American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Baby Name Predictions for the 2022 U.S. Top 1000 (Boys)

Any day now (it could even be tomorrow!), we’ll find out what the most popular baby names in the U.S. are! Except for a COVID delay in 2020, the Social Security Administration releases a new list every May – just in time for Mothers’ Day! The new Top 10 (and especially the #1 spot) is what most people are anxious to hear since that can impact whether they pick a popular baby name. Many parents are concerned if a name even reaches the Top 100. As a name-writer, I’m more excited for the Top 1000.

Why am I so interested in the Top 1000? The Top 1000 is the best, most objective way we have to delineate the popularity or rarity of American baby names. If a name is in the Top 1000, that means at least a few hundred children received it in a given year (for 2021, the last year we have data for, a name needed at least 254 uses for girls and 217 uses for boys to be included). Generally, if a baby name is out of the Top 1000, we call it rare. Here, we’re not talking about names that are popular or unusual across age groups or globally – simply what’s popular or rare for babies born here and now in the United States.

I published my girls’ name predictions yesterday. Here are the boys’ names I think will leave or enter the U.S. Top 1000 in the 2022 dataset! If you’re viewing on mobile, be sure to scroll left to view the entire chart.

Names Likely to Exit the Top 1000:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Abdullah984221810285734327
Aldo983222783297761311
Axl845278757316679377
Blaine986220881255874251
Brecken922244792291791292
Brennan871264762314719339
Cory985221912244902242
Crosby932240802288778299
Eliel852275750322663398
Ermias814295647413541521
Gary904252804288775302
Genesis973226827277914240
Harley923244782298808283
Jaxtyn9352405864701154168
Jakobe9462378372721381129
Karsyn9542347003621063191
Kody979224955229836269
Korbin859271709353689369
Kristopher936240830276772305
Landry989220947231929234
Nova853274759316866255
Rodney965230865261855259
Data extracted from the Social Security Administration

Notes:

  • Nova is wildly popular and trendy as a girls’ name, and now that it’s in the top 50 with no signs of stopping the ascent, some parents may shy away from Nova as a boys’ name.
  • Re: Karsyn and Jaxtyn, I personally wonder if there’s a little bit of fatigue towards unique spellings of Jackson, Carson, and similar names. They are still popular and widespread, of course.
  • In this case, Jakobe seems more like a variation of Kobe than Jacob, or a form of Jacob inspired by Kobe. Jakobe became popular again in 2020 after Kobe Bryant’s death.
  • Ermias (a form of Jeremiah) was Nipsey Hussle’s legal name. It debuted in 2019 at a rank of #540 and has been falling ever since.
  • Kody didn’t actually drop too much (just 5 babies between 2020 and ’21, with a rank change of -24), but with a rank of #979 and all the recent Sister Wives divorce stuff I think this name could be knocked out of the Top 1000.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s going on at the bottom of the top 1000 because some of the names that look like they could fall out are surprisingly trendy or trendworthy. Parents choose from a much greater variety of baby names than they did in past generations, which makes rare names more popular as a whole. Name popularity also becomes erratic at the bottom of the charts. Karsyn dropped heavily between 2020 and 2021 as a boys’ name, but who knows if it will suddenly rebound? Mordechai is like Karsyn in that it’s dropping fast but ultimately depends on outside factors for popularity. That’s partly why I’m not marking Zev for a likely exit despite ranking #996 and dropping from 2020 to 2021; on the whole, the name is still rising.

Names Likely to Enter:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Aspen105620011461691190160
Azaiah1172166174887191077
Beaux101821313071371272146
Benny100621611491681186161
Boaz101921311251741067190
Campbell104320411711641297142
Cashton104420410391941165166
Crue101521411711641361131
Danilo104520411761631121155
Eren1185164229159168894
Harris10012179952131025202
Jrue11231801435120171492
Kacey10022171186162202772
Kaisen102121310481911055193
Lev105320111071771003208
Lux109618912941401545109
Massimo111718113761271500114
Mattias111018312891411470117
Monroe109818814791151506113
Montgomery103220910871821085184
Nikko102221311801631296143
Ollie108519311521681269147
Ozias104620416031011356132
Ren111418213191361616102
Rhodes104220514061231568107
Sevyn101221511141761507113
Shai10701971441120165398
Syncere104720410311971145170
Wren110418712401501576106
Zen119116311981601389128
Extended data extracted from the Social Security Administration

I also have a list of maybes for names I’m not sure about. These may be more likely to enter in 2023 or 2024.

Other Names that Might Enter:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Adiel109718912691431121174
Beck105919910321961208158
Benito11391751616991589104
Booker1203159166795171092
Canyon117916514711161493114
Casper111918012221531202159
Draco11991601599101164099
Imran103620710092061150169
Ivaan116616813031381523111
Izan119216212491471549108
Joan110718511331721172165
Kilian117516612241531353132
Kyren109718812031571187161
Kyzer102521211471691064191
Lazarus115817112821421314139
Merrick10042171013205985216
Niam116316913001391397127
Ramiro103420810611881056193
Teddy117716613331341446121
Teo115117313661291335136
Veer110318711391711211158
Zamir102321310272001031200
Zephyr110018812851421228155
Extended data extracted from the Social Security Administration.

Notes:

  • Rhodes – Celebrity baby name via Emma Roberts, who had her son in 2020.
  • Zen was the name of Nick Cannon’s infant son who sadly passed away from cancer. Nick Cannon has many children, most of whom were born from 2020 on. Watch for these first names too: Powerful (g), Zion (b), Zillion (b), Legendary (b), Onyx (g), Rise (b), Beautiful (g), and Halo (g).
  • We’re long past Harry Potter, so I don’t know what’s driving Draco up all of a sudden. TikTok, maybe? Did an influencer name their baby Draco?
  • Sevyn is a variation of Seven, which have both gotten more popular in part thanks to the character in The Hate U Give.
  • Re: Kilian, I wonder if Kylian Mbappe and the World Cup will give related names a boost.

