people and places that might not work well for people. But I didn’t discuss what it’s like to live in a place you’re named after. If that describes you, please write a comment.

 

 

 

How Madison Rose from a Movie “Joke” 30 Years Ago to Top-Ten Popularity

Kevin Polowy’s article on Yahoo Movies tells the entertaining story of how the name Madison started as a joke in the movie, “Splash” starring Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah as a mermaid.

“Splash” was released 30 years ago on March 9, 1984. According to baby-name expert, Joal Ryan,

Madison was nowhere on the radar as a girl name until 1985 — a year after the release of ‘Splash.’ So, there definitely seems to be a connection there, especially since there’s no other major female Madison, either real or fictional, who was out there as a role model.

The name took off as soon as the movie came out. It showed up in Social Security Administration popularity statistics in 1985. By 1990, it was ranked at #216. By 1995, it had zoomed up to #29. And by 2000 it was the #3 most popular girl’s name in the U.S. The popularity of Madison ranked among the top-five girls’ names from 2000 until 2008. And in 2012 Madison was still among the top-ten names for girls, ranked at #9. Madison is one of the most classic illustrations of the effect of movies (or mass media) on baby-name popularity.

Now that you know how the name Madison was launched by Darryl Hannah’s character in “Splash” and how popular it has become, here’s how Hannah explains the “joke.”

The whole point of me choosing that name was because it [was such a] silly name. Obviously everyone knew it as the name of the street [Madison Avenue]. No one really saw it as a first name and that was a joke. And now, of course it’s not funny at all. It’s just like, Oh, what a beautiful name!’ … It was funny at the time and now it’s not even ironic.

As I write this post, I’m aware of the fact that I advise parents against giving babies “joke” names, because it’s highly likely that the joke will be on the baby (and ultimately, the parents who will have to pay for the child’s therapy). Madison proves that some “joke names” can turn out well for the child (and the parents).