One in Five British Mothers Regrets Her Child’s Name

When I read the title and reading line for the article Amelia Hill wrote in The Guardian: I guessed that the leading cause of “baby-name regret” was caused by picking a popular (e.g., top-20) name and then realizing how many other parents had made precisely the same choices.

Here are two fragments from the article that explain when and why parents begin regretting the names they have chosen:

-“The main reason for regretting the name was that it was too commonly used (25%).”
-“23% began to regret their choice when their children first started nursery or school.”

Why do so many parents fall into the trap of picking highly popular names for their children, (even though naming experts strongly recommend against that)?

Once you are pregnant, you start reading articles and books about baby names (which contain lists of the most popular names); and you also may start reading the birth announcement section of your local newspaper. Your ears are likely to perk up when friends and relatives start talking about their new babies. And when you notice new parents pushing baby strollers or carrying babies in slings, you go over to have a closer look. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to hold the baby. Naturally, you ask the baby’s name, and say something nice about the baby and its name.

Pretty soon you realize that your interest in anything related to babies is giving you a “good feel” for names and which ones you like. Every time you meet a cute baby and “like” the name you are adding “data” to your very own baby-name “research project”—which includes your feelings about the names of cute babies you’ve cooed over or bounced; the names of babies your friends, relatives and neighbors have just announced; and the cute celebrity babies photographed in “People” and “Us.”

At some point it may dawn on you that the short list of names you are actively considering for your baby includes half of the top-10 list published every year by the Social Security Administration (or the agency in your country that publishes official name statistics).

How can newly pregnant parents avoid picking names they may wind up regretting, when they find out how popular they are? It helps to start your name search by making a list of names you like. They could be names of famous people you admire (e.g., Lincoln and Eleanor) names of characters in books or movies you love (e.g., Scout and Starbuck); names of your favorite actors or Olympic heroes (e.g., Simone and Bolt); names common in the language you studied in high school (e.g., Natasha and Ivan); names of your favorite foods or wines (e.g., Brie and Kale); names of your favorite places to vacation (e.g., Kauai and Siena); or names of relatives you want to honor.

By picking names that have meaning for you, you won’t be sidetracked by falling-in-like with names currently used by your friends, relatives and acquaintances and by the popular names in announcement lists and the media.

2016 Naming Trends, Predictions, and Warnings

Naming Themes and Sounds behind the Fastest-Rising Baby Names

When selecting names, parents often consider options that are similar in some way. For example, they may consider root names against their variations (Adeline and Adaline), names that sound similar (Aiden and Jayden), names with similar endings (Emmalynn, Avalynn, and Gracelynn), or names with the same theme (nature names, place names, trade names, or brand names). Below are some themes and sounds that help explain why similar names rise (and fall) together.


  • Names that end in “ani”—Meilani (+1,836), Milani (+295), Kalani (+236), Kailani (+108), and Alani (+88)
  • Names that end with the sound of “rye-ah”—Ariah (+181), Ariya (+142), and Sariah (+142)
  • Names that end in “ya” or “ia”—Alaia (+2,002), Taya (+1,107), Kaya (+145), Aya (+100), and Zendaya (+91)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lin”—Aislin (+1,385), Adilynn (#329), Addilynn (+193), Roselyn (+85), Kaelyn (+54), Emmalynn (+70), Raelyn (+70), Avalynn (+66), Kaelinn (+61), and Gracelynn (+59)
  • Names that end with the sound of “lee”—Adley (+495), Heavenly (+318), Zaylee (+314), Kinslee (+175), Oakley (+154), Hadlee (+116), Tinley (+107), Everleigh (+101), Annalee (+87), Karlie (+69), Harley (+68), and Carlee (+59)
  • Names that end in “anna” or “ana”—Alannah (+189), Giavanna (+143), Avianna (+142), Aviana (+141), Lillianna (+64), Giovanna (+62), Elianna (+54), and Ivanna (+52)
  • Names associated with music, musicians, or bands—(Annie) Lennox (+416), (John) Lennon (+183), Journee (+90), and Harmoni (+89)


