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Best New Names in the Top 1000

May 16, 2019 Emma Waterhouse

By Emma Waterhouse

According to the latest baby name data from the SSA, the pool of names chosen by new parents in the US has never been wider. The percentage of babies receiving a name in the Top 1000 continues to trend downwards, with almost a third of those born in 2018 receiving a name less common than Coleman or Kimora, Markus or Maliah — the #999 and #1000 names, respectively.

50 new girl names and 45 new boy names joined (or rejoined) the Top 1000 in 2018, replacing some surprising dropouts: like Marlowe, Kaya and Renee on the girls’ side, and Foster, Anton and Emmet on the boys’.

We’ve rounded up ten of the most appealing new entries for both sexes, together with the trends they showcase. Starred names appeared in the Top 1000 for the very first time last year.

Best new names for girls

Anais (#848): Euro-chic Anais blends Parisian poise with cultural cachet, thanks to French-Cuban writer and feminist icon Anaïs Nin.

Della (#861): Dainty Della is a long-neglected member of the popular -ella group of names. We’re pleased to see it back on the list for the first time since 1977, along with fellow retro returners Wendy (#969) and Margo (#972).

*August (#905): Brought into the limelight by the younger daughter of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, August combines several major trends: vintage names, word and nature names, and BNOG. Actress Charlize Theron also has a daughter named August.

*Promise (#908): American parents have long loved virtue names — think Hope and Faith, Harmony and Serenity — and this feels like an intriguing new option with a bit more pep than most.

Marisol (#939): This summery Marian name makes a welcome return after dropping off the list in 2017. Together with fellow new entry Violeta (#965), it’s a traditional Spanish pick that feels frilly, but not fussy.

*Bellamy (#962): America loves “Bel” names, and that three-syllable, y-ending rhythm is also big right now — see Emily, Avery, Everly, Emery… Another preppy surname which saw a huge boost this year is Palmer: up 364 spots to enter the Top 1000 at #679.

*Scout (#976): Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were way ahead of the curve when they gave this literary nickname to their daughter in 1991. Fellow Mockingbird names Harper and Atticus have since risen up the rankings, and now it’s finally sweet, sparky Scout’s time to shine.

*Waverly (#977): Here’s another surprisingly modern literary pick, with that jaunty three-syllable rhythm and natural imagery that parents love so much. Waverly picks up the “-lee” sound of popular picks like Everly and Emily — as well as fellow new entrants Haisley, Keily, Berkley, Brynleigh and Rosalee — but feels much more distinctive.

Zora (#982): Another literary/feminist heroine name which has zipped onto the charts for the first time since 1939, alongside fellow vintage gem Zola (back for the first time since 1941, at #956). We’re still loving those high-value Scrabble letters!

*Keilani (#995): Hawaiian (and pseudo-Hawaiian) names are hot, with Kailani, Ailani, Kaylani, Malani, Kehlani, Milani and Nalani all climbing over 100 places last year.

Best new names for boys

*Watson (#711): We don’t see Sherlock catching on anytime soon, but the snappy surname of his long-suffering sidekick has leapt onto the charts at #711 — its highest ranking since 1916. Other preppy surnames to make the cut this year include football-inspired Baker (#712) and artistic Turner (#896).

*Onyx (#867): Nature names continue to trend in a big way, and they don’t come much edgier than Onyx. Forest (#973) has also returned for the first time since 1995, making modest gains on the more popular double-r spelling.

*Kenzo (#873): Considering how many trend boxes this energetic Japanese import ticks (K initial — check! O ending — check! High-value Scrabble letter — check!) it’s actually surprising that it took the birth of starbaby Kenzo Kash Hart to put this one on the baby naming map.

Wallace (#879): Clunky-cool comeback kids Wallace and Ralph (#951) both had their heyday in the early 1920s, making them ripe for revival in 2018.

*Idris (#956): There were several famous names new to the Top 1000 this year — from Bowie to Dakari to Elon — but although Idris certainly owes its newfound familiarity to Mr Elba, it doesn’t feel too much like a “one person” name to us. Intriguingly, Idris claims separate Welsh and Arabic roots: meaning “ardent lord” or “interpreter”.

*Zev (#975): A short, sharp, energetic name with a fierce animal meaning to match. This mini moniker is bang on trend in so many ways.

*Torin (#980): Irish names are perennially popular in the US — just look at reigning #1 name Liam, as well as past favorites Aidan, Ryan, Brian and Kevin. Ranking just outside the current Nameberry Top 100, we think Torin is one to watch…

Benedict (#981): Speaking of Sherlock… This distinctive saint’s name, borne by the actor who plays both the troubled detective and Doctor Strange in the Marvel film franchise, is back after a half-century hiatus.

*Harlem (#985): Brooklyn and Hudson are big, but Harlem is the freshest kid on the baby naming block. Another appealing NYC place name, Biblical Jericho, also re-entered the Top 1000 last year at #959.

Gus (#994): Just one of the laid-back, old-school nickname names now creeping up the charts in the US, inspired by the British craze for nicknames on the birth certificate. Another new entrant in this category is adorable Archie (#992), which will no doubt make many more parents’ lists in 2019, thanks to the newest royal baby.

Which are your favorite new entries to the Top 1000? Which names are you sad to see leave? Where did your favorites rank in 2018? Let us know!

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from where to find a cool vintage boy name to why some names become popular memes. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

View all of Emma Waterhouse's articles

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