The Baby Name Buzz Report, 2012
If you want to know which baby names are hot today, you can check the popularity stats. But what does the baby name future hold? Which names have the buzz among moms-to-be, pointing to name trends ahead?
Nobody has a perfect crystal ball. Some look to celebrity babies as trendmakers, following past examples like Shiloh and Kingston. That's a fuzzy forecast, though, as less influential celebrity sibling names Pax and Zuma show. Others have tried tallying the most-searched names online, but that turns out to measure something quite different: the names in the news that make us go "Huh? What IS that, anyway?" (This year's top "Huh?" name is Katniss from The Hunger Games; last year's was Sookie from True Blood; even Voldemort has made the grade in the past.)
So what measure really takes the pulse of the baby name scene? My favorite buzz-o-meter is...your guesswork.
Each year, hundreds of name-savvy readers enter my Baby Name Pool, trying to guess the hottest rising names of the past year. While the Pool is theoretically a look backward, the entries as a group are an incredible snapshot of the name zeitgeist. I'll gladly pit the collective wisdom of my readers against any would-be trendspotter.
So let's meet the "buzziest" names of the year. This year, a big three of girls' names totally dominated the Pool:
Drink in those names, everybody, because they're the sound of the times.
The big three all took their 2011 punch from celebrities. Adele was the year's breakout singer, Pippa Middleton was the talk of the royal wedding, and David and Victoria Beckham welcomed a new daughter Harper. Intriguingly, all of the above are British celebrities. Get on the ball, Hollywood, you're losing your name mojo!
The honorable mentions include some current hits that still have tremendous upward momentum, particularly Mason and Amelia. And Mila is on my shortlist for "names of the future."
You can divide the buzz names into three rough categories.
- Surnames (Harper, Mason)
- Names popular a century ago that are making a comeback (Adele, Amelia, Henry)
- Names that have never traditionally been common in the U.S., but are simple and fit familiar sound patterns (Pippa, Asher, Mila)
Those three categories have a lot in common. None of them were popular during the great style dead zone of 30-70 years ago. Chances are you don't personally know a living adult with those names. (Well, maybe Henry. Maybe.) Yet none of the names sound aggressively modern or exotic because they're rooted in the familiar, and easy to spell and pronounce. That's your recipe for the names of this moment, and most likely the next.