American Names · Analysis

Analysis: The ABC’s of #1 Names (A-M)

Hello there, and happy (belated) holidays! 

Recently, I put together a list of every #1 name per letter of the alphabet since 1880, which you can read here.  Below you’ll read the first part of my analysis, for the letters A-M.  

The top ‘A’ name for women changes frequently, and I feel that whatever the top name is tends to be a sign of the times, or at least the trends.  Ava is currently the top name, and I suspect that Amelia will be next, considering that she’s already the most popular baby name in the U.K. and quickly rising here.  Consider that two decades ago, Ashley was #1. 

Men’s ‘A’ names run more traditional (as men’s names generally d0).  Arthur was often #1 until 1947, though Albert was sometimes #1 in the first two decades of the century.  Anthony ran from 1948-1978 and then popped up again in 2007; dignified Andrew dominated the 80s and 90s, excepting two years (1995 and 1996) when Austin was #1.  However, the current top #1 is Alexander, possibly reflecting the recent trend towards ancient Greek and Roman names. 

Bertha and Bessie alternated as #1 ‘B’ names until Beatrice emerged in 1913.  Interestingly, Billy became the #1 boys’ name for this letter a few years after the girls got Betty, who reigned supreme from 1917-1934.  Besides being favorable to nicknames, the letter ‘B’ is also distinguished because the top girls’ name was once an alcoholic beverage.  Brandy was #1 between 1975 and 1982, partly due to a song.  Masculine ‘B’ names often seem fairly modern (Bruce, Brandon, etc.), though lately the favorite is classic Benjamin, which was also #1 between 1880 and 1909).

The top ‘C’ name changes very frequently for women, but hardly for men.  Until 2014 only two men’s names dominated the #1 spot for this letter – Charles (1880-1964) and Christopher (1965-2013).  Carter took the reigns in 2014.  Christine, Christina, and Crystal all reached the top spot during the first half of Christopher‘s reign…a whole lotta Chris!  Often, similar-sounding names will rise in conjunction, or one will rise after the other.   Charlotte is currently the #1 feminine ‘C’ name, following a twelve-year stint by Chloe (which like Brandy, is now related to alcohol; Chloe is a popular wine brand). 

“Hey there, Delilah!”  Delilah is the current most popular ‘D’ name for girls…and yes, the song did propel her rise.  Many top ‘D’ names for ladies relate to music.  Donna, which had been #1 for the letter between 1943 and 1949, was once again #1 between 1959 and 1967…after the Ritchie Valens song of the same name.  “Dawn (Go Away)” was a song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, though it took a couple years before the name’s successful coup against DonnaDestiny, of course, reminds of Destiny’s Child and the original name of Miley Cyrus (though I’m not sure how much either affected the name, which was already rising throughout the 90s).  There hasn’t been much variation in men’s ‘D’ names, though interestingly Dewey was a one-hit wonder in 1898 (end of the Spanish-American war; Nancy’s Baby Names has a fascinating post on names inspired by that conflict). 

‘E’ is one of the most stable letters for both men and women.  There are only 3 men’s names (Edward, Eric, and Ethan) and only 4 women’s names (Emma, Elizabeth, Ethel, and Emily) that have been #1 since 1880.  Ethel is a one-hit wonder from 1896 that interrupted what would have been a 104-year streak for my name, Elizabeth (which is the most consistently popular women’s name in the U.S., according to a Behind the Name analysis).  Emily dominated the 1990s and early 2000s (and, but recent years have seen a return to Emma, which was the first #1 ‘e’ name in the early 1880s.  The boys’ names for this letter only change once before the next new ‘e’ name.  I predict Elijah will soon overtake Ethan, though.

‘F’ is another stable letter for both genders.  Frank was #1 for 110 years!  Only since 1991 has there been any variation among the boys’ names.  It’s tended to alternate between Francisco and Fernando, though Finn is one of the new arrivals of 2015 (thank you Star Wars!).  Regarding the ladies: the top ‘f’ name only changes up once every thirty years or so.  The longest-lasting name was Frances, with a tenure of 55 years between 1910 and 1965.  Faith has been #11 since 1995 (when it replaced Felicia), but I think if any name has the potential to unseat Faith it will be Finley or even Felicity.  I’d love to see Florence return, though. 

