Ranking The Baby Name Alphabet: What's the Hottest Initial?
Think you know your alphabet, from A to Z? Get ready for a new ranking.
Today's list of the 26 English letters is in order of hotness. I tallied the total number of American babies receiving names starting with each initial, and looked at the change over a three-year period. (Change was measured by the Baby Name Wizard Hotness Formula, which considers both percentage change and the absolute number of babies.)
The ranking turned out to hold some surprises. If you can guess which baby name initial rose the fastest over the past three years, I tip my cap to you.
I'll count them down below, starting with the fastest faller at #26 and building to the #1 hottest initial in America. For fashion context, I've included each letter's top rising and falling names for boys and girls.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
|↑ Boy||↓ Girl||↓ Boy|
|While J is still a hugely popular initial, it's sliding as parents turn away from the familiar standards of recent generations, like Jason, Jacob, Justin Jennifer and Jessica.|
|The Brandon/Brittany/Brianna generation is receding, and there aren't enough Bentleys and Bellas to keep up.|
K names exploded in popularity starting in the mid-20th Century. Even in decline, this initial is still three times as common as it was as a century ago.
|D was the hottest letter of the 1950s, in names like David, Donna, Douglas, Diane and Deborah, but it has been slowly declining since then.|
|You could spell the fresh sound of the 1960s with T's: Tina, Tammy, Tracy, Tim, Todd. Today's T names like Teagan and Titus are much less common.|
|C has been one of the steadiest initials over time, even as style has shifted from Clarence to Christopher to Chase. We're now waiting for the next hot C names.|
|It's hardly even fair to track the overall trend for America's single least-favorite initial, which can rise and fall dramatically with a single modestly popular name.|
|I is sliding a bit, but remains near its recent historic peak thanks to antique-styled hits like Isabella and Isaiah.|
|The initial Y is virtually absent in English naming tradition. Every Y name currently common in America is Latin American (e.g. Yamileth), Hebrew (Yehuda) or Arabic (Yahya).|
|S is holding steady, though still significantly down from the glory days of Scott, Stephanie and Shawn.|
|The #1 most stable letter over the past three years, G is uncommon but has entries in a wide range of categories from Gabriel to Giovanni to Greyson.|
|With M, we turn the corner from falling letters to those that have risen over the past three years. And yet, if you add up ALL the M names in the girls' top 1000, from Maci to Myah, they don't equal the popularity of the name Mary back in the 1880s.|
|The initial N leans traditional, with plenty of familiar names (Noah, Nicholas, Natalie, Nathan) and unusually few modern inventions.|
|Z names are at their all-time historic peak today. Their relatively modest rise reflects the fact that parents are simply running out of Z options.|
|X is rising as an initial but is even hotter as an ending letter, lending its snap to names like Max, Lennox and Phoenix.|
|A is the country's most popular baby name initial, and it's not even a close contest. The alphabet's first letter leads names as traditional as Alice and Alexander and as new as Aspen and Axl.|
|The letter P entered a long slump for girls after the heyday of Peggy, Patty and Pam, but Paisley, Penelope and Piper are leading it back.|
|V powers elegant hits like Violet and Vivienne from the initial position, and you'll find lots more v's in the middle of fashionable choices like Everly, Oliver, Levi and Ava.|
|The rare initial Q had been totally male-dominated for decades, but its recent rise reflects Quinn taking off as a girl's name.|
|L is a hot letter in many countries today, with fashionable names like Lucas and Luna crossing borders smoothly.|
|The recent rise has brought the initial H to its highest point since the 1930s, but it still has a long way to go to match the era of Helen, Harry and Howard.|
|E has been rising steadily for more than 50 years now, in a succession of hits from Erin & Eric to Emily & Ethan to Everly & Ezra.|
|W had been slowly dropping since the 19th Century, when one boy in every twelve could be named William. The biggest factors in its recent rise are Wyatt, Willow and Weston.|
|Thoroughly unfashionable for half a century, F is finally showing new signs of life. It boasts no major hit names, but a number of quieter favorites like Fiona and Finley.|
|R was the hot letter for 1930s-40s boys like Richard, Ronald and Robert. Most of the new hot R names pair the initial with a long vowel sound: Reign, Rowan, Ryder, Roman, Ryleigh.|
|Meet America's hottest initial. Back in the 1960s only one baby in a thousand received an O name. Now, thanks to hits like Olivia, Owen and Oliver, this letter is a player.|