Baby Name News of the Decade

Baby Name News of the Decade

By Clare Green

“Mr and Mrs Smith of Townsville name their daughter Emma”…said no headline ever.

Millions of babies are named every year, but only a few of them ever make the news. When there’s something really unusual about a name, or its story, or the parents, or the world’s reaction to it – that’s what makes it newsworthy.

The biggest name stories of the last decade aren’t just about names. They’re about politics, religion, entertainment, sport, technology, global brands, diversity, gender, the weather…all the things that matter to us, captured in a name. Some are fun, some are shocking, and some make us wonder what all the fuss was about.

Let’s look year-by-year at the name stories that have captured the world’s attention over the last decade.


In the US presidential election, names play a role on both sides. Barack Hussein Obama’s name reinforces his multicultural image. His middle name is used as both a slur and a cheer of support. It’s also noted that he would come across differently had he kept his childhood nickname Barry.

On the Republican side, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin brings a new style of names to the public’s attention. By the end of the year, her children Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig are one of the world’s most famous sibsets. Bristol shoots up the charts the next year, as does Tripp, her son born in December 2008.

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, a nine-year-old girl from New Zealand, is so embarrassed by her name that a court takes her into custody to change it. Ever since then, no list of banned baby names is complete without it.


Twilight is the big pop culture influence of the year. Main character names Jacob and Isabella are the top boy and girl names in the US (probably a coincidence), and other names from the series like Rosalie and Cullen get more popular. The invented smoosh name Renesmee charts for the first time, though Meyer later said she’d never give the name to a real kid.

In New Jersey, a boy named Adolf Hitler and his sisters are taken into care after their names ring alarm bells with the authorities.

The Kardashian-Jenner grandchild era begins with the birth of Kourtney’s son Mason Dash. In the next two years, Mason rises from #34 to #2 in the US.


It’s a quiet year on the news front, and on the US charts. Nationally, Jacob and Isabella remain the most popular names, and there’s only one change in the Top 10: Aiden replaces Joshua.

British Prime Minister David Cameron names his daughter Florence Rose Endellion after she is born during a family holiday near St Endellion, Cornwall.

Possibly the first article is published in what will become a yearly tradition of reports that Muhammad is the most popular boys’ name in the UK, if you combine spellings. Followed by the inevitable responses that this isn’t necessarily true: it depends which other boys’ names on the list you choose to combine. (Oliver and Ollie? Harry and Henry?) And even if it is true…so what?


Pippa Middleton becomes the world’s most famous bridesmaid at her sister Kate’s wedding to Prince William. The name Pippa quadruples in popularity in the US, and Philippa doubles.

Social media-inspired baby names make the news. An Israeli couple call their daughter Like (as in a Facebook “like”), and an Egyptian girl is named Facebook to celebrate the role of the social network in Egypt’s revolution.

Coca Cola’s
Share a Coke” campaign launches in Australia. Since then, thousands of people around the world have become proud owners of a coke bottle with their name on.

Game of Thrones name Khaleesi makes the US charts for the first time. Little do we know that seven years later, it still gets mentioned every – single – time – new baby name statistics are released. Can we move on?


Pop royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z welcome their daughter Blue Ivy, one of the defining celebrity names of the decade. Soon after, they start a trademark application for the name.

Other newsworthy starbaby names include the incredibly long Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence (aka LunaUma Thurman’s daughter), controversial Breeze Beretta (Levi Johnston’s daughter), and gender-bending Astala Dylan Willow (Peaches Geldof’s son).

Someone spots an announcement for baby girl “Hashtag”, and the media goes crazy at the idea that parents are using the symbol as a name – despite it probably being a) a cute placeholder nickname and b) not meant for the public. Seen through the lens of 2018, this story says more about the need to be critical of the news we read, than about baby name trends.

A report in Psychology Today claims that name news really is a growing topic, based on articles in the New York Times. I’d love to know what the figures would look like today.


Prince William and Catherine welcome their first child and future heir to the British throne, George Alexander Louis, following much speculation on his name.

After just as much suspense, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West welcome their daughter North, another iconic starbaby name of our era (as they surely meant it to be).

A Tennessee judge orders parents to change their son’s name from Messiah to Martin because of her religious beliefs. The decision is later overturned. In 2017, Messiah reached the boys’ Top 200.

In Hawaii, Janice “Lokelani” Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele finally gets her full name printed on her driver’s licence.

Icelandic teenager Blær Bjarkardóttir wins the right to use her name legally and not be called “girl” on official documents.