Like ‘B’ names, top ‘G’ names have included more nicknames.  Gail (short for Abigail) was #1 in the 50s, and Gina (short for Georgina, Virginia, and many others) trended from the 1960s to the late 1980s.  Nowadays parents have gone back to the classics – Grace has returned as #1.  The top men’s names starting with ‘G’ tend to be more formal (George, Gregory, etc.), excepting Gary.

The highest ‘H’ names represent the most plant names out of the alphabet.  Holly was the one-hit wonder of 1964 and Heather dominated for almost a quarter-century between 1967 and 1991.  Currently, the #1 girls’ name for this letter is unisex Harper

Except for the years Hunter was #1 (1992-2011 and 2013), the men’s top ‘H’ name has always been something that could shorten to Harryincluding Harry itself.  Harold reigned from 1915 to 1951, but most other years have belonged to Henry (including 2015.) 

‘I’ is a volatile letter for men’s names.  The most consistent name was Ian, which ran #1 between 1967 and 1996.  Otherwise the last 136 years have meant gladiatorial combat between Isaac and Ira for the top spot.  A few other names have come through – Irving was popular in the teens and Roaring Twenties, Ivan sporadically won in the 30s, 50s, and 60s, and Isaiah was especially trendy in the late 90s and early years of the millennium.  Lately, though, it’s back to Isaac.

Biblical names represent all the top men’s names for ‘J.’  Surprisingly, this includes Jason.  More curiously, only New Testament names reached #1 until the 1980s.  Since 1983, both top ‘J’ names, Joshua and Jacob, have come from the Old Testament.  

The top ‘J’ name for women changes every decade or two.  Jessica actually had the longest consecutive reign, from 1985-2005.  This, followed by Josephine (1901-1920) and Jennifer (1966-1984).  I also find it interesting that so many of the ‘J’ names are somehow related to John, like Jean and Joan; even Jennie (popular in the 1880s) was once considered a nickname for JaneJulia is now America’s favorite ‘J,’ though maybe not for long.  Both Jade and Josephine are on the rise, while Julia is falling. 

‘K’ always strikes me as a very modern letter.  Sure, Katherine was once the top ‘K’ name, but look at some of the more recent ones, like Kimberly and Kaylee.  As of 2015, Kennedy is the most popular ‘K’ name for baby girls.  For men, ‘K’ is a Celtic letter.  Three of the four top men’s names for this letter have originated from Scotland or Ireland.   

In my opinion, the most outstanding fact about a top ‘L’ name is that Linda was the first women’s name to be more popular than Mary.  The top ‘L’ name changes every generation or so, and sometimes they return decades later.  Laura, first #1 in the 1880s, returned in the 1980s.  Lillian, #1 between 1888 and 1923, returned in 2013 and 2014. 

The first four masculine ‘L’ names contain related pairs.  French Louis was the first #1 ‘L’ name for boys in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Spanish Luis was popular in the 1980s and 90s.  Lawrence was briefly the favorite in the 30s, followed by a long period of Larry.  Lately the favorites have been Logan (1995-2010) and Liam (2011-Present).

Michelle was the first ‘M’ name to overtake Mary in 1967, and every decade since then has produced another #1 ‘M’ for girls.  You can bet this means Mia will only last a few years…I think Mila could be the next #1.

Judging by history, it’s very possible Michael may eventually return as #1 for ‘M.’  Not that it will happen in the next ten years, considering he did just come off a 75-year run.  Or he could surprise us and turn out like Mary, meaning some other name would eventually replace Mason as king of the letter.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this longer read!  The full list is up here, and I will post my analysis for the letters N-Z shortly.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Ancient and Classical Names

The Greek Muses and Baby Names

There are nine well-known Muses in Greek Mythology, but not all of their names actually enjoy any usage as baby names today. Let’s take a look and see which ones have survived to the modern baby naming lexicon:

  • Calliope Calliope is a recent entry into the American top 1000 as of 2016. It currently ranks #603 and is only getting more popular! There’s also the spelling Kalliope, which was given to 103 girls last year and is closer to the original Greek. This Muse represented epic poetry, and was mother to Orpheus.
  • ThaliaOf all the Muses, only Thalia is a top 1000 name in the U.S. Currently ranking #726, Thalia was not only the name of the comedy Muse but also one of the Graces (Charites). So, there were at least two of them in Greek Mythology.
  • Clio – The history Muse gave her name to 35 American baby girls in 2021. Clio is the Latinized spelling English-speakers traditionally use to refer to the Muse, but another spelling is much more popular. Cleo currently ranks #804 and is still rising, so keep an eye out for both versions going forward!

