Names With Soft Consonants That Are On the Rise

Five of the top-twelve girl’s names and five of the top-ten boy’s names feature “soft consonants.” I’ll list the most popular soft girls’ and boys’ names. Say them out loud and then you’ll know what soft consonants are.

Top-5   (SSA Rank)
Soft Girls’

Sophia    (#1)
Emma     (#2)
Emily     (#6)
Mia         (#8)
Ella       (#12)

Soft Boys’

Mason    (#2)
Ethan     (#3)
Noah      (#4)
William  (#5)
Liam      (#6)

What soft sounds do you hear? Soft sounds using these letters: ”soft c,” “f,” “h,” “l,” “m”, “n,” “ph,” “r,” “soft s,” “th,” “x,” “w”

What hard sounds don’t you hear? Chucking, kicking, bopping, buzzing, grappling sounds using these letters “b,” “hard c,” ”d,” “g,“ “j,” “k,” “p,” “q,” “hard s,” ”t,” “v,” “z”

Now let’s take a trip through the top-100 SSA list to find soft names worth a look. Be on the lookout for soft names in bold type; those names are moving up in popularity vs. the previous year:

Soft Girls’ Names on the Top-100 SSA list:
Sophia (#1), Emma (#2), Emily (6), Mia (#8), Ella (#12), Lily (#16), Sofia (#18), Hannah (#22), Amelia (#23) Lillian (#25), Layla (#31), Hailey (#32), Leah (#33), Anna (#35), Aaliyah (#36), Allison (#38), Sarah (#43), Alyssa (#43), Riley (#47), Arriana (#49), (Ashley (#50), Sophie (#52), Maya (#63), Lucy (#66), Lauren #72), Ariana (#74), Faith (#75), Melanie (#77), Naomi (81), Ellie (#84), Molly (#90), Aria (91).

Soft Boys’ Names on the Top-100 SSA list:
Mason (#2), Ethan (#3), Noah (#4), William (#5), Liam (#6), Samuel (#25), Ryan (#26), Owen (#38), Henry (#43), Eli (44), Aaron (#51), Jose (#72), Ian (#78), Nolan (#88), Luis (#90), Juan (#92)

What do you notice right off the bat? There are almost twice as many soft girls’ names on the top-100 list as soft boys’ names, but more soft boys’ names are ranked in the top-10.

My suggestion, browse names in bold to spot soft names that are on the rise. And avoid names in the top-15 because they are so popular.

How Two Cognitive Scientists Named Their Babies

I found an extremely intelligent and well-written article in the form of an NPR blog by Tania Lombrozo that discusses the process two cognitive scientists used to name their two children. Since she is one of the scientists and her husband is other, she writes with conviction and confidence about a process she claims worked effectively and efficiently for the purpose intended.

I was impressed by the large number of comments written by readers of this particular blog post. Most of them were upset that Lombrozo referred to her two children as Baby #1 and Baby #2 instead of disclosing the names she and her spouse came up with. But a few commenters realized that the whole point of the article was that the “Lombrozo Baby Naming Method” will produce different results for different people, so it doesn’t matter if you like or dislike the two names they came up with for their children. What matters is that the method she followed worked well for her because it was based on criteria that were important for Lombrozo and her husband.

In this post I’m going to summarize their process so you can consider taking a similar approach. I trust you won’t be angry at me because Lombrozo chose not to disclose the names she and her spouse chose for their children. With me as a buffer, you can focus on her process and her claim that both parents are pleased with the names they selected.

The First Step of Data Collection:
-Peruse lists of baby names on websites.
-Investigate meanings and origins.
-Look up name frequencies.
-Pick favorites and solicit feedback from family members (to check for cultural associations or meanings in other languages).

Second Step of Data Collection:
-Browse academic research to find out how names affect bearers.
-Use a crowdsourcing platform to discover whether a few dozen strangers have strong feelings about any of the names tested and to discover what respondents imagine to be the personality and the nationality, ethnic or religious background of people with each name tested.

