The 21 Most Utterly Geektastic Baby Names of the Year

May 18th 2015


There are geek names, and then there are geek names. Plenty of fanboys and fangirls take baby name inspiration from favorite characters, but for most the choice is subtle. You can name your son Malcom after Firefly's Captain Mal Reynolds and your in-laws will be none the wiser.

Today, we acknowledge those parents who have taken a bolder step into fandom, daring to go where few names have gone before. Each of the proudly geeky names below was given to at least five American babies last year.


Image via kazz.0/Flicker

NAME (SEX, NUMBER BORN IN 2014)

Anakin (M, 218) : Darth Vader now ranks among the top 1,000 names for boys. The Empire has won.

Eevee (F, 24) : A genetically flexible fox-like Pokemon. A Pokemon!!!

Ender (M, 118)  : Naming after Ender Wiggin of Ender's Game gives your child an early introduction to life's moral complexities.

Stark (M, 20) : This name could solve baby-name arguments in mixed marriages between a Marvel loyalist and a Game of Thrones fan: "Iron Man wants you to know that Winter is Coming."

Sephiroth (M, 7) : The archvillain of the game Final Fantasy VII, with his long black coat and flowing silver hair, is the epitome of evil fashion.

Kal-El (M, 257) : Phew. In a baby-name faceoff of good versus evil, Superman (born Kal-El) outranks Darth Vader (born Anakin).

Tron (M, 11) : The 1982 film TRON transports us into the heart of a computer, where an artificial intelligence called Tron takes the form of a glowing Bruce Boxleitner.

Quorra (F, 26) : In the 2010 sequel TRON: Legacy, Quorra is a skilled pilot and warrior -- unusual skill sets for an algorithm.

Draco(M, 42) : A Death Eater with a name that means "dragon." Don't mess with this infant.

Garrus (M, 9) : Most names from action games are more macho than geeky, but it helps that Mass Effect's Garrus Vakarian is a raptor-headed alien.

Jadzia (F, 19) : Jadzia Dax of Star-Trek: Deep Space Nine shares her mind with a symbiotic organism. Two for the price of one! (On Earth Jadzia is also a Polish nickname, but its American usage started with Deep Space Nine.)

Korra (F, 87) : The element bender of the animated series "The Legend of Korra" nearly dies fighting for peace, but does gain a cute girlfriend along the way.

Tidus (M, 43) : The protagonist of Final Fantasy X, Tidus is the rare video game hero who is regularly described as "cheerful."

Lando (M, 9) : In the original Star Wars trilogy, Lando Calrissian is a charming gambler and smuggler -- basically like Han Solo, but way better at it.

Tyrion (M, 60) : The "imp" Tyrion is the heart (or perhaps the brain) of Game of Thrones.

Winry (F, 32) : If you need a prosthetic limb repaired, Winry Rockbell of Fullmetal Alchemist is your woman.

Xena (F, 71) : Xena the Warrior Princess injected the familiar underdressed-warrior-woman trope with a new element: humanity. This is a name that kicks butt, with feeling.

Tauriel (F, 20) : Ooh, we're off canon! This attractively named elf from The Hobbit movie wasn't in Tolkein's book. And in other Hobbit book vs. movie news...

Thorin (M, 112) : ...note that these babies were named for dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield before the final installment of the movie came out. Hopefully the parents read the book and knew what they (and Thorin) were in for.

Loki (M, 111) : The trickster god Loki is an age-old fixture of Norse myth, but nobody named after him until he became a snazzy Marvel supervillain.

Jedi (M, 21) : The force is with these youngsters.

The Most Popular Baby Names in Each State, 2014

May 14th 2015

 

The Social Security Administration has announced the most popular names in each state. Here are the top names from coast to coast (a brief analysis is below):

TOP GIRLS' NAMES BY STATE, 2014
State 1st 2nd 3rd
Alabama Ava Emma Olivia
Alaska Emma Olivia Sophia
Arizona Sophia Emma    Mia
Arkansas Emma Olivia Ava
California Sophia Isabella    Emma
Colorado Olivia Emma Sophia
Connecticut Olivia Emma Sophia
Delaware Sophia Ava Emma
D.C. Elizabeth Olivia Ava
Florida Isabella    Sophia Emma
Georgia Olivia Ava Emma
Hawaii Emma Mia Sophia
Idaho Emma Olivia Charlotte
Illinois Olivia Emma Sophia
Indiana Emma Olivia Ava
Iowa Emma Olivia Harper
Kansas Olivia Emma Harper
Kentucky Emma Ava Olivia
Louisiana Emma Ava Olivia
Maine Emma Olivia Charlotte
Maryland Olivia Ava Emma
Massachusetts Emma Olivia Isabella
Michigan Olivia Emma Ava
Minnesota Olivia Emma Evelyn
Mississippi Ava Emma Olivia
Missouri Emma Olivia Ava
Montana Emma Harper Sophia
Nebraska Olivia Emma Harper
Nevada Emma Sophia Isabella
New Hampshire Olivia Charlotte  Sophia
New Jersey Sophia Olivia Emma
New Mexico Mia Sophia Isabella
New York Sophia Olivia Emma
North Carolina Ava Emma Olivia
North Dakota Harper Emma Olivia
Ohio Emma Olivia Ava
Oklahoma Emma Olivia Harper
Oregon Emma Olivia Sophia
Pennsylvania Emma Olivia Ava
Rhode Island Olivia Ava Emma
South Carolina Emma Ava Olivia
South Dakota Harper Ava Olivia
Tennessee Emma Olivia Ava
Texas Emma Sophia Isabella
Utah Olivia Emma Charlotte
Vermont Emma Olivia Sophia
Virginia Emma Olivia Ava
Washington Olivia Emma Sophia
West Virginia Sophia Emma Olivia
Wisconsin Olivia Emma Ava
Wyoming Olivia Brooklyn  Emma

