2010 Name of the Year: Call for Nominations

Nov 17th 2010

Every December, BabyNameWizard.com honors one name that shaped -- and was shaped by -- the year that's been.

The Baby Name Wizard Name of the Year isn't necessarily the most popular baby name. It's a name that changed during the course of the year and points to more changes around us. It's a one-name time capsule, reminding us of how names are woven into the fabric of society, connecting to and reflecting everything that goes on in our culture.

Past honorees have come from Hollywood, politics and literature. They have included names of individuals real (Barack, Taylor), fictional (Renesmee), and conceptual (Joe, in the year of Joe Six-Pack and Joe the Plumber). What they all had in common was zeitgeist...and your nominations.

This is a group effort. The criteria for the Name of the Year selection include:

- A dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning

- A reflection of a broader cultural theme, or influence on broader style trends

- In the case of current events, "naminess" -- how essential the name is to the story

- Your votes. The NOTY is always selected from reader nominations. The number of nominations counts in the decision, and compelling arguments in support of your candidate count most of all.

Please post your nominations in comments here, and feel free to second others' suggestions. Then look for the official Name of the Year announcement in December!


By Laura M. (not verified)
November 17, 2010 11:40 AM

I wonder if Snooki is "namey" enough to be a candidate? I can't imagine many parents choosing it for their daughter, but it certainly captures the zeitgeist.

By Sly (not verified)
November 17, 2010 12:14 PM

How about Lisbeth from Steig Larsson's bestsellers, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl who Played with Fire", and "The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest". All three have been on the NY Times Best Sellers list for most of the year.

By Jennie NLI (not verified)
November 17, 2010 12:57 PM

I have to agree that the way those Jersey Shore name snuck into the popular consciousness this year -- Snooki and The Situation -- was kind f remarkable.

November 17, 2010 1:24 PM

Out of a number of interesting names on the pop charts this year (Bruno, Taio, Willow), I'd go with Kesha.

The name hovered in the lower half of the top 1000 from 1970-82, but I wouldn't be surprised if it returns on account of the single-named pop singer, who's had five top 10 songs this year.

Especially since I'm guessing that the Kesha that was popular in the '70s was a variant on Keisha, (pronounced KEE-sha), and so this new version (pronounced KESH-uh) feels like a different name and not merely a retread.

(It's perhaps also worth pointing out that the singer is white, which might allow for the name -- which for some people could read as African American -- to gain traction across demographics.)

By Jennie NLI (not verified)
November 17, 2010 1:34 PM

But is Kesha the same name as Ke$ha which is how she spells is?

November 17, 2010 2:00 PM

Ke$ha or Kesha (or "Keh-dollar-ha" as I always call her) definitely should be taken in its dollar-sign format if it's the name of the year, because the $ is what makes the name remarkable. Otherwise it's just a variant of Keisha and does actually still sound kind of retro to me, not a modern name at all.

My vote, however, goes to Snooki.

By Rika (not verified)
November 17, 2010 2:02 PM


As in Daisy Khan, the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and one of the people behind Park51 (or the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque").

Per a recent New York Times profile (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/fashion/14khan.html), "She tried to assimilate into school, dropping her given name, Farhat, in favor of Daisy."

In Daisy coalesces a story of immigration and assimilation, of America post-9/11, of the new power of bloggers like Pamela Gellar (and Andrew Breitbart, if we think of Shirley Sherrod) to drive the news cycle and have a direct effect on mainstream political discourse.

It also helps that name itself is, like other flower names and Maisie, its fellow nickname-for-Margaret, trendy in its own right.

November 17, 2010 2:21 PM

Ha, I knew someone would mention the dollar sign in Ke$ha. (I almost did myself.)

I guess you're right that the symbol is what makes the name stand out -- but without it, it's still the singer's real name (Kesha Sebert), which might seem attractive in itself.

Also, to me, the unique pronunciation allows the name to not seem too retro, but I suppose it's a fair point that it doesn't seem particularly contemporary, either.

Maybe it's not a Name of the Year, but I do expect to see it on the top 1000 come May.

November 17, 2010 2:34 PM

My votes are for the names Kate and Edward. These are not new names but their usage/feel does seem new to me. In the past I might have thought of Edward as a stately, English gentleman. Kate would have been his wife or sister. NOW, Edward can be the little kid down the street. Kate can be also. There are celebrity names that have brought these names to the "top of the pot" so to speak. Edward from Twilight, Katie Perry, Kate Gosselin, and so on. Anyone seconding these?

November 17, 2010 3:06 PM

Zoerhenne, you forgot Kate Middleton! I'll definitely second Kate.

I don't know about Edward. Twilight was so last year.

