Baby Names 2012: What’s Hot Now

The hottest baby names 2012 – those attracting the biggest spikes in views on Nameberry for the first six months of this year – are an astonishing group: Highly unusual yet strangely familiar, heavily influenced by pop culture yet boldly individualistic.

The strongest baby name influences right now: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and ancient Rome.  Many of the hot names relate to nature and to worlds beyond our own.  And most share a transcendence of traditional gender identity, containing elements of names for the opposite gender if not crossing over to unisex territory.

Nameberry’s hottest names of the year, which we predict you’ll be hearing lots more of in the future, are:


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The female Senna and its near-identical male twin Cinna dominate the top of Nameberry’s hot list, both up a mind-blowing 1500 percent over last year. But we predict Senna, name of a Twilight vampire and a tragic racecar driver, will be used more often in real life. Like Cinna, Senna carries a Hunger Games influence: It’s an obscure botanical name meaning “brightness” in Arabic, an ingredient in a dieters’ tea.

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43 Responses to “Baby Names 2012: What’s Hot Now”

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spinfairy Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 6:54 am

No! Please don’t let Halcyon become popular. This is my eight year old daughters name and I love the fact that no one has ever heard of it (we’re in the uk). An alternative meaning is ‘calm’ hence the other use of the name.

aunt_ning Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 7:13 am

I love the name Calix, but to mean it just seems unfinished. Like it should be Calixter, even though its not a real name

Mischa Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:11 am

Some of these names are lovely: Senna, Niall, Decimus, Theon, Sybil and Zebulon. I really can’t see how Halcyon/Halcyone can become the new Nevaeh. First of all, it’s a real name and secondly, it doesn’t spell any word backwards.

jpruitt76 Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:12 am

I’ve long been a fan of Sybil as I adored my great-aunt Sybil. I think Sybi could be a darling nn (I think this is what Christian Bales’ wife goes by…not sure if she has a longer formal name).

And I adore Nova…not just the celestial meaning but also the Hopi Indian one (“chases butterflies”).

I find Calix, Arya and Halcyon to be somewhat appealing as well.

Alexia Mae Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:27 am

I love Niall.

Poppy528 Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:34 am

I was LMAO off at Halcyon & Senna! Allegra is one thing, but these are really unappealing drug names. And please, only take them together with caution lest you poop yourself while you’re knocked out on a hypnotic sleep aid 😉

I fell in love with the name Sybil while reading Invidible Man in high school, but it seems that in literature or TV the Sybils are always a bit mentally unbalanced or promiscuous. I spotted Nova as pretty high on the Swedish Top 100 list a couple years ago. I think it could be a real climber!

pixiewoo Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Is Caia pronounced the same as Kaia? If so, can join the two meanings of Kaia and Caia?

Are parents taking themselves a little too seriously? But taking names from popular culture is nothing new! « Every Little Thing! Birth and Beyond 360 Magazine Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

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susan.n Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I’m a huge One Direction fan, so I do love Niall, ha! I also love Arya.

shieldsc Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I love Sibyl and Arya. Theon is interesting, but I still prefer Theodore.

R_J Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I like Caia. I am a sucker for short names with a K sound.

Scrambledmegs Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Love Nova and Django. I wouldn’t use Gatsby on a human, it screams “pet” to me. As for Calix, I’ve only ever heard of girls named Calyx. The name seems a bit feminine to me, but I guess it could go to the boys along the vein of Felix and Maddox.

laurbails Says:

July 13th, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I really could never use Arya for a girl, as it’s such a popular Persian boys name. Where I live, in Los Angeles, there is a huge Persian population, so a little girl named Arya would get weird looks for sure.

CassieCake Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 12:42 am

I could never see someone using Zebulon, but that is probably because I have spent my whole live in the shadow of Pikes Peak.:)

shellezbellez Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 2:00 am

I love Arya, but as a fan of Martin, I would run, run, run from Theon. If you’ve not read the books or watched the show, I’m not going to give spoilers, but suffice to say, he’s not a good character (in the sense that you don’t want your child named after him–trust me).

Also, Senna is a name from the popular Japanese anime, Bleach (from the first Bleach movie, Memories of Nobody); she does not appear in the manga.

emil Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 2:06 am

@aunt_ning, My uncle’s name is Calixto, and he is over 50 years old. So nothing new here. BTW it’s in Spanish!

Mego0801 Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 7:09 am

So many names from books! That’s what the secret is apparently!
Niall- From the books that inspired True Blood.
Arya- Game of Thrones and The Inheritance Cycle.
Senna/Cinna- Hunger Games.
Sibyl- Harry Potter.
Luna- Harry Potter.

annielukesylvan Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 8:41 am

Oh my goodness. Senna? As in Senna Laxative? Pleasssssse don’t name your child this. Almost as bad as Candida. Yeah, that’s a yeast infection.

Hottest Baby Names of 2012 Inspired By Best-Selling Books, TV Shows & Pop Stars | My Family Blog Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

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pixiewoo Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

laurbails what are some up and coming persion girls names?

agirlinred Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I love Zebulon and Sybil.

skizzo Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I really like Calix and Halcyon.

Aria/Arya I only like for boys.

pam Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the True Blood connection for Niall and the manga connection for Senna — I was not aware of those but obviously important influences.

