What's Your Choice for Name of the Year?

Nov 19th 2015


Every December, BabyNameWizard.com honors one name that shaped, and was shaped by, the year that's been. And the nominations all come from you.

Your past suggestions have ranged from Renesmee to Pope Francis. They've including baby names, not-quite-names, and not-quite-human names. Each selection is a miniature time capsule that reminds us of how names are woven into our lives and our culture.

What name do you think captures this moment in time? Please post your nominations in comments here -- or tweet them to @BabyNameWizard, or comment on Facebook. Feel free to second others' nominations, too.

As you're thinking about the year in names, keep a lookout for these criteria:

- A dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning
- A reflection of a broader cultural theme, or influence on broader style trends
- The "naminess" of a story or issue. How essential is the name to the story?

And remember that your comments themselves count! The number of nominations factors into in the NOTY choice, and compelling arguments in support of your candidate count most of all.

Comments

1
November 19, 2015 5:19 PM

It's a perfectly legitimate name with mythological roots, a contemporary sound... and awful associations. Isis is an Egyptian goddess, but it is also a terrorist organization that has greatly impacted people all around the world. It has called into question how we, as humans, can so easily grow to hate someone based on what we believe in our minds. Isis has provoked thought and fear in many different areas and cultures, and has become extremely significant in our societies as well as many others. It is a name that has become so much more than just that.

2
November 19, 2015 6:38 PM

I was thinking of Daesh, which I think is a really clever example of why names matter:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/09/words-matter-isis-war-use-daesh/V85GYEuasEEJgrUun0dMUP/story.html

3
November 19, 2015 10:38 PM

I agree with lucubratrix.

The acronym "ISIS" was already in the news a lot last year, so there wasn't a "dramatic change in the name's usage or social meaning" this year; more heinous crimes got attached to it, but the group is a black hole of heinousness, so Paris etc. hardly made a difference there.

Daesh, on the other hand, is brand-spanking-new, a perfect reflection of the times, and the name _is_ the story.

4
November 20, 2015 2:58 AM

This isn't necessarily my favorite pick for the year but it's probably got to be Caitlyn. Choosing a name for a new identity. And the conspicuously chosen "C" over the Kardashian/Jenner "K". Plus, choosing a name that suggests someone decades younger than you are. That all feels quite of the times.

5
November 20, 2015 5:15 AM

Charlie,

because of the January attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the hash tag #jesuischarlie

 

6
By lulu
November 20, 2015 11:12 AM

I think Caitlyn is the NOTY, for the reasons listed above, as well as how the name reflected a dramatically increased awareness and discussion of transgender issues.

7
By mk
November 20, 2015 2:43 PM

I still think ISIS should have been the name last year, instead of the silly "Adele Dazeem", which I had to look up now to remember.

I agree that Caitlyn is an obvious choice. Can't really think of anything else that stands out.

8
November 20, 2015 11:54 PM

Maybe Cecil?

I think I suggested Isis last year.  I suspect Laura didn't choose it because she didn't want such a politically controversial topic on her light-hearted baby names blog.  Might have made for some bad press.

9
November 21, 2015 10:50 AM

(Who's Cecil?)

I agree with mollycatherine that a story like Caitlyn Jenner is perhaps more appropriate as a Name of the Year from a website with "baby" in its title. No matter how newsworthy and name-y a terrorist organization's names are, the topic just doesn't have the right tone.

10
November 21, 2015 11:24 AM

Cecil was the lion that was killed by the American dentist earlier this year. This does seem like a worthy candidate in that Cecil's killing highlighted the practice of big game hunting in Africa. Caitlyn was a much bigger story, however, with ramifications that will directly affect more people, who either are transgender themselves or who know or will soon meet transgendered people.

Although the story of Isis/Isil/IS/Daesh does strike a horrible tone, the name really is the story. And it's a story that highlights the importance of names.

11
By mk
November 22, 2015 12:00 AM

The name Cecil didn't have much at all to do with the story of the lion, though, did it? Isis has been discussed often on baby names sites and is effecting real people with the name. But yes, to avoid it, Caitlyn is still a good option since the discussion of the name was part of the story.

12
November 22, 2015 8:09 AM

I think Cecil the lion's killing would've been big news had he been named Max the lion, but I do believe his unique name might've given his story the edge (as in, made it more memorable). I don't think that's enough to make it the NOTY though.

