Hot Baby Names: 20 choices heading for the top
What are the hottest baby names today, those zooming toward the top of the popularity list?
Identifying which names are moving fastest toward the top is an art, but there can also be some science to it. We asked the Wizard of Nameberry, our engineer Hugh Hunter, to plot the upward trajectory of 20 names that have been vaulting up the charts over the past decade. He crunched the numbers and came up with a Hotness Quotient: a number that plots each name’s relative hotness and stands for the number of places it will jump each year if it continues moving up the ranks at the same pace.
We tracked all the names on our list from 2001 through 2013; entering the Top 1000 more recently than that skews the HQ unfairly high. Eloise, which reentered the Top 1000 in 2009, for instance, has an HQ of 145, nearly three times as high as our Number 1 name Adeline, while newcomer Jax, which entered in 2005, stands at 96, twice as high as our top boys’ name Finn. But these names are unlikely to continue moving up at this velocity.
Here, our ten hottest girls’ and ten hottest boys’ choices., with their individual Hotness Quotients:
Although Violet got up off the chaise where she’d been swooning in the late 1990s, it wasn’t until she was chosen by Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck for their daughter in 2005 that the name really motored for the top, now at Number 69. Although Violet’s HQ of 50 would catapult her into the Top 20 next year, we don’t think her rise will continue to be quite that dramatic, at least not unless another high-profile celebrity couple chooses the name.
Stella’s trajectory mimics Violet’s, taking off after a decades-long slumber in the late 1990s and rising straight toward the top. Sassy Stella, which means “star,” has been chosen for their daughters by several celebrity couples and is also in the Top 100 in Germany and Sweden. Right behind Violet at Number 70, we can imagine Stella joining sister names Ella and Isabella in the Top 20 in a handful of years.
Sweet Adeline has moved up more than 500 points since 2001, now standing at Number 232. At its current trajectory, we’d expect it to be in the Top 100 in 2017 and the Top 10 by 2020. Will it really get there? Sister name Adelaide’s trajectory is steeper but it entered the Top 1000 more recently, but we do see these two similar names near the top of the list within the next decade – much as Emma and Emily have dominated over the past several years – with mutual short form Addie becoming as common as Ellie and Emmy are now.
Lila is one of those names whose popularity and hotness are confusing. As one of a group of very similar names – Layla and Leila and Laila – all with high HQs of their own, it can seem as if you hear it everywhere. But at the same time, Lila with this spelling stands only at Number 155, so it’s far from being a Top 10 name. Not for long, though. With an HQ of 40, Lila is due to enter the Top 100 within two years and may reach the Top 10 within four….though Layla, now at Number 30, stands to get there first.
Although Juliet has been on the US Top 1000 nearly every year since 1880, it only started seriously taking off toward the top a decade ago. Now this diminutive of the ancient Roman name Julia, made most famous by Shakespeare, is at Number 238 and likely to enter the Top 50 in a handful of years.
Beatrice hit is lowest mark ever in 2001, when it nearly disappeared from the Top 1000 completely, only to turn around and begin heading back toward the top. A Top 100 name from the 1890s till the 1930s, Beatrice still has a projected 15 years to go before it achieves that rank again from its current standing at Number 593.
Although Elsa’s current fame seems propelled entirely by her starring role in the movie Frozen, she actually began her ascent in 1999, turning upward after hitting the very bottom of the Top 1000 list and now standing at Number 528. Elsa’s HQ of 32 suggests it will take her more than a decade to make the Top 100 but we predict her trajectory will pick up steam and she’ll make it in half that time. Elsa is a multicultural hit, standing at Number 61 in Spain and at Number 3 in Sweden.
Cora is one of those surprising names that has always been on the Top 1000, ranking in the Top 100 until just about a century ago, when it began a long downward slide. It didn’t start heading back up again until the 1990s; and now stands at Number 127. At its current rate, Cora should break into the Top 100 again in the 2014 statistics and could rank among the Top 25 names before 2020.
Aurora is another name most people would be surprised to learn has always ranked among the Top 1000, but it’s at its highest peak by far right now, standing at Number 145 with the Top 100 in sight within the next two years. Aurora’s classical origins – she was the Roman goddess of the dawn – and romantic feel combine to fuel its current popularity.
Even before Beyonce and Jay-Z chose Ivy as their daughter’s middle name in 2012, this old-fashioned botanical name had begun its upward climb. Now at its all-time zenith at Number 152, Ivy could break into the Top 100 for the first time ever within three years.
