Baby Names 2012: The Best of the New

Baby Names 2012: The Best of the New

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Every year, a small number of new names manages to move onto the Top 1000 list for the first time ever.  Sometimes this marks the beginning of a climb up the ladder, other times it’s a name that will linger in the nether regions, and sometimes it might prove to be a one-shot wonder—perhaps an eccentric spelling picked up by just enough parents  to make the grade.

In 2011, for instance, we saw the debuts of such nouveau names as Elliot for girls, Aviana, Blakely, Juniper, Liv, and Temperance; Bowen, Brecken, Flynn, the musical Crosby and Hendrix, the presidential Nixon and the Ivy League Princeton.

But how about the recently released list?  Of the forty-five possibilities, here are the Nameberry Picks for the twelve most promising newbies of 2012.


AzaleaThough there were fewer than three hundred baby girls given this name in 2012, it has now definitely crossed over from the wilder fringes into the main flower garden.  Azalea embodies a delightful combination of the fragrant floral with a shot of _z-_infused energy.

CoralineCoraline was the highest-ranked entrant on this list, jumping on at Number 823.  It’s taken a few years for this French name made familiar here via the Neil Gaiman fantasy novel (2002) and stop-motion animation movie (2009) to catch on, but now its ascent is definitely in motion.

EverlyEverly is right in line with similar current faves like Emery and Avery for girls.  .  It also has the musical association to the harmonizing Everly Brothers.  Actor Cam Gigandet further feminized it with the spelling Everleigh

JessaJessa, which sneaked onto the list at Number 999, never quite caught on as a short form of Jessica the way Jenna did for Jennifer.  Its present rise can be tied to the bohemian character of Jessa Johansson played by Jemima Kirke on Girls, and it’s also one of the Duggar family J-names.

MilenaThis evergreen Slavic classic has just officially gotten its green card, partly as a result of the popularity of Milena (Mila) Kunis– though it has a long way to go before catching up with the short form: Mila has zoomed up to Number 115.

MonroeThere may have been some raised eyebrows when Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon gave their twin daughter the surname of idol Marilyn, but enough other parents have followed their lead to bring Monroe onto the girls’ Top 1000 list.

ZahraProbably the most exotic of the first-time names to enter this year’s list, Zahra is a popular Arabic name which was recently the Number 2 name in Iran.  Chris Rock chose it for his daughter in 2004.


ApolloAlmost two hundred divine little Greek gods with this name were born in the US in 2012, along with the other ancient deities, from Aurora to Athena, Jupiter to Juno, that are also in the eartly realm of consideration.  In addition to being the god of prophecy, medicine, law, art and music, beauty and wisdom, Apollo is the namesake of the historic NASA mission to the moon and the legendary theater in Harlem.

BriggsThere seems to be something of a trendlet of surnames ending with ‘s’ for boys: a recent berrybaby was named Jones, Molly Sims named her son Brooks, and now Briggs has hit the Most Popular list.  Could the latter have been inspired by Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs?

GraemeCommon in its native Scotland, this version of Graham appears on the US list for the first time ever.  It’s currently associated with some top international athletes—in particular two cricketers and one golfer.

MaisonThis French word meaning house can be seen as a continental twist on the Number 2 name MasonRob Thomas, lead singer of the band Matchbox Twenty, discovered and used it for his now teen-aged son.

TitanSome of the most attention-grabbing names of 2012 were powerboys Messiah, King and Major.  And now they’re joined by the titanic Titan, one of the mightiest of all, the name of a mythological race of immortal deities of incredible strength and a name familiar via several movie titles, the most recent of which was Clash of the Titans.

So which of these names do you think will have staying power?

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.