Unfortunately, the extended data doesn’t indicate the presence of any other babies named after Muses in 2015. Ourania (Astronomy) did recently appear, given to 6 babies in 2016. The other names don’t seem to have much if any history in the American data.

I can’t see Erato (love poetry) or Euterpe (lyric) getting trendy any time soon, but I’d love it if Polyhymnia (sacred music/poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), or Terpsichore (dance) picked up steam. Urania (likely the better-recognized spelling of Ourania) presents potential playground pronunciation problems in American English if everyone still enunciates “Uranus” the way I think they might, but that hasn’t stopped the spelling from occasionally appearing in the data.

Do you have a favorite Muse name? Let me know! 

Greek Muses.

Revised and updated 1/16/23.

American Names

Names that Entered and Left the Top 1000 in 2015

Usually when I examine names I focus on the top 1000 and beyond rather than just the top 10 and 100.  Here’s some information on the top 1000 this year.


  • Adaline, Zelda, Alaia, Lennox, Royal, Amaris, Adilynn, Adley, Kalani, Briar, Kaya, Analia, Jayde, Romina, Nathalia, Aminah, Sarahi, Andi, Arden, Dalary, Aitana, Vienna, Esperanza, Kyndall, Veda, Meilani, Harmoni, Luz, Aislinn, Ellis, Elora, Heavenly, Kensington, Tinley, Ophelia, Charlize, Avalyn, Taya, Lyra, Noor, Sariyah, Giavanna, Rhea, Zaylee, Frankie, Princess, Alianna (47)
  • Canaan, Otis, Shiloh, Denver, Immanuel, Jonael, Ignacio, Riaan, Musa, Ridge, Jaziel, Boone, Cairo, Kashton, Jabari, Avi, Sutton, Kamren, Huxley, Wilder, Louie, Achilles, Aarush, Robin, Yadiel, Yahya, Kye, Todd, Haiden, Brixton, Dangelo, Juelz, Bishop, Freddy, Malaki, Leroy, Briar, Antoine (38). 

It’s harder to track down exiting names, but I think I have them all here:

  • Isis, Temperance, Miley, Mercy, Patience, Cambria, Diamond, Renee, Lesly, Mercedes, Neveah, Pyper, Aanya, Rosalyn, Alaysia, Abrielle, Bryn, Carlie, Mckayla, Sherlyn, Kaleigh, Anniston, Anabel, Macey, Annabell, Janae, Alisa, Sonia, Dalia, Ayva, Mattie, Riya, Kylah, Antonia, Magdalena, Tamia, Samiyah, Natalya, Alyvia, Ayanna, Kaidence, Audriana, Abbigail, Taryn, Mollie, Danika, Cindy (47)
  • Jair, Clinton, Teagan, Koen, Aidyn, Howard, Jaycob, Arnav, Foster, Tyree, Johnathon, Konner, Mike, Broderick, Brayson, Bridger, Giovanny, Efrain, Semaj, Makhi, Khalid, Jericho, Jovanni, Gino, Jayse, Yael, Randall, Ramiro, Tristian, Rylee, Eliezer, Darien, Ayan, Maddux, Rylen, Leif, Menachem, Kale (38)


  • Arden hasn’t been in the top 1000 as a girls’ name since 1931!  I hesitate to call it old-fashioned because it charted within this parameter only for three years, but it’s kind of fitting with the reentries of Zelda and Adaline as a sort of early 20th-century glamour name.  
  • Veda was last in the top 1000 in 1960. 
  • Aislinn – Irish Gaelic-spelling alert!  Irish and Scottish names are popular all the time, but it’s rare to see a spelling that hasn’t been Anglicized within the top 1000!  This is the first time Aislinn has charted, but phonetic Ashlyn and Ashlynn have charted since the 1986 and 1992, respectively – possibly as variants of Ashley, but you never know.  Interesting how Aislinn enters the list while Ashlyn and Ashlynn are declining!
  • Ellis ranked immediately after America.  Patriotic baby names, much?
  • Elora – This name has never been in the top 1000, but sounds very old.  If you look into the extended data, this was used occasionally around WWI and the 1920s (another flapper-era name, hmm?), but usage has only picked up since the 80s. 
  • Kensington – This has never been popular before, but I did notice that Windsor is picking up as a name in the extended data.  I guess palace names are a new trend?
  • I think the song Ophelia” was released in 2016, which is only going to make the name more popular.
  • Adaline is resurrected because of last year’s movie Age of Adaline.  I’ve noticed that Adeline and other spellings also received large boosts from the movie.
  • I predicted Achilles would enter, and it did! 
  • I wonder what’s fueling the popularity of Canaan?  Old Testament names are trendy, but I’m kind of surprised there were enough of these to enter the top 1000.
  • Jonael – I thought this was possibly another rare Bible name, but instead searches turned up people named Jonael Santiago (Telemundo celebrity?) and Jonael Schickler (Swiss philosopher).  I’m guessing the former is the reason for popularity.
  • Jaziel appears to be a variant of Jaaziel, which is actually a Biblical name.
  • Isis – We all know why this one’s out.  I’ll write a more extensive post about this later.
  • Temperance, Patience, and Mercy – I had predicted that Honesty would make her debut, but I guess this was a bad year for virtue names.
  • One would think that with all the Marvel names circulating that Howard Stark might make his name more popular, but I guess not…
  • Efrain fell out, but Ephraim is even more popular than last year
  • I predicted Clinton would fall out even though usage increased between 2013 and 2014.  I think it will decline further this year. 

