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Category: baby name popularity list

Baby Name Trends: Gender Benders

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Kids who defy gender stereotypes – and how best to parent them – is a hot topic these days.  The New York Times recently featured a story on boys in tutus and girls with Mohawks on its front page.  And when the J. Crew catalog carried a photo spread of its fashion director painting her 4-year-old son’s toenails pink, it sparked an outpouring of both criticism and support.

Whatever your feeling about pedicures for boys, names that push the gender envelope are among the hottest baby name trends.  The most recent statistics on names making the biggest leaps up the popularity ladder show names that break with both feminine and masculine conventions leading the lists.

For both sexes, these include truly unisex names such as Quinn and Karter and names long favored for one sex jumping gender lines (Charlie going to the girls’ side and Terry to the boys’).   There are also girlish spins on boys’ names and vice versa, such as Danna and Jayleen for girls and Rhys and Emmett for boys.

And then there are the names that are used almost exclusively for one gender but carry qualities usually associated with the other: I’m thinking of the hard-edged Kinley or Kenzie for girls and the soft-sounding Greyson and Jasper for boys.

Here, 20 gender-bending names that crowd the tops of the fastest-rising lists for both girls and boys, in order of how many places they’ve moved up the ladder.

Girls

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Popular Baby Names

When we parse the annual Social Security list, we usually focus on the top names–what’s the new Number One, which names have made it into the Top 25, even the Top 100. But there are many names on the Popularity List that actually aren’t all that popular– certainly not commonly enough used  to deter parents who are looking for a distinctive name.

In the lower depths of the list, there are a number of neglected names that were given to fewer than 350 babies across the country last year, real hidden gems sprinkled among the more unusually configured Cloes, Alyvias and Jovanys.  These are appealing names that are recognizable to all, with real history and meaning, but which would still stand out in a crowd (or in a pre-school).

Among them are:

GIRLS

DIXIE — One of the most engaging of the saucy showgirl nickname names, with an added dash of Southern spice.

GIADA — An undiscovered Italian jewel (it translates as Jade) brought into the spotlight by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.

JUNE — Springtime month name starting to come back into bloom.

JUSTINE –An elegant name with deep Latin roots and a righteous meaning.

LIBBY –The lost Elizabeth nickname, sounding so much fresher than Liz and Beth–not to mention Betsy and Betty.

LILIA — A charming, rhythmic, more exotic spin on the well-used Lily.

LIVIA –Not a chopped-off version of Olivia but an ancient Roman favorite used on its own.

MARIN — A shimmering water name, distinctive and sophisticated.

MATILDA — Sweet and feminine vintage classic, with a choice of appealing nicknames–Mattie, Tilda, Tillie; hasn’t caught on despite highly visible image of Matilda Ledger.

OLIVE — Quieter alternative to trendy Olivia; young heroine of Little Miss Sunshine, and pick of cool couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen.

SLOANE — Sleek executive name chosen by comedian Rob Corddry.

TAMARA –With both Russian and Hebrew roots, has a dramatic, creative image.

TESS — Has a lot more substance, strength and style than most single-syllable names; a good middle name choice too.

THALIA –One of the Three Graces, and the Muse of Comedy, in Greek mythology; does at the moment tend to be associated with single-named singer.

BOYS

AUGUSTUS –Old Roman name sounding less and less fusty, especially when softened by nicknames Augie or Gus.

CASSIUS –A Shakespearean name with the patina of antiquity, plus a choice of two cool nicknames–Cass or Cash.

CONRAD –A solid, serious name with literary cred.

CULLEN — Winning Irish surname name–but in danger of increased popularity via being the surname of Edward in the popular Twilight franchise.

DARWIN –Perfect for the son of scientists, but also appealing to any parent looking for a name with a stylish sound and historic significance.

FLETCHER –An occupational (arrow-maker) name with an abundance of quirky charm.

JENSEN — An attractive, rarely heard Scandinavian surname name, attached to both a spiffy car and a current TV teen idol, Jensen Ackles–there were only 192 baby Jensens born last year.

KILLIAN — Dynamic Irish saint’s name; only possible drawback is tie to the trendy brew.

LUCIAN — Adds a gloss of Continental elan to Luke and Lucas.

MAXIMO –Lively Latin route to nickname Max, meaning ‘the greatest’–sole caveat is a link to a video game.

REUBEN –A neglected Biblical boy, resonant and rich, belonging to the founder of one of the tribes of Israel.

REX — One of the few trendy x-ending boys’ names with a real–even regal–meaning.

SEAMUS — This Irish form of James has way more substance and spunk than the dated Sean.

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Baby Name Trends: View from the Peak

Baby Name Trends

One of nameberry’s hidden wonders is its lists of names that peaked in every year from 1880 to 2007, the most recent one counted.  These lists, created by our brilliant yet anonymous (ironic, huh?) software engineer, give a snapshot not of the most popular but of the trendiest names at any given moment.

It’s possible to look at the peaking names and their variations to pinpoint trends current and future.  Some directions evident in the 2007 list include:

THE AD NAMES

In 2007, we see the peak of Addison: no surprise there.  Also peaking are Addisyn, Addyson, Adison, and Adyson.  A little further removed are Adalyn and Adelyn.  And from there it’s only a quick hop to Adrian and Adriel (and not such a stretch to include all the Aidens in this group).   Look for other Ad- names to follow: Ada, Adelaide, Adelia, Adeline, AdairAdolph, not so much.

THE EL NAMES

Heirs of Ellen and Elliot, we see Elias peaking for boys.  And the much longer girls’ list includes Elaina, Eliana, Elle, and Ellie.

THE DOUBLE L NAMES

Girls’ names with the lovely two-l sound peaking in 2007 include Layla and leyla,, Leilani, Lilah, Liliana in various spellings, plus Lily herself.  Lorelai and Lyla are also at their peak.

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