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.

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.

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.

 

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).

 

 

 

 

Most Gemstone Names Sound Old-Fashioned, But 7 Are Worth Considering

 

Maressa Brown wrote a post in The Stir listing 25 gemstones that are sometimes used as names for people.  I looked at the list of gemstones and most of them struck me as being terribly old fashioned or clunky and rarely used. For good reason. As it turned out, 14 of the names did not have a top 1000 popularity ranking. And only 7 of the names were ranked among the top 500 boys’ or girls’ names.

In my article about place names I pointed out that most place names, like Afghanistan and Timbuktu, don’t sound much like names for people. The same holds true for gemstone names like Citrine and Onyx. What makes place names or gemstone names sound like names you could pick for a baby  is when lots of people use them as names for children–place names like Dakota or Austin; and gemstone names like Ruby or Jade.

I hope that providing you with popularity rankings (when available) will help you understand why so many of the names seem so out of date. Most of them don’t sound like they’d work well for your children in the year 2014.

I’ve provided you with a link to Brown’s article, above. I hope you’re not overly impressed to read which celebs have used some of these names. Go with your gut. If they seem old-fashioned or clunky to you, they probably are.  (Names that are not listed among the 1,000 most popular baby names in 2013 by the Social Security Administration are identified, below, as “unranked.”)

1. Amethyst (unranked) a rarely used name
2. Ruby (#93) a top-100 name with a rising trend
3. Pearl (#677) an old-fashioned name with a rising trend
4. Mica (unranked) a rarely used name that sounds like a variation of Micah
5. Opal (unranked) an old-fashioned name)
6. Coral (unranked) a rarely used name
7. Onyx (unranked) a rarely used name
8. Amber (#288) an old fashioned name with a declining trend
9. Emerald (#1000) a little-used name with a declining trend
10. Diamond (#712) a little-used name with a long-term declining trend; the recent trend is level
11. Bijou (unranked) a rarely used name
12. Beryl (unranked) an old-fashioned name
13. Jasper #248 a name with a rising trend
14. Jade (/#106) a name with a level trend
15. Esme (929) a little-used name with a level trend
16. Esmerelda (unranked) a rarely used name
17. Garnet (unranked) a rarely used name
18. Crystal (#464) a “new age” name with a declining trend
19. Agate (unranked) a rarely used name
20. Jett (#324) a contemporary name with a rising trend
21. Goldie (unranked) a rarely used name
22. Citrine (unranked) a rarely used name
23. Topaz (unranked) a rarely used name
24. Silver (unranked) a rarely used name
25. Gemma (#368) a name with rising trend

Seven gemstone names you might want to consider:
Ruby, Jade, Jasper, Jett,  Gemma, Amber and (perhaps) Crystal, if you don’t mind the “new age” vibe.

 

 

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.

 

 

How Baby Center’s 2013 Top-10 Lists Compare with the Social Security Administration’s 2012 Top-10 List

I must have received 10 newsfeeds (all from different sources) for Baby Center’s list of 100 most popular names in 2013. As you may know, Baby Center is one of the leading sources of information about birth and babies. They get their popularity information directly from expecting and new parents who are registered with them. It’s a pretty good source of information considering that  the 2013 “most popular names lists” are published by Baby Center about 6 months in advance of the official Social Security Administration popularity data, which the SSA releases on or around Mother’s Day every year.

But, when I took a look at the top-ten boys’ names for 2013 announced by Baby Center, I wondered: How did Jackson  jump to #1 on Baby Center in 2013 from #20 on SSA in 2012? How did Aiden jump to #2 on Baby Center in 2013 from #10 on SSA in 2012? How did Lucas jump to #4 on Baby Center in 2013 from #27 on SSA in 2012? And how did Jack jump to #10 on Baby Center in 2013 all the way from #45 on SSA in 2012?

(I should mention at this point that changes to either the boy’s or girls top ten lists (from year to year on SSA) are usually in increments of one or two ranks on the list. It is fairly typical for several names  to move up one or two ranks and several names to move down one or two ranks on the list. And every once in a while, a name will “swoop down” from #11 or #12 to #9 or #10 to provide some excitement for me and other bored commentators.)  Believe it or not, that pretty much sums up the changes, most years, to the top-ten most popular boys’ and girls lists from the Social Security Administration.)

When I looked at top-ten girls’ names for 2013 announced by Baby Center, there were only two big moves: Zoe moved up from #20 on SSA 2012 to #8 on Baby Center 2013. And Lily moved up from #16 on SSA 2012 to #6 on Baby Center 2013. But the moves I’ve just described from the SSA 2012 list to the BC 2013 list way go beyond two sigmas (even if you flunked Statistics, you probably know that’s big move).