13
November 22, 2015 10:59 AM

I nominate Caitlyn too - as an activist for the transgender community Jenner's transition has helped raise awareness of their issues to the general public.

14
November 22, 2015 2:05 PM

Definitely Caitlyn.

15
November 22, 2015 6:40 PM

I think the fact that Cecil had a name, and that it was distinctive, helped propel the story.  "Lion poached by American dentist" - or "Leo the lion poached by American dentist" - doesn't have the same power as "Cecil the lion poached by American dentist."  But I'm definitely not wedded to the idea, just throwing something out there.

16
November 23, 2015 2:44 AM

I would say my top three would be:

-Cecil (agreeing) for the same reasons, he exuded a persona that mattered even though there are lions killed in controled situations-- thus it's a situation that became an anomoly. 

-Charlotte, since we did infact get a royal baby this year. (!!!)

-Joy, because Laura covererd it here as a name to make a possible comeback as launched from a Disney Pixar movie premiere. 

...Here's a bonus (because I can't decide!) Paris: It has warrented great empathy this year and it seems like America's evocation of the word alone is deeply wistlful, sophisticated, cultured and lovely to our ears. I think that Love has only grown this year in a new way. It's a relationship. (Terrorism has thrown down civility and hope in other places, but it unfortunately for many reasons is gripping by association.)

I am not considering Isis or Caitlyn because they were considered last year and didn't make the cut-- the associations are only getting deeper in the public eye as unfair/negative for lack of a better description.  

17
November 23, 2015 9:31 AM

@nicwoo - What do you mean Caitlyn was considered last year? Jenner didn't reveal that as her chosen name until this year.

18
November 23, 2015 1:31 PM

You're correct, I was thinking of a post I'd read from Laura from this year, at any rate. 

19
By CGDH
November 23, 2015 4:31 PM

There are compelling reasons for both ISIS and Caitlyn.

I gotta go with Caitlyn, though. Isis is an interesting example of how a name's meaning can change with current events. But Caitlyn is such a multi-faceted name story: there's the focus on making one's own identity, the significance of the spelling, the generational issue — you could write a dissertation on Caitlyn. Definitely the name story of the year.

20
November 23, 2015 11:56 PM

I agree.  Definitely thought it was Isis last year.

21
November 24, 2015 12:00 AM

Ugh.  That was supposed to be a comment on #7, but the computer won't let me do it.

22
November 24, 2015 6:44 AM

I second Caitlyn and Charlie!

'Call me Caitlyn' and 'Je suis Charlie' both made headlines, and both draw attention to the link between names and identity. Both of these names were cited (e.g. in a hashtag) as shorthand for showing allegiance, support and affiliation, which really showcases the importance of names today, I think (especially online).

23
November 24, 2015 8:13 AM

Golly, I love this last response. Our FB feeds this year were alternately rainbow hued and displayed the colors of the French flag--and I even had one friend who managed to blend them for a checkered profile picture. Caitlyn and Charlie are both names that became positive lenses through which to understand the larger societal forces at work. (I recognize that marriage equality is not the same thing as trans acceptance, but the two movements are headed in the same direction.) And choosing Charlie as name of the year would still acknowledge the horror of looming and past terrorist attacks without calling attention to the perpetrators and their efforts to co-opt Islam.

24
November 24, 2015 8:40 AM

Hi all, I appreciate your thoughtful comments as always, and I wanted to join in on the discussion of the name ISIS.

Last year's Name of the Year was an uncomfortable decision. I had two finalists:

1. A name of a major terrorist organization on a horrific murder spree. Would it be insensitive or inappropriate to declare that the "name of the year" on a baby names website?

2. A funny little pop culture/social media phenomenon. Would it be insensitive or inappropriate to declare THAT the "name of the year" when so many of the other candidates were matters of life and death?

In the end I turned back to the core criteria. The deciding factor was that the ISIS name story wasn't fundamentally about *personal names*. 

Even when the Baby Name Wizard NOTY is attached to a product, like Siri, or isn't exactly a name, like The Situation, the story here is always about personal names. Note that this is different from the American Name Society, which has cited names like Salish Sea, Fiscal Cliff and H1N1.

With ISIS, the fact that there are some people named Isis didn't seem like the heart of the story. And this year, as the debate about what to call the organization has taken on complex new layers, the issue has moved even farther from personal naming -- and farther from BNW's domain.

