Hot Baby Names: The 16 hottest choices of 2013 (so far)
The hot baby names making the most dramatic leaps up the popularity list at Nameberry so far this year include several surnames newly favored as firsts; names inspired by a beloved literary character, a historic president and a new pope; the name of a cuddly animal and a term for a laid-back attitude.
Our 2013 hot baby names list is made up of those names whose views on Nameberry for the first half of this year show the largest gains over views during the same period in 2012.
While our hot list includes a couple of traditional girls’ names – Francine and Margo in all her spellings – along with one choice, the Irish Declan, that is decidedly a boys’ name, most of the hottest names today can work for either gender.
And most have until recently not been used as first names. Sometimes it’s a celebrity, like funny girl Rebel Wilson, who brings a new name to the fore. Celebrity babies or pop culture influences can also introduce new names to the lexicon.
But mostly, what makes a name hot is some combination of factors that catches fire in the moment.
Our hottest baby names for the first half of 2013 are:
There are 23 figures named Azariah – pronounced a-za-RYE-a or a-za-REE-a – in the Bible and Jewish history, including a king, the grandfather of Ezra, and a guardian angel. While traditionally male, the name Azaria can be used for girls, usually spelled without the final h. Interest in the ancient Hebrew name is up 120 percent on Nameberry.
- Azariah – pronounced a-za-RYE-a or a-za-REE-a – in the Bible and Jewish history, including a king, the grandfather of Ezra, and a guardian angel. While traditionally male, the name Azaria can be used for girls, usually spelled without the final h. Interest in the ancient Hebrew name is up 120 percent on Nameberry." >
- Wolf, say, or Robin, Bear may seem an unlikely animal name to find popularity for babies, but views of Bear are up nearly 100 percent on Nameberry this year versus last. Influences include the Discover Channel’s Bear Grylls, football coach Bear Bryant, and celebrity babies Bear Blu, son of Alicia Silverstone, and Buddy Bear, son of Jamie Oliver." >
- Declan are up nearly 600 percent over 2012. A saint’s name that may mean “man of prayer,” Declan is popular in Ireland and Number 143 in the US, amazing for a name that debuted on the Top 1000 only in 1998. It gained visibility as the real first name of Elvis Costello and more recently as the name of one of the lead characters in television's Revenge." >
- Ellison the new Allison? Views of the surname-name, a patronymic that means son of Ellis, are up over 100 percent on Nameberry the first half of this year versus last. Interest in the name is highest for girls, with Ellie the stylish, accessible short form, while for boys Ellison might honor Oracle founder Larry Ellison, a notable collector of Asian art." >
- Merlin, Emrys – pronounced em-riss – is a Welsh boys’ name attracting nearly 120 percent more interest this year over last. But while traditionally male, some American parents may judge the sound of the name appropriate for girls, a fresh entry to the popular Emma and Emily family." >
- Francine up nearly 650 percent this year over last? Is it the relationship to Francis, the singular name chosen by the new pope? Or is the world just ready for the return of this Frenchified name, off the grid since 1987? Or maybe everyone just loves Francine, gal pal of cartoon's Arthur, another up-and-coming former old person name." >
- Finn a bona fide hit, can Huckleberry be far behind? Well, yes – in its full form, Huckleberry is slightly ridiculous, but Huck is cute, irreverent, a modern day Hank or Chuck. Views of Huck are up 124 percent." >
- Irie is the Jamaican term for perfect peace and contentment, a sentiment that was turned into a female name in Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth. Irie, which bears a resemblance to both Iris and Irene, is up nearly 400 percent in the first half of 2013." >
- Larkin, which has a surname feel and relates to birds, is up 117 percent. In 2012 it was given to 55 girls and 20 boys, proving its unisex appeal" >
- Barack Obama may have won reelection in 2012, but Lincoln was arguably the president of the year, the subject of an Oscar-winning film and renewed appreciation. Baby namers have leapt on the Lincoln bandwagon, with views up over 100 percent for the first half of 2013, some undoubtedly inspired by actress Kristen Bell’s choice of Lincoln for her baby daughter." >
