Category: new names for boys
by Abby Sandel
Back in 1944, names like Judy, Beverly, and Bruce felt new. In the 1970s, Kelly, Justin, and Shawn were novel. And in 1994, we were busy naming our sons original choices like Austin and Tyler, while our daughters became Alexis and Taylor.
Parents are always dreaming up new baby names, taking our inspiration from pop culture and the past. Not every new name feels freshly minted. Some seem like throwbacks, even vintage gems. Others become mainstream so quickly that it’s hard to imagine the names haven’t always been in use.
But make no mistake: plenty of the most popular baby names in the US are recent arrivals, as new the newborns who wear them.
How to define a truly new baby name? There are eight boy names and ten girl names that have only ranked in the US Top 100 for the past five years. They’ve also (almost) never charted in the US Top 1000 prior to 1984 – thirty years ago.
But no, these names were given for the very first time to at least five American babies, earning a place on the Social Security’s extended name popularity list.
The craziest of the crazy new names? Here are our picks for the Top 12, plus a handful of other new names that should never have been:
Here’s the beautiful thing about baby names: the well never runs dry.
No matter how many names cycle through Top Ten lists, no matter how many celebrities choose truly outlandish names for their children, there are always more names. Neglected gems from years gone by, novel words never before considered names, imports from abroad.
Need proof? Look no further than the overwhelming response to last week’s Invent a Name Challenge.
Or just read the baby name blogs, high profile birth announcements, and Nameberry message boards any day of the week. Plenty of parents, from Hollywood A-listers to the family next door, are choosing inventive, daring names for their children. The boldest might surprise us with their first name choices, while others play it safe with firsts but choose sparky, unexpected middles.
There are no guarantees, of course. An obscurity you choose in 2015 could hover just outside the US Top 100 by the time your kiddo heads off to kindergarten. But that just opens the door for another group of parents to innovate with the names of their children.
Some parents of baby boy Wyatts are nervous. Will Wyatt go girl? Others who had shortlisted Wyatt for a possible child someday might be rethinking. No one wants to introduce their child and have another mom respond, “Oh, like Ashton and Mila’s baby?”
The kerfuffle reminds me of singer Michelle Branch. In 2005, at the height of her success, she married her bass player and had a daughter called Owen Isabelle. Owen remained a Top 100 choice for boys in the US – gaining more than 20 places since – and is barely a blip for girls.
The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years. In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas. Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant. Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.
As for the girls? That’s a different picture. Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell. Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace. None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.
And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before. Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline. We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.