Fastest-Rising Baby Names: Beyond the Top 1000
Outside the top-1,000 name lists, names can rise and fall fast without making much of an impression in America's nurseries. A dozen babies might move a name a thousand slots in the rankings. But the biggest movers and shakers outside the top 1,000 can still tell stories. And this year, the story they tell is a familiar one from the top chart: Cataleya. Cataleya, Cataleya, CATALEYA!
I've already identified Cataleya, the beautiful assassin from the movie Colombiana, as the fastest-rising name of the year, by a mile. But if you look at the deeper data pool, the name's utter dominance becomes more apparent. Here are the fastest rising names of the year if you include all popularity levels and both sexes:
#2: Cattleya (this is the botanical spelling for a genus of Orchids)
Yes, the deadly Cataleya is all three of the fastest-rising names of the year. And if that's not enough for you...
You get the picture. This Cataleya wave comes close to the Miley/Mylee/Mylie phenomenon of five years ago, despite the name not receiving anything like the publicity Miley Cyrus got as "Hannah Montana."
Don't expect Cataleya's publicity to rise now, either, because of a bizarre quirk in the way the Social Security Administration reports its own name data. You won't find the name at all in the SSA's press release trumpeting the fastest-rising names of the year. For some reason, they ignore any names that started outside the top 1000, thus systematically missing the big stories that come out of nowhere. Instead, they reported on names like Major which made smaller leaps by any measure.
More notes from outside the top 1000:
Trayvon. I've written before about the trend of memorializing young female murder victims with baby names. The rise of Travyon Martin's name to just outside of the top 1000 feels a bit different, a blend of memorial and defiant political statement. I would be very curious to know the racial and ethnic mix that the new young Trayvons represent.
Demani, Damoni, Domani, Demoni. None of these boys' names quite cracked the top 1000, but all were among the 30 fastest risers. That points to a name sound on the verge. (Note to parents: the spelling "Demoni" is Italian for "demons.")
Emrys, Theseus, Korra, Karliah, Dragon. There's a distinct sense of the fantastical among the rare-but-rising names. Emrys is a name for Merlin (used prominently in a BBC tv series); Theseus is the mythical hero-king who slew the minotaur; Korra is the protagonist of the animated fantasy series "The Legend of Korra"; Karliah is a character in the video game "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim"; and Dragon is...umm, a dragon.