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Baby Name Trends: Sleek, simple, cool names

cool baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

People often ask us how we come up with our baby name trend predictions.

The short answer: It’s a mix of science and inspiration, with a dash of magic.

One of our major predictions for baby names 2015, for instance, was a trend toward short, simple names.  The basis for this prediction was scientific: These names are now stylish and popular throughout Europe, and the names themselves are both fresh and easily translated to the American culture.

But now suddenly we see that trend for sleek, cool names really taking off, and here’s where the magic comes in.  First, early this morning, we noticed extremely positive comments on the Nameberry pages for both Jude and Lux, perfect examples of this kind of short, modern, stylish name.

And then, just as we were beginning to compile a list of similar names we saw as fitting the same attractive mold, we opened the New York Times magazine to read about a hot new clothing company called Kit and Ace, named for two prototypical millennials who personify the cutting-edge brand.

In the baby name trend predicting world, three influences like this from three different sources — international statistics, grass-roots comments, and the fashion world — add up to a bona fide trend.

And then a fourth item drove the idea home: Abby Sandel’s Monday column right here on Nameberry, discussing all the new celebrity baby names that fit the short, simple trend.

Here, our picks for baby names that embody this major trend toward sleek, simple, cool names.  Most of these move beyond traditional choices such as Bill and Anne but stop short of being word names or nature names such as Wren or Snow (though there are selections here that veer toward both the traditional and the nature categories).  But the best of them, to our mind, live somewhere in the middle.

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short baby names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Do you prefer Olivia, or the spare Liv? Nathaniel, or just Nate?

If you’re drawn to Liv and Nate, you’re not alone.

Short names have come and gone over the years. Classics like John and Grace can be found throughout the centuries. Once-novel choices like Dawn and Jill, Todd and Scott, are now mom and dad names.

Today there’s a whole new crop of single syllable baby names, from surnames like Sloane and Grey to nature names like Skye and innovations like Jax and Jace.

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long or short names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

For every Seraphina, there’s a Jax.

A glance at the US Top 100 lists from 1963 and 2013 suggests that the most popular names have gotten longer over the last fifty years.  Back in 1963, the only Top 100 name longer than three syllables was Elizabeth.

Today there are nine: Elizabeth is joined by Alexandra, Olivia, Gabriella, Isabella, Serenity, and Penelope for girls, plus Alexander and Jeremiah for boys.

There are more three-syllable names, and fewer single-syllable ones, too.

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Short, Simple, Chic Baby Names

chicnames

By Pamela Redmond Satran

When Americans think about chic European names, they tend to imagine the exotic, the elaborate, the intriguingly complicated and foreign.

Yet when Europeans think about chic names, they often these days mean the short and simple and sometimes even the Anglo-Saxon: Tom, Emma, Lou.  Think of them as the baby name equivalents of a perfectly-cut bob or little black dress, elegant and always in style.

Short, simple names that are chic and popular in France, the Netherlands, and indeed throughout Europe include:

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me-and-men

By Gay Cioffi

When my son was about to be born, close to thirty years ago, there were very few resources for parents-to-be to turn to for ideas for names.  Nothing as wonderful as Nameberry, for sure!  As a veteran nursery school teacher of ten years, I had the added challenge of having favorite names already taken by my many students.  I loved the name Oliver, but I would forever associate it with one of the adorable boys in my first nursery school class.  And as the youngest in a family of three brothers and a sister, my older siblings had also gotten to favorites of mine, before I was even of childbearing age. I will never forget the phone call from my mother announcing that my sister Ann had just delivered a new baby girl and that she was naming her Jennifer. I went completely silent as I stood in the hallway of my college dorm.  “What’s wrong?” my mother asked. I hesitated, but finally confessed that I was hoping someday to have a daughter named Jennifer.  Of course, when I reached my sister by phone later that day I had only enthusiasm for the news of a new niece and her beautiful name.

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