 

TOP BOYS' NAMES BY STATE, 2014
State 1st 2nd 3rd
Alabama William James John
Alaska Liam James Noah
Arizona Noah Liam Alexander
Arkansas Mason William Noah
California Noah Jacob Ethan
Colorado Liam Noah Jackson
Connecticut Mason Noah Alexander  
Delaware Liam Michael Mason
D.C. Alexander   William John
Florida Noah Liam Jacob
Georgia William Mason Noah
Hawaii Liam Mason Noah
Idaho Liam William Mason
Illinois Noah Alexander   William
Indiana Liam Noah Elijah
Iowa Liam William Mason
Kansas William Liam Noah
Kentucky William Elijah James
Louisiana Mason Liam Noah
Maine Liam Mason Owen
Maryland Noah Liam William
Massachusetts Benjamin William Jacob
Michigan Liam Noah Mason
Minnesota Henry William Liam
Mississippi William James John
Missouri Liam William Mason
Montana William Benjamin Mason
Nebraska Liam Mason Noah
Nevada Noah Daniel Ethan
New Hampshire Jacob Mason Jackson
New Jersey Michael Matthew Joseph
New Mexico Noah Liam Elijah
New York Jacob Liam Ethan
North Carolina William Mason Noah
North Dakota Liam Mason William
Ohio Liam Mason Noah
Oklahoma William Mason Liam
Oregon Liam Henry Noah
Pennsylvania Mason Liam Noah
Rhode Island Mason Liam Benjamin
South Carolina William James Mason
South Dakota Liam Lincoln Logan
Tennessee William Mason Elijah
Texas Noah Jacob Daniel
Utah William Liam James
Vermont Liam Mason Oliver
Virginia William Liam Mason
Washington Liam Benjamin Alexander
West Virginia Mason Liam Hunter
Wisconsin Mason Liam William
Wyoming Jackson Mason William

Two girls' names, Emma and Olivia, dominate from coast to coast. Emma ranked among the top three in 48 states, Olivia in 42. Other widespread hits include Ava (21), Sophia (19), Harper (7), Isabella (6) and Charlotte (4). Evelyn was a distinctive choice in Minnesota, and Brooklyn in Wyoming.

Harper appears to be the most regionalized hit for girls. The states where it ranks highly make up a solid block heading North from Oklahoma up through Montana and North Dakota.

The country is much less unanimous on boys' names.  Liam makes the most appearances on the list with 32, while the nationwide #1 boys' name, Noah, appears only 23 times. Other popular choices: Mason (27), William (24), James (6) and Alexander (5). Local highlights include Henry in Minnesota and Oregon, Jackson in Wyoming, Matthew and Joseph in New Jersey, and Hunter in West Virginia.

Perhaps the biggest story on the boys' list is what's missing. Jacob and Michael, the two dominant names of the past generation, combine for only 8 appearances.

More from the most popular names stats:

The Top 1000 Names in America

The Fastest-Rising Names For Girls

The Fastest-Rising Names For Boys

The Big Trend: The Great Smoothing of American Names

 

Goodbye "J"? The Great Smoothing of American Baby Names

May 11th 2015

The biggest trend in baby names doesn't come from Hollywood, or the Bible, or anywhere on a map. It's not about meanings or origins or aspirations. It's about pure sound. Take a look at which initial letters rose and fell this past year in American baby name choices:

The initials that rose the fastest were E, L, O, A, H, R, W. The fastest fallers: Z, S, D, B, K, T, J. Try pronouncing those two lists like words and you'll see how different they sound and feel.

In the past I've identified specific smooth name styles on the rise, like "raindrop names," but this trend is looking bigger. It's a literal sound of the times, a smoothing out of a whole generation of names. Just look at the plummeting letter J on the far right of the chart above. From John to James to Jeffrey to Jason to Jayden (not to mention Joan, Janet, Jennifer and Jessica), J has been a perennial staple of American name style. This year it fell to an all-time historic low, as you see in this graph from the NameVoyager.

J is hardly alone. All of rough-edged initials (stops, fricatives, etc.) are declining year by year:

While names starting with vowels soar:

That's just initials. Looking to the ends of names, smooth letters like A, N and R dominate as well. The parents who do buck that tide seem to be looking for a "exclamation point": a quick, crisp close like TT or X, nothing too heavy. When was the last time you met a baby whose name ended in D?

(These graphs of end letters and letter combinations were created with the Expert NameVoyager. You can sign up for free to use our expert tools!)

My guess is that there's still more smoothing ahead for American baby names. The tide won't turn until we're saturated in silky-smooth names, so that chunkier sounds start to sound fresh to the next naming generation. For a glimpse of that future, I recently heard some middle-school girls discussing name they thought was really pretty: Bernadette.

 

More on the new name trends: