The Fastest-Rising Girls' Names of the Year Share a Distinctive Style

May 11th 2018

We've entered the Age of the Mix-and-Match Name. That's message emerging from the year's fastest-rising girls' names. While the total list is full of variety, the very hottest names point in a clear style direction.

The fastest risers in the girls' top-1000 list:
Ensley, Oaklynn/Oaklyn and Emberly.

The fastest risers outside the top 1000:
Camreigh, Brennley, and Emryn.

These names share more than sound and style. They share a sensibility, a whole approach to naming. They're clearly inspired by the place names, surnames, and "andro-girly" names that have become 21st-century staples. But rather than just repurposing an existing name, names like Oaklynn and Camreigh are built Lego-style, snapping together fashionable elements to build something entirely new, yet familiar.

Let's take a closer look at the fast-rising names.

#1: Ensley. Teen Mom strikes again! No tv show focuses more on the birth of babies, and thus their names. The series continues its powerhouse run of launching hit names, in this case the new daughter of controversial star Jenelle Evans.

#2, #3: Oaklynn, Oaklyn.  A little bit Oakley, a little bit Brooklyn, 100% the sound of the moment. The name Oaklee also cracked the top-1000 list for the first time.

#4: Emberly. First the name Ember took off as a fiery update on Amber's golden glow. Now it's one of the hottest new mix-and-match roots. The character Grace Emberly of the tv series Frontier has helped boost this version, but be on the look out for Emberlyn as well.

Dream Kardashian. Image: Instagram/blacchyna

#5: Dream. Teen Mom may rule the roost in reality tv baby names, but never overlook the Kardashian clan. Dream is the young daughter of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.

And more notable risers:

#7: Octavia, as in Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

#9: Melania, as in first-lady Melania Trump. (Americans are no longer willing to name after political leaders--the name Donald fell--but their family members are seen as simple celebrities and are fair game.)

#10: Samara, as in actress Samara Weaving, but more importantly Samara Morgan, the deadly child in the horror movie The Ring. Demon spawn are reliable baby name hit-makers.



By EVie
May 11, 2018 6:57 PM

Oh my goodness, I can't wait until they release the state data. I'd love to see the geographic distribution of Melania. Given how toxic the whole family is in these parts, it must be seeing HUGE upswings where they're popular.

The Mix-and-Match concept really fits in with your earlier post about sounds defining modern trends. It would be fascinating to do an analysis of specific name elements. What strikes me as really interesting is how so many of these names echo the dithematic structure of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic place names (since so many are in fact inspired by surnames that derive from such place names). You could even reverse-engineer "meanings" for some of them. e.g. Oaklyn: oak is self-explanatory; lyn can come from Anglo-Saxon hlinc meaning ridge, bank, slope, terrace ledge; or from hlynn, torrent; or from a Welsh, Cornish or Gaelic element llynlynn, linn meaning lake or pool.

May 11, 2018 7:48 PM

The "one from column A, one from column B" recipe for baby-naming is over a thousand years old: it's at the root of old Norse, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, and Slavic names. Usually, column A was unisex, while column B was gender-specific, and most of the elements derived from common words (although their meanings were generally ignored, just as nowadays we ignore the literal meanings of names like Heather and Bill).

By EVie
May 12, 2018 9:31 AM

True, but it's not a method we typically use in English now (though I think that Chinese and Korean names often follow this pattern, with one of the elements the "generational" element chosen by the family?) And what I find specifically interesting about this modern incarnation is that it's generally Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and sometimes Norse *place-name* elements being chosen (ley/ly/lee/lie/leigh, lin/lyn/lynn, by, ton, with a first element of your choice), not the same ones as in dithematic Germanic personal names, which tend to be out of fashion right now for both genders but especially girls. Though it would certainly be fun to see the next generation of girls all running around with names ending in -hild, -gifu, -run, -burh, -gyth and all those other never-seen elements.

May 13, 2018 5:41 PM

Emberly also follows the drop-a-consonant trend from Kimberly.  

May 14, 2018 10:55 AM

weatherly, are you pen/pin merged? Because to me, Emberly is most definitely not an off-with-their-heads version of Kimberly. (Obviously they're similar, but Emberly is not Imberly to me.)