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.
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).
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.