New Baby Names: Debuts on the pop list, from Aleph to Zephyrus

Over 1500 new baby names joined the Social Security extended list this year, 641 boys’ names and 896 names for girls.  Nephele, one of the original Berries, tallied all the new baby names for us from the complete list of names given to five or more children in the U.S. in 2011.

Are there any gems in the bunch?  A couple, which we will highlight for you in a moment.  For the most part, though, the new baby names are either kreeatif spellings of old names – Cathrynn and Zakarri – or inventions such as Dhyey and Blessn unlikely to inspire many imitators.

Still, the names below are notable for a variety of reasons, though they’re not all recommended:


ACE – We’ve been hearing more boys named Ace, but think it’s a cute nickname-name for a girl.

ANSON – If you’re on board with the EmersonJensen style names for girls, Anson is one that might honor an ancestral Ann.

ARLINGTON – Of all the fresh place name possibilities, this one is particularly attractive.

AVALIESE – Attention-worthy as one of the new smoosh names that have vaulted onto the extended list.  Other examples: Hannabelle and Jessabelle for girls, Alexavior for boys.

BEREN – This Lord of the Rings surname-name that Tolkien himself identified with was originally male but might work for a girl.

BRIGHT – Several inspirational names are among the group, including Brilliant.  And also, sadly, Dim.

HERONOne of the bird names new to the lexicon, along with Sparrow and Finch for boys.

HUXLEY – The –ley ending is pandemic, though we like Huxley.  Much better than the treacly Heartley, another newcomer.

KERALA – Kerala, one of the most beautiful and touristed states of India, is a new place name turned baby name.

LOTTI Though a spelling variation, we like Lotti or Lottie, short of Charlotte, so much we couldn’t resist including it.

NEBULA – A spacey name gaining notice as a first.

PACEA simple, energetic word name.

PLUMThe biggest winner in the group, though amazing to us that this is the first year it’s been used for at least five girls.  The French version, Prune, is très chic in Paris.

ROONEYGirl with the Dragon Tattoo Rooney Mara is undoubtedly the inspiration behind this one, but such other attractive surnames as Rigby and Seely also made the girls’ name list for the first time.

TRUEWe’ve been hearing a lot of True as a middle name, but it’s also a new entry on the extended list as a first name for both girls and boys.

XOPHIA – Looking for a way to make Number 1 Sophia more distinctive?  Xophia may do it.  


ALEPHThis name of a Hebrew letter enters the lexicon thanks to its choice by Natalie Portman for her son.

ARCADIUS – Ancient Roman names are hot, and this undiscovered choice is prime for revival, though the original Arcadius was a weak ruler.  The Greek Arcadia was a heavenly place.

BRAVERYA modern virtue name, and one of the few fit for boys.

EAMESThis hero name honors the creators of the Eames chair.  Another artistic hero name new to the list: Rembrandt.

ENDERSON – Anderson is one of this year’s hot names, and Enderson is an attempt to give it a new twist.

EZEKIAS – Ezekias is the Greek version of Hezekiah, the Old Testament king who abolished idolatry.  A worthy namesake and a fresh classic.

FIELDERWe nominate this sporty occupational name as the winner on the boys’ side of new names.

HEATHCLIFFDark hero name made fit for contemporary life by nicknames Heath or Cliff; it was Heath Ledger’s full name.

JOHNLUCAS – A particularly winning combo name, of which there are many examples on the girls’ side of the newcomers’ roster, from Zoegrace to Ellamaria.

KENSEN – Honoring grandpa Kenneth or want to make Jensen a little bit different?  Then newbie Kensen might be your man.

LOCHLochlan in all its variations is popular in Australia, Scotland, and most English-speaking places outside the U.S., and short form Loch is strong and unusual.

PRINCEWILLIAM – Britain’s crown prince inspired a rise in the name William, but some parents are taking no chances on people missing the royal connection.

TRACKMany of the Palin’s names, from Willow to Piper to Bristol to Palin itself, have risen over the past few years, but the word name of oldest son Track has just made the list for the first time.

VALENCIOAttractive male spin on the Spanish place name.

WHELAN – No, it’s not Waylon, as in outlaw singer Jennings, or even wailin’, as in singing the blues, but Whelan is an Irish surname that means wolf.

