With just one month left in 2014, it seems like the perfect moment to look back at my baby name predictions for the year.
The only trouble? It’s challenging to draw any kind of conclusions when data for 2014 when US data won’t be available until May 2015. Sure, we’ll see lots of unofficial tallies and best-ofs, but they’re based on website user data. Numbers from Nameberry or Baby Center can be bellwethers – but they’re just not the same as seeing the real deal from the Social Security Administration every spring.
Despite this deficit, how can I let December sail past without a look back?
I’ll take another look back mid-year, when the official data is available. But for now, how did I do calling the best baby names of 2014? (And if you’re super curious, here’s the review of baby name predictions from 2013, too!)
Baby Name Predictions: Later Lily
The new Maddie is … Lily
Last year, I confidently declared that Lily was everywhere, with an abundance of formal name options, from Lillian to Lillyana. Instead, it looks like Lily had already peaked. In 2013, Lily, Lillian, Liliana, Lilly, Lilian, Lillie, Lilyana, Lilianna, Lilith and Lilia all fell. Only Lilliana and Lillianna bucked the trend. Overall, this was an excellent prediction. For 2011.
Maybe to Winnie, Huckleberry, Jaxon
Spunky Nickname Name to Watch … Winnie
Winnie Fallon was my favorite celebrity birth announcement of 2013, a spunky choice in the key of Sadie. 105 girls were given the name in 2013, the most since 1952. And yet, that’s not quite enough of a jump to declare this a hit. Let’s keep watching.
Just Add ‘s’ … Ames, Brooks, Keats
Last year, I wrote Remember when Carter felt like a fresh, preppy possibility? Now he’s mainstream, but Ames and Keats have picked up the Brooks Brothers rep tie.
Brooks was the most popular of the bunch then, and he’s continued to climb, from #358 in 2012 to #301 in 2013. So Brooks is a hit, but it’s too soon to say if others will follow.
Variant spelling most likely to eclipse original … Jaxon over Jackson
Last year, I wrote: Variant spellings can be controversial … I prefer to think of dominant spellings – the spelling that is most popular at any given moment. In 2009, my prediction was Zoey over Zoe. That’s come to pass. Now I’m watching Sofia over Sophia, and as of this year, Jaxon instead of Jackson. And maybe Jaxson, too.
As of the 2012 data, Jackson ranked #22, a comfortable margin ahead of Jaxon, #66. But add in Jaxson, at #106, and the variant spellings catch up to the surname original.
This is a maybe mostly because Jackson continued to climb, charting at #16 in 2013, followed by Jaxon at #46 and Jaxson at #92. I’ll call this a yes if – if – Jackson starts to decline when we see the 2014 data, while the ‘x’ versions continue to gain. I have a feeling I’m right about this one …
Names Most Likely to Take the Top Spot … Mason and Liam
I’ve been calling the fall of Jacob for a few years, and let’s face it – eventually I was going to get it right. Not rocket science. But I totally didn’t see Noah coming! My money was on Mason or Liam. And – truthfully – I have hard time seeing Noah remaining on top for 2013. So I’m still thinking either Mason or Liam might claim the crown in 2014 – but we’ll have to wait for May.
The new Atticus is … Huckleberry
Remember when Atticus was that quirky boy name that seemed to be everywhere, while grandparents shook their heads. Now Atticus ranks #404, up from #410, and I’d bet that some edgier neighborhoods will have more than one Atticus in their kindergartens in few years.
I’m betting that Huckleberry is the new Atticus. Except it is very hard to measure a name on the fringes until it actually starts to go mainstream. Huckleberry was basically unknown ten years ago. In 2008, 21 boys were named Huckleberry. In 2013, that number was 14. So it seems like a miss … except I’m hearing Huck as a nickname for Henry, and Huxley has climbed in recent years. So I feel like the Huck-cluster still might follow the Finn-cluster … just not quite yet.
Yes to Francis, Everly & Arrows
Next Year’s Hero Names … Francis and Nelson
In my original 2014 baby name predictions post, I wrote:
Nearly any pontiff inspires baby names for the faithful, but Francis is different. He’s Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013, and his message – of mercy, of healing, of non-judgment – is starkly different than his predecessors. There’s never been a Pope Francis before, and his name honors a saint known for his ministry to the poor.
All of the Francis names seem to be faring well, from the Italianate Francesca (up 61 places to #424 in the 2013 data) to Francis himself (up to 86 places to #504).
But Nelson? He made the list following the passing of activist-turned-President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, a towering figure – but one who hasn’t inspired parents to name their children in his honor.
