NameVoyager updated!

May 17th 2007

Just a heads up that the NameVoyager is now up-to-date with the new 2006 name popularity data. You might also notice minor shifts in the 2005 figures since the Social Security Administration updated them to reflect late filings. (My name, Laura, has been downgraded from #145 to #147 for 2005. Isn't it funny how nobody wants their children's names to be high on the charts, but we all feel slighted when our own names sink?)

Happy NameVoyaging!

2006's Hottest, Nottest

May 12th 2007

Introducing the fastest rising and falling baby names of 2006, according to the official Baby Name Wizard ...

The 600+ readers who entered this year's Baby Name Pool made the girl's name Addison their top choice for the fastest rising baby name of 2006. And the actual fastest rising name? Addison! Congratulations, savvy namesters! You saw Addison, jet-propelled by the hit TV show Grey's anatomy, as the fresh headless successor to Madison.

Oh, but by the way...Addison doesn't earn you the most points in the Baby Name Pool.

You see, there's a close #2 on the hot list which is the top new debuting name of the year. And the Pool gives you a 25% bold-prediction bonus for guesses of brand new hits. The top score belongs to: Rihanna, #528 among all girls' names. The name Rihanna was inspired by an attractive young chanteuse whose debut album was a smash on the R&B charts. If that sounds familiar, the exact same description worked for 2005's hottest girl's name, Ciara. A point to ponder for future contest entrants.

#3 on the 2006 hot list is the top new boy's name, Krish. Didn't spot that one coming? You must have missed the movie. Krrish was Bollywood's blockbuster sci-fi adventure of 2006, a sequel to the popular hit Koi... Mil Gaya. The hero Krishna "Krrish" Mehra is a classic superhero, with powers he inherited from his father who got them from an alien.

#4 is a name that I'd picked as a hot newcomer last year, to no avail. Evangeline finally comes through this year, debuting at #597.

#5 is Addisyn, which pretty much says it all.

And now, the fastest fallers. The top four are all lessons in how fickle fame is, especially when it comes to naming babies:

#1: Litzy
#2: Omarion
#3: Amarion

What have you done for me lately? The actress Litzy had a hit telenovela in 2005, nothing of note out in 2006. Ditto for albums from the R&B singer Omarion. Baby namers have short memories.

#4: Ciara (Watch your back, Rihanna!)

#5: Katrina

The decline of Katrina as a baby name has already made headlines. The Associated Press made this its lead story of the baby name stats, noting "The name's association with the catastrophe has now knocked it out of consideration for most parents." But what the AP article failed to mention was that the name actually soared in 2005 in the immediate wake of the storm. It's that 2005 boost that makes the 2006 decline look especially steep.

And now, on to tallying up contest scores and updating the NameVoyager!

Quick hits from the 2006 name stats

May 11th 2007

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.