On Kaia/Caia, yes, the pronounciation would be the same, rhyming with Maya, and so you can consider each to be a spelling variation of the other. Kaia is the variation that more truly swings both ways, though, as it is a feminine variation of Kai, Hawaiian for sea, as well as a spelling variation of Caia, whereas Caia is the authentic Latin name, goddess, etc.

I do prefer the Caia variation for this ancient association though for whatever reason you would probably have an easier time with pronunciation and understanding in the modern US if you spell it Kaia.

jasmine.lee Says:

July 15th, 2012 at 12:30 am

Loving Sybil and Niall at the moment. 🙂

laurbails Says:

July 15th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

@pixiewoo: most Persian families use non-Persian names, but for those who don’t, classic Persian names are generally given. Some of the most common are Negar (NAY-gar), Negin (NAY-geen), Farah, Saba, Nasrin (NAHS-reen), Shirina, Felora, Fedora, Shadi, and Haleh (huh-LAY). As with non-Persian names, there’s much more variety for girls than boys, as I can think of at least two or three boys/men with the most popular Persian boys names (Keon, Shervin, Pedram, Arya, Ramin, Arteen, Shaheen, etc.)

akky3210 Says:

July 15th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Senna-that’s pretty. I like Sienna better, though.

Niall-one of my friends is a huge fan of 1D. I’m not. To bug her, I often insist that the name is pronounced “Neil”. I don’t think I could ever use this one a character. Too pop-culture-y.

Arya-Quite a beautiful name. I think I like Aria better, but Arya is cute. It has a different cultural vibe to it, if that makes sense. And that picture looks JUST like someone I know.

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July 16th, 2012 at 10:37 am

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July 18th, 2012 at 10:27 am

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Mara_lyn86 Says:

July 19th, 2012 at 7:09 pm

My favorites from this list are Niall, Caia and Sybil. I would not use Niall because it sounds weird with my last name, but Sybil is darling.

I can’t get over the name Gatsby; it just is weird to me. I would not like the possible nicknames and since it will become popular soon because of the movie it is avoidable. I also do not like blue, even though that is one of my favorite colors. It reminds me too much of Beyonce, which is not a good association for me. To me the name nova just reminds me of the Natalie Portman movie where she was a pregnant teenage named Novalee. It can be quite I guess.

katybug Says:

July 22nd, 2012 at 5:01 pm

My next door neighbor has a dog named Gatsby, and it’s a lot of fun to say. I see the appeal. Zebulon is my personal favorite from the list–I love the nickname Zeb!

scherrjeff Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 9:37 am

we named our son Django in april 2011, after the jazz guitarist. We heard shortly thereafter that Tarantino was doing a remake of the 60’s spaghetti western. Mixed feelings about the sudden exposure the name will get: more people will be familiar with the silent ‘d’ and able to pronounce it, but I’m leary of the association w/ the movie, especially if it stinks… still love the name and glad we chose it. Our son is amazing and could never go by any other name 🙂

Alana20 Says:

August 14th, 2012 at 3:04 am

I love the name Senna it sounds like a new quirky version of Sienna or Sarah. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey so i like the name Sybil, and i’m a huge fan of The Hunger Games so i like the name Primrose and Rue. 🙂

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November 6th, 2012 at 10:16 am

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fernanda79 Says:

December 25th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Sorry, but Zebulon sounds like the name of an alien planet.

My Favourite Names of 2012 « The Name Station Says:

January 1st, 2013 at 6:14 pm

[…] vampire named Senna in Breaking Dawn, the last book in the Twilight series. According to the ladies at Nameberry, it was the top trending name in the first half of the year and I simply adore it, even if […]

tfzolghadr Says:

June 22nd, 2013 at 12:05 am

Love Nova on this list… hoping it doesn’t get too popular! Laurbails and Pixiewoo, the fam in Iran seems to be using a lot of Nazanin, Shadi, Sarina, Laleh, Avina, Shirin, Parisa, etc. for girls. For boys, we’ve recently got Sina, Meysam, Mahdi, Sadra, Ruzbeh, Kaveh, , and Kamran. We plan to mix Turkish, Farsi, and Italian/ Latin names (to reflect the kids’ mixed heritage), but we will probably use the Farsi names Parisan, Nasrin, and Baran for girls… and Soren, Kian, and Shaya for boys. Perhaps the most interesting trend is that many are now choosing Farsi names over Arabic names (a huge break from the past). Perhaps it demonstrates a renewed interest in ancient Iranian heritage, over post-Arab Conquest submission…. – Filmes, séries e livros inspiram nomes de bebês « Bebê Celebridade Says:

June 25th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

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RedRobin Says:

July 17th, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I prefer Sienna to Senna. To me it just sounds unfinished and blunt. And I just hate the fact that Nova is on this list. It’s been one of my most favorite names for quite some time. But what’s the difference between Aria and Arya? Are they pronounced differently, because I always thought they were pronounced the same, just spelled differently.

bbn Says:

August 3rd, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Theon is a lovely name. Too bad reading the Song of Ice and Fire books and watching the show kind of ruins it. “My name is Reek. It rhymes with freak.”

pledlow Says:

August 14th, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Senna makes me think of the laxative….no thank you.

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July 10th, 2014 at 6:40 am

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August 28th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

[…] to the baby-name hotsite Nameberry, the name Cinna – along with Senna, a female version – are both up 1,500 percent from […]

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