Rising Girl Names: 9 likely to soar

Rising Girl Names: 9 likely to soar

By Abby Sandel

Head to a kindergarten classroom today, and you’re likely to hear girl names like Sophia and Emma, Isla and Mila, Harper and Quinn. It’s a mix of long-time favorites and newer discoveries. Some are unisex and modern. Others feel surprisingly traditional.

But how about the kindergarten class of 2026? Or maybe 2031? Which rising girl names seem likely to soar – or quietly climb – in the next five to ten years?

We can get some insight by looking at the names that have gained in use most dramatically.

Most of these names won’t make that list, though. Instead, a mix of on-trend sound and just enough pop culture presence might transform these nine girl names into popular choices to fill classrooms of the not-so-distant future.

Louisa – For years, we marveled that Louisa failed to make the US Top 1000. Literary, lovely Louisa substitutes for the often-heard Sophia and Amelia, and shortens to the sweet Lulu and Lou. Tailored Louise regularly ranked higher than Louisa, but today, just as Elena and Stella outrank Elaine and Estelle, Louisa seems like the better bet.

OpheliaOphelia returned to the US Top 1000 last year, and why not? Sound-wise, Ophelia brings to mind Olivia, a name that’s ranked in the US Top Ten for well over a decade and currently stands at Number 2. Likewise, both Olivia and Ophelia are borrowed from Shakespeare. The same is true for former Number One Jessica, as well as Adriana, Miranda, and Beatrice. There’s no telling how high this name might climb.

Liv – Another possibility boosted by the success of Olivia, Liv is spare and minimalist. It’s a sister for Mia or Zoe, the female equivalent of Gus and Max. It’s also meaningful, a Scandinavian name meaning life. Actress Liv Tyler makes the unusual name feel more familiar.

Ruth – Biblical Ruth makes for a straightforward, serious name – but Ruthie is just plain darling. The name last topped charts in the 1910s and 20s, but is showing signs of revival today. With names like Grace and Claire so popular, it’s easy to imagine Ruth fitting right in.

SloaneEver since Sloane Peterson took a day off with Ferris Bueller in the 1980s, the name Sloane has slowly gathered momentum. Just 29 girls received the name in 1986, the year the iconic movie debuted. Since then, Entourage gave us a character by the name, and it’s slowly gone mainstream. Could Sloane be the next Quinn?

Zuri – Gone are the days when parents stuck to Western names, Americanizing anything unfamiliar. Popular names now come from Sanskrit and Swahili as well as German and French. Zuri means beautiful in Swahili, and it also brings to mind the very popular Zoey. This name could catch on in a big way.

Luna – Never underestimate the potential of a great nature name, or a name that works well in Spanish and English. Luna is both, with all the cachet of a Harry Potter heroine, too. The name appeared on the fringes of the US Top 1000 around the year 1900; today, it’s just outside of the current Top 100 and poised to go higher still.

Everly – It’s easy to dismiss Everly as a fleeting trend. After all, the name has gone from unranked to just outside the US Top 100 in less than five years, the kind of rapid rise that sometimes signals a short-lived name. (Remember Miley and Brittney?) But I think Everly has more staying power. It’s an EvelynEmily mash-up, a successor to Avery, and perhaps even the new Mackenzie.

SaylorChristie Brinkley welcomed daughter Sailor way back in 1998, but I think it is Saylor-with-a-y that will go places. It brings to mind 1990s favorite Taylor, as well as current ends-in-r choices like Harper and Piper. In late 2015, two reality television personalities chose the name within weeks of each other. First came Kristin Cavallari’s Saylor, then Bristol Palin’s Sailor.

Those are my top picks. Which girl names do you think we’ll hear more of – much more! – in the next few years?