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.


Dear Bruce, I Noticed You’ve Been Writing A Lot About Nameberry; What’s Up with That?

Dear Bruce,

Q. I noticed you’ve been writing a lot of posts about Nameberry. What’s up with that?

A. I write about Nameberry’s articles for the same reason I write about notorious celebrity baby names. Let me explain:

People pay a lot of attention to what celebrities name their babies. I enjoy using outrageous celebrity baby names as “teaching opportunities.” I also like to use charming celebrity baby names for the same purpose, although I don’t find them quite as often. Why? Because many celebrities seem to care more about attracting attention to themselves by choosing outrageous names than picking names that will work well for their children over a lifetime. (As you may know, that’s my main concern.)

Nameberry seems to be one of the leading sources of baby-name advice. My impression is that one of their main concerns is the “fashion” aspect of baby naming. Many of their articles have titles such as “Baby Names on the Rise,” “Hot Baby Names,” “Cool and Unusual Baby Names,” and “Neglected Namesake Names.” In other words, they often write about “what’s hot” and/or “what’s not.” Many of the names they feature are “on the rise” or “hot” because of a celebrity tie-in (a rising actor, model, or athlete) or a media connection (a hot TV show or movie). And some of the names they feature are “neglected” or “forgotten” but are implicitly  ready for a comeback, based (I suppose) on a strong belief in their writers’ ability to influence or predict naming trends in the future (aka hubris).

I read Nameberry’s articles because I’m curious about how pop culture affects baby-naming trends. I think their writers are very good at discovering and disseminating information about the latest trends. However, I’ve noticed two practices described in some Nameberry articles that disturb me.

1. Nameberry implies that “hot” names and names “on the rise” are appropriate for use without considering their meanings or the suitability as role models of the celebrities, athletes, TV shows or movies connected to the names. They ignore the fact that many celebrities have personal or professional lives that may become“train wrecks” in the future which could damage the impression made by their names. And they ignore the fact that many TV shows and movies have bizarre plot twists and sequels that could change/damage the impression made by the names associated with them.

2. Nameberry implies that dusty old esoteric names, which before the article was published were “rarely used” or “forgotten by time,” are now ready for use as a name for your child (immediately after the name has been featured in a Nameberry “neglected names” article.) More specifically:

Nameberry’s “Names on the Rise” articles suggest that rising names are implicitly worth considering. But when pompous titles such as Major, King, Messiah, and Prince showed up among the fastest-rising names on the Social Security Administration boys’ list in May, I felt the need to warn parents that those titles placed an impossible burden on their children. They’re not kings or messiahs and they never will be. Nameberry didn’t discuss that issue.

Nameberry’s “Hot Names” articles focus on celebrities in the news and implicitly suggest that the heat celebs with these monikers generate in the media make the names worth considering for your children. But notice what happened to the appeal of names such as Paris, Britney, Lindsey, Miley, and Lance after bad news about such-named celebs hit the media. I feel the need to warn parents to avoid names of current celebrities with whom they’re currently smitten. One scandal (drinking, drugs, sex, domestic violence or worse) could forever wreck the names’ appeal and hurt your child’s self image in the process. Nameberry seems unaware of this risk.

Nameberry’s “Cool, Unusual Names” articles feature names that were selected for ten or fewer children in the previous year. The clear implication of these articles is that because rarely chosen names have appeared in a “Cool, Unusual” Nameberry article, they’re suddenly “cool”—as if by magic. I’d argue that these names have been rejected by the American public for good reasons, which I’m happy to spell out if doing so warns parents away from choosing oddball names such as: Hebe (a name bigots use to bad-mouth Jews), Leda (a woman who, in Greek mythology, was raped by Zeus, who took the form of a swan), or Carola (a German name that’s difficult for Americans to pronounce—see my “Dear Bruce” article about this name). These are some of the “cool, unusual” names that Nameberry recently recommended.

Nameberry’s “Neglected Namesake Names” article (I’ve seen only one) features esoteric and obscure names that seem to come from a different century—when they might have been less unattractive than they are now. When Nameberry dusts them off and features them in an article, the implication is that they’re now ready for use. I feel the need to let parents know that their children are likely to be embarrassed or teased for having such “lost in time” names as Effa (a four-letter word that calls to mind another four-letter word that starts with “f”), Gerty (a name that rhymes with a word for excrement that starts with “t”), and Mertilla (a name that sounds like “Myrtle” as in “Myrtle the Turtle”—which is what she’ll likely be called). These are some of the “neglected namesake names” that Nameberry recently recommended.

