Tens of millions of Americans are out tracking wild Pokemon every day. It's time to ask: could today's virtual beasties become tomorrow's trendy baby names?
It's not such a far-fetched notion. We've entered a golden age of geek names. The top-1000 baby names list is already studded with fantastical creations like Anakin from Star Wars, Khaleesi from Game of Thrones, Castiel from Supernatural, and Kal-El from Superman. Can little Pikachus, Jigglypuffs and Wigglytuffs be far behind?
OK, so maybe it is a far-fetched notion. But believe it or not, one Pokemon name is already climbing in the baby name stats...which you'll learn as we count down to #1 in our list of the top potential Pokemon baby names:
#13: Ekans. The name Nevaeh (heaven backwards) brought wordplay to the baby name mainstream. Ekans adds a little extra "bite" to the backwards name style.
#12: Vaporeon. This is a Pokemon power name, a rare, elegant and powerful creature with a name to match. Yet to be determined: whether your baby would inherit the ability to control water. And why a water master has a name that sounds like air.
#11: Charmander. Everyone's always happy to find a Charmander. That adds a special glow to a name that already sounds like Chandler with extra charm — and -er is one of the hottest name endings around.
#10: Rhydon. Hundreds of American babies last year received names like Rhyder and Rhylee. Watch for parents to choose this name and never let on to their families that it's a Pokemon dinosaur.
#9: Spearow. Names ending in an -o sound like Willow and Shiloh are hot, and Spearow could fit right in. It's a handy cross between a nature name and a weapon name.
#8: Chansey. It's Chance + Kelsey! That's a lot of neo-preppy appeal wrapped up in one rosy, rotund, egg-laying Pokemon.
#7: Scyther. Has the hit name Gunner gotten too popular for your liking? This Pokemon, named for the blazingly fast scythes on its arms, could be an equally deadly alternative.
#6: Victreebel. What's one step bolder than a Liberty Bell? A Victory Bell! Think of Victreebel as a cross between Victoria and Isabel—and Audrey II, the voracious man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.
#5: Abra. Short and sweet, Abra is the rare Pokemon with some history as a baby name. There's even a Saint Abra. That could make it the easiest choice to get past the grandparents, even as you quietly slip in the name of its evolution, Kadabra, as a middle name.
#3: Nidoran. So you say you like unisex names? Nidoran is the only Pokemon with both male and female versions. While they evolve into single-sex Nidoking and Nidoqueen, at their basic level they both go by the androgynous name Nidoran.
#2: Onix. Onyx is already a fast-rising name for boys. Tweak the vowel and you have a magnetic rock snake. It's that easy.
#1: Eevee. Last year two dozen American girls were named Eevee, like the popular genetically flexible Pokemon. Eevee sounds like like the familiar nickname Evie, but make no mistake, this is no mere respelling. The number of Eevees (compared to Eedees, Eevas, etc.) makes it clear that the Pokemon Generation is coming of age.
[Images via Pokemon/Nintendo]
Gymnast Nadia Comăneci. Ski racer Bode Miller. Figure skater Katarina Witt. Those three athletes from three different sports and three different countries have one big thing in common: they all parleyed Olympic gold medals into baby name immortality. The names Nadia, Bode and Katarina enjoyed bursts of U.S. popularity after their Olympic showcases.
What names from the Rio games will join this unique Olympic pantheon? The recipe calls for athletic prowess, an appealing character, and above all a fresh, stylish name. Here's our short list of prospects. (The athletes are Team USA unless otherwise noted.)
Image via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
#1: Simone. Simone Biles is already being called the greatest woman gymnast in history, and this is her Olympic debut. Her classic French name is very familiar but has never been particularly common in the United States. Swimmer Simone Manuel should also help keep this name in the news.
#2: Steele. Young diver Steele Johnson is ready for the big time with his own YouTube channel and a name fit for a superhero.
#3: Vashti. High jumper Vashti Cunningham has fame in her veins as the daughter of NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. The biblical Vashti, a queen who sacrificed her crown for her dignity, adds an extra layer to this intriguing name.
#4: Lydia. 19-year-old New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko is already at the top of her sport, and the name Lydia is a hit with room left to climb.
#5: Eaton. Decathlon record holder Ashton Eaton adds two potential names to the mix. Ashton is already a rising hit, while Eaton is rare but fit current trends perfectly.
#6: English. Sprinter English Gardner says that her mom believed she was destined for greatness and chose an unforgettable name to match.
