Originally appeared on The Stir.
What do Noah and Sophia, two of the hottest baby names right now, have in common? Throw out as many adjectives as you want -- they're both elegant, charming, traditional, etc. But the secret to their attraction may just be that they both have a long "O" sound. And baby names that include the sound of "oh" are all the rage.
"Parents don't want to just write the circle of an O, like Robert," explains baby naming expert Laura Wattenberg, founder of Baby Name Wizard. "They want the 'oh' sound itself."
Certainly, some celeb parents jumped on the "oh"-sound bandwagon early on. Brad and Angelina have Shiloh. Nicole Richie named her daughters Harlow and Sparrow. "But trends this big don't come from celebrity names," says Wattenberg. "There's a huge overarching desire right now to choose names that contain long vowels and crisp consonants."
Names with long "A" sounds like Aiden and Ava have been "hugely dominant for years," Wattenberg points out, "so now parents are looking to I, U, and O."
More From The Stir: 8 Hottest Baby Name Trends for 2015
Surprisingly, names that actually end with the letter "O" aren't as popular as names that end on a consonant. "For instance, 'Marlo' is still stuck in the '60's," Wattenberg says, "but 'Marlow' is a rising name for girls. It has a nice, unexpected sound without going too masculine."
So what are some other hot names containing "oh" to look out for? Here are a few to put on your short list.
1. Arrow: Straight-shooting and strong, this name is only going up in popularity.
2. Bruno: Already popular in other parts of the world, Bruno's old-world charm is starting to catch on in the US.
3. Carrow: Pronounced "CAR-oh," we like the prep-school feel of this boys' name.
4. Kohl: A freshened up version of Cole, although both spellings share a likable charm.
5. Leonardo: Leo is strong enough to appeal to guys and sweet enough for girls to relate to.
6. Otto: This name of German descent is confident and smart, with just a hint of cuddliness.
7. Rocco: A big name for baby boys to grow into.
8. Shadow: No longer just for black cats, this name has real depth.
9. Woodrow: Responsible, fair-minded, and trustworthy -- all the qualities you want your son to grow up to have.
10. Yarrow: Unique without being off-putting, Yarrow has a quirky likability.
1. Harlow: This quiet bombshell of a name manages to connote equal parts smarts and style.
2. Joey: Dawson's Creek is long gone, but the irresistably tomboy-ish name Joey will live forever in our hearts.
3. Margot: Sophisticated, distinctive, and come on, what other name allows you to use "Go-go" for the cutest nickname ever?
4. Meadow: You don't have to be a fan of The Sopranos to appreciate the natural beauty of this girls' name.
5. Morrow: Meaning "the morning," we feel certain this name is on the rise.
6. Posey: We have no idea why this unique name isn't on everyone's short list. Reminiscent of olde England and princesses, with a hint of whimsy. Try it spelled "Posy" or "Poesie," too.
7. Shiloh: Endearing, especially when you consider it comes with two equally sweet nicknames, "Shi" or "Lo."
8. Sparrow: We love the delicate strength of this uplifting name.
9. Willow: A name as graceful and resilient as the tree it's named for.
10. Wynslow: The "y" makes this staid moniker surprisingly modern and feminine.
Which of these "oh" names do you like the best?
You love names. You notice baby name trends. But do you have your finger on the pulse of name style? Here's your chance to prove it. Enter BabyNameWizard's annual Baby Name Pool.
We're celebrating our 10th year of challenging the name-loving public, letting you test your baby name acumen against your peers. Just pick three names you think rose in popularity last year, and three you think fell. When the U.S. government releases its official 2014 name stats in May, I'll tally the results and present the top scorers to the world for fawning acclaim!
Be warned, the Pool is simple to enter, but tough to win. You might spot a hot new name anywhere, from your neighborhood playground to Bollywood. Even celebrity influence is tricky to predict. Not one Pool entrant last year chose the year's fastest-rising name: Daleyza, from the reality tv series Larrymania. Fast-falling names are even trickier -- quick, what names have you NOT thought about this year?
If you haven't played before, you can read more details and check out the fastest rising (boys, girls) and falling names of the previous year to get a sense of how name fashions operate. Then convince your friends and coworkers to enter and compete against you. This is an equal-opportunity contest, by the way; we've had male and female winners.
All entries must be received by April 22.
Ready to go? Fill out your ballot now!
Poets are the people we dream of being. They are historians and interpreters, observers and activists, teachers and storytellers. They can shape politics, inspire masses, and spark movements. Without poets, our sense of the world would be very short-sighted. It's no wonder that parents like to honor wordsmiths like these who enrich and explain our world.
These names come from some of the most classically famed poets in history. Some automatically bring a specific writer to mind, while others are traditional names worn by a distinctive poet or several of them. We love these names because they feel almost as artful as the writers themselves. (After all, what is a name but a little poem summed up in a word, with unspoken etymologies, histories, and cultural impressions?) Here are some names perfect for parents and children who love words as much as we do, and for the poet in all of us.
Auden: This name manages to be airy and grounded at the same time, landing in unisex territory but given to more boys than girls. Its namesake, W.H. Auden, is a celebrated English-American poet, essayist, and playwright.
Blake: Blake may be short, but it packs a lot into one syllable. This Old English surname has been a top 100 hit since 1989. Actress Lively has also helped this name land in the 500s for girls. So while it feels trendy, poet William Blake lends a classic, romantic sense to the name as well.
