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Nara

By Pamela Redmond Satran

The hot baby names making the most dramatic leaps up the popularity list at Nameberry so far this year include several surnames newly favored as firsts; names inspired by a beloved literary character, a historic president and a new pope; the name of a cuddly animal and a term for a laid-back attitude.

Our 2013 hot baby names list is made up of those names whose views on Nameberry for the first half of this year show the largest gains over views during the same period in 2012.

While our hot list includes a couple of traditional girls’ names – Francine and Margo in all her spellings – along with one choice, the Irish Declan, that is decidedly a boys’ name, most of the hottest names today can work for either gender.

And most have until recently not been used as first names.  Sometimes it’s a celebrity, like funny girl Rebel Wilson, who brings a new name to the fore.  Celebrity babies or pop culture influences can also introduce new names to the lexicon.

But mostly, what makes a name hot is some combination of factors that catches fire in the moment.

Our hottest baby names for the first half of 2013 are:

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Nameberry Picks: The Best O Names

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We’ve always loved O Names, from our first book Beyond Jennifer & Jason when we declared names that ended (and sometimes also began) with the cheery letter O to be “So Far Out They’re In.” A quarter century later, they still are, with choices like Leo and Marlo officially stylish and a raft of other O names gaining much-deserved attention.

We’re still so fond of the O names that we find it difficult to narrow our favorites down to a dozen, but these to us feel both fresh and usable, contemporary and also deserving of respect. The only down side of the O names as a class is that there are more great choices for boys than for girls.

With photos that connect the letter O’s eternal circle with things relating to childhood, here are the best O names right now.

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Baby Names 2012: What’s Hot Now

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The hottest baby names 2012 – those attracting the biggest spikes in views on Nameberry for the first six months of this year – are an astonishing group: Highly unusual yet strangely familiar, heavily influenced by pop culture yet boldly individualistic.

The strongest baby name influences right now: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and ancient Rome.  Many of the hot names relate to nature and to worlds beyond our own.  And most share a transcendence of traditional gender identity, containing elements of names for the opposite gender if not crossing over to unisex territory.

Nameberry’s hottest names of the year, which we predict you’ll be hearing lots more of in the future, are:

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Baby names 2012 are already proving themselves to be very different from last year’s choices, with The Hunger Games taking over from Twilight as the primary cultural influence on names, the hottest boys’ names taking a cue from the girls, and musical names trumping Hollywood for inspiration.

In an analysis of nearly 3 million views of Nameberry’s individual name pages in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year, these names are enjoying the biggest jumps in attention.  Here, our picks for the top baby names 2012:

Rue – Credit The Hunger Games, which has turned the spotlight on a range of exotic botanical names for girls, from the heroine’s name Katniss to gentle Primrose to Posy and Clove.  But the hottest choice for babies, according to the Nameberry statistics, is sleek, simple, if somewhat mournful Rue, the name of the agile young girl who meets a tragic end in the series.  In real life, however, we see Rue as having a bright future.

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