Trendwatch 2018 predictions have arrived!
Over the last few years, I’ve tracked rising names. Annually, I make my guesses about the names most likely to crack the US Top 1000 in the coming year.
My usual date disclaimer applies: strictly speaking, we’ll evaluate Trendwatch 2018 predictions against the 2017 data, which is released in May 2018. I use the future date for two reasons: first, we’re evaluating the information fresh in 2018. And publishing Trendwatch 2017 at the end of the year just plain sounds wrong!
Where do these names come from? I’ve tracked some in prior years. You can see those, as well as my reports here:
Other names just plain seem to be gaining in use. Either I’m hearing them more and more on forums, or they’re popping up in real life. But that’s not enough. To make the trendwatch predictions 2018, they also have to fit with the kinds of names parents are choosing right now. And that’s the trickiest part!
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions: Boys Overview
In 2016, it took 203 births for a boy name to make the US Top 1000. A handful of names given to 203 boys also made the list, but it goes in alphabetical order, and cuts off after the list reaches 1000. That means that a name given to, say, seven boys last year will almost certainly not gain in use dramatