We've entered the Age of the Mix-and-Match Name. That's message emerging from the year's fastest-rising girls' names. While the total list is full of variety, the very hottest names point in a clear style direction.
The fastest risers in the girls' top-1000 list:
Ensley, Oaklynn/Oaklyn and Emberly.
The fastest risers outside the top 1000:
Camreigh, Brennley, and Emryn.
These names share more than sound and style. They share a sensibility, a whole approach to naming. They're clearly inspired by the place names, surnames, and "andro-girly" names that have become 21st-century staples. But rather than just repurposing an existing name, names like Oaklynn and Camreigh are built Lego-style, snapping together fashionable elements to build something entirely new, yet familiar.
Let's take a closer look at the fast-rising names.
#1: Ensley. Teen Mom strikes again! No tv show focuses more on the birth of babies, and thus their names. The series continues its powerhouse run of launching hit names, in this case the new daughter of controversial star Jenelle Evans.
#2, #3: Oaklynn, Oaklyn. A little bit Oakley, a little bit Brooklyn, 100% the sound of the moment. The name Oaklee also cracked the top-1000 list for the first time.
#4: Emberly. First the name Ember took off as a fiery update on Amber's golden glow. Now it's one of the hottest new mix-and-match roots. The character Grace Emberly of the tv series Frontier has helped boost this version, but be on the look out for Emberlyn as well.
Dream Kardashian. Image: Instagram/blacchyna
#5: Dream. Teen Mom may rule the roost in reality tv baby names, but never overlook the Kardashian clan. Dream is the young daughter of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.
And more notable risers:
#7: Octavia, as in Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer.
#9: Melania, as in first-lady Melania Trump. (Americans are no longer willing to name after political leaders--the name Donald fell--but their family members are seen as simple celebrities and are fair game.)
#10: Samara, as in actress Samara Weaving, but more importantly Samara Morgan, the deadly child in the horror movie The Ring. Demon spawn are reliable baby name hit-makers.
America has a new #1 boy's name. Liam joins returning girls' favorite Emma as the new reigning King and Queen of Baby Names. And Liam might be even more popular than it seems: it is also used as a nickname for William, which ranks #3.
In a milestone, past longtime #1's Michael and Emily have fallen out of the top 10. Newcomers to the list are mostly multisyllabic antiques: Oliver for boys and Amelia and Evelyn for girls. But there's one big exception: Logan, after a year where that name was everywhere, notably in the film titles "Logan" and "Logan Lucky."
The new top 10 baby names in America:
The biggest name stories, though, are still to come. This is an era of individuality in baby naming, with tons of change outside the top 10. Stay tuned for the fastest risers and fallers, the most surprising and revealing new names, and the full top-1,000 name list (with last year's ranks for comparison). Follow here and on Twitter: twitter.com/BabyNameWizard
This Friday, May 11, the new baby name year begins. The U.S. government is releasing the annual name popularity statistics, and I'm expecting a lot of name news to talk about.
I hope you'll join us here to talk about the new top names, the fastest risers, broad trends in naming, and the inevitable eye-opening surprises. (Remember that last year's fastest-rising name was Kylo, as in the lethal Kylo Ren of Star Wars!) I'll be posting frequently, and the BabyNameWizard user community—here and in our forums—is full of the smartest, funniest and most knowledgeable name enthusiasts you'll ever meet. Please come to ask advice, check out the news, or just talk about names and trends.
On to Name Week!