- Margo in all her variations. We personally have met a handful of stylish babies named Margo and see it as a quirky classic that feels new without being flashy. After peaking in the 1940s, Margo and sisters dropped from sight in 1989. Views of all forms of the name are up over 100 percent for 2013 over 2012, partially inspired by the feisty character in Despicable Me." >
- Milan, well used as a first name throughout Europe for boys though given more often to girls in the US, is up nearly 150 percent for the first half of this year. That’s partly thanks to its choice for her son by singer Shakira and partly because of its relationship to other stylish Mil names: Mila, Milena, Milo, and Miles, for instance." >
- Nara is a Japanese place name as well as the surname of well-known artist Yoshitomo Nara, whose work is featured here. Nara is also a Celtic name that means happy and is attracting 168 percent more views for the first half of the year thanks to its same-but-different feel: It’s like popular names Sara and Mara, but still feels new." >
- Oakley can be shortened to the sturdy boyish nickname Oak but also carries the feminine –ley suffix and relates to heroine Annie Oakley. This new nature name winner attracted 150 percent more views in 2013." >
- Rebel as a baby name has taken off in the past few years with the notoriety of Australian funnywoman Rebel Wilson and the general taste for bad boy (and girl) baby names like Maverick and Wilder. Views of Rebel on Nameberry are 335 percent higher this year over last." >
- Sacha spelling of this diminutive of Alexander is directly connected to Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen, whose name has attracted 400 percent more views in the first half of this year over last. The Sacha spelling definitely makes the name more masculine, with an equal number of girl and boy babies – 16 each – named Sacha in the US in 2012. By contrast the Sasha spelling used by the First Daughter was given to 687 girls versus only 26 boys." >
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on August 8th, 2013 at 11:39 pm
Love Lincoln, would also love to see Emrys on a boy. Irie is so neat! I hope people wouldn’t think “eerie”, though. Like Declan and Margo/Margot. Surprised about Ellison; it sounds so masculine imo.
on August 9th, 2013 at 12:07 am
I love Emrys!!!!! Only as a boys name, though! I also love the name Larkin!
on August 9th, 2013 at 2:00 am
Loving: Declan, Emrys, Francine, Huck, Irie, Lincoln, Margot, Nara and Sacha. Not loving: Azaria, Bear, Ellison, Larkin, Milan, Oakley and Rebel. Bear has had its moment in the sun; Ellison and Larkin scream trendy to me; and Milan, Oakley and Rebel aren’t my style at all. In Australia, the name Azaria still haunts. Remember when a dingo took Meryl Streep’s baby in the movie A Cry In The Dark (based on the true story of Lindy Chamberlain)? The baby’s name was Azaria.
on August 9th, 2013 at 2:28 am
I wish i was brave enough to use Rebel on a girl, its just so darn cool! Oakley isn’t my style at all, but i really like it.
on August 9th, 2013 at 5:43 am
Not Ellison! That’s my daughter’s name (born February 2012), and we picked it because it wasn’t in the top 1000. I don’t think it’s masculine at all, by the way…lots of -son names are used pretty much exclusively as girls names. We call her Ells, Ell, and Ellie. Not boyish at all.
on August 9th, 2013 at 6:46 am
As someone with proud Welsh heritage, if I start seeing Emrys on girls, I will scream in absolute horror.
on August 9th, 2013 at 6:52 am
I think Declan is hotter due to the character on “Revenge,” not because of those listed above. Love the name, but too popular to use it now – it will be in the top 20 in no time. Love Emrys, Oakley, Rebel. Larkin is all girl to me due to the character Lady Larkin in the musical “Once Upon A Mattress” and Lark Vorheis. Francine? Blah.
on August 9th, 2013 at 7:01 am
Great post! I LOVE Nara and had never heard it before! Also loving Larkin and Irie.
on August 9th, 2013 at 7:09 am
TeensieTraveler, you’re absolutely right! I forgot about that (although our editor at Huffington Post is a Revenge fan and is always reminding us). I changed it — thanks.
