25 Baby Names for Future "Men of Action"

Dec 26th 2014

Most parents look for names that sound strong and confident. Some, though, demand even more. They want their baby names turbo-charged! Enter the Men of Action.

This name style leapt out at me when I analyzed regional name trends for the Baby Name Wizard book. The names were brash and spiky, packed with X's and K's and one-syllable power punches: Ryker, Maddox, Gage, Drake. Together, they sounded ready to storm an action movie or a first-person-shooter game. But in some parts of the U.S., they're more likely to make up a preschool class list.

The Men of Action names are popular throughout the plains states, their lightning-bolt style shining in nurseries from Wyoming and North Dakota down through Oklahoma. Their dominion reaches West into Idaho and East into Tennessee and West Virginia. In Men of Action country, the x-tra dynamic spelling Jaxon is now more popular than the traditional Jackson. If that spirit calls to you, you'll find plenty of options for your own future action hero below.



























8 Hottest Baby Name Trends for 2015​​

Dec 17th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

It's out with the old and in with the new! Believe it or not, that goes for baby names too. The most popular names of 2014 paved the way for the hot baby naming trends for 2015, and if you're pregnant, or expect to be expecting sometime soon, it's time to listen up. 

We've got the biggest baby name trends for 2015 to help you pick the perfect moniker for your little one.

We consulted with naming expert Laura Wattenberg, founder of BabyNameWizard, who weighed in on the biggest upcoming trends, most popular names, and which old-time monikers are coming back. 

1. Androgyny: "Parents of girls are seeing a huge advantage," says Wattenberg. Names like JaelynAddisonDallas, which used to be exclusively boy names, have now crossed over to the unisex category (along with other names like Taylor, Alex, Jordan).

2. New Endings: Wattenberg notes that the "-tt" ending names are very much on the rise, no doubt thanks to celebs Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who named their daughter Wyatt. That's not all, though. Expect to see more names like Emmett, Elliott, Scarlett, Charlotte around in 2015.

3. 19th Century Americana: Names from the 1800s are officially back. Take Kailyn Lowry, for example, who named her her youngest son Lincoln. But it's not just the 16th president who's inspiring new names. Wattenberg also notes that names like Rhett and Wyatt (again) will be far more popular.

4. Mark It With an 'X':The Jolie-Pitts have ushered in a new trend, but plenty of celebrities have joined in. The letter "x" is more and more pronounced in names (just think Pax and Maddox, both pictured above, and little brother Knox). Earlier this year, Kristin Cavallari welcomed son Jaxon, further solidifying the trend. Get ready for more in the coming year!

5. The 'P' Is Back: While "x" is coming back for boys, "p" is back for girls. "Not since the 1950s, and the days of the Peggys and Patricias, has the letter 'P' been so popular," says Wattenberg. But now? We're welcoming it back. Could it be in part due to the Kardashian's Penelope Disick? There's no doubt about it. And another surprise name that's becoming popular? PiperOrange Is the New Black, anyone?

6. Get Us to the Greek: More Kardashian inspiration here! Wattenberg notes that Greek names are on the rise. Names like Chloe (or Khloe, a la Ms. Kardashian), Penelope (once again, the 'Dashians), Daphne, and Phoebe will be populating your daycares and classrooms soon.

7. Say Hi to the 'O': When Eva Amurri gave birth to daughter Marlowe, she justifiably started a trend. The popularity of names that end in an "o" sound without actually ending in "o" (very important distinction here) are tops at the moment. MarloweWinslow, and Margot will be even more prominent next year, says Wattenberg.

8. New Inventions: Where would we be without some completely new names? Parents are getting all the more inventive, Wattenberg notes. Instead of sticking with standard names like Trent, Levi, and Max, they're inventing brand new long-form versions. TrentonLeviathan, and Maxton are here, completely expanding your name list options.

There are a lot of letters to look out for -- which one did you use?

20 Baby Names That Are Merry and Bright

Dec 15th 2014

 baby name roundups by theme

We all mark the season in different ways, but most of us can agree that we love this time of year. Between the gift giving, candle lighting, song singing, and cocoa drinking, we're ready for a perfectly joyful holiday season and a sparkling happy new year.

If you're preparing for your own bundle of joy this time of year, you may be hoping to mark your child's entry into the world with a festive name. And while we love some of the typical holiday favorites like Holly, Joy, or Noelle, we were inspired to dig a little deeper for names that ring clear as a bell.

With bright sounds and meanings that are cheerful and brilliant, they remind us of a sunlit romp in the glimmer of a fresh snowfall. We think these refreshing, happy names are sure to spread smiles and warmth this holiday season.

  1. Aliza: With a breezy sound and a zippy "z", this lovely Hebrew name sounds as cheerful as its meaning, "joyful". Aliza may feel like a twist on names like Alice or Eliza, but it's an independent name that's much more rare.

  2. Asher: It's not often that a name finds itself in the position to appeal to a variety of styles and across different faiths, but that's exactly the case for Asher. Like Archer or Ashton, Asher has a trend-worthy sound, but it's the sturdy biblical background and beautifully simple meaning--happy--that make us jump for joy.

  3. Beatrice, Beatrix: The classical stylings of Beatrice, featured in Dante's Divine Comedy, are charming today's parents once again. The variation Beatrix sounds a bit more spunky, and carries a literary association in children's author Beatrix Potter. Both names have a bright sound and are Latin, meaning she brings joy.

