What's hot where it's not

Dec 15th 2006

Before this year draws to a close, I'd like to take a look back at some of last year's hottest baby names. Using the standard Baby Name Wizard Hotness Formula for fast rising and falling names, the #1 hottest baby names of 2005 were....

Linus and Siren!

Linus took the boys' crown with a leap from 28 born in 2004 to a whopping 72 in 2005, while 33 girls were named Siren compared to just 10 in 2004. Yes, that's the story in Norway, while across the border in Sweden the hottest risers were Milo and Amelia.

Ok, chances are that you, dear reader, are not from Scandinavia. You are not considering naming your son Sveinung (2nd hottest in Norway), or Wilgot/Vilgot (16th and 17th in Sweden). So why am I telling you all this?

While some popular Scandinavian names are uniquely local, many others are international. And lately Scandinavia has proven to be a few years ahead of the U.S. in picking up on name ideas like Leo, Theodore and Clara. The Wilgot vs. Vilgot spelling dilemma probably doesn't make your list, but Milo and Amelia just might. So for a possible peek ahead, here are some international-styled names that are on the rise in Sweden and Norway right now:

GIRLS
Alva
Cornelia
Dania
Eleonora/Leonora
Elina
Filippa
Leona
Luna
Malaika
Melina
Nelli/Nelly
Noelle
Simone
Stella
Viola

BOYS
Conrad
Elliot
Enzo
Hector
Leon
Linus
Marco
Mateo
Roger
Theo

Nominations, please: The 2006 Name of the Year

Dec 6th 2006

Perhaps it's the hot new name that seemed to rise up out of nowhere, like Nevaeh in 2003 or Cadence/Kadence/Kaydence in 2004. Or maybe it's a name that dominated the headlines, like Monica in 1998, or that came and went in a flash like Liberty in '76 and Farrah in '77. Maybe it's not even the name of a person -- 2005 was surely the year of Katrina.

The name of the year is a cultural time capsule. It captures some part of the zeitgeist in such a visceral way that the name never sounds quite the same again. Maybe it rose, maybe it fell, but a generation later it still conjures up an echo of the year when it made its mark.

What name do you think captures the spirit of '06? Do you suddenly know half a dozen babies named Atticus? Do you hear Akon songs everywhere you turn? Are you considering naming your first born after Nancy Pelosi? Please post your nominations here, and feel free to second others. The oh-so-official Name of the Year will be announced in this very space in two weeks' time.

"How do you make the NameVoyager do that?"

Dec 1st 2006

I often illustrate my posts here with graphs that look like they came from the NameVoyager. (Check out last week's graph-laden post.) You may have noticed, though, that the blog graphs show collections of names that the NameVoyager just can't show. You may even have written to me in frustration to find out how the heck I made those images!

The answer is that the blog graphs aren't from the NameVoyager at all. They're created by a separate program that lives on my desktop and happens to graph in the NameVoyager style. My personal name-grapher, alas, isn't likely to find its way to the public web site. It's a quirky contraption that requires scripted queries. Part of the NameVoyager's magic is its ease of use--I want people to be able to leap into the program without instructions.

I do add new NameVoyager features from time to time, though. (Old-timers here may still think of the single-sex searching option as a newfangled trick.) If you'd like to put in a vote for a feature you'd particularly appreciate in the next version of the NameVoyager, this is a great time to do it. Feel free to post a comment below or send me email.

But while I'm at it, a note on email:

I get great mail. Parents around the world write with a fascinating range of baby naming dilemmas, from the silly to the deeply serious. It's always been a point of pride for me to answer the mail as faithfully and thoughtfully as I can. But the volume of messages has increased every month. The sad fact is that I am now behind, way behind, and I'm never going to catch up. So I've had to abandon the goal of answering every message that comes in.

Please do keep writing! I want to know what's on everybody's minds, and I'll do my best to respond. But if I can't, I hope you'll cut me some slack. It's a busy, busy baby naming world.