2009's Hottest and Nottest Baby Names, Part 1: The Risers

May 7th 2010

Back in 2006, I wrote, "If there were a baby naming hall of fame Angelina Jolie would be a charter member." Names like Maddox and Shiloh had established her as America's most influential name style-setter. This year's top-rising baby names prove that Ms. Jolie still holds the title. The names of her young twins, Vivienne and Knox, both shot up into the U.S. top 1000 this year. Vivienne was the #2 hottest rising girl's name in the country, while Knox ranked #6 for boys.

But Angie now has some competition.

The #4 rising girl's name: Maliyah. #9: Malia. And Sasha's no slouch, checking in at #51. That makes the Obamas the most influential baby namers in American politics since President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland. (Did you know that Ruth and Esther, the Clevelands' daughters, were the hot celebrity baby names of the 1890s?)

The full hottest names countdown:


#5 Caylee
Last year I contrasted the news coverage of the name Barack vs. the name Caylee. Caylee continued its rise this year, and Barack remained, as always, outside the top 1000 names.

#4 Maliyah

#3 Khloe
Another holdover from last year's hot rising list, which was packed with unconventionally-spelled tv personalities.

#2 Vivienne

#1 Analía

Yes, Analía is the name that absolutely blew away all competition to be the hottest rising name in America. Didn't see that coming? Tsk, tsk. Telenovelas are practically the doppler radar of short-term name forcasting, and "El Rostro de Analía" premiered on October 20, 2008. The name is a natural, unfamiliar yet effortlessly fashionable. the "anal" spelling may make some parents nervous, though, so don't be surprised to see names like Annaleah down the road.


#5 Liam
You named your first son Aidan: short, simple, and Irish, with long vowel sounds and no pesky consonant clusters. Now you're expecting another boy, what do you do?

#4 Bentley
With most classic "fancy lad" -y surnames -- Courtney, Aubrey -- turning to the girls' side, along comes Bentley. It seems to be taking over Royce's longtime role as the luxury-cruising name for boys.

#3 Archer

A long-time entry on my "Why Not?" list, Archer finally hits the top 1000. Think Carter and Tanner, run through an Edith Wharton filter.

#2 Kellan
Twilight alert: vampire Emmett Cullen is played in the movies by actor Kellan Lutz. Mr. Lutz has also signed on as a Calvin Klein underwear model. Need I say more? OK, I will. Emmett is #7 on the rising boys list.

#1 Maximiliano

Sure, there was some celebrity action on this name. A little telenovela exposure, and a handsome Argentinian polo player who got a lot of attention on "The Real Housewives of New York City." But as a baby name platform, they're no Angelina Jolie. So this had to be a name that just struck the right style chord...I guess.

UPDATE: I've posted a follow-up explaining the Maximiliano mystery. It turns out that the Social Security Administration failed to count any Maximilianos before this year! So the true Hottest Boy's Name of 2009 is Kellan.





May 7, 2010 12:27 PM

I like Annaleah/Analia but I prefer Annily. I think it flows better. Also, I love Vivienne so much.

May 7, 2010 12:48 PM

The Afrikaans name
Annelie said un-uh-lee sort of seems similar to Annaleah/Analia/Annily

By FloweryFriend (not verified)
May 7, 2010 12:49 PM

Wow. Several of those took me by surprise! Well, my Baby Name Pool entry is not going to be strong this year.

May 7, 2010 12:51 PM

Daffy Castilian

Thank you for that link

I'm busy crunching :)

May 7, 2010 12:56 PM

Analia reminds me of a little girl I used to babysit for. Her name was (and still is, I presume) 0nali. She'd be about 8 or 9 now. Malia doesn't surprise me at all. I don't remember if I voted for it in the end but it was definitely on my ballot at one point. I spelled it Malia (like Miss Obama, I believe) but it isn't surprising that the spelling with the y and the ah is more popular.