Of course, you may not agree. Feel free to tell me so! :)

Thanks again,

Laura

 

25
By Amy3
November 24, 2015 1:40 PM

Hmmm, Caitlyn or Charlie ... the name is central in many ways to both stories. However, a stronger case can be made for Caitlyn, especially if the focus is on personal names (Laura's comment ^^). Here is a situation where an individual actively chose not just a new name, but a new identity partly embodied by the name, for herself. 

26
By Aiea
November 24, 2015 1:42 PM

How about Bernie?

Not only is it a diminuitive name that seems strange for a presidential candidate, but also his campaign is using a name-based slogan: Feel the Bern. Definitely changed the way that I look at the name.

27
By Jude
November 24, 2015 2:09 PM

I half-heartedly nominate Atticus.

I dont't think its as NOTY worthy as Caitlin or Charlie, but it was a small story this summer after the publication of the new Harper Lee novel. Parents who had named their child after Atticus Finch, the famously moral and principled character in To Kill a Mockingbird, had to adjust to the new, negative developments in the character. Atticus has had a very specific association for 50+ years and yet it managed to be changed. It also shows the risks of naming after a character or a famous person whose actions you can't control.

28
November 24, 2015 4:54 PM

@Aiea - Bernie might be a good candidate for NOTY next year if he does end up getting the Democratic nomination, but let's not jump the gun and make the same mistake we did with Barack in 2007 (precluding it for being in the running for 2008 when the name was more prominent).

29
November 24, 2015 9:57 PM

It's questionable how well it meets the first two criteria, but Spurgeon does at least need to be nominated, on grounds of being flat-out the worst baby name ever bestowed by anyone, celebrity or otherwise. As a middle name honoring someone whose ideals the parents share, it would be fine; unremarkable, even. But as a first name? The bad, disgusting, or just plain undesirable-in-a-name concepts it evokes are legion: sturgeon (a fish) is probably the most innocuous, but there's also spurious (false), splurge (excessive spending), spluge (slang for semen), purge (vomit, among other meanings), spurn (reject), spurge (a type of weed)... And then there's the fact that the poor kid has SS as his initials, so if the parents follow mom's family's lead and name all their kids with the same starting letter, they'll soon have a gaggle of Nazi secret police running around.

30
November 24, 2015 11:23 PM

Count me in the Charlie camp, and I agree with the commenter who said that it evokes what has happened in France without going into potentially controversial territory like ISIS. As much as ISIS is currently (and unfortunately) an important matter, I agree that it seems inappropriate for a lighthearted site about baby names.

31
By Aiea
November 25, 2015 1:04 PM

(Tangent: Want to make sure that you all have seen the Name Nerds post on spellings of Caitlin. It's called "You say Caitlin, I say Katelynne..."

 http://www.namenerds.com/irish/Katelyn.html)

32
November 25, 2015 9:40 PM

I vote for Atticus. If Isis/Daesh were going to win, it should have won last year--both acronyms have been around and in the news for more than a year. Caitlyn Jenner's name made for a story, but like the name of Princess Charlotte, it doesn't strike me that the name really *is* the story--would it really be a different story if she had chosen, say, Amanda Jenner? But the story around Atticus was inextricably caught up with the specific meaning attached to one distinctive, literary name. 

33
November 25, 2015 10:39 PM

No question that this year's name has to be Caitlyn. It's such a multi-faceted name story. I don't see anything else coming close. 

34
By PJ
November 26, 2015 6:19 PM

I vote for Atticus or Caitlyn. I remember when the "new" Harper Lee came out this summer, there were a few articles about people who had named their children Atticus and had to deal with the new implications of the character. It was probably impossible to imagine that such an old and beloved character in American literature would do something new and scandolous but there you have it. Also ties into ideas of naming after idols and trying to sound literary.

Caitlyn for all the reasons others have stated. Caitlyn Jenner herself made the reveal of her new name a big deal, with not releasing it and then doing the magazine cover. Also ties into adults renaming themselves for new identites- whether it be changing genders or just having a name that "fits" better.

I totally agree with Laura that this blog's name of the year is about personal namin trends, not current world political events. For that reason, I think Cecil and anything relating to terrorism is not a good choice.