As you can see, I have a philosophical disagreement with Nameberry and with self-centered celebrities.  Nameberry  focuses on the fashion of baby naming (regardless of the effect of the names on the children). Likewise celebrities like Kim & Kanye choose names that will generate attention for themselves (regardless of the fact that the names are also likely to embarrass their children).

By contrast, I remind parents to think carefully about the effects their child’s name will have on him or her. I ask parents to consider: How will kids in your child’s kindergarten or high school class respond to the name? How will blind dates respond to the name? How will college admissions officers and personnel directors respond to the name? My goal is to remind parents that the name they give their child is primarily for their child’s benefit; not for a laugh the name may get on a TV-talk show when the celebrity announces it or the “ka-ching” sound Nameberry “hears” when website views of their  articles cause advertising dollars or other fees to flow in.

My reach is extremely limited when compared to that of either Nameberry or celebrities. I fear the power of celebrities and baby-name “fashion” pundits to influence naive young parents to choose names that will embarrass their children or subject them to teasing. So I speak out and use a combination of common sense, parenting know-how and humor in a quixotic attempt to counter their influence with expecting parents to the extent possible.

P.S. I’m not the only pundit who had the guts to say that North West was a bad joke when Kanye West mentioned it on the “Tonight Show” to Jay Leno, and a worse joke (on his daughter) when he actually picked North West as a name for her. But I seem to be the only pundit who is reporting that the “emperor” (in this case, Nameberrry) “has no clothes on” when they write and promote articles recommending awful names  likely to be a burden to or harmful to children.

I enjoy ridiculing the most outrageous naming blunders made by celebrities and by Nameberry (and other pundits, like Belly Ballot). It’s fun for me and fun for my readers. And that’s why I’ve been writing a lot about Nameberry, lately. In my view, a large percent of the names they recommend are awful. And Pamela Redmond Satran (who writes most of the articles I’ve criticized in this and other posts) has just (as of 1/1 8/14) written yet another “Cool, Unusual” article containing more ridiculous and harmful recommendations for 2014. Nameberry sent it out to the media. And Huffington Post reprinted it under their prestigious banner.

When that happens, an amusing “fashion” article turns into a real psychological and social problem for the children who are given those outrageous names. I doubt that publishing harmful baby-naming advice is in the mission statement of either Nameberry or Huff Po. Sooner or later, they’re going to hear about this issue from their readers.

The Themes Behind the Simultaneously Fastest-Rising Boys’ and Girls’ Names in 2012

You may have read articles about “hot names” written before the Social Security Administration released their authoritative list of the 1,000 most popular names in 2012. Forget all about them. They were based on “clicks” on websites rather than on the names that actually appeared on birth certificates during 2012. Here is my report on the themes behind the fastest-rising boys’ and girls’ names in 2012. On this list I’ve tried to explain the rapid rise in popularity of names which seemed to be rising for the same (thematic) reason, simultaneously on the lists of fast-rising boys’ and girls’ names. Most reports about “hot” or fast-rising names focus on celebrity tie-ins. I’m more interested in looking for patterns that connect several fast-rising names to a particular underlying theme.

1. Ari- or Ary- variations
Arya was the No. 1 fastest-rising girls’ name, followed by soundalike name Aria and root names Arielle and Ariel. How interesting that Ari was the ninth fastest-rising boys’ name. Ari and Arya/Aria could be nicknames for either Ariel and Arielle (Hebrew) or Aristotle (Greek).

2. Shakespearean names
Romeo and Juliette (whose Shakespearean origin is obvious) were fast-rising names on the boys’ and girls’ lists, respectively. Orlando (the name of the romantic male lead in “As You Like It”) was a fast-rising boys’ name.

3. Christmas names
Noel (a fast-rising boys’ name) and Noelle (a fast-rising girls’ name) zipped up the lists simultaneously, at about the same pace.

The Themes Behind the Fastest-Rising Girls’ Names in 2012

You may have read articles about “hot names” written before the Social Security Administration released their authoritative list of the 1,000 most popular names in 2012. Forget all about them. They were based on “clicks” on websites rather than on the names that actually appeared on birth certificates during 2012. Here is my report on the themes behind the fastest-rising girls’ names in 2012. I’ve tried to explain the rapid rise in popularity of names which seemed to be rising for the same (thematic) reason. Most reports about “hot” or fast-rising names focus on celebrity tie-ins. I’m more interested in looking for patterns that connect several fast-rising names to a particular underlying theme.

