2017 Baby Names: Name pockets, pet names and more

2017 Baby Names: Name pockets, pet names and more

By Clare Bristow

This week’s news includes names from Iowa, Spain, the world of dogs, and one that’s a bit of a mystery.

Highlights of 2017: Domenica and Donavan

As the end of the year approaches, we’re starting to see round-ups of the names that defined 2017, and local and unofficial  popularity lists.

Did you see the best starbaby names of the year? The stunning Domenica Celine just had time to slip in after food guru Daphne Oz welcomed her new daughter last week.

There will never be enough space to mention every local hospital that shares its most popular baby names, but I’ll shout out to this medical center in Iowa as one of the first to do so this year.

Sometimes in the name world we talk about living in a “name pocket” – that’s a place where every other kid you meet seems to have a certain name, even though it’s not all that popular nationally. The top names from this medical center – which probably represent very small numbers of babies – are a perfect example.

Sure, one of the top girls’ names was Emma, but the others were Clara (which is #99 in the US), Hadley (#108), and Vanessa (#197). For the boys, the area is a pocket of babies called Carter (#26 nationally), Miles (#105), Blake (#127), and Donavan, which is well below the top 1000.

Spanish names: Rafa and Ferdinand

Hollywood couple Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale have revealed that their son, born in November, is called Rafa. It’s an angelic name, but they were inspired by tennis player Rafael Nadal. It also pays tribute to dad’s Latin heritage, and matches his big brother Rocco rather nicely.

Bobby Cannavale voices a character in the new Ferdinand film, based on the storybook about the gentle bull. Do you think there’s a chance the movie will inspire any parents to use Ferdinand? It was big in the 1910s, but is now languishing in dusty territory – it was given to 35 boys in the US last year. If you’re looking for a name almost no one else will have, it could be one to consider.

If you’ll let me throw in one more Spanish name, Sibilla has been on my mind this week. I’ve been discovering El Cant de la Sibil-la, an old Catalan song still performed in some churches on Christmas Eve (including some in Mallorca, Rafael Nadal’s home island). A rare name with mystical connections, Sibilla is an interesting option for a girl born at this time of year.

News from Ireland: 50 years of name data

Following baby name trends in Ireland just got easier. The country’s Central Statistics Office has launched a nifty tool that shows the changes in every name’s rank and numbers since 1964.

If you want some searching ideas, check out the rise of modern Irish favorites like Oisin and Fia out of obscurity. Or the sudden appearance of names from eastern and central European countries that joined the European Union in 2004, like Jakub and Maciej, Matylda and Zuzanna.

Mystery name of the week: Hakavai

Last week, Turia Pitt – an Australian athlete who survived serious burns and has gone on to inspire many – welcomed a son called Hakavai. Lots of her social media followers complimented the name, but there’s no word on what meaning it has to Turia and her husband. One thing’s for sure, it’s not a common name. My best guess is that it’s of Polynesian origin – possibly discovered when Turia did a triathlon in Hawaii last year?

Whatever its origins, it’s not surprising that it’s had a good response. Not only does it call to mind Polynesian names that have gone mainstream, like Kai and Keilani, but it also echoes the sounds of revived biblical names like Hezekiah and Malachi.

If you know more – or have a theory – about Hakavai, I’d love to know.

Top dog names

Do you love names like Max, Charlie, Bella and Lucy? So do a lot of dog owners!

There are no official statistics on names for our canine friends, but the dog-sitting and walking network has just released their list of the most popular dog names of 2017 for the US, and for some cities too.

As usual, there’s a lot of overlap with baby names. Over half of the Top 10 dog names are also Top 100 baby names, and even rarer picks like Rocky and Bear are by no means unheard of on children.

Just like baby names, trends in dog names come and go – this year Stranger Things names like Eleven and Barb are apparently on the up – and they can have pockets too. Winston is particularly popular in Washington DC, Coco and Roxy in Los Angeles.

If this is your style, take a look at Nameberry’s round-up of the top 100 dog names. It’s full of friendly, characterful names that, with a few exceptions (Moose and Peanut, looking at you), work for human children as well as furry ones.

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at