The Latest Trends: Why The Popularity of 76 Girls’ and Boys’ Names Dropped in 2013

When parents search for baby names, they often consider several names with the same theme, such as ethnic names, religious names–or names that sound alike or have different spellings. Here are some themes and choice clusters  that explain the rapid decline in popularity of 76 girls’ and boys’ names in 2013, as reflected in the official Social Security popularity data.


Girls’ Names That Declined in Popularity


Religious & Faith-Based Names: Names that reflect religious or faith-based themes are on the decline for girls. The most common examples of this trend are the declining popularity for Faith, Trinity and Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backwards).


Spanish Names: Perla is the 13th fastest-falling girls’ name. Others include: Mercedes, Fernanda, Paola, Estrella, Marisol, Raquel, Carmen, and Esmerelda. (Spanish boy’s names are also in a deep decline, even though the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. is rising.)


Jasmine, Variations & Sound-Alikes: Jasmine became popular in 1992 when Disney produced the blockbuster movie, “Aladdin.” (If you saw the movie, you’ll recall that Princess Jasmine was Aladdin’s love interest.) Jasmine quickly became the most popular name for both African-American and Hispanic girls. Jasmine has been declining steadily since 2006, Now Jasmine is sliding more rapidly; it has just fallen off the top 100 girls’ list.


Kayla/Makayla: Kayla and Makayla tied for the largest decrease in popularity on the top 100 list. Also declining rapidly was Kaylee. (This trend might be connected to the decline in popularity Katherine, the root name for Kay, Kayla and Kaylee.)


Boys’ Names that Declined in Popularity


Jayden Sound-Alikes: Jaidyn is the 4th fastest declining boys’ name. I counted more than 15 sound-alikes that were declining rapidly, before I stopped counting: Jaeden,,  Aydan, Bradyn, Braeden, Aidyn, Jaydon, Aaden, Braden, Aidan, Kaden, Hayden, Braydon, Brayden, Jaiden, Jaden, Ayden and, most importantly, Jayden (which slipped from t#7 to #9 (a drop of 22%).  (I think this is the beginning of the end for the long list of names that rhyme with Aiden–which is probably why they became popular, in the first place)


Spanish Names: Carlos, Jose, Juan and Luis are all top-100 names that have declined at the same time as the Hispanic population of the U.S. is rising. Other Spanish decliners include Pedro, Alejandro, Joaquin, Javier, Angel, Fernando, Jorge, Andres  and more. (This suggests that  Spanish-speaking parents are more interested in assimilating than in celebrating their ethnic identity by giving their boy a Spanish-sounding name.)


Giovanni & Variations: Giovanny, Jovani, Giovani and the original Italian root name, Giovanni, are in a state of rapid decline.


Brandon & Variations: Brennen is the 7th fastest declining boys’ name followed quickly by Brendon, Brenden, and Brenton. Even sound-almost-alike Landyn is falling.


Amare & Sound-Alikes: Damari is the fastest-declining name that sounds like Amare. Others include: Jabari, Kamari, Jamari, Jamarion, Jamar, Amari, and Omari. Even sound-almost-alike Armani is declining.


Tristan & Variations: Trystan is the 19th fastest-falling name. Also declining are variations Tristian, Tristen, Triston, and the original (legendary) name, Tristan.

The Latest Trends: Why the Popularity of 89 Girls’ and Boys’ Names Soared in 2013


When selecting names, parents often consider options that are similar in some way. For example, they may consider root names against their variations (William versus Liam), names that sound similar (Aubrey versus Audrey), names with the same theme (such as nature names, place names, ethnic names or religious names, or names with the same prefix or suffix. Below are some name clusters or themes that explain why the popularity of 89 boys’ and girls’ names rose rapidly in 2013, as reported by the Social Security Administration


Girls’ Names Rising Rapidly in Popularity


Everly/Everleigh: Everly was the 5th fastest rising girl’s name followed by Everly, the 6th fastest riser. (I rated Everly, the name Channing Tatum gave his baby daughter, as one of the best celebrity baby names of the year 2013.)


Place Names: Led by Dallas (the 15th fastest rising girls’ name) and India (the 17th fastest riser), more than 15 place names increased in popularity including: Ireland, Milan, Milana, Maylasia, Maylaya, Phoenix, Asia, Londyn, Adelaide, Dakota, Catalina, Georgia, Virginia and more. (Strangely, Sydney had one of the largest declines in popularity on the top 100 girls’ list.)