#7: Rossella.Italian fencer Rossella Fiamingo boasts a fearsome epee and a romantic name.
#8: Caeleb. Swimmer Caeleb Dressel offers up a Gaelic-styled twist on the biblical favorite Caleb.
#9: Adeline. Wrestler Adeline Gray lends some muscle to her "sweet old-fashioned name."
#10: Aurelie. French distance swimmer Aurélie Muller has an appropriately fluid name that could catch on in the U.S.
#12: Aries. Hurdler Aries Merritt has an inspiring medical story of a different kind. A gold medalist at the London games, Merritt received a kidney transplant last year and, incredibly, has come back to qualify for the Olympics again. That toughness lives up the the ram of his zodiacal name.
Read More: The Name of the Olympic Hockey Team
You hear a name and you're intrigued. Maybe you think it would make a good name for a future child, or maybe it just makes you wonder: "What is that name? Where does it come from? Are babies actually called that?" And then you come to us at BabyNameWizard.com, because that's what we're here for.
The names below are the top curiosity sparks of this year so far. They're all super-popular searches in our Namipedia, at rates far out of proportion to their popularity as baby names. Have you wondered about about any of these yourself?
In the tv series "Lucifer," the Lord of Hell gets bored and takes a consulting gig with the LAPD. This unlikely premise has stirred fresh interest in a name previously consigned to infernal darkness. Ironically, the name's origins are anything but dark. Lucifer means "light bringing" and originally referred to the morning star (Venus). In later Christian tradition the name became associated with a fallen angel, and eventually with Satan himself. That's a tough image to break, but some parents are trying. A handful of American babies are named Lucifer each ear.
For the film The Good Dinosaur, Pixar turned to the old Sesame Street naming playbook. Choose an old names that has fallen far from fashion but remains familiar to fit an awkwardly lovable creature. It worked for Elmo, Kermit and Grover, and now for Arlo the apatosaurus. But given the popularity of names like Milo and Leo, Arlo might make a bigger fashion splash than the Muppets ever did.
The film Colombiana was only a modest success at the box office, but on the baby name charts it was a blockbuster. Cataleya, the name of the film's assassin protagonist, was the fastest-rising name of 2012, and has remained popular since. The name comes from the Cattleya genus of orchid, with a sleeker (and less bovine) spelling.
Nico is a short form of Nicholas used in multiple languages. But unlike Nick, it's not just a…er…"nick"name. As a full given name, it has a bit more edge than gentler -o names like Arlo and Milo. The Norwegian pop duo Nico & Vinz, who had a global hit with "Am I Wrong," have boosted the buzz.
Simple names like Kaya come from everywhere and nowhere. There's an inevitability about them, as they're reinvented again and again around the world. Back in 2002 the American Girl company used the name for a Nez Perce character (as a nickname for "Kaya' aton' my"). Now two British Kayas are reviving interest in the name: singer Kaya Stewart and Maze Runner actress Kaya Scodelario.
Parents are still on the hunt for the "X" factor. The Scottish surname Lennox follows in the footsteps of names like Maddox, balancing an aggressive style with a traditional source. Boxer Lennox Lewis and singer Annie Lennox have inspired some of the young namesakes, and a female Lennox on the sitcom "Melissa & Joey" has encourage parents to use it for girls as well as boys.
Parents encounter the name Arya in Game of Thrones, fall in love, then try to find proof that it's a "real" name. If it makes you feel better, there is indeed a traditional name Arya, from the Sanskrit for "honorable." But realistically, author George R. R. Martin didn't choose a Sanskrit name for the sister of Robb, Sansa, Bran and Rickon. Like so many Game of Thrones names—Tyrion, Cersei, even Khaleesi—this name was shaped within Martin's own vast imagination. There's nothing wrong with that.
The angel Castiel debuted on the tv series Supernatural back in 2008. Ever since, his name has been a top search term here at BabyNameWizard.com. It follows the classic angel name form, echoing Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael. Is it biblical? Apocryphal? New age? Nope, none of the above. Castiel isn't a traditional religious name at all, but it does mean "angel" today and ranks as a top-1,000 choice for boys.
Sometimes a name trend really is a name trend. Everett is one of the hottest rising names for boys, a gentlemanly surname that pairs the fashionable Ev- opening (a la Everly, Evangeline, Evelyn) and -tt ending (Emmett, Wyatt, Scarlett). The rush of readers to our Everett name page suggests that this name's star is still on the rise.