35
By Aiea
November 27, 2015 11:34 AM

Yeah, I agree with Scorpia. I don't think Caitlyn Jenner's story would have been different if she had been Amanda Jenner. I don't think the name is the story there. It doesn't dramatically change the name's usage. It doesn't have influence on broader style trends. And the name is not essential to the story. It doesn't pass ANY of Laura's tests.

I still think "Feel the Bern" is a much more name-y story than "I Am Cait" is. And brought back a name that hasn't been in pop culture since, like, Weekend At Bernie's, about 30 years ago, whereas Caitlin has never fallen out of consistent usage.

(And I disagree that we should hold off a year on Bernie because A) this is the year that the name AS A NAME made a big splash, even if the person goes on to make a bigger one in the future, and B) the odds of Bernie getting the nomination over Hillary aren't great.)

36
By Aiea
November 27, 2015 11:50 AM

A few more ideas, to get your thoughts rolling:

  • Watermelondrea
  • Deflategate
  • American Pharoah
  • Boko Haram
  • Lincoln Chafee

 

37
November 27, 2015 12:32 PM

To people who think Caitlyn Jenner's story would be the same with any other name, I respectfully disagree. A big part of that story was how, well, age-inappropriate Caitlyn is for someone of Jenner's age. Another big part was the choice of that particular spelling, especially the not-starting-with-K part. If she had chosen Kathleen or something similar, i.e. not unexpected for her generation and not spelled kre8vly, we'd still be talking about transgender issues, but we wouldn't be talking about her name.

38
By PJ
November 27, 2015 10:12 PM

Here's a link to an article from this summer about how parents of children named Atticus were feeling about the name, after the rerelease of the Harper Lee first draft: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/nyregion/the-name-atticus-acquires-an-unwelcome-association.html

39
November 28, 2015 4:23 AM

Caitlyn has a lot of things going for it as NOTY: As other posters have mentioned, the usage in general and the spelling specifically raises eyebrows for a person her age. And was the use of a C instead of a K an intentional snub of her famous family? The choice of the name Caitlyn adds so many facets to the story than if she had chosen something along the lines of Brenda. 

Nevertheless, I can't officially vote for Caitlyn until we know the name of her soon to be born grandson. Baby Boy West is sure to receive a press-worthy moniker, and has already been the subject of speculation well before his birth. I suspect it could surpass Caitlyn. For the record, I think he will end up with a single letter first name instead of a name. Something like "I" West would be suitable with parents who are so narcissistic.

40
November 29, 2015 7:41 AM

Thought this might interest those that have been debating Isis

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/social/nutella-refuses-personalize-jar-little-girl-named-isis

"A Nutella campaign launched in September allows fans to personalize a jar, but denied doing so for five-year-old Isis because it could misinterpreted or viewed by the public as inappropriate, reports The Sydney Morning Herald."

 

41
December 1, 2015 8:43 PM

I'm betting that Charlotte has a huge rise after the new princess.  

As someone who comes from the UK I find it odd that Americans love the royals. 

42
December 8, 2015 11:03 AM

Caitlyn to me is part of the Jenner story -- the frilly, modern name in contrast to stolid old-fashioned Bruce says so much about the transition he/she made.  The "Call me Caitlyn" cover on Vogue is probably one of the most recognizable phrases in the U.S. this year and her coming out started a whole public conversation around gender identity.  Given names definitely tie into the discussion too, with some people arguing for adrogynous names which allow children more freedom on the "gender continuum".  

As for Saint, I don't know what to say.  I'm not sure it says anything about how we are evolving as a name culture except that the parents probably felt they had to pick something controversial to keep up their social media numbers.

43
By KO
December 10, 2015 5:28 AM

I think you are a coward for not choosing the obvious ISIS or Daesh.   I suppose that isn't what CafeMom is looking for to drive traffic.  

44
December 10, 2015 2:00 PM

How about Donald? Due to his high-visibility, high-controversy presidential campaign, this is probably the first year that the first Donald who comes to mind is Trump rather than a cartoon duck.

45
January 4, 2016 1:18 PM

My name is Sienna and I'm 50 years old, so I had the name before the minivan or before Sienna Miller.  My father was a painter and he liked the color and liked the sound of the name.  

46
April 22, 2016 4:22 AM

I would really like to appreciate your appropriately written content it's useful and your writing fashion helped me to it with no difficulty. Credit

K-Muricata