May 7, 2010 1:00 PM

Larksong: I forgot about Annelie. And I was born in South Africa. South African names are interesting because of all the various immigrants that live there. One I've always liked is Elzanne, but I can't find any meanings and any famous people with it are always South African. Does anyone know anything else?

By AmberSim (not verified)
May 7, 2010 12:58 PM

I'm coming up a little different if you just do a straight comparisson between last year and this year(assume rank 1001 for unraked last year since I don't have that data)

Analia: up 672 spots
Vivienne: up 469 spots
Maliya: up 342 spots
Kenley: up 335 spots
Bristol: up 335 spots

Caylee was up only 251- behind Paytin, Isla, Gemma, and sever other newcomers to the chart, and there were 87 names that improved their ranking more than Khloe.

Bentley: up 422
Kellan: up 369
Archer: up 322
Cullen: up 297
Knox: up 295

Maximiliano only improved 64 ranks- 101 names improved more than that including Knox (debut at 706), Urijah (up 275), Jax (up 266), and Tripp (up 259).
Liam was only up 26 spots from last year.

I know the hotness formula takes into account %'s and other factors, so this post is not intended to slam your math of these choices. It's just interesting how there are so many different ways of looking at the same data.

By Joni
May 7, 2010 12:59 PM

Hmm, I don't think I am going to win the baby name pool. Not sure how to tune into the telenovela trends since I don't get Spanish tv nor do I speak Spanish... Analia is a beautiful name though.

I should have guessed that last year's telenovela name Marely was going to take a dive - it dropped down 517 places!

May 7, 2010 1:19 PM

@Awkward Turtle

Sawubona ! lol That's interesting :)
I don't actually know anything about it. I've tried to do searches on Afrikaans names before & it's the usual ones that come up i.e. Marietjie, Mariaan,Susan (soo-SUN), Sanet, Amalia, Marie,Annalize,Liesl,Yolandi ,Roenell etc If it's a Afrikaans name,then it's probably not going to have a meaning. I just found this which may help you .It's an Afrikaans baby name book with meanings. So, it gives you what the Afrikaans version of Daniel is with it's meaning http://www.rieme.co.za/baba%20name/?gclid=CI_kgbvCwKECFVxd4wodO2ipAw The e-book is only R75 , so that's maybe $8

Hope that helps

May 7, 2010 1:18 PM

Great post, Laura.

Before reading this, I tried to figure out the hottest names within the top 100 this year. For girls, it looks like it's Khloe (+101% over 2008), followed by Bella (+62%), Leah (+28%), Isabella (+19%), and Zoey (+15%). For boys, it's Liam (+42%), Levi (+35%), Oliver (+18%), and Carter (+15%).

May 7, 2010 1:22 PM

@Awkward Turtle

I don't know if you understand Afrikaans,but if you don't
If you click on this, you'll get two pages for free
Kliek hier om die eerste 2 blaaie van die e-boek gratis af te laai.

and this does translation

Hope that helps

By CB, nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 1:51 PM

Archer and Miller have been two names I've just been waiting to see on the list. Now that Archer is here, I may have to revisit Miller as an entry for next year.

It looks like Harper went up significantly, and it was one of my picks (although it may be my only decent pick, along with Hannah and Wyatt).

Will any helpful person with an obedient computer let me know her rank last year?

May 7, 2010 2:04 PM

AmberSim, I believe all of the names on your lists made the top 10 via my "hotness formula," too. The main difference is that using ranks limits you to tracking rare names only. For instance, the massive 4,000 baby rise in Isabellas registers as essentially nothing by rank! For those who are interested, here's an expanded "hottest" list:



May 7, 2010 3:06 PM

Oh no!

I'm due in Sept. and am planning on naming my daughter Amalia, but between Analia and Malia, I'm afraid I may have picked one of the fast risers of 2010!

By Elisabeth@youcantcallitit (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:12 PM

What's up with BENTLEY? Did some rapper name his kid Bentley or something?

