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Baby Name Trends: Names on the rise

and other news of the week

by Clare Green

This week’s news includes baby name trends, the fastest-rising names of the last five years, cute and clever nicknames for girls, and names you’ve never heard before from Scandinavia and South Africa.

Baby Name Trends: Fast risers

If you like to know which names are shooting up the charts, you’ll enjoy this analysis of the fastest-rising names in the US since 2013. Taking a five-year view lets us bypass short-lived fads and see the bigger baby name trends. For boys, that includes plenty of names borrowed from around the world – Luca, Kai, Axel, Mateo – plus biblical names like Ezekiel and Asher, and surnames like Jameson and Weston, topped by runaway success Maverick. For girls, lots of melodic four-letter names make the list – Nova in the top spot, Luna, Isla, Mila, Cora – as well as names from nature like Hazel and Willow, and revived classics like Eleanor and Alice.

But if you’re tempted to scratch all those names off your list because they’re too popular, read this article first. Our founder Pam explains that even the most popular baby names today are nowhere near as common as the top names of a few decades ago – and besides, many people enjoy sharing a name with others in their cohort.

At the other end of the popularity scale, a parenting website has listed some names that no one gave their children in England and Wales last year (or at least, no more than two families). If you really want your kid to stand out in a British school, call them Melvyn, Graeme, Justine or Tracy. They might share their name with a teacher, but not with any of the other children.

International inspiration, from Italy to Africa

Speaking of rarely-encountered names: you might not have head of the Italian blogger Mariano Di Vaio (I hadn’t), but you might appreciate his new son’s name, Filiberto Noah. Like his brothers Nathan Leone and Leonardo Liam, he has a mixture of Italian and internationally-popular names. If you’re looking for a distinctive European name, could Filiberto be one to consider? It’s cooler than Filbert

While we’re in Europe, check out these Nordic flower names. They start off conventionally, with Lilja and Lilje (meaning lily in several Scandinavian languages). But then we get to names like Lemmikki (forget-me-not in Finnish), Kielo (lily-of-the-valley in Finnish), and Paannaaq (alpine fireweed in Greenlandic). They’re flower names, but not as you know them…

Meanwhile at the opposite end of the globe, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is only four months old and he’s already got a new name. On Prince Harry and Meghan’s visit to South Africa, a spokesperson for an NGO gifted him the name Ntsika, which she said means “pillar of strength” in Xhosa.

Sweet starbaby nicknames: Rellie, Sunny and Zissou

It’s sometimes said that North American parents aren’t that into nicknames – or not as much as their British counterparts. But the latest celebrities to welcome babies have all used either nickname names in their own right, or a super smooshy diminutive.

First, a rare one: singer James Dupré named his daughter Rellie Evangeline. It’s not clear if Rellie comes from a longer name (Aurelia? Mirella? Laurel?) and it’s so rare it’s never charted, but it totally fits with currently stylish names like Ellie and Renley. Evangeline was inspired by the place where James grew up. Shout-out also to Julie Evangeline, actress Jen Lilley’s daughter who was born back in July.

Another singer, Michael Hobby of A Thousand Horses, chose a fast-rising nickname for his daughter, Sunny Grayson. The girl:boy ratio for Sunny is about 4:1, though Sonny is rising fast for boys; but this spelling makes a lovely end-of-summer baby name.

Finally, actor Kieran Culkin (Macaulay’s big brother) and his wife have been getting clever with nicknames. It sounds like their daughter Kinsey Sioux will be called Zissou for short. Have you heard any other great nicknames that cross first and middle name boundaries? I can think of Scarlett O’Hara’s sisters, Suellen (Susan Elinor) and Carreen (Caroline Irene), and from real life Calma from CarolineMathilde, and EllaRee from Eloise Rhiannon.

Novel namespiration: Mabel and Mirae

Let’s finish with more of the intriguing ways parents find their children’s names – they never end!

Lots of great baby naming stories here. Some of my favorites are Mabel, which appeared in a dream, Gabriella from a coincidence in a bookstore, and George Bailey from a classic Christmas movie.

And even more here, including a girl named after the chocolate bar her mother craved before she was born.

Did parents in Sweden really name their daughter Mirae after an asset fund? And these parents definitely did name their daughter Evalina after the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, where she had lifesaving treatment. I wonder how many other girls have been named after it over the years, especially now that Evelyn-names have come back into style.

Clare Green writes Nameberry’s weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world. Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

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3 Responses to “Baby Name Trends: Names on the rise”

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blueylit Says:

September 26th, 2019 at 5:45 am

On the first/middle nickname front, I’ve always loved Merricat for Mary Katherine in We Have Always Lived in the Castle!

beynotce Says:

September 26th, 2019 at 9:20 am

Oooh, Kielo is stunning!

Dayton Brown of Sister Wives was born David Preston, Jr., although he legally changed his name to David Dayton when he was adopted by stepfather Kody. I think smooshing David Preston down to Dayton was a great approach for a nickname, especially for a junior.

choupette Says:

September 27th, 2019 at 8:59 am

Great post. I really like the name Justine, and I would never have guessed that it’s currently so unpopular in England & Wales. Surprising!

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