ZANTHONY – Want to jazz up a traditional name?  Some parents’ method: Add a Z to the beginning, as in Zanthony and Zavid.

ZEPHYRUSThis name of the Greek God of the West Wind could continue to rise by association with fashionable sister name Seraphine.

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29 Responses to “New Baby Names: Debuts on the pop list, from Aleph to Zephyrus”

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Alexandra.Iseult Says:

May 16th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I’m also surprised Plum hasn’t made this list before. I love this name, and the Japanese shortened version Ume
I like Xophia-ish, but I prefer Xophie, I think with the accent on the Xo, it would make for cute nicknames.
Avaliese is interesting, I think I like it

Nebula? seriously? I love cosmology, but even i wouldn’t go that far, I’d sooner chose Neptune, Ceres, Andromeda, or any mythology name associated with a celestial body, such as Xanthe. Xanthe is quite cool, I’d use the name Xanthe Plum 🙂

Poppy528 Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 12:16 am

I love Nebula! ♥ Wasn’t that Topanga’s sis? Nebie is a cute nickname too!

Hannah-Banana Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 1:41 am

I had a sib set in a book that was called Nova and Nebula! lol.

But… Princewilliam? Seriously?…

moxielove Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 1:54 am

I’m generally not a fan of occupation names, but I am totally loving Fielder! Probably b/c I’m a huge baseball fan. But there are also nice nature undertones.

Avaliese is lovely.

And Bright is absolutely inspired! Finally a “virtue” name I can fully embrace – it’s spunky (think sprite) and sunny (naturally) and cute and strong all in one. This may replace Lux as a middle name for a future daughter…..

Rin Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 2:25 am

I love Heath, its vying for the number one position on my list of top 10 boys names 🙂

Noetje Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 4:21 am

As a Tolkien fan I’m happy Beren made it to a list… but a girls list??? But I suppose if Maxwell can be used for a girl, why not..

SugarPlumFairy Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 4:23 am

Where can you find the full list?

pam Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 5:44 am

You can download the full list for ALL years — it’s the National Data link here:

Nephele ran an excel program that isolated the 1500 names new to this extended list, which is massive. Have fun!

R_J Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 6:21 am

I usually don’t like smoosh names, but boy- Avaliese is pretty.

aunt_ning Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 6:59 am

Don’t credit the rise in Rooney entirely from Rooney Mara, here in Pittsburgh, I know quite a few Rooney’s that are named the same way she was, for her grandparents! Rooneys are a big reason there is a Steeler Nation and around here people respect that!

lolly1019 Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 7:46 am

Variations of both of my boys names are on the list! 🙂 Glad to see Heathcliff on the list.

notsoclevername Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 8:15 am

Princewilliam seems too similar to Jermajesty IMHO.

KEDD Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 8:30 am

hmmm I’m not into most of these names but I really like Avaliese! I also quite like Rooney which surprises me.

I also think Loch would be very cool for a boy! And Arcadius too!! 🙂

GoodHope Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 8:41 am

Wow, I really like Fielder. Bright and Eames are cute, too.

Arlington, unfortunately, reminds me too much of Arlington National Cemetary…and Heathcliff is as much lasagna-loving fat cat as it is dark hero, at least to me. I can’t warm up to either one.

Sarabi Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 10:17 am

Plum alone is darling but one step to close to Plump, which I believe will be unavoidable for the kids on the playground. Poor girls.

Scrambledmegs Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 10:18 am

Great collection of unique names!

I love Heron for a girl, but definitely like Pace better for a boy. Probably because I’m from the Dawson’s Creek era. I was just recently sharing my love for nn Beren for full name Berenike and had no idea there was a Tolkien connection. I’m also not a LOTR fan. I feel that the name is similar to one of my current loves, Beryl.

For boys names I love Bravery and Whelan, the surname Wolf is a family name I’d love to honor in some way. Although I prefer plain Zephyr to Zephyrus, but to each their own 🙂

kalikeli Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 11:03 am

I love Pace – it was on my list for my son born last summer. It has two pronunciations – pace like set the pace, and PAH-chey as in the Latin word for peace (which is my preferred meaning/pronunciation). But I figured he’d just be called Pace by most people, and I was ok w/it but my husband nixed it.

roseate6 Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 11:10 am

@Goodhope: That’s Garfield. 😉 I think Heathcliff lived in a garbage dump or something.

ksheja Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 11:40 am

ACE – I only like as a nickname, and only on a boy..