Do you have any names you’re eyeing for the 2022 Top 1000? Not all of these can come or go, but I’m betting a good number will (plus a few surprises). We’ll see the results soon enough!

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Baby Name Predictions for the 2022 U.S. Top 1000 (Girls)

We have under two weeks to go before the new list of the most popular baby names in the U.S. comes out! The Social Security Administration is due to release data on all the names given to at least 5 children in the country in 2022 any day now, likely next Friday to coincide with Mothers’ Day.

The other day, I posted my predictions for the Top 10, which are the baby names most frequently counted in a given year. Now I’m looking at the Top 1000, or the names that are just becoming “popular.” While the SSA probably could start sharing the Top 1500 or Top 2000 due to the wide variety of names that parents are choosing now, the top 1000 has served as the dividing mark between commonality and rarity in American baby naming for the better part of 25 years. In earlier eras, far more children wore the most popular names. Even after Mary and John fell from the #1 spots and well into the 90s, each generation complained about how frequently they shared names with classmates. Now, there’s no guarantee kids named Liam and Olivia, the #1 names in the country for infant boys and girls, will even run into other Liams and Olivias in their grade (they probably will, though).

When we talk about rare American baby names, we talk about current baby names that rank below the Top 1000. Because today’s parents increasingly prefer unusual names, though, there’s a huge difference between a name given to 250 babies versus 5 babies. 5 babies means you probably won’t encounter one at all, but 250 babies averages 5 children per state *and* is just under the popularity threshold for girls.

So what are we predicting for the 2022 U.S. Top 1000? I always look at what names are likely to exit or enter. What names are about to be rare, and what names are about to be popular? The Top 1000 threshold is so much harder to predict than the Top 10 because there’s a lot more volatility. Because there’s so much ground to cover, I’m splitting my Top 1000 predictions into separate posts for girls’ and boys’ names. Let’s start with the girls’ names I think may leave the top 1000 this year. If you’re reading on mobile, scroll left at each chart for full visibility.

Girls’ Names Likely to Exit the Top 1000:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Alexia874308735370633466
Annabella1000254851318652447
Avah825332657436657444
Ellen920288804335799345
Elliot773366572509593510
Ensley789358590492666433
Frida973264887298730386
Itzayana971265757359791350
Judith959270908288822331
Julissa915290783346694415
Kaisley870312758359845318
Kamilah979263823330805340
Keyla980263837325776356
Kyleigh981263835327768361
Kynlee921287810334701413
Lyanna969266766353604500
Madalyn929284818332753372
Meghan986261880303734384
Sariah970266844322983262
Tinsley892301718386808339
Tori995256845322905293
Zola990259936274976265
Data from the Social Security Administration

I didn’t include names that were new to the top 1000 in 2021 on my exit list because we simply don’t know what they’ll do in 2022!

Notes:

  • Alexia – Partly due to its association with Alexa and drops related to the Amazon device, partly due to “Alex” names having reached their peak, perhaps partly due to Alexia sharing its name with a disability.
  • Though Annabella fits several ongoing trends (old-fashioned, maximalist/long, vowel-heavy), it has two things going against it. One is that the “-Bella” ending trend has already peaked for many names, but the other bigger one is that Annabelle and related names were skewered by a horror movie “Annabelle” in 2014. Annabelle and related names were trending upwards until then.
  • Elliot enjoyed an upwards trend as a girls’ name for much of the 2000s and 2010s before a significant and sudden drop in 2021. My guess? Actor Elliot Page publicly came out as transgender in December 2020. Caitlyn and other spellings of Caitlin/Kaitlyn took massive hits to popularity when Caitlyn Jenner came out in 2015, so…it follows. Page’s birth name dropped too, though it’s hard to say whether that’s because of transphobia or because Ellen is an old name falling out of fashion more naturally. Elliott with two ‘T’s also dropped for girls (from #448 to #552) between 2020 and 2021. We’ll see what the names do in 2022; Caitlin names were already past peak by 2015, so maybe the drop will be temporary for the Elliots since they’re still fashionable?
  • Meghan enjoyed a brief revival thanks to Meghan Markle and is now dropping again.
  • Zola sounds quite trendy, though I wonder if some parents associate it too heavily with the wedding website.

Let’s talk about the names I think may join the top 1000. In 2021 the #1000 name (Annabella) was given to 254 babies assigned female at birth. Let’s assume, then, that the new names have to hit around 250 uses to become popular in 2022.

Girls’ Names Likely to Enter the Top 1000:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Amal103924111212141283179
Atlas12451871640126223082
Aura104024112101891475149
Avani100625210482381940101
Ehlani10412411790110161585
Elowyn104823912051901318173
Emberlyn105623714491491573136
Indy106223515151401782114
Jhene107623111232141645128
Jream10162491265177198697
Lakelyn104923911871951164205
Lakelynn102824514691461687124
Leylani109222512211871446153
Lottie109322515541361640129
Love101924810332421658127
Maisy102124711262121130214
Majesty100525311402081020252
Marigold102224710922231297177
Nori101325111701991032249
Rosalina101724910442401086230
Saanvi100825210612331039247
Scottie113721513281661835111
Sol105423812231871510144
Tallulah103024511272121245188
Violette10332449832591021252
Winifred106723410982221212193
Xyla107223313981561794114
Extracted from extended SSA birth data

I also have a list of maybes for entry.