Most Influential Celeb Baby Name … Everly
Let’s call this a win, before we see the 2014 numbers. Because in the 2013 data? Everly soared 525 places to #382. Everleigh also entered the US Top 1000 at #865. Chances are that both names continued to gain in the past year.
Everly made the list thanks to Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewar’s daughter. In the original post, I noted that the Dewar Tatum family wasn’t the first to use the name, but:
… Channing and wife Jenna Dewan welcomed their daughter just as Everly was ready to catch on. The name entered the US Top 1000 at #907 in 2012, and she strikes the right note – a three-syllable ends-in-y name, a longer name for Evie, a surname name that we haven’t heard everywhere. She’s less lacy than Evangeline, less expected than Evelyn, more elaborate than the spare Eve.
Plus, Channing has had a great run – he’s been a big screen action hero, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in of 2012, and has taken a crack at producing. Add it up, and Everly is poised to leap up the popularity charts in 2014.
Borrowed from the Big Screen … The Influence of Arrows
Credit the dystopian YA novels turned blockbuster film series. Hunger Games names are an interesting bunch, and we’ve definitely heard more of Primrose, plus the odd Katniss, Finnick, and Rue.
But the real story is the influence of archery and arrows:
- Archer ranked #351 in 2013, up 53 places.
- Bo climbed 52 places to #735, and Beau rose 41 places to #270.
- Fletcher fell one spot to #789.
- 36 boys were named Arrow, up from 34 – still on the fringes, but not unknown.
Individually, it’s tough to call any single name a hit, but tally them up, and there’s definitely a trendlet.
Names most likely to enter US Top 1000 … Elodie, Gray/Grey, Wren
Here’s what I wrote last year:
Let’s take some wild guesses about names currently outside of the US Top 1000, but likely to dip into the rankings in 2014. (Or sooner – I’d guess that May 2014, when the 2013 data is released, will be the year for some of these names.)
And here are the names and how they fared:
- Garrison – Up 49 places to #49 – definitely a hit!
- Cortez – New to the Top 1000 in 2013, debuting at #909 – another hit.
- Royal – New to the Top 1000 at #896 – three in a row!
- Ford – Still outside the US Top 1000, but there was a slight gain in terms of numbers of births. I think Ford is very likely to make the US Top 1000 when we see 2014 data.
- Leif – I thought we were due for a Vikings-inspired boost in Scandinavian names. Maybe not – though there was a small increase in Leif’s use in 2013, so let’s wait and see what happens when we see the 2014 data.
- Gray – Yes and no. Grey debuted at #978 in 2013.
Now, for the girls:
- Ellis – Nope. This one is still Team Blue, climbing 80 places to #529 in 2013 for the boys.
- Ellison – A hit! Ellison debuted in the girls’ Top 1000 at #945 in 2013.
- Elodie – While Elodie has yet to rank in the US Top 1000, I have faith that she’ll chart in 2014. There have been significant gains in use for each of the last few years, and Elodie was barely outside of the rankings in 2013.
- Liv – Liv broke into the US Top 1000 at #925, propelled by the lovely Liv Tyler, our affection for Olivia/Alivia/Olive, and maybe a little bit of that Vikings influence, too.
- Wren – I called Wren the new Willow. With a debut at #806, this feels like a definite yes.
- Mabel – Speaking of significant gains, Mabel went from unranked to #704 in 2013, and will almost certainly show another leap in 2014.
Baby Name Predictions: Difficult to Rate
Some of my predications are always a little softer and more difficult to grade. But I think these remain generally accurate.
Thugs and Gentlemen
Last year, I wrote: We’re less daring with boys’ names, as a general rule. That’s starting to change, but parents aren’t sure exactly how to change. So we’re heading in both directions at the same time … It’s a split, but if we’re lucky – and I think we might be – it means that we’re finally free to choose daring names for boys, whether your taste runs towards Percival or Gilbert or Arrow or Stone.
With names like Sebastian and Josiah in the Top 100, our fear of ‘soft’ names for boys is surely over. But Ryker, Maverick, Jax, and King are on the rise, so there’s more than one trend at work. Though I’m not sure those names are thuggish – maybe they’re 21st century cowboy names.
-et girls are the It Girls … and Boys
As I noted in 2013, there have always been a few ends with -et girls in the US Top 1000. But they feel more appealing than ever, with names like Scarlett and Violet in the Top 100, as well as stylish boy choices like Emmett, Bennett, Everett, Beckett, Jett, and Elliott/Elliot.
We can definitely expect to keep hearing -et names for girls and boys in the upcoming years.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my Baby Name Predictions for 2014. What do you think? Are any of these trends fading? Any you especially like or dislike?