By A Jessica (not verified)
November 17, 2010 4:59 PM

I certainly second Kate. Kate Middleton may not be American, but there are few things that Americans like more than a Cinderella story. I suspect that it will add some new life to this traditional name. If not in 2010, then it will happen in 2011 with the royal wedding.

November 17, 2010 5:10 PM

Regarding Kate Middleton now being known as Catherine, I found it quite funny that the news clip announcing their engagement on msnbc referenced the spelling of her name, saying "Her name is Catherine with a 'C', and yet they spell her name Kate with a 'K'. No explanation of that so far that I have read."

(The original can be found here: http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-ca&from=customplayer_en-ca_news&fg=ca.msn.com&vid=fff963d8-8e1d-41d4-b61f-87417c36681f at around 3 minutes into the clip.)

By Jillc (not verified)
November 17, 2010 6:38 PM

I could get on board with one of the Jersey Shore names. I don't have cable and have never seen the show, yet I still know who they are. So sad that they can get into my relatively tv-free bubble...

In other name news, we got the application from our church for child dedication. One of the questions was, "Do you know the meaning of your child's name? If so, please tell us." I thought this was a strange question. How do you answer this question if your child is named, say, Chessen? What if you didn't know Cameron meant 'crooked nose' until the moment you were filling out this form?

November 17, 2010 6:39 PM


Over the past year, Tiger Woods has hogged the spotlight for reasons other than his stellar golf skills. His Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, also captured the media's attention. She was almost always portrayed as a strong and resilient woman, providing a image for parents considering the name to picture. I think this name has major potential in the states. Its not hard to spell or pronounce and it fits right in with all the other -in/-yn names rising in the ranks today, but is less common and more sophisticated.

November 17, 2010 6:58 PM

Lucubratix - congratulations! and many sticky vibes for a healthy pregnancy to you :)

I'm not sure on the name of the year. Snooki means nothing to me here in Australia. Ke$ha is pretty big though! So I'll put my thinking cap on...

November 17, 2010 7:16 PM

Qazqaz8-I will go ahead and second Elin. This is a name which was very much in the spotlight this year. Along with the ease of spelling pulling it toward use, it also has a distinct pronunciation. There were many that initially thought this name was a respelling of Ellen. When it was found out it was Ee-lyn that was something.

and just as a precursor to May...the name Aslan and all its many spelling variants may be in for new hot name because of the movie version of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The other names in the movie are Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy are still just regular names to me.

By Cathie (not verified)
November 17, 2010 8:09 PM

oooh, love the Ke$ha and Snooki suggestions! They both seem so "now" with their name-as-brand vibe.

Kate to me has been so trendy for the last few years, I just don't see it as a stand out.

By Amy3
November 17, 2010 8:20 PM

Snooki. Definitely. When a 9-yr-old at my daughter's school dressed as Snooki for Halloween and even I (another non-cable person) know the name, you know it's really penetrated.

November 17, 2010 8:39 PM

i'm not much of a nominator, but Cathie's argument that Ke$ha and Snooki characterize the "name-as-brand" vibe has convinced me to root for those.

By justpupsfornow (not verified)
November 17, 2010 8:43 PM

Lol, my husband and I did Snooki and the Situation for Halloween this year - kicker was I was Mike the Situation and he Snooki! We were quite a frightening sight!

How sad it would be though to see Snooki or Kesha voted the NOTY:/ Talk about no-talent and undeserving of the fame and fortune but they've certainly both made they're mark on society...

DH and I are looking for a middle name for a girl (justpupsnotforlong;)
that is less NOTY/top of the charts than Madison or Addison but has the same "ah" or "ad" sound like those and Adelaide/Adalynn for further e.g. Would love any help!

By justpupsfornow (not verified)
November 17, 2010 8:46 PM

Elin! love it:)

November 17, 2010 8:59 PM


Chris Daughtry's twin daughter, born today, is named Adalynn Rose (the other twin is Noah James), and the Celebrity Name blog already has an article up noting the rising popularity of Adalynn. Just sayin'....

And congratulations to all the newly expecting and recently arrived.

By Polly D (not verified)
November 17, 2010 9:25 PM

I'll suggest the name Roberto. This name showed up fairly prominently in pop culture twice this year.

The first time was in Lady Gaga's song "Alejandro" (which by the way I'd originally been planning to nominate the name Alejandro). Lady Gaga says the song was about her attraction to male friends that she couldn't have. In the process, she managed to make men with the names Alejandro, Fernando, and Roberto seem very sexy.

Then, this summer on the Bachelorette, Roberto was one of the most popular bachelors. From day one, there was always a hot chemistry between him and Ali, the Bachelorette. In the end, he was the final man left standing, the one Ali chose to get engaged to. Again, Roberto seemed like a sexy name.