1. “-Lynn/-Lyn” suffix names
Raelynn was the fifth fastest-rising girls’ name. Also in the top 20 fastest-rising girls’ names were Raelyn, Marilyn, Adelynn and Adalyn. Not too far below those names is Adelyn. Note that Marilyn was undoubtedly helped by the popularity of the TV show “Smash.”

2. Rose and variation
Rosalie was the sixth fastest-rising girls’ name. Further down the list you’ll also find the root name, Rose (a “grandma” name which appears to be coming back into fashion).

3. Spiritual/religious names
Haven was the seventh fastest-rising spiritual and/or religious name for girls. Others include Miracle, Journey and Genesis.

4. Camila and variations
Myla, a variation of Mila, was the 20th fastest-rising girls’ name. But not far behind came Mila (popularized by actress Mila Kunis). Mila is a nickname for root name Camila and variation, Kamila. Both were also on the list of fast-rising names. Camila moved up strongly to an overall popularity ranking of No. 48 (from No. 61 in 2011).

5. Skylar and variations
Skyler was the 22nd fastest-rising girls’ name. It was followed by root name Skylar and nickname Skye. Of these names, Skylar ranked highest in overall popularity at No. 87 (up from No. 145 in 2011).

6. Charlie as a girl’s name
Charlie was the 28th fastest-rising girls’ name; it was followed by an alternate spelling: Charlee.

7. Nature names
Ivy was the 23rd fastest-rising name for girls, and the fastest rising nature name–perhaps due to controversy that promoted awareness of Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy. The only other fast-rising nature names were Willow and Iris.

8. Place names
Paris was back on the list of fast-rising place names. Much farther down the list (in the moderate-riser category) were Londyn, Charlotte, Georgia, Caroline, Brittany, Bristol and Madisyn. To put Paris into perspective, it ranked No. 274 in overall popularity in 2012, in contrast to more popular (top-100 in overall popularity) names like Madison, Charlotte, Broooklyn, Savannah, and Sydney–all of which declined in popularity from 2011 to 2012.

9. Musical names
The fastest-rising musical name for girls was Lyric. Other fast-rising musical names were Melody, Harmony and Harper. It should be noted that Harper ranked No. 24 in overall popularity.

10. Four-syllable, “-iana” suffix names
There were three four-syllable names that ended with an “-iana” suffix: Lilliana, Elliana and Jiuliana. I’m sure it will be a pleasure to call those girls to dinner, some day.

The Themes Behind the Fastest-Rising Boys’ Names in 2012

You may have read articles about “hot names” written before the Social Security Administration released their authoritative list of the 1,000 most popular names in 2012. Forget all about them. They were based on “clicks” on websites rather than on the names that actually appeared on birth certificates during 2012. Here is my report on the trends behind the fastest-rising boys’ names in 2012. On this list I’ve tried to explain the rapid rise in popularity of names which seemed to be rising for the same (thematic) reason. Most reports about “hot” or fast-rising names focus on celebrity tie-ins. I’m more interested in looking for patterns that connect several fast-rising names to a particular underlying theme.

1. Pompous titles
Three of the top 10 fastest-rising boys’ names were Major, Messiah and King. A little farther down the fast-riser list was Prince.

2. Nicknames for Jason
Jase was the third fastest-rising boys’ name, along with variations, Jayce and Jace. I noticed that Jason’s overall popularity declined to 76 in 2012 (from 69 in 2011). Apparently parents were looking for informal, one-syllable nicknames.

3. X-names
Knox was the 12th fastest-rising boys’ name. Also rising quickly were Jaxson and Jaxon, Paxton and Braxton, Dexter and Maxwell.

4. Z-names
Zayden was the 14th and Zaiden was the 19th fastest-rising boys’ name. Not far behind were Zachariah and Zander. In terms of overall popularity, Jayden declined to seventh (from fourth in 2011) and Aiden declined to tenth (from ninth in 2011). Apparently, parents were looking for more distinctive soundalike options to Jayden and Aiden.

