Each year we challenge the name-loving public to guess America's fastest rising and falling baby names. This year's trend-spotting champion is Tracy F., with this winning set of predictions:
Rising names: Adeline (F), Everly (F), Finn (M)
Falling names: Alexis (F), Kadence (F) Jase (M)
Tracy, a 24-year-old New Jersey resident, took an analytical approach to her selections, which is only fitting. She's currently pursing a master's degree in applied linguistics and works for a firm that analyzes a lot of name data. A sampling of her thinking:
"I spend a lot of time looking at name trends, and I based my predictions on what I've seen rise and fall in previous years. For instance, the elements in the name Everly have been on the rise through names like Evelyn and Paisley, and it looked like it could make that jump as well. Adeline also made a lot of sense to me as a fresh take on Madeline/Madelyn. (It's also interesting to note how much the spellings Adeline/Adaline jumped ahead -- yet Adelyn/Adalyn stayed about the same.)"
Tracy also shares the life-long love of names that inspires everything we do here. As she put it: "I think what makes them so fun to talk about is that almost everyone has a story to tell."
The top predictor of falling names was Caitlin of Cambridge, a perennial Name Pool powerhouse. She predicted the decline of Brandon, Alexis and Kaitlyn, and divulged her secret recipe for predicting popularity drops: "I mostly look at the top 150 or so and see which names peaked 15-20 years ago and have experienced widening declines in the past 3 years....Those criteria give nice, predictable fallers."
Finally, I'd like to acknowledge reader "Katjsh" who was the only entrant to predict this year's #1 fastest-rising boy's name, Kylo. Nobody picked the overall top riser, the girl's name Kehlani. Which goes to show you that even to a group as savvy as BNW readers, names still have the potential to surprise.
Congratulations to the top scorers. I'll see you all next year!
|TOP GIRLS' NAMES BY STATE, 2016|
|TOP BOYS' NAMES BY STATE, 2016|
The boy's name that ranks #1 in the most states is not Noah but Liam, with William (which can yield the nickname Liam) second most common. For girls Emma takes the most states at 16, and the a-ending trio of Emma, Olivia and Ava account for the top spots in 40 states from coast to coast.
The top regional trend is Oliver's reign over the upper Midwest and West. Oliver is the #1 choice of Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin, but doesn't crack the top 3 anywhere in the Southeast. In an interesting demographic pattern, surnames are most favored in rural areas across the country. Harper, for instance, is the top girl's name in Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, and Wyatt cracks the top 3 for boys in Wyoming and Vermont.
Finally, a symbolic moment of change: John no longer ranks among the top 3 boys' names anywhere in America.
More from the most popular names stats:
Bold. Powerful. Audacious. If this year's fast-rising baby names had a theme, it was "no limits." Parents are no longer afraid to go big, choosing names that past generations didn't dare consider. From kings and gods to superheroes and even supervillains, we've entered an age of unprecedented baby name boldness.
Images: flickr/milst1, pottermore.com
What does that boldness look like? To start with, the names below all ranked among the top 1,000 names for boys or girls last year, all rising in popularity from the year before:
Royal (F, M))
And here's a sampling of some fast risers outside the top 1,000:
Divine (F, M)
Kaiser (F, M)
Lex (F, M)
Majesty (F, M)
Sovereign (F, M)
I've written before about the rise of "exalted names" that suggest royalty and divinity. I described them as names crafted to inspire and celebrate, "demanding that this child will be valued and respected." I stand by that description, but this year's rapid rise of power names on the dark side (like Lucifer, Bellatrix and the #1 fastest-rising boy's name Kylo) points to a broader phenomenon.
The name lists above cast a wide net. Ace, Messiah, Dionysus, Majestic, Kal-El and Jezebel are all over the cultural and stylistic map. Individually, each represents a single family's heartfelt decision with a personal story behind it. Collectively, they may well signal a fundamental shift in the enterprise of naming babies.
Over the past generation, parents turned away from the idea of a "normal name": the assumption that we choose our babies' names from an established pool of options. This freer attitude led to a flowering of new hit names. We saw more foreign imports like Giovanni; surnames like Cassidy; place names like Brooklyn; and sound-based inventions like Jayla. Each pushed the envelope gently, forging new territory while staying tethered to the traditional.
The new names break the tether. You can almost hear parents thinking, "I could actually do that. I could choose…anything." It's a veritable explosion of ambition, thrills, and raw id. We're naming with the safety off. Full throttle, full bore, no limits.
Read More: Baby Names Are Getting Ready to Rule