Place Names for Babies: The hot spots


by Linda Rosenkrantz

Place names for babies are a movable feast. We’ve traveled from London and Paris and Brittany to towns in New Jersey like Trenton and Camden and on to New York’s Brooklyn and even a starbaby boy named Bronx.

And at the same time there are the names that have become so widely used that they’re no longer associated with any specific geographic locale—looking at you Charlotte and Carolina and Savannah, Dakota and Cheyenne.

But let’s take a look at what’s happening now on the baby-name map: which country and city names are moving fastest up the ranks?

Judging from the latest Social Security stats, here are the place names that attracting the most new visitors.



Holland—rose 113 places

Familiar, yet elegant and cool, Holland came into the limelight via actress Holland Taylor, and has been picked by several TV personalities for their daughters.

Samara—up 68 spots

Samara is the 6th largest city in Russia, along the Volga River, home to a museum of Russian art. A much more distinctive path to nickname Sam than Samantha, it’s worn by the Samara Cook character in Pretty Little Liars, who works for an LGBT Pride group.

Aspen—up 60

The name of both a delicate tree and a trendy Colorado ski resort, cool Aspen has now reached #269.

Siena—up 44

Despite the fame and popularity of Sienna Miller, more and more parents are using the traditional spelling of the exquisite old Tuscan city.

Vienna—up 33

The capital of Austria makes an elegant and sophisticated– and fresher– alternative to Sienna, with the popular V initial.

Egypt—up 29

Exotic Egypt was new to the popularity list in 2017 and appears to be on an upward trajectory.

Catalina—up 25

Santa Catalina was one of the two patron saints of Italy and Santa Catalina is one of California’s Channel Islands, known for its wildlife. Catalina Aruca was a Bolivian character on the sitcom My Name is Earl. The name now ranks at #235.



Harlem—up 199, new to the Top 1000

Move over BrooklynHarlem is the latest NYC neighborhood name, new to the Top 1000 this year. A name with a rich cultural history, it has been used by rapper ‘Game’ for his son.

Denver—up 145

The capital city of Colorado, named for politician James W. Denver, has been on and off the list since1887, jumping back in 2015 and rising 145 points last year, in part perhaps thanks to its stylish er ending.

Cairo—up 124

The girls have Egypt and the parents of boys have opted for its capital city name, bringing it into the Top 1000 in 2015. Site of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, Cairo has an evocative, exotic aura, brought down to earth by its energetic o-ending.

Memphis—up 114

This sultry Southern name—also with an Ancient Egypt history—is much more common for boys than girls and has been chosen as such for their sons by actress Jemima Kirke and singer Jason Aldean.

Brixton—up 110

Parents are probably more attracted to the sound of this name with its trendy middle X and on-ending, than to the image of the colorful working-class south London community of Brixton.

Zaire—up 90

The Republic of Zaire was the name of a sovereign state in Central Africa between 1971 and 1997, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The name Zaire comes from a term meaning ‘the river that swallows all rivers’. NBA star Dwyane Wade has sons named Zaire, Zion and Xavier.

Houstonup 51

Another name that has been on and off the lists since the 1880s, this cowboyish choice is riding upwards, joining longtime Texas faves Dallas and Austin.

Boston—up 20

This proper Bostonian had been unseen since 1901 when it suddenly reappeared in 2004, part of the renaissance of American city names. Back in 1980, Kurt Russell and Season Hubley used it for their son.

Kingston—up 17

When Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale looked to memories of their time in Jamaica for the name of their first son in 2006, it sent Kingston straight onto the popularity list, where it has been ever since. Starbaby power rules!

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

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