5. “-Ett” suffix names
Fast-rising “-ett” suffix names include 16th fastest-rising boys’ name Barrett, followed by Everett, Bennett, Emmett and Beckett.

6. Weapon/hunter/military names
Remington (a popular rifle brand) was the 17th fastest-rising boys’ name. Also rising rapidly were Gunnar, Gunner and Archer, along with Cason, Kason and Kasen — names that sound like caisson, a military ammunition box celebrated in the U.S. Army’s official song, “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” The name Major also fits this military theme.

7. “-Ton” suffix names
I’ve already mentioned Remington, Paxton and Braxton. Other fast-rising names that fit this theme were Weston and two K-names: Kolton and Kingston.

8. Variations of Leonardo
Leon was the 22nd fastest-rising boy’s name. It was followed by Leo and Leonel (which is also a variation of Lionel).

9. Place names
Fast-rising place names included Orlando (Florida), Kingston (Jamaica), Hudson (River) and Davis (California).

Nameberry’s 13 “Hot” Names for 2013; Why My Name (Bruce) Is on That List

It isn’t easy to find out which names are “hot” in 2013. Our most authoritative source of popularity data is the Social Security Administration. SSA will publish 2012 popularity data around Mother’s Day, which means pundits referring to names that were popular “last year” are referring to names given in 2011.

Other resources like Pamela Redmond Satran’s blog can be very helpful to parents who want to know which names are hot and which names are not. In a recent post, Satran writes about 13 names whose “views” on her website are way up in 2013 versus 2012. (In other words, more parents have looked them up this year in comparison with last year.)

What’s harder to know is precisely why some names have become hot, and Satran does a good job of trying to figure that out and explain it (to the extent that’s possible). For example, the name Severine is newly popular because Severine is the latest Bond girl in the most recent James Bond movie, “Skyfall.” Satran also attributes the upsurge in the popularity of the name Marnie largely to the Marnie character on HBO’s popular “Girls” series.

What caught my eye were Satran’s comments about the name Bruce. Apparently, my name “is attracting new interest as the real name of both The Hulk and Batman.” I discovered there have been three Dark Knight (Batman) movies released over the past eight years. The most recent is “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman.

The last Incredible Hulk movie was released in 2008, but “The Avengers” (2012) seems to be the movie that has put Bruce on the “hot names list.” It features four superheroes (plus two ordinary humans — Black Widow and Hawkeye — who have extraordinary fighting abilities) who team up to stop the Norse god Loki from gaining power over the human race. A big box-office hit, it features Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk. What convinced me that “The Avengers” is impacting name choices is that another character from the movie, Thor (played by Chris Helmsley), is also on Satran’s “hot 13” list.

It doesn’t really matter if a name like Bruce or Severine or Marnie is “hot” because of some movie, TV show or rock star. It’s more important to consider what it will do for your son or daughter. Apart from the Bond flick, Severine is a little-known French name that may be difficult for some people to spell or pronounce properly (which your child is unlikely to find amusing). Marnie is a cute, feminine name, but it has a diminutive “ie” ending. The macro trend for girls’ names is this: Parents increasingly choose girls’ names that have “a” endings or neutral-consonant endings (like Ava or Madison) because they tend to come across as more “adult” than names that end in “y,” “i” or “ie.”

What will the name Bruce do for your child? It gave me a famous namesake who became a role model for me: not Bruce Wayne or Dr. Bruce Banner; not Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Jenner, Bruce Willis or Bruce Lee; but Robert the Bruce, the hero king of Scotland. If you know anything about his bio, you know he never gave up — even when his situation went from bleak to hopeless. He has played a big role in my life because I “started over” when I changed my name to Bruce. I also “started over” at four different jobs. And I started a company to publish a baby food cookbook in my back porch.

I bounced back from a divorce and the “Great Recession” (and several lesser recessions), which upset my financial well-being and dramatically changed the book business. Two years ago, I “started over” in a new business location with a tiny staff. Just a few months ago, I “started over” with a brand new blog: It seems that starting over and bouncing back are huge themes in my life, and for that reason, Robert the Bruce is a constant source of inspiration.

I hope you enjoy reading Pamela Redmond Satran’s article about thirteen names that are “hot” in 2013 because of what’s happening in the media. I also hope you go beyond what’s hot and dig much deeper into the short list of names you are considering, especially if you need to find just the right name for a baby you are waiting for and are hoping and praying will soon join your family.