The Final Stage of Data Collection:
-Each spouse rates the couples’ favorite names based on how well they think each name would fit or work for:
-a Nobel laureate in science
-a rock star
-the secretary general of the United Nations
-a CEO
…using those ratings to calculate a career potential index for each name.

Most parents aren’t quite so well organized about the baby-naming process. The Lombrozos are to be commended for coming up with a data-collection process likely to yield useful results.

Here are some of the ideas I like best:

1. They verbalized the importance of coming up with names that would “open doors” rather than “close doors” for their children.

2. They took steps to determine the cultural associations family members and strangers had with the names they liked best—using an open-ended approach (e.g., “How would you describe a person who has this name _____?”. And they asked whether any of their respondents had strong feelings about any of the names (as a way of looking for strong positives or negatives). That way, they could avoid names which might not be appropriate for their children and which had strong negatives associated with them.

3. They selected a few possible careers for their children and tried to imagine how the names might work for each career path. Not knowing whether their child might be a CEO, a diplomat, a scientist or a rock star, they tried to imagine how their favorite names might work for each of those possibilities.

Most of the readers who commented about their article were upset that Lombrozo didn’t share the names they came up with by using this process. Precisely what they named their children is irrelevant because if you use the same process, you will undoubtedly come up with different names because you and your spouse are probably not cognitive scientists and probably don’t have the same ethnic/national/religious background as Lombrozo and her spouse.

For example, you would undoubtedly pick different “favorite names” to investigate during the “first step of data collection.” Hence crowd sourcing during the “second step of data collection” would produce different results. And, the “final step of data collection” would undoubtedly consider a different group of names for a different group of careers.

This summary, as well as the link to Lombrozo’s article, will help you think about the process of selecting a name for your baby in an intelligent manner—whether you follow the same approach I’ve outlined or come up with your own unique approach.

P.S. I wouldn’t have found this article if it hadn’t been for Tina Ray @raytinamu  who just started following me on Twitter. I decided to find out more about her and clicked on an article she sent me about baby naming–which I liked enough to write about Thanks Tina.      

Names That Are Cool Right Now: February 2014

Here’s a list of names that are cool right now, as of 2/26/14. Why is that important? Because names that were cool last year may come across as “stale” or “dated” now. I keep generating new names for testing on our interactive site. Just click on the links to vote for the names you like best. That way, your friends and relatives will get the benefit of your judgment when you suggest they visit to “shop for” names that are cool right now.

I’ve taken the voting results and quantified them to improve on the raw scores reported by Ranker so names that have been added recently have a fair chance to be considered on an equal basis with names that were added last year.

When I started this list, I included names I found on Nameberry and The Art of Naming. I also generated some names myself. I’m keeping track of the source of each name so you can see how I’m doing. For a while I seemed to have a better “vibe” for finding cool for girls than cool for boys. That’s changing as new votes are cast my latest picks for boys start panning out.

Because I keep adding and testing new names, you’re a lot more likely to find names that are cool right now on my Ranker Interactive lists than anywhere else.

Cool Names for Boys

Name                 Score  Source

1. Levi                6.0     (BL)
2. Nico               5.0     (Nameberry)
3. Remington   4.0     (BL)
4. Theo              3.0     (BL)
5. Jett                 2.0     (The Art of Naming)
5. Wyatt            2.0     (The Art of Naming)
5. Connor          2.0    (BL)
5. Bronson        2.0    (BL)
5. Dante            2.0    (BL)
10. Finn            1.75  (The Art of Naming, Nameberry)
11. Hunter        1.6    (The Art of Naming)
12. Taj               1.6    (The Art of Naming)

Other cool names to consider: Turner, Matteo, Raj, Chase, Rhett, Tripp, Hudson, Rio,  Cruz, Dash, Ryder, Forrest, Tripp, Joss and Marcus

