On the girls’ side: Valentina ousted Victoria from the top spot, and Emma replaced Isabella in the top 10. Five of the top-10 names were not in the U.S. top 100: Valentina (U.S. 106th), Amanda (329th), Mikaela, (616th), Amaia (1,276th), and Kamila (341st).
On the boys’ side: the top name is still Sebastian, and Mateo and Lucas replaced Noah and Fabian in the top 10. Two of the top-10 names were not in the U.S. top 100: Luis (U.S. 112th) and Diego (129th).
The name Monica, despite 2016 the success of tennis player Monica Puig — the first Puerto Rican athlete to win an Olympic gold medal — did not re-enter the PR top 100.
The male name Keniel is losing steam, down from 31st to 42nd.
The Basque name Amaia continues to rise. So do Amaia-variants like Amahia (ranked 31st), Amaya (38th), and Amaiah (94th). (Here’s how Amaia, Amahia, Amaya, and Amaiah are doing in the U.S.) The trendiness of Amaia may be attributable to Spanish pop singer Amaia Montero (b. 1976), or to Spanish actress Amaia Salamanca (b. 1986). Similar names also in the PR top 100 are Alaia, Alahia, Anaia, Anaiah, and Nahia.
Note: The SSA doesn’t include baby name data from the five permanently inhabited U.S. territories in its annual rankings (e.g., the top 1,000). But it does release two separate lists: one for Puerto Rico (the most populous territory at 3.5 million people), one for the four other territories combined. Click below to see the complete sets of rankings.
Which girl names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? Which ones decreased the most?
The SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I like to answer it by looking at raw number differences that take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Girl Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kehlani, +2,487 spots — up from 3,359th to 872nd
2. Royalty, +618 spots — up from 1,150th to 532nd
3. Saoirse, +465 spots — up from 1,448th to 983rd
4. Ophelia, +396 spots — up from 976th to 580th
5. Aitana, +368 spots — up from 917th to 549th
6. Itzayana, +356 spots — up from 1,125th to 769th
7. Alessia, +348 spots — up from 1,175th to 827th
8. Kaylani, +301 spots — up from 1,056th to 755th
9. Avianna, +298 spots — up from 751st to 453rd
10. Nalani, +294 spots — up from 1,280th to 986th
Royalty was influenced by the R&B singer Chris Brown, whose daughter (b. 2014) and 7th album (2015) were both called Royalty.
Saoirse was influenced by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — perhaps specifically by those American talk show appearances in which she talked to the hosts (Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, etc.) about how to pronounce her name. Plus there was that widely circulated Ryan Gosling quote on the same topic (“It’s Ser-sha, like inertia”).
Alessia was influenced by singer/songwriter Alessia Cara.
1. Adeline, +1,700 baby girls — up from 2,403 to 4,103
2. Charlotte, +1,649 baby girls — up from 11,381 to 13,030
3. Riley, +1,390 baby girls — up from 5,720 to 7,110
4. Adaline, +971 baby girls — up from 902 to 1,873
5. Amelia, +864 baby girls — up from 9,838 to 10,702
6. Luna, +849 baby girls — up from 2,796 to 3,645
7. Emilia, +804 baby girls — up from 2,215 to 3,019
8. Camila, +765 baby girls — up from 5,271 to 6,036
9. Nova, +754 baby girls — up from 1,518 to 2,272
10. Evelyn, +708 baby girls — up from 9,352 to 10,060
Adeline and Adaline were influenced, at least initially, by the movie The Age of Adaline (2015).
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Eleanor, Teagan, Kinsley, Scarlett, Everly, Quinn, Aria, Remi, Harper, Penelope, Thea, Claire, Rowan, Hazel, Ruby, Blake, Aurora, Ivy, Harley, Eloise, Willow, Elena, Josephine, Alice, Blakely, Saylor, Nora, Leia, Iris, Margot, Isla, Freya, Samara, Joy, Zara, Eliana, Joanna, and Malia.
Girl Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Caitlin, -542 spots — down from 609th to 1,151st
2. Caitlyn, -462 spots — down from 598th to 1,060th
3. Katelynn, -402 spots — down from 652nd to 1,054th
4. Kaitlynn, -381 spots — down from 994th to 1,375th
5. Neriah, -344 spots — down from 943rd to 1,287th
6. Bryanna, -276 spots — down from 783rd to 1,059th
7. Kiley, -275 spots — down from 898th to 1,173rd
8. Yaritza, -271 spots — down from 935th to 1,206th
9. Denise, -210 spots — down from 993rd to 1,203rd
10. Kaelyn, -203 spots — down from 521st to 724th
Caitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn, were negatively influenced by Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in mid-2015 with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”
This reminds me of what happened a few decades ago to Hillary — another name that was strongly associated for a time with a female who wasn’t conforming to gender norms. Perhaps tellingly, the name Bruce wasn’t hit nearly as hard. Jenner did fall of the charts, though.
