What baby name trends will be setting the style for the year ahead? To predict future directions, I look for names with popularity acceleration. Individual names on an accelerating rise are not only trendy on their own, but can point to whole styles on the way up.
I screened the statistics for names that have risen in popularity at a growing rate for for the past three years in a row. Then I looked for common themes. The six styles below leapt out again and again. The specific names listed all have individual momentum, and you can expect to see more of other names in these trending styles as well.
Names from Other Worlds. With names from imagined realities of movies, tv and books, parents are turning fantasy into reality.
BOYS: Anakin, Atreyu, Caspian, Castiel, Finnick, Kaladin, Lando, Oberon, Riddick
GIRLS: Arya, Astraea, BriarRose, Lyra, Storm, Vesper
Surnames ending in S. Once the stuffiest style for boys, these names are now gruffly charming.
Ames, Banks, Briggs, Brooks, Fields, Hawkins, Hayes, Riggins, Stiles, Welles, Wells
Creative Word Names in Traditional Categories. Nature names, virtues and terms of inspiration get an update.
BOYS: Bodhi, Brave, Canyon, Cedar, Cypress, Knowledge, Legacy, Legend, Linden, Majesty, Victory
GIRLS: Amethyst, Aspen, Blessing, Copper, Harbor, Harvest, Infinity, Legacy, Lilac, Loyalty, Majesty, Maple, Marigold, Meadow, Onyx, Primrose, Silver
Fun & Funky O Names. They're little, retro and full of energy.
BOYS: Arlo, Cleo, Enzo, Hugo, Jethro, Leo, Milo, Otto, Renzo, Theo
GIRLS: Cleo, Jo, Margo
Names from Classical Mythology. It's not just Diana and Jason any more.
BOYS: Apollo, Ares, Hades, Hercules, Jupiter, Orion, Achilles, Atlas, Zeus
GIRLS: Andromeda, Ariadne, Astraea, Athena, Aurora, Calliope, Gaia, Artemis
Aaira, Aamiyah, Aanaya, Aaria, Aariah, Aarya, Aeliana, Aella, Ahlani, Ahmina, Aila, Ailani, Ailany, Aily, Aiyla, Alaia, Alaiah, Alani, Alaya, Alaylah, Aleina, Aliyanna, Alonni, Alora, Aluna, Alylah, Amaia, Amaira, Amalia, Amara, Amarah, Amari, Amarii, Amarri, Amayah, Ameera, Ameila, Amelia, Amiah, Amileah, Amilia, Amiliah, Amina, Amira, Amiyah, Amori, Amyrah, Anah, Analeah, Analeyah, Anaya, Anayla, Anaelle, Annaliah, Annalina, Annamae, Annora, Anora, Anyeli, Ari, Aria, Ariah, Arina, Ariya, Armani, Arya, Aryia, Aulani, Aurela, Aurel, Auriella, Aurielle, Aurora, Aya, Ayaana, Ayla, Ayra, Ayumi, Eila, Eimy, Eira, Elani, Elania, Eleanora, Elena, Elonora, Eliana, Elianna, Eliyanah, Ellanora, Ellia, Ellianna Ellie, Ellieanna, Elliemay, Elloree, Elora, Emilia, Emerie, Emery, Emilia, Emmarie, Enna, Era, Eulalia, Illa, Ilyana, Irina, Laelah, Lailani, Lara, Laya, Leia, Leilani, Leilanny, Leni, Leona, Leora, Leyanna, Liah, Liana, Linna, Liyana, Lorelei, Lori, Lyanna, Luella, Luna, Lyra, Malani, Maiara, Malani, Malya, Malyah, Mariana, Marianna, Mayeli, Mayla, Mila, Milani, Milena, Miliyah, Mira, Mirai, Moriah, Myra, Murah, Naina, Naira, Nala, Naomi, Nia, Nilani, Noa, Noella, Noni, Nora, Nori, Nuri, Nyanna, Nura, Ora, Oriana, Raeya, Ramona, Rayla, Ralei, Rea, Reia, Remi, Remy, Reya, Reyna, Rhea, Riyah, Romi, Romy, Rona, Rory, Runa, Yalena, Yareni
Every month, thousands of BabyNameWizard.com readers search our Namipedia for girls’ names starting with Ken, Jeff, Tom, and other masculine nicknames. Searches for boys’ names with those beginnings are much scarcer. What’s the story? Should we expect a coming generation of little girls name Jeff and Tom?