Cool Names for Girls

Name           Score  Source

1. Annika      6.0      (BL)
2. Amelia      3.33    (BL)
3. Serena      2.5      (BL)
3. Ryann       2.5      (BL)
5. Catalina   2.25    (BL)
6. Camila      2.1      (BL)
6. Mia            2.1      (BL)
6. Mila           2.1     (BL)
9.  Skye         2.0      (BL)
9.  Danica     2.0      (BL)
11. Cleo        1.8      (BL)
12. Elena      1.75    (BL)

Other cool names to consider: Sloane, Carmen, Luna, Lux, Harper, Luna, Brianna, Carina, Devin, Mikaela and Carolina

I hope you’ll click on the links so you can vote for some of the names I’ve added recently to my Cool Names for Boys and Girls interactive voting pages. Your friends and relatives will thank you. (So will I.)

What Name Will Sound Best in Your Local Park?

I enjoyed reading Robert Epstein’s article in the Independent, because it referred to topics covered in two of my most recent articles:
To Prevent Bullying, Mexican State Bans “Outlandish Names”
Interesting and Unusual Names of the Sochi Olympics Medal Winners

I also liked it because it written with wit and charm. I usually think about names from the standpoint of how your child’s friends will respond to it in day care or kindergarten (or high school). But Epstein knows what it’s like to wheel your child to the park for some fresh air and a chance to chat with people over the age of four. What will the other moms think when you call your child’s name?

It’s fun; give it a read. And when you get to the end of the article you may find yourself wondering what I’m wondering: did they read both of my recent article (as research) before writing theirs? (A key clue is the last word in their article.)

Of course you’ll have to read both of my articles to solve the mystery. If that seems too much like work, enjoy Epstein’s article.

Why Viktor is the Biggest “Name Story” of the Sochi Olympics.

Viktor Ahn has just won four medals at the Sochi Olympics skating for Russia—three golds and a bronze. This amazing performance matches the four medals he won in Turin, when he skated for South Korea under his former name: Ahn Hyun-soo. He is tied with Apolo Anton Ono with eight short-track medals and Ahn is by far the most dominant short-track skater now on ice. Anton calls him “Perhaps the best ever to put short track speed skates on. Yeah, I would say so.”

Ahn’s story is dramatic and inspiring because a career-threatening knee injury in 2008 and multiple surgeries prevented him from qualifying for Vancouver Game in 2010. His former South Korean short-track skating club had disbanded, and other South Korean clubs didn’t make room for him. So he made moved to Russia, where he was welcomed with open arms. (Russia didn’t have a successful short-track program and they hoped Ahn could help them improve.)

But to compete for Russia Ahn needed to become a Russian citizen. And to do that he had to renounce his South Korean citizenship. In the process of becoming a Russian citizen Ahn chose a Russian name, Viktor. He chose it because the name means “victor,” “conqueror,” “winner”—which is precisely what he wanted to be both for himself and his new country.

Every time Ahn won another medal, the mostly Russian audience Sochi chanted “Viktor, Viktor, Viktor” as he took a victory lap with the Russian flag draped over his shoulders. His former teammates on the South Korean short-track team weren’t quite so happy. They’d been shut out in Sochi–without winning single short-track medal.

Ahn’s single-minded pursuit of victory for himself and his new country included the unusual step of becoming a Russian citizen and adopting a new Russian name that meant “victor.” And that’s why Viktor is the biggest “name story” of the Sochi Olympics. For some exciting photos of Ahn, click on this link to

Interesting and Unusual Names of the Sochi Olympics Medal Winners


While watching the Winter Olympics I get caught up in the action and the emotion, just like you. But I also keep my eyes and ears open to discover names from around the world that might cause you to say, “That’s different, but interesting; it sounds good and, I kind of like it.” Perhaps a few of the names of Olympic medal winners will start sounding cool to you when say them out loud, read the origin and meaning and think about the athlete whose performance you might have watched on TV (or YouTube).