I'll also point out that both the song and the show did pretty well this year. For a while, my local top 40 radio station was playing "Alejandro" constantly. "The Bachelorette" got higher than normal ratings all summer, and the final episode topped the weekly Nielsen ratings for the first time ever. Maybe it says something about how women this year wanted to fantasize about the Latin lover?

By justpupsfornow (not verified)
November 17, 2010 9:25 PM

precisely the problem - too popular - but something else with the same short 'a' sound...

November 17, 2010 9:32 PM

My Name Of The Year pick would be Kurt. As in Kurt from Glee.

The reason being, in the past month or so I've heard three seperate people - including my 13 year old, and an obviously gay couple in a restaurant - use Kurt as slang for gay/effeminate. As in, "OMG he's a total Kurt". This for a name that most people would have considered ultra-macho a year ago. Now there's a "dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning" for you.

Not that I think Kurt will be shooting up the baby name popularity charts though. (Leave that to his co-stars Finn and Quinn.)

Of all the suggestions above, I think Snooki is the one the greatest distinctive zeitgeist... but it's actually just a nickname, I don't think anyone has actually ever named their baby that. (Laura, please reassure us that Snooki does NOT figure on any recent popularity lists, anywhere!)

November 17, 2010 9:38 PM

I have to second Snooki. I actually know who she is, and believe me, once I know about a fad, it is over!


adeline or ada?

November 18, 2010 12:23 AM

re: Kurt: very interesting! i haven't heard any stuff like this myself, but have thought about how the name seems very masculine. i heard the character was named after kurt in sound of music.

By Lils
November 18, 2010 1:08 AM

Yeah, Kurt was named after that character.
I'm not sure Snooki is really thought about as a name, just as a person, mostly.
I DO like the Roberto suggestion, but I also think Alejandro would be good for the NOTY. I've heard Alejandro used frequently to refer generically to a sexy, mysterious man: "oh, you wish you could be with Alejandro right now", etc.

November 18, 2010 1:47 AM

willow- 9 year old willow smith has been causing a sensation with her song "whip my hair", as well as willow palin, who is becoming a more prominent figure via he mother's reality show. the name feels very 2010 in terms of "unique but accessable" that everyone seems to be striving for. i think it is right on the tip of going big.

for a boys name i nominate sawyer. it seems like the television show "lost" aired a long time ago, but for fully half of 2010, people were obsessed with how it would end. the fervor dissipated entirely after the finale, but it was a big cultural moment. i think sawyer is a really memorable name from the show, but the name jack was probably also given a boost by it.

By hyz nli (not verified)
November 18, 2010 1:59 AM

I am clearly not qualified to vote in this--upon reading the suggestion for Snooki, my first thought was "who is Snooki?" I don't have cable, but I have been on maternity leave for the past month and watching some daytime television, so I have just recently heard of both The Situation and Kesha. Being so woefully behind on pop culture, I think I'll have to cheer on this contest from the sidelines.

By Bue nli (not verified)
November 18, 2010 7:06 AM

hyz, I thought the same. Luckily Google is my friend and I am now fully up to date on my Jersey Shore personalities :)

By Bue
November 18, 2010 7:10 AM

hyz, I haven't been around here for eons - I meant to ask, what did you name your baby? Last I remember you were leaning towards Oliver? Many congratulations to you!

By Amy3
November 18, 2010 9:36 AM

From the last thread, I would love it if William and Kate named a son Arthur! *swoon*

By RachelM (not verified)
November 18, 2010 10:15 AM

I vote for Snooki and the Situation. Whether or not anyone actually names their baby Snooki (and I doubt anyone will), I think that unusual nickname is a big reason why she took off as the center of that show. I admit, I did tune in for a few episodes. And I also have to admit, I partly did because of the names. They made me curious--who were these characters? Would it have taken off in quite the same way if she just went by Nicole? And calling yourself The Situation? As a proper name? So strange.

Add to the fact that many people know those names and have never seen the show, and we have a winner. It may not have the international clout and influence of a name like Barack, but a name with that kind of reach is a little harder to find.

By solveig (not verified)
November 18, 2010 1:04 PM



November 18, 2010 1:12 PM

I like the suggestion of Kate. We started off the year with Kate on Lost in a much anticipated and widely watched series finale. Now we are ending the year with Kate and William's much anticipated and widely talked about engagement. Kate is also part of a larger trend of nicknames-as-names.

November 18, 2010 1:33 PM

What about Palin? In 2010, Sarah Palin is everywhere, at all sorts of political rallies, endorsing candidates and a reality show. Sarah doesn't have the "it" factor that Palin has - I can imagine baby Palins (depending on the parents' politics!)