  • Athletes—Jabari (+194), Kyrie (+172), Kyree (+140), Beckham (+129), and Hank (+69)
  • Brand names—Otis (+160), Mack (+145), Ford (+143), Oakley (+90), Stetson (+64), and Coleman (+60)
  • Place names—Cairo (+164), Denver (+155), and Houston (+86)
  • Pompous titles—Royal (+105), Bishop (+61), and Messiah (+54)
  • University names—Baylor (+152), Princeton (+85), and Duke (+64)
  • Biblical references—Canaan (+271), Shiloh (+149), Ariel (+143), Malakai (+127), and Eden (+97)
  • Biblical names—Jedidiah (+562), Adriel (+148), Azariah (+135), Kohen (+131), Immanuel (+105), Tobias (+103), Hezekiah (+96), Joziah (+79), and Chaim (+72)
  • Classical gods and legends—Titan (+190), Achilles (+155), Apollo (+151), Atlas (+149), and Legend (+149)

Predictions for the Coming Year

  • Girls: Last year, I picked Harper to break into the top 10. I was right—Harper was #10 in 2015. Now I’m picking Amelia (#12) to jump onto the top 10 next year and Emily to fall off the top 10 list in the next two years.
  • Boys: Last year, I picked Logan to break into the top 10. I was wrong—Logan fell a notch to #14 in 2015. Now I’m picking Oliver (#19) to move into the top 15 next year and into the top 10 the following year.


  • Don’t be the last family on your street to pick a name that rhymes with Jayden—whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl. Most names that rhyme with Jayden (such as Ayden, Hayden, and Brayden) have been dropping in popularity for the last few years. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Jayden fell five notches on the boys’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#15 to #20). But did you know Jayden fell 117 notches on the girls’ list from 2014 to 2015 (#540 to #657)?
  • Naming children after young, attractive pop stars and athletes is fraught with danger. Most parents sensibly lose interest in naming their child after a favorite child celebrity when that star morphs from a cute, clean-cut adolescent to an awkward adult. Most people familiar with the careers of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan understand that the cutest and cuddliest celebs are likely to go off the rails at some point—if only because they have more disposable income than you ever did at the age of 20. For this reason, it’s a lot safer to stick to historical figures—about whom unpleasant surprises rarely pop up.
  • Names that create the impression of perfection or excellence are likely to cause unintended consequences, including disrespectful back talk. Some of the fastest rising names for boys could be accurately described as “pompous titles,” such as Royal. If you’re not the Duke or Duchess of Cambridge, your child isn’t royal. Also, in the “Star Kids” section of this book, you’ll notice that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian named their son Saint. No child behaves like a saint for long on any given day—even a child named Saint.

Most Popular Names of 2015

Every year the Social Security Administration releases the latest baby name popularity information. Here’s what I think are the most interesting and salient trends from the past year.

  1. The Top 10 Names

Girls: Emma, Olivia, and Sophia maintained their rank order of #1, #2, and #3, as did Mia at #6. Ava, Abigail, Charlotte, and Harper each moved up a notch to #4, #7, #9, and #10. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s “crowning” choice to name their daughter Charlotte last year undoubtedly helped that name’s rise in popularity. Isabella and Emily each fell a notch to #5 and #8. Just like last year, Emily is the only name in the top 10 that ends in an “ee” sound. I expect Emily to quietly slip off the top 10 list in the next year or two.

Boys: The top 6 boys’ names maintained their rank order from last year, as did Alexander at #8. However, the rank order of the remaining three names changed, with James rising two notches to #7, Michael falling two notches to #9, Daniel falling out of the top 10 to #12, and Benjamin entering the list at #10. Notice that five of the top 10 names have biblical roots and five use soft consonants (e.g., Noah and Liam).

  1. The Next Ten Names

Girls: Every name on the next 10 list changed rank. Names that rose two or three positions included Amelia (#15) and Grace (#19). Names that lost two or three positions included Madison (#11), Sofia (#14), and Avery (#16). Notice that of the two names on the next 10 list that end with an “ee” sound (Avery and Chloe), only the one that didn’t feature the letter y rose in rank.

Boys: Two names on this list that had strong gains were Lucas (+3) and Oliver (+13). Notable declines included Daniel (-2) and Jayden (-5). Considering Olivia’s #2 position on the girls’ top 10 list, I wouldn’t be surprised if Oliver moved onto the boys’ top 10 list in the next few years.

