Category: popular girls names
One of the search terms that sends a lot of people to Nameberry every day is “pretty girl names.”
Are they searching for names that are pretty, we wonder, or names that sound as if they belong to pretty girls? Or maybe what people are after is names that mean pretty or beautiful?
Or probably, all of the above.
We do have a list called Pretty Girl Names, which is admittedly subjective, a compendium of names that carry the literal meaning as well as those that convey prettiness in our minds.
A selection of possibilities:
Our tally of the 100 most popular girls’ names of 2012 on Nameberry is in, and we have a new Number 1: Katniss.
The predominance of Katniss is more a testament to the power of the Hunger Games franchise than to baby name trends.
Our Number 2 girls’ name Charlotte, which has been Nameberry’s most popular girls’ name every year until now, is more reflective of a name that will actually be chosen by parents. Imogen, which has moved up from Number 6 to claim the Number 3 spot, is another choice we see on the rise in the real world, though it has yet to break into the U.S. Top 1000.
The girls’ names that have risen the most places since our 2011 count are:
It’s pretty obvious that some popular names start a daisy chain of cousins that become equally popular, as was seen most recently in the progression of a group of top girls’ names beginning with E. First there was Emily, which was the Number 1 name from 1996 to 2007. One year after that, Emma reached the top spot, only to be trailed by Ella, who has now been in the Top 20 since 2008.
Yet as recently as the 1980s, Ella wasn’t even in the Top 1000, seen as a rather frumpy has-been, stuck in appellation limbo. Which leads us to wonder who will be next? Which two-syllable E-name will escape from the lower depths to follow in this progression?
The leading contenders:
Just like Oz, Nameberry has a Wizard: Our engineer and partner Hugh Hunter. One of the wonderful things Hugh can do, besides creating the digital structure of the site and keeping it running, is to produce lists of names that meet certain statistical criteria: Names whose popularity peaked in 1937, for instance, or names never searched on Nameberry (hmmmmmm).
So when we recently asked Hugh if he could generate a list of names that had reentered the U.S. Top 1000 in 2011 — names that had been on the list before, dropped off, and now had reappeared — the answer was of course. What we didn’t know was how interesting that list would be.
It’s easy to confuse popularity with stylishness. Many baby names feel “popular” when they’re merely stylish: We’re hearing them a lot, they’re in step with the baby name fashions, and we worry that if we choose them, our little Matilda is going to be one of many.
And perhaps if you live in some edgy, baby-centric enclave – Park Slope, Brooklyn, say, or Bernal Heights in San Francisco – that will be true. But for the most part, the numbers tell a different story, with many of the most stylish names used by very few parents.
One note: Names can be popular and stylish, so many of those in the popular column also qualify as stylish.
Looking just at girls’ names today, here’s a statistics-based reality check on what’s stylish vs. what’s truly popular. (Numbers in parentheses represent how many babies were given that name in the most recent U.S. count.)