What do you think of these names?  If you’re interested in seeing the entire top 1000 for 2015 (and 2014), you can read them here and here.

American Names · Analysis

Overview of the Top 100 Baby Names, 2015

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 12.46.07 PMAs mentioned earlier, Noah and Emma continue to reign as the #1 most popular male and female names in the U.S!

These were the names that entered the top 100:

  • Hazel, Cora, Aurora, Quinn, Reagan, Clara
  • Ezra, Theodore, Elias, Mateo, Sawyer

These were the names that exited the top 100:

  • Jasmine, Hadley, Alexandra, London, Lauren, Sophie
  • Justin, Camden, Luis, Juan, Brody

In terms of raw usage, these were the names within the top 100 that rose at least 500 uses between 2014 and 2015.  Asterisks indicate that the name is new to the top 100.

  • Ava, Mia, Charlotte, Harper, Amelia, Evelyn, Scarlett, Alexa, Penelope, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Paisley, Violet, Stella, Mila, Eleanor, Hazel*, Aurora*, Quinn*
  • Oliver, Henry, Wyatt, Grayson, Hudson, Lincoln, Nolan, Asher, Mateo*, Leo, Ezra*, Sawyer*, Theodore*

The following names are those that decreased over 500 uses.

  • Sophia, Isabella, Emily, Chloe, Ella, Natalie, Anna, Arianna, Aubree, Alexis, Annabelle, Alyssa, Khloe
  • Mason, Jacob, William, Ethan, Alexander, Michael, Logan, Jayden, Joseph, Anthony, Andrew, Christopher, Joshua, Ryan, Jordan, Nicholas, Evan, Gavin, Jace, Kevin, Tyler, Brandon, Jason, Ayden, Blake

My immediate reaction to the dropping names was “Ouch!  Right in the childhood!”  A lot of those names were really popular in the 90s.  Many of those are classic, but sometimes I also feel sorry for people whose names have become outdated.  It’s a problem with trends and fads.

The boys’ names that are currently trending are mostly on the traditional side.  Oliver, Henry, Theodore, Lincoln and Ezra – swoon!  The girls’ names are more mixed.  Eleanor ranked at #60 (wow!), and Charlotte and Penelope continue to make gains.  Hazel made her top 100 reentry.  Modern Skylar, Riley, and Quinn are doing well.  Alexa was the wild-card for this set; her 2014 rank was #63, but she jumped almost 2,000 uses and is now ranked #32!


American Names · Analysis

Name Predictions: The Top 1000

Finally, my general top 1000 predictions!  At first I thought that the 2015 baby name data would be released on May 8, but since that’s a Sunday, I think it’s more likely that the new data will be released either tomorrow the 6th or Monday the 9th in keeping with morning television schedules (the initial announcement is always on the Today Show, I think?). 