  1. The Top 100 Names

Girls: The names that made the biggest gains were Hazel (+42), Aurora (+37), Alexa (+31), Quinn (+29), Mila (+19), Eleanor (+18), Violet (+17), Stella (+15), and Riley (+12). Notice that four of these names end with an “ah” sound and only one ends with an “ee” sound (Riley). The names that took the biggest hits in popularity were Annabelle (-35), Alexis (-21), Arianna (-16), Peyton (-16), Aubree (-16), Hailey (-13), Gabriella (-11), and Anna (-10).

Boys: The names that made the biggest gains were Theodore (+27), Ezra (+26), Lincoln (+21), Mateo (+21), Grayson (+16), Sawyer (+16), Hudson (+15), and Oliver (+13). The names that took the biggest hits in popularity were Ayden (-13), Brandon (-11), Jason (-11), Evan (-9), Tyler (-9), Andrew (-8), Joshua (-8), Jayden (-5), and Kayden (-5). Notice that rhyming names Ayden, Jayden, and Kayden all declined, which suggests they and all their variations are falling out of favor.

  1. The Top 1,000 Names

Girls: The fastest-rising names were Alaia (+2,012), Meilani (+1,836), Aitana (+1,721), Aislinn (+1,385), Taya (+1,107), Adaline (+1,029), Briar (+#597), Zelda (+512), Thea (+312), and Addilyn (+208). The fastest-falling names were Annabell (-500), Anabel (-500), Cindy (-343), Anabella (-333), Aranza (-324), Anabelle (-272), Elsa (-201), Annabel (-174), and Annabella (-139).Note that many variations of Annabelle—a name currently in the top 100 but whose rank change was -35—lost favor. Also of note is a name that fell off the top 1,000 list: Isis. In Egyptian mythology, Isis is the goddess of love and fertility. In 2014 the name ranked #705. Now the name brings to mind ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which likely explains why the name’s popularity has plummeted.

Boys: The fastest-rising names were Riaan (+1,360), Huxley (+392), Wilder (+360), Canaan (+271), Kaison (+251), Omari (+198), Matteo (+182), Kyrie (+172), Killian (+163), Adriel (+148), Legend (+144), and Beckham (+129). The fastest-falling names were Arnav (-666), Jayse (-257), Neymar (-240), Rylee (-228), Brenden (-187), Gannon (-120), Jase (-77), Jayceon (-63), Peyton (-50), and Jonathon (-41). Knowing that Jason was losing popularity on the top 100 list, I wasn’t surprised to see that less popular variations of that name also lost favor.

What’s the Most Popular Girls’ Name in the World ?

Go ahead and guess.

In an article in Live Science, Rachel Cruze revealed that after studying baby-name statistics from 49 countries, Laura Wattenberg discovered that the most popular baby name for girls in the whole, wide world (in it’s five most popular forms) is:

More specifically, Wattenberg discovered that Sofia and related names is the #1 name in 9 countries and either #2 or #3 in 20 other countries. Here’s what she said when she realized how dominant Sofia/Sophia was:
“It just blew me away that so many different languages and cultures would arrive at the same sound at the same time. I guess that really says something about the way culture is transmitted today.”

I suppose in about 25 years Sofia/Sophia/Sophie/Sofie/Zsófia will be considered “grandma names” and won’t be the world’s most popular girl’s names any more. For the moment, these are probably the last names you should consider for your baby girl (apart from ridiculous names like: Nutella, Cheese, Hashtag, and other names that make people wonder, “What were they thinking?”)

FYI, Sophia is a Greek name that means wisdom. This positive meaning has helped the name achieve worldwide popularity. So have famous namesakes like movie actress Sophia Lauren, movie director Sophia Coppola and TV star Sofia Vergara.


What’s in a Name? Answers to 7 Questions.

I recently answered some baby naming questions for Alicia at Bottle Poppin’ Mama.  Check out her questions below and feel free to leave one of your own in the comments.

  • How do you conduct your research in compiling this list of names?
  • What are your most popular Boys & Girls Names predictions for 2016?
  • What do you think of the gender neutral naming phenomenon?
  • How influential are celebrities/pop culture when it comes to naming children?
  • Why do you think we are seeing a resurgence of more classical names?
  • How do parents rate the importance of a unique name/unique spelling?
  • What is a good approach to deciding on a name for a child when family members can’t agree?

