Compound names (Anne-Marie, Jean-François) are falling out of style.
Once-taboo English names (Elliot, Mia) are seeing new acceptance.
Similarly, French names are flipping languages (Anne to Anna, Guillaume to William).
Names are also flipping gender (Ariel, Noa).
Pop culture is influencing names (Shania, Logan).
Unique names are on the rise.
Speaking of unique names, sociologist Laurence Charton of the INRS (Institut national de la recherche scientifique) suggested that the rise of unique names starting in the early 1980s was fueled in part by a 1981 change in Quebec’s Civil Code that loosened restrictions on babies’ surnames.
This claim makes me wish the article had included data from the ’60s and ’70s. I don’t doubt that parents felt liberated by the law change, but I do suspect that unique names were already on the rise by 1981.
Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? And which ones decreased the most?
The U.S. SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I prefer to answer it by looking at raw number differences, and to take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kylo, +2,368 spots — up from 3,269th to 901st
2. Creed, +370 spots — up from 1,352nd to 982nd
3. Benicio, +356 spots — up from 1,331st to 975th
4. Adonis, +307 spots — up from 701st to 394th
5. Fox, +288 spots — up from 1034th to 746th
6. Kye, +281 spots — up from 984th to 703rd
7. Hakeem, +256 spots — up from 1,161st to 905th
8. Shepherd, +242 spots — up from 1,105th to 863rd
9. Wilder, +238 spots — up from 961st to 723rd
10. Zayn, +222 spots — up from 643rd to 421st
Kylo was influenced by the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Creed and Adonis were influenced by the movie Creed (2015).
Hakeem was influenced by the TV show Empire (2015-). So was Bryshere, which debuted last year.
Wilder could have been influenced by either Gene Wilder or by boxer Deontay Wilder, or both. (Or neither.)
Zayn was influenced by British singer/songwriter Zain “Zayn” Malik.
1. Mateo, +1,516 baby boys — up from 5,010 to 6,526
2. Oliver, +1,340 baby boys — up from 11,635 to 12,975
3. Bryson, +1,239 baby boys — up from 3,094 to 4,333
4. Lincoln, +1,094 baby boys — up from 5,982 to 7,076
5. Benjamin, +899 baby boys — up from 13,670 to 14,569
6. Grayson, +735 baby boys — up from 7,887 to 8,622
7. Theodore, +723 baby boys — up from 4,136 to 4,859
8. Greyson, +704 baby boys — up from 3,591 to 4,295
9. Leo, +678 baby boys — up from 4,582 to 5,260
10. Maverick, +675 baby boys — up from 2,265 to 2,940
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Owen, Sebastian, Ezekiel, Lucas, Ezra, Leonardo, Santiago, Conor, Gael, Everett, Rhett, Jameson, Killian, Tobias, Arlo, Easton, Finn, Rowan, Elias, Asher, Calvin, Thiago, Bodhi, Legend, Lukas, River, Elliot, Harrison, Roman, Adriel, Paxton, Julian, Ace, Josiah, Waylon, Messiah, Nash, Ellis, Matias, George, Barrett, Connor, Wade, Kyrie, Milo, Amir, Bennett, Elliott, Silas, Matteo, and Axel.
Rowan is rising quickly for both boys and girls right now.
Kyrie, which was once given primarily to girls, is now being given primarily for boys thanks to basketball player Kyrie Irving.
Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Jonael, -475 spots — down from 921st to 1,396th
2. Aaden, -239 spots — down from 784th to 1,023rd
3. Triston, -230 spots — down from 957th to 1,187th
4. Freddy, -222 spots — down from 993rd to 1,215th
5. Yaakov, -213 spots — down from 992nd to 1,205th
6. Braeden, -203 spots — down from 792nd to 995th
7. Chace, -202 spots — down from 935th to 1,137th
8. Brantlee, -176 spots — down from 777th to 953rd
9. Gannon, -173 spots — down from 533rd to 706th
10. Robin, -171 spots — down from 969th to 1,140th
The name Jonael got a lot of exposure in 2015 thanks to 11-year-old Puerto Rican singer Jonael Santiago, who won the 3rd season of La Voz Kids, which aired from March to June. It didn’t get as much exposure in 2016, which accounts for the drop in usage.
1. Logan, -1,697 baby boys (12,897 to 11,200)
2. Jacob, -1,498 baby boys (15,914 to 14,416)
3. Jayden, -1,455 baby boys (11,518 to 10,063)
4. Mason, -1,399 baby boys (16,591 to 15,192)
5. Ethan, -1,291 baby boys — down from 15,049 to 13,758
6. Aiden, -1,271 baby boys (13,429 to 12,158)
7. Alexander, -1,186 baby boys (14,507 to 13,321)
8. Jackson, -1,032 baby boys (12,242 to 11,210)
9. Brandon, -1,024 baby boys (5,100 to 4,076)
10. Blake, -951 baby boys (4,220 to 3,269)
Unlike Rowan, Blake is falling on the boys’ list, but rising on the girls’ list. In fact, the graph (right) makes a gender switch look inevitable. This is not something I would have anticipated a decade ago, before the emergence of Blake Lively.
