As originally published on Nameberry.
Ready for a little bit of crystal ball-gazing about all things baby names? With the new US popularity data due out around Mother’s Day, it’s time for some predictions.
The new Top Ten gets an awful lot of attention, of course. Remember last year, when Charlotte entered the US Top Ten the same week that Princess Charlotte was born?
But the part of the list that intrigues me most is those trending up – the names that break into the US Top 1000 for the first time, or those that return after an absence.
Why does it matter? We’re talking about names that rank Number 893 or 952, after all, names that have been given to a few hundred newborns, max.
Here’s why: the list is widely reported. Dissected, even. If you find yourself looking for a less common name, the opposite of the too popular Jennifer or Ashley or Emily you wore growing up, then maybe you’ll skip right past the Top 100 and even the Top 250. You’ll direct your eyes towards the end of the list.
So getting on the list matters. Because somewhere above the Number 250 or 500 is where we go looking for different, but not too different names.
Just how many children have to receive a name for it to rank in the US Top 1000? In 2014, the numbers were as follows: 206 uses for boys, and 263 uses for girls. Every individual spelling is counted as a unique name.
Here are my predictions for nine baby names for boys, and nine for girls, likely to crack the US Top 1000 when we get the new list later this month.
Achilles – As ancient as Alexander, as heroic as Jason, Achilles was given to 169 boys in 2014. Ten years earlier, that number was just 32! Achilles is definitely one to watch.
Bowie – Bowie is a long shot, since it was given to just 59 boys in 2014. But our affection for rock star surnames like Hendrix and Lennon makes me think it could happen – if not this year, then soon.
Cairo – Place names are big, and so are o-ending names for boys. Put them together, and you have exotic Cairo, given to 171 boys in 2014.
Dashiell – Yes, it’s true. Dashiell, a Nameberry darling currently ranked Number 101 on our site, has never made the US Top 1000. 123 boys were named Dashiell in 2014, so I think this could be the year.
Decker – Decker is a surname name with a tough guy vibe, a successor to Ryder and Ryker and Maddox, too. Furious 7 introduced a bad guy named Deckard in 2015, which might help boost this boy name. It was given to 179 boys in 2014.
Fox – Animal names are stylish. Wren entered the girls’ Top 1000 last year. With that great x-ending, could this be Fox’s year? 163 boys were given the name in 2014.
Linus – If Ezra and Hugo and Felix are back, can Linus be far behind? 163 boys were named Linus in 2014. It’s part-Peanuts, but also the name of an early pope and more than one mythological character.
Koa – Take Number 1 name Noah, mix in a healthy dose of Hawaiian nature name Kai, and you’ll have Koa. It’s a tree name given to 110 boys in 2014.
Wilder – Outdoorsy, literary, Hollywood, cool – there are lots of ways to think about Wilder. Doubtless that’s why 128 boys received the name in 2014, and why I’m watching it closely.
Now, let’s look at the girls’ names poised just outside the Top 1000:
Antonella – Gabriella, Isabella, Antonella. It fits, right? This elaborated Italian form of Antonia was given to 216 girls in 2014. A bonus is potential nickname Nell instead of Toni.
Della – 193 girls were given the name Della in 2014. In 2015, Billy Joel and wife Alexis named their daughter Della Rose. It’s a logical successor to Ella, Stella, and Bella, so here’s guessing the Joel family might be on to something.
Kensington – The London royal residence of Will and Kate is much in the news. No surprise that 229 girls were given the name in 2014. It shares nickname Kensie with former favorite Mackenzie.
Marlowe – Harlow is a fast-rising choice for girls, with Marlo, Marlow, and Marlowe not far behind. The –owe spelling is the most popular, given to 203 girls in 2014.
Mavis – Mavis shares sounds with Ava and Mabel, but this name’s rapid rise is probably thanks to Hotel Transylvania’s adorable vampire daughter, voiced by Selena Gomez. 231 girls were named Mavis in 2014, up from just 43 in 2012.
Ophelia – Shakespeare chose Olivia for his comedy Twelfth Night. Now another O-ia name made famous by the Bard is on the rise: Hamlet’s tragic Ophelia. 225 girls were given the name in 2014.
Persephone – Move over, Penelope. This Greek goddess name comes in at Number 191 on Nameberry, and was given to 199 girls in 2014 – a new high for this once rare name.
Sylvie – An eco-vintage pick, Sylvie is a logical successor to Ivy and Olive, Evelyn and Genevieve. 226 girls were named Sylvie in 2014, and Sylvia has gained in use in recent years.
Zelda – Zelda is rich with jazz age glamour, thanks to Zelda Fitzgerald. It was also in the news in 2014, following the tragic death of Robin Williams. Williams’ daughter, Zelda, was named after the princess in the long-running video game series, The Legend of Zelda. 212 girls were given the name in 2014, up from just 81 Zeldas in 2011.
Are any of these names on your shortlist? Which names are you watching?