I suppose it might help if you’re of French, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Slovenian, Korean, Chinese or Japanese extraction and you come across a name on this list that your family’s going to love. That would make me happy. But some of these names are so catchy and charming—you might want to consider them no matter what your ethnic roots are.

FYI, I purposely left out the names of medal winners you’re already familiar with, like Anna, Maria and Julia. I’m hoping to tempt you with names that aren’t already on your short list, like Carina, Devin and Joss. So get ready to expand your baby-naming horizons: girls’ names first; boy’s names next.

Female Olympic Medal Winners’ Names

Adelina a variation Adeline, Adelaide (German) noble, serene.
Adelina Sotnikova (Russia) Figure Skating Singles (Gold)

Aja (Hindi) goat.
Aja Evans (United States) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Bronze)

Alena a variation of Aleena (Dutch) alone.
Alena Zavarzina (Russia) Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom (Bronze)

Arianna a variation of Ariana (Greek) holy.
Arianna Fontana (Italy) Speed Skating 500 meters (Silver)

Brianne (Irish) strong; virtuous, honorable.
Brianne McLaughlin (United States) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Carina (Italian) dear little one. Also a form of Karen (Greek) pure, maiden.
Vogt (Germany) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Individual (Gold)

Carolina an Italian form of Caroline (French) little and strong.
Carolina Kostner (Italy) Figure Skating Singles (Bronze)

Coline a variation of Coleen (Irish) girl.
Coline Mattel (France) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Individual (Bronze)

Dara (Hebrew) compassionate.
Dara Howell (Canada) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Gold)

Darya a variation of Daria (Greek) wealthy.
Darya Domracheva (Belarus) Biathlon Individual (Gold)

Devin (Irish) poet.
Devin Logan (United States) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Silver)

Dominique (French) a French form of Dominica (Latin) belonging to the Lord.
Dominique Gisin (Switzerland) Alpine Skiing Downhill (Gold)

Elana (Greek) a short form of Eleanor (Greek) light.
Elana Meyers (United States) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Silver)

Elena (Greek) a short form of Eleanor (Greek) light.
Elena Ilinykh (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Eva a short form of Evangelina (Greek) bearer of good news. A variation of Eve (Hebrew) life.
Eva Samkova (Czech Republic) Snowboard Cross (Gold)

Gabriela an Italian form of Gabrielle (French) devoted to God.
Gabriela Soukalová (Czech Republic) Mixed Biathlon Relay (Silver)

Giselle a variation of Giselle (German) pledge; hostage.
Gisele (America) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Heidi a short form of Adelaide (German) noble; serene.
Heidi Weng (Norway) Cross Country Skiing 15 km. Skiathlon (Bronze)

Justyna a Polish form of Justina (Latin) just; righteous.
Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland) Cross-Country Classical 10 Kilometer (Gold)

Kaillie (North American) a variation of Kaila (Hebrew) laurel; crown.
Kaillie Humphries (Canada) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Gold)

Kim (Korean) gold.
Kim Yuna (Japan) Figure Skating Singles (Silver)

Lara (Greek) cheerful. (Latin) shining; famous.
Lara Gut (Switzerland) Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill (Bronze)

Lee (Chinese) plum. (Irish) poetic. (English) meadow.
Lee Sang-hwa (South Korea) Speed Skating 500 meters (Gold)

Li (Chinese) pretty; powerful.
Li Jianrou (China) Speed Skating 500 meters (Gold)

Livia a short form of Olivia (Hebrew) crown.
Livia Altmann (Switzerland) Ice Hockey (Bronze)

Lotte a short form of Charlotte (French, German) strong, vigorous.
Lotte van Beek (Netherlands) Speed Skating 1,500 meters (Bronze)

Lydia (Greek) from Lydia, an ancient land in Asia Minor.
Lydia Lassila (Australia) Freestyle Skiing Aerials (Bronze)