I can’t pretend to know all the names that will be popular, but these are many of the ones I personally predict will enter the top 1000:

  • Girls: Honesty, Calliope (maybe), Persephone, Noor, Ellery, Carina, Royal, Avalyn (maybe), Vienna, Lyra, Belle, Nathalia, Raylee, Brisa (maybe), Poppy, Saanvi (maybe), Cecily, Aadhya, Vivien, Elissa (maybe), Romina, Sylvie, Ophelia, Lennox, Elodie (maybe)
  • Boys: Achilles, Gerard, Sutton, Garrison, Abner, Cormac, Menachem, Merrick, Braylin (maybe), Boone, Bishop, Robin, Canaan, Alistair, Cairo, Aries, Ulysses (maybe), Wesson, Gatlin (maybe), Ruger (maybe), Diesel (maybe), Alaric

Leaving the top 1000:

  • Girls: Isis, Jaylin, Belen, Kai, Yaritza, Samiyah, Mercedes, Patience (maybe), Micah, Jocelynn, Aubrianna, Abril, Bryn, Paulina, Maliah, Mercy (maybe), Alyvia, Tabitha (maybe), Zion (maybe), Kiana (maybe), Sherlyn, Mckayla, Joslyn, Estrella, Natalee, Amya, Miley*, Emilie (maybe), Courtney (maybe), Joselyn (maybe)
  • Boys: Reagan (maybe), Jair, Bridger, Chace, Valentin, Teagan, Kale, Deangelo, Kamryn, Camren, Semaj, Zaid, Quintin, Coleman, Dominique, Jovanni, Vaughn (maybe), Harlan, Cristopher, Craig, Frankie (maybe), Davin, Clinton (maybe), Johnathon, Jamarion, Dwayne, Tristian, Jaydon, Lamar, Clay, Amare, Chaim


  • If Ophelia doesn’t reenter the top 1000 in the 2015 data, expect the song to boost it for 2016!
  • If you’re interested, I’ve already written prediction-articles on Achilles and Honesty
  • Royal will likely enter in conjunction with the meteoric rise of Royal as a boys’ name. 
  • Calliope and Persephone are in here because they are both rising in usage and because another name from Greek Mythology, Ariadne, pulled a wild-card last year and entered the top 1000 faster than expected.
  • Wesson, Ruger, and Gatlin – Gun names are a sub-trend of the currently popular “violent names” trend.
  • Robin – if this rises, Robin Williams (R.I.P.) is the likely namesake.  The year he passed away (2014) there were more male Robins than the year before.
  • Miley dropped over 400 uses between 2013 and 2014.  There’s almost no way this name is staying in the top 1000, considering it’s currently ranked #795.  Particularly faddish names will sometimes do this.  However, both the rise and fall of this name are attributable to an individual rather than a trend – to Miley Cyrus.  I suppose she started off as a sort of Disney role model, but I think her adult years have really perturbed people.  I have no strong opinions on that matter, except that children eventually grow up.  Note 1: if parents more seriously considered their children’s eventual adulthood, naming might be very different. Note 2: Miley Cyrus’s name was originally Destiny.
  • IsisThis name was on the rise until it became known as a terror organization.  And, even though at times IS and ISIL were more accurate names, the media insisted on sticking to the human (rather, Egyptian deity) name with several thousand years of history.  I guess people’s names are easier to remember than random acronyms?
  • Patience and Mercy are maybes for leaving because despite their drops, old names are ‘in’ and similarly Puritan Temperance has been getting more popular.
  • Courtney is dropping fast enough that it may fall out of the top 1000 this year, but there’s no guarantee.  It was ranked #680 in 2014. 
  • Mercedes – I imagine this will be replaced by Tesla within a few years. 
  • Jocelynn, Joslyn, and Joselyn – When 3 spellings of one name are losing steam, you know there’s something going on. 
  • Clinton actually increased in usage, but I think a certain someone within the American political cycle might deter parents from naming their boys’ this.  I imagine it’ll be the opposite for related female names. 
  • Kamryn and Camren – Quite frankly I was surprised that Kamryn charted as a boys’ name.  However, Cameron is actually stable as a top 100 name for boys while it’s Cameron that’s falling out of fashion for girls. 
  • SemajJames backwards.  The male Nevaeh?

If you’re interested in my predictions for the top 10 and top 100, you can read them here and here, respectively. 

American Names · Analysis

Name Predictions: The Top 100

Earlier this week, I published my predictions for the 2015 American top 10 most popular baby names, which you can read here.  After the top 10, the next grouping people tend to look at the most is the top 100.  These are names that are generally popular; nowadays, to be a top 100 name requires at least a few thousand registered uses in the U.S. within a year.  In 2014, the #100 girls’ name was bestowed approximately 2900 times, while the #100 boys’ name was used around 3,900 times.  Interestingly, there are just about the same number of names for boys and girls within the top 1000 that were used at least 1,000 times (334 and 333, respectively).  But, the numerical threshold to enter the top 1000 is much higher for female names than for male names.  The suggestion is that the most popular male names tend to be skewed towards the top in their distribution, whereas female names are more spread out over a larger pool of names.  I digress.

