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.

The Latest Trends: Why the Popularity of 89 Girls’ and Boys’ Names Soared in 2013


When selecting names, parents often consider options that are similar in some way. For example, they may consider root names against their variations (William versus Liam), names that sound similar (Aubrey versus Audrey), names with the same theme (such as nature names, place names, ethnic names or religious names, or names with the same prefix or suffix. Below are some name clusters or themes that explain why the popularity of 89 boys’ and girls’ names rose rapidly in 2013, as reported by the Social Security Administration


Girls’ Names Rising Rapidly in Popularity


Everly/Everleigh: Everly was the 5th fastest rising girl’s name followed by Everly, the 6th fastest riser. (I rated Everly, the name Channing Tatum gave his baby daughter, as one of the best celebrity baby names of the year 2013.)


Place Names: Led by Dallas (the 15th fastest rising girls’ name) and India (the 17th fastest riser), more than 15 place names increased in popularity including: Ireland, Milan, Milana, Maylasia, Maylaya, Phoenix, Asia, Londyn, Adelaide, Dakota, Catalina, Georgia, Virginia and more. (Strangely, Sydney had one of the largest declines in popularity on the top 100 girls’ list.)


Flower, Shrub and Tree Names: Rosie was the 16th fastest rising name for girls. Rosie and Rose also increased in popularity. A variety of other flower, shrub and tree names also rose, including Dahlia, Sage, Saige, Azalea, Laurel, Juniper, Magnolia and Willow. (I recently met a woman named Magnolia. She told me she was the only woman she knew with that name. Apparently, reinforcements are on the way.)


Amelia, Mila and Sound-Alikes: As Amelia climbed onto the Next 10 list, Mila leaped onto the top 100 list and sound-alikes Myla, Emilia, Camila, Millie and Milania also increased in popularity. (You may recall that Mila is what Jenna Bush Hager wants friends and family to call her daughter, whom she named Margaret Laura, in 2013.)

Brand Names: Though I was surprised to see Oakley, a chic sunglasses brand, show up on the rapidly rising list for girls, I also noticed Chanel, a well-established perfume and designer brand on the list. (One prominent brand name that declined in 2013 was Mercedes.)


Virtue Names: Also rising rapidly were a variety of virtue names including Mercy, Felicity, Serenity, Serena, and Joy.


Hadley/Hadlee: Hadlee was the 12th fastest rising name for girls. Also rising rapidly was root name, Hadley.


“Annabel Lee”: Another fast-rising cluster included Anabel, Annabell, Annabelle, and Annabella–names popularized by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “Annabel Lee,” which was written long before TV and movies were invented.

TV tie-ins: Daleyza (“Larrymania”) was the #1 fastest-rising girls’ name in 2013. Sadie (“Duck Dynasty”) had one of the largest percentage increases in popularity, from #119 in 2012 to #50 in 2012–a 58% increase in popularity.


Boys’ Names Rising Rapidly in Popularity


Variations of Jason: Jayceon was the #1 fastest rising boys’ name. Jayse was #4. Also rising rapidly were Jase, Jayce, Jayce and Jayson. However, the root name, Jason, declined. Apparently parents were seeking more contemporary forms of the mythological name. (You may recall that Jason led the Argonauts on a search for the Golden Fleece.)


Jackson/Jack & Variations: Jackson was the fastest rising name on the “Next 10 list. Related names like Jax, Jazen, Jaxon, Jack and Jaxton, also gained in popularity. (Popularity gains by these “macho” names is in contrast to gains on the top 10 list by “sensitive” names for boys with soft consonants.)


Pompous Titles: Duke was the 5th fastest rising boys’ name. Deacon was #19. Also rising rapidly were Royal, Major, King, Kingston, Messiah and Legend. (This trend should keep psychologists very busy.)


Weapons, Hunting & Battle Names: Names associated with weapons such as Remington, Gunner and Archer continued to rise rapidly, along with Gunnar, Kannon, Kayson, Kaysen, Cayson, Hunter and Killian. (This trend should please the NRA.)


