The Crystal Ball

I simply cannot resist making predictions for the new year.

But the best part, I think, is seeing whether or not my crystal ball gazing was right.

It takes some patience to get there, of course.  The predictions I made in December 2012 were for the 2013 calendar year – and we don’t see that data until May 2014.

Since the numbers are finally in, I thought it was time to take a look at trends and names on the rise that I called for 2013.

You can read the original Baby Name Predictions for 2013 here, and if you’re curious, I’ve already written Baby Name Predictions for 2014 – though the may be due for some revision now that the 2013 results are in.

And now, let’s see how good my guessing was …

The Crystal Ball Wins: Baby Name Predictions That Came True

2013: Name most likely to enter the Top 100 for boys … Camden.  

Nailed it!  Camden squeaked into the US Top 100 at #99 in 2013.  My prediction was based on the Kristin Cavallari-Nick Lachey baby name coincidence of 2012.  In 2011, he was #160, so that’s steady progress.  I think this one will go higher still.

2013: We will continue to see increasing volatility in boys’ names.

Yes!  In the original prediction, I cited a long list of reasons to expect more volatility in boys’ names: an increasing number of newcomers, less pressure to hand down family names, more willingness to be creative with boys’ names.  In 2013, the girls’ names were pretty stable – only Olivia and Isabella switched places.  But Noah surged to #1, Liam displaced Ethan, and Jacob fell to #3 after fourteen years on top.  Those are some big changes, especially in the traditionally more stable boys’ list.

2013: Boys’ names will be pirate perfect.

Seems like a hit.  Looking at names like Parker, Carter, Carson, Charlie, Arlo, Arthur, and Archer, I called the ar sound big for boys, and suggested we also look at Barrett, Martin, Ari, and Harvey – yes, Harvey.  Of the original eleven names I listed, nine saw an increase in use, one was flat, and one fell.  The biggest jumps in ranking were Harvey (#791 to #619) and Arlo (#815 to #677).

Picture Still Murky: Baby Name Predictions Too Soon to Call

2013: Unstoppable retro gemstone name on the rise … Pearl.

Maybe, maybe not.  Pearl is definitely on the up.  She climbed from #757 to #677 in 2013, and while she’s still being shortlisted – and chosen – by stylish parents, a ranking of #677 doesn’t quite equate to unstoppable.

2013: Variant spelling most likely to surpass the original … Sofia.

Maybe not yet. Aiden, Kaitlyn, Zoey … variant spellings can and do overtake the originals.  But it’s too soon to name Sofia to their ranks.  Dominant spelling Sophia held on to the #1 spot for girls in the US in 2013.

But it’s also too soon to say this won’t happen.  In 2012, over 21,000 girls were named Sophia, and just about 7, 200 were named Sofia.  In 2013, there were still around 21,000 Sophias, but a gain of over 9,000 Sofias – she’s still climbing, while the ph spelling has reached a plateau.  With the spelling preferred in Spanish, plus a popular Disney character called Sofia, give this one a few more years.

2013: Birth announcement most likely to garner endless media attention and inspire at least a few parents …

A miss, and a maybe.  I missed the names entirely – I was calling Arthur and Mary for the royal baby, and William and Kate went with George Alexander Louis.  Some headlines have dismissed any impact of the baby name.  But his rise, from #166 to #157 in the US, isn’t insignificant.  And the royal baby arrived in summer 2013, midway through the year – so I think there’s room to wait and see.  It’s also worth noting that Georgia saw a big jump, from #297 to #252.

2013: The pool of nature names for girls continues to expand.

A miss, but still a trend.  Wren made her Top 1000 debut at #806. So did Magnolia, at #977.  Juniper leapt from #870 to #646.  And lots of borrowings from the natural world did gain in 2013 – from Autumn to Rose.  But this trend is most interesting on the fringes – the rare names that parents are choosing for middle spot, the possibilities that feel perfectly wearable, but are not yet being worn.  Names like Linden, Lake, Tulip, Zinnia, Lark, and even Edelweiss are attracting more attention, but that’s not quite the same thing as actually being bestowed as given names – yet.  Nature names have been big news for years now, and borrowing from the natural world remains something to watch.

Missed: Baby Name Predictions That Didn’t Happen

2013: For girls, it is all about elo.

I could call it a hit, but I the original target might have been off.  In my original post, I noted that Elodie, Eloise, and Elowen were all attracting lots of attention, and that remains true in 2014.  They all share the elo sound, as does the fast-rising Penelope.  But it might not make for a trend – while Eloise rose from #363 to #338, the other two were – and remain fairly rare.  Both names are unranked.  Elodie was given to 170 girls in 2013, up from 149.  Elowen was given to 19 girls in 2013, up from 13.  It is definitely a sound with lots of appeal, but I’m so sure this is a trend just yet.

2013: Newest -ia ending name on the rise … Cecilia.

Miss! She seems like a logical successor to Sophia, Oliviaand Amelia.  It was the name of Pam and Jim’s daughter on The Office.  I’m hearing it in my ‘hood – I know two under the age of two.  But so far the numbers don’t show it.  Cecilia dropped from #216 to #223, while Cecelia climbed from #595 to #552.  I almost put Cecilia in the maybe column, because I suspect that we may be seeing a change in the dominant spelling.  One of the Cecilias I know answers to Cece, which seems like a nickname whose time has come – and wouldn’t that intuitively suggest that Cecelia is the better spelling?  Hmmm … she’s still a name worth watching.

2013: Super-short boys’ names are on the rise.

A miss in disguise.  Headlines talked about the rise of Jase and Jace, and a few stories noted that Jax had bounded up the charts, too.  So this feels like a hit, right?

Not so fast.  22 of the original 40 names that I listed in the 2013 Baby Name Predictions post rose – but that means that 18 were flat or fell.  Parents are definitely willing to consider single-syllable names, and consider them complete without a longer form.  But is it really any more common than it was in previous generations?  After all, the royal baby is George – a single-syllable name that can’t be called trendy.

What were the biggest surprises of 2013 for you?  And do you think Cecilia/Cecilia will make a comeback eventually?  How ’bout the Sophia/Sofia challenge?  And does the rise of Jase and Jace mean anything, or will that name fade quickly?

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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 dont think there is much increased flow for boy names, its just that the numbers at the top are close, while for the girls the top 5 or so are well above the rest. Still, its a lot easier for new names to crack the female top 20/50, while for boys its just a reshuffling with the same names changing orders. But it doesnt surprise me, because the numbers of boys getting a number 30 name for example are so much higher than their female counterpart.

  2. I had to look up when Prince George was born (I’d forgotten) so factor that into the effect on the name. The name had been staying static or slightly falling for the past few years, so it is significant that it rose this time!

  3. I can’t lie, I’m really disappointed that Juniper rose so much – I don’t want it getting super popular. Luckily it’s still pretty rare in Aus 🙂

    You’ve done much better than I would have. I’d never heard of Jayceon or Daleyza, so that was almost impossible to predict! And I think you’re spot on with the “elo” names – they’re definitely ones to watch in 2014.

  4. I thought you were pretty much spot on in nearly all cases – unless the trend was more ambiguous. Even though you were wrong about Cecilia, you deserved to be right, because it’s a gorgeous name and fits in beautifully with current name trends.