America's Fastest-Rising Boys' Names: Feel the Force

May 12th 2017

The hottest boys' names of 2016 weren't shy. The fastest risers were all about dramatic shows of force – or The Force. Meet the names soaring up the popularity charts.

#1: Kylo
Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered at the end of 2015, and its baby name impact reverberated through the following year. Lots of force-ful names like Rey, Finn and even Jedi saw popularity spikes. But America's biggest zero-to-60 breakout name was Kylo, as in dark side bigwig Kylo Ren.

This name stands as a supreme demonstration that celebrity-inspired naming today is all about style, not about homages. The name's sound couldn't be hotter, a Kai/Milo hybrid that puts a fresh coat of cool on old favorite Kyle. But, you know…

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT. If you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, just complete the sentence above with "Kylo wasn't the most likeable character in the movie" and skip the next paragraph.

…Kylo Ren killed his own dad. And not just any dad, but Han Solo, arguably the coolest dad you could possibly have. Kylo is hardly the first villainous character to spark a baby name trend. Anakin, AKA Darth Vader, is also a rising hit. But when fathers-to-be are willing to look past patricide for the sake of fashion, you're witnessing the true power of sound.

#2: Adonis
The movie Creed was a boxing film in the Rocky lineage that focused on Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky's onetime foe Apollo Creed. Like his dad, Adonis brought the muscle and the Greek-god name flair. Back in 1976 when the original Rocky came out, that flair was too flashy for most parents. Not anymore. Adonis is a pitch-perfect choice for our new era of exalted names.

#3: Conor
Connor, with one n, is Ireland's standard spelling of this classic name. In the United States, it has lagged in third place, well behind Connor and Conner. Enter Irish mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor. With his distinctive bearded, tattooed looks, flashy style, and unquestioned fighting prowess, McGregor has shifted the spelling balance.

#4: Zayn
Singer Zayn Malik first boosted his name as a member of the boy band One Direction. When he went solo and dropped his surname, the sky was the limit. Zayn (an Arabic name) is pronounced like the fashionable cowboy name Zane, but has a much glossier and more contemporary image.

…and the rest of the top 10 fastest-rising boys' names:

#5. Bryson

#6. Arlo

#7. Mateo

#8. Bodhi

#9. Killian

#10. Maverick


 Read More: Caitlyn at the Crossroads: The Fastest-Falling Names of 2016

The Most Popular Baby Names in America for 2016

May 12th 2017

Meet America's new top names!

The Social Security Administration has released the official rankings of the most popular baby names of 2016. The top of the charts remains unchanged: Noah is the country's #1 choice for boys, and Emma returns as #1 for girls.

The big newcomer in the top 10 is Elijah, which bumped Alexander out of the top 10 for the first time in a decade. That exchange highlights the increasingly smooth sound of today's boys' names, and the dominance of Old Testament names among tradition-minded parents.


The new top 10 baby names in America: 

1  Noah  Emma
2  Liam  Olivia
3  William  Ava 
4  Mason  Sophia 
5  James  Isabella
6  Benjamin              Mia
7  Jacob  Charlotte
8  Michael        Abigail
9  Elijah  Emily
10  Ethan  Harper


As always, the top 10 is just the beginning of the name news. Check out the full top 1,000 name lists (with last year's ranks for comparison). I'll also be reporting on the fastest risers and fallers, surprising pop culture name phenomena and more. Follow here and on Twitter:


READ MORE: America's Fastest-Rising Boys' Names: Feel the Force

 Caitlyn at the Crossroads: The Fastest-Falling Baby Names of the Year


What If You Don't Choose a Name?

May 4th 2017

For name-hunting parents, the birth certificate is the ultimate deadline. You'd better have a baby name plan before you arrive at the hospital, because without a name, they may not let you leave. In many locales, a complete birth certificate is a check-out requirement.

That last part wasn't always true. According to the Boston Globe, in the 1950s one out of every 25 newborn Bostonians received a birth certificate with a blank space or placeholder in the given name slot.

Wikimedia Commons

The reasons for the blank birth certificates ranged from the dramatic to the mundane. Most often, it seems, the necessary paperwork was simply overlooked by busy new parents with large families to care for. In that generation, the oversight didn't much matter. The kids still grew up called by names every day, like everybody else. The went to school, got married, served in the military, paid taxes, all under names that had never been legally registered. Documents like baptism certificates were accepted as sufficient proof of identity.

Then a not-so-funny thing happened: September 11. Requirements for obtaining government ID were tightened. Americans who had held drivers' licenses for decades were denied renewals without a birth certificate as proof of identity. Many of them turned to their city halls to request copies, only to discover that the legal documents named them "Baby Boy." The names they'd lived with all their lives were in legal limbo, and they had to file for formal amendments to their birth certificates in order to proceed with their official lives.

You may take this as a tale about the increasing regimentation of modern life. Alternately, you may take it as a cautionary tale about skimping on something as basic as giving your child an official name. But if you're expecting a baby, you should certainly take it as a reminder to plan ahead. Don't count on the perfect name magically coming to you when you see your newborn's scrunched-up face. (And don't count on yourself to be at your sharpest, mentally.) At the very least, have a fallback name or a clear decision tree in place. It sure beats fighting city hall.