To read my answers check out “What’s In A Name?” at Bottle Poppin’ Mama.


These Are a Few of My Favorite Recently Popular Names

Every year we add the latest newly popular names to 100,000+ Baby Names, so people considering them for use can look them up and learn about their meaning and origin. Specifically, we add names which have gained enough popularity to be added to the Social Security Administration’s lists of the 1,000 most popular boys’ and girls’ names.

Many of the newly popular names are new variations of names already on the list, such as Lorelai, a variation of Lorelei. Some are familiar only to people who watch  certain TV shows, like Khaleesi, a name popularized by “Game of  Thrones”. (Needless to say, the problem with names like Lorelai and Khaleesi is that they are often difficult to spell and/or pronounce.)

Some newly popular names are place names, like Maylasia and Ireland. Some are the last names of celebrities and athletes, like Anniston, Lennon and Beckham. And some are combinations of two names that just sound good together, like Lillyana.

Just for fun, I thought you might enjoy a quick look at some of the most appealing newly popular names I’ve come across over the last few years. However, instead of giving you the precise origins and meanings I use in my book, I’ll just mention the reason I think some of these names might be of interest.

Newly Popular Boys’ Names Over the Past Few Years:

Baylor (the name of a great, Texas university)
Beckham (the last name of an English soccer star)
Dash (a name that implies speed and energy)
Nash (the name an old car brand and a game-theory expert featured in “A Beautiful Mind.”)
Ronin (a feudal Japanese samurai)
Rylee (a fun new spelling for Riley)
Tiago and Thiago (a Brazilian basketball star who plays in the NBA)
Xavi (a nickname for Xavier and the name a Spanish soccer star)

Newly Popular Girls’ Names Over the Past Few Years:

Anniston (the last name of the actress who played Rachael  in “Friends”)
Elliot (a boys’ name that’s now being used for  girls)
Everly (the last name of two famous brothers who made music in the ‘50s and ‘60s)
Henley (the location—on the Thames river—of a rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge)
Journee (the French word for day)
Juniper (an evergreen shrub whose aroma can be found in gin)
Lennon (the last name of one of the most famous Beatles)
Lillyana (a combination of two names that sound great together)
Malaysia (a country that has become a name for girls)
Oakley (a sporty and cool brand of sunglasses)
Sutton (an upscale street on Manhattan’s chic east side)

9780684039992 100,000+ Baby Names is available in stores and online.


What Are the Trendiest Popular Names of All Time?

A biotechnologist named David Taylor has come up with a new way to study trendy, popular names. Instead of looking at currently “hot” names from TV shows and movies, he used a chemistry algorithm called “chromatography” to analyze Social Security Administration data from inception to date for the purpose of finding the trendiest popular names of all time.

The names he found had made the biggest up and down moves are likely to surprise you. Perhaps you’re thinking of newly popular names like Khaleesi (“Game of Thrones”) or Arya (“Hunger Games”). Nope, Taylor was looking for “the trendiest popular baby names of all time”—which refers to all the Social Security popularity data in more than a century–since 1900. So, here are the top four names he came up with:

The Trendiest Popular Names for Boys:
Jason (extremely popular in the 70s)
Mark (extremely popular in the 50s and 60s)

The Trendiest Popular Names for Girls:
Linda (extremely popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s
Shirley (extremely popular in the 30s)

So if your name is Mark, or Linda you’re probably a grandpa or grandma. If your name is Shirley, you’re a great grandma or you’re under a gravestone. If your name is Jason, you’re just over or under the BIG 40.

What’s worthwhile about Taylor’s chromatography approach to popularity is that he focuses our attention on HUGE up and down trends, which makes the kind of trends most pundits write about pale in comparison. It’s worthwhile clicking on the link to read the vocative article, so you can see the magnitude of the trends (as demonstrated by Taylor’s charts.) They remind me of stocks that triple, quadruple or quintuple in a bull market, but if you don’t get out in time, you lose it all.

