Is Tessa the new Maya?

We are really liking the name Tessa but it seems like a lot of popular girl's names are two syllables and end in 'a'. We love a lot of these names like Maya and Ava, but we want to give our daughter a fairly uncommon name. I've seen Tessa listed along with these popular names and it is a little worrying to me. Tessa is around #200 right now so we have two questions.

1) Do you think this name will rise in popularity?
2) How many Tessa's do you know?


August 25, 2015 3:02 PM

I actually don't know any Tessas, surprisingly!

And, as for whether the name will rise: I don't think it's showing signs of skyrocketing. It's been at its current level of popularity for quite some time. Here's the last decade:


... and it's been in the ~1000-births/year group since 1990, which is kind of the current first-time parent population. So, if you were comfortable with the usage of Tessa when you were growing up, you're comfortable with it now. Tessa might be ranked higher now than then, but that's only because names are becoming more fragmented, so what it takes to be a top 10 name is only a tiny fraction of what it used to be.

To be fair, I bet the data does hide a lot of T(h)eresas who go by Tess or Tessa, too, but those names are on the wane... so I wouldn't be overly concerned.

August 27, 2015 8:09 AM

Wow, thank you for your well thought-out response! I'm a little confused- what do you mean when you say names are becoming more fragmented? I don't understand why a name being part of the top 10 wouldn't mean as much anymore.

By mk
August 27, 2015 1:21 PM

It takes less babies to be given a name for it to make it into the top 10 now than it did in the past.

August 27, 2015 2:57 PM

MK said it well, but if you want a visual representation, look at this video:


Mary used to be a huge circle. Really huge. The #1 name was given a ton of girls. Now, the #1 name is a much smaller circle, because it's given to a smaller number of babies, even though it's still the #1 name. It's because much more diverse names are being used.

August 27, 2015 3:34 PM

Thank you for posting that video! I understand now.

August 27, 2015 5:34 PM

Glad it helped - it's my favorite way to show the increasing diversification of names, too!

One other way in which Tessa is not going to be the next Maya is that Maya has a bazillion different spellings: Mya, Myah, Maya, Maia, Maja, Mayah, etc.... plus a lot of names that sound a lot like it (Mia and all its spellings, Naya, etc.). So looking at Maya statistics doesn't tell the whole story with how popular the sound of the name is.

With Tessa, you just need to look up Tessa, which is fairly distinct in sound... plus Teresa and Theresa who might go by Tessa, but Teresa and Theresa are both at an all time low, so that contributes at the very most another 500 girls born each year who MIGHT go by Tessa, but very well might not. I guess you can add in Quintessa and Contessa, too, but those are super obscure. There are just not a lot of other names that contain the tessa sound, so your daughter's name would keep sounding distinctive.

By mk
August 25, 2015 4:37 PM

I know one Tessa, she is in her 30s. I know several Theresas and none of them go by Tessa (unless the Tessa I know is actually named Theresa, but I have no idea.)

August 25, 2015 7:22 PM

I've known a couple of Tessas in my life, but I don't know any little girls named Tessa (and I have 6 and 3 year old daughters in various classes, and live in a huge major city... kind of weird that I haven't encountered a little Tessa yet!)

Tessa definitely doesn't strike me as "fairly uncommon", but it's way less common than Maya and Ava are right now. Tessa is slowly gaining in popularity, but I don't see it becoming as huge as Ava or Maya.

August 25, 2015 10:41 PM

I know one Tessa, about my age (early 30s).

August 26, 2015 12:21 AM

I do feel like Tessa is fairly popular right now, but my guess is that it will stay in the "quietly popular" category and not make top 10.  Maybe because it doesn't fit the classic profile for a "raindrop name."  But that's just my guess.

I know 2 little Tessa's, one is 3 and one is 1.

August 26, 2015 7:43 AM

I know one Tessa, aged four. I'm pretty sure she's actually Theresa, however.

August 26, 2015 2:55 PM

I only know one Tessa, an adult. I have heard it on the playground a few times in the past five years, but I haven't seen it (or Teresa/Theresa) on any class rosters or hallway artwork.

In any case, I suggest not worrying about popularity. Nowadays, no name is popular enough to overcome the quirks of probability and local name pockets. (As an example, the only Sophia/Sophie/Sofia/Sofie I know is a small dog, but my daughter shares her name, ranked 176th in the year of her birth, with a future kindergarten classmate.)

August 27, 2015 5:50 PM

I know of a Tessa in her 30s, and one in 4th grade-so about 9. 

It's a name I've always really loved. 

I could see it getting more popular, but I don't think it's a Maya. 

Maya is a name that fits in with similar names in style (Mia et...) and also has a lot of crossover appeal with different groups-it tends to get used for girls in families where the parents travel a lot or are multicultural, and it also appeals to the same people who would like names like Inga and Astrid. It's a traditional name that sounds contemporary. I hasten to add that this is just my observation/off-the-cuff analysis. I am not the scholar on this board by any means.

We live in a small Maya pocket (I know a Mya, Maya, Maia, and Maija), but I still don't hear it as much as something like Sophie, fwiw.

I say use Tessa!