Zane/Zayn and Other “Z “Names: Zayn was the 7th fastest-rising boys’s name. It’s a variation of root name ,Zane, which also rose rapidly along with  related variations, Zayne and  Zain. Also rising rapidly were unrelated “Z” names like Zaid, Zaiden, Zaire, and Zavier. (It seems that  “Z” names still have a “cool” and “macho” vibe.)


Arab Names: The most recognizable Arab names on the rapidly-rising boys’ names were Abdullah and Mohammad, followed by Ahmad, Amir, Ameer, Hassan, Mustafa, and Ibrahim, among others. (It takes courage to give your child an Arab name, because of fears people may have about them.)

TV Tie-ins:  Castiel (“Supernatural”) and Jase (“Duck Dynasty”) were the 5th and 16th fastest-rising names in 2013. Both names are associated with characters on TV shows.

Dania Ramirez Gives Her Twin Boys Greek Mythological Names

When Dominican actress, Dania Ramirez, named her twin boys in December, she picked names from Greek mythology: Aether (the personification of rare air only Gods could breath) and Gaia (the goddess of the earth). The star of “Devious Maids” explained that Aether and Gaia “were actually siblings in Greek mythology. My 12-year-old stepson’s name is Kai, which means ocean, and we wanted to connect them all. So now we have water, earth and air.”

In concept it makes a fascinating story. But because I like to use celebrity baby names as “teaching opportunities,” permit me to mention a few issues with the names she and her husband John Beverly Amos Land picked: John Aether and Gaia Jisssel.

1)    I suggest that parents use thematically related names for siblings, especially in the case of twins. Naming one of them John Aether and the other Gaia Jissel doesn’t seem “well-balanced” to me, even though Ramirez said they won’t use the name John often.

2)    Giving one of the twins the name of a goddess also disturbs the balance of the naming process. The inequality would come across more clearly if she had named one of her sons Arthur and the other son Venus, because that’s, in effect, what she did.

3)    My guess is that most friends and family members probably won’t be familiar with either Gaia or Aether—whether they speak Spanish or English. Ditto for the children the twins meet in daycare. In that case, their names won’t win them warm welcomes from their classmates either in kindergarten or in college. Many people who meet them won’t know what to make of the Greek names.

In short, I’m impressed by the intellectuality of the Ramirez-Land name choices but I suspect that one or both boys will wind up with a nickname that’s a lot easier and more fun for them to use. Too bad Ramirez didn’t provide both boys with both Anglo and Spanish alternative options.

You may recall that Uma Thurman give her daughter five names, most of which were unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. Six months later she decided to forget about those long, complicated names and call her daughter Luna. The Ramirez-Land twins may eventually wish they had different names, too.

Dear Bruce: “Teen Mom” Star Kailyn Lowry Wants a Spanish Name for Her Baby

Why? Her husband is Javi Marroquin. They’re looking for a name that will work well in both English and Spanish. As soon as I read the headline of the article in, I had an answer. One of the most popular blogs I’ve written is about finding names that will work well for couples from different cultures or countries—who may speak different languages. It suggests a strategy that would work well for Kailyn Lowry and her husband Javi Marroquin. Pick place names. Why? No matter what language people speak, most people are familiar with them and can pronounce them. like Francisco (San Francisco) and Rosa (Santa Rosa).

Although I don’t know where Javi Marroquin is from, let’s imagine he’s from California. If so, here are 20 California place names (many that reflect California’s strong Spanish influence). Anyone living in or near those places (whether Anglo or Spanish) will undoubtedly  know how to pronounce them in their native tongue.

California Place Names for Girls: Avalon, Barbara (Santa Barbara), Clara (San Clara), Clarita (San Clarita), Maria (Santa Maria), Monica (Santa Monica), Paula (Santa Paula), Rosa (Santa Rosa), Soledad, Sonoma and Tracy

California Place Names for Boys: Bruno (San Bruno), Carlos (San Carlos), Cruz (Santa Cruz), Fernando (San Fernando, Francisco (San Francisco), Marcos (San Marcos), Mateo (San Mateo), Pablo (San Pablo), Rafael (San  Rafael), Ramon (San Ramon)

If you and your partner are from different countries, ethnic groups or speak different languages–consider place names as a source of names that could work well for you and your partner and your families.

