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100 Top Word Names of 2012: Hunter, Hope–and Henry?

posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author

by Nephele

Word names!  Some people love them, others hate them.  Word names probably started gaining in popularity due to hippie subculture, which especially latched on to appealing words taken from nature.  So I wondered:  “What are the most popular word names in common use today?”

To answer my own question and determine what these most popular word names are, I ran an Excel program to select names from the latest available U.S. Social Security Administration’s baby names lists (2012) that also matched with words in the official lexicon used for the multi-player word game “Words with Friends.”

Below I have listed the 100 top word names of 2012 for both girls and boys combined.  The accompanying definitions for these names may hold a few surprises!  These definitions are not, in every case, based on the actual etymology of the names, but rather on definitions given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the English-speaking world.  Some of these definitions are historical or obsolete or somewhat esoteric, but they are all actual definitions that make these names “legitimate words” for playing Words with Friends.

Be warned!  Some of these dictionary definitions may change your views on various names — either for better or worse!

Mason – “to build with stone or brick.” (18,856 boys; 80 girls)

Ava – “at all.” (15,418 girls; 19 boys)

Alexander – “a cocktail.” (15,105 boys; 28 girls)

Logan – “a stone balanced to permit easy movement.” (12,390 boys; 676 girls)

Benjamin – “benzoin.” (12,695 boys; 13 girls)

Abigail – “a lady’s maid.” (12,585 girls; 13 boys)

Joseph – “a woman’s long cloak.” (12,404 boys; 15 girls)

John – “a toilet.” (10,505 boys; 11 girls)

Carter – “one that carts.” (9,202 boys; 243 girls)

Jordan – “a type of container.” Historically, “a chamber pot.” (7,734 boys; 1,408 girls)

Angel – “to support financially.” (6,975 boys; 1,381 girls)

Hunter – “one that hunts.” (7,967 boys; 205 girls)

Henry – “a unit of inductance.” (8,006 boys; 9 girls)

Lily – “a flowering plant.” (7,889 girls; 10 boys)

Jack – “to raise with a type of lever.” (7,877 boys; 9 girls)

Riley – “angry.” (4,786 girls; 2,861 boys)

Harper – “a harpist.” (7,154 girls; 414 boys)

Charlotte – “a dessert.” (7,418 girls; 5 boys)

Grace – “to give beauty to.” (7,304 girls; 9 boys)

Amelia – “congenital absence of an arm or leg.” (7,191 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Victoria – “a light carriage.” (6,814 girls; 9 boys)

Parker – “one that parks.” (5,323 boys; 1,015 girls)

Chase – “to pursue.” (5,648 boys; 84 girls)

Anna – “a former coin of India and Pakistan.” (5,552 girls; 5 boys)

Cooper – “to make or mend barrels.” (5,156 boys; 102 girls)

Savannah – “a flat, treeless grassland.” (5,143 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Genesis – “an origin.” (4,280 girls; 75 boys)

Serenity – “the state of being serene.” (4,180 girls; 7 boys)

Stella – “a formerly used coin of the United States.” (3,964 girls; 6 boys)

Maya – “the power to produce illusions, in Hindu philosophy.” (3,926 girls; 7 boys)

Morgan – “a unit of distance between genes.” (3,377 girls; 433 boys)

Cole – “a plant of the cabbage family.” (3,752 boys; 12 girls)

Autumn – “a season of the year.” (3,745 girls; 8 boys)

Max – “to reach the upper limit.” (3,663 boys; 15 girls)

Bailey – “an outer castle wall.” (3,387 girls; 121 boys)

Faith – “to believe or trust.” (3,497 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Jasmine – “a climbing shrub.” (3,348 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Sawyer – “one that saws wood for a living.” (2,724 boys; 540 girls)

Violet – “a flowering plant.” (3,252 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Molly – “a tropical fish.” (3,232 girls; 8 boys)

Miles – “units of distance.” (3,229 boys; 10 girls)

Trinity – “a group of three.” (3,201 girls; 32 boys)

Aria – “an elaborate melody for a single voice.” (3,201 girls; 18 boys)