Girls’ Names that Might Enter the Top 1000:

Name2021 Rank2021 Babies2020 Rank2020 Babies2019 Rank2019 Babies
Araya106823312631771305175
Ayana111421912581791174201
Beatrix11192181164200982262
Bernadette118620314431501546139
Elouise113021613251661222191
Emiliana103224411472061087229
Gianni101025110312421654127
Harriet10512381075229985261
Ida112721711911941267183
Keziah110022311662001278181
Lilia102024711502051101223
Nairobi10442411119215266665
Onyx13221691755114203694
Reya113521612751751500145
Rhiannon111222111552041247187
Rowyn107123311881951153208
Sarahi104524112221871053243
Seraphina10872271271176998258
Sterling127018216831221778115
Tilly113621613401641342170
Tru111721914771451780115
True113821512991701511144
Vayda106623411811961114219
Wednesday1802112233476232778
Yuna118920314361521426157
Zahara120519713501631369165
Zaira111821915721341464151
Extracted from extended SSA birth data

Notes:

  • Ehlani – Alani (Rank #183) and Kehlani (Rank #150) were both quite trendy in 2021. Kehlani especially has spun off a huge amount of spelling variations and names, though Ehlani specifically appears to be an influencer’s baby’ name from 2020.
  • Parents have been talking about Elowyn and Elowen for years, though they’ve never been able to decide on a spelling. One of them should have been in the top 1000 by now. For the record, Elowen is the original spelling.
  • Gianni is a possibility, though because Gianna Bryant was the influence for many girls named Gianni in 2020 and 2021, entry somewhat depends on whether Gianna remains a top 15 name in 2022. It’s already a Top 400 name for boys.
  • Popular names mean alternative spellings, hence Emberlyn, Maisy, Violette, Elouise, Reya, and Rowyn. Reya looks like it might be getting a boost from Raya and the Last Dragon.
  • Marigold became trendy in large part thanks to Downton Abbey, though vintage-sounding nature names are hugely popular at the moment. Marigold couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
  • Nairobi is a character in Casa de Papel / Money Heist.
  • Regarding Lottie, Scottie, Indy, Maisy, and Tilly: Americans have finally decided it’s okay to put nicknames on the birth certificate, long after our British cousins adopted the practice. Bonus points for trendiness if the nicknames are vintage, boyish, or both.
  • Also speaking of Lottie, I’ve personally seen a lot of buzz about this one on Facebook. That combined with a big jump between 2020 and 2021 and the popularity of Charlotte leads me to believe that it will become popular by 2024.
  • Nori, Sterling, and Love are celebrity baby names, respectively the daughters of Kim Kardashian, Patrick Mahomes, and Diddy. Diddy’s daughter was born in early December 2022, so that may have a bigger impact on the 2023 stats. You may know Nori better by her legal name, North West.
  • Why am I calling Wednesday now when it’s nowhere near the threshold? Because not only was it already trending, Netflix released their hit series in the autumn of 2022. I don’t know if that’s too late in the year for the boost, so if not 2022 then expect Wednesday to hit the top 1000 in 2023.

Remember, these are just predictions. Some of the ones I think will exit will go, but others will hold on. It’s the same for the names I think could enter. We’ll see how right or wrong I am soon enough!

Do you have any girls’ names you’re watching out for this naming season? Are there any names on here you don’t think will reach the top 1000 for 2022 or at all? What about ones you think are getting popular? Let me know, and look for the results!

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Baby Name Predictions for the 2022 U.S. Top 10

Mothers’ Day is just around the corner, which means we’re about to learn the most popular U.S. baby names of 2022! The Social Security Administration almost always releases the previous year’s birth data in May. Each new list follows the zeitgeist of current American culture, reflecting the country’s mindset, ongoings, and more. How are Americans naming their children now? These datasets are crucial to finding that out. Plus…they’re just plain fun!

In order to get a sense of the most popular names of 2022, we need to look at the most popular baby names of 2021. Here are the top 10 names for babies assigned male and female at birth in 2021:

1) Liam1) Olivia
2) Noah2) Emma
3) Oliver3) Charlotte
4) Elijah4) Amelia
5) James5) Ava
6) William6) Sophia
7) Benjamin7) Isabella
8) Lucas8) Mia
9) Henry9) Evelyn
10) Theodore10) Harper
2021 Top 10 via the Social Security Administration

What are some things we notice with the top 10? It might be hard to say without context, but I think the girls’ top 10 looks slightly more traditional than, say, 25 years ago. Here’s the 1997 top 10 for comparison:

1) Michael1) Emily
2) Jacob2) Jessica
3) Matthew3) Ashley
4) Christopher4) Sarah
5) Joshua5) Hannah
6) Nicholas6) Samantha
7) Andrew7) Taylor
8) Brandon 8) Alexis
9) Austin9) Elizabeth
10) Tyler10) Madison
1997 Top 10

While timeless-traditional girls’ names like Sarah and Elizabeth featured in the 1997 top 10, there were also far more “modern” girls’ names: Ashley, Taylor, Alexis, and Madison. In the 2021 dataset, the only truly modern girls’ name is Harper. Even Mia, which wasn’t terribly popular before Mia Farrow became famous in the 1960s, started as a nickname for Maria. At a minimum, all the other girls’ names in the 2021 top 10 date back centuries as girls’ names (the modern examples in the 1997 list were previously more traditional for boys). That isn’t to say that “last names as first names” aren’t still popular for girls (they are!), but that the uppermost popular girls’ names – the names that enough parents from all 50 states and Washington, DC can agree on – have gotten more traditional since the 1990s. As name-writers always say, vintage and “grandma” names are in!

The top boys’ names almost always skew classic, though how that’s defined has changed. Religious names have always fared well, though instead of favoring saints’ names and New Testament options like Christopher and John, today’s parents tend to prefer Old Testament names like Noah and Elijah; a notable exception to the New Testament rule in the top 10 is Lucas, which is the Latin and international form of Luke. Timeless, more secular names like William, Henry, Theodore, and Oliver were in vogue for 2021. Interestingly, names from British royal history have been popular for both boys and girls: James, William, Henry, Emma, Charlotte, Amelia, Sophia, and Isabella.

So what do we think will happen with the 2022 top 10? In order to get a sense of what the new top 10 looks like, we need to look at the next 15 most popular names for boys and girls. Generally speaking, any name that has a chance of hitting the top 10 needs to already be in the top 25. Here are the top names in the 11-25 category in 2021:

11) Jack11) Luna
12) Levi12) Camila
13) Alexander13) Gianna
14) Jackson14) Elizabeth
15) Mateo15) Eleanor
16) Daniel16) Ella
17) Michael17) Abigail
18) Mason18) Sofia
19) Sebastian19) Avery
20) Ethan20) Scarlett
21) Logan21) Emily
22) Owen22) Aria
23) Samuel23) Penelope
24) Jacob24) Chloe
25) Asher25) Layla
#10-25 ranks in 2021

If the prevalence of English royal names in the top 10 translates to predictions, than ideally Eleanor is the most poised to enter the upper echelons of American baby naming. I don’t know if that will happen for 2022, but it could very well happen in 2023 or 2024. That said, some of those royal names may not stick in the top 10 much longer.

