2016 Naming Trends, Predictions, and Warnings

Naming Themes and Sounds behind the Fastest-Rising Baby Names

When selecting names, parents often consider options that are similar in some way. For example, they may consider root names against their variations (Adeline and Adaline), names that sound similar (Aiden and Jayden), names with similar endings (Emmalynn, Avalynn, and Gracelynn), or names with the same theme (nature names, place names, trade names, or brand names). Below are some themes and sounds that help explain why similar names rise (and fall) together.

Girls:

  • Names that end in “ani”—Meilani (+1,836), Milani (+295), Kalani (+236), Kailani (+108), and Alani (+88)
  • Names that end with the sound of “rye-ah”—Ariah (+181), Ariya (+142), and Sariah (+142)
  • Names that end in “ya” or “ia”—Alaia (+2,002), Taya (+1,107), Kaya (+145), Aya (+100), and Zendaya (+91)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lin”—Aislin (+1,385), Adilynn (#329), Addilynn (+193), Roselyn (+85), Kaelyn (+54), Emmalynn (+70), Raelyn (+70), Avalynn (+66), Kaelinn (+61), and Gracelynn (+59)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lee”—Adley (+495), Heavenly (+318), Zaylee (+314), Kinslee (+175), Oakley (+154), Hadlee (+116), Tinley (+107), Everleigh (+101), Annalee (+87), Karlie (+69), Harley (+68), and Carlee (+59)
  • Names that end in “anna” or “ana”—Alannah (+189), Giavanna (+143), Avianna (+142), Aviana (+141), Lillianna (+64), Giovanna (+62), Elianna (+54), and Ivanna (+52)
  • Names associated with music, musicians, or bands—(Annie) Lennox (+416), (John) Lennon (+183), Journee (+90), and Harmoni (+89)

Boys:

  • Athletes—Jabari (+194), Kyrie (+172), Kyree (+140), Beckham (+129), and Hank (+69)
  • Brand names—Otis (+160), Mack (+145), Ford (+143), Oakley (+90), Stetson (+64), and Coleman (+60)
  • Place names—Cairo (+164), Denver (+155), and Houston (+86)
  • Pompous titles—Royal (+105), Bishop (+61), and Messiah (+54)
  • University names—Baylor (+152), Princeton (+85), and Duke (+64)
  • Biblical references—Canaan (+271), Shiloh (+149), Ariel (+143), Malakai (+127), and Eden (+97)
  • Biblical names—Jedidiah (+562), Adriel (+148), Azariah (+135), Kohen (+131), Immanuel (+105), Tobias (+103), Hezekiah (+96), Joziah (+79), and Chaim (+72)
  • Classical gods and legends—Titan (+190), Achilles (+155), Apollo (+151), Atlas (+149), and Legend (+149)

Predictions for the Coming Year

  • Girls: Last year, I picked Harper to break into the top 10. I was right—Harper was #10 in 2015. Now I’m picking Amelia (#12) to jump onto the top 10 next year and Emily to fall off the top 10 list in the next two years.
  • Boys: Last year, I picked Logan to break into the top 10. I was wrong—Logan fell a notch to #14 in 2015. Now I’m picking Oliver (#19) to move into the top 15 next year and into the top 10 the following year.

Warnings

  • Don’t be the last family on your street to pick a name that rhymes with Jayden—whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl. Most names that rhyme with Jayden (such as Ayden, Hayden, and Brayden) have been dropping in popularity for the last few years. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Jayden fell five notches on the boys’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#15 to #20). But did you know Jayden fell 117 notches on the girls’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#540 to #657)?
  • Naming children after young, attractive pop stars and athletes is fraught with danger. Most parents sensibly lose interest in naming their child after a favorite child celebrity when that star morphs from a cute, clean-cut adolescent to an awkward adult. Most people familiar with the careers of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan understand that the cutest and cuddliest celebs are likely to go off the rails at some point—if only because they have more disposable income than you ever did at the age of 20. For this reason, it’s a lot safer to stick to historical figures—about whom unpleasant surprises rarely pop up.
  • Names that create the impression of perfection or excellence are likely to cause unintended consequences, including disrespectful back talk. Some of the fastest rising names for boys could be accurately described as “pompous titles,” such as Royal. If you’re not the Duke or Duchess of Cambridge, your child isn’t royal. Also, in the “Star Kids” section of this book, you’ll notice that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian named their son Saint. No child behaves like a saint for long on any given day—even a child named Saint.

Nameberry’s 12 Hot Baby-Naming Trends for 2015

 

Natalie Boog has listed 12 hot trends for 2015 that are well-worth considering. In this post I will summarize them and consider the timeliness and value of Nameberry’s predictions.

1. Word Names

Natalie Boog defines “word names” as being different from traditional names (like Olivia and William). Word names include: virtue names (like Noble and Honor), nature names (like Sage and River), title names (like Royal and Saint), personality names (like Rowdy and Rogue), sound names (uzz) and tech names (like Lazer) and claims they will abound in 2015.

