Expanding horizons: Feeling hemmed in by your choices of Aidans, Cadens, Haydens, Braedens and Jaidyns? Welcome the newest addition to this rhyming family, Zayden -- chosen for 224 American boys in 2006.
Makes you wonder: Neveah. Read that spelling carefully. The name Nevaeh is, famously, heaven backwards. It's arguably the biggest name phenomenon of the decade, an out-of-thin air creation that has risen to be the 43rd most popular name for American girls in 2006, more popular than Jennifer. But Neveah? It too cracked the top 1000 this year...but if a name's raison d'etre is its spelling, what's the point of a variant? A certain number may just be typos of a difficult name. But I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those Neveahs are real. Neveah looks more like a standard English name (e.g. Leah). The name is no longer a curiosity, and as it is absorbed into the mainstream naming culture it's adapting to local standards. Think of it as a creative spelling with a conservative streak.
Shoulda seen 'em coming: Memphis for boys, Paisley for girls. Ahh, Memphis. Of course. A Southern city name with a bluesy machismo -- and a perfect brother for a girl named Presley. Memphis makes its debut on the popularity charts at #923. As for Paisley, you did see it coming. An astute group of readers dissected the name in a discussion here last fall: ultra-fashionable namelike sound; Scottish place name; country singer surname; maybe we can live with the fabric issue. Debuting at #835.
The Social Security Administration has announced the most popular American baby names of 2006. The top 3 names for boys and girls are unchanged from 2005:
GIRLSBOYSEmily Jacob Emma Michael Madison Joshua Isabella EthanAva MatthewAbigail DanielOlivia ChristopherHannah AndrewSophiaAnthonySamanthaWilliam
For comparison, the 2005 leader board:
GIRLSBOYSEmily Jacob Emma Michael Madison Joshua Abigail Matthew Olivia Ethan Isabella Andrew Hannah Daniel Samantha AnthonyAvaChristopherAshleyJoseph
I'll be crunching the numbers and looking for interesting trends over the next few weeks. Look for announcements here of the NameVoyager update, and the results of the Baby Name Pool.
What does a Baby Name Wizard dwell on, lying awake in the wee hours before dawn? How about finding the name with the highest total Scrabble value. (Sorry, make that the highest point value in the Scrabble® Brand Crossword Game. There, having gotten that out of the way we can get on with our little fun.)
By my scoring system you only look at the face value of the letters, no double-word or triple-letter scores (let alone a 50-point bonus for 7-letter names!) Only names appearing in the NameVoyager count. A cheat-sheet of letter values is here. My high score is 30, have I missed any higher?
And on that uber-namegeek note, we head into the busiest weeks of the baby naming year. The 2006 U.S. name statistics are due out at the end of next week. As usual I'll be reporting on trends and surprises, updating the NameVoyager, and tabulating scores in the Baby Name Pool. And this year, I expect to have something entirely new to announce as well. Stay tuned...