No surprise here, but kind of frightening how many Xs and Ys appear on the boys' hotness list.

Guess Malia and her variants wins the girls for sure!

May 7, 2010 3:13 PM

I'm just relieved that Henry still hasn't cracked the top 10. Really disappointed about June... that was one of my top 3 for girls. I hate to see it getting more popular. I know my taste might change though - 10 years ago my absolute favorites were Emma and Ethan, and here they are both in the #2 spots! (I just looked and in 2000 they were at #17 and #25, respectively). They didn't seem that popular to my 15-year-old self at the time :)

I'm retiring one of my combos: Isla Beatrix. Isla is just getting too popular for me. Popularity to love-of-the-name ratio is too high :)

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:15 PM

Bentley was the name chosen for a baby born to one of the girls featured on MTV's 16 and Pregnant. The mother was portrayed as the most mature and capable, and the baby was one of the cutest in the series.

May 7, 2010 3:16 PM

Sorry that was me above. I wasn't signed in.

May 7, 2010 3:17 PM

Re: Bentley

One of the young women on MTV's Teen Mom has an adorable baby named Bentley.

Yes, I watch Teen Mom. That is all.

May 7, 2010 3:29 PM

Can anyone help me with Urijah? Is there someone with this name? Is this the same name as Uriah (as in Heep from Charles Dickens)? How is it pronounced?

May 7, 2010 3:33 PM

@ nander
Oops! We must have posted at the same time!

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:37 PM

Anyone else having difficulty posting to this website today?

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 3:54 PM

Help! :) I keep getting this message -- if my posts go through at all:

"Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval."

My posts from earlier today were published as usual, and I've said nothing that might be controversial. ???

Trying this one logged out, as Guest.

By CB, nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 4:30 PM

ARG. Bentlely from that Teen Mom show! You guys are right, and I remember seeing in once, way back, thinking to myself it would be a great entry for BNpool. That's it - I'm going to start a Baby Name Notebook for next year.

May 7, 2010 5:01 PM

Hi Guest Who Is Having Problems Posting --
you can always contact Laura or someone on the site using the contact form in the site's footer links... some comments get automatically flagged by the site's SPAM filter and then need a moderator to publish.

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 5:16 PM

Wow...my name is Analeah and my daughter's name is Vivian. I guess we'd better get ready to meet some more Analeahs and Vivs on the playground!

May 7, 2010 5:41 PM

To those having trouble posting: that often means that the anti-spam filter rejected a link you posted. My apologies, but NOT having the anti-spam filter would be far worse!

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 5:46 PM

Yay! I called it two years ago that Sasha and Malia would rise in popularity. I wouldn't have thought of the other ones though. Now I don't feel so bad about missing the naming pool this year as I doubt I would have won.

By Anna S (not verified)
May 7, 2010 6:16 PM

Anneli/Annelie is a common name in Sweden and extremely common in Finland. In Swedish it was supposedly originally a contraction of Anna-Louise and/or a pet form of Anna meaning "little Anna". I don't know what's behind its popularity in Finland - Finnish is completely unrelated to Swedish and the other Nordic languages - maybe the Finns just liked the name and adopted it, or maybe it has a different Finnish origin?

Khloe - am I the only one who has a problem with the /Ch/ to /Kh/ switch? I mean, /Ch/ is a digraph which can be substituted with /K/ but /Kh/ is just... illiterate-ish?!

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 6:29 PM

Wow--all of the rising names make me throw up in my mouth a little. They're all trying SO HARD.

May 7, 2010 6:45 PM

Jennie Baird and Laura W., thanks so much for responding to my 'cries for help' when I kept getting the "Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval" message. Gosh, it's the most exciting day of the year on this website, and I couldn't figure out what I could have written that was preventing me from commenting. Glad to be back in the good graces of the spam filter!

