A is for Asher. Or is it Augustus? Ace? Axton?
Name fashion has many faces, and we're going to show them to you from A to Z. We've selected four boys' names starting with each letter of the alphabet to represent current American baby name style: two traditional, and two contemporary.
Traditional names build their impact off of deep roots and a sense of history, cultural connections, and continuity.
Contemporary names take their spark from a sense of freshness, creativity, and the opening of possibilities.
Within each of those broad categories we've chosen a name that's in the fashion bullseye—a right-now stylish hit—and a rarer but fast-rising name that's not "now," but "next."
The choices weren't always straightforward. While they sound like opposites, traditional and contemporary styles can be tricky to separate. Take the case of another "A" name, Atlas. As the name of a Titan of Greek Mythology, Atlas is age-old. But as an English-language baby name, its current burst of popularity is unprecedented and a symbol of our modern age of bold baby naming.
In the end, we think our choices speak for themselves. If you read across, you'll get a range of different options for your target initial. If you read down each column from A to Z, you'll get a portrait of that specific quadrant of fashion. Together, they should give you a sense of where names are heading, and maybe help you find your own style sweet spot.
Photo: Getty Images
(a * indicates that no name fit the criteria)
|THE FASHION ALPHABET OF BOYS' NAMES|
|Initial||Traditional Bullseye||Traditional Upcoming||Contemporary Bullseye||Contemporary Upcoming|
Read More: The Girls' Fashion Alphabet
What's next in the baby name realm where Oliver and Olivia reign? The hottest rising names in England and Wales show some classic English style, but also point in new directions. The fastest risers of last year, according to the Baby Name Wizard Hotness formula:
|RISING GIRLS||RISING BOYS|
Photo: Getty Images
Three major themes jump out from that list. The first is England's continuing love of cute old-fashioned nicknames, like Dotty (traditionally a pet form of Dorothy), Ralphie (Ralph), and Winnie (Winifred). The second is one of the top American styles: contemporary names based on words and surnames, like Winter, Greyson and Maverick. Finally you see reflections of England's cultural diversity in names like Alaya (the daughter of Pakistani star Sanam Jung) and Matei (the Romanian form of Matthew).
The top brand-new names show off this diversity even further. For instance, the previously unknown name Kaizer was given to 20 boys last year, even as the regal word name Kaiser (with an s) dropped in popularity. The best-known Kazier is South African soccer legend Kaizer Motaung, founder of the Kaizer Chiefs soccer team. A British indie rock band is also called the Kaizer Chiefs, after the team. At the same time, reality tv continues to shape name trends, in England as well as the U.S. The brand-new name Lotan was inspired by Lotan Carter, a stripper who appeared on the UK edition of "Big Brother."
The most popular names making their debuts in the English name stats:
1. Kaizer (M)
2. Kaif (M)
3. Bligh (M)
4. Elizabete (F)
5. Advait (M)
6. Lotan (M)
7. Azaiah (M)
8. Taimur (M)
At the other end of the hotness spectrum, the fastest-falling names for girls were the '90s favorites Jessica and Lauren, representing a generational changing of the guard. More surprisingly, the fastest-falling names for boys were two all-time English classics: James and Thomas. It could be that the days of conservative boys' naming in England are numbered.
It's still "olive" season in England. The UK Office for National Statistics has announced the most popular baby names in England and Wales, and once again, Oliver and Olivia top the charts. They continue a decade-long run of dominance, with at least one of the "olive" names ranking #1 in 8 of the past 10 years.
Yet even with that stability at the top, there movers and shakers, and stories to tell. Let's meet the full top 20 in England and Wales in 2017.
Some name stories to watch:
• Jessica lost 21% of its popularity in a single year, falling all the way from #8 to #15. Based on the name's trajectory in the United States, this could be just the beginning of a steep drop.
• The name Muhammad fell by 6% and two spots in the rankings, marking the first significant drop for a name that has soared over the past two decades.
• The hottest rising sound was a final -o in short boys' names. Leo was the fastest riser in the top 20, jumping from #13 to #7. Theo, Hugo and Arlo also rose sharply, with Theo just missing our chart at #21.
• A big trend that you can't see in the rankings: England still plays it safer with boys' names than girls'. That means a greater concentration at the top, and a bigger role for the timeless standards. Of the 25 overall most popular names, 20 were boys' names. What's more, the boys' list above is studded with all-time English classics: George, William, Henry, Thomas, James, Arthur. On the girls' side, only Alice qualifies.
For more on English name style, read about the fastest rising names, and the top brand-new names of the year.