I believe the phenomenon actually arises from a more traditional naming impulse. Our readers are looking for namesakes.
Ken, Jeff, Tom and friends are (sorry) “grandpa names” – nicknames for super-popular male names of the 1930s-1960s. In particular, they’re grandpa names with no popular female counterparts. If you want to name a daughter after Grandpa Stephen, you have easy choices like Stephanie and Stevie. A Grandpa John might be honored with a little Johanna or Jane. But what about Grandpa Tom? What’s a female counterpart to Thomas? Or Jeffrey? Or Kenneth? The answers aren’t obvious, so parents come to us seeking namesake inspiration.
[In case you’re wondering: nope, there is no corresponding trend for boys' names to remember a Grandma Susan or Deborah. It appears that even when it comes to honoring our beloved relatives, we're much more willing to name girls after males than boys after females. Anyway…]
We’re here to help. Below are female name possibilities for seven of the male name roots that parents of girls search for most.
|To Name After a...||Try...|
The Hebrew word Ben means "son," so no girls' names share the root. Allowing some space between the Be- and N offers: Bethany, Berenice, Bettina, Belinda, Bethan
Calla, Calista, Callie, Calliope, Calanthe, Calais, Caelia
Jamie, Jacqueline, Jamesina, Jamila, Jamaica, Jamiya
OK, there is no girl's name close to Jeff (or Geoff). But the "frey" part of Jeffrey could yield Freya, and it comes from the Germanic "frid" meaning peace, also found in Frida and Frederica
Kenna, Kendall, Kendra, Kennedy, Kensington, Kenya, McKenna, Kenzie, Kinneret, Kinsley
Mattea, Matilda, Mattie, Maddie, Madeline, Maddalena, Madison, Matisse
Philippa/Pippa, Philomena, Phyllida, Phyllis, Ophilia, Theophilia
|Tom/Thomas||Tamsin, Thomasina, Tomasa, Tommie, Toma|
• "Y2K" panic
• Destiny's Child ruling the radio
• "Friends" ruling television
• Palm Pilots being the height of techno cool
Yep, it's been a while since the year 2000. Long enough, in fact, that we've seen a generational turnover in baby names.
I calculated the names that have fallen the farthest since the year 2000: the names that have just turned the generational corner. If the first X-Men movie still feels recent to you, you might want to sit down for this list of "Turn of the 21st Century Throwbacks."
|NAMES THAT HAVE FALLEN THE FARTHEST SINCE THE YEAR 2000|
In theory, that list is diverse in style. It includes names short and long, old and new, biblical standards and unisex surnames. And yet, they all go together, don't they? You can feel that despite their differences, they make up a coherent set. That's the feeling of a generation. In particular, it's the generation of the 1980s-'90s, which was still ruling the roost in 2000 but has been sliding since. Here's the same list in NameVoyager graph form:
Just to be clear, there's nothing remotely wrong with these names. After all, they're a whole generation's favorite names – and, likely, names of people you know and love. What's more, they can still be considered popular. 18 of the 20 names on the list (all but Megan and Jessica) still rank among today's top 200 for boys or girls. Plenty of them are such classics that they will never fully disappear.
Yet the shape of that graph reminds us that a lot of these names that we take for granted as standards were virtually unheard of back when our parents were born. They're names that define a specific era, an era which is rapidly being supplanted on the baby name popularity charts. They're stepping aside to make way for new hits like Harper, Penelope, Bentley and Maddox, that were themselves unheard of back when the Palm Pilot was king.