I predict we’ll see the following names enter the top 100 in the 2015 data:

  • Girls: Cora, Hazel, Clara, AuroraAdalynn, Valentina (maybe), Kinsley (maybe), Luna (maybe), Everly (maybe)
  • Boys: Elias, Mateo, Maxwell, Miles, Sawyer, Roman, Leonardo, Ezra, Theodore, Harrison (maybe), Santiago (maybe)

I predict we’ll see the following names leave the top 100 in the 2015 sets:

  • Girls: Ashley, LaurenSophie, London, Khloe (maybe), Brianna (maybe), Alexandra (maybe)
  • Boys: Justin, Tristan*, Bentley, Luis, Camden, Nathaniel (maybe)

The names that were “modern” 20 or 30 years ago aren’t any longer.  Ashley and Lauren are the girls you and I went to high school with, and believe me, they’re not naming their daughters after themselves.  Justin – chances are that would fall out of fashion anyway, but I’m sure Justin Bieber isn’t helping matters. 

We are seeing a mass return of classic and even ancient names.  Names like Cora and Clara were both popular and trendy as far back as the 1880s.  The adage is that names become popular again after about 100 years, or when a baby will be the great-grandchild of a person with an old-fashioned name.  I almost want to say it’s more a great-great-grandchild type of renewal, though for many expectant parents in their 30s and 40s one-great is probably more accurate.  Note, however, that it’s names like Cora and Clara that are on the upswing and not names like Sandra or Judy.  The latter are what I call “outdated,” but not old-fashioned.  They’re too young to be old but still belong to a lot of living people, mostly grandparents.  Admittedly, Alice and Eleanor, which reentered the top 100 in 2014, also fall into that category; the difference is that they are classic – maybe even timeless – whereas only Sandra and Judy elicit mid-century memories.

Note then the ancient names that may enter the top 100.  Aurora, Roman goddess of the dawn, will almost certainly make her debut.  Luna, Roman goddess of the moon, is rising rapidly too, and if it doesn’t happen in 2015 it will in 2016.  Valentina, a more human Roman name, isn’t rising as quickly as the previous two but is rising close enough to the threshold that this may be her year.  From the boys’ list, a different kind of ancient name will enter the top 100.  Ezra and Elias are both Old Testament names.  Nathaniel too, but for reasons unknown is likely falling out.  Or, maybe he’ll receive a boost?  Old Testament names are currently trendier than New Testament names, which often have a very 90s-ish vibe.

After considering the names entering and leaving the top 100, it’s important to look at the current fastest risers and fallers within this range.  In 2014, these were the names that rose over 500 uses from 2013:

  • Girls: Olivia, Charlotte, Harper, Amelia, Evelyn, Victoria, Scarlett, Aria, Ariana, Penelope, Skylar, Nora, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Annabelle, Piper, Eleanor
  • Boys: Noah, James, Logan, Lucas, Carter, Luke, Oliver, Henry, Sebastian, Levi, Grayson, Hudson, Lincoln, Asher

Within the top 100 in 2014, these were the names that were used at least 500 times less than in 2013:

  • Girls: Sophia, Isabella, Emily, Addison, Hannah, Samantha, Kaylee, Alexis, Nevaeh
  • Boys: Mason, Jacob, Ethan, Anthony, Andrew, Joshua, Christopher, Ryan, Nathan, Christian, Landon, Gavin, Brayden, Tyler, Zachary, Blake, Bentley, Justin

It’s difficult to make definitive judgments from that set.  The fastest-falling names tell me the 90s are dead, but that’s about it.  I think it’s important to look at what names are rising or falling overall, and especially the ones entering or leaving the top 100. 

Ultimately I do believe that using old-fashioned names is one of the greatest trends in naming, but not all old names are destined to rise together.  Otherwise there would be a lot more adult Apollos running around with Carls.  Indeed, newly modern names will always come around.  Whether recently modern names will become trendy again the way traditional names do is yet to be determined. 

*Technically Tristan ranked #101, but had the same number of uses as the #100 (which came first in the alphabet), so I will count it as a top 100 for these purposes. 