Flower, Shrub and Tree Names: Rosie was the 16th fastest rising name for girls. Rosie and Rose also increased in popularity. A variety of other flower, shrub and tree names also rose, including Dahlia, Sage, Saige, Azalea, Laurel, Juniper, Magnolia and Willow. (I recently met a woman named Magnolia. She told me she was the only woman she knew with that name. Apparently, reinforcements are on the way.)


Amelia, Mila and Sound-Alikes: As Amelia climbed onto the Next 10 list, Mila leaped onto the top 100 list and sound-alikes Myla, Emilia, Camila, Millie and Milania also increased in popularity. (You may recall that Mila is what Jenna Bush Hager wants friends and family to call her daughter, whom she named Margaret Laura, in 2013.)

Brand Names: Though I was surprised to see Oakley, a chic sunglasses brand, show up on the rapidly rising list for girls, I also noticed Chanel, a well-established perfume and designer brand on the list. (One prominent brand name that declined in 2013 was Mercedes.)


Virtue Names: Also rising rapidly were a variety of virtue names including Mercy, Felicity, Serenity, Serena, and Joy.


Hadley/Hadlee: Hadlee was the 12th fastest rising name for girls. Also rising rapidly was root name, Hadley.


“Annabel Lee”: Another fast-rising cluster included Anabel, Annabell, Annabelle, and Annabella–names popularized by Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “Annabel Lee,” which was written long before TV and movies were invented.

TV tie-ins: Daleyza (“Larrymania”) was the #1 fastest-rising girls’ name in 2013. Sadie (“Duck Dynasty”) had one of the largest percentage increases in popularity, from #119 in 2012 to #50 in 2012–a 58% increase in popularity.


Boys’ Names Rising Rapidly in Popularity


Variations of Jason: Jayceon was the #1 fastest rising boys’ name. Jayse was #4. Also rising rapidly were Jase, Jayce, Jayce and Jayson. However, the root name, Jason, declined. Apparently parents were seeking more contemporary forms of the mythological name. (You may recall that Jason led the Argonauts on a search for the Golden Fleece.)


Jackson/Jack & Variations: Jackson was the fastest rising name on the “Next 10 list. Related names like Jax, Jazen, Jaxon, Jack and Jaxton, also gained in popularity. (Popularity gains by these “macho” names is in contrast to gains on the top 10 list by “sensitive” names for boys with soft consonants.)


Pompous Titles: Duke was the 5th fastest rising boys’ name. Deacon was #19. Also rising rapidly were Royal, Major, King, Kingston, Messiah and Legend. (This trend should keep psychologists very busy.)


Weapons, Hunting & Battle Names: Names associated with weapons such as Remington, Gunner and Archer continued to rise rapidly, along with Gunnar, Kannon, Kayson, Kaysen, Cayson, Hunter and Killian. (This trend should please the NRA.)


Zane/Zayn and Other “Z “Names: Zayn was the 7th fastest-rising boys’s name. It’s a variation of root name ,Zane, which also rose rapidly along with  related variations, Zayne and  Zain. Also rising rapidly were unrelated “Z” names like Zaid, Zaiden, Zaire, and Zavier. (It seems that  “Z” names still have a “cool” and “macho” vibe.)


Arab Names: The most recognizable Arab names on the rapidly-rising boys’ names were Abdullah and Mohammad, followed by Ahmad, Amir, Ameer, Hassan, Mustafa, and Ibrahim, among others. (It takes courage to give your child an Arab name, because of fears people may have about them.)

TV Tie-ins:  Castiel (“Supernatural”) and Jase (“Duck Dynasty”) were the 5th and 16th fastest-rising names in 2013. Both names are associated with characters on TV shows.

Dania Ramirez Gives Her Twin Boys Greek Mythological Names

When Dominican actress, Dania Ramirez, named her twin boys in December, she picked names from Greek mythology: Aether (the personification of rare air only Gods could breath) and Gaia (the goddess of the earth). The star of “Devious Maids” explained that Aether and Gaia “were actually siblings in Greek mythology. My 12-year-old stepson’s name is Kai, which means ocean, and we wanted to connect them all. So now we have water, earth and air.”

In concept it makes a fascinating story. But because I like to use celebrity baby names as “teaching opportunities,” permit me to mention a few issues with the names she and her husband John Beverly Amos Land picked: John Aether and Gaia Jisssel.

1)    I suggest that parents use thematically related names for siblings, especially in the case of twins. Naming one of them John Aether and the other Gaia Jissel doesn’t seem “well-balanced” to me, even though Ramirez said they won’t use the name John often.

2)    Giving one of the twins the name of a goddess also disturbs the balance of the naming process. The inequality would come across more clearly if she had named one of her sons Arthur and the other son Venus, because that’s, in effect, what she did.