Knowing that names like Jaden (a combination of Jason and Hayden) and Nevea (heaven spelled backwards) are baby-naming fads should warn you that when the uptrend is over, the downtrend might look like Taylor’s charts for Jason and Shirley (both of which were extremely popular for only a single decade).





Jack and Emily Are Ireland’s Most Popular Names in 2013 According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office

Ireland’s Five Most Popular Babies’ Names in 2013

(Boys )         (Girls)

Jack              Emily

James           Emma

Daniel          Sophie

Conor           Ella

Sean             Amelia

Major Findings from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office:

-Jack and Emily were the most popular babies’ names registered in 2013. Jack retains the top position it has held every year since 2007 and Emily has retained the number one spot that it first claimed in 2011.

-The top five boys’ names (Jack, James, Daniel, Conor and Sean) have been the top five since 2007 with the order changing slightly from 2012, when Conor finished in 4th place ahead of Sean. Indeed four of the top five boys’ names (Jack, Sean, Conor and James) have been in the top five since 1998. This is the third consecutive year that Emily has been the most popular name chosen for girls. Emma, Sophie, Ella and Amelia were the next most frequently chosen names to make it to the top five most popular names for girls in 2013.

-There were two first time entries to the top 100 for boys: Kai and Kayden. The highest new entry at number 85 was Kai, rising from 103rd place in 2012. The name rising in popularity most was Kayden, up 44 places from 135th place in 2012.

-There were four first time entrants to the top 100 for girls: Sadie, Sienna, Fiadh and Poppy. The highest new entry at 77th place was Sadie rising from 139th place in 2012. The name rising in popularity most was Fiadh up 64 places from 146th place in 2012.

-As in previous years, the tables show that girls are given a wider variety of names than boys with 4,643 girls’ names registered compared to 3,628 boys’ names. Despite the greater number of male births, a smaller range of names were used for boys than for girls.

-In most areas of the country one of the top five boys’ names took the number one spot.

-Only six areas favoured names outside of the top five; In Kilkenny, Michael was the most popular boy’s name registered in 2013 while Alex was the most popular in Cork City and Aaron in Waterford City. Ryan proved to be the most popular for baby boys registered in Cavan in 2013 while Charlie along with James and Ryan were the most popular in Monaghan. In Leitrim, Mark shared the most popular boys’ name with Conor.

-For girls, there was a wider range of names outside the top five that were county and city favourites. These included Ava, Caoimhe, Kate, Grace, Hannah, Mia, Rachel and Sarah.

The Social Security Administration’s 2013 Top-Ten Lists Are Out: Noah and Sophia Are #1


I’m thrilled to post this USA Today article by Sharon Jayson announcing the top-ten boys’ and girls’ names in 2013, because it contains interviews with me and my good friend, Jennifer Moss, discussing what’s up, what’s down, and why.

That said, Here are the top 10 boys and girls names for 2013:

   BOYS:                            GIRLS:

1. Noah                             1. Sophia

2. Liam                              2. Emma

3. Jacob                             3. Olivia

4. Mason                           4. Isabella

5. William                         5. Ava

6. Ethan                            6.  Mia

7. Michael                        7. Emily

8. Alexander                    8. Abigail

9. Jayden                          9. Madison

10. Daniel                        10. Elizabeth

I hope you’ll use the link, above to read Sharon Jayson’s excellent article.


How The Social Security Administration’s 2013 Top-10 Names Compare with Baby Center’s 2013 Top-10 Names

The Social Security Administration’s top-ten List for 2013 has just been published. However, Baby Center’s Top-Ten List (based on the names reported to them by registered users of their website) was published about five months ago–and it’s been the best indication we’ve had about baby-naming trends for 2013 until the SSA popularity data was published. Keep in mind that parents who register with Baby Center are likely to have higher socio-economic status than SSA’s data base, which includes all American babies born.

In this post we will show the data two ways:

First, we will look at the SSA 2013 data in the left-hand column and compare it with BC 2013 data and SSA 2012 data, for the top-10 Boys’ and Girls’ Names.

