The fastest-rising names, though, are moving in a different direction -- and brand new names in the statistics point to a wide-open baby name future.
The Fastest-Rising Names In England and Wales:
(Among all names given to 100 or more babies, calculated by the BabyNameWizard hotness formula)
Overall, the flavor is surprisingly American. The top spots for both sexes are traditional surnames, a style that has been much more popular in the U.S. than the U.K. Other names like Bodhi and Elsa are repeats from the America's hottest names lists. Parents in England and Wales have also caught the "Jax" wave that already hit our shores; Jaxson, Jaxon and Jax all rank among the 20 fastest-rising boys' names.
The fast rise of Freddie, though, shows that the two nations still have their own distinctive styles. Cute, old-fashioned nicknames continue to soar in the U.K., with Teddy, Albie, Lenny and Bertie hot for boys and Marnie, Elsie, Effie, Penny, Nancy and Lottie for girls. Some more formal old-timers are also finding their youth in England, with Chester, Arlo, Frank, Thea and Edith among the fast risers.
The Hottest Brand-New Baby Names
The cutting edge of style is the brand-new. This year, scores of names that didn't even register in last year's stats leapt up into England's top 1000 names lists, with hundreds more knocking on the door. Many of these brand-new names are destined to vanish again, but others are the vanguard of coming trends. The highest-ranking newcomers in England and Wales, like the fastest risers, were surnames:
#1 New Girl's Name: Everly (#699)
#1 New Boy's Name: Darcy (#650)
Other newcomer names on the list showcase the U.K.'s ethnic and stylistic diversity. They include neglected British classics like Jane and Stuart, global favorites like Sulayman and Tymoteusz, science fiction and fantasy inspirations like Inara and Eren (and Tyrell and Renesmee), and Welsh and Cornish names like Ifan and Elowen. More notable newcomers to look out for:
Girls: Noa, Aida, Myra, Lorelei, Nola, Gaia, Karis, Luciana, Petra, Bibi, Cassia, Pandora, Lulu, Davina, Prudence
Boys: Lyle, Karl, Cormac, Fionn, Corben, Rome, Wilf, Odin, Lyndon, Roscoe, Frederic, Fox, Ivor, Caius, Ziggy, Griff
Do you see any of these names catching on in the United States? Is the U.K. ahead of the curve on Chester, Edith, Ivor and Lulu, or are those names destined to stay on their own side of the Atlantic?
More fast-rising names:
Do you think you know this year's presidential candidates? Try this: what are Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal's first names? Bonus points for Jeb Bush or Rick Perry's.
It wasn't always this way. Ronald Reagan didn't run under the banner "Ron!" Most candidates for high office presented themselves formally as professionals, not as drinking buddies or Broadway musicals. Today, though, full birth names are endangered species on the campaign trail.
The most common approach is to campaign under a nickname to seem friendly and approachable:
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson
Christopher James "Chris" Christie
Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz
Cara Carleton "Carly" Fiorina
James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III
Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee
Piyush "Bobby" Jindal
Randal Howard "Rand" Paul
James Richard "Rick" Perry
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders
Richard John "Rick" Santorum
Of those dozen candidates, only Bernie Sanders permits his legal first name to appear anywhere on his official campaign site and bio. Some of the nicknamers even stuck to their guns on their official government filing forms. The Federal Election Commision asks for "Name of Candidate (in full)," but Bush, Jindal and Fiorina all registered with the Federal Election Commision under their nicknames.
The flight from formality is starting to chase surnames from the campaign trail, too. Bush, Fiorina, Paul, Sanders and Hillary Clinton routinely campaign on a first-name-only basis. Bush has even styled himself as "Jeb!", suggesting an entertainment extravaganza. In Bush's case, along with Paul and Clinton, part of the motivation for moving away from surnames is surely to distinguish the candidates from their political relatives. Yet past candidates who with famous political surnames like Franklin Roosevelt and Robert Kennedy ran with their surnames in full view. The examples of Sanders and Fiorina further show that the first-name movement has momentum of its own.
The names that candidates run under today range from routine childhood nicknames to calculated political messages. Some highlights:
- In the 1990s and 2000s, you might have read about technology executive Carleton S. Fiorina in the business pages. This formal, masculine-sounding name shaped a professional persona in a male-dominated industry, as opposed to Fiorina's legal first name Cara or nickname Carly. In her subsequent forays into politics, Fiorina abandoned the formal name and became full-time Carly. The home page of her presidential campaign site, carlyforamerica.com, doesn't even reveal her surname.
- Growing up in the 1970s young Piyush Jindal, a son of recent immigrants from India, shared a passion with many other kids of his generation: The Brady Bunch. His favorite character was the youngest Brady son Bobby, and at age 4 he insisted on being called Bobby himself. It stuck, and Jindal has been exclusively Bobby ever since.
- Marco Rubio, lacking nickname options, has approached his name very literally as a brand. His campaign materials drop conventional name elements like capitalization and spacing. The resulting logo, presented in a modern, minimalist font, could work just as well for a line of designer casualwear: "marcorubio."
