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?


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


25 Responses to “Baby Names 2012: The Best of the New”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

augusta_lee Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 12:24 am

Elliot ranked for girls?! Those parents should be flogged.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see so many lovely names otherwise. I particularly like Graeme (I prefer this spelling to Graham, in fact, which my eyes always read as Gray Ham), Azalea (a distinguished alternative to Lily, Ava, and Leah that still rings harmoniously with all three), Zahra, and Coraline.

Gretel Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 12:41 am

A couple thoughts on the 2011 debuts: I’m glad Temperance, Juniper, Elliott, Flynn and Liv made it. Although Blake is obviously most associated with boys, I don’t mind it at all on a girl, but Blakely…I pretty much hate with a fiery passion and am disappointed to see it racing up the rankings this year (although quick ascents like this usually spell dramatic declines as well).

As dated as Jessica may seem for those of us in the States (I know its experiencing peak popularity across the pond), I would still rather use Jessa as a nn for Jessica than as a given name – after all, when you look at it objectively Jessica is still a beautiful, unique-sounding name, much like Jennifer. Their appeal is just less striking due to overuse.

I’m so excited about Coraline; I’ve loved the name ever since first encountering it via Gaiman, but I hope its climb is gradual and instead of meteoric and faddish.

I don’t find Monroe too controversial – it’s a nice sounding surname name – but I do wonder why some parents like to name their girls after tragic women who died young. The Marilyn Monroe association is a little too overpoweringly glam and pop culture for me.

Everly seems very on-trend and it’s actually surprising to me that it’s just now making the Top 1000. Don’t like those “feminized” spellings like Everleigh, though.

Once again, the boy’s names are less exciting. Apollo’s nice, I suppose. Do you know how to find out how many kids were given the names Juno and Jupiter?

LJandRL Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 2:54 am

Great blog but that’s a photo of Mariah and Nick’s son Morocccan not their daughter! Adorable as he is 🙂 I think Everly, Monroe and Milena are all lovely!

maggiemary Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 4:34 am

I like Coraline and I love Jessa.

dindlee Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 4:59 am

Milena is my hands down favorite of the list.

Aurra Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 6:00 am

I can only see Monroe fitting well for a certain type of girl. One of the things I (and many other Berries) strive for is a name that will fit anybody- a lawyer, pop singer, writer or teacher.

As for Coraline, I prefer Cordelia as a long form, but Coraline is definitely a great name.

And Azalea is a guilty pleasure of mine, with the nickname Zaley (rhymes with Haley) or Lea. If it gets more popular, than maybe I can move it to my long list.

I should also mention that I only see the first three letters of Titan and cringe. I know names like Titania or Titian are problems for girls, but I can imagine that a Titan in middle and high school would face problems.

stripedsocks Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 6:18 am

Coraline is pretty, but my heart is still with Caroline.

I like Azalea. Offbeat flower names are my weakness.

I love a lot of Z names and Zahra is no exception, though I’m not sure I love it more than Zara or Zakia. I could see my hypothetical daughter preferring to be a Zahra than clunkier vintage picks like Zelda, though.

I hate all those boys’ names.

maggiefromcanada Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 6:53 am

I love Milena, and like Azalea and Zahra. I’m surprised Zahra is just jumping on the list now, as I’ve known many Zahras over the years.

I’m not a fan of Apollo or Titan. These seem like American Gladiator names to me.

roselang Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 7:43 am

There is a 2 year old Azalea in my daughter’s pre-school class! It is such a cute name. Her parents sometimes shorten it to Z, but usually she’s Azalea.

Apollo is on my “in-my-wildest-dreams” list along with Ulysses and Aloysius…

EssJay Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 7:53 am

How many parents of these Maisons are using it as a creative spelling of Mason and pronouncing it as such, rather than the French way which is more like may-ZONN? I’d bet the majority, sadly.

annabelle Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 9:39 am

I think Coraline, Milena and Titan will stick around! The others I’m not sure about. Maison for example will probably disappear as Mason starts heading down the list.

Other newcomers I like (girls): Winter, Estelle and Aya

tori101 Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 11:25 am

I love Coraline but as stripedsocks said my heart is still with Caroline. I also think Milena and Azalea for girls are very pretty choices. Not keen on Jessa and Zahra they feel slightly abrupt. I think Everley and names similar to her are very trendy but some are sweet. Really hate the idea of Elliot being used for a girl how awful?! I think Monroe sounds attractive but in practice isn’t great, if I was going to name my child after Marilyn Monroe I would use Marilyn or something similar to Norma Jean.

As for boys I dislike the majority of those choices excluding Apollo which feels really cool. My friend Bianca ex was Simon Apollo (middle name) which I thought was cool.

iheartnames Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Love Milena, Zahra, & Graeme! I agree with LJandRL that the photo is of Moroccan, not Monroe.

KateM91 Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I love Everly, Apollo, and especially Briggs!!

nat108 Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I agree with EssJay. Pretty sure Maison is just “Mason” spelled kr8tivlee. Sad, because Maison is a lovely sound

I’m happy and sad to see people going beyond boring old Rose and Lily to use other nature names like Azalea. I just hope they don’t become too popular

karateleshi80 Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Loving Azalea, Zahra, Milena and Everleigh but not so much to use them for bub no. 2 due in a few weeks. Azalea reminds me too much of Azaria Chamberlain (“Dingo ate my baby”). There is an old train station in Sydney called Eveleigh which I always that was pretty and a Local” Roselea”
street which I think are similar names to Azalea and Everly. I am liking the name Arden too. Yeah I usually don’t bother reading the boys names. The only name we would use us Seth (or Jet if it purely up to my hubby).

alphabetdem Says:

May 16th, 2013 at 10:33 pm

I’m swooning over many of the names on this list- Azalea, Coraline, Jessa, Milena and Zahra for girls, but pretty much only Apollo for the boys. From 2011, Aviana is absolutely gorgeous, and I also adore Juniper, and Liv is cute. Temperance is a shocker, but very welcome for its history. The boys were much more impressive in 2011 as well.

I wish you had put up a full list of the newbies though!

PS- That picture is freaking adorable.

nomadia Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 1:37 am

Azalea is a favorite of mine, and I expected it’s popularity to rise with parents reaching furthing and digging deeper to find meaning and a bit of an edge when it comes to names.

I fell in love with this name years ago when I heard the song Azalea by Lous Armstrong and Duke Ellington. I expect many others found it the same way!

nomadia Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 1:38 am

Yikes! *Further

jessesgirl Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 11:40 am

Milena is my favorite by far! My grandmother was Lena so that would be a great way to use her name without actually using her name. If that makes sense. Lol

jc54 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I love Elliot for a girl! I’m also crazy about Monroe! Brigg is adorable for a boy and I would definately use it!

charlieandperry1 Says:

May 17th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Errrr if I had to pick favourites- Jessa and Graeme. But as much as I love Swanny, I really can’t get behind this spelling of Graham. I just want to say ‘Grey Me’. Good ol’ Graham is lovely though.

stef1lee Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I am really digging all the new and unique names! I am completely on a roll myself… for a girl Maver (she was a girl in a song by Stone Temple Pilots called MAVER) and for a little boy I am really loving the name Arden Cross. But If I had to choose something listed, I would have to say Monroe. It feels uni-sex to me and I love that.

OceaneBreeze Says:

June 2nd, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hmmm… Jessa all the way!

smiles1979 Says:

June 19th, 2013 at 10:59 am

Really love Coraline & Milena for the girls list. 🙂 <3

Really like Monroe, but more for a boy than girl and prefer traditionally spelled 'Graham' vs the Graeme spelling. 🙂

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.