ANSON – I like this on a boy.

ARLINGTON – I think it’s a little too much, and don’t like on a girl at all. Would make a good middle name.
AVALIESE I like Anneliese, which I pronounce Ah-nuh-lee-za. But Ava isn’t German, so it looks a bit strange to me. I’d like Avalisa better.

BEREN – I guess it could be either a boy or a girl.

BRIGHT –don’t like as a name

Dim – ???

HERON – not too bad.

HUXLEY – only like on a boy.

Heartley – ugh.

KERALA – I wonder if this is a deliberate use of the place as a name or a coincidence. I knew a girl from there. I’m sure she would have a good laugh over it being used as a name. I also wonder how the people using this as a name pronounce it.

LOTTI – kind of cute.

NEBULA – nebulous. Not a great idea.

PACE – better on a boy.

PLUM – maybe as a middle name. I can’t see introducing myself as Plum.

ROONEY – not bad.

TRUE –nms at all.

XOPHIA – interesting.


ALEPH – I kind of like this.

ARCADIUS –I like it. Good choice for adventurous parents.

BRAVERY – no way. Hi, my name’s Bravery. Un-uh.

EAMES – not too bad.

ENDERSON – I’d just as soon go with Anderson. I like that.

EZEKIAS – not for me, but not bad. You could call him Zeke.

FIELDER – hmm. maybe.

HEATHCLIFF – very literary, but nms.

JOHNLUCAS – I like this.

KENSEN – I can ses this catching on and becoming popular.

LOCH – this could work.

PRINCEWILLIAM – ummm.. just no.

TRACK – too much of a word name for me.

VALENCIO – maybe.

WHELAN – hmm. Sounds too much like wailin’.

ZANTHONY – not for me.

ZEPHYRUS –very interesting. Another one for the adventurous.

katybug Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I know a baby Cliff! I wonder if his full name is Heathcliff. I balked at the name at first, but he’s such a cute little one, I love it now.

I really like Fielder, it’s my new favorite occupational name. Ezekias, Loch, and Arcadius are appealing too. I’m having a hard time getting on board with any of the girls’ names.

Poppy528 Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

How is AVALIESE pronounced? Anyone?

ksheja Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Good question…
I pronounce Anneliese as Ah-nuh-lee-zuh, but from reading posts on this board, it seems some people pronounce it anna-lees. So maybe Avaliese is ay-va-lees. But i would say Ay-vuh-lee-zuh.

I guess it’s because I once studied German. Liese is lee-zuh. The e is not silent. If I wanted to say this name as Ayva-lees I’d spell it Avalise. If I wanted Ayva-leesa I’d spell it Avalisa.

encore Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Princewilliam, now that’s a new one

miloowen Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Yuk. Enough said.

RachelShay Says:

May 17th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

The SSA doesn’t acknowledge punctuation in names. Johnlucas is more likely John-Lucas, Princewilliam is probably Prince-William, Zoegrace is Zoe-Grace, etc.

Would have thought the Baby Name Experts would have known that.

Finuneby Says:

May 18th, 2012 at 2:01 am

I know of a baby boy born last year names Eames and thought it was a great choice considering his parents are architects. I also know a Kenson (prefer that spelling) but he is in his 30s and yes, was named after his father Ken.

I LOVE Annelise and really think Avaliese is a nice alternative!

LyndsayJenness Says:

May 18th, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Princewilliam is so bad. So. Bad.

Welcome Back!: Names back on the Top 1000 – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

July 18th, 2012 at 11:31 pm

[…] clarify, these are not names new to the Top 1000 that have never been there before: We highlighted those absolute newbies, assembled by Nameberry’s longtime friend Nephele, in a post a few months […]

Mara_lyn86 Says:

August 3rd, 2012 at 11:54 am

For girls I only like Rooney, Plum, Lotti and Kerala and even still I don’t really like those that much. Ace, Arlington, Huxley on little girls?

And why would anyone want to name their child Heathcliff? He was a horrible, mean person that acted selfish and ruined Wuthering Heights for me. Even Heath Ledger can’t save the name for me.

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