Baby Name News of the Week

The biggest week of the year!

By Clare Bristow

The big name news story of the week was, of course, the release of the US baby name data for 2016, to much rejoicing and analysis.

The top 10 names only changed a little from 2015, with some names switching places and one new entry for boys, Elijah. The most bizarre take on it I’ve seen is one newspaper’s claim that Michael, the 8th most popular name, is at risk of extinction. While it’s not in the top spot as it was for most of the late 20th century, it’s still a long way from dropping off the charts.

Here’s a look at the fastest rising and falling names of 2016, and the reasons (and people, such as Caitlyn Jenner) behind them.

Have you seen the new Top 1000 list yet? Any surprises for you there? The highest entries to the top 1000 were Fox for boys and Royalty for girls, followed by more names from pop culture and beyond.

If we combine the spellings of names that sound the same, the charts look a bit different. Adeline and Riley shoot into the top 10 for girls, and Jackson, Aiden and Lucas for boys.

Are you the sort of person who skips the most popular names and goes straight to the rarities at the bottom of the list? Here’s a first glance at some of the names given to only 5 children in 2016, including Tiller, Crusoe, Jinx and Solstice.

Coming soon: popular names by state and territory

As if this wasn’t enough to keep us busy, there’s still more to come. Rather like New Year celebrations follow Christmas, the name data for US territories and for each state are due to be released today.

Knowing the favorite names in your local area can help if you’re concerned about popularity. Statistically, a young Wyatt in Nevada or Evelyn in Idaho could meet more children who share their name than they would in other states – or on the other hand, it might be years before they meet any. It’s not an exact science.

The state-by-state figures also let us do cool things like find out the favorite quirky names in each state.

The US territories names are always interesting to check out as they can be quite different from the national favorites – the top names in Puerto Rico in 2015 were Sebastian and Victoria. If you’re looking for names that are rare elsewhere, they’re a great source of inspiration. Amaia, Fabiola, Nahiara, Keniel, Mauro, and Zahir could all be in the Puerto Rican top 100 (they were in 2015), but they don’t even make the top 1000 nationally.

Rising starbaby names

Amidst all this excitement, several celebrities announced new arrivals – and many of their names fit right in with the trends in the latest data.

Jackson is the most popular boys’ name in the US if you add all the different spellings together. Reality TV stars Zach and Tori Roloff gave their son this name (after disagreeing on less common choices, like Boaz).

Staying with that “ax” sound, Mia Tyler welcomed a son called Axton Joseph. In 2016, Axton remained solidly in the top 1000, as did soundalikes Braxton, Daxton, Paxton, Jaxton and Maxton.

Birdie joins names like Bodhi, Bowie and Bear as a multi-celebrity name. Busy Philipps used it for her daughter in 2008, and now wrestlers Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan have welcomed Birdie Joe. Birdie rose from 63 uses in 2015 to 80 in 2016. Joe didn’t chart for girls last year, as a boyish middle name it matches James – and also Ryan, the middle name of singer Randy Rogers’ daughter Rainey.

More short, stylish middle names: country singer Thomas Rhett and his wife have just welcomed daughter Willa Gray. Grey is also the middle name of One Direction singer Liam Payne’s son Bear, and this British spelling ranks higher than Gray in the US charts.

And from short names to gloriously long: comedian Sebastian Maniscalco’s daughter is called Serafina Simone. Lots of us wondered if Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles would inspire parents, and the name did indeed rise from number 819 in 2016 to 759 in 2016. It looks like it might be one to keep watching this year.

Beyond the USA

Besides all the excitement of the top US names, we’ve had some interesting snippets from other countries.

Who gets to choose the baby’s name: one parent, both parents, or someone else? Mothers from Manchester in the UK share who had the final pick in their families.

In France, a couple have been given permission to name their son Fañch (the Breton form of Francis and François). Local authorities initially refused to register the name because of the accent mark, which isn’t used in French.

And two Indian stars have welcomed girls with unusual, pretty place names: Medina and Vienna (and her twin sister, RayaBella).

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4 Responses to “Baby Name News of the Week”

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paulapuddephatt Says:

May 17th, 2017 at 10:21 am

How can Michael be going “extinct”? It’s still super popular.

Orchid_Lover Says:

May 17th, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Michael isn’t going extinct; the article’s argument is a non sequitur. Just because it is at its lowest point in popularity in 50 years does not at all mean it is going extinct. It’s so ridiculous it’s laughable, really–c’mon its a classic name still in the top 10 on a very slow and steady decline. I think it will remain on the top 10 next year as well, and Ethan (or maybe Jacob) will exit to make room for Oliver.

It struck me that Julep was on the rarities list, I believe that was the winner of a new name contest on NB a couple years ago. I also like Adagio, Crusoe, and Solstice. However, these names have all been on the list. I recommend following Nancy’s Baby Names on twitter…she has written several excellent articles since Friday including one about the brand new obscure names to the list.

Kate4hisglory Says:

May 17th, 2017 at 6:05 pm

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that list! Hopefully it gets put up on this site!

ottertails Says:

May 18th, 2017 at 3:14 am

I think the idea of a name going extinct is silly anyways. It’s not like a name that isn’t used is somehow gone from our knowledge or unusable. Solstice is great; I love the nature connection and I think it would especially well in the middle.

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