Question Mark- Day 35/365
Question Mark by Andreanna Moya Photography via Flickr

It’s the end of the year, and it just hit me that I never looked back at my Baby Name Predictions for 2012.

My first crack at Baby Name Predictions was back in 2008.  I rated my original prognostications a B-, mostly because they were so vague that it was impossible to say if I was right, or just writing the baby name equivalent of fortune cookie messages.

To make the 2012 predictions more trackable, I included lots of specific names.  A few of these are not quite hits, but most of them were on the money.

I’ll post my crystal ball gazing for 2013 later this weekend!

12. The boys’ name likely to enter the Top Ten and stay for a spell … Mason

Mason went from #12 to #2, so let’s call this a solid A.

As I wrote last year, Mason has broad appeal.  His brother could be Michael or Max or Jayden.  High profile celebrity mama Kourtney Kardashian helped keep the name in the spotlight.  Will he hold on in 2013?  I think so.

11. The elements most likely to repeat … El and Ev.

For boys, El- names had a good year:

  • Elijah went from #18 to #13
  • Eli climbed from #65 to #58

And yet, I feel like this one is losing steam.  I’m not hearing as much chatter about Ellington or Ellis or Ellery for boys on message boards, and I am hearing quite a bit of talk about unconventional ways to get to Ellie for girls.  Could it be that El- names are going girl?

Ev- is everywhere for girls, though, and I see no signs of a slowdown.

  • Evelyn was #39 in 2010 and climbed to #24 in 2011.  Alternate spellings and variants abound.
  • Eva went from #91 to #83, and Evie names had a good year, too.
  • The -ev sound is sometimes buried in the name.  The prime example of this is Genevieve, up from #279 to #232.  Other choices, like Reverie and Ginevra could also catch on.
  • The elaborate Evangeline was up to #286 from #333 in the 2011 rankings.

Surname names, like Everly, and boys’ Ev- choices, like Everett, are also very much in the spotlight right now.  It’s too soon to call Evie the new Maddie, but she’s definitely catching on.

Overall, let’s call this one an A-.

10. Two classics likely to have a good year … Charlotte and Henry.

Charlotte has proven that today’s parents think of her like the evergreen Elizabetheven if there’s one on your block, she’s still so enduring that your daughter’s name isn’t diminished because it is shared.  Charlotte bounded from #45 to #27.  The letter C for girls had a good year in general – Caroline, Claire, and Clara all read like quiet classics perfect for a daughter.  Even Catherine, long eclipsed by the K spelling, gained a few spaces in 2011, boosted by a certain Duchess of Cambridge.

Henry was up a full ten spots, from #67 to #57.  Will he keep climbing?  I think so.  What I’m less certain about is whether he really will return to the Top Ten, as I declared last year.

B+ … because it was too easy to predict the continued rise of these evergreen names.

9. Name that should resurface in the Top 1000 … Hattie.

She’s back!  Hattie charted at #993, just sneaking into the rankings.  She’s making plenty of shortlists, too, suggesting that she’s not just a blip, but a name that parents are truly embracing. A+!

8. The next unexpected retro revival to anticipate … Edith.

Edith definitely got more attention last year, and inched up to #771.  But that’s not a huge climb, so let’s say she’s a solid B.  I still think Edith and Edie are on their way back, but the rest of the world hasn’t quite caught on.

7. Unconventional middle name on the upswing … Shalom

Shalom made the list because both reality TV star Michelle Duggar and rock star blogger Rebecca Woolf gave this middle name to daughters in 2011.  But there’s no great way to track middle names, and there were no notable uses of Shalom as a middle.  So let’s call this a B-.

6. The unstoppable variant spelling … Zoey.

Ding, ding, ding!  Another variant spelling has eclipsed the original!

Last year, Zoey ranked #43, a few spots behind #31 Zoe.  This year they’ve switched places.  Zoey charted at #28, pulling ahead of Zoe, who is holding steady at #31.  A+ for this one, and more proof that variant spellings aren’t so easy to dismiss.

5. The next big ends-in-e name for girls …

Yes, Penelope is the next big ends-in-e name for girls – and she was, even before the Kardashian krew added a baby Penelope to the mix.  She was up to #169 last year, and I suspect she’ll see a decent jump once more.

I’d added Esme as another one to watch in this category, but I suspect that the Twilight-inspired vampire matriarch – a relatively minor character – has raised her profile and made some parents take her off their shortlists, now that she’s less literary and more sparkly.  Too bad, because Esme is a great name.  Unless, of course, you love the name, couldn’t care less about Twilight – or are a huge Twilight fan – and are pleased to discover that Esme isn’t racing up the charts.

For getting Penelope exactly right, and Esme all wrong, I’ll call this a B-.

4. Gender neutral name most likely to stay gender neutral … Rowan.

This is a fascinating name to watch.

Conventional wisdom has long held that once a name “goes girl,” it is done for boys.  The actual picture is far more complicated, and Rowan is a perfect example.  In the 1990s, Rowan was on the rise, with a slight edge to Team Pink.  Back in 2002, Rowan was given to the almost exactly the same number of boys and girls.  As it gained for girls and boys, some parents fretted that Rowan was the new Ashley.  But the opposite seems to be happening.  Rowan seems to be going boy.

What does that mean for my prediction?  Let’s call it a B+, because it remains a viable option for a girl.

3. Place name that’s going places … London

London edged into the Top 100 for girls in 2011, even before the Olympic games captured our attention.  While it remains a possibility for boys, this one feels femininea successor to the equally urban Brooklyn.  Call this one an A.

2. Nature name to watch … Echo.

While her day might still be coming, Echo failed to impress in 2012.  Call it a D-.

1. Boy’s name you’ll be surprised that your son shares … Asher

Asher made steady progress in 2012, and continues to attract more and more attention from parents interested in mainstream names.  The same parents who are shortlisting Logan and Samuel are looking at Asher.  And why not?  He’s a great name … just not one that can be called different anymore.  Let’s say this one is a definite B+ … Asher hasn’t had a meteoric rise, but that’s part of what makes it so surprising that your neighborhood, co-worker, and two other women in your prenatal yoga class are all thinking about Asher.

Overall? Not bad as predictions go, but many of these need a few more years to bake.  Will Asher, London, and Hattie gain for another year?  How big will Penelope be?  And will more and more ev- names catch on?

Check back in another 360 days or so, and we’ll take another look!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I too would give you an A+! Great predictions! I must say though, I’m very glad about the non-upswing of Esme. It’s one of my back pocket names that it is far less common than most of the others on my list (at least in the US) that I would love to use for a little girl, one day. Also, glad I chose Jude over Asher for my 2011 boy. I still love the name, but it’s the far more trendy choice of the two and Jude definitely feels more masculine (which my little boy certainly is). Very excited for 2013 predictions!

  2. I’d give you an A+. Even though, not all of your predictions have come true yet, its still interesting to see what you predict.

    I agree with you about Asher. I’ve been seeing him quite a lot (and on a few girls too) lately and I think he is going to do well when the list is released in May.

    Looking forward to your 2013 predictions.