Bristol Palin adds to this somewhat as well, she has made a number of TV appearances this year, including Dancing with the Stars.

(Special plea to keep the politics out of the discussion, as always).

By Jillc (not verified)
November 18, 2010 1:36 PM

Doing my annual research of pop culture figures and wow. Not a fan of Ke$ha.

By Jillc (not verified)
November 18, 2010 1:37 PM

(her music, anyway -- I'm sure she's a fine person!)

By Joni
November 18, 2010 1:45 PM

I am so glad to see this post today! I was thinking just yesterday that it was about time and I better start thinking about my nominations. :)

Isabella: up to now all the Isabellas I've known are little girls (think: under 5) but now I've come to see see several (tween/teen) actresses with this name. We all know that this name is crazy popular - I mean, it IS number 1 after all. It just seems that this year this name has really bloomed in full - it seems to be everywhere. Even Bella from Twilight is an Isabella, so I'm told.

By SB (not verified)
November 18, 2010 2:28 PM

Evan -- Evan Lycacek's gold medal was one of the biggest stories out of the 2010 Olympics and he came in second on Dancing With the Stars. At the same time, Even has been rising in popularity in recent years. (Lindsey, Julia, Shaun and Apolo are other big names from the Olympics.)

By Janine (not verified)
November 18, 2010 3:28 PM

I second Lisbeth!

November 18, 2010 3:28 PM

I’m going to nominate BP as the name of the year. Like Exxon, in ten years, when we hear the name BP we will have immediate images and words to associate the name with, whether or not the company still exists. No other name dominated headlines and conversations for weeks. And unlike some of the pop culture nominations, this name was already widespread and known worldwide before 2010. However, in 2010 all associations with this name changed.

By Amy3
November 18, 2010 4:16 PM

@Yolanda, you've made a good case for BP, especially when you consider that BP used to nurture a reputation (deserved or not) of being an eco-conscious oil company. The Gulf spill and the company's response certainly changed that.

November 18, 2010 4:29 PM

BP is an interesting name too: it has stood for a number of things over the years. I know it was once British Petroleum, then Beyond Petroleum and now, I believe, it is just BP.

By lilou (not verified)
November 18, 2010 5:27 PM

Taylor- swift, lautner, momsen
Malia- obama
Carly- child of "teen mom" stars and middle name of bella and edwards kid
justin- bieber
coco- conan

but 2010 was really the year of the un-name: snooki and the jersey cast crew, lady gaga, justin "biebs," ke$ha, etc.

November 18, 2010 5:36 PM

Yolanda-That is interesting as I was thinking about BP the other night after my first few posts on this subject. I thought "hey you've heard about BP all year" then I thought "but it's not really a name". I suppose it could stand for a number of things as initials but I couldn't imagine naming a child after a disaster. Yes, there are more than a few little Katrina's running around but I know of no little Valdez's.

November 18, 2010 6:07 PM

Very true. But I don’t think we have to think of the NoTY as the Baby Name of the Year It has been symbolic in the past (i.e. Joe or Renesmee).
However, if we look at Laura’s criteria in deciding the top three last year, "their timeliness, resonance, and ‘naminess' -- how essential the name itself was to the cultural story”, then I’m not sure BP would make the cut for its lack of “naminess.” If it were a more common initial name, such as JR, I think it might be easier to argue the case.

November 18, 2010 6:38 PM

One more nominee: Greyson Chance.

I pick this name, name combo specifically, because it speaks to multiple trends. First, both of these names rank in the top 250 and are therefore hot baby boy names. It strikes a great balance of sounding both like a fictional character from a Victorian novel, yet modern and masculine.

But the person who the name belongs to skyrocketed to fame this summer by (a) covering a Lady Gaga song at a 6th grade talent show and (b) posting a video of that performance to Facebook. Within a week he was on the talk show Ellen and is currently the #2 “Most Liked” video of all time on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/charts/videos_top_rated?t=a). Second only to We Are the World: Haiti. What is more 2010 than gaining internet and real “fame” by sharing a video with your friends on Facebook?

Somehow, through the virus that is socially-shared video, Greyson managed to break through by stripping down an over-produced pop song to a whaling ballad and earnestly pounded piano keys. Not to mention that he used a song about fame and adoration to acquire exactly that: fame and adoration. In an age where 43% of teens would choose being "the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star” as the career they’d most want to have [source: http://www.jakehalpern.com/famesurvey.php ], a story of preteen internet fame is very now.

Finally, Greyson bares a striking resemblance to another teen star who we couldn’t escape from this year: Justin Beiber. A pop singer whose singing was discovered on, yeah you’ve heard it before: YouTube.

November 18, 2010 6:39 PM

I've found Kurt to be the most convincing argument so far! None myself, yet, but I'll keep thinking.