Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone’s list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising.
That’s because there are so many more unusual names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.
Expectant parents in 2018 do not need to be told, as they did in 1988, to move beyond Jennifer and Jason (as we urged in the title of our first book). Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.
Here, our picks the 100 best baby names for 2018.
Alba — A Top 10 name in Spain, this last hit the US popularity list a century ago.
Alma — This soulful choice is the name of the simple-but-strong heroine of Phantom Thread.
Angelica — This most angelic of names has transcended Rugrats fame.
Arden — A name with a unisex feel used mostly for girls that benefits from sounding like ardent.
Ari — The i ending modernizes this Hebrew nickname-name.
Artemis — Greek goddess of the hunt whose moon-related name has a strong unisex feel.
Arthur — A princely classic with an artsy short form.
Azariah — A new Old Testament name used equally for girls and boys.
Bear — Once-unlikely animal name both cuddly and strong, gaining real traction.
Cora — Classic name with literary pedigree headed for the Top 10.
Eira — Welsh name that means snow.
Faye — Simple and pixieish and newly back in the Top 1000 after a 40-year break.
Gracia — A Spanish name with plenty of gratitude.
Henley — The ley ending adds instant trendiness to any name. including this place-name of a British river town.
Horatio — Ancient name with new possibilities.
Ione — This name of a sea nymph squeezes three syllables out of its four letters.
Ivo — A woodsy name most popular in The Netherlands.
Jacinta — A Spanish name that hides its botanical origins: it means hyacinth.
Jericho — Biblical place-name that works for either sex.
Leopold — One of the old-fashioned boys’ names that has shed its long gray beard and feels baby-ready again.
Linus — The ancient god of music has finally lost his grip on his blankie.
Magnus — Name popular in Scandinavia, with a great meaning.
Malachy — The Irish form of the Biblical name takes a long ee sound at the end.
Marisol — Traditional Spanish religious name that also relates to the sun and the sea.
Marlow — Surname name that’s become a celebrity favorite.
Niamh — Now that Saoirse is getting more popular, other names with Irish spellings may be poised for wider usage, including this name of the heroine of Christina Baker Kline’s huge popular novel Orphan Train.
November — Underused month name that can work for girls or boys.
Quincy — Works for either gender but getting especially popular for girls.
Ramona — Romantic classic that feels distinctive.
Renata — Operatic name that literally means rebirth.
Reverie — Dreamy word name.
Romy — Luscious nickname-name that now often stands on its own.
Roscoe — Quirky Norse name last popular in the 1880s.
Rowan — One of the most popular unisex names is also used most equally for girls and boys.
Rowena — Classic literary name little-used today.
Sabine — An ancient girls’ name never in the Top 1000.
Serafina — The f is the Spanish spelling.
Seth — Gentle name never as well used as his Biblical brothers.
Tansy — A playful flower name with a serious meaning: immortality.
Urban — Ancient pope name that’s right for modern city babies.
Veronica — Ancient saint’s name with contemporary glamour.
Vida — A new choice that means life.
Virgil — Ancient literary name.
Winslow — Artistic name with a winning nickname.
Wynn — Uplifting choice for either gender.
Xen — Zenlike name for either gender.
Zephyr — Greek god of the west wind makes an evocative namesake.
Zion — Biblical place name with optimistic meaning.
Zora — Simple-yet-unusual tribute name to a literary heroine.
And here are Katinka‘s discoveries in the Forums this week:
— Lovers of unusual names this way! What would you suggest for this family of fantastically adventurous namers?
— And at the other end of the naming spectrum, is middle name popularity an issue?
— Names you love, but no one else does: share your most underappreciated gems here!
— And lastly, tackling a naming taboo: do you love one of your kids’ names more than the other(s)… and would you ever admit it?