“Best Friends Forever” Alum Jessica St. Clair and Husband Dan O’Brien Pick an Uncommon Variation of Isabella for Daughter Isobel Kelly O’Brien.

Isabella is currently the third most popular girl’s name in America. Not wishing to give their daughter a name that was “too popular,” former BFF actress Jessica St. Clair and her husband decided to give their daughter a relatively uncommon variation of Isabella: Isobel.

I understand their thinking. But I don’t agree. The good news: Isobel won’t have to share her name with two or three other girls in her nursery school or kindergarten class. The bad news: She’ll be constantly correcting the way people spell her name and the way they pronounce it. Should it be pronounced IZ-o-bell? or IZ-ah-bell? Probably the former; but most people will probably use the latter pronunciation—which may drive Isobel and/or her parents crazy.

Better to have selected Isabel, which isn’t the third most popular name in America and won’t produce either spelling or pronunciation problems for their daughter.

That said, I’m also uncomfortable with the way all three names sound together (no matter how Isobel will be pronounced). Pairing two great Irish names (Kelly O’Brien) with an unusual Spanish name (Isobel) gives me the impression of a mismatch. If you’re going the “Irish” route, you can’t beat Kelly O’Brien. (As Tony the Tiger would say, “It’s Grrrrreat!”) So stop right there. But, if Kelly is a family name and you’re sort of stuck with it (from a political standpoint) I’d pick a three-syllable Irish name like Devina.

Jessica and Dan are going to hate me for making all these suggestions after the fact. But if they had tried out the name on friends and relatives, they would have heard many of these same concerns. When you announce your baby’s name and your friends and relatives say, “Hmmmm! Here’s another option you might want to consider,” you know that the “mix and match” strategy you were using didn’t work.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I don’t always use “thumb” ratings in my reviews of celebrity baby names any more, except when I really like or don’t like the name. I’m giving this one two thumbs down.

Naming for Success: The Name On The Resume Will Influence the Number Of Job Interviews Your Child Gets

Veronica Agard has a first name that doesn’t send any signal about whether she is black, brown, white or yellow. Veronica skillfully presents the story of Yolanda Spivey, an African-American woman who performed an experiment by applying for the same jobs with two different names and profiles (ethnic identification) on

– Yolanda Spivey (her real name), with an African-American profile

– Bianca White (a fabricated “white” name) with a Caucasian (white) profile

You can probably guess which “applicant” got the most interviews—which says something about the job market in the U.S. and naming strategies for African-American parents.

After reading the article, I strongly suggest you peruse some of the readers’ comments below the article. Several refer to a chapter in Freakonomics which concluded that names which create an impression that the applicant is from a “low-rent” neighborhood and has low socio-economic and educational status seems to be a more accurate cause of the problem than “racism.”

Some of the comments also mention successful naming strategies African-American parents with high socio-economic status use to increase the odds their children will also be perceived as having high socio-economic status. So the strategy of naming for success may be even more important for ethnic minorities than for Caucasians.

Although the Hispanic population in the U.S. is rising rapidly, the popularity of Spanish names like Manuel, Javier, Alejandro, and Julio is declining rapidly. Apparently an increasing percentage of people whose families came from Spanish- speaking countries are choosing “Anglo” names for their children.

Naming for success is a time-tested strategy for upward mobility that has been used by countless ethnic groups in the U.S. This strategy was used by Veronica Agard’s mother and is used by upwardly mobile African-American families throughout the U.S. Let’s face it: names are often used as an indicator of social class, whether we like it or not.

10 Cinco de Mayo Names for Baby Girls to Consider; Add Your Own Favorites–Then Vote

Quick post to provide you with 14 Cinco de Mayo names for baby girls you might like to consider (and vote on): Ana, Alejandra, Evita, Isabel, Lolita, Rita, Marison, Rosalia, Soledad, Ynez.

You’ll find this interactive list on, where your votes will “re-rank” the list to reflect your likes and dislikes.  In addition to “re-ranking” the list with your votes, you can also add your own favorite Cinco de Mayo names to the list. Don’t be surprised to discover, when you visit the Ranker list, that it’s been alreadty been re-ranked by folks who have added new names they like for Cinco de Mayo and voted.