Comment: Nothing new about this trend, it’s been going on for years. Boog forgot to mention place names (like Hudson and Paris) and food names (like Coco and Brie). Honestly , this is ancient history. They also forgot to mention trade names (like Harper and Miller)—which they refer to as “er” names in trend #2, below. However, personality names, sound names and tech names have not been mentioned much per se. So that’s a helpful insight. (Although Maverick, a personality name, popped up as a name around the time that Sara Palin was running for VP with John McCain.)

2. Girls’ Names that End in “ella”; Boys’ Names that End it “ett”

Boog points to the popularity of girls’ names like Isabella, Arabella, Mirabella and Rosabella. She also mentions the popularity of boys’ names like Emmett, Everett and Bennett. Up-and-coming name endings Boog mentions are “er” names (like Harper and Miller) and “as” names like (Silas and Zacharias).

Comment: Endings or “suffixes” are what I commonly refer to in my annual trend report. I’ve referred to “ella,” “ett” as well as “trade names” in my trend reports over the last five years. Isabella has been extremely popular for at least five years. Nothing new about this “prediction.”

3. Gender-Bending with Boys on Top

Boog reports a growing number of “unisex” names that have been used by both genders. She claims that some unisex names previously used mainly for boys were being abandoned as names for boys. But now, she claims, that trend is reversing, “with statistics showing boys are already reclaiming popular unisex names such as Alexis, Casey, Devon, Elisha, Jamie, Jordan, Kai, Milan, Robin, Rory, Rowan, Sidney, Tatum, and Tracy.”

Comment: This is new information that will be of great interest to parents who pick unisex names for their child before they know its gender and to parents who are worried that some “unisex” names are no longer used by boys. (See trend # 12, below).

4. Names Are Heading South

It makes sense that the use of southern states and cities as place names would become more popular as the population of southern cities and states increase (in comparison with the population of northern cities and states). Boog mentions the growing popularity of state names like Georgia, Tennessee, Carolina and Alabama and coastal names like Ocean, Dune and Beach.

Comment: This trend has been going on for years. In 2013, girls’ place names that increased in popularity included Georgia, Virginia, Charlotte and Dallas–as did Dakota, Londyn, Ireland and Milan. (Consider the fact that North Dakota is booming due to the discovery of huge quantities of fossil fuels there–and that Ireland’s status as a tax haven has brought in lots of new businesses and people. This “trend” may reflect changes in population more than anything else.

5. “O” is the Now Vowel

Boog mentions that Milo, Theo and other “o-ending” boys’ names have been popular for a while. Now Nameberry predicts that Juno, Marlow, Harlow, Margo(t), Willow, Indigo and Shiloh will all prove popular.

Comment: Willow made a big upward move in popularity 2013. It’s a reasonable bet that “o-ending” girls’ names will follow Milo and Theo.

6. “X” is the Now Consonant

Boog claims that “x” gives names an element of cool whether it comes at the end of a name, like Felix, Hendrix, Beatrix and Lennox or in the middle of a name like Axel, Baxter, Dexter, Maxine, Pixie and Roxana.

Comment: “X-names” have been hot for the last five or more years—a trend that may have been launched by Brangelina’s name choices. When Boog writes that “this may result in seeing a few Jaxsen or Jaxsons along the way too” she is admitting that the “X-name” trend is extremely well established—already.

7. Short & Simple

Boog has spotted a trend in Europe. Short and snappy names are becoming increasingly popular; she thinks that trend is coming to the U.S. “Popular in Europe, the top contenders for girls include Isa, Eva, Ida, Lou, Lia, and Tess, while for boys Nameberry’s picking Ben, Finn, Jack, Leon, Max, and Tom.”

Comment: The above-mentioned boys’ names are already growing at a fast pace in the U.S. Nothing new about that trend. I’d welcome short, informal names that are easy to spell and pronounce for girls, too.

8. Colorful Names

Boog points out that Violet, Blue and Scarlett are already in common use. Her prediction: “get ready for a color explosion in 2015 with more extreme shades coming into play. Think Indigo, Azure, Cerulean, Magenta, Fuschia, Crimson, Lavender, Lilac and even Mauve.”

Comment: I would welcome this trend, if it actually occurs, because some of the colors are quite lovely (I’m partial to Indigo), but I’d be surprised (and disappointed) if hard-to-spell and/or pronounce names like Cerulean, Fuschia, and Mauve make much of a move in 2015.

9. Save the Middle Name for a Hero

Boog notes that middle names are often used for family favorites, but Nameberry has discovered that “more people are looking to heroes for naming inspiration”–referring to favorite authors, musicians, athletes or political heroes. She ends with this noble sentiment: “And why not use the middle name to give your child someone to look up to?”

Comment: Why not indeed! I’ve been urging parents to pick names that will inspire their children for years and have complained about pundits who recommend (or promote) impractical and unwise names likely to inconvenience their children and in some cases result in derision and ridicule (like Cerulean, Fushia, Mauve, Lettice, Fenella, Rowdy and Rogue) to name seven examples that come readily to mind. I’m glad that someone at Nameberry is starting realize that promoting names that give children “someone to look up to” is a good thing to do. Now they need to realize that promoting impractical, silly and demeaning names is a bad thing to do.