Source: (choose extended option)

American Names · Analysis · Modern names

Name Predictions: Honesty

You may expect this to be a post about how honest I am in my predictions.  It isn’t, amusing as the thought may be.  This is about the name Honesty, which I expect to enter the top 1000 in the 2015 set for the very first time. 

Honesty is an older and rarer virtue name, which is a potential boost in her favor.  Other ancient Puritan appellations like Mercy and Temperance have become popular in recent years.  Grace, Hope, and Faith are classics; little to say there. 

Honesty was given to 253 baby girls in 2014.  The name that ranked at the bottom of the top 1000, Kai, was given to 262 girls.  I remember thinking back after the 2013 list that  Emmeline and Clementine had risen so close to the bottom that they’d probably make their entries (or rather, reentries) the next year, which they did! 

Indeed, Honesty has been increasing in usage fairly steadily since her first appearance in the data back in the 1970s.  The fact that there’s around 250 of them means that on average 5 were born in every state in 2014.  Chances are you or your children will run into one on the playground at some point.

There’s another consideration that leads me to believe this will be a top 1000 name.  When a name starts to become really popular, a lot of spelling variations will begin to pop up.  Truthfully, I don’t know how many spellings of this word-name there currently are within the data-set.  My perusal of the extremely rare names for this past week’s posts has led to an encounter with “Ahonesty,” used 11 times that year.  It takes a second to realize how that’s pronounced, I know.  Actually, I’m not even sure I initially knew what name it was.  The juxtaposition of the ‘a’ made me think it was a separate syllable – “A-honesty.”  I’ve seen “Amiracle” (82 uses) but grammatically and pronunciation-wise that is much more intuitive than Ahonesty.  Other spellings of Honesty within the set include Honesti (56 uses), Aunesty (15), Aonesty (9), Onesty (8), Honestee (7), Honestii (7), Aunesti (5), Honestie (5), and Onesti (5).  There may yet be others. 

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Predictions: The Top 10 Baby Names of 2015

Within the next two weeks, the Social Security Administration will release the 2015 list of the most popular American baby names.  Earlier this week, I wrote about my top 1000 prediction for the name Achilles.  Now I will publish my predictions on a more general and important set: the top 10.

Here are what I predict will be the top 10 names for boys and girls from 2015, with the projected change in rank from 2014 (in parentheses).  Check back around Mother’s Day (May 8) or so and we’ll see how I did! 


  1. Noah (0)
  2. Liam (0)
  3. Mason (0)
  4. William (+1)
  5. Alexander (+3)
  6. Ethan (0)
  7. Jacob (-3)
  8. James (+1)
  9. Michael (-2)
  10. Logan (new, +3)


  1. Olivia (+1)
  2. Emma (-1)
  3. Isabella (+1)
  4. Ava (+1)
  5. Sophia (-2)
  6. Mia (0)
  7. Emily (0)
  8. Abigail (0)
  9. Harper (new, +2)
  10. Charlotte (0)

#1 names: Noah and Olivia

Entering the top 10: Logan and Harper

Leaving the top 10: Daniel and Madison

Chances are there will be a wildcard; there’s almost always one, and those you can’t predict.  However, based on the fastest rising and falling names between 2013 and 2014, I think this list will hit pretty close to the mark. 


Analysis · Ancient and Classical Names

Name Predictions: Achilles

Achilles drags Hector after slaying him

May is quickly approaching, and so is my college graduation.  Despite that milestone, I’m even more excited for something else – within the next two or three weeks, the Social Security Administration will release the data for the most popular American baby names of 2015.  Most people will likely be looking to the top 10 names or even just the #1 names for boys and girls, but I especially look forward to seeing the entire top 1000 and extended lists!

I will post my predictions for the top 10 later, but as of now I am officially kicking off speculation season by writing about a name that’s not yet in the top 1000, but may soon enter.

In the past year alone, I’ve been surprised by how many times I’ve encountered the name Achilles in real life.  Another blog I follow, For Real Baby Names, publishes lists of names used on actual babies; if you type “Achilles” in the search function several instances will appear.  The variant “Achillies” also appears a couple of times.  I’ve been reading that blog for years and yet only recently have there been so many instances of this one name.  Indeed, the extended SSA data indicates some rise in the usage of Achilles over the past few years.  Mainly this is because of the massively popular 2004 movie Troy, which is Hollywood’s take on Homer’s Iliad or more broadly, the Trojan War.  Before that movie, Achilles was a very rare name.  It wasn’t unused, but oftentimes there would be fewer than 10 American boys named Achilles born in a given year.  The French form Achille was always about as rare, but unlike Achilles, Achille has not enjoyed extra usage after Troy.

