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.