on August 9th, 2013 at 8:54 am
Love– Declan (LOVE!), Larkin, Nara, Oakley, Rebel (though only on a boy), Azariah (I still like Ezra better), Lincoln
Like- Emerys (though I prefer Emerson), Sacha, Milan, Ellison, Irie (I prefer Iris), Bear, Huck
Hate (I wouldn’t say hate, just not like)– Francine, Margo, Margot, Margaux
Overall, I liked this list! But, the reason I don’t like Margot or Margaux is because I don’t really know how to say them. Is Margot pronounced like Margo or Mar-GOT with the “t” sound on the end? And Margaux would cause a lot of problems in school with pronounciation.
on August 9th, 2013 at 8:56 am
You won’t see Azaria climb the charts in Australia, as beautiful as it is. The name is taboo here because of the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980.
The story of Azaria and the persecution of her mother has haunted a nation for more than thirty years; over here the name belongs to this baby (I’m assuming barely anyone has used it).
on August 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am
Lincoln is probably a climber due to the hunk from Prison Break!
on August 9th, 2013 at 9:01 am
It makes me so sad that all the unisex names feel like they are going to the girls. I love Ellis for a boy but I am scared to use it if even Ellison (SON of Ellis) is becoming a girls name:( I digress.
Great list though!
on August 9th, 2013 at 9:07 am
Hi! From a non-American perspective, I never think of Abraham in relation to Lincoln. Rather, I think of Lincoln Sparrow, which I quite like. Otherwise Sacha is my first contender for my upcoming boy, and I hope that girls can please stop pilfering all the boy options!!!
on August 9th, 2013 at 9:16 am
Ugh so annoying to see so many boy names being used on girls, and Nameberry just reinforces this practice by saying in pretty much every name “but it can also be used on a girl”. Please stop. Also if you reinforce them for girls, you should do the same for boys, and not say crap like “dont you dare name your boy Kimberly”…
on August 9th, 2013 at 9:36 am
Oh, I love the spooky painting by Japanese artist Nara.
I do hope we don’t see females named Emrys or Rebel. One is a Welsh masculine name (period) and the other is a ridiculous and loaded word. I do feel that Nameberry just reinforces the trend that it’s fine for parents to use boys names but don’t dare use unisex or girls names for boys. Let’s have a little equality, Pam and Linda!
FYI – Sacha is also the new grandson of Princess Caroline of Monaco’s eldest boy Andrea Casiraghi.
on August 9th, 2013 at 10:14 am
I love Irie! We’ve been considering it as a middle name, should we have another girl.
on August 9th, 2013 at 10:43 am
I love Huck and Milan! Nervous to see how popular they get in the next few years…
on August 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am
Emrys is stunningly magical and enchanting; I like Oakley too. The only one I dislike is Sascha because for me, a person of Slavic background, it will always be a fun nickname but a ridiculous full name. I always wondered how anyone except for mister Baron Cohen can bear the name seriously… See it’s almost the oppositely in States but I can’t resist and always giggle when I read about people considering Sascha as a nickname for another name than Alexander/Alexandra.
on August 9th, 2013 at 11:12 am
I just searched Rebel Wilson and she has siblings called Liberty, Ryot and Annarchi, which is interesting.
on August 9th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Is it just me, or is that picture for Nara a little bit creepy?
I like Lincoln on a boy and Larkin for either sex…. though it sways a little feminine for me because of the character in Once Upon a Mattress.
I try to be open minded, but Bear is a ridiculous formal name. Nickname only!
on August 9th, 2013 at 12:11 pm
This list just made me sad… I’m in love with Emrys!!! Please leave it alone… Lol.
on August 9th, 2013 at 12:55 pm
Ahahaha, the picture of Margo in Despicable Me 2.
Gru: “Who are you texting?”
Gru: “Ah, Avery. Wait, wait, wait. Is that a boy’s name or a girl’s name?”
Margo: “Does it matter?”
GRu: “Oh, no, I, suppose not… UNLESS IT’S A BOY!”
on August 9th, 2013 at 1:07 pm
AHHH!!! I was just going through my list and Margo and Francine are in my top 5 for baby girl coming in December! Just when I start to panic about seeing my favorites in an article on popularity, I remember how often Beatrix has been mentioned on this site for the past few years and it’s still not in the top 1000 ;).
