The Baby Namers’ Alphabet


A was the most popular first initial for girls’ names in 2009, the last year for which there are official US statistics, and the most popular first letter overall, with one in eight babies getting a name that starts with A.


Boys’ names were led by J names, starting with the Number 1 Jacob.


C or K?  A lot of parents see these initials as interchangeable, with names from the classic (Cate or Kate) to the trendy (Kaylee or Caleigh) .  And of course, international variations of certain names may make the first initial C in some cases — Christopher, for instance — but K is others, as with the Dutch or German Kristof.


Kids with names that start with D do worse in school than those whose start with A, B, and C, according to one study.


Edward is one classic name that got new life thanks to Twilight.


F is the formerly frumpy first letter of three of the most fashionable new celebrity babies: Flynn (son of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr), Faith (daughter of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban), and Ford (son of Owen Wilson).


Girls’ names are getting, well, girlier, with all Top 5 names ending in the feminine a and six of the Top 10 having three or more syllables.


Need help choosing a name?  Check out the nameberry message boards, where the fabulous berries dispense excellent advice 24/7.


Isabella took over as the number one girls’ name in the U.S. last year.


Beyond Jennifer & Jason, our very first baby name book, morphed over time into Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana and, most recently, Beyond Ava & Aiden — though we considered calling it Beyond Jessica & Jacob.   Find out more on our books page.


K is a very 90s initial, inspiring such trendy favorites as Kyle, Kayla, Kinsey, and Keaton.


L picks up where K left off, with such newly popular names as Lily, Lila, Leila, Logan, and Lane.


Two of the most popular names of all time start with M: Mary, by far the most popular girls’ name until the 1950s, and Michael, which dominated the boys’ list for the last half of the 20th century.


Nia is a name that signals African-American pride, as one of the days of Kwanzaa.


Names that begin and end in O have taken off over the past few decades, a trend we like to think we had something to do with launching.  Stylish examples: Oscar, Olive, Theo, Marlo.


A letter that rated highly in the midcentury, with names like Patricia, Peter, Paul, and Pamela, but less fashionable of late.


Quinn is among the fastest rising girls’ names, thanks to TV’s Glee.


Ruby, name of the red birthstone for the month of July, is the Number 2 name in England and Wales as well as New Zealand and a Top 25 name throughout most of the rest of the English-speaking world, though not yet in the Top 100 in the U.S.


Steven trumps Stephen: More boys over time have gotten the new-fangled spelling in the U.S. than the more classic one.


Top twin names still tend to be matchy-matchy, with such pairs as Ella and Emma, Daniel and David, and even London and Paris ruling the popularity list.


U was the least popular letter for baby names in 2009.


Britain’s Queen Victoria also had a mother and a daughter named Victoria.  But her actual first name was Alexandrina.


William, future king of England, started a new fashion for his classic name when he was born in the early 80s, and transformed the favored short form from Billy to Will.


Xavier, an unlikely hottie, is now in the Top 100.


Yooneek spellings, such as Peighton to Krysteenah, are one of our pet peeves.  But parents can’t seem to stop inventing them.


Z automatically lends a zany, zippy quality to names, with choices from the biblical Zachary to the new-fangled Zadie appealing today.

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16 Responses to “The Baby Namers’ Alphabet”

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Carah Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 3:33 am

My family did the ABC naming thing. Aaron and Benjamin, then for the girls..Alyson, Bethany, Carah! My best friend did the same thing too! Adam and Bret for the boys and Ameri (short for America), Bethany, Charity, Dareka, and Elisabeth.

Abby Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 5:15 am

How fun!

I truly cannot imagine naming twins London and Paris. David and Daniel, okay. Maybe.

Lauren Kay Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 6:09 am

London and Paris. Give me strength. What’s next? Benson and Hedges?

Helena Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 9:26 am

Krystyna is actually the traditional spelling for Christina in Poland (and maybe other countries). Foreign names shouldn’t be considered “youneek.”

pam Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 9:37 am

You’re right, of course, Helena, though I certainly wasn’t trying to say that the foreign or international versions of names were yooneek. I wasn’t aware of this Polish spelling and changed the example.

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January 28th, 2011 at 10:35 am

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spotlightstarlit Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

It’s like the 12 Days of Christmas all over again!

I’m glad you chose Ava and Aiden over Jessica and Jacob, which lends itself to a more 90’s style IMO.

Macy Says:

January 28th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

As far as I’m aware, Quinn was amongst the fastest risers for boys, not girls…

Mariah Says:

January 30th, 2011 at 6:35 am

I REALLY REALLY hope my son Quinn’s name doesn’t become the next Leslie. The SSN list has shown the boys are solidly in the lead with this name for some time, so hopefully this Glee stuff will fade…

Macy Says:

January 30th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Indeed the boys are in the lead by quite a long way, in fact it reached a new high last year. But blogs and magazines keep flogging the “oh my god Quinn is doing so well for girls thanks to Glee” that people actually believe that and probably stopped naming their boys Quinn this year. Its upsetting and annoying.

Leslie is definitely a great example, considering overall more men were named Leslie than women over time, yet its not even considered usable for boys anymore. Its the whole “trendy” thing with girl names, a boy name can chart on the girls side all of a sudden and shoot up much faster than the boys, making a much bigger impact…

Pam Says:

January 31st, 2011 at 8:14 am

Quinn rose 30 places for girls and 22 places for boys, though in 2009 there were still three boy Quinns for every girl. I think what we’ll see in the 2010 stats is a much steeper rise for girls and the pure numbers, at least for newborn Quinns, becoming more evenly split by girls and boys. Quinn has a looooooong way to go to become the next Leslie and I don’t think it’s going there. But, like Rory or Jordan, it’s moving in the direction of being truly unisex vs. mostly male because of the Glee character.

Macy Says:

January 31st, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Rory is a long way from being unisex at this point.

I hope Glee fades away so that Quinn can remain climbing for boys

Leslie Owen Says:

May 9th, 2011 at 12:14 am

I have three sets of twins in my classes this year: Alexis and Alicia, Jamaika and Jameika, and Dyjaun and Dyjuan.

All I can say is “Wow.”

Grace Says:

July 13th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I am sorry, but I am totally against almost all (girl) K names. Kayla, Kaylee, Kylie…. They all sound trailer park to me. I mean no offence if this is your name (or a loved ones) but this is my honest opinion. I have met a person to fit almost every K name… They’ve never made me feel better about naming my kids Kiki, Karen, Kinsely or Kelly.

Brighton *Bree* Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I hate youneek names. For example, Haeleigh, Hailie, Hailee, Haileigh, they are just complicated. What happened to Hailey and Haley??

emilymaryjane Says:

January 22nd, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I know a Cendall Carter. Her mum thought it looked weirder Kendall Carter. Khloe and Kourtney look weird thanks Kardashians for starting the C to K trend

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