SSA 2013   vs. BC 2013   vs.   SSA 2012            SSA 2013 vs.   BC 2013   vs.   SSA 2012

1. Noah           #5 BC13      #4 SSA 2012          1. Sophia       #1 BC 2013      #1 SSA 2012
2. Liam            #3 BC13      #6 SSA 2013          2. Emma        #2 BC 2013      #2 SSA 2012
3. Jacob           #9 BC13      #1 SSA 2013          3. Olivia        #3 BC 2013      #4 SSA 2012
4. Mason         #6 BC13      #2 SSA 2013          4. Isabella     #4 BC 2013     #3 SSA 2012
5. William     #20 BC13      #5 SSA 2013         5. Ava             #6 BC 2013     #5 SSA 2012
6. Ethan          #8 BC13       #3 SSA 2013         6. Mia             #5 BC 2013     #8 SSA 2012
7. Michael     #14 BC13      #7 SSA 2013         7. Emily          #9 BC 2013     #6 SSA 2012
8. Alexander #17 BC13      #9 SSA 2013         8. Abigail     #14 BC 2013     #7 SSA 2012
9. Jayden         #7 BC13      #8 SSA 2013          9. Madison   #12 BC 2013     #9 SSA 2012
10. Daniel     #24 BC13    #11 SSA 2013       10. Elizabeth   #46 BC 2013  #10 SSA 2012

Major Findings:

When you look at the SSA 2013 top-ten rankings and compare them with the BC 2013 rankings, the differences are striking for the boys’ list, but fairly modest for the girls’ list.

-The top-ten girls’ names for SSA 2013 and BC 2013 are very closely correlated. Elizabeth is the only girls’ name that shows a glaring difference. (It is #10 on the SSA list and #46 on the Baby Center list.)

-And looking at the SSA changes from 2012, the changes were minor. Mia moved up two notches; Olivia moved up one notch–as Isabella, Emily and Abigail moved down one notch.

-By contrast, five of the top-ten boys’ names for SSA have glaring differences with Baby Center’s top-ten rankings. The rankings for William, Michael, Alexander, Noah and Jacob are all significantly higher on the SSA list than on the Baby Center list.

-And looking at SSA changes from 2012 to 2013, the big news is that Noah and Liam hopped over long-time #1 Jacob to get the top two ranks on the SSA list.

Now we will look at BC 2013 data in the left-hand column and compare it to SSA 2013 data and BC 2012 data for the Top-10 Boys’ and Girls’ Names.

   BC 2013   vs. SSA 2013  vs. BC2012            BC 2013 vs.  SSA 2013 vs.  BC 2012

1. Jackson  #16 SSA 2013     #2 BC 2012           1. Sophia      #1 SSA 2013   #1 BC 2012
2. Aiden     #12 SSA 2013     #1 BC 2012           2. Emma       #2 SSA 2013   #2 BC 2012
3. Liam        #2 SSA 2013      #4 BC 2012           3. Olivia        #3 SSA 2013   #3 BC 2012
4. Lucas    #23 SSA 2013      #7 BC 2012           4. Isabella     #4 SSA 2013   #4 BC 2012
5. Noah      #1 SSA 2013      #6 BC 2012            5. Mia            #6 SSA 2013   #9 BC 2012
6. Mason    #4 SSA 2013      #5 BC 2012            6. Ava            #5 SSA 2013   #5 BC 2012
7. Jayden    #9 SSA 2013      #9 BC 2012            7. Lily           #27 SSA 2013  #6 BC 2012
8. Ethan     #6 SSA 2013      #3 BC 2012            8. Zoe           #31 SSA 2013   #7 BC 2012
9. Jacob      #3 SSA 2013      #8 BC 2012            9. Emily        #7 SSA 2013    #8 BC 2012
10. Jack    #40 SSA 2013    #11 BC 2012          10. Chloe     #14 SSA 2012  #10 BC 2012

Major Findings:

When you look at the Baby Center top-ten rankings and compare them to the SSA 2013 rankings, the differences are even more evident.

-Baby Center’s #1 boys’ name, Jackson, ranked #16 on SSA.  Aiden, Lucas, Jack and Jacob are three other names that ranked much higher on Baby Center’s top-ten list than on the SSA list.

-The correlation between the two lists was closer on the top-ten girls’ lists but Lily and Zoe ranked a lot higher on Baby Center than on the SSA list.

-The changes between BC 2013 and BC 2012 are not nearly as great as the differences between BC 2013 and SSA 2013.