The names I think are most likely to enter the top 10 are Jack and Luna, and not just because they’re currently at #11. Jack would have been in the top 10 if Theodore hadn’t jumped 13 places from #23 between 2020 and 2021. According to SSA data from 2021, 9535 boys were named Theodore and 9504 were named Jack. That’s a difference of just 34 babies! Additionally, Jack also managed a huge jump between 2020 and 2021: from #21 to #11. That wouldn’t mean much lower down in the charts, but +5 or -5 ranking is a big change in the top 25. Luna is interesting to me because her 2020-2021 rise wasn’t meteoric like Jack or Theodore (+3 from the previous year), but it ranks in the top 100 of every state except South Dakota and ranks highly in our highest population states (California, Texas, and New York). Luna is an Ancient Roman name that fits so many of the current naming trends (mythological, short, soft, vowel-heavy, vintage, international, etc.). Jack, for that matter, is short and classic; more parents are deciding to put the nickname on the birth certificate than, say, name him John only to call him Jack.

Eleanor, Levi, and Mateo are also decently strong contenders for reaching the top 10, though they might wait until 2023 or 2024. All three have risen significantly within the last few years, and each rose at least 5 places within the top 25 between 2020 and 2021. Current trends are right for their ascendance: Eleanor is classic and regal, Levi has old-school Biblical and Country-Western vibes, and Mateo is a cross-cultural, international religious option as the Spanish form of Matthew. Camila is also a possibility (again, international vibes), but popularity slightly decreased between 2020 and 2021. Jackson rose three spots from #17 in 2020 to #14 in 2021, though a decline of trendy spellings like Jaxon and Jaxson indicates Jackson may start to taper off, though that spelling could also benefit from Jack’s trendiness. Asher and Aria are big risers too, but at #25 and #22 respectively, I don’t think they’re ready for the top 10 just yet without some external influencing event. For example of external influences: Gianna’s place at #13 two years in a row after a skyrocket from the #79 spot in 2019 resulted from tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in January 2020. Obviously, that kind of massive naming impact within the top 100 (let alone the top 25) is unusual. Note that the raw numbers for Gianna show a slight tapering in 2021 from 2020, so while Gianna could also hit the top 10, I think other names are more likely.

The next question is, what’s going to exit the top 10? I personally think Harper and Isabella are most likely to exit the girls’ lists, while William and Benjamin are most likely to exit the boys’ lists. I could also see Lucas being succeeded by Levi or Mateo if they rise faster than Lucas does. While Harper feels ubiquitous, raw usage is declining enough that it seems likely that Luna, Eleanor, or even Camila will overtake it. All it takes is a couple hundred here, a couple hundred there! Isabella, on the other hand, dropped by almost 1000 baby girls between 2020 and 2021. When the #1 girls’ name was given to over 17000 babies and Isabella was given to over 11000, that’s a big drop (even if the overall ranking didn’t change). Mia could even rise in rank while still dropping in usage just because Isabella is falling faster. Similarly with the boys’ names, I think Henry, Theodore, Jack, and Levi are all rising fast enough they could overtake William and Benjamin, which both fell by a few hundred babies. Don’t get me wrong – William and Benjamin will always be popular, but other names appear to trend against them right now.

Finally, and the question we all want to know: what will the #1 baby names in the U.S. be? I personally think Liam and Olivia will remain in the #1 spot for 2022, but don’t be surprised if Charlotte overtakes Emma for the #2 spot. I’m eyeing Charlotte as a future #1 contender, keeping the Bridgerton effect in mind. Amelia is also likely to continue rising and could be a new #3, whether in 2022, 2023, or even 2024.

What do you think we’ll see in the 2022 Top 10 most popular baby names in the U.S.? Are there any names you want to see take off? Let me know, and check back soon to find out what the new top 10 looks like!

Sources:

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Predictions for the Top 1000 Baby Names of 2017

The wait is almost over!  In less than two weeks, the Social Security Administration will release their data on the most popular names of 2017. 

Throughout April, I’ve been posting various prediction posts.  So far, I’ve already published what I think the 2017 top 10 and top 100 will look like.  Today, I’m posting about the names I predict will enter or leave the top 1000 when the new numbers come out.  Remember, name predictions are just for fun – there are always surprises! 

Girls

The name that ranked #1000 in 2016 was Meilani, which was given to 263 girls.  Assuming that the 2017 threshold will be around 260 uses, here are the girls’ names I think will enter the top 1000 in 2017:

  1. Amora – 258 girls in 2016, up from 255 in 2015, up from 181 in 2014
  2. Arleth – 256 girls, up from 116 in 2015 (!)
  3. Arlette – 254, up from 128 (!)
  4. Bellamy – 231, up from 184
  5. Della – 247, up from 215
  6. Egypt – 254, up from 200
  7. Elodie – 243, up from 216
  8. Etta – 256, up from 242
  9. Everlee – 257, up from 240.  Everlee rides on Everly‘s (#107) coattails.
  10. Florence – 246, up from 214
  11. Kamiyah – 255, up from 190
  12. Legacy – 250, up from 163 (!)
  13. Lyanna – 216, up from 62 (!!).
  14. Margo – 252, up from 190.  Rising as popular Margot (#433) does.
  15. Marlowe – 256, up from 221
  16. Octavia – 255, up from 174 in 2015 (!), up from 74 in 2014.
  17. Palmer – 241, up from 176 (!)
  18. Rosalee – 245, up from 228.  Rising along with Rosalie (#254).
  19. Shanaya – 234, up from 171
  20. Violeta – 245, up from 220.  Rising with Violet (#47).
  21. Opal – 256, up from 231
  22. Whitley – 250, up from 222
  23. Xiomara – 257, up from 220