By CB, nli (not verified)
May 7, 2010 7:23 PM

I think it's very intriguing that someone would be put off by ALL the fastest risers. Looking through the list, I would've thought there was a fairly broad mix, stylistically, at least with the girls' names. And anyway, effortless names (would that be the opposite of trying SO HARD?), are far less open to dramatic shifts, I would think.

Anna S - I agree. Kloe is not my style, but I can at least swallow that pill... ;)

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 8:51 PM

Third try is a charm?

Sorry to bother everyone with this. I tried to post this under my name, logged in, a couple of hours ago, but again I got that filter message -- really frustrating:

"Jennie Baird and Laura W., thanks so much for responding to my 'cries for help' when I kept getting the "Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval" message. Gosh, it's the most exciting day of the year on this website, and I couldn't figure out what I could have written that was preventing me from commenting. Glad to be back in the good graces of the spam filter!"

...Unfortunately, the filter thing seems to be rejecting everything I post. Is that because of my name, my email address, something in my computer???

Jennie Baird, where are those footer links you referred to that would let me contact someone who might be able to fix this problem? Can you tell me exactly what to look for/click on?

I am trying to post this as Guest -- wonder if it will be make it to the website this time...

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 8:53 PM

I sent my last post under guest with my alternate email address (not the one used for Baby Wizard Blog) and it posted. Surprise! Maybe the problem is related to my email address, although I have no idea why that would be????

By Guest (not verified)
May 7, 2010 9:00 PM

Jennie Baird, I see what you meant about the footer links and am contacting the administrator of the website (or whoever reads these emails). Thanks again for you help.
Patricia, posting as Guest, using my alternate email address!

By Top 10 Name of the 70s (not verified)
May 7, 2010 10:58 PM

Man you Americans do names differently to us Australians! We tend to follow the UK trends more.
I have not heard of any "real life" people having any of those Top 5 girls names Down Under. They are all *blerk*. I can't stand "Vivienne" - hello great-Aunt with the purple hair! And wasn't "Caylee" the name of an unfortunate child who was murdered by her mother??? Hellooo!

But as for the boys - both Liam and Archer are old news here. I have teenage Liams in my class at school and we have several local celebrities who have Archer sons. Having a healthy history of European migration means that there are always a "Massimiliano" or the like around too.
I always think of that poor teenage Mum from "16 & Pregnant" when I hear the name Bentley.

May 8, 2010 1:14 AM

top 10 name of the 70s,
well, i think that's the point: probably few of us hear in the states have heard of any real life people with those top 5 names either. they were the top 5 fastest rising last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are common. in fact some of them are quite UNcommon. in addition, some of them could easily end up being the fastest falling names in a year or two (see jaslene--which was a fast riser in 2007 and a fast faller this year). so being on this list doesn't necessarily mean that every other little girl is named maliyah.

By Stacy (not verified)
May 8, 2010 8:19 AM

I still worry slightly here. Vivian has been our #1 name for several years.... with Vivienne as a top-riser and Vivian itself going up several notches, I'm mildly worried. On the other hand, I'm hoping that its rise will fade.

May 8, 2010 6:30 PM

I posted this following another one of Laura's Friday blogs, but think it may fit better with this discussion of rising names.

Last August when the UK government's 2008 list of the Top 100 baby names in England and Wales was finally released, I did a comparison of the ranking of girls' names in that Top 100 with the names in the entire SSA Top 1000 for 2008. For each name I noted its rank in the US in 2008 or 'NA 'if the name wasn't in the SSA list.

Now with the data for 2009 (how I LOVE new baby name stats!), I've checked to see if any of these 'NA' names made it into the SSA Top 1000 in 2009:

Here are the 2008 English favorites missing from our 2008 Top 1000, with their 2008 ranks in England/Wales

24 Millie
27 Freya
29 Poppy
33 Imogen
58 Isobel
63 Maisie
66 Rosie
70 Niamh
82 Harriet
87 Hollie
93 Tilly
94 Florence
99 Maryam
100 Esme

Only two of these names made the US Top 1000 in 2009: Millie, #868, and Maryam, #945. Welcome to America's Top 1000 Baby Names, Millie and Maryam!