- Hillary Rodham Clinton's first name has never changed, but her surname has been tweaked and analyzed like no other. As a newly married lawyer in the 1970s she chose to retain the surname Rodham in to separate her career from that of her husband, an aspiring politician named Bill Clinton. She later took on the name Clinton during one of Bill's gubernatorial campaigns, to appeal to the sensibilities of Arkansas voters. (A rival named Frank White had campaigned on the fact that his wife was called "Mrs. Frank White.")
When Bill Clinton became president, the first lady's three-part "HRC" name became a subject of public debate. Polls have even shown different levels of electoral support among various groups for "Hillary Clinton" vs. "Hillary Rodham Clinton." As a presidential candidate, her reaction has been to avoid surnames altogether and campaign simply as Hillary.
The overall message from this presidential slate is that in politics, names are now signals to be custom-tailored to an audience. Right now that tailoring is ultra-casual, but fashions can change. I'm reminded of a popular test that parents give to potential baby names, trying out the full name after a title like "Governor" or "Senator" to make sure it sounds suitably serious and stately. They might do better to target flexibility, with multiple nickname options and first and middle names of contrasting styles. Then if politics comes calling, their kids can adjust their names to the prevailing wind.
Names that are on your A-list may be looking all too familiar. Alexander, Ava, Amelia, Abigail, Avery, Aubrey, and Aiden and are all gorgeous choices, but they are all in the top 20 right now. So if you’re in the market for something more unusual, we found names that are both grounded and unexpected, and they will all earn you an A in baby naming.
Acacia: More than another floral name, Acacia is a unique Greek beauty with a history that dates back to biblical times. Today, it’s officially the name of the Australian tree which bears bold, yellow flowers and is the national floral emblem of the continent. It’s an Aussie icon with a gorgeous sound that’s refreshing to American ears.
Ailsa: The Scottish rocky islet named Ailsa Craig has created an inventive name that now feels like a twist on Frozen’s Elsa. With its striking long A- beginning (think Ava), Ailsa is charming and a bit surprising, but completely on-trend.
Alethea: (ah-LEE-thee-ə, ah-leh-THEE-ə) A four-syllable delight, Alethea has Greek roots and came into fashion among Brits in the 1700s because of its honorable meaning - truth. Here in America, Alethea has never taken off, even though its sound is equally as sweet and dignified. It comes with darling short forms like Alie and Thea.
Apollonia: The Latin form of the male name Apollonios, she has a saintly namesake as well as an ‘80s singer and a character from The Godfather to round out her claims to fame. But Apollonia is still an elaborate, unexpected choice despite those deep roots...that go all the way back to Apollo.
Ariadne: (a-ree-AD-ne) Steeped in Greek mythology, this ancient name is surprisingly playground friendly. The spelling may cause a few furrowed brows at first, but the rhythm and flow of this name is right up there with tried-and-true choices like Ariana and Ariella. Nickname options could include Ari or Ree.
Astrid: Quirky is definitely a good descriptive word for this Scandinavian name, but then again, so is glamorous. Astrid's royal heritage and mythic overtones give her a strong, feminine spirit; something the film writers of How To Train Your Dragon noted when they created a character bearing this name for the movies.
Aurelia: If you love old fashioned gem names, the off-the-beaten-path Aurelia affords an ancient alternative, with its roots in Latin meaning “golden”. It’s also a fantastic choice along the lines of Ariella and Ariel.
Avis: In comparison with Ava and Avery, Avis is wildly exotic. It has Norman French roots and an energetic sound that’s ripe for today, but the car rental company may be holding some back. (Just not Daniel Baldwin, whose daughter Avis was born in 2008.)
Alaric: A sturdy germanic name that is far from stale, Alaric is ancient, lyrical, and noble...and nobody seems to care. Only when we look beyond the top 1,000 names do we find that Alaric may be gaining ground, slowly but (un)surely.
Alban: A masculine answer to Alba, this Latin name means white and honors a saint as well as several places in the ancient Roman Empire. It's very unique, simple and stately, and it can be sweetly shortened to Albie.
Algernon: It’s French, refined, and literally wears a moustache. If you’re looking for an ironic gentlemanly name, you’ve found it. Algernon is familiar as a few noteworthy characters: the lab mouse in Flowers for Algernon, and an aptly named wealthy bachelor in the classic play The Importance of Being Earnest.
Alistair: You’d surprise a few people with this choice, though this debbonaire Scottish Gaelic form of Alexander is not unfamiliar. Three kings of Scotland give this name a royal air, making it that much more distinguished.
Alton: An English surname turned modern given name, Alton is a rare choice along the lines of Ashton or Dalton. After hitting a high point in 1900, Alton declined until it parted ways with most parents’ list of favorites. But Alton has promise once again, and a cool factor that Elton could only dream of.
Ambrose: Desperately old fashioned and eccentrically intriguing, Ambrose was dropped like it was hot after the turn of the 20th century. So we’re taking our cues from the “bros” in the last half of this name and calling it a fresh old-fashioned gentlemanly gem.
Angus: The decidedly Scottish name Angus is beginning to break free of its beef-related associations. While not a top 1,000 name, Angus comes with the trend-worthy short form Gus, which may make this unique choice more appealing for today.
Atlas: This bold name from Greek mythology is gaining ground and losing its weightiness as more parents branch out in search of a legendary and fashionable A- name that’s fit for greatness. Atlas was the name of choice for Edward Norton’s son, as well as Anne Heche and James Tupper’s son (whose older brother is named Homer).