Baby Name Buzz Report, 2013

Apr 24th 2013

I'm proud to present the 2013 Baby Name Buzz Report, forecasting the hottest up-and-coming baby names in America. The choices are determined by experts with the top record of successful name trend prediction: my readers. (Thanks, guys!)

I won't keep you in suspense. The "buzziest" names in America, the names rising to the top of expectant moms' lists, are...

Girls: Penelope and Harper
Boys: Camden and Archer

Runners-up: CharlotteAriaEvelyn and Violet for girls, and Henry for boys.

And now for a little more background on where those choices came from.

Predicting the baby name future is a notoriously tricky business. Some look to celebrity babies as trendmakers, but parents are picky about which Hollywood examples they'll follow. Others have tried tallying the most-searched names online, but that turns out to pick up something quite different: the names in the news that make us go "Huh? What IS that, anyway?" (Past "Huh?" names have included Katniss, Sookie, and even Voldemort.)

So what measure really takes the pulse of the baby name scene? I've tried plenty of approaches, but I put my faith in the collective wisdom of hundreds of avid name-trend watchers across the country.

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.

Last year, a small group of names stood out as the most common choices in the Pool. Take a look at what happened to those names. This graph shows their 50-year popularity history, in occurences per million births, with the most recent usage -- stats that came out AFTER the Pool -- on the far right:

If you look closely, you'll see that the jump in the most recent year was so sharp that the graph's gridlines can't even contain it. I dare any would-be trendspotter to top that.

Let's take another look at this year's top Baby Name Pool selections:

Penelope, Harper, Camden and Archer; Charlotte, Aria, Evelyn, Violet and Henry.

You might notice two broad fashion trends in the group. Names like Harper and Archer are compact surnames, while Penelope, Henry and friends are sweet old-fashioned classics that weren't heard much in our or our parents' generations. Some of the names have celebrity standard-bearers, but others are pure style. The main  stylistic outlier is Aria, a name from the tv series Pretty Little Liars that's part of the trend I've described as "liquid names." The variant Arya, as seen in Game of Thrones, just missed the cut.

Read the names over, ladies and gentlemen. They're the sound of the times, and you can expect to meet many more of them in the years to come.

Comments

1
April 26, 2013 9:12 PM

I love this and can't wait to see if the Social Security data support your readers' instincts.

2
April 27, 2013 9:39 AM

Well, that's a very good way of researching if we analyze the data combining it with the SSN numbers, that can yield or say atleast uncover many truths and other surprising facts about names. I like this nomenclature based research. [spam link removed by moderator]

3
April 27, 2013 10:07 PM

On one hand I'm glad to see names like Charlotte, Evelyn and Henry get the recognition they deserve as they have always been favorites of mine. On the other hand, with them becoming more popular, the less likely my husband and I are to use them in the future. I've loved the name Charlotte since I was a child, but I wouldn't want to use it and then have her be one of several Charlottes in her class. I'm still keeping it on my short list for the moment though. If nothing else, perhaps it can be a middle name.

4
April 30, 2013 12:53 PM

Gaaaaah. I hated my trendy name as a kid, so I treasured my offbeat name choice, Archer, until I had a chance to use it in 2010. I still love the name, and it suits him, but how annoying that the name I picked out years ago is trendy!

5
April 30, 2013 1:26 PM

Wow, I named my son Archer last year.  Don't know any other kids with that name (yet apparently ha ha) But everyone we meet seems to comment on how awesome his name is, and how they've never heard it before.  I feel like such a trend setter ;)

Charlotte has been semi popular in my neck of the woods for a few years now, but havn't heard a lot of Penelope.  It's so pretty! 

6
By kddp
April 30, 2013 2:38 PM

I named my dog Harper almost 4 years ago, so I have been very aware of its explosion.  It's a little strange having a trendy dog, especially as my son's name is not.

7
April 30, 2013 4:24 PM

Aria/Arya also comes from Game of Thrones and the Eragon series--it seems to be the perfect name for a character, everyone is using it!

8
By Aiea
April 30, 2013 6:19 PM

Other things worth noting:

- Archer, Harper, Charlotte, and Aria all share the "ar" sound. 

- I think part of what is attractive about Archer (to me, anyway), is that Archie is a cute nickname, and this is a more modern way to achieve that than with the traditional Archibald (I imagine the "bald" ending turns some parents off).

- Evelyn and Violet have the lovely "v" sound.

- Many of these names have formal and diminutive options (Penelope/Penny, Archer/Archie, Charlotte/Charlie/Lottie, Evelyn/Evie), and Henry crosses both fields (formal, but ends in the diminutive "ee" vowel that makes you smile).

9
May 1, 2013 3:55 PM

As a mom to a 2010 Henry, I'm a little bummed, but not surprised. That was my favorite name for a boy since I was a kid and just about the only one both my husband and I liked.

It fit squarely in my "not popular (out of the top 100), but perfectly normal" preference for naming my kids . . . until 2006 when it cracked the top 100 for the first time in almost 40 years. And I saw those giant leaps up the chart the name had taken each year (4-7 spots each year from 2003-2009 - the last available year when we named him), but I tried to convince myself it was peaking.

2010 and 2011's charts told me I was fooling myself, and the name was still surging. As did all the Henrys we run into on the playground and as we tour preschools.

Oh well. Still love the name and it really suits my son!

10
June 11, 2013 7:51 PM

A good friend of mine has daughters named Aria and Violet! I recall some arched eyebrows at her choices initially, but it turns out she was ahead of the curve all along. I vacillated between Evelyn and Vivian for my youngest daughter, but met enough little Evies when I was pregnant that I decided against it. I am glad that the style is well-liked, though.

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June 27, 2013 8:32 PM

We named our daughter Penelope in 2011, when the name was on a mild rise but still out of the top 100.  We NEVER thought it'd be on the fast track to trendy! I'm so glad we chose Penelope--it rolls off the tongue so nicely and brings to mind images of a spunky little lady. We NEVER call her Penny and I find myself being one of those moms who correct people when they do.  It's such a lovely old-fashioned feminine name--and we've yet to encounter another Penelope.  Trendy or not, we love it!

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