May 9, 2010 8:43 AM

omg. cannot believe the analia thing. Obviously my name is annelie which is quite similar, but my total pet hate is when ppl spell it analie. Interesting though as I am one of four and my mum made a point to name us all unusual names (at the time) and i always joke that my name is the only one that hasnt become popular.
And my daughters name is Sasha, which ppl are always saying is unusual (not sure why) but that is a thing of the past it would seem.

By Guest (not verified)
May 9, 2010 6:15 PM

My 7 year old grandson is named Archer- so I'm happy to see my son got a jump on it before the umpteen Archer's in every class. I also have a six week old grandson, Carter- I love the name- but I tried to warn daughter. There will be many. Now I can't wait to see Archer's middle name move up- Wild.

By Cassandra (not verified)
May 9, 2010 7:44 PM

Archer is really nice to see - it was topping my personal list for a long time a few years ago. (Back when baby names world was the real thing and not parents connect, lol)

Caylee is very depressing. I hate the Kaylee, Caylee, Kayle, Cayla thing. It's so boring, I don't see how people are still enamored with it.

Analia is really pretty.

Vivienne doesn't surprice me TOO much. I see names ending in N everywhere, so Vivian has been more popular on the naming boards lately - the Vivienne spelling is undoubtedly inspired by Ms. Jolie-Pitt, but the over-the-top spelling seems to fit into the style right now, though I think the misspellings....I mean, "alternative" spellings, hehe- seem to be going down in popularity. (I hope....it could just be wishful thinking).

May 10, 2010 12:29 AM

I've never before heard of Kellan, but I'm not familiar with the actor in question, either.

Kellan is two syllables and ends in -an, so I can see why it appeals. Despite being the fastest riser it isn't *too* common.

By Andre (not verified)
May 10, 2010 3:48 PM

Cassandra, the name Vivienne is not an alternative spelling at all, its actually the correct female spelling. Vivian is the male spelling, which unfortunately has now gone to the male side, but it's still the incorrect spelling. I mean you don't see girls around with names like Julian and Fabian. They have the female spellings for a reason, use them, and leave the boy names alone.

By Guest (not verified)
May 11, 2010 9:05 AM

Vivienne is actually pronounced differently than Vivian. Remember
lucy's friend, Vivian (Viv-ee-un) Vance? That's more the American version
of the name. Vivienne (vi-vee-enn) is the French version. Not alternate
spellings, different pronunciations. I'm with you on all the Kaylee's, Kylee's, etc.
Too white trashy in my mind. I have to add to my post above, daughter naming gs Carter was understandable, since her name is Teale. Even tho I gave her a
trendy middle name (Kaitlyn) to go by if she hated her first name, I understand her desire to name her own son something 'common'.

May 13, 2010 7:39 PM

@ Guest post #50

I pronounce Vivian / Vivien / Vivienne exactly the same. A lot of people do.

By Guest (not verified)
May 15, 2010 12:55 PM

A agree with the previous poster. Sure, you would pronounce Vivienne differently . . . in France! And maybe French Canada, but not here: Vivian = Vivien = Vivienne.

Oh, an just one slight silly comment: isn't the Twilight character Edward Cullen, not Emmett? Doesn't really change anything because I think Edward was a pretty popular name this year as well, likely for the same (barf!) reason. :-)

May 18, 2010 12:18 AM

@ #43

I went to middle school (1997) with a boy named Kellen. I always thought it was such a cool name and I never heard it again until all this lame Twilight madness! LOL! Oh how the "entertainment" industry impacts our lives...

By Guest (not verified)
May 29, 2010 4:56 PM

Well, prep is back in style as is retro dressing and mid-century style. So the name of Farnsworth Bentley, P.Diddy's gentlemanly manservant, is a good guess for top choice of aspirational African American (young)parents.