My oldest daughter is Ellis. I’ve always seen the name as feminine and love that no one else we know has her name. Although, I know the numbers are against this, I have heard of (never met) 3 Ellis girls and only 1 boy. She does get called Alice more often (mostly by older, hard-of-hearing folks) than she is confused with all the Ellie/Elle/Ellas running around. Still, most people get her name right away.
Ellison sounds/looks more masculine to me and seems trendier, but it’s individual opinon for sure. It’s not too far from Allison.
on August 9th, 2013 at 1:15 pm
I really like Lincoln and Irie. Ever since watching Fringe, I think that Lincoln is just the coolest name. And Irie is just exotic enough for me to use in my novel, which I like.
on August 9th, 2013 at 1:21 pm
Hmm interesting post I love…
Azariah – powerful Jewish choice. I do really love it.
Sacha – hate Sasha but love Sacha for a boy.
on August 9th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
I like Sacha on a boy. I came up with the nickname Mischa for my brother Mitchell, and he loves it, so I’m totally for Alexander nn Sacha.
on August 9th, 2013 at 2:53 pm
Larkin is my all time favorite boy name. It’s not a girl name at all and I hate seeing it “go to the girls”.
on August 9th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
These articles are interesting, but I think Nameberry should make headlines and writing much more clear that these are the top 16 SEARCHES unique to this particular site. Now, as in the past, we can anticipate a week’s worth of spin-off articles hailing Bear and Nara as the actual choices of new parents. While some of the names searched may go on to see increased use in real life, others might represent nothing more than a lot of curious people just dying to know, “Is that even a real name?”
on August 9th, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I think Lincoln Brewster.
Declan is of interest to me. I’ve chosen Patrick as my future son’s mn in honor of the missionary saint and our Irish heritage. Should we have more than one son, I’d like to reflect the same– Declan may just be the way to go! With that said, in the past, I have considered Ellis/Ellison to fill that role. I like that Ellis means benevolent.
I considered Irie for a bit as a middle name option, but found it was very cultural to Jamaica to which I have no personal references for, so it’s out for me. It always seemed that with my style I should like Iris and/or Ivy, but I don’t, and thought this would be a cute replacement for either.
I like Larkin alot, but not the meaning. I’m better off going with Lark. One day at work, I ran across Oaklyn (NJ) on the map and (oddly enough) really like it. Never been there before, but I do prefer this to Oakley.
@ rainierloner – I was going to say, “Hate” as a name?? I mean Huck is one thing and Rebel, well it’s quite similar to and as aweful as Rebel but…. lol, then I realized it was just the way you stated your last comment!! haha. (And yes, every last one of the Margo variations are pronounced the same: Mar-GO.)
on August 9th, 2013 at 3:38 pm
@ gailk: LOL you’re right!!! Love how fitting that picture reference is…… only a name-nerd would understand 😉
on August 9th, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Bear, Huck (as well as Huckleberry), and Margo are right up my alley!
on August 9th, 2013 at 4:50 pm
I often call my Henry “Huck” because he really is very Huckish. I also love Huxley and nn Huck or even Hux. Hoping it does not become popular! 🙂
on August 9th, 2013 at 5:31 pm
ITA with Skizzo. As someone who is strongly considering Kelly if this baby is a boy, the double standard makes me sad.
Huck’s main drawback is its very unfortunate rhyme. I love Nara and Margot for a girl, Declan and Sacha for a boy, and Larkin for either sex, but Lincoln on a girl is a tragedy.
on August 9th, 2013 at 7:08 pm
Declan and Margaux were both on my short lists for my kids.
Larkin is very pretty, too. Solidly a girls name, IMO.
on August 9th, 2013 at 7:40 pm
No no! Not Huck! My absolute fave… Hoping it doesn’t explode before I have kids in the next few yrs.
on August 9th, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Great list, especially Declan, Emrys, Huck (with a bit of a bump from ABC’s Scandal?), Bear (yay, nature-names!), Larkin, Irie, and Nara. Lincoln is my hometown, so love that it is being used.
