Your baby won't be a baby forever. The name you choose for her today may sound very different ten years down the line. If only we had a crystal ball to tell us which of today's creative name choices are destined to become tomorrow's favorites. Maybe -- just maybe -- we do.
When I looked at the results of the Freakonomics baby name predictions, I noted that they would have done better simply picking all of the names that were already rising steadily. I've fine-tuned that approach today to predict the popular baby names of the decade to come.
Each of the names below has risen in usage for 10 years in a row, with the rise growing in the most recent year. I've eliminated any names that have already reached the top 20, and alternate spellings of popular names. The resut is an intriguing assortment with some trends that hint at where names are heading.
Up-and Coming Names (in order of current popularity, from highest to lowest):
The Big Trends:
Surnames. The up-and-coming boys' list is studded with British-isles surnames of almost every description: Lennox, Briggs, Weston, Beckham and beyond. The exception is surnames ending in –y, which all show up on the girls' side: Eisley, Kinsley, Finley.
Country & Western. Western history, legends and music make strong showings in names like Remington, Paisley, Rhett, Levi and Axton.
British. Look for a British accent in American naming as parents import names that have been much more popular in Britain, like Oliver, Imogen, Eloise and Emmeline.
Bold Boys. Parents continue to push boys' named toward superhero style with choices like Crew, Prince, Maximus and Dash. No such drama is seen on the girls' side, where botanical names like Willow, Juniper and Hazel are rising instead.
You’ve always loved the name Sophia, but you know four little Sophias. Now what?
If you're in that bind, here's help. I've sought out less common alternatives that match the style and impact of Sophia, and every other top baby name.
It's easier said than done. Every name is its own world, with it's own unique combination of look and style, history and cultural imagery. The balance among those elements varies, too. Sound is more central to Jayden than to William. Biblical style is more upfront in Elijah than Andrew. And any match for Alexander should contract neatly to nicknames.
Then there's the constraint of popularity itself. Some styles, like biblical patriarchs, have been so thoroughly explored that most of the remaining rarities are rare for a reason. And for many names, popularity is style. No obscure name can sub in for Elizabeth or Joseph, since timeless, steady familiarity is at their essence.
So no name is a perfect match, but the suggestions below may just fill that Sophia-shaped hole in your heart. Each alternative is less than a quarter as popular as the original name.
Is naming twins different from naming any other two siblings? For some parents, the answer is no. They simply choose the two names they like best, in two nearly independent choices. For other parents, "twinness" defines the naming experience and they want to revel in it. They turn to thematic pairings like Hope and Faith or Jaylen and Jayden that mark their kids as a set.
Is there a middle ground? Can you acknowledge the special bond that twins share while letting each name stand alone? And can you do it with an eye toward style, so that each name can win the same parents' hearts?
For parents who seek that middle, here's a starter list of names with a meaningful connection and compatible styles, but independent spirits.
(While most of these names are traditionally gender-specific, some are unisex in usage. Rather than separating the lists by gender, I leave it to parents to decide how they'd like to use these names.)
Alice/Celia: This subtle anagram yields two charming classics with completely different sounds.
Zoe/Eve: These Greek and Hebrew "life" names look similar on paper, but not spoken aloud.
Orion/Lyra: These twins would share the night sky as constellations.
Matthias/Nathanael : Two apostle names that mean "gift of God"/"God has given." Both names balance a scholarly biblical flavor with simple, unassuming nicknames.
Rima/Amir : These mirror-image Arabic name make a smooth, trim pairing.
Laurel/Daphne : Daphne is the Greek form of Laurel. Both names are thoroughly familiar, but neither has ever been common.
Tristan/Gavin: Two Knights of the Round Table, but far less conspicuous than Lancelot and Galahad.
Aydan/Nadya: These alternate "y" spellings bring the classic mirror image names Aidan and Nadia closer together.
Indigo/Sienna: Straight from your local Crayola 64-pack, these color names share a creative spirit.
Shira/Ronen: Two Hebrew names derived from words meaning "song."
Tyler/Austin: Two Texas cities, two snappy surnames.
Skye/Iona: While these names have different spirits, they're both short, bold and striking – and Scottish isles.
Jules/Edgar: You can honor pioneers of science fiction and mystery, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, with these gentlemanly throwback names.
Phoebe/Rhea: These twins pair old-fashioned sweetness with the power of Greek Titans.
Related post: To match or not to match