Top Baby Name Influencers 2020
Celebrities have the power to influence almost anything they touch, including baby names.
But when it comes to influential names, there’s a formula for success. Whether the name is that of a celebrity or their child, it needs to be connected to someone who’s highly visible in the media and hit the right style notes of the moment. If either one of those factors is missing, the name is unlikely to be influential.
Think of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s daughter Chicago. Despite an endorsement from one of the most notable celebrity couples of our time, the name failed to become a hit because its sound and style didn’t resonate with mainstream American parents. On the other hand, Saint made a huge splash. With Saint, Kim and Kanye uncovered a name that was rare but on-trend in more ways than one. The combination of the right name and right celebrities is what bolstered Saint’s ascent into the Top 1000.
So which stars and starbabies have the strongest effect on baby names today? We analyzed the data to find the most influential celebrities and starbabies on American baby names, below.
Top Celebrity Name Influencers
Celebrities are often responsible for introducing unusual names into the mainstream. In fact, we have stars to thank for the debut of a number of names that are now long-established, such as Lauren (Bacall), Tyrone (Power), and Ingrid (Bergman).
Here, the top eight celebrities influencing the use of their names right now:
Billie: Young musical sensation Billie Eilish has people looking at her retro nickname name with fresh eyes. Despite being over 96% female, Billie feels like an androgynous choice, which many parents are privileging these days. Billie could easily break the Top 1000 in 2020.
Bristol: Bristol Palin stepped into the limelight in 2008, when her mother was announced as John McCain’s running mate in the presidential election. Her name went from 65 uses in 2008 to over 400 the following year, placing it at Number 666 on the charts. Bristol had another significant jump between 2018 and 2019, perhaps due to increased press coverage of Palin surrounding her divorce.
Dax: Parenthood actor Dax Shepard was born during the first height of Daxes — the 1970s — but plays a role in the name’s success today. At Number 410, Dax is more popular than ever, and it’s even spawned elaborations such as Daxton and Daxon.
Ermias: Rapper Nipsey Hussle was tragically murdered in early 2019, and his death inspired hundreds of parents to adopt his given name, Ermias, for their sons. According to official government sources, Ermias was the second-fastest rising baby name overall for the year, going from Number 5842 to Number 540.
Idris: Idris Elba has become a household name, and now his formerly unknown Arabic name is making its way onto American birth certificates. With a combination of a handsome actor and a handsome name, it was bound to happen. Idris is currently ranked at Number 850 and rising.
Keanu: Keanu was introduced to the mainland by actor Keanu Reeves. His name first appeared in the Top 1000 in 1994, the year his film Speed premiered, and peaked again in 2001 following the success of The Matrix. Now that Hawaiian names are hotter than ever, Keanu will likely be a mainstay for years to come.
Saoirse: As Saoirse Ronan rose to stardom in the 2010s, American parents learned how to pronounce her Gaelic name (SIR-sha or SEER-sha — Ronan uses the former). This now-familiar choice was given to over 300 baby girls last year and was one of the fastest rising names of 2016.
Zendaya: Mononymous actress Zendaya singlehandedly carried her name into the Top 1000, first from 2014-2017, and now again in 2019. Her recent success with Euphoria and achievement as the youngest ever Emmy winner will only inspire more parents to use her distinctive Shona name.
Celebrity baby names often have a stronger effect on the popularity charts than the names of celebrities themselves. Starbaby names are more likely to be in line with current trends — half of the ever-important influence formula.
Below are the top eight starbaby names currently influencing American parents. We could have included more Kardashian baby names, but we limited ourselves to three.
Adonis: Although he was born in 2017, Drake didn’t reveal he had a son named Adonis until June of 2018. The next year, Adonis rose over 100 spots on the popularity charts, placing it among the Top 250 boy names.
Archie: Archie Harrison, son of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, has now become the strongest association with his name, putting it back on parents’ lists for the first time in decades. It was previously avoided due to ties with Archie Bunker and Archie of the comics and Riverdale fame. In 2019, Archie was among the top ten fastest rising names for boys, proving there’s no better endorsement than a royal baby.
Banks: Hilary Duff introduced Banks to the baby name pool in 2018 when she welcomed her daughter Banks Violet Blair. Despite using it as a girl name, Banks turned out to be a big hit for boys. It entered the Top 1000 the following year.
Crew: Crew was an unexpected choice for the name of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ fifth child, considering they had previously stuck to a pattern of E names for girls and D names for boys. But Americans fell in love with Crew all the same, and many parents have since used the name for their own sons — it more than doubled in popularity from 2018-2019.
Dream: The vast majority of Kardashian baby names have become instant sensations (with the exception of Chicago — sorry, Chi!). Dream has been on the ascent since the birth of Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian’s daughter Dream Renée in 2016 and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Luna: Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s adorable daughter Luna Simone increased the visibility of her name and has attracted many parents to use this once-obscure moonstruck choice. Luna was one of the hottest names of the 2010s and could easily be a Top 10 name in the 2020s.
Saint: Saint was destined to be a success, not only because uber-influential celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose it for their son in 2015, but because it fit in with some of the rising trends at the time. Short, exalted word names — including Reign, another name popularized by a Kardashian — are now extremely hip, thanks in no small part to stars like Kim and Kanye.
Stormi: Stormi, on the other hand, was not guaranteed to be a hit like her cousins Dream, True, Saint, and Reign. It was especially surprising that Kylie Jenner chose it for the name of her daughter in 2018, given that another Stormy (Daniels) had been the subject of controversial media coverage that year. And yet, Stormi almost doubled in popularity between 2018 and 2019. Stormie and Stormy also increased in use, albeit less dramatically.
These celebrity babies were born too recently to know if they will have any impact on current baby names, but we expect them to be among the biggest influencers of 2020 and beyond.
Dove: Teddi Mellencamp, a onetime celebrity baby herself, chose the name Dove for her daughter born in February of this year. But the larger influence will come from Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, who used it as a middle name for their baby girl Daisy in August.
Kaori: Names that end in I are one of the biggest trends of the coming decade, and Kevin and Eniko Hart got in ahead of the curve with their daughter’s name, Kaori. Now that they’ve drawn attention to this beautiful Japanese name, be prepared to see it on future Kindergarten rosters.
Lyra: Lyra, already a hit in the UK, has seen a very slow rise in the US, where it currently ranks at Number 673. But now that Ed Sheeran chose it for his daughter, Lyra is going to pop. However, her middle name, Antarctica, is likely to stay rare.
Onyx: Onyx is undeniably cool, and the recent endorsement by rapper Iggy Azalea (birth name Amethyst) only makes is cooler. Onyx is already among the fastest-rising names, but this boost could soon propel it into the Top 500.
Willa: Trendsetting celebrity couple Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas chose gentle, feminine Willa for their daughter born in July. Almost any name would have benefitted from their seal of approval, but Willa, which is familiar yet not particularly popular, is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years.
Which celebrity and starbaby names are the most influential in your community?
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