However, the formatting is a bit aggravating. I really don’t enjoy the whole page reloading and some of the arrows being under your right-hand ad-column. Scroll-down lists are my preferred choice for nameberry. I’m sure it’s about ads, which is understandable, but I am less likely to click through lists like that. Happy exception in this case as it was a fab list. 🙂
on August 9th, 2013 at 8:43 pm
I have often seen the name Francine in large text in the name cloud on Nameberry and wondered why so many people are searching for it if it hasn’t been used on a celebrity baby and is not otherwise in the news. It’s a mystery!
on August 10th, 2013 at 9:24 am
Are you kidding me with Margo?! It’s one of my absolutely favorites and whenever I tell anyone they tell me it’s horrible. I guess I wouldn’t mind if it was a teensy bit more popular just so people don’t hate it… but PLEASE don’t let it skyrocket like so many of my other favorites!
on August 10th, 2013 at 10:37 pm
I love Azaria/Azariah (team a-za-REE-a), for a boy. I’d only ever use it for a boy.
on August 11th, 2013 at 11:38 am
I think I prefer the Sasha spelling for boys, and Sacha for girls. This might be because my name is Sacha…
on August 11th, 2013 at 8:13 pm
After following a long and lovely naming journey here, I’m in love with Emrys and hoping not to see it on girls. In fact, I wonder if that journey is responsible for many of those extra searches of Emrys.
I wouldn’t call Nara’s picture creepy–exactly–but there’s something deep about those eyes, isn’t there? One wonders what she’s seeing.
on August 12th, 2013 at 12:21 am
A couple more possible associations:
Francine is the adorable, some what precise piglet friend of Olivia, who is the star of a tv show based in her books. They’re somewhat old for little kids now, but with Netflix I think a lot of parents end up there. And maybe think of the name for a sibling?
Bear Gryls (sp?) is also on Netflix, with his (fake) survivalist show. And nerd that I am, I once Wikipedia-Ed him and found the his son’s name is Huckleberry. Bear and Huck in the same family people. Awesome.
on August 12th, 2013 at 9:47 am
@rainierloner: 🙂 Margot and Margaux are pronounced same as Margo. 🙂
on August 24th, 2013 at 4:21 pm
I’m glad that I found this site! I think Azariah, Francine and Emrys are so amazing; breathtaking actually! They will be on the top of my lists!!! Thank you!
on August 27th, 2013 at 5:51 pm
Our son is Declan James though I got it from the movie Leap Year years ago and not from REvenge. Hoping it does not get too popular but even so, at least he is one of the first! 🙂
on August 31st, 2013 at 12:47 am
Emrys is my #1 boy’s name and I’ll be crushed if I hear it often, especially on a girl. Also, the word Irie has a really strong tie to marijuana and if you named your child that I think many people would immediately think you named her after your, um, favorite pastime…
on September 11th, 2013 at 1:54 am
One of my friends (girl) is an Emrys, but prounounced emr-ees
on September 17th, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Francine is not my style sound-wise, but I like the idea of her. Lincoln is great. I know 3 of them under 5. Margot is great! Margo feels incomplete & Margaux feels a bit try-hard. I adore Irie, but I’m not sure if it’s too nicknamey sounding. I would probably do Iris nn Irie so she has something more classic feeling. I also wonder if everyone would think it’s a marijuana reference. Oh Rebel. I know a baby boy named Rebel. The comedienne wears it well enough, but imagine for a moment a child called Rebel who is meek, timid, the smallest boy in school…oh it could be pretty unfortunate on the wrong kid. I knew a girl who considered Vandal.
on November 21st, 2013 at 10:56 am
I just have to echo skizzo and strawberrytree here. This is the 5th list I’ve looked at today with mostly girl names, a good helping of “unisex” names that “work best for girls”, and a meager selection of boys names that seem to all “also work great for girls.”
Please, PLEASE, Nameberry and fellow namers: either relegate girls to girls names and stop poaching boys names OR quit critiquing names as being “too feminine” for a modern boy (especially names with long histories for boys that have only gone over to the girls in the last 20 years).
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