3)    My guess is that most friends and family members probably won’t be familiar with either Gaia or Aether—whether they speak Spanish or English. Ditto for the children the twins meet in daycare. In that case, their names won’t win them warm welcomes from their classmates either in kindergarten or in college. Many people who meet them won’t know what to make of the Greek names.

In short, I’m impressed by the intellectuality of the Ramirez-Land name choices but I suspect that one or both boys will wind up with a nickname that’s a lot easier and more fun for them to use. Too bad Ramirez didn’t provide both boys with both Anglo and Spanish alternative options.

You may recall that Uma Thurman give her daughter five names, most of which were unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. Six months later she decided to forget about those long, complicated names and call her daughter Luna. The Ramirez-Land twins may eventually wish they had different names, too.

More Questionable Predictions: Five 2014 Baby Name Trends from Belly Ballot

Because it takes time for trends to develop, it’s more probable for trends to continue from year to year than for trends to stop abruptly—to be replaced by new trends which reverse previous trends. Here’s a quick list of Belly Ballot’s predictions with some background info to help you see how plausible (or implausible) their predictions might be:

1. Unconventional Spellings. Examples: Izak, Karder, Riyan, Kooper, Mykel, Emhily, BrookeLynn, or Meeya

Comment: This is the trend that led me (in 1978) to publish  the Best Baby Name Book (which became the #1 name book in North America within 6 months, because it included “unconventional spellings” not found in any other books). So this is not, remotely, a new trend.

2. Show Biz Names. Examples: Hayley, Camille, Piper, Ichabod, Katrina, Milan, Lincoln, Everly, and Autumn

Comment: Not a new trend, either. There’s nothing new about characters from TV shows or celebrity baby names influencing name choices. I suppose Belly Ballot might suggest we keep our eyes on specific “show biz names” they cited as examples. OK, will do. FYI, I commented favorably about Everly (Tatum) and Autumn (Hallisey), so I’d be happy to see those names do well. I enjoyed reading Orange is the New Black and like the classic preppy name, Piper. And Lincoln is on my list of “inspirational names.

3. Hispanic is Caliente. Examples: Lola, Maria, Carmen, Sierra, Ernesto, Diego, Santos, Miguel, or Luis.

Comment: Hispanic names are cold (aka declining). When Belly Ballot sent out a post claiming Caucasians were increasingly giving their children Hispanic names, I countered by pointing out that the use of Hispanic names in the U.S. was declining, overall, due to the fact that Hispanic parents were increasingly selecting “American” names for their children. Apparently the use of Hispanic names by gringos wasn’t strong enough to offset naming trends by Hispanic-Americans. FYI, I commented favorably about Carmen (Baldwin) and Lola is on my top-10 list of Cool Names for Girls, while Cruz and Matteo are on my top-ten list of Cool Names for Boys.

4. Return to the Bible. Examples: Caleb, Levi, Luke, Isaiah, Naomi, Shiloh, or Judith

Comment: A highly improbable prediction! The number of biblical names in the latest top-ten boy’s list from the Social Security Administration is down. Abigail is the only biblical name on the SSA’s top-ten girl’s list (and it wasn’t in Baby Center’s top-ten. I strongly doubt this trend will materialize. FYI, I like biblical names, because they create a positive impression for values and character.

5. Mythological Names. Examples: Luna, Camilla, Gaia, Tristan, Damon, or Thor

Comment: I haven’t seen much evidence of this trend, yet. You may recall that Uma Thurman used Luna as a nickname after the first 5 (mostly unspellable and unpronounceable) names she came up with for her daughter self-destructed. I hope, for Belly Ballot’s sake that at least one of their predicted trends takes off. This trend isn’t a complete non-starter; though it seems like a low-odds Hail Mary pass at the end of the “prediction season” to me.

Summary: Seems to me we should call December the “silly season” for trend articles. Most of the “trends” proposed by both Belly Ballot and Nameberry seem highly unlikely to pan out; unless of course they are not remotely new and have (like “unconventional spellings”) been in a long-term uptrend for decades.

Dear Bruce: “Teen Mom” Star Kailyn Lowry Wants a Spanish Name for Her Baby

Why? Her husband is Javi Marroquin. They’re looking for a name that will work well in both English and Spanish. As soon as I read the headline of the article in, I had an answer. One of the most popular blogs I’ve written is about finding names that will work well for couples from different cultures or countries—who may speak different languages. It suggests a strategy that would work well for Kailyn Lowry and her husband Javi Marroquin. Pick place names. Why? No matter what language people speak, most people are familiar with them and can pronounce them. like Francisco (San Francisco) and Rosa (Santa Rosa).