1. Sophia, -1,311 baby girls — down from 17,381 to 16,070
2. Alexa, -1,289 baby girls — down from 6,049 to 4,760
3. Madison, -1,090 baby girls — down from 10,072 to 8,982
4. Emma, -1,001 baby girls — down from 20,415 to 19,414 (…but still the #1 name overall)
5. Aubrey, -869 baby girls — down from 7,376 to 6,507
6. Isabella, -852 baby girls — down from 15,574 to 14,722
7. Emily, -840 baby girls — down from 11,766 to 10,926
8. Kylie, -753 baby girls — down from 4,149 to 3,396
9. Alexis, -744 baby girls — down from 3,406 to 2,662
10. Abigail, -672 baby girls — down from 12,371 to 11,699
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Kaitlyn, Avery, Allison, Alyssa, London, Kaylee, Sofia, Katelyn, Kimberly, Zoey, Mia, Chloe, Kendall, Taylor, Sadie, Khloe, Mackenzie, Hannah, Peyton, Addison, Samantha, Ashley, Olivia, Gabriella, Brianna, Lauren, Anna, Brooklyn, Morgan, Jocelyn, Sydney, Natalie, Victoria, Makayla, Zoe, Hailey, Payton, Brooke, Annabelle, Trinity, Keira, Adalyn, Jordyn, Kayla, Molly, Audrey, Faith, Madelyn, Lillian, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Makenzie, Paige, Aaliyah, Paisley, Nevaeh, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jessica.
Interesting how certain like-names went in opposite directions last year. Leia, Alessia, and Adaline rose; Leah, Alyssa, and Adalyn fell.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please comment!
(In 2015, the big winners were Alexa and Alaia, and the big losers were Isabella and Isis.)
Which girl names increased and decreased the most in popularity from 2014 to 2015?
Here are two ways to look at it. The SSA’s way looks at ranking differences and covers the top 1,000 girl names (roughly). My way looks at raw number differences and takes all girl names on the SSA’s list into account.
Hazel, Taya and Adeline were influenced by films: Hazel by The Fault in Our Stars (2014), Taya by American Sniper (2014), and Adaline by The Age of Adaline (2015).
Meilani and Aitana were boosted by celebrity babies. Meilani is the daughter of Jenni “JWoww” Farley, originally of “Jersey Shore” fame, and Aitana is the daughter of Mexican actors Alessandra Rosaldo and Eugenio Derbez. (Both babies were born in 2014.)
Adley was popularized by county singer Adley Stump.
In the girls’ top 50, Alexa, Paisley, Ellie and Violet replace Arianna, Gabriella, Sadie and Sarah.
In the boys’ top 50, Grayson and Charles replace Eli and Aaron.
Alexa rose 31 places, from 63rd to 32nd
Violet rose 17 places, from 67th to 50th
Grayson rose 16 places, from 63rd to 47th
Oliver rose 13 places, from 32nd to 19th
Riley (girl name) rose 12 places, from 47th to 35th
Arianna dropped 16 places, from 40th to 56th
Gabriella dropped 11 places, from 43rd to 54th
Anna dropped 10 places, from 34th to 44th
There’s much more to come! Until then, I’ll quote liberally from the SSA’s press release:
Each year, the list reveals the effect of pop-culture on naming trends. This year’s winners for biggest jump in popularity in the Top 1,000 are Alaia and Riaan.
Alaia jumped 2,012 spots on the girls’ side to number 664, from number 2,676 in 2014. Perhaps this can be attributed to high fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, or maybe it is because of Alaia Baldwin, the model/daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin.
Riaan increased 1,360 spots for the boys, from number 2,286 in 2014 to number 926. Of Indian origin, it is also the name of the young son of a well-known Bollywood actor, Riteish Deshmukh.
The second fastest riser for girls was Meilani. If you have ever watched MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard of Jenni “JWoww” Farley. She gave birth to daughter Meilani in 2014. On a different American shore, out in Hawaii, is another well-known Meilani–Bethany Meilani Hamilton, the professional surfer whose story of surviving a shark attack was documented in the movie “Soul Surfer.”
For boys, it was Huxley (a brave new comeback for the late science fiction writer?).
Some other notable names in the top 10 biggest increase category, and some possible reasons for their newfound popularity:
Omari and Jabari for boys. Omari Hardwick is an actor, known for his roles in “Sparkle,” “The A-Team,” and BET Network’s “Being Mary Jane.” He currently stars in “Power,” a popular cable TV series. Jabari Parker is a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft out of Duke.
Adaline and Zelda for girls. “The Age of Adaline” is a 2015 fantasy film starring Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, and Ellen Burstyn. As for Zelda, maybe the legend continues to grow?
I’ll also note that the name Isis dropped from 705th place (398 baby girls) in 2014 to 1770th place (117 baby girls) in 2015.