Other possibilities: Agnes, Akira, Avalyn, Diya, Eleanora, Elina, India, Loretta, Raya, Rilynn, Sailor, Spencer, Treasure, Viola, Winnie

Here are the girls’ names I think will leave the top 1000:

  1. Adilynn – #978 (271 girls) in 2016, down from #806 (347 girls) in 2015
  2. Alisha – #985 (269), down from #922 (296)
  3. Ally – #979 (271), down from #872 (318)
  4. Ann – #992 (264), down from #897 (306)
  5. Aryana – #994 (264), down from #832 (335)
  6. Azaria – #984 (270), down from #936 (288)
  7. Briley – #989 (267), down from #918 (297)
  8. Cherish – #974 (273), down from #937 (288)
  9. Desiree – #955 (282), down from #809 (346)
  10. Elin – #990 (266), down from #919 (297)
  11. Esperanza – #996 (264), down from #924 (296)
  12. Farrah – #964 (278), down from #780 (360)
  13. Hailee – #940 (289), down from #833 (335)
  14. Jasmin – #958 (281), down from #887 (310)
  15. Joslyn – #962 (279), down from #868 (321)
  16. Kaya – #961 (280), down from #859 (324)
  17. Lilia – #991 (266), down from #961 (282)
  18. Lilyanna – #997 (264), down from #969 (279)
  19. Luz – #999 (263), down from #957 (282)
  20. Madyson – #967 (276), down from #826 (339)
  21. Marjorie – #923 (295), down from #799 (351)
  22. Meilani – #1000 (263), down from #953 (284).  Meilani only entered the top 1000 in 2015.
  23. Micah – #968 (276), down from #836 (334)
  24. Milania – #946 (287), down from #800 (351)
  25. Shayla – #988 (268), down from #803 (349)

Other possibilities: Alianna, Arden, Brenna, Giana, Heather, Kailee, Kaylynn, Lizbeth, Marisol, Monserrat, Nancy, Nathaly, Yamileth, Zendaya

Boys

In 2016, the #1000th name was Jonathon, which was given to 202 boys.  Assuming the 2017 threshold is around 200 uses, here are the boys’ names I think will enter the top 1000 in 2017:

  1. Baker – 156 boys in 2016, up from 86 in 2015
  2. Bastian – 186, up from 143.  Bastian is a nickname for Sebastian (#24), which itself is increasingly popular.
  3. Bear – 186, up from 134
  4. Bjorn – 150, up from 99
  5. Cillian – 175, up from 121.  Killian (#264) is very trendy.
  6. Colson – 185, up from 170
  7. Decker – 197, up from 182
  8. Eamon – 181, up from 141
  9. Edmund – 190, up from 173
  10. Finnian – 186, up from 166
  11. Finnick – 149, up from 56 (!)
  12. Idris – 175, up from 138
  13. Imran – 191, up from 183
  14. Joan – 187, up from 169
  15. Kiaan – 168, up from 87 (!)
  16. Kyng – 183 boys, up from 100 (!)
  17. Lian – 195, up from 165
  18. Onyx – 172, up from 118
  19. Remi – 174, up from 90 (!)
  20. Roderick – 199, up from 185
  21. Ross – 191, up from 158
  22. Shepard – 189, up from 115 (!)
  23. Sidney – 196, up from 180
  24. Wallace – 196, up from 154

Other Possibilities: Adiel, Alaric, Briar, Campbell, Elvis, Harlem, Jaxxon, Jesiah, Kabir, Menachem, Norman, Ruger, Slade

And here are the boys’ names that I think will leave the top 1000:

  1. Alfonso – #921 (229 boys) in 2016, down from #794 (292 boys) in 2015
  2. Amare – #980 (207), down from #838 (267)
  3. Bode – #994 (203), down from #847 (263)
  4. Braeden – #995 (203), down from #792 (293)
  5. Brantlee – #953 (215), down from #777 (302)
  6. Brenden – #996 (203), down from #899 (241)
  7. Brent – #973 (209), down from #886 (250)
  8. Camilo – #985 (205), down from #950 (217)
  9. Coleman – #963 (211), down from #887 (250)
  10. Davian – #998 (202), down from #868 (255)
  11. Dominique – #964 (211), down from #911 (264)
  12. Dwayne – #946 (219), down from #795 (292)
  13. Gauge – #966 (211), down from #881 (251)
  14. Giancarlo – #986 (205), down from #845 (265)
  15. Gordon – #949 (218), down from #812 (278)
  16. Jamarion – #987 (205), down from #955 (216)
  17. Javon – #954 (215), down from #866 (259)
  18. Jonathon – #1000 (202), down from #879 (252)
  19. Kendall – #922 (229), down from #781 (300).  Kendall also experienced a significant drop for girls between 2015 and 2016.
  20. Kolby – #952 (216), down from #830 (270).  Colby is also falling.
  21. Lyric – #962 (213), down from #892 (246).
  22. Santos – #959 (214), down from #914 (235)
  23. Steve – #988 (205), down from #938 (224)
  24. Urijah – #956 (215), down from #883 (251)

Other Possibilities: Agustin, Anton, Blaise, Dayton, Dimitri, Ernest, Immanuel, Judson, Lamar, Kymani, Van, Vivaan

Are there any names you think will or won’t enter the top 1000 when the new data comes out?  Are there any names you think will leave?  Let me know, and check back in a couple of weeks to see the official results! 🙂

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Predictions for the Top 100 Baby Names of 2017

Predicting the top 100 baby names for a year is all about trying to figure out which names are coming in and which ones are going out.  The internal results are fun to look at once the new data arrives, but the main goal is to determine what the numbers say about the names on the edge (usually the names between #80 and #120th most-popular, though there’s always some leeway for rising stars and sinking ships).