  4. Blythe: An English surname coming from the word blithe, meaning "carefree, happy, light," we think Blythe is the epitome of a cheerfully fashionable name. Some may associate it with Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, or from Blithe Spirit, a comic play written in the 40s. Or, you may think of actress Blythe Danner, mother of Gwenyth Paltrow (and subsequently daughter Apple's middle name).

  5. Brighton: On the shores of Great Britain, Brighton ("bright town") is a spirited seaside resort town that some are turning into a given name. This name feels like a proper British gent with a gleaming white smile. In the bygone TV series Everwood, the character Bright Abbott's middle name was Brighton.

  6. Claire, Clara: These two names are pristine and light, with a sound as clear as their meaning ("clear, bright"). While Claire is a French-styled classic, Clara brings to mind a ringlet-haired Victorian girl, as portrayed in the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.

  7. Crispin: The sound of this name is what gives it an unmistakable clean, crisp feeling, evocative of a brisk winter's day. With similarities to names like Kingston, Christian, and Tristan, we think this Latin name is poised for more attention. Recent bearers include actor Crispin Glover and a character in the Harry Potterseries.

  8. Cyrus: While Cyrus has debated roots and meanings, the Persian word for "sun" aligns with its sunny sound perfectly. A multitude of contemporary associations, from singer/actor Billy Ray Cyrus to a character in Scandal, converge to make this name more accessible. With the cheerful nickname Cy as a possibility, it's no wonder that this name is showing lots of potential. Chosen by actor couple Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy for their son.

  9. Elena: At the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, we adore the Greek classic Helen in all her forms (there are at least more than 60). Elena happens to be the most popular right now, and we can see why: its sweeping, lyrical sounds create the style our very own Baby Name Wizard penned "liquid names". (And a certain Vampire Diaries character doesn't hurt!) Its meaning, "shining light" or "bright one" is a beautifully subtle nod to the holiday season.

  10. Felicity: A virtue name meaning "happiness", Felicity is a charming, upbeat darling that's perfect alongside Serenity and Grace. We've seen this name before in the late 90s TV show by the same name, and worn by a "spritely" American Girl doll (whose surname is, appropriately, Merriman). But Felicity remains more popular in the UK, where it's ranked at 141, compared the 579 in the US.

  11. Felix: For awhile there, Felix had a tough go of things. A cartoon cat and the neat-freak character from The Odd Couple meant parents were much less enthusiastic than they once were over this Latin name meaning "happy, fortunate". The good news is that the dip in popularity during the 20th century gave Felix a chance to sound fresh and winning once again in the 21st century.

  12. Ilaria: On a list of merry, bright names, it's a bit ironic that we're avoiding the once-beloved Hilary/Hillary, a cheerful name that has the same roots as the word hilarious. In its place, we give you Ilaria, the Italian form that transforms the now-passé Hilary to a fresh, melodic name filled with fantasia and lyricism.

  13. Jovie: With the meaning "joyful, jovial", Jovie is a sweetly cheerful name with a holiday ring to it (Jovie was Zooey Deschanel's character in the movie Elf.) It fits right in with Evelyn's "Evie" and Sophia's "Sophie", giving it a familiar but creative feel. A runner-up to Jovie may be Jolie, a French name meaning "pretty" that feels a little jolly this time of year.

  14. Lucia: An international name with "bright" written all over it, Lucia (pronounced loo-SEE-ə, LOO-shə, or loo-CHEE-ə) is a stylish choice with international flair. As a holiday bonus, the Scandinavian celebration of St. Lucia is a glowing event, with girls carrying candles and singing in procession as one is crowned with a wreath of candles on her head. Nicknames like Lulu and Lucy give this name even more charm.

  15. Miles: While it's great that this name means peaceful and calm, we chose Miles for its similarities to the word "smile". It may be a surprising connection, but we discovered that many parents who chose this name found that they love this happy little coincidence. Anagrams aside, Miles has a cheerful sound with a little bit of jazz influence and it's sure to please.

  16. Phoebe: This winsome Greek name means clear and bright, and its lighthearted demeanor and cross-cultural associations have made it an offbeat classic. Helped back into fashion by the character on Friends followed by Charmed, parents will continue to sing this name's praises long after we first heard "Smelly Cat". It's hard to go wrong with a gorgeous, intriguing, and moonlit name with roots in Greek mythology and mentions in the Bible.

  17. Samson: A robust Biblical name with a stronger-than-steel image, Samson's swagger is balanced by its bright meaning, "sun," and the friendly nicknames it affords (Sam, Sammy). It's started to make some strides in popularity, but this brilliant choice remains outside of the top 500 boys' names.

  18. Silvan, Sylvan: Silvan comes from a Latin word meaning "of the forest, woods," which brings to mind a snowy scene this time of year, but its the silvery sound that sparkles with holiday cheer. The ending imparts a masculine sturdiness, though the feminine forms Sylvie and Sylvia have given some parents pause. We think this name is all too rare, given its magnetic sound and nature-inspired meaning.

  19. Stella: Drawing from the popularity of names like Ella and Isabella, parents rediscovered this otherworldly "star" in the past decade. Now a top 100 hit, Stella's come a long way from Marlon Brando's tearful cry in A Streetcar Named Desire. This pretty, twinkling name is a favorite chosen by celebs like Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Paul McCartney and many more.

  20. Tate: It's hard to top the unabashed happiness of a sweet and simple name like Tate, which appropriately means "cheerful". This English surname is cute and underused, making it a refreshing choice that will fit the bill for a one-syllable charmer.

Are you expecting a holiday baby? What names bring you cheer this time of year?