Meet the Baby Name Pool Champion

Jun 1st 2015

Our tenth annual competition to predict rising and falling names is in the books, and it's time to honor those who have their finger on the pulse of baby name style. This year, we're honoring our youngest-ever Baby Name Pool champion. Madison is a 17-year-old high school junior from Long Beach, California. This naming prodigy triumphed by predicting...

Rising names: Lincoln (M), Mabel (F), Everly (F)

Falling names: Adele (F), Rihanna (F), Bentley (M)

Each of those names moved in the direction Madison predicted -- no small feat in a contest that yields a lot of negative scores. Her top-scoring choice was Everly, the third-fastest rising girl's name of the year.

Like many of us, Madison describes herself as a name enthusiast who has been fascinated with names since she was a young girl. "Over the years my lists have become more refined (my favorites used to include Trixi, Auburn, and Hendrix), but the interest remained. I went from simply compiling lists to following and understanding trends, much to your blog'a help! I really believe names have the power to shape a persons life, and that a name is the most important gift you can give your child."

Since Madison represents the next generation of namers, you might be intrigued to hear her own current favorite baby names: "Beth, Clara and Robin for girls, and Walter, Adam and Foster for boys."

Please join me in a round of applause for our champion!

I'd also like to recognize a second pool entrant, Caitlin of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Caitlin is a past honoree who submitted a remarkable set of predictions, showing a great ear for new celebrity-driving names and fading nationwide trends:

Rising names: Lupita (F), Dalary (F), Elsa (F)

Falling names: Tyler (M), Jayden (M), Brianna (F)

This entry didn't officially qualify for the contest because two of the rising name predictions didn't crack the top thousand for boys or girls. But if it had, Caitlin's score would have blown away all other ballots (yes, even mine).

Thank you to all who participated in this year's Pool. It's never too early to start planning your ballot for next year!


The 10 Most Surprising Brand Names That Became Baby Names

May 28th 2015

Luxury brand names are always hopping the fence into baby name territory. Thousand of babies have been named Lexus and Armani since the '90s, and it's a safe bet that the '70s-'80s generation of Tiffanys wasn't inspired by St. Theophania.

But soft drinks? Cosmetics? Toilet paper? The everyday products of our lives don't serve as baby name inspiration...unless the name is just right.

Below are 10 brand names that demonstrate the power of pure sound and style, and parents' readiness to pick up an attractive name wherever they may find it. Each name has registered on the U.S. national baby name statistics, meaning it was given to at least 5 boys or girls in a single year. 

Charmin (F) — This baby name was most popular during the '70s heyday of Charmin toilet  paper's "don't squeeze the Charmin" ad campaign.


Velveeta (F) — The processed cheese product that melts smooth as velvet. Made the name charts repeatedly in the late 1950s.

Pepsi (F) —The creator of Pepsi Cola named his drink after the enzyme pepsin, to emphasize its healthy tonic properties. As a baby name, Pepsi peaked in the mid 1970s.

Ikea (F&M) — The global pre-fab furniture maker opened its first U.S. store in 1985. The name Ikea hit the U.S. girls' name charts the same year, and rose for several years as the  chain expanded. At its peak in 1989, Ikea made the boys' charts, too.

Adidas (M) —The name of the athletic apparel maker comes from its founder, Adolf "Adi" Dassler. Adidas hit the baby name charts for a string of years in the 1980s.

Trivia (F) — This unlikely yet attractive name peaked in 1984, the peak year of the Trivial Pursuit game craze.

Clinique (F) —The Estee Lauder company launched Clinique as "the first dermatologist-created line of beauty products." The name is French for "clinical," but it has appeared occasionally on baby name charts as parents focus more on the beauty connection and the Monique-like sound rather than the literal meaning.

Dasani (F&M) —The name Dasani was created by the Coca-Cola Company for its bottled water product, introduced in 1999. The name debuted in the stats for both boys and girls that very year. More than a thousand babies have been named  Dasani since then, making it the most popular name on this list.)

Tonka (M) — The Tonka toy company was founded near Lake Minnetonka (from the Dakota for "big water"). The iconic toy truck name hit the boys' list in 1973.

Subaru (M) —The carmaker took the name Subaru, meaning "govern" or "unite," from the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster which is pictured in its logo.  Subaru made its first appearance on the American baby names list in 2013.


25 Names for Boys Whose Initials Make Great Nicknames

May 26th 2015

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.


When choosing a baby's name, pondering the initials isn't always an afterthought. Sometimes, they can become a focal point for parents who crave an initial-based nickname like A.J., J.R., or P.T. And these punchy initial names are particularly popular for boys.

"Initials have the fun, informal style of classic nicknames, but with extra energy," explains Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert and founder of BabyNameWizard. "They're not diminutives -- compare the nickname T.J. to Timmy -- so they grow up well."

In case you're looking for such a combo, keep a few rules in mind: "It's all about rhythm," says Wattenberg. "And one-syllable names are the key. They're hugely popular as middle names to go with a longer first name, and it can work in the other direction, too."

To get your gears turning, here are a few two-name combos with cute initial nicknames to consider:


Albert James -- A strong, classic name with German and Latin roots.  

Alexander Joel -- Long first names often pair well with shorter seconds, which makes this Greek-themed combo a winner.

Ashton Jacob -- Ashton, a "place name" derived from a town in England, gets a good rhythm going with this Latin middle name.


Cameron Jett -- This zippy middle name adds zing to a long Scottish first name.

Colby Jarrett -- An Old Norse first name meets an English middle for a sophisticated combo.

Cole Jamison -- A simple first name pairs well with this longer, more lyrical English name in the middle.


Drew Jackson -- Drew is short for Andrew, but the surname-derived Jackson gives it weight ... and how cool is it to raise a baby DJ?

Dylan Julius -- The l's in each name add a lyrical quality.


Jayden Dean -- Jayden, a combination of Jacob and Aidan, rose to popularity thanks to Will Smith's son; Dean provides a gentle echo.

Jasper Dax -- One of the Three Wise Men had the first name, while the middle means "leader."

Jonah David -- A classic biblical combo with a snappy nickname when you use the initials.


John Junior -- if you want your husband's name passed down but worry about the ensuing confusion, J.J. is the perfect way to tell them apart!

Jeremiah James -- A long first name pairs well with a short, stately middle one.


John Paul -- Naming your kid after the Pope has to bode well for his future, right?

James Patrick -- Patrick, named after the patron saint of Ireland, pairs well with this solid first name.

Jean Pierre -- These two French names go together like peanut butter and jelly. 


James Roderick -- Reality star Rosie Pope chose this name for her son; the middle name is German for "ruler."


Justin Thomas -- A masculine, Latin-derived name with the double s's adding a hint of breeziness.


Mason James -- This masculine, yet unusual, first name goes well with a more classic middle one, plus the "a" sound provides a nice echo.


Preston Philip -- The first is an English place name that you don't hear too often, the second is for an English royal -- perfect for any Anglophile.

Paxton James -- Paxton is hot due to Angelina Jolie, while the middle name maintains a classic streak.


Phineas Taylor -- This was beloved circus founder P.T. Barnum's full name, so your kid will have some fun-loving shoes to fill. 


Robert John -- A classic male name combo with a jazzy two-initial nickname.


Travis Jordan -- This first name, French for "to cross," meshes well with this middle name which means "to flow." 

Tanner Kendrick -- English and Scottish surnames combine for a unique name that can be shortened to a cute nickname.

How do you feel about nicknames derived from initials?

Images via exopixel/shutterstock