American Names · Modern names

Name Profile: Xyla

Xyla is a name nobody seems to know much about. It’s so ultramodern it looks futuristic. It’s rare yet trendy. And when the Social Security Administration releases their list of America’s most popular baby names of 2022 in May, it’s likely to debut in the top 1000. Given to 233 girls in 2021, Xyla teeters on the edge of popularity.

There is so much to love about Xyla:

  • Names beginning with ‘x’ are unusual, to the point that only 4 names (Xavier, Xander, Ximena, and Xiomara) currently rank in the top 1000. Names combining the letters ‘x’ and ‘y’ are even rarer; in the 2021 SSA extended data that goes down to 5 uses, only 3 names begin with ‘Xy.’ One of the other two is Xylah, a variation of Xyla.
  • It’s short and sweet. Today’s parents love names like Max and Ava – names that are easy to spell, easy to say, and don’t have nicknames. Xyla is a little trickier to spell than those names, but it’s uncomplicated. You get the point as soon as you see it.
  • Xyla works as a nature name! One possible derivation is Xylon, the Latinized spelling of an Ancient Greek word meaning “wood.” Plants contain something called a “xylem,” and mycologists (people who study fungi/mushrooms) might appreciate Xyla as a short form of Xylaria. Xyla is an unconventional choice for parents who love plant names and more general nature names, but it fits nicely with other modern nature baby name options like Indigo and Azalea.
  • Xyla can have musical associations. A musician or music-lover may choose Xyla to reference the xylophone.
  • Did I mention it’s futuristic? Xyla is visually satisfying in the way that Xerox sounds. I don’t know about you, but it makes me think about spaceships and people living in a century beyond our own. And to top that, 1999 was the first year it ever appeared in the SSA birth data…Xyla definitely has a hopeful, space-age new-millennium vibe, something we sorely need right now.
  • It sounds like a bell. Move over Tyler and Kyla; Xyla is here to play!
  • Speaking of Kyla: if you don’t like the ‘Z’ sound of Xyla, you could always Hellenize the pronunciation and treat the ‘x’ like a ‘kh,’ in the way that Khloe is a legitimate spelling of Chloe because of the original Greek ‘chi.’
  • There aren’t many ways to spell it yet. Of course the most popular version is Xyla, but Zyla trails in hot pursuit at 211 girls (don’t be surprised if both Xyla and Zyla are in the 2022 Top 1000). Zylah and Xylah are less common options.

As far as middle names go, I recommend avoiding anything that starts with a vowel so the names don’t bleed into each other (Xyla Ann is going to sound like Xylann, which is a cool name idea but probably not what you’re looking for). You want contrast between sounds, which means hard consonants in this case. My recommendations for middle names include Bee, Rose, Bronte, Frances, Monet, Cove, and Robin.

What do you think of Xyla? Would you use this modern moniker? What’s your favorite spelling? Let me know!

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