“My name is not Annie. My name is Quvenzhané.” Actress Quvenzhané Wallis stands up to a reporter at the Oscars who tries to avoid saying her name, and everything that represents.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected as Pope. He chooses Francis as his papal name, breaking new ground and honoring St Francis of Assisi and his values of poverty, peace and protection.


Outsourcing baby names reaches a new level as father-to-be Stephen McLaughlin sets up the site It goes viral, and thousands of people suggest and vote for names: the winner is Cthulu All-Spark. Fortunately there’s a disclaimer that the parents get the final decision – they name their daughter Amelia Savannah Joy.

At the Oscars, John Travolta creates the phantom star Adele Dazeem when he flubs the name of singer Idina Menzel (of “Let It Go” fame). Menzel has since said that the gaffe was the best thing that ever happened to her career.

There’s more name controversy in Iceland as a British-Icelandic girl named Harriet is not allowed a new passport unless she changes her name to an acceptable Icelandic one. Her brother Duncan’s name is also not officially recognised.

In Mexico, the state of Sonora bans 61 names, including Rambo and Facebook.


“Call me Caitlyn”: Caitlyn Jenner makes her new name the center of her gender reassignment, and several sites choose Caitlyn as Name of the Year.

Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman is published, showing Atticus Finch in a new, more complex light. Some fear that the name Atticus will become stigmatized. It drops a few places in 2016, but in 2017 it seems to be back on an upward trajectory.

On the other hand, Isis – now linked in the media to a militant group – becomes one of the fastest-falling names ever. It is also removed from the official list of hurricane names.

In the UK, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana is born, after much betting on her name.

Another banned baby name story that will become iconic: French parents have not been allowed to name their children Fraise (strawberry) or Nutella.

The press briefly gets excited that millennial parents are naming their babies after Instagram filters. Then we’re reminded to calm the heck down.


Another presidential election means the candidates’ names are up for analysis. Donald is a baby-boomer name and Hillary was big in the 80s but never recovered from Hurricane Hilary in 1993. So it’s no surprise that neither had much impact on the 2016 or 2017 baby name charts. However, First Lady Melania is one of the fastest-rising names of 2017.

The Chicago Cubs baseball team wins the World Series, and many parents give their babies names to honor the occasion, such as Wrigley (for Wrigley Field, the stadium), Clark, Addison and Waveland (nearby streets).

Music legend David Bowie dies in January. One legacy he leaves is his name: already rising, Bowie doubled in popularity in 2016.

A mother in Wales is banned from registering her girl-boy twins as Cyanide and Preacher.

Celebrity couple Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling attract attention for using their first daughter’s middle name, Amada, as their second daughter’s middle name. It’s not so unusual in Latin culture.

A British teenager makes thousands of pounds helping Chinese parents to choose a baby name. Name nerds everywhere wonder why we didn’t think of it first..


Two megastar couples welcome twins just days apart, and their naming style couldn’t be more different. George and Amal Clooney choose unobtrusive classics Ella and Alexander. Beyoncé and Jay Z pick rare, meaning-laden Rumi and Sir.

Harvey is on course to make a vintage revival…until Storm Harvey causes devastation and scandal surrounds producer Harvey Weinstein. Yet Harvey still rises in 2017. It may be another year before we see if the negatives have put parents off.

The solar eclipse over North America in August leads to several babies with sun-related names, including Eclipse Alizabeth in South Carolina, Jordyn Eclipse in Indiana, Isabella Solei in Florida, and Niall Apollo in British Columbia.

In Canada, several Syrian refugee families name their babies after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Two Breton names, Derc’hen and Fañch, are rejected by the French government for using characters not permitted.

Tennis star Serena Williams’ daughter Alexis Olympia, whose dad is also Alexis, divides opinion on naming girls after their fathers.

As more households own an Amazon Alexa, women with this name speak out about the difficulties of sharing a name with a virtual servant.

2018 (so far)

Prince Louis Arthur Charles is the most anticipated royal baby of the year. To everyone’s surprise, his first name is one of big brother George’s middle names.

Another world leader’s baby: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomes a daughter, Neve Te Aroha, with a middle name full of meaning.

Celebrities continue to break new ground in baby names, especially Chicago (Kim and Kanye) and Kulture (Cardi B).

There’s more gender controversy as parents get in trouble for naming a girl Liam and a boy Ambre.

KFC offers $11,000 to anyone who names their baby Harland on September 9, Colonel Sanders’ birthday. No news yet on whether anyone’s claimed the prize.


Have we missed any big name news? What do you think are this most important stories of the decade?

Our thanks to Clare for coming up with such juicy name news every week of the year!

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