Ava's up, Madison's down: The name world speaks
Madison is a trendy girl's name that has helped define the sound of a generation. But its reign may be nearing an end, if the experts are right. Which experts? Well, you.
Back in December, I issued a challenge to babynamewizard.com visitors. Choose three names that you think rose most in popularity in 2005, and three that you think fell. (The actual figures won't be known until Spring.) Almost 500 name hawks entered their best guesses in the inaugural Baby Name Pool. The result is thousands of "hot or not" assessments of American baby names.
Scientific? Nah. Meaningful? Absolutely.
Hundreds of observant name lovers scattered across the map make up an extraordinary scout team on the front lines of fashion. Their collective wisdom not only gives us a sense of what names are being used now, but where trends are likely to be heading.
Take the #2 name on the Pool hot list, Violet. It's a solid choice, a sweet antique with the rhythm of Isabel and the essence of Lily. Its "hot" status, though, is largely celebrity-inspired: Violet made headlines as the name of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's new daughter. Did that Hollywood connection really send the name soaring in 2005? Not likely...the baby wasn't born until December. But for 2006, look out.
So consider this your look ahead at name fashion, this year and beyond. Ava is hot and getting hotter, while Kayla is passing its peak. Aidan's still rising, and Jacob and Emily may not hold their #1 thrones much longer. The name world has spoken.
The top choices
And some notes:
* It's tough to catch a name dropping out of fashion. They arrive on the scene with a bang, then slink away slowly and quietly. Compared to the many popular "hot" choices, there was very little agreement on the "not hot" names -- with one big exception. Madison was the runaway favorite, outpolling all names on either list and swamping the #2 not-hot choice by a factor of 5 to 1. Madison isn't about to disappear (it was also #5 on the hot list), but a backlash has clearly begun.
* Predictions of girl names outnumbered boys by two to one. That's actually sound strategy, since girls' names have traditionally swept in and out of fashion more quickly.
* If you combined all the spellings of Aidan for boys, it would be the #2 hot pick. In fact, many names had multiple variants submitted, the champion being Caden-Cadin-Caeden-Kaden-Kaeden-Kaiden. Other hot names showed up in families, such as Lily, Lilly, Lillian, Liliana, Lilia, Lila, Laila. (For more on the topic of combining variants, check out this old post.)
* Five names garnered multiple hot votes for both boys and girls: Jordan, Logan, Riley, Rowan, and Tristan.
* Pool participants included 9 Amys and 10 Elizabeths...and not a single Ava or Violet. Thanks to all of you who entered! The contest results will be announced here in May.