Marlies (English) a variation of Marlissa a compound name: Maria + Lisa.
Marlies Schild (Austria) Alpine Skiing Slalom (Silver)

Meryl (German) famous. (Irish) shining sea.
Meryl Davis (United States) Figure Skating Ice Dancing (Gold)

Monique a French form of Monica (Greek) solitary (Latin) advisor.
Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (United States) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Park (Chinese) cypress tree.
Park Seung-Hi (South Korea) Short Track Speed Skating 3,000 meters Relay (Gold)

Romy a familiar form of Romaine (French) from Rome (English) a familiar form of Rosemary.
Romy Eggiman (Switzerland) Ice Hockey (Bronze)

Selina a variation of Selene (Greek) moon. Mythology: Selene was the goddess of the moon.
Selina Gasparin (Switzerland) Biathlon Individual (Silver)

Stina (German) a short form of Christina (Greek) anointed.
Stina Nilsson (Sweden) Cross-Country Team Sprint (Bronze)

Tatiana (Slavic) fairy queen.
Tatiana Volosozhar (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Teja (Sanskrit) radiant.
Teja Gregorin (Slovenia) Biathlon Pursuit (Bronze)

Tessa a short form of Theresa (Greek) reaper.
Tessa Virtue (Canada) Figure Skating Ice Dancing (Silver)

Tomoka a variation of Tomoko (Japanese) wise; young friend.
Tomoka Takeuchi (Japan) Snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom (Silver)

Tora (Japanese) tiger.
Tora Berger (Norway) Biathlon Pursuit (Silver)

Torah (Hebrew) the five books of the Jewish bible; Old Testament. Also a variation of Tora (Japanese) tiger.
Torah Bright (Australia) Snowboarding Halfpipe (Silver)

Viktoria a German, Hungarian and Russian form of Victoria. (Latin) Victorious
Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany) Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom (Bronze)

Male Olympic Medal Winners’ Names

Akito (Japanese) bright.
Akito Watabe (Japan) Nordic Combined Individual Normal Hill 10 km.

Alexey a familiar form of Alexander (Greek) defender of mankind.
Alexey Voyevoda (Russia) Bobsleigh Two-man (Gold)

Bjorn a Scandinavian form of Bernard (German) brave as a bear.
Bjorn Kircheisen (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Silver)

Bode a familiar form of Boden (Scandinavian) sheltered. (French) messenger.
Bode Miller (United States) Alpine Skiing Super G (Bronze)

Christof a Russian form of Christopher (Greek) Christ-bearer.
Christof Innerhofer (Italy) Alpine Skiing Downhill (Silver)

Christoph a French form of Christopher (Greek) Christ-bearer.
Christoph Bieler (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Bronze)

Denny a familiar form of Dennis (Greek) a follower of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine.
Denny Morrison (Canada) Speed Skating 1,500 meters (Bronze)

Denis a French form of Dennis (Greek) a follower of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine.
Denis Ten (Kazakhstan) Figure Skating Singles (Bronze)

Jan a Dutch, Slavic form of John (Hebrew) God is gracious.
Jan Smeekens (Netherlands) Speed Skating 500 meters (Silver)

Jia (Chinese) home, family.
Jia Zongyang (China) Freestyle Skiing Aerials (Bronze)

Jorrit a Dutch form of Gerard (English) brave spearman.
Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands) Speed Skating 10,000 meters (Gold)

Joss (Chinese) luck, fate.
Joss Christenson (United States) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Gold)

Lukas a Greek, Czech and Swedish form of Luke (Latin) author of the third gospel of the New Testament.
Lukas Hofer (Italy) Mixed Biathlon Relay (Bronze)

Marcus (Latin) martial, warlike.
Marcus Hellner (Sweden) Cross-Country Skiing 20 km. Skiathlon (Silver)