Finn is the leader of a crew of Irish boys’ names that have risen from obscurity to take the US by storm in the past decade. The name of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn McCool, the name entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in the year 2000 and has now risen to Number 250. With an HQ near 50, Finn is projected to stand within the Top 50 names in the next five years. Finn ranks among the Top 100 names not only in its native Ireland but in Scotland, the Netherlands, and Germany, where it stands at an astonishing Number 5.
Emmett owes its popularity to Top 10 sister names Emma and Emily as well as to its featured role in Twilight. A well-used name at the end of the 19th century, it began a long downward slide before reversing course in the late 1990s, now standing at Number 173. Both Emma and Emily were Number 1 names and there’s no reason why Emmett can’t join them at the top within the next handful of years.
The New Testament Silas got style boosts from The Da Vinci Code and from television’s Weeds, rising since the 1990s to reach Number 116 today. And the name continues to be hot, in line to reach the top of the list within the next three years.
Hudson, as in the river, has the same New York vibe as cousin name Brooklyn but is subtler and cooler. It’s jumped nearly 500 places in the past 12 years and is in line to reach the Top 10 within two or three years.
Dashing Biblical Asher languished nearly unused for most of the 20th century, only to start its meteoric rise in the late 1990s. Today, Asher sits just outside the Top 100. This is one name we predict will make it to the very top of the list; it’s on target to crack the Top 10 in the 2016 standings.
Two-syllable names that end in either R or N are wildly fashionable for boys. Occupational name Sawyer first cracked the Top 1000 in the early 1990s and today lies a few points outside the Top 100. We can see Sawyer joining Asher near the top of the list by 2016.
August is interestingly one of those surprising names that has been in the Top 1000 every single year since the list began in 1880; it was in the Top 100 until 1892. Then it began a century-long slide, not reversing course until the 1980s. Now at Number 316 – not too unusual, but not too popular – August has more time to go with its HQ of 29 until it gets toward the top of the list. We’ll put it in the Top 100 in around 2020.
You can think of Declan as Finn’s younger, weirder brother, nearly unheard of in the US until 1998 when it hit the Top 1000. Fifteen years later, it’s ready to break the Top 100. Will it ever climb to the Top 10? Unusual Irish names have a way of taking the US by storm: Look at the once-unusual Aidan, Ryan, and Sean.
Jasper is distinctive as the only widely-used jewel name for boys; it’s always been on the US Top 1000. Now it’s climbed to Number 248 and at its current pace could take a decade to reach to Top 10. Still, we don’t think it’s heading to the top of the list but will rather remain as a fashionable classic.
Ezra is definitely one of the stars of the new wave of biblical boys’ names, joining Asher and Silas – along with Levi and Moses and Abel and Jude – in taking over the spots once held by older guard biblical boys’ names from Aaron to Zachary. After nearly vanishing in the 1960s, Ezra now stands at Number 143 and seems poised to keep climbing till it reaches the upper reaches of the popularity list, which should happen in the next handful of years.
Which names do you see as hot and heading for the top?
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on November 7th, 2014 at 1:12 am
I would gladly and happily name a baby any name from this list! (except for Hudson, not my style) All are pretty much Nameberry favorites- goes to show that us name nerds are ahead of the trend 😉
on November 7th, 2014 at 1:15 am
I think that Margot will be become more and more popular.
on November 7th, 2014 at 6:30 am
We agree on Margot, but I bet her trajectory will be harder to plot given the spelling variations that may mask her true popularity.
on November 7th, 2014 at 7:52 am
I was really wondering if Lucy would make this list. I’m curious as to where you think she’ll be in the coming years.
on November 7th, 2014 at 1:39 pm
I can definitely see Stella, Elsa, Aurora (this name is so hard for me to say, it tickles my tongue), Adeline and Lila breaking the top 20 one of these years.
For boys Asher, Finn, Ezra, August (I hope it doesn’t keep getting popular but it’s kinda inevitable), and Hudson I think will.
on November 7th, 2014 at 4:21 pm
Some of these don’t surprise me at all, being that they’re my favorites for firsts, middles, or even both. I’ve always loved the name Stella and have in recent months favored the name Juliet/Juliette. When I first heard the name Declan I fell in love with it, but I don’t think I’d name a son that – it’s a top choice middle name on my list. August I’ve liked and have been on an off about in terms of seriously considering it as a name for my future son. Asher, Cora, and Emmett falls into a similar category that Declan and August are in (a hybrid of the two types)
on November 7th, 2014 at 8:17 pm
I love the name Juliet, only spelled Juliette. It’s been in my top five for a long time now, along with Sabrina, Claudia, Lake, and Susannah. I also like Ivy.