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Jase, Hunter, Brody, Brantley, Gabriel, Jonathan, Jordan, Tyler, Kevin, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Christian, Noah, Angel, Brayden, Iker, Chase, Nicholas, Austin, Dominic, Camden, John, Ayden, Michael, Colin, Bryan, Riley, Kyle, Hayden, Bradley, Nathaniel, Jake, Samuel, Luke, Cayden, Evan, Zachary, Steven, Kaden, Cooper, Marcus, Ryan, Tristan, Bryce, Ryder, Micah, Brady, Bentley, Kaleb, Levi, Alex, Conner, Jeremy, Isaac, Ian, Gage, Brian, Kayden, Jaden, Carlos, Sean, Jeremiah, Abel, Devin, Adrian, Giovanni, Garrett, and Adam.
Jase has seen a dramatic rise and fall over the last few years: big gains in 2012 and 2013, followed by big losses in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
Similarly, Iker was on the rise for a while, with partcularly big leaps in 2011 and 2012, but usage is now on the wane.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please leave a comment.
(In 2015, the big winners were Oliver and Riaan, and the big losers were Jase and Arnav.)
In 1992, Leeds United superfans Jeanne and Andrew Cazaux welcomed a baby boy. They named him “Dominic Andrew Lukic Newsome Fairclough Whyte Dorigo McAllister Batty Strachan Speed Chapman Cantona Cazaux” after the following Leeds players:
So which team does Dominic root for these days? Arsenal. “I think I chose Arsenal mainly to rebel,” he said. “I was only about eight years old and it was just one of those things you do to go against your parents. They were disappointed but said that it was my choice.”
Keira also revealed that she was never intended to be called Keira.
‘I was meant to be named “Kiera”, after a Russian ice skater who was on the TV one day. My dad fancied her and nicked her name for me. But it was my mum who went to register my birth, and she accidentally spelled “ei” instead of “ie” because my mum’s crap at spelling.
‘Apparently, when she came back he said: “WHAT THE F*CK? You’ve spelt her name wrong!” What were they going to do, though? Once it’s on the piece of paper, it’s on the piece of paper. And that’s me. A spelling error.’
[The skater was likely Kira Ivanova, who won a bronze medal for the USSR at the 1984 Winter Olympics.]
If only the parents lived in the United States, then they may likely have realized their dream. While many European countries place various restrictions on baby names, American parents may generally use a trademark as a personal name, so long as it is a word mark and both parents consent to the name. Brand loyalty may have some limits abroad, but the courts on our shores would hardly object to baby Nutella.
Under the Family Registration Law, about 3,000 kanji can be used for a person’s name, including joyo kanji (kanji designated for common use) and kanji exclusively used for people’s names. Hiragana and katakana can be used as well. However, there are no rules regarding how a kanji character should be read in a name or how long the name can be.
In recent years, more and more variations are showing up in children’s names with nonstandard pronunciations apparently becoming prominent. For example, the kanji “kokoro” (heart) is often read “ko” these days, while “ai” (love) is read “a.”
At one kindergarten in Kanagawa Prefecture, teachers write down the phonetic readings of all the new pupils’ names on the roll before the entrance ceremony to check how they should be read.
“It’s a shock for parents to hear their children’s names read out incorrectly,” a staff member of the kindergarten said.
Tamago Club, a magazine for expecting mothers published by Benesse Corp., is calling on readers to avoid names whose kanji readings are too different from the norm.
From the book The Leonardo DiCaprio Album by Brian J. Robb:
Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles on 11th November 1974 to burnt-out hippie parents who named him after the Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci. His mother, German-born Irmelin Idenbirken chose her son’s name after feeling him kicking in the womb as she stood in front of a Da Vinci painting in the Uffizi Gallery in Venice, Italy.
Our modern naming age sees lots of names flowing around the gender divide. Some traditional male names, like Micah and Riley, are showing up more and more on the girls’ side. Other names with no traditional gender link, like word names, place names, and surnames, are flipping back and forth or remaining unisex. But even in this fluid, creative naming culture, I challenge you to find a traditionally female name that is given to boys. Much as a reference to running or fighting “like a girl” is taken as an insult, so do we shrink from any hint of girliness in our boys’ names. As a result, the move toward androgyny in baby names turns out to look an awful lot like masculinization.
Names have enormous symbolic power. They send messages. What message would it send to girls if the women of the U.S. Supreme Court were named Raymond, Simon and Elliot instead of Ruth, Sonia and Elena? Just as we may wish for a future where “running like a girl” means “running as fast and long as you can,” I’m rooting for a future where a little Leia is considered just as bold and confident as a girl dressed — or named — like Han.
From the Survivor Wiki page about Neleh Davis, the runner-up from Survivor: Marquesas (2002):
Neleh Dennis was born in Heber City, Utah, and is one of eight siblings (five brothers, Tom, John, Devin, Nathan, and Landon, and two sisters, McKenna and Robyn). She was named after her maternal grandmother, Helen. Same name, only spelled backwards.
Ellen: Where does the name Delta come from, was that something you had thought of before?
Dax: So Delta actually–it was a joke, because our first daughter’s name is Lincoln, which is very masculine, so a friend of mine teasingly texted me, “Oh great, what’s this one gonna be, Navy Seal? Delta Force? Green Beret?” And I was reading this text out loud to Kristen, I’m like, “Oh listen to how funny this is, Steve said, what if we named her Delta Force” and I was like…Delta! Delta Bell Shepard, that’s it! And that’s it.
Want to see quote posts #1 through #27? Check out the quote post category. Have a nice weekend, all!
I’m not sure when the finalized version of PEI’s 2013 list will be released, but I’ll be on the lookout for it. (Update, 1/8/2015: The 2014 list for PEI just came out, and it included a link to the 2013 data…which is exactly the same as the above. So it looks like PEI doesn’t release finalized lists.)