Maxwell – “a unit of magnetic flux.” (3,187 boys; 8 girls)

Timothy – “a European grass.” (3,071 boys; 5 girls)

Piper – “one that plays on a tubular musical instrument.” (3,038 girls; 16 boys)

Maria – “the dark areas on the surface of the moon or Mars.” (3,012 girls; 6 boys)

Colin – “the bobwhite.” (3,001 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Paisley – “a patterned wool fabric.” (2,903 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Ruby – “of a deep-red color.”  (2,875 girls; 7 boys)

Victor – “one who defeats an adversary.” (2,852 boys; 8 girls)

Jade – “to weary.” (2,714 girls; 56 boys)

Jesse – “to jess; to fasten straps around the legs of a hawk.” (2,670 boys; 78 girls)

Destiny – “the fate or fortune to which one is destined.” (2,688 girls; 12 boys)

Jake – “all right, fine.” (2,659 boys; 6 girls)

Roman – “a metrical narrative of medieval France.” (2,552 boys; 10 girls)

Charlie – “a fool.” (1,518 boys; 1,041 girls)

Axel – “a jump in figure skating.” (2,464 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Grant – “to bestow upon.” (2,455 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Alan – “a large hunting dog.” (2,273 boys; 11 girls)

Gage – “to pledge as security.” (2,246 boys; 8 girls)

Aliyah – “the immigration of Jews to Israel.” (2,240 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Tanner – “one that tans.” (2,164 boys; 57 girls)

Mark – “to make a visible impression on.” (2,186 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Tucker – “to weary.” (2,026 boys; 11 girls)

Ariel – “an African gazelle.” (1,720 girls; 292 boys)

Conner – “one that cons.” (1,894 boys; 10 girls)

Aurora – “the rising light of the morning.” (1,890 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Peter – “to diminish gradually.” (1,844 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Emery – “a granular corundum.” (1,474 girls; 361 boys)

Willow – “to clean textile fibers with a certain machine.” (1,806 girls; 14 boys)

Rowan – “a Eurasian tree.” (1,138 boys; 678 girls)

Daisy – “a flowering plant.” (1,774 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Melody – “an agreeable succession of musical sounds.” (1,770 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Hazel – “a shrub.” (1,768 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Summer – “the warmest season of the year.” (1,762 girls; 5 boys)

Graham – “whole-wheat flour.” (1,706 boys; 9 girls)

Ivy – “a climbing vine.” (1,677 girls; 14 boys)

Spencer – “a trysail; a type of sail.” (1,518 boys; 145 girls)

Griffin – “a mythological creature.” (1,639 boys; 17 girls)

Harmony – “agreement.” (1,603 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Drake – “a male duck.” (1,532 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Chance – “to risk.” (1,489 boys; 30 girls)

Amir – “a Muslim prince or governor.” (1,455 boys; 20 girls)

Drew – “past tense of draw.” (1,227 boys; 232 girls)

Zander – “a freshwater fish.” (1,446 boys; 7 girls)

Ana – “a collection of miscellaneous info on a subject.” (1,437 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

King – “a male monarch.” (1,423 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Hope – “to have a desire or expectation.” (1,410 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Luna – “an alchemical designation for silver.” (1,404 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Troy – “a system of weights.” (1,376 boys; 7 girls)

Dean – “the head of a faculty.” (1,369 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Jasper – “a variety of quartz.” (1,339 boys; 25 girls)

Dominick – “one of an American breed of chickens.” (1,348 boys; 6 girls)

Lyric – “a lyrical poem.” (1,075 girls; 262 boys)

Martin – “a small bird.” (1,333 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Hector – “to bully.” (1,319 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Sienna – “a brown pigment.” (1,317 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Cash – “ready money.” (1,302 boys; 6 girls)

Lane – “a narrow passageway.” (1,216 boys; 75 girls)

And now for some more name fun!  I had mentioned that word names were big in hippie subculture.  If you would like to discover your “hidden hippie name” through the art of anagramming, click on the following link:

https://nameberry.com/nametalk/threads/63018-Your-Hippie-Name-(Nephele-s-Anagrams)

Nephele is the alias of an obsessive anagrammatist who for more than a decade has provided unique name makeovers for people on numerous Internet forums. Despite the popularity of Nephele’s anagrams, she is not prepared to give up her day job in an undisclosed public library in New York.