Not too into the boys names. I have a friend who has named their son every name on this list except for August and Sawyer. I actually have two friends with boys named Silas.
on November 8th, 2014 at 9:15 pm
It seems like everyone I know is considering or using the name Harper for their daughters. In a few years, preschools will be overflowing with little Harpers — perhaps they already are.
on November 8th, 2014 at 9:23 pm
Golly, I didn’t realize Harper already sits pretty at number 16. She’s already made it!
on November 9th, 2014 at 9:40 am
This list is completely my style!
on November 9th, 2014 at 11:23 am
I would add that the popularity of these names varies widely depending on what type of area you live in. For example, I live in a small college town in the South, and Hudson is the only name on this list that I hear on a semi regular basis. Like Parker, Hudson is one of those “current” names that sort of already hit its prime down here. All of the Hudsons and Parkers I know are in their teens and twenties.
That said, I could quite easily see Lila, Elsa, and Stella catching on in my corner of the world. Ella and Lily are both wildly popular here, both as solo names and as the first part of double names, so Lila, Elsa, and Stella aren’t much of a stretch at all.
on November 9th, 2014 at 8:40 pm
It had never occurred to me until seeing it in the context of this list, but Juliet could be a successor name to Olivia or Sophia. Similar rhythm, similar long history of use.
on November 10th, 2014 at 4:51 pm
…Is that baby wearing a wig?
Other than that:
Violet – okay. It’s a bit beige. It’s safe and boring. But I don’t dislike it.
Stella – hideous. No. No. No. Nope. I refuse to accept people still use this horrible, tacky name.
Adeline – fussy and fusty. Not for me.
Lila – fussy, trendy and ultra-modern. That’s if it’s said like ly-la. If it’s lee-la, it’s pretty and makes me think of Futurama’s Leela (only with a more self-aware streamlined spelling) and it really could grow on me, even if it’s not a name I’d ever use.
Juliet – okay. I think it’s a bit middle-aged. It’s the name of a sensible girl who was born with a grey/beige uninspired fuddy mind, who never played or laughed or indulged in whimsy… a born bureaucrat with an iron-wrought bun. Ironically!
Beatrice – I used to like it, growing pretty sick of it. Beatrix is fresher, but even then I am growing tired of it.
Elsa – bleaugh. Cutesy. Naming your kid after Frozen, seriously? A mediocre film, at best?
Cora – nope. Old lady name beyond redemption. Horrid.
Aurora – pretty, but in a very boring way. I like it, but it’s dull.
Ivy – I like this one!
Finn – very cool. I have a soft spot, huge Adventure Time fan here. I wouldn’t use it, though, but it would make a good mn.
Emmett – ugly, ugly, ugly.
Silas – slimey, anaemic and sickly. Horrid.
Hudson – ugly.
Asher – okay, but trying too hard.
Sawyer – I bet 90% of Sawyers are absolute hell to teach. The kind of kid every teacher dreads.
August – Now, this I like.
Declan – Puke-a-rama! Absolutely gross!
Jasper – Lovely.
Ezra – Nice.
I also like Eleanor, Clara and Felix!
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on November 17th, 2014 at 11:37 am
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on November 24th, 2014 at 1:53 pm
I have a Finn and the growing popularity of his name is such a bummer for me. I really like unusual, but not made up, names and when I picked Finn sixteen years ago it hadn’t cracked the top 1000 ever. I guess I should just take it as a compliment that I have good taste. I also have an Arabella and an Adelaide, both of which weren’t in the top 1000 in their birth year either. I also have a Jasper and the year I picked his name it was 548. Sigh.
Hey, maybe I’m the one setting the trends!
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on March 16th, 2015 at 9:18 pm
Adeline, definitely! There is a movie coming out this year called “The Age of Adaline,” so I think this will cause Adeline/Adaline/Adalynn to skyrocket up the charts. This saddens me, only because we named our one year old Adeline, thinking it would remain relatively obsolete. I guess you never can tell which direction a name will take. Oh well, at least we will look like “trend setters.” 😉
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