Looking at the numbers* for names on the edge of the American top 100, I believe that the following girls’ names will enter:

  • Emilia (currently #102; +43 rank change) – Rising because of actress Emilia Clarke and the growing popularity of similar Amelia (#11).
  • Rylee (#105; +16) – When a standard spelling takes off, another version follows.  1403 more girls were named Riley (#22) in 2016 than in 2015, causing a rank increase of +13; a huge jump for any name in the top 50!
  • Valentina (#106; +8)
  • Everly (#107; +31)
  • Ivy (#112; +17)
  • Josephine (#114; +17)

Replacing:

  • Faith (#100; -9 rank change)
  • Brianna (#98; -16)
  • Taylor (#89; -13)
  • Mackenzie (#85; -11)
  • Aubree (#84; -6) – Aubrey (#25; -4) experienced a significant drop of 850 girls, and Aubree lost 227 from 2015.  In terms of raw numbers, Aubree is currently only 336 girls more popular than the #101 name Ashley.
  • Kylie (#83; -17)

If I have to suggest some less likely contenders, I’d say Nova (#136; +79), and Teagan (#150; +78).  Those two are rising so quickly they could unseat falling Katherine (#90; -6) and/or Peyton (#81; -9).  Still, Teagan is more of a long shot than Nova, which could definitely crack the top 100 if she does slightly better than her current trajectory.

As for the boys’ names entering:

  • Vincent (#104; +5)
  • Santiago (#106; +21)
  • Harrison (#107; +12)
  • Everett (#114; +21)

Replacing:

  • Bentley (#100; -7) – Besides the fact that Bentley ranked #100 in 2016 and is already falling, 2017 saw the resignation of disgraced Alabama governor Robert Bentley.
  • Brandon (#99; -17)
  • Tyler (#91; -10)
  • Kevin (#89; -10)

Ezekiel (#121; +27) might also join the top 100, probably at the expense of Ayden (#92; -5), Gavin (#80; -10) or Parker (#87; -15).  Parker‘s descent might be slowed by last year’s Spiderman movie, and based on raw-usage numbers I think Gavin is a more likely exit anyway.  Additionally, Miles (#105; +2) is rising very slowly but could accidentally find himself in the top 100 because some other name fell faster.  Three other possibilities for entry are Cole (#110; +5), Axel (#116; +7), and Maverick (#139; +45), but I don’t really expect them until the 2018 set.

Thoughts?  Agreements, disagreements?  Remember – these are just for fun, something to do while awaiting the new data.  In the meantime, check out my Top 10 Predictions!  I’ll post my speculations for the top 1000 by the end of April.

*Numbers via the 2016 top 1000 lists on Social Security Administration and Behind the Name

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Predictions for the Top 10 Baby Names of 2017

The Social Security Administration is expected to release information about America’s most popular baby names of 2017 sometime in May, and I’m getting so excited!  Just for fun, here are my predictions for the top 10.

I predict that Liam and Olivia will replace Noah and Emma as the #1 names.  Noah could keep his spot because he was still #1 in extremely high-population states like California and Texas in 2016, however…I’m starting to see some turnover.  Liam replaced Noah as the top boys’ name in San Diego, which has already released its 2017 data!  As for Olivia vs. Emma: both Olivia and Emma dropped in raw numbers between ’15 and ’16, though 1,001 fewer babies were named Emma in ’16 than in the previous year (while Olivia only fell by around 400 girls).  Plus, Oliver‘s fast upwards trajectory might help Olivia (similar sounds).

Amelia and Evelyn will probably enter the top 10 for girls, and I suspect they will replace Emily and Abigail; however, I think Abigail is more likely to stay in the top 10 than Emily.  Oliver will probably enter for boys, and Ethan will probably go.  I also suspect Lucas will replace Jacob; 1400 fewer baby boys were named Jacob in 2016 than in 2015, and it’s teetering close enough to the edge that already-rising Lucas (currently #14) will probably surpass him.  The name Lucas also has the benefit of belonging to a main character in a very popular Netflix series – “Stranger Things.”

Here’s what the 2016 top 10 looks like, including rank changes from 2015:

Girls

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

Boys

  1. Noah (0; stable)
  2. Liam (0; stable)
  3. William (+2)
  4. Mason (-1)
  5. James (+2)
  6. Benjamin (+4)
  7. Jacob (-3)
  8. Michael (+1)
  9. Elijah (+2; new)
  10. Ethan (-4)

Here’s what I think the top 10 will look like in the 2017 list, with estimated rank changes from 2016:

Girls

  1. Olivia (+1)
  2. Emma (-1)
  3. Ava (0; stable)
  4. Charlotte (+3)
  5. Isabella (0; stable)
  6. Sophia (-2); Sophia experienced a large drop of around 1300 girls between ’15 and ’16.  On the other hand, Charlotte gained almost 1700.
  7. Mia (-1)
  8. Amelia (+3; new)
  9. Harper (+1)
  10. Evelyn (+2; new)

Exiting: Emily and Abigail

Runner-up: Abigail

Boys

  1. Liam (+1)
  2. Noah (-1)
  3. William (0; stable)
  4. James (+1)
  5. Benjamin (+1)
  6. Mason (-2)
  7. Elijah (+2)
  8. Oliver (+4; new)
  9. Michael (-1)
  10. Lucas (+4; new)

Exiting: Ethan and Jacob

Runner-up: Jacob

Do you agree with my predictions, or do you think there’s going to be a different line-up?  Ultimately, we’ll see the results in May…and I do expect surprises.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to post my predictions for the top 100 and top 1000 throughout April.

American Names · Opinions

Predictions: The Top 1000 Baby Names of 2016

In less than 12 hours, we’ll find out the most popular American baby names of 2016!  Here are my predictions for the names entering and leaving the top 1000, mostly based on what names are rising and falling near the threshold.  You can also read my top 10 and top 100 predictions.  Tomorrow, we’ll see how many of these actually appear or disappear!  