Although I don’t know where Javi Marroquin is from, let’s imagine he’s from California. If so, here are 20 California place names (many that reflect California’s strong Spanish influence). Anyone living in or near those places (whether Anglo or Spanish) will undoubtedly  know how to pronounce them in their native tongue.

California Place Names for Girls: Avalon, Barbara (Santa Barbara), Clara (San Clara), Clarita (San Clarita), Maria (Santa Maria), Monica (Santa Monica), Paula (Santa Paula), Rosa (Santa Rosa), Soledad, Sonoma and Tracy

California Place Names for Boys: Bruno (San Bruno), Carlos (San Carlos), Cruz (Santa Cruz), Fernando (San Fernando, Francisco (San Francisco), Marcos (San Marcos), Mateo (San Mateo), Pablo (San Pablo), Rafael (San  Rafael), Ramon (San Ramon)

If you and your partner are from different countries, ethnic groups or speak different languages–consider place names as a source of names that could work well for you and your partner and your families.

Halle Berry and her French Husband Choose a Spanish Name for Their Baby Boy: Maceo Martinez.

So many articles about celebrity baby names are “puff pieces” planted to curry favor with celebs, it’s unusual to read an article that discusses the issues faced by celebrity parents from different countries and cultures.

Halle Berry is a popular American movie star whose mother had German and Irish ancestors and whose father was an African-American. Berry’s husband is a French movie star named Olivier Martinez. Although Martinez is a Frenchman, his father’s family was originally from Spain.

The Voxxi article briefly discusses issues relating to show biz. If Maceo Martinez decides to become an actor like his parents when he grows up, will he be limited to Latino parts? My guess: if he is as attractive as his movie-star parents—that may not be a problem.

I suggest you read the Voxxi article, which comes with an attractive photo of the parents. If you’re a fan of Halle Berry, I hope you won’t mind a slight quibble: Although Maceo Martinez is an extremely euphonious name, I suspect a less esoteric name like Mateo (the Spanish form of Matthew) or Miguel (the Spanish form of Michael) would probably “work better” for an actor (or movie director or producer) trying to launch his career in America.

Will Hispanic Names Surge Among Whites Through 2014?

I just read an interesting if true article by Belly Ballot published in Hispanic Business which claims that the number of Caucasians who give their babies Hispanic names is growing. The reason I am skeptical: Even though the Spanish-speaking population has been rising in the U.S. for decades,  the popularity of Hispanic names (as measured by the Social Security Administration) has been declining.

I found only five Hispanic girls’ names on the SSA’s top-1000 list. Of those names, two increased in popularity while three decreased in popularity vs. the previous year. I found a lot more Hispanic boys’ names on the top-1000 list: 25 in all. Of those names, four increased in popularity while twenty-one decreased in popularity vs. the previous year.

It may seem puzzling that while the number of Hispanics in the U.S. has increased steadily over the years, the popularity of Hispanic names has declined. Apparently, it is increasingly popular for Hispanics to choose “American” names for their children, for practical reasons. Many Hispanics have figured out that giving their children “American” names improves their children’s chances of becoming assimilated into American culture and achieving success in school–which leads to success in the job market and financial success.

That’s why the trend reported by Belly Ballot (that Caucasians are increasingly giving their children Hispanic names) is so surprising. It’s not supported by the overall popularity trends reported by the Social Security Administration.  Fact is, the number of Caucasians giving their children Hispanic names has neither offset nor reversed the overall downtrend in the popularity of Hispanic Names in the U.S.

But even though the trend reported by Belly Ballot may not be statistically significant, I found the reasons Caucasians give for selecting Hispanic names (cited in the article) quite interesting. As you’ll see Caucasians who live near Hispanics or work with Hispanics want their children to fit in with and be accepted by Hispanics. (As you’ll see, the reasons Caucasian parents give for picking Hispanic names for their children are as practical as the reasons an increasing number of Hispanic parents are picking Caucasian names for their babies).

“Hispanic culture is growing rapidly here in Tennessee,” said Tiffany Wilson, whose ancestry is Irish and German. Her daughter’s friends are Hispanic, her future bosses will be Hispanic… “We just don’t want her to be different. I think having a Latino name has helped her make friends.”

“Having a Hispanic name can open the doors of opportunity.” said Shaina Heimpel of Colorado Springs, who named her daughter Isabella. “I did well in school with a 3.5 GPA … but doors didn’t open, there were no scholarships for someone like me,” she said. “My Hispanic friends, on the other hand, got scholarships and grants. Isabella will now have every opportunity available to her, and not go through what I did. Although she’s already a quarter Hispanic, that name is the only thing I can do for her that will pave the way for her life.”