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How Not to Choose the Next Big Baby Name

How Not to Choose the Next Big Baby Name

It’s every adventurous baby namer’s worst nightmare: the cool, uncommon name you spent months carefully selecting is suddenly vaulting up the charts! 

We often hear this scenario from parents, dismayed that their offbeat choice of Nova or Theo – both of which ranked in the #800s just a decade ago – has turned out to be not quite so unique as they’d hoped.

So, how do you avoid choosing the top baby name of the future?

Crystal balls at the ready! Here are our five top tips for predicting the future popularity of your favorite names.

1. Check Nameberry Popularity

Nameberry has so many great tools for identifying names poised to rise in a big way. Nameberry's own lists of popular girl names and popular boy names are updated monthly and let you see the names attracting the most attention in (almost) real time.

Our latest tally of top girl names is headed up by sleek Irish beauty Maeve, which has seen an explosion of interest recently thanks to the hit Netflix show Sex Education.

Other top Nameberry names have been popular with our site visitors for a while, such as Arlo and Atticus for boys, and Freya and Ophelia for girls. Although all still rank outside of the Top 150 most popular baby names USA for now, these names are already starting to see big popularity gains in real life as well.

Hot off the press, here are Nameberry’s latest Top 10 names for girls and boys.

Even if your favorite name is absent from the list above, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet! Be sure to also check out our breakdown of the fastest-rising names on Nameberry

These are the names that have seen the biggest increase in views over the past year, indicating potential future rising stars – including those that are yet to hit the mainstream, but are definitely heading that way.

Some of the quirkiest choices on our latest fastest-rising list include elaborate ancient names like Aurelius and Andromeda, as well as cool O-enders from Cosmo to Echo.

See a selection of the most surprising rapid-rising names below.

And if you ever see the 🔥 emoji (like here on Caspian’s page), you know you’re onto something super hot! These names saw more than double the average increase in views over the past year.

You can search Nameberry’s hottest names alphabetically here.

2. Look Just Below the Surface

The official Top 1000 baby names list released by the SSA each year is useful for seeing which already well-used names are picking up in popularity, but that’s not where the data ends! The SSA actually releases a comprehensive tally of all names given to five or more babies in a given year.

If you don’t fancy trawling through the raw figures, never fear! We keep an up-to-date list of the next 1000 most popular names in the US, so you can check if your hidden gem is lurking just out of sight at #1001. 

Under-the-radar options to watch include spunky nicknames like Birdie and Billie for girls, and cool surname-meets-nature names like Hollis and Beck for boys.

Here are the next Top 10 names for each sex based on the latest official data, or click through below to view the full 1000.

3. Compare International Rankings (Especially UK)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the popular British names data can offer a sneak peek at names likely to catch on in the US as well.

ArthurOscarIsla and Ivy – all on the rise in the US – are currently in the Top 10 for England and Wales. And there are many other rising stars to be found just a little further down the list, like CharlieTheoFreya and Phoebe – all Top 25 picks across the pond.

If you prefer a visual representation of baby name trends, be sure to check out this excellent tool, which shows the year-on-year popularity change for any name used three or more times in England and Wales since 1996.

Of course, other international popular names lists are useful too! European charts in particular can give an interesting insight into potential crossover candidates. Rare gems like Alba (#11 in Spain) and Romy (#14 in France) feel like they have serious potential to rise rapidly in the US as well, despite ranking below the current Top 1000.

4. Wise Up on Current Trends

Most rising names are rising for a reason. And unless that reason is a popular TV series or high-profile celebrity birth (more on that later), it’s usually to do with sound and style.

As each new year approaches, we sum up the Top 10 baby name trends we think will most influence parents over the coming twelve months. Check out our latest predictions for baby name trends and proceed with caution if your favorite name ticks one (or more) of these boxes!

Name constellations are also well worth bearing in mind. These are groupings of names which share a popular central sound: think the lilting “La-La” girl names like Lily, Lila, Layla and Lola, or the hugely popular -ayden group of boy names spawned by early 2000s superstar Aiden

No matter how statistically uncommon a name like Lilla or Raeden may be – and both were given to fewer than 20 babies in the US last year – they’re going to feel a lot more popular than the stats suggest.

If your goal is a baby name that truly stands out from the crowd, avoiding trending categories of names, both in terms of sound and style, is a smart move.

5. Know Your Pop Culture

This one is the trickiest to predict – after all, we all know an Elsa born the year before Frozen came out, or an Archie named just before Meghan and Harry welcomed their son. TV, film, literature, music and celebrity babies can all have a big influence on a name’s future popularity, so it’s worthwhile doing your research.

We recently highlighted Bridgerton baby names as a trending category to watch for the future, and pop culture phenomena from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones to the Marvel franchise have already had a huge impact on what American parents are naming their babies. But who knows what the next big craze will be?

You can find famous bearers, including recent celebrity babies and fictional characters, at the bottom all of our name pages (see Flynn for an example). We also keep an up-to-date tally of the most notable celebrity baby names, dating back over a decade, to help you navigate this tricky terrain.

This post is adapted from a newsletter shared with our email subscribers back in April. Take a sneak peek at past editions and sign up for exclusive Nameberry content here!

About the Author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse 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 four young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.