We head into 2018 following a year of surprises: The rise of powerful women after the fall of the first female presidential candidate, unexpected heroes (and villains) on the world as well as the theatrical stage, a new emphasis on truth as well as strength.
For Nameberry’s 2018 baby name trends, that means it’s time to get serious. In the year ahead, we predict a stronger taste for heroic names for both daughters and sons, increased flexibility in using names to equalize the genders, and a more adventurous search for names that have deep roots but feel fresh in the modern world.
Biggest big-picture trend: Strong female names
This may not have been the year the US got its first woman President, but 2017 started with the Women’s Marches, summered with Wonder Woman, and ended with the mostly-female whistle-blowers bringing down titans of entertainment, business, and politics.
That propels us into 2018 with an emphasis on powerful women and strong female names, a theme that can’t help but influence parents naming daughters in the future. A handful of studies have identified the names most likely to get into top colleges, which include serious girls’ names finding new appeal with baby namers, including Eleanor, Margaret, and Ruth.
Other winners are names that mean intelligence or wisdom, such as Sophia and Pallas, names that mean strength such as Matilda and Bridget, and especially names of heroines and goddesses, such as Freya, Luna, Arya, and yes, let’s even go all the way to Sojourner.
Most American trend: Presidential names
There are no baby Trumps OR Obamas yet, but with so much focus on America’s chief executive, we believe Presidential names will only get hotter for both girls and boys. Kennedy, Madison, Reagan, and Taylor are already popular for girls, while Carter, Jackson, and Tyler rank for boys.
But other Presidential surname-names set to rise include: Clinton, Ford, Grant, Harrison, Hayes, Jefferson, Lincoln, McKinley, Monroe, Pierce, Truman, and Wilson. We also can see these distinctive Presidential first or middle names becoming more popular: Quincy, Abraham, Franklin, Ulysses, Chester, Grover, Theodore, Woodrow, Calvin, Ike, and maybe even Barack, though definitely not Donald.
Most progressive trend: Fashion-forward names for boys
When we calculated Nameberry’s Most Popular Names of 2017, we discovered something really new and interesting: The top boys’ names were impacted much more by fashion shifts than girls’ names. That’s a turnaround from basically forever, when boys’ names tended to be more conservative and move more slowly up and down the popularity ladder because so many boys were given family names to cement lineage and inheritance.
Now, we foresee boys’ names being chosen for the same style considerations as girls’ names, with such fashionable choices as Atticus, Jasper, and Wyatt among the Nameberry top 10 and parents favoring names like Jackson over John, Milo over Michael.
Consonant of the moment: S
S is the unusual case whereby the fashion for using the letter at the end of names has inspired a growing taste for names that begin with S. Shining even more brightly next year will be Snow, Story, Sunday, Sage, Sasha, Sayer, Soren, Stellan, and Saskia, along with s-enders that go far beyond Lucas and Alexis.
Many of the sweetest s-ending names are for boys derive from ancient Roman clan names: Amias, Augustus, Aurelius, Cassius, Justus, Lazarus, Linus, Ozias, and Rufus. But we also love the Hebrew Amos, the English Brooks, and the Aramaic Thaddeus. The girls’ side is slighter, but look for such s-ending girls’ names as Anais, Frances, Iris, Venus, and even the biblical Lois.
Name endings most likely to switch genders: -er and –i
Back in the olden days, before we were woke, names that ended in i were for girls and names that ended in er were for boys. But those two constructs are starting to skip gender lines. Many of the hottest girls' names borrow the boys' workmanlike -er ending: from the popular Harper and Skyler to newcomers Aster, Ember, Juniper, and Sailer. For boys, Eli and Levi are opening the door for Ari, Omari, and Rafi.
Name origin ripe for discovery: Welsh
Maybe because we've grown so fond of those Game of Thrones dragons, the next best undiscovered source for names is Wales, whose symbol is the dragon. Although part of the United Kingdom, the Welsh language shares status with English as the nation’s official language, and many Welsh names thrive in that country and are prime for export.
Perhaps the best-known are the –wen ending names: Anwen, Bronwen, Rhonwen, Gwen, and Owen. But other hot Welsh choices are Bryn, Carys, Eilonwy, Eira, Eluned, Seren, and Wynn for girls; Emrys, Gower, Idris, Lloyd, and Vaughn for boys.
Trendiest trend-related trend: Superhero names
Superheroes dominate the multiplex and their names are taking over the world. A prime example is Kylo, the antihero of the Star Wars movies and the fastest-rising boys’ name according to Social Security statistics.
Other superhero names taking flight are, for girls, Aurora (X-Men), Darcy (Black Scorpion), Grey (X-Men), Harley (Suicide Squad), Ivy (Poison Ivy), Jubilee (X-Men), May (Spider Man), Pepper (Iron Man), Remy (X-Men), and Rey (Star Wars).
For boys, superhero-influenced names on the rise include Bishop (X-Men), Cain (Batgirl), Captain (Captain America), Everett (Captain America), Falcon (Captain America), Logan (Wolverine), Odin (Thor), Rhodes (Iron Man), Rocket (Guardians of the Galaxy), Thor (Thor), Wade (Deadpool), and Walker (Black Scorpion).
Newest vintage trend: Boyish nicknames for girls
Unisex names weren’t invented in the 21st century, or even the 20th. The 1890s saw a craze for boyish nickname-names for girls, often ending in ie, a trend we see stirring to life again. It’s a way to give a girl a unisex name without taking it too seriously and perhaps also a fresh way to cross genders with an honor name, so that grandpa Frank might inspire granddaughter Frankie. Celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg, Drew Barrymore, and Jessica helped propel this trend forward, with names such as Bertie, Billie, Charlie, Frankie, Gus, Lennie, Lou, Mattie, Max, Teddie, and Vinnie.
Most surprising celebrity name inspiration: Saoirse
It’s a testament to the star power of young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan that she’s propelled her unlikely name to stardom. Don’t get us wrong, we love the exotic Irish Saoirse, and so do many new parents: It was the third furthest-rising girls’ name in this year’s statistics.
But the spelling and pronunciation are sure to baffle anyone who didn’t study the Irish language. Those three vowels in a row are particularly problematic for English speakers, along with the final se pronounced as if it were sha. Correct pronunciation: SEER-sha.
Most surprising cultural name inspiration: Ophelia
The lovely Ophelia, which is Greek and means “help”, has long been bypassed by parents because of the tragic Shakespearean Ophelia in Hamlet. But the enormous popularity of Olivia and the resulting need for a similar-sounding substitute have helped propel Ophelia into the limelight. Plus a lot of names that seemed off-limits because they were too closely attached to characters or historical figures with negative associations – think Romeo, Delilah, Benedict – have been welcomed back into the fold, and Ophelia is following suit, ranking as the fourth furthest-rising girls’ name in official statistics this year.
Girl trend ready to jump the shark: The A sandwich
It started innocently enough, with the rise of conventional names for girls that both started and ended with A: Ava, Arianna, Angelina. People liked their airy, feminine feel so much that they began looking for more unusual examples, so enter Aria and Azalea. And then everything broke loose, with lots of names that began and ended with A and had just about anything in the middle: Alyvia, Alazha, Alleea. Anougha!
Trend we’d most like to see banned: Brand names for babies.
So, we’ll come right out and say we hate the gun brand names for babies thing: Remington, Wesson, Beretta. But we'd really extend that to all brand names for babies, no matter how theoretically classy. So long, Gucci, Armani, Porsche….and Ikea.
Originally posted on Nameberry by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz.