Baby Names: Hottest Trends for 2009

Which baby name trends do we see coming in for 2009 and which do we see heading out? Here, our predictions for the year ahead.

BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: DEPRESSION ERA NAMES

The hit TV show Mad Men, set in the early 60s, reintroduced names that were all the rage when the characters were born in the 1930s: Don , Betty, Joan, Peggy.  They’re plain names fit for hard times, and we predict the hardscrabble months ahead will inspire more babies with these names: Dorothy, Helen, Ruth, and Frances for girls; Thomas, Edward, Frank, Raymond, and even Harold for boys.  Plus the stylish new occupational names–Gardener, Ranger, Miller–are likely to gain in appeal for both boys and girls as actual jobs become more scarce.

MOST SURPRISING COMEBACK NAME

Leon, middle name choice for Brangelina twin Knox, had become a joke in the U.S. but was on the rise in Europe, where all lion-related names–Leo, Leonora, Lionel–are tres chic.  Leon and Leonie are the number one names in Germany and for the first time in decades, have style potential here.

BEST NEW TREND INSPIRED BY A CELEBRITY BABY NAME

Jessica Alba’s infant Honor has ushered in a new appreciation for virtue names, on the rise through the name ranks–and hopefully also in spirit–with Faith, Hope, Patience, Mercy, Justice, True, and Pax.

HOTTEST GENDER-BENDING TREND

Boys names that end in a vowel sound and girls’ names that end in a consonant.  Examples: Ezra, Eli, Milo, Noah, Hugo for boys, and for girls, Annabel instead of Annabella, for instance, or Eden instead of Emma.

ETHNIC NAMES GROUPS MOST LIKELY TO RISE

Hawaiian and Russian, thanks to First Daughters Malia and Sasha, short for Natasha, Obama.

TRENDIEST TREND-RELATED TREND

Names that are considered too trendy by stylish parents by virtue of their association with other, trendier names or with high-visibility celebrities.  Examples: Ada, fresh yet too close to the megapopular AvaPearl, too much like groovy RubyRoman, son of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing.  And Matilda, toddler of Michelle Wiliams and Heath Ledger.

GIRL TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that end in –ella, from Isabella to Gabriella to Bella and even Ella herself.  The long trend for that extra-syllable a ending is about to end.

BOY TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK

Names that rhyme with -aden: Braden, Caden, Jaden, Xaden, you’ve had your moment in the sun.

COOLEST MIDDLE NAME TREND

Names that carry powerful meaning, launched when people adopted the middle name Hussein in solidarity with Obama.  Less name than symbol, the new middle name may carry political meaning, convey ethnic background, stand in for a place, animal, character, or thing that has meaning for the parents.

NEW “IT” VOWEL

I, with the rise of such iNames as Isaiah, Iris, Isaac, and Isla.

MOST FASHIONABLE CONSONANT

V, vivifying names wherever it falls: Olive, Vivienne, Eva, Victor, Avery, Violet, Evan, Nevaeh.

NAME TREND THAT’S BEST FOR THE EARTH

Green Names, which include the recycling of grandma and grandpa names like Mabel and Max, and also nature names drawn from the water (Bay, Lake), trees (Birch, Oak), and flowers (Violet, Poppy).

TREND MOST LIKELY TO CROSS THE OCEAN

The hot British baby-naming trend of using nicknames from Millie to Alfie to Dixie and Dot is coming our way, as a light-hearted antidote to tough times.

MOST SURPRISING CELEBRITY NAME INSPIRATION

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post was the media star of the 2008 election, is an attractive and influential person but hardly the kind of tabloid hottie who usually inspires thousands of baby namesakes.  But joining Ashton and Angelina, the name Arianna has ascended with Huffington’s renown, reaching number 70 in the last year counted and certain to zoom much higher.

TREND WE’D MOST LIKE TO SEE DIE

Scary, violent names like Talon, Cannon, Gunner.