Dante: Dante is first and foremost a poet's name, thanks to the The Father of the Italian language, medieval poet Dante Alighieri. His writings, particularly the Divine Comedy, has been called the greatest literary work in the Italian language. The name itself has been on an upswing, hitting a peak in 1997 with the release of the disaster movie Dante's Peak and then leveling out in the high 200s. We think it's stylish and catchy, intellectual and approachable.
Dylan: Everyone loves this Welsh hit with artistic overtones. We can thank poet Dylan Thomas for its longtime spot in the top 30 (for the past 11 years). He was the inspiration behind Bob Dylan's stage name, who in turn helped launch the name to popularity. It's hard not to adore this name, and with such success we're pretty certain it will not go gentle into that good night.
Elizabeth: It doesn't get more classic than Elizabeth, a biblical and royal choice with an astounding history and use across the world. So while it may not strike everyone as a poet name, this one does have two significant namesakes. Bishop, who won a Nobel Prize in Poetry and became US Poet Laureate; and Barrett Browning, a celebrated English poet whose works were very popular during Victorian times. Even Queen Elizabeth I, a lover of the arts, wrote several well-known verses herself.
Eliot: The traditional spelling of this name (Elliott) is starting to gain some momentum in the last handful of years. But to chose this spelling is a clear reference to T.S. Eliot, who was one of the 20th century's top poets. He is especially remembered for The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land, which may give your child's name a little bit of irony if born in April.
Emily: Emily is timeless and lovely, but its literary namesakes manage to stand out in a sea of others: Emily Brontě, and, of course, poet Emily Dickinson. Dickinson's reputation as the most famous and prolific American poet gives her name a serious sense of quiet expressiveness.
Emerson: Essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson led the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th century. And while he was a famed poet, he is especially known for his inspirational quotes. These days you may see his encouraging statements like this around Pinterest: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” The name Emerson has proven to be quite inspiring as well, as an English surname with an appealing beginning, this trendy unisex name is in the low 200s for girls or 300s for boys.
Ezra: A biblical name beloved in the 1800s, Ezra is getting its second wind in this country. Its most famed namesake, poet Pound (1885-1972) is known for his impact on modern poetry. It's a snappy, bold choice with a sense of vintage solidity.
Gwendolyn: A tried-and-true classic, Gwendolyn is showing more appeal despite its trend-bucking sound. It may not be light and lyrical, but it's a Welsh darling with regal qualities. Perhaps that's why William Blake used this name in his mythic poems. But the most heralded Gwendolyn of poetry is writer Brooks, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and was a US Poet Laureate.
Larkin: On its surface, the sound of this name is playful and songlike, with an ending that fits right in with today's naming trends. British poet Philip Larkin wasn't exactly the picture of cheer, as his poems' themes often centered around death and fatalism. His works are widely respected and celebrated, with high honors in England, giving Larkin a balanced, literary feel.
Langston: A surname with poetic punch, Langston was the given name of jazz poet Hughes. As a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes' words shaped the culture of the 20s and reflected pride in his African American heritage and community. Choosing this rare name will definitely communicate an appreciation for jazz, poetry, and the arts.
Maya: A global favorite with roots in several different languages (Hindi, Hebrew, and Greek, for starters), the name Maya caught on in the late 90s and is still in the top 100s. The wildly talented author, activist, singer, and poet Angelou was an incredibly influential figure who inspired many to use the name, especially as its sound fit naming trends. Once statistics are released for names of 2014, we'll get a clear picture of how Angelou's death affected expecting parents, though it's almost certain the name Maya did well last year in her honor.
Millay: Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) happens to have a beautiful surname in addition to a long list of honors as a top American poet and activist. Her surname would be an exceptionally rare choice, but it's got an irresistible sound and it's on par with the friendly, old-fashioned name Millie.
Nash: Lighthearted poet Ogden Nash was loved among critics and readers for his wit and sense of humor. While the most common associations with this English surname come from TV's Nash Bridges and mathematician John Nash, we love the laughter and clever charm that the poet brings to this on-trend name.
Rainer: Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rilke chose a germanic form of the English name Rayner in place of his original given name, René. The spelling he chose at the time imparted a stronger German vibe, but today it comes across as lighter in comparison, almost on par with a nature name. It's rare, but accessible and trendy-sounding, like River or Tanner.
Sylvia: Perhaps the most famous Sylvia was Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and author Plath, who helped pioneer the confessional movement in American poetry. The name Sylvia was at its most popular in the 30s, and today it feels like an underused classic with lots of style.
Wallace: Award-winning poet Wallace Stevens is considered one of America's best. A brilliant writer and careful crafter of poetry, Stevens lends this name an added touch of intellectualism. It's a rare choice today, likely because of the unavoidable nickname Wally. But Wallace is a dignified, vintage name with Scottish history that is due for a little more appreciation.
Walt: Move over, Disney. Celebrated poet Walt Whitman highly influenced American literature with his surprising lack of rhyme and meter, paving a way for many of the poets we've featured here. His name strikes us as simple and sweet, with a firm foundation and an antique feel.
William: William is as classic as they come, and used so often that it's a bit of a chameleon, changing personalities and impressions with each new namesake. But Shakespeare stands out among the rest, keeping William loosely in the category of a literary name. Alongside Shakespeare are poets like Blake, Butler Yeats, Carlos Williams, Collins, Cowper, and Wordsworth, to name a few.
There are, of course, many more names of poets that we love. Share your favorites with us! And for more inspiring name posts, try 20 Baby Names for Creative Girls and Boys.