Long boys' names ending in o spell romance and elegance: think Alessandro, Lorenzo and Valentino. But the same o ending on a shorter name takes on a different personality. It becomes more playful, full of energy and surprises.
The fun-loving o names are a rising style for American boys. The leader of the pack is Leo, a pint-size throwback that's as lively as a lion cub. It's joined by a rising group of old-time revivals with a similar sense of whimsy. The o energizes names like Milo and Cosmo, but unlike a -y or -ie ending it doesn't emphasize youth. The spirit of these names is ageless.
You can see the revivals' fashion momentum since the year 2000. Take a look at the U.S. popularity of...
Rising alongside these old-fashioned favorites is a new crop of -o names from farther afield. In some cases, the distance is literal. Names like Hiro from Japan and Enzo from Italy are finding a newly receptive American audience. Other lively choices like Ringo and Cairo take their cues from popular culture or place names. The styles vary, but all of them play off the punch of a short name with an -o.
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Where are baby names headed in 2017? We've selected seven names that point the way.
The names below represent a variety of hot styles, from double-t surnames to bold word names. None of them currently rank among the top 500 names boys or girls. But based on search traffic, forum chatter and trend arrows, they're good bets to be part of the next baby name wave.
Elia (F): A smooth little raindrop name from Game of Thrones? That recipe has made Arya one of the fastest-rising names in America, and Elia – as in GoT's Dornish princess Elia Martell – seems to be next in line for the throne.
Prescott (M): Double-t names like Emmett and Wyatt are one of the hottest styles around. Prescott is a buttoned-down cousin to those names, with a new jolt of energy from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Brontë (F): The surname of novelist sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne is catching on as a simple but unconventional choice for literary-minded parents.
Winston (M): Take your pick of Winstons: Legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Winston cigarettes, longtime NASCAR sponsor. Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston. Tank/hero Winston in the video game "Overwatch." That last Winston, believe it or not, may be the one that pushes this surname over the top.
Aviana/Avianna (F): With the names Ava, Arianna and Viviana all fresh hits, this name was just begging to happen. The word avian (the adjective related to birds) lends the name an extra element of fantasy.
Caoimhe (F): This Irish girl's name has the kind of sound that parents are looking for (pronounce it "Keeva"). So far, spelling has held it back. Americans are getting bolder about tackling Irish spelling, though, and Caoimhe may be hitting a turning point.
Flowery botanical names are on the rise, from classics like Rose and Lily, to modern picks like Azalea and Dahlia. But what about picks from other kinds of gardens - namely, herbs and spices? With increasingly individual options, it’s no surprise to find parents going this route already!
All of these names were used for children born last year, and many have an extensive historical record. Here are a few pretty options that are outside the top 300 - but still delicious!
Image: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock.com
Pepper. Thanks to the fabulous character in Marvel’s Iron Man reboot, the name Pepper has more than quintupled in popularity in the last six years - a superhuman feat! The name ranked once on the top 1000, in 1975, but has long been a nickname for names that start with P. Along with Piper, Poppy and Pippa, Pepper is an upbeat choice for any little one.
Cicely. Another variation of Cecilia, Cicely is a lovely name that fits in with modern trends while maintaining a historical uniqueness. The most famous Cicely is actress Tyson, though the name has also been used in classic literature. The cicely plant was eloquently praised by John Gerard in his 1597 book, Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes - “it rejoiceth and comforteth the heart and increaseth... lust and strength.”
Sorrel. Both a colorful and botanical choice, Sorrel is a rare find that works for both boys and girls. It could be a unique alternative to Sawyer or Laurel, though it may take a bit of explaining. The name has been used a few times for characters in children’s books - once brought into cultural consciousness, it would be a beautiful option.
Ginger. A vintage nickname for feminine Virginia, Ginger adds more personality and flair to a classic. It peaked in 1971, but quickly declined - could the recent trend towards retro names bring it back? Nickname Ginny could be a great option for a Harry Potter fan, but Ginger on its own is friendly and fun.
Curry. Today, the name Curry is usually preceded by Steph in conversation, but increased attention to both names has made Curry a first name option. Though it sounds like a modern savory choice, Curry has actually been recorded as far back as 1896! It’s close enough to unisex Corey or Carey to fit in on the playground, too.
Thyme. A flash-in-the-pan option chosen by parents searching for uniqueness, or a strong successor to classic herbal names like Basil and Sage? Only Thyme will tell! This name has been in recorded use since 1995, and was used for six baby girls last year.
Saffron. Stylish and sophisticated in sound, Saffron has been used quite a bit by celebrity parents and in popular culture. From Absolutely Fabulous to My Little Pony, television writers love Saffron! The saffron plant has long been used in traditional medicine and cuisines all around the world, and it’s one of the most expensive spices worldwide.
Cassia. This variety of cinnamon is far more appetizing than Cinnamon, at least in this decade - Cassia has been rising up the charts, while Cinnamon has disappeared entirely. The beautiful feminine sound, the similarities to Cassie and Cassandra, and the Biblical connection (Cassia is a variant of the name of a daughter of Job) make this choice deliciously attractive to modern parents.
Basil. From the Greek basileus, meaning “king,” Basil was a well-used choice for a long time in English-speaking countries, partially due to its connections with a few early saints. Though it’s now associated with actor Basil Rathbone and upper-class British characters in television and film, recent trends towards the retro could bring Basil back to the table.
Juniper. A worthy successor to iconic Jennifer, Juniper holds onto the name’s brisk melody but adds a natural element besides. Quite a few Juniper namesakes abound, from popular songs to children’s television shows. Plus, the nicknames June and Junie are lovely vintage options.
Rosemary. Incredibly popular from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, parents today are returning to this lovely floral name for all sorts of reasons: it aligns with the “hundred year rule,” it combines two other classic choices, and it’s botanical without being overly embellished. Rosemary (and nickname Romy) may rise to the heights of Violet!
Sage. Both a common houseplant and an adjective meaning “wise,” Sage is a simple yet memorable choice. It currently ranks at #370 for girls and #649 for boys, a unisex pick that will flatter all kinds of personalities. It also appears in Gerard’s Herball - “it quickeneth the senses and memory” - and has long been used in alternative medicine.
Cayenne. A final spicy name, and this one packs some heat - Cayenne was given to nine baby girls last year. It’s been used for both genders sporadically since 1978, and does share some aural traits with Cheyenne and Kaia. Though it will be doubtful to find two Cayenne’s in one classroom, we may see more in the future as parents seek out rare names!