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About the author

Nephele

Nephele is the alias of an obsessive anagrammatist who for more than a decade has provided unique name makeovers for people on numerous Internet forums. Despite the popularity of Nephele’s anagrams, she is not prepared to give up her day job in an undisclosed public library in New York.
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12 Responses to “100 Top Word Names of 2012: Hunter, Hope–and Henry?”

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Erinm Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 8:51 am

Amelia= congenital absence of an arm or leg… What?!! That’s horrible. Noooooooooo!

dramagrl19 Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 9:01 am

Wow, this was a very interesting article! I didn’t now there were boys named Lily and girls named Alan! Plus, I had no idea that. Some of these were even words. Thanks, Nephele! 🙂

R_J Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 9:13 am

All the -er ones made me giggle, especially Conner.

spotlightstarlit Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 11:08 am

Weirdly enough, WWF does not accept June as a word! Weird.

Nephele Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 11:16 am

@ Erinm: LOL! Yes, that dictionary definition behind the beloved name “Amelia” is a bit disturbing! Another pretty name that doubles as a medical term (which didn’t make the Top 100 list) is “Alexia,” which means: “a cerebral disorder marked by the loss of the ability to read.”

@ dramagrl19: I also always find it surprising to see the number of apparently “switched” genders for names reported annually by the Social Security Administration. I imagine that much of it is due to baby genders being reported inaccurately by hospitals, etc. While I’m pretty liberal-minded about naming, I nevertheless kind of shudder to think that there might be that many parents naming their boys “Lily” and their girls “Alan.”

@ R_J: Yep, there are some giggle-worthy ones in there! 🙂

@ spotlightstarlit: I think the reason why WWF doesn’t accept “June” as a word is because it is a proper noun. All names are actually words, too – but they are also proper nouns (that get capitalized).

Mischa Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Personally, I think there is a great difference between well-established names like Alexander and Abigail and actual long-standing words like Hunter and Chase and I’m shocked that there even included in a list of “word names”. I don’t consider the former “words” at all. If the names were in existence long before they were ever attached to some other modern definition then they remain just what they are – names. How can one give Alexander “the defender of mankind” the definition of “a cocktail”? Have parents been giving their sons this name for thousands of years because they like to drink? Sorry it doesn’t wash with me. Abigail is another example. It was a Biblical name meaning “a father’s joy” long before it became a literary name to denote a “lady’s maid”. And I think that association is long gone judging by how popular the name has become. I’m skeptical about many so-called “words” on this list and I’m sure people who name their children Benjamin, Henry, Charlotte, Molly, Peter, Amelia, Dominick and Timothy haven’t even heard of the “words” mentioned in this blog.

niteowl13 Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Oh wow! I wanted to publish a baby name book and Names found in the dictionary was going to be one of the sections in it! Very cool
I was going to add in words like carry – Cary/Carrie and bob – Bob. Actual words that we use that are people’s names. 🙂

Nephele Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

@ Mischa: Yes, obviously people haven’t giving their children these names because they find the alternative dictionary meanings appealing. LOL! I did state in my introduction to this listing that this compilation is based on those names which are also accepted as “words” for the multi-player game “Words with Friends,” and that the definitions given are not in every case based on the actual etymologies of the names. This compilation is intended to amuse and surprise.

@ niteowl13: Sounds like a fun project!

VegasCountryQueen Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Apparently according to WWF, Kyle is not a word. But it is. It is a narrow channel of water (like a stream.)

Nephele Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 8:23 pm

@ VegasCountryQueen: You’re right! I would have thought WWF didn’t include “kyle” because it’s a Scottish word, but then WWF does include “ava” (Ava being the second most popular name on my list) which is also a Scottish word. Haha – go figure!

Saracita00 Says:

November 13th, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I thought this was a really amusing article. Thanks!

tori101 Says:

November 14th, 2013 at 9:40 am

Really amusing read! My name is Victoria and I laughed when I saw that this name is the word for a light carriage. Just seems so random….

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