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

May 16, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

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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