Are all the newborn babies you’ve recently met named Liam, or are you just bad at remembering the names of other people’s kids? The current trends in baby names are probably pretty different from when you were a tot, and can be hard to keep track of unless you’re in preschool.
I analyzed the Social Security Administration’s most recent data on popular baby names, perused the charts about name popularity over at BabyCenter, and consulted with trend expert Daniel Levine of the Avant-Guide Institute to put together this list of the trendiest baby names of 2017.
Names that end in an “uh” sound
Emma was the most popular name for baby girls born in 2016, and it’s not an anomaly. This name is evocative of a type of name that new parents are currently obsessed with: short, feminine names that end in “a.” Other top names of last year include Ava, Mia, Ella, Olivia, Sophia, and Aria. Newborns with these names are likely to encounter at least a few other similarly named friends throughout their childhoods, and probably a whole lot more whose names rhyme with their own. And while more complex names (hello, baby Kehlanis!) are starting to rise the popularity charts, these names aren’t exactly going out of style. Ava increased in popularity from number four to number three over the past year. Could it be headed for the top spot?
While names ending in the -uh sound are all the rage for baby girls, they haven’t reached quite the same level of ubiquity for baby boys. However, the name Noah fits spot-on with this trend and was the most popular boy’s name in 2016. Another version of this name, Noa, is also now on the rise for baby girls. It was number 728 for popularity in 2016, rising 37 spots from the year before.
Variations of Jack
Jack is an ageless name that’s a classic for many generations. According to Behind the Name, it was already very common in the Middle Ages. However, after a major dip in the ’80s, the name is on the rise once again. Nowadays, not only are there a lot of little ones who share the moniker, but there are tons of variations on the name that are very in, and new versions emerging all the time.
On the popularity charts in 2016, Jack was number 38 for boys, but don’t forget about related names for boys, including Jackson, Jacob, Jaxon, Jaxson, Jax, and Jake. For similar girl names, there are also options like Jacqueline and Jazlyn. These edgier versions nod toward the traditional name that appears in many fairy tales, while offering an original twist that separates these babies from the little boy who got into a ton of trouble with his famously tall bean stalk.
Virtual celebrity names
“Celebrities have always led the baby name trend. What is new is that we are now seeing babies named after ‘virtual’ celebrities: namely, characters from Disney films and video games,” said trend expert Daniel Levine. The name Annah, a rising version of the name Anna or Hannah, fits both of these “virtual” trends and was highlighted by Levine as an example.
The Disney influence is there, as Anna was the name of one of the sisters in Frozen. The name Elsa already had its peak moment in 2015 and is now on the decline, but the traditionally-spelled Anna is currently in the top 100 (at number 51 in 2016). The spelling of the name with the “h” at the end makes it more unique, and also matches the spelling of a video game character in Planescape: Torment.
Other names in this category that Levine highlighted include Kitana, like the Mortal Kombat character, Aqua, like the Justice League superhero Aquaman, Aeris, like Aeris Gainsborough from Final Fantasy, and Tyris, a protagonist of Sega’s Golden Axe.
Exotic flower names
“Kids these days,” said Levine, “are named after colors, exotic flowers, cities (of course). Remember back in the day when unusual baby names were related to fate and desire, like Hope, Destiny, Faith, Charity, Joy, and Grace?” If you’re looking for a trendy but earthy name for your tot, there are a number of interesting flower terms dominating the charts.
One of these on-the-rise exotic flower names is Amaryllis. Like many other names on the most popular list, the spelling of Amaryllis can be tricky because there are so many consonants stuffed in there. This name jumped more than 2,000 spots in popularity between 2016 and 2017.
The Amaryllis is a bright red flower, often associated with winter and the winter holidays, and it isn’t alone in its search for the top spot. Ivy — the dark green leafy climber plant — jumped 18 spots toward the top to number 112 between 2015 and 2016. Arabella — a small blue-violet flower — jumped nine spots to 187, while Annalise — the scientific name for the daffodil — rose to number 405.