Now use your eyeballs to compare BC 2013 with BC2012 on the chart I created below–which compares BC 2013 with SSA 2012 and BC 2012. Notice, on the boys’ side, that Jackson moved up from #2 (in BC 2012) to #1 in BCv2013). Aiden moved down from  #1 (on BC 2012) to #2 in (BC 2013). And Jack didn’t move anywhere. It was #10 (in BC 2012 and was #10 (in BC 2013). Those are the kind of small incremental moves from year to year that it is reasonable to expect when you are looking at data from the same population year after year. This tells us that data produced by Baby Center should be compared with Baby Center stats from previous years; ditto for SSA data to give you a feel for popularity trends.

Why? Because Baby Center registrations are a very different population base than the much larger population measured by the Social Security Administration. Most likely, the Baby Center list skews more upscale (higher income and education) than the American public. So it probably makes sense to accept the fact that Baby Center registrations have dramatically different demographics than the SSA database.

In the chart below, you can compare Baby Center 2013 with both SSA 2012 and BC 2012.But to avoid getting too excited, remember that the best way to look at the Baby Center 2013 most popular names lists is to compare them to the BC 2012 list to find out, directionally, what’s going on. (As you can see, I’m not very good at lining up data so it looks vertically straight. Sorry about that.)

Top Boys’ and Girls’ Names for Baby Center 2013 (vs. SSA 2012 and BC 2012)

1. Jackson  #22 SSA 2012    #2 BC 2012                 1. Sophia      #1 SSA 2012      #1 BC 2012
2. Aiden     #10 SSA 2012    #1 BC 2012                 2. Emma       #2 SSA 2012      #2 BC 2012
3. Liam        #6 SSA 2012     #4 BC 2012                 3. Olivia        #4 SSA 2012      #3 BC 2012
4. Lucas     #27 SSA 2012     #7 BC 2012                 4. Isabella    #3 SSA 2012     #4 BC 2012
5. Noah       #4 SSA 2012     #6 BC 2012                  5. Mia           #8 SSA 2012     #9 BC 2012
6. Mason     #2 SSA 2012     #5 BC 2012                  6. Ava           #5 SSA 2012     #5 BC 2012
7. Jayden     #7 SSA 2012     #9 BC 2012                  7. Lily         #16 SSA 2012     #6 BC 2012
8. Ethan      #3 SSA 2012     #3 BC 2012                  8. Zoe         #20 SSA 2012     #7 BC 2012
9. Jacob       #1 SSA 2012     #8 BC 2012                  9. Emily       #6 SSA 2012     #8 BC 2012
10. Jack     #45 SSA 2012   #11 BC 2012                10. Chloe    #11 SSA  2012  #10 BC 2012

I should probably mention that Baby Center’s report on popularity changes in 2013 calls attention to popularity gains by names associated with the following TV shows and celebrities:
-“Duck Dynasty”
-HBO’s “Girls”
-Bad Boy (Kanye West)
-Bad Girl (Miley Cyrus)
-Triple Threat Indie Girls (Lena Dunham and Lake Bell)
-Funny Guys (Alec Baldwin, Fred Armisen, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughan and Jason Sudeikis)
-and American Presidents (Jack Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Barack Obama)

I found this information to be helpful, but I was surprised to discover that Baby Center didn’t also echo trends mentioned by a variety of US and UK commentators, to the effect that popularity gains were also made by names associated with some other popular TV  shows: “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad, “Game of Thrones, and “Downton Abbey.” It’s possible these trends didn’t show up in Baby Center’s data or perhaps their analysts missed them–I have no idea which. It’s one of the confusing aspects of having two very different sources of popularity information based on very different populations which are published 6 months apart.

I also think there’s more to analyzing changes in the popularity of names than concern with the influence of TV shows and celebrities. Surely that’s not the only factor that affects the popularity of names. Here are just a few things I noticed:

– On the top-ten Baby Center (2013)  boys’ list, there are currently 4 “J”-names. That’s a rare happening. Notice also that the  4 “strong” “J”-names combine with Lucas, which has a hard “c” sound to give the top-ten list 5 “strong” names and 5 “soft” names which (like Ethan and Noah) use softer vowel sounds.  By contrast, last year on the SSA 2012 top-ten boys’ list there were 7 “soft” names and only 3 “strong” names. And, notice also that there are only three names with biblical ties on the 2013 Baby Center list.  (In recent years there have usually been 6 or 7 boy’s names with biblical associations on SSA top-ten lists.) FYI, Biblical names suggest values or good character–which is why they have been so popular for boys in the past.

– On the top-ten Baby Center (2013) girl’s list, the first six names all have “strong” “a”- endings. But notice that the last four names have “weaker” endings with the “y” or “ee” sound. On the 2012 SSA list there was only one name (Emily) with a “y” ending, and there were three names with neutral-consonant endings (Abigail, Elizabeth, and Madison.) Finally, on the 2012 SSA top-ten list, there was one name on the list which made a “smart” impression: Abigail. Parents will have to look farther to find a “smart” option and/or a biblical name that connotes “good character” for their daughters.