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Baby Names: Hottest Trends for 2009

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Which baby name trends do we see coming in for 2009 and which do we see heading out? Here, our predictions for the year ahead.

BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: DEPRESSION ERA NAMES

The hit TV show Mad Men, set in the early 60s, reintroduced names that were all the rage when the characters were born in the 1930s: Don , Betty, Joan, Peggy.  They’re plain names fit for hard times, and we predict the hardscrabble months ahead will inspire more babies with these names: Dorothy, Helen, Ruth, and Frances for girls; Thomas, Edward, Frank, Raymond, and even Harold for boys.  Plus the stylish new occupational names–Gardener, Ranger, Miller–are likely to gain in appeal for both boys and girls as actual jobs become more scarce.

MOST SURPRISING COMEBACK NAME

Leon, middle name choice for Brangelina twin Knox, had become a joke in the U.S. but was on the rise in Europe, where all lion-related names–Leo, Leonora, Lionel–are tres chic.  Leon and Leonie are the number one names in Germany and for the first time in decades, have style potential here.

BEST NEW TREND INSPIRED BY A CELEBRITY BABY NAME

Jessica Alba’s infant Honor has ushered in a new appreciation for virtue names, on the rise through the name ranks–and hopefully also in spirit–with Faith, Hope, Patience, Mercy, Justice, True, and Pax.

HOTTEST GENDER-BENDING TREND

Boys names that end in a vowel sound and girls’ names that end in a consonant.  Examples: Ezra, Eli, Milo, Noah, Hugo for boys, and for girls, Annabel instead of Annabella, for instance, or Eden instead of Emma.

ETHNIC NAMES GROUPS MOST LIKELY TO RISE

Hawaiian and Russian, thanks to First Daughters Malia and Sasha, short for Natasha, Obama.

TRENDIEST TREND-RELATED TREND

Names that are considered too trendy by stylish parents by virtue of their association with other, trendier names or with high-visibility celebrities.  Examples: Ada, fresh yet too close to the megapopular AvaPearl, too much like groovy RubyRoman, son of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing.  And Matilda, toddler of Michelle Wiliams and Heath Ledger.

GIRL TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that end in –ella, from Isabella to Gabriella to Bella and even Ella herself.  The long trend for that extra-syllable a ending is about to end.

BOY TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that rhyme with -aden: Braden, Caden, Jaden, Xaden, you’ve had your moment in the sun.

COOLEST MIDDLE NAME TREND

Names that carry powerful meaning, launched when people adopted the middle name Hussein in solidarity with Obama.  Less name than symbol, the new middle name may carry political meaning, convey ethnic background, stand in for a place, animal, character, or thing that has meaning for the parents.

NEW “IT” VOWEL

I, with the rise of such iNames as Isaiah, Iris, Isaac, and Isla.

MOST FASHIONABLE CONSONANT

V, vivifying names wherever it falls: Olive, Vivienne, Eva, Victor, Avery, Violet, Evan, Nevaeh.

NAME TREND THAT’S BEST FOR THE EARTH

Green Names, which include the recycling of grandma and grandpa names like Mabel and Max, and also nature names drawn from the water (Bay, Lake), trees (Birch, Oak), and flowers (Violet, Poppy).

TREND MOST LIKELY TO CROSS THE OCEAN

The hot British baby-naming trend of using nicknames from Millie to Alfie to Dixie and Dot is coming our way, as a light-hearted antidote to tough times.

MOST SURPRISING CELEBRITY NAME INSPIRATION

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post was the media star of the 2008 election, is an attractive and influential person but hardly the kind of tabloid hottie who usually inspires thousands of baby namesakes.  But joining Ashton and Angelina, the name Arianna has ascended with Huffington’s renown, reaching number 70 in the last year counted and certain to zoom much higher.

TREND WE’D MOST LIKE TO SEE DIE

Scary, violent names like Talon, Cannon, Gunner.

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