The latest data we (currently) have is from 2014.  In that year, there were 169 baby boys in the U.S. given the name Achilles.  In 2013, there were 142.  In 2012 there were 147, but that was up from 123 in 2011.  Note that in 2003, there were only 6, as opposed to 32 when the movie came out in 2004.  So even if in one year there was a slight dip, usage is generally trending upwards.  While it is possible that Achilles may drop in the 2015 data, it’s rather unlikely.  I will explain why.

One of the current naming trends is the growing popularity of names from Greco-Roman mythology and history.  Deity names like Luna and Aurora are wildly popular right now, and at least one of them may enter the top 100 in the 2015 data.  Human characters aren’t left out either; Penelope entered the top 100 in 2013 and is skyrocketing.  Ariadne entered the top 1000 in 2014.  Among the other ancients, Apollo, Atlas, and Ares are all up there too. Alexander is perennially popular, and currently a top-10 name.  Maximus, first popularized in a modern context by the movie Gladiator, is in the top 200 and rising fast.  Titus is also getting up there, ranking at #285 in the last count.  Achilles would be right at home with all of these.

Why then, are these names becoming so popular?  In many cases, I can’t really say.  Penelope supposedly received a boost from a Kardashian (unfortunately), and Maximus is definitely a result of Gladiator, but the others?  Luna’s popularity might have partially to do with Luna Lovegood, but Harry Potter doesn’t usually have very strong effects on American naming, so I’m unsure about that one.  I’ve heard that some old Roman and Late Latin names are receiving boosts from Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S., which could explain the reclaimed popularity of names like Valeria and Valentina.

For names like Ares, Apollo, and Achilles, though, there’s separate and major factor.  In August of 2015, Nameberry published a piece on a large trend towards violent baby names.  Besides all the weaponry and bad-behavior appellations, there was a section about “historical warriors.”  Although Achilles wasn’t listed there, Hector was (though as myth characters, not sure how much they count as historical, unless you consider their greater context within ancient military history…Alexander the Great, I’m looking at you).  There was also a part about war- and destruction-bearing gods, mentioning Apollo.  The thing is: if all this talk about the popularity and trendiness of violent names is true, then Achilles is almost certain to end up a top 1000 name at some point.  I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Iliad, but it begins with an invocation to recall Achilles’ extreme, deadly rage.  As a baby name, he’ll fit in with the rest.

Will Achilles enter the top 1000 for 2015?  It’s certainly possible.  The boys’ name that ranked #1000 in 2014 only had 205 uses.  Assuming a steady rise, and assuming there are even fewer names represented in the SSA data as with the last few years, then yes!  Expect Achilles somewhere in the rankings.  He may even pull an Ariadne where usage suddenly jumps; on that note, watch out for Persephone!  If Achilles is not in the top 1000 for 2015, I anticipate he’ll be in the 2016 data. 

What do you think? 



Names that Get the Authorities Involved

Cyanide.  According to BBC, a Welsh mother tried naming her daughter after the poison.  Her reasoning?  Because Hitler took it before committing suicide, which is a “good thing.”

Okay…yes, I think we can all agree that the substance was beneficial in that circumstance.  But, Hitler’s not the only person who’s ever ingested cyanide, and logic dictates that a) Cyanide is a bad name if innocent people have died by it and b) this mother should instead name her daughter after the gun with which he finished the job instead.  After all, who hasn’t heard of kids named Beretta, Colt, or Ruger? 

Cyanide and her twin brother Preacher, along with their other siblings, have apparently been taken from their mother’s care.  I don’t think the Brits have naming laws the way Continental Europeans often do, but that doesn’t mean social services and the justice system won’t become involved when a name is considered particularly heinous.  On the opposite side of the spectrum and the Pond from this Welsh mother, a New Jersey father had his children taken away after it emerged that he named his son Adolf Hitler.  In both cases, the parents were suspected of some kind of abuse (drug abuse, child abuse, etc.) or mental illness.  The New Jersey case is especially telling because the U.S. generally has no naming laws beyond the prohibition of numeric and special characters.  However, certain baby names can and will instigate investigations because they may be indicative of other dangerous behaviors the parents have.  Yet, plenty of children are named Gunner (ranks #235 in the American charts) and you never hear stories about them.  I wonder, though, if naming a child Violence, Alcohol, or Marijuana would alert the authorities.