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22 Responses to “Baby Names: Hottest Trends for 2009”

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jb Says:

December 26th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Leon is also Noel backwards… A subtle name for late December babies.

watty Says:

December 27th, 2008 at 2:38 am

Bummer- my 20 month old son’s name is Cannon and it makes me sad that it is a trend that you guys want to see die 🙂 I think it is cute! It fits my son’s outgoing, over-active, strong, “loose-cannon” personality. Its cute, uncommon, but doesn’t sound made up. I also has cute nicknames to go with it. Agree to disagree 🙂

linda Says:

December 27th, 2008 at 11:42 am

That’s the downside of having and throwing out strong opinions–sometimes we hurt people’s feelings. I’m really sorry if we have–I’m sure your Cannon is adorable and that you chose the right name for him.

watty Says:

December 27th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

It’s ok 🙂 I am actually pretty glad that it is not too trendy of a name. My husband and I both have very common names- lol. I am not at all hurt. Thanks for being so kind in responding.

Jennifer Says:

December 31st, 2008 at 1:31 am

I love reading your lists! They are so fun and really I think some names are over done for sure. My 3rd baby is Christopher Michael. Two crazy common names that we love and we call him Chris Michael. It feels less common and suits our boy. With all the new names out there I almost think the traditional names seem fresh again.

Lee Says:

January 2nd, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I love the name Avalyn but haven’t convinced my husband just yet with the baby due in 2 months. I thought it took a too-popular name and made it more palatable! LOL I was also pleased to read on here that Keziah is making a comeback – my grt-grt-gramma’s name, and another my husband won’t buy into! LOL
now that’s I’ve read that ‘Talon’ is considered a ‘violent’ name, I’ll take it off my potential boy’s list of names! I was going to spell it Talen and to me it reminded me of an eagle, so I thought it was neat. Weird how name association works for different people, eh? LOL (yes, the ‘eh’ probably gave me away as Canadian!)
Love this site, btw. Lot’s of new, fresh ideas and perspectives!

linda Says:

January 2nd, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Thanks for all the kind words!!

Bernadette Says:

January 7th, 2009 at 10:48 am

whats everyones problem with Caden? Theres such snobbery around baby names these days…

Elizabeth Says:

January 7th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

To the previous poster, I dont just have a problem with Caden there’s also Jaden, Braden, Aiden, Zaden, Hayden, Fayden, Tayden, Rayden & any others I may have missed!
They are the ultimate of trendy; parents trying to be uniuque when in fact they’re quite the opposite. These are all Aiden with an extra letter shoved up front; once you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all. As a teacher its quite annoying when you have 2 Jaden’s (1 boy/1girl) Aiden’s, Hayden’s all in the same class as they all turn around at the same time!!

I use to find Caden & Jayden cute but thats it, they are all so over done! Its not snobbery at all its just living in reality; many names become tiresome just look at Isabella, Sophia, Emily, Jacob etc. I wouldnt consider those names either.

The great thing about naming children is we all have our own ideas about what we do and do not like, it doesnt make it snobbery just personal preference!

Sasha Says:

January 8th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I find it really amusing that people who get their names off the top 100 list are then offended when people say that their child’s name is overdone. I don’t think it is snobbery at all. It’s a simple fact. I agree with Elizabeth – as a teacher, when you have four children in the same classroom with the same name it gets confusing for everyone. In the end you have to be happy with the name you choose for your child. HOpefully you will have put some thought into how that name will work for the child throughout their lives, and not just as an infant. It’s not an easy thing to name a child, but the fact is that some names are overdone and when your child’s happens to get on that list, well you just need to deal with it.

jespen Says:

January 8th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I have a 9 year old son named Aidan, and went to great lengths to find a unique, but not weird name. To my horror, the following year SATC cast their Aidan, and that was it. Check the top 100 boy names for 2000 and you wont even see it. I agree that people think they are being creative, but they’re are being the total opposite. Ladies, if half the people you know chose Aidan, WHY would you follow suit? Is it possible to be somewhat original?? I completely regret choosing that name. One good thing he has going for him is, all the other Aidan’s are 2-3 grades behind him. If I was expecting now, Aidan wouldn,t NEVER even be a consideration.

jespen Says:

January 9th, 2009 at 1:12 am

OOPS!! Make that WOULD never be a consideration=)

Becky Says:

January 9th, 2009 at 9:38 am

I named my son Owen after doing a lot of research and finding out how popular it was and at the time it was not a popular name so we went with it. He is a little warrior(the meaning behind the name) and no matter how overdone the name may become he will always be unique in his personality and likely the only one in his class. Today the name has increased in popularity and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My daughter is Hannah, named after my great grandma and thankfully her name has fallen off the popular list as it was already overdone, so for her she could likely be the only Hannah in her class as well. Now my biggest problem is the third one on its way, as my names have to sound good together with Owen and Hannah. I am having a really tough time this time round.

