You want biblical names? Modern inventions? Word names? Place names? Spanish names? English Names? You've got it. In today's wide-open name culture, new hits come from all directions. You'll see a sampling in the fastest-rising boys' names of last year.
Images credits: Maverick, pgatour.com. Ezekiel, nfl.com
#1: Maverick. Pardon me as I wax nostalgic for a moment. Way back in 1995, a woman I'd been a college teaching assistant with had a baby and named him Maverick. At the time, we all marveled at her unconventional word-based name choice. Today, Maverick is a top-100 hit and the fastest-rising boy's name in America. And one of the driving factors is that very same Maverick from 1995: Maverick McNealy, now all grown up and a golf phenom. The nation's top amateur golfer, he turned pro in 2017.
#2: Matías. Every form of the name Matthew is popular around the world. The Spanish Mateo has been particularly hot in the U.S., and now Matías (Portuguese: Matias) is rising to meet it. Matías is the name of a young son of actors Julián Gil and actress Marjorie de Sousa, who have been locked in a high-profile custody battle.
#3: Ezekiel. Red-hot Ezekiel is the emblem of a modern wave of super-biblical style. Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott helped push the name firmly into the mainstream, with an assist from the continuing star power of the letter Z.
#4: Logan. Remember that big film of 2017? What was it again…"Logan"? or maybe "Logan Lucky"? Then there was the ubiquitous and controversial internet personality Logan Paul. All told, it was a big year for this already popular name.
#5: Kashton. First there was Cash, as in singer Johnny Cash and cash money. Then, inevitably, came Kash. (American parents never miss an opportunity to turn a C into a K—just ask a Khloe.) But to some, "just Kash" didn't seem like enough for formal occasions. Kashton to the rescue.
#6: Kairo. What were we just saying about the letter K? Kairo, with a K, has various origins, but as a baby name it's a twist on the even-more-popular place name Cairo. Model Kairo Whitfield is the son of Real Housewives of Atlanta star Shereé Whitfield.
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