Here are the names I think will enter the top 1000:

  • Boys: Wesson, Alistair, Alaric, Harris, Taj, Keanu, Ira, Danilo, Fox, Koda, Zamir, Gatlin, Dashiell, Kabir
  • Girls: Octavia, Theresa, Tinsley, Mavis, Antonella, Raylee, Akira, Robin, Diya, Charleston, Amora, Aadhya, Harleigh, Kaylani, Maddie, Evalynn, Etta, Winnie, Sailor, Reign, Royalty

The following names compose my “maybe” list:

  • Boys: Harlem, Brysen, Kooper, Rayyan, Yaakov, Isai, Westley, Shmuel, Zyaire, Mccoy, Tadeo, Ahmir, Zayd, Aston, Greysen, Hollis, Reynaldo, Colson, Jad, Lian, Finnian, Koa, Ansel, Thorin, Benedict, Simeon, KaiserKylo
  • Girls: Winnie, India, Regan, Poppy, Ellery, Amayah, Robyn, Chandler, Elina, Araceli (?), Ramona, Spencer, Ailyn, Marian, Scout, Opal, Maisy, Jubilee, Addalynn (?), Loretta, Baylor, Novalee, Ailani, Bexley, Denver, Vada, Louise

Here are the names I think will exit:

  • Boys: Deshawn, Jaydon, Gilbert, Marquis, Keenan, Jayvion, Chevy, Kaeden, Jordyn, Jamarion, Aydan, Anton, Triston, Gibson, Alfred, Jessie, Ishaan, Ulises, Brenden, Neymar
  • Girls: Kaitlynn, Libby, Janiya, Denise, Mariyah, Sharon, Lilyanna, Emmalee, Heather, Cherish, Dixie, Wendy, Aranza, Elin, Halle, Nataly, Kiley, Kenya, Jasmin, Sariah, Kayden, Anabella, Caylee, Montserrat, Anabelle, Aryanna, Annabel, Jenny, Natalee, Sidney

Might also leave:

  • Boys: Truman, Jovani, Ernest, Davin, Rolando, Seamus, Rashad, Agustin, Steve, Darrell, Markus, Javon, Zackary
  • Girls: Tegan, Stevie, Aubriella, Aubrianna, Jocelynn, America, Kimora, Hadleigh, Ellison, Alissa, Saniyah, Susan, Aliya, Briley, Aimee, Asia, Kristen, Giana, Ally, Rylan, Emilie, Lindsay, Maleah, Kathleen, Lexie, Danica, Kailyn, Elsa

Remember, these are just predictions!  Tomorrow I could find out that I’m nowhere close.  That’s okay!  There are always wildcards, and I really just write my predictions for fun.

 

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Predictions: The Top 100 Baby Names of 2016

The new U.S. data set comes out Friday!  Here are my predictions for the top 100.  You can read my top 10 predictions here.

11 names entered the top 100 in 2015 Hazel, Cora, Aurora, Quinn, Reagan, and Clara replaced Jasmine, Hadley, Alexandra, London, Lauren, and Sophie on the girls’ side; Ezra, Theodore, Elias, Mateo, and Sawyer replaced Justin, Camden, Luis, Juan, and Brody on the boys’ side.

Top 100 Names of 2015 (Both Genders, Fixed)
The Top 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2015, Visualized

Judging by the fastest-rising names that are just outside the top 100, here are the ones I predict for entry:

  • Boys: Roman, Leonardo*, Greyson
  • Girls: Eliana, Elena, Luna, Willow, Kinsley

*Leonardo (current rank #103) ranked up 11 points (+356 uses) between 2014 and 2015, so the name is already doing well and could reach the top 100 without extra help.  However, Leonardo DiCaprio won the Academy Award for Best Actor in early 2016!  I anticipate a larger leap from 2015 to 2016.

Luna (#110; rank +33; +476 uses) belongs to a consortium of trendy classical names that also includes Athena and Valeria

These names I put as “maybes” for entry:

  • Boys: Declan, Abel, Harrison, Silas
  • Girls: Adalynn, Everly, Hadley, Delilah, Adeline

Even though Hadley dropped a couple ranks last year, I still hear a *lot* about this name.  Adeline made huge gains in 2015 because of the movie Age of Adaline, and Adalynn benefited.  The question is: will the names continue to rise so fast even if the movie boost is a one-time thing?

Harrison is possible (likely, even) because of Harrison Ford and Force Awakens, which was released at the end of 2015. Star Wars names!

Due to significant drops in popularity, these are the names I think will leave the top 100 in the 2016 list:  

  • Boys: Blake, Kayden, Ayden, Jace
  • Girls: Annabelle, Khloe, Alyssa, Alexis

Aiden ranked up in 2015, Kayden (#95; -5 rank; -476 uses) and other names ending in -Ayden did poorly in 2015.

Parents shied away from Annabelle (#92; -35 rank; -1074 uses) in 2015 after the name became associated with a horror movie.  My question: will the scary stick? 

These are the names I pegged as “maybe” leaving:

  • Boys: Bentley, Brandon, Kevin; maybe Jason and Zachary too
  • Girls: Aubree, Faith, Katherine

Regarding Brandon, Kevin, Jason, and Zachary: 80s and 90s baby names aren’t fashionable anymore, so don’t expect them to stick around much longer.  If 2016 isn’t the year these fall out of the top 100, 2017 will be. 

2015 was not a good year for Puritan-style virtue names (Temperance, Mercy, and Patience all left the top 1000).  Faith dropped 10 points between 2014 and 2015, and may leave the top 100 in the 2016 set. 

General trends I haven’t previously mentioned:

Old-fashioned names are very popular for girls.  The vintage-chic names of 2015 were ones like Hazel, Alice, and Cora; expect these to continue rising.  That isn’t to say modern names aren’t popping up more.  Southern names like Harper, Scarlett, and Paisley make for a very trendy subcategory of modern names.  Special recognition also goes to the “eye” names (Piper, Skylar, and Kylie) and the unisex Irish surnames (Quinn, Reagan, and Riley).

