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Most Popular Baby Names, A to Z

popular baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

We were so entranced with the blog Eleanor Nickerson–aka Elea– did for us on most popular British baby names by letter that we decided to recreate it using the American popularity list.

Our research intern Megan Garon pored over the US statistics to compile the following list of the top girls’ and top boys’ name for every letter from A to Z.   Well, not every letter as it turns out there is no girls’ name starting with U in the Top 1000!

Other interesting facts that emerge when looking at the US popularity list through the alphabetical lens:

— Some letters (E, for instance) include names that are a lot closer to the top of the list than others (F, to cite a nearby example).  This is hardly earth-shattering news and yet, the differences are notable.

— While there are plenty of traditional names heading their letter’s popularity rank, a remarkable number of the top names are new ones.  Take H, for example, where Harper and Hunter trump classics Helen and Henry, or P, where Peyton and Parker dominate rather than Patricia and Paul.

— In a few cases, the top names for a letter for girls and boys are remarkable similar — Riley and Ryan, for instance, and Willow and William, and especially Quinn and Quinn!  This is evidence of the trend toward boys’ and girls’ names taking their sound and style cues from each other.

— When you look at most popular names this way, a few really unusual choices come to the fore by leading their little pack.  We’re looking at you, Ximena, Yaretzi, and Yahir.

Here, the most popular names for every letter in 2013 in the US, with overall standings for the names in parentheses.

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hot baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

What are the hottest baby names today, those zooming toward the top of the popularity list?

Identifying which names are moving fastest toward the top is an art, but there can also be some science to it.  We asked the Wizard of Nameberry, our engineer Hugh Hunter, to plot the upward trajectory of 20 names that have been vaulting up the charts over the past decade.  He crunched the numbers and came up with a Hotness Quotient: a number that plots each name’s relative hotness and stands for the number of places it will jump each year if it continues moving up the ranks at the same pace.

We tracked all the names on our list from 2001 through 2013; entering the Top 1000 more recently than that skews the HQ unfairly high.  Eloise, which reentered the Top 1000 in 2009, for instance, has an HQ of 145, nearly three times as high as our Number 1 name Adeline, while newcomer Jax, which entered in 2005, stands at 96, twice as high as our top boys’ name Finn.   But these names are unlikely to continue moving up at this velocity.

Here, our ten hottest girls’ and ten hottest boys’ choices., with their individual Hotness Quotients:

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popular baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

When the 2013 US Popular Baby Names list came out back in May, we ran Kelli Brady aka The Name Freak‘s wonderful Playground Analysis blog, with her count of the REAL Top 50 baby names. Kelli tallies all spelling variations of the top names to arrive at their actual rankings, which puts Aiden et al instead of Noah at Number 1 for boys, for instance, and bumps Jackson (and Jaxen, Jaxon, and Jaxson) up to Number 2.

Our focus is usually on which names are MORE popular than you’d think when you add in all their spelling variations.  The idea is that parents want to be forewarned when they’re likely to hear their favorite baby names far more often than they’d guess based on the official rankings.  Zoe and Aubrey, counting all spellings, are actually in the Top 10 for girls, for example, while Kayden and his many near-identical twins rank not at Number 93 but at Number 9.

But what about those baby names that are LESS popular than they seem judging by the official statistics?  Parents may veer away from some names, both classic and modern, that are actually somewhat more distinctive than they appear.  I’m not talking about names that are a couple of rungs further down the ladder, based on Kelli‘s analysis, but those that are significantly softer by our own subjective measure.

The point is: If you’re shying away from these baby names because you believe they’re too popular, maybe you owe them a second look.  They are:

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girl baby names

by Ren Williams

Many of the stories about the recent US Popular Names list focus on the names at the top and on the rise: the Sophias and Jacobs, Khaleesis and Jayceons of the baby name world.

But, just as some names go up, others must come down. The following 20 girls’ names fell out of the Top 1000 in 2013, some of them perhaps just taking a nap, others on a long slide toward obsolescence.

Abbie and Abbey

Both of these short forms for Abigail sank even as the original remains in the Top 10. The venerable Abbie has been more popular over the decades than Abigail herself, spending only 35 years outside the Top 1000 since the list’s inception in 1880, compared with Abigail’s 43. Abbey, the younger of the sisters, entered the rankings in 1978 where it remained until this year.

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What name do you hear waaaaaay too often?

a-lot-of-babies

I love the name Henry.

If our first child had been a boy, she would have been named Henry.

Then, by the time we did have a boy, I decided I really wanted to use a family name — Joseph, if you’re curious — instead.

And when we had our third child and second son, it seemed I knew too many Henrys.

There’s a Henry my youngest son’s age who lives across the street from us.  One a little older down the street.  And one a bit younger, a friend of my son’s, around the corner.

I still love the name, a strong yet stylish classic.  And yet while I feel that it’s a favorite that got away, I wouldn’t use it for a baby now because it seems there are too many Henrys in my neighborhood, my town, my life.

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