Maxim a Russian form of Maxime (French) most excellent.
Maxim Trankov (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Mario a short Italian form of Marin (French) sailor.
Mario Stecher (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Bronze)

Nikita a Russian form of Nicholas (Greek) victorious people.
Nikita Kriukov (Russia) Cross-Country Skiing Team Sprint (Silver)

Robin a short form of Robert (English) famous brilliance.
Robin Szolkowy (Germany) Figure Skating Pairs (Bronze)

Sage (English) wise. Botany: an herb.
Sage Kotsenburg (United States) Snowboarding Slopestyle (Gold)

Sandro (Greek, Italian) a short form of Alexander (Greek) “defender of mankind.”
Sandro Viletta (Switzerland) Alpine Skiing Combined (Gold)

Stefan German, Polish, Swedish forms of Steven (Greek) crowned.
Stefan Groothuis (Netherlands) 1,000 meters (Gold)

Taku a short form of Takuma (Japanese) expand, open, pioneer.
Taku Takeuchi (Japan) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Team (Bronze)

Tobias (Hebrew) God is good.
Tobias Wendl & Tobias Arlt (Germany) Luge Doubles (Gold)

Viktor a German, Hungarian and Russian form of Victor. (Latin) Victorious.
Viktor Ahn (Russia) Short Track Speed Skating 1,000 meters (Gold)


Gun-Related Baby Names Like Colt and Remington Are Growing in Popularity

I recommend you read a provocative Daily Beast article about the rise in gun-related names in the U.S. and what it might mean. Abby Haglage contacted baby name expert, Laura Wattenberg to get the facts and her perspective.  I found the subject of the article to be of great interest, but some of Wattenberg’s comments raised more questions than they answered.

First the facts; between 2002 and 2012, the popularity of gun-related names have risen explosively:

Names:         2002    2012   %Increase

Colt                194       955    +492%

Remington    185      666    +360%

Ruger              23       118     +513%

Wattenberg’s comment:

“This name [Ruger] is more evidence of parents’ increasing interest in naming children after firearms. Colt, Remington, and Gauge have all soared, and Gunner is much more common than the traditional name Gunnar… I think of names as a fossil record of our culture. You can look back over generations and get a sense of what people were talking about.”

Haglage gave Wattenberg a chance to comment about names in the context of a recent news item that Sonora, a state in Northwestern Mexico, recently banned 61 names including Terminator, Virgin, Burger King, Twitter and Hitler. Wattenberg’s comment:

“Whatever the inspiration for a baby’s name, parents shouldn’t be excessively worried about names contributing to bullying. Today’s kids have no sense of what a normal name is.”

Wattenberg is a statistician, not a sociologist. I’d like to see some data to back her claims that:

“Today’s kids have no sense of what a normal name is.”

Compare the 955 boys who were named Remington in 2012 with the 22158 boys who were named Jacob. Which do you think is more normal? Do you know the difference between “normal names” and “weird names”? Do you think children don’t know the difference between “normal names” and weird names”? If that’s true, then why do kids with weird names complain about them like this: “I hate my weird name. I wish I had a normal name.”

“… parents shouldn’t be excessively worried about names contributing to bullying.”

You  probably noticed that in an article full of data, Wattenberg provided no data to support that statement. We know that bullying is a huge problem in schools from coast to coast. A recent ABC study reported these major findings:

-30% of all students identified themselves as either bullies or victims of bullying.

-Every day 160,000 students stay home from school due to a fear of being bullied.

And, a study in Britain found that half the suicides among young people are related bullying.

Recent high-profile cases of bullying, cyber-bullying and sexting explain how verbal abuse accompanies physical abuse to cause teen-age suicides. In an article about bullying, Dr. Michele Borba writes, “Most bullying starts verbally THEN escalates to a more intense level.”

In a school environment where teasing and bullying are everyday events for hundreds of thousands of children, I’d love to see Wattenberg’s evidence to support her claim that kids aren’t teased about their names.