Baby Names! Now With a Long Vowel in Every Syllable!
What do the names Naomi, Rhys, Milo and Kaylee have in common? Stylistically, not much. Yet all four names have risen significantly in the past decade, and they have a shared pattern to thank: all of their vowel sounds are long.
English long vowel sounds are pronounced like the names of the vowels themselves. A as in Kayla, e as in Gene, i as in Lila, o as in Owen, u as in Hubert. In this vowel-centric naming age, they reign supreme. Long vowels have fueled recent hit names from Aidan to Zoe. They're among the reasons why James sounds more current than George, and why Grace has come back stronger than Pearl.
What happens if you concentrate their style power? What if all the vowel sounds in a name are long? I looked at all of the names ranked in the top 500 for boys and girls and found 103 that fit that description: 47 one-syllable names, 52 two-syllable, and 2 three-syllable.* A handful of the names, like Amy and Mary, were hits of past generations. As a group, though, the long-vowel all-stars capture the sound of the times across a wide range of styles:
Can the vowels point us to potential new hit names? Here are some less-common choices with vowel power behind them:
* In identifying long-vowel names I skipped over nicknames, as well as Spanish and Arabic names because they have different sound patterns. I also counted an "oo" sound as a long u.