The Decade’s Hottest Baby Name Trends
At Nameberry, we use a combination of data and cultural information to identify current baby name trends and predict future ones. So for our 10th anniversary, we undertook the massive project of comparing how many babies in the US were given which names 10 years ago compared with today. Then we calculated which names had increase the most in usage, and from there extrapolated the five major naming trends of the decade.
All of these trends can be grouped under one massive overarching trend that defines the decade: the rise of baby names drawn from ideas, places, animals, occupations objects — pretty much anything EXCEPT babies.
Names that originated as cities (Brooklyn), colors (Hazel), flowers (Lily), gems (Ruby), seasons (Autumn), musical forms (Aria), and atmospheric phenomena (Aurora), have all risen into the Top 100 for girls over the past decade. The boys’ side is tamer, but Mason, an occupational name, is Number 7, and the rising popularity of names such as Hudson, Maverick, River and Remington also speaks to a desire to move beyond traditional names.
Here, the five hottest baby naming trends of the decade and the hottest names that exemplify each trend.
One of the hottest categories of this megatrend is Nature Names, which relate to growing environmental consciousness and a desire to pick names that transcend traditional gender roles. The numerical notations — 12 times, for instance — refer to how many times more often the name is given now than it was a decade ago.
10 Hottest Nature Names
Sparrow — 18 times more popular now than 10 years ago
Nova — 18 times
Juniper – 12 times
Delta – 11 times
Marigold — 11 times
Cove — 11 times
Hawk — 9 times
Wilder — 8 times
Arbor — 8 times
Fern — 8 times
Over the past decade, parents have shifted away from tried and true place names like Madison and Dakota and toward less likely locales, such as Cairo, the Bronx and the Caspian Sea. The name of any continent, country, city, neighborhood, mountain range, body of water, fort (we’re looking at you, Knox), or Ivy League College is up for grabs as a baby name.
10 Hottest Place Names
Bronx — 26 times
Knox – 26 times
Caspian — 15 times
Kyngston — 13 times
Lenox — 12 times
Kairo – 11 times
Oakland – 11 times
Bristol — 11 times
Princeton — 8 times
One of the biggest name stories of the decade was a judge ruling in Tennessee that a baby boy could not be named Messiah because “there’s only one.” That ruling was overturned, and in fact, ultimate God Name Messiah was given to nearly 2000 baby boys last year, four times as many as received the name a decade ago.
But that’s not enough of an increase to elevate Messiah to our list of 10 Hottest God Names. While more babies in sheer numbers may be named Messiah, the names of gods of Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology register the biggest increases in use over the past decade, as detailed below.
But not every divine name has flourished: Angel and Jesus both fell over 50 percent in the last decade.
10 Hottest God Names
Atlas — 30 times: In Greek mythology, the Titan who literally held the world on his shoulders
Mars — 10 times: Roman god of war, called Ares by the Greeks
Artemis – 9 times: Greek goddess of the hunt, the moon and virginity, called Diana by the Romans
Freya — 9 times: Norse goddess of love and war
Thea — 8 times: A variant of Theia, the Titan goddess of all that shines
Calliope – 7 times: Greek muse of poetry
Ariadne — 6 times: A Cretan princess and goddess best known for helping Theseus kill the terrifying Minotaur
Seraphina — 6 times: a lofty rank of Angel in Christian and Jewish theology
Ares — 5 times; Greek god of war whose name is used for the first astrological sign
Apollo — 5 times; The Greek god of the sun also rules music, art, poetry, and medicine
Another hot area, driven in part by celebrity baby name trends and perhaps related to the popularity of Game of Thrones, has been word names related to royalty, including Royalty itself, the hottest of the group. In 2007, a mere 11 girls were named Royalty. In 2017, 747 were – along with 43 boys.
The taste for royal names may also be inspired by this decade’s new generation of royal babies, but while George and Charlotte now have plenty of little namesakes, their sedate names are hardly the stuff of explosive trends. Plus, someone named George or Charlotte could be anything, while you can’t have any doubts about the royal image of a child named King.
10 Hottest Royal Names
Royalty — 71 times more popular
Kyng — 17 times
Knight — 9 times
Kaizer — 8 times
Majesty — 8 times
King — 7 times
Reign — 7 times
Pharaoh — 7 times
Royal — 7 times
Duke — 4 times
MODERN VIRTUE NAMES
You can think of Virtue Names as the first American crazy names, with the Puritans naming their children Patience, Silence, and Job-Raked-Out-of-the-Ashes (for real). A handful of these names, like Patience and Hope and Mercy, have not only survived but opened the door for a new generation of names that celebrate modern virtues. Silence, meet Savvy.
Modern Virtue Names like Loyalty might not feel that different from names like Royalty. But Royalty bespeaks a high-born position your child inherits, while Loyalty is a virtue you attach to your child’s personal brand, much like the earliest Virtue Names were meant to inspire exemplary behavior and warn against sin.
A lot to live up to? Maybe. But in this era of nursery schools that groom two-year-olds for Harvard and online rating systems for everything from Uber Drivers to, well, baby names, it might make sense to choose a name that gives your child a head start on greatness.
10 Hottest Modern Virtue Names
Loyalty – 29 times
Valor — 20 times
Legacy — 13 times
Legend — 13 times
Major – 10 times
Maverick — 9 times
Saint – 7 times
Savvy – 7 times
Rogue – 7 times
Leviathan – 6 times
Tomorrow, a look at the major name trends that defined each year of the decade.