10. Veggie Names

Boog is jumping on the good-for-you name bandwagon by identifying a veggie-name trend. Kale and Cale are both on the rise and so are Lettice and Romaine.

Comment: Kale (or Cale) sounds like they might work for boys; Romaine might work even better for girls. I don’t think much of Lettice (or Lettuce) as names. Nameberry must realize that publishing articles about naming trends is likely to create attention for the names they publish and cause people to consider using them. Why not point out which names are worth choosing and which should be avoided? Why suggest Lettice if the name will subject any child who bears that name to ridicule?

11. Celtic Names

Liam is currently on North American top-ten lists; now parents are looking for “other Celtic choices.” Boog predicts parents will turn to Scottish names like Fiona, Flora, Fenella, Greer, Isla and Elspeth as top picks for girls, while Finlay, Angus, Duncan, Ewan and Lachlan for the boys.

Comment: I was surprised when Boog left Isla off the short & simple list. Here it is now as a “Scottish” pick along with several other Scottish names likely to take hold, including Greer and Duncan. Some of the other predictions: Fiona, Fenella Elspeth Angus and Lachlan are less likely to catch on in “the states” by 2015. Ian is an example of a British name that took a while to get a toehold on this side of the Atlantic—which is why I think Ewan is likely to catch on too—eventually.

12. Distinctly Gendered “Unisex” Names

The unisex names referred to in prediction # 3, above, are used fairly evenly between girls and boys, but other names that may seem unisex are, in reality, distinctly gendered. Boog reports that Addison, Bailey, Kendall, Kennedy, McKenzie, and Sloane are mainly used for girls; while Cameron, Grayson, Jayce, and Kellen are mainly used for boys.

Comment: If true, this is very helpful information–though it doesn’t read like a prediction for 2015, does it?

 

 

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.

 

 

More Questionable Predictions: Five 2014 Baby Name Trends from Belly Ballot

Because it takes time for trends to develop, it’s more probable for trends to continue from year to year than for trends to stop abruptly—to be replaced by new trends which reverse previous trends. Here’s a quick list of Belly Ballot’s predictions with some background info to help you see how plausible (or implausible) their predictions might be:

1. Unconventional Spellings. Examples: Izak, Karder, Riyan, Kooper, Mykel, Emhily, BrookeLynn, or Meeya

Comment: This is the trend that led me (in 1978) to publish  the Best Baby Name Book (which became the #1 name book in North America within 6 months, because it included “unconventional spellings” not found in any other books). So this is not, remotely, a new trend.

2. Show Biz Names. Examples: Hayley, Camille, Piper, Ichabod, Katrina, Milan, Lincoln, Everly, and Autumn

Comment: Not a new trend, either. There’s nothing new about characters from TV shows or celebrity baby names influencing name choices. I suppose Belly Ballot might suggest we keep our eyes on specific “show biz names” they cited as examples. OK, will do. FYI, I commented favorably about Everly (Tatum) and Autumn (Hallisey), so I’d be happy to see those names do well. I enjoyed reading Orange is the New Black and like the classic preppy name, Piper. And Lincoln is on my list of “inspirational names.

3. Hispanic is Caliente. Examples: Lola, Maria, Carmen, Sierra, Ernesto, Diego, Santos, Miguel, or Luis.

Comment: Hispanic names are cold (aka declining). When Belly Ballot sent out a post claiming Caucasians were increasingly giving their children Hispanic names, I countered by pointing out that the use of Hispanic names in the U.S. was declining, overall, due to the fact that Hispanic parents were increasingly selecting “American” names for their children. Apparently the use of Hispanic names by gringos wasn’t strong enough to offset naming trends by Hispanic-Americans. FYI, I commented favorably about Carmen (Baldwin) and Lola is on my top-10 list of Cool Names for Girls, while Cruz and Matteo are on my top-ten list of Cool Names for Boys.

4. Return to the Bible. Examples: Caleb, Levi, Luke, Isaiah, Naomi, Shiloh, or Judith

Comment: A highly improbable prediction! The number of biblical names in the latest top-ten boy’s list from the Social Security Administration is down. Abigail is the only biblical name on the SSA’s top-ten girl’s list (and it wasn’t in Baby Center’s top-ten. I strongly doubt this trend will materialize. FYI, I like biblical names, because they create a positive impression for values and character.

5. Mythological Names. Examples: Luna, Camilla, Gaia, Tristan, Damon, or Thor

Comment: I haven’t seen much evidence of this trend, yet. You may recall that Uma Thurman used Luna as a nickname after the first 5 (mostly unspellable and unpronounceable) names she came up with for her daughter self-destructed. I hope, for Belly Ballot’s sake that at least one of their predicted trends takes off. This trend isn’t a complete non-starter; though it seems like a low-odds Hail Mary pass at the end of the “prediction season” to me.

Summary: Seems to me we should call December the “silly season” for trend articles. Most of the “trends” proposed by both Belly Ballot and Nameberry seem highly unlikely to pan out; unless of course they are not remotely new and have (like “unconventional spellings”) been in a long-term uptrend for decades.