I have a harder time pegging the boys’ names.  The most popular boys’ names are decreasingly popular, evidenced by this SSA tidbit. There’s definitely some modernizing going on, yet some of today’s trendiest baby boy names sound like they belong in another century (looking right at you, Theodore and Ezra)!  Plenty of surnames (Hudson, Lincoln, Grayson) are doing well, except for a couple that are 90s leftovers.  Another trendy category I see?  Western-inspired names like Wyatt and Levi.   

Check back in a few days for the official list from the Social Security Administration.  Aaaaahhhh, I’m so excited! 😀

American Names · Analysis · Opinions

Top 10 Baby Name Predictions

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.25.08 AM
The Top 10 baby names of 2015.  What will they be in 2016? 

With the Social Security Administration releasing the 2016 data set so soon (Friday, May 12th), I’d like to cast my baby name predictions into the cauldron!  Let’s start with the top 10, since those are the most popular and the ones you’re most likely to encounter.  I will post my top 100 and top 1000 predictions later.

The top 10 girls’ names of 2015 were:

  1. Emma (0 rank change; -444 uses; 20355 total uses)
  2. Olivia (0; -121 uses; 19533 total)
  3. Sophia (0; -1163 uses; 17327 total)
  4. Ava (+1 rank; +700 uses; 16286 total)
  5. Isabella (-1 rank; -1446 uses; 15504 total)
  6. Mia (0; +1378 uses; 14820 total)
  7. Abigail (+1; +326 uses; 12311 total)
  8. Emily (-1; -835 uses; 11727 total)
  9. Charlotte (+1; +1284 uses; 11332 total)
  10. Harper (new, +1; +677 uses; 10241 total))

And the top 10 boys’ names in 2015 were:

  1. Noah (0 rank change; +367 uses; 19511 total uses)
  2. Liam (0; -61 uses; 18281 total)
  3. Mason (0; -557 uses; 16535 total)
  4. Jacob (0; -896 uses; 15816 total)
  5. William (0; -878 uses; 15809 total)
  6. Ethan (0; -628 uses; 14991 total)
  7. James (+2; +404 uses; 14705 total)
  8. Alexander (0; -883 uses; 14460 total)
  9. Michael (-2; -1002 uses; 14321 total)
  10. Benjamin (new, +2; -79 uses; 13608 total)

You might have noticed that many names that became less common experienced no rank change, and that some names either ranked up despite a drop in the total or stayed put despite a major usage increase.  The top of the charts are are staid and insensitive.  Rank changes in this range often occur because one name falls faster than another. 

Because a large rise or drop in the top 10 means little for rank change, it’s helpful to employ context clues in predictions.  You simply can’t look at the stats for one name, because if one takes off then similar names grow alongside it.  The inverse is probably true too – if a very popular name falls then its relatives will also.

Emma might stay #1, but I’m starting to think Olivia will be 2016’s Queen of the Baby Names.  Emma offshoots like Emmalee and Emmaline are falling in popularity – if a very popular name falls then its relatives will alsoEmmalynn is rising, but that is likely helped by the extreme trendiness and growing popularity of other -Lynn names.  Furthermore, the raw usage numbers tell us that Emma fell a little faster than Olivia did between 2014 and 2015.  Other reasons I think Olivia will be #1 are 1) the meteoric rise of Oliver and 2) the rise of Olive.  On the other hand…Olivia‘s alternative spellings (Olyvia, Alivia…) are becoming less popular

Noah will likely continue his reign as King of the Baby Names in 2016.  Noah was one of only two boys’ names in the 2015 top 10 to make usage gains (the other was James).  Liam receives all the hype, but I’d like to point out something I think is seriously overlooked – in the state of California, Liam ranks nowhere near #1.  Last year I researched naming at the state level and discovered that if a name is in California’s top 100, it’s automatically in the national top 1000.  Liam certainly is popular in Cali (apparently he’s even #2 in San Diego, where 2016 stats are already available), but not quite enough to unseat Noah.  Of course, we’ll find out for sure on Friday!

After predicting the #1 names, the next important question asks which names will leave the top 10.  In 2015, Harper and Benjamin replaced Madison and DanielMichael will probably leave the top 10 this time around, and Emily is his likely female counterpart.  Alexander also looks like a possibility.  The next question: what will replace them?

Amelia (current rank #12) is Emily‘s probable replacement.  She’s a fast riser and the #1 name in England and Wales, plus similar-sounding Emilia also rises.  In the unlikely case that another spot opens up in the girls’ top 10, I nominate Elizabeth (perennially popular, rising, + Netflix’s “The Crown”) and Evelyn (trendy, rising) as back-up dancers.   I have a harder time figuring out the supplanter among the boys (unless you want to talk about James or Jacob, which actually mean “supplanter!”).  I’ve had Elijah on my shortlist for a while, but he may simply stay #11 or #12; he’s my conservative guess.  Oliver jumped very high between 2014 and 2015 (gained +13 rank, +2227 usage for a total of 11592), but he won’t necessarily enjoy that same level of momentum between the 2015 and 2016 sets.  Aiden rose a little in 2015, but rhyming names like Jayden, Brayden, and Kayden fell.  I nominate Lucas (current rank #16) as a wildcard because of new Star Wars movies and “Stranger Things.”

Thus, my prediction lists:

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Ava
  4. Sophia or Mia
  5. Mia or Sophia
  6. Isabella
  7. Charlotte
  8. Abigail – Theoretically, Abigail would be pushed downwards by other names even her usage increases.
  9. Harper
  10. Amelia

Boys

  1. Noah
  2. Liam
  3. Mason
  4. James
  5. William
  6. Jacob
  7. Ethan
  8. Benjamin
  9. Alexander
  10. Elijah or Oliver

These predictions aren’t an exact science.  We can’t determine exactly what will happen, only what might happen.  There are always those names you are so sure will be the next big thing, and then they simply fall short!  I can already tell you a few of the names on the prediction lists will be out of order, and the #1 names could actually end up being Emma and Liam.  The fun and anticipation are enough for me – it reminds me of trying to predict the plot of an upcoming Harry Potter book!

Thoughts?  Check back in a few days for the official list!  And, you know…to see how strong my predictions are.  

 

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!