Bernadette Says:

January 10th, 2009 at 5:58 am

Just to add,I live in England where Caden is not in the top 100, although it is rising up the list fast.So in away it is fairly unique here. But where I live (SW London) it does seem popular.

Ashley Says:

February 9th, 2009 at 4:47 pm

My husband has a child named Jaden from a previous relationship, the mother refuses to let them have a relationship and its kind of pushed under the rug. I am now expecting a boy, I really love the name Aiden but since thier names would be so close together Im stuck on what I should do.

Nana Says:

March 27th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I hand a Dylan back in 1981 when there were none. Now every class has at least 2. Name your child what you like and don’t worry about everyone else.

CdnTaffy Says:

April 26th, 2009 at 12:14 am

My husband & I fell in love with the name Jethro. Jett for short. It sounded soulful to us and unique.

We struggled with this name, as nearing the birth of our son we shared this consideration….
The oldies, who were familiar with the old hillbilly show weren’t too keen on it. However, it stopped airing in 1972.

Likewise, for Brits, there is a comedian named Jeff Rowe, whose stage name is “Jethro”. Not sure what genre of humour he performs, but for some, it also conjures up negative associations for Brits familiar with him.

After contemplating what we should name our son for several days (after he was born), we decided to follow our hearts.

Any young person we have introduced our son to, unfamiliar with either the comedian or the old TV show, have loved the name (citing that it is unique without being outrageous).

That said….Whenever we introduce Jett to older people, we often cave and introduce him as Jett. With fellow younger generations (and younger than us) we introduce him as either Jett or Jethro.

Some names are more popular and some are less popular…but I don’t know why some people hate names. I, too, am a teacher, and while one might have some associations that cause a negative reaction, each child is unique and brings their own personality to the name.

There are so many names out there that I wouldn’t name my own child, but I don’t have any objection to for others to name their child. It would have to be pretty ridiculous for it to conjure up any harsh or strong emotions.

I prefer different names, but don’t hate anything in either extremes (that I can think of! haha).

Follow your heart when picking your child’s name. Teach/nurture your own child to be kind, empathic and confident human beings.
… Kind and empathic enough to be tolerant of others and confident enough to stand tall around those who are insulting! 🙂

Renni Says:

August 7th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I have a beautiful eight year old son named Talon and he is NOT a violent child. He’s extremely considerate of others’ feelings. I find it VERY OFFENSIVE that someone would consider this a “scary” name!!!

redriding Says:

August 21st, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Ooh dear. Just came across this post – I am quite new to Nameberry and so have a lot of catching up to do and reading old posts.

This correspondence just reminds me that naming is a very personal thing, you can listen to other people’s opinions but in the end it is down to you, you name your child and you stick with your decision. People on this site do have very strong views on names, and you have to be prepared to take some comments on the chin. I have a daughter called Heather – born 1994, aged 15 and a beautiful red-head. Her Dad is Scottish, and Heather has Scottish connotations, and I felt it was a pretty and innocuous name – then I read Pam and Linda’s book and discovered that in the USA it was WAY WAY OVERUSED in the 1970s and was now considered well past its sell by date. It does not have the same status here in Britain, but even so, I understand how it can be slightly upsetting to hear other people comment on a name you have put a lot of thought into for your child. Try not to take it personally and remember we all have different tastes and there is not just one “good taste” in the world.

Ailsa

linda Says:

August 21st, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Thanks, Ailsa, that’s exactly the way we feel!

Sparkle Says:

March 1st, 2011 at 11:29 am

@ Renni I’m sure your son is an amazing child. How Linda and Pam feel about his name doesn’t change a thing. In fact his name and his personality are two separate things. And I’m sure that what his parents thing about his name is the only thing that matters. 🙂

digressica Says:

June 30th, 2011 at 12:51 am

Great post. I’m obsessed with names and love trying to predict future naming trends. Just wanted to note something – the name Arianna probably also owes some (maybe even a lot) of its popularity in the last few years to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was published in July 2007 and introduced the character Ariana Dumbledore, who was Albus Dumbledore’s younger sister. Just a thought. The books are so popular and the timing is right…

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