Hipsters seem to be changing culture in all areas, as you can probably tell by looking at people’s facial hair as you walk down any street, so it’s no surprise that millennials are naming their babies after terms that go along with that world.
One such name that’s hugely popular right now is Mason. A mason is, historically, a worker who builds things with stone. You can’t get much more artisanal than that. The name has been around for hundreds of years (originally as a surname), but saw a major spike in 2011 and it’s been in the top ten names ever since. Let’s be real: the influence of the Mason jar cannot be ignored. Mason jars are those glass containers that are nowadays commonly used for drinking rosé or green smoothies and then posting a photo on Instagram. If you go to a hip farm-to-table restaurant, your water may be served in one. While many parents are probably reluctant to admit that they effectively named their baby after a jar, they’ve recently saturated the culture so much that they undoubtedly boosted this baby name trend.
Other hipster-related names that are in right now include Brooklyn, the hippest New York borough and a top-40 name for girls; Lennon, a rising Beatles-influenced name for boys; and Barley, a hearty grain that first registered as a name in 2012.
Social media influencer names
Like video game characters and Disney stars, social media influencers are also a modern pop culture force that influence baby name choices. Levine highlighted the name North as an example of a name that is trendy now but will stop being trendy soon. The reason for the current trendiness is obvious: North is the best cardinal direction. Oh, and it’s also the name Kim Kardashian West, who as of November 2017 has 104 million Instagram followers, chose for her daughter when she was born in 2013. At just four years old in 2017, North West has already become a celebrity and style icon in her own right. (Will North’s younger brother, Saint do the same thing to make religious names cool again? Only time will tell.)
Another trendy name with a social media connection is Kaia, which Levine points out is trendy now, but hasn’t been in the past. If you follow fashion, you may have heard of Kaia Gerber. The daughter — and lookalike — of Cindy Crawford is now a model in her own right, and has more than 2 million Instagram followers. The name was number 368 in popularity for baby girls in 2016 and rose 80 spots from the year before. According to BabyCenter, the name Kaia is of Greek origin and signifies “earth.” It can also be a boy’s name (as can, actually, anything!), though it’s currently less popular for that use.
In the past, “Z” names have been pretty uncommon. Can you think of anyone you know whose name starts with Z who isn’t a Zach or a Zooey? But for babies born now, Z names are all the rage, and in the future people will likely have a lot more acquaintances with the first initial Z. And there are a lot of newly popular Z names that didn’t make a splash for past generations.
Zaria is one example — it increased more than 50 spots in popularity from 2015 to 2016. Other top Z names of the moment, for both boys and girls, include Zayden (jumped eight spots to number 185), Zane (jumped 21 spots to number 211), Zion (jumped 15 spots to number 212), Zyaire (jumped 165 spots to number 883), Zaylee (jumped 177 spots to number 813), and Zara (jumped 84 spots to number 318). As you can see, many of these Z names also go along with the trends of complicated spellings and video game characters. Maybe the next letter to make a comeback in baby names will be X?
Another trendy option for the contemporary baby? A name connotative of the highest tax bracket. A number of luxury-inspired names are gaining popularity right now.
Bentley, like the British fancy car brand, was in the top 100 in 2016. Royal went up six spots for boys and 119 spots for girls. Aspen, the perfect spot for an expensive skiing vacation, went up 11 spots. And sunglass-reminiscent Oakley, a rising name for girls, went up 34 spots. These options are perfect picks for the parent who’s into yachts, fine cheeses, and buying jeans from Madewell.
Names from Greek mythology
You don’t have to summer in Santorini to give your baby a Greek-inspired name. Many of the popular monikers climbing the charts come from Greek myths. Apollo, son of Zeus (Z name alert!), rose 167 spots from 2015 to 2016. Adonis, notable ancient hottie, rose 307 spots — the fourth highest-rising boy’s name of the year. And Athena, war queen, rose 15 spots in 2016, landing in the top 200 for girls.
While it might be kind of awkward if you child doesn’t end up fitting with the mythology of their namesake — for example, people named Athena sound like they’d run a fast mile — these names are hip and classic at the same time.