|TOP GIRLS' NAMES BY STATE, 2016|
|TOP BOYS' NAMES BY STATE, 2016|
The boy's name that ranks #1 in the most states is not Noah but Liam, with William (which can yield the nickname Liam) second most common. For girls Emma takes the most states at 16, and the a-ending trio of Emma, Olivia and Ava account for the top spots in 40 states from coast to coast.
The top regional trend is Oliver's reign over the upper Midwest and West. Oliver is the #1 choice of Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin, but doesn't crack the top 3 anywhere in the Southeast. In an interesting demographic pattern, surnames are most favored in rural areas across the country. Harper, for instance, is the top girl's name in Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, and Wyatt cracks the top 3 for boys in Wyoming and Vermont.
Finally, a symbolic moment of change: John no longer ranks among the top 3 boys' names anywhere in America.
More from the most popular names stats:
Bold. Powerful. Audacious. If this year's fast-rising baby names had a theme, it was "no limits." Parents are no longer afraid to go big, choosing names that past generations didn't dare consider. From kings and gods to superheroes and even supervillains, we've entered an age of unprecedented baby name boldness.
Images: flickr/milst1, pottermore.com
What does that boldness look like? To start with, the names below all ranked among the top 1,000 names for boys or girls last year, all rising in popularity from the year before:
Royal (F, M))
And here's a sampling of some fast risers outside the top 1,000:
Divine (F, M)
Kaiser (F, M)
Lex (F, M)
Majesty (F, M)
Sovereign (F, M)
I've written before about the rise of "exalted names" that suggest royalty and divinity. I described them as names crafted to inspire and celebrate, "demanding that this child will be valued and respected." I stand by that description, but this year's rapid rise of power names on the dark side (like Lucifer, Bellatrix and the #1 fastest-rising boy's name Kylo) points to a broader phenomenon.
The name lists above cast a wide net. Ace, Messiah, Dionysus, Majestic, Kal-El and Jezebel are all over the cultural and stylistic map. Individually, each represents a single family's heartfelt decision with a personal story behind it. Collectively, they may well signal a fundamental shift in the enterprise of naming babies.
Over the past generation, parents turned away from the idea of a "normal name": the assumption that we choose our babies' names from an established pool of options. This freer attitude led to a flowering of new hit names. We saw more foreign imports like Giovanni; surnames like Cassidy; place names like Brooklyn; and sound-based inventions like Jayla. Each pushed the envelope gently, forging new territory while staying tethered to the traditional.
The new names break the tether. You can almost hear parents thinking, "I could actually do that. I could choose…anything." It's a veritable explosion of ambition, thrills, and raw id. We're naming with the safety off. Full throttle, full bore, no limits.
Read More: Baby Names Are Getting Ready to Rule
The fastest-rising girls' names of 2016 all sat at the intersection of celebrity and style. They were sparked by famous connections, but they're also perfect fits with the kinds of name sounds parents were already looking for.
The singer Kehlani placed three singles high on the R&B charts in 2016. With her cross-genre musical style, multiethnic background, and eye-catching look heavy on tattoos and piercings, she makes a statement as a baby-name style setter.
But as always, celebrity-driven baby names are as much about name as fame. Three-syllable names ending in -ani are soaring. The #1 fastest riser outside the top 1000 was Yurani (a telenovela character). Meilani was one of last year's fastest risers. And consider, too, how much Kehlani resembles this year's fastest-rising boy's name. Follow the sound.
Last year's #1 fastest riser is proving it's a legitimate phenomenon. Boosted by the film "The Age of Adaline," this sweet old-timer is officially back. The spelling Adeline (see #4 below) overtook Madeline in popularity for the first time this year.
The name of a daughter of singer Chris Brown, Royalty is just one of a bumper crop of exalted word names climbing the charts. From Amazing to Zeus, any name that puts the baby on a pedestal is a likely hit.
(see Adaline above)
Actress Amy Adams named her daughter Aviana, inspired by the Aviano Air Base in Italy where she lived as a child. It doesn't take a personal connection to see the name's appeal, though. In December when we highlighted Aviana & Avianna as new names to watch for, we said: "With the names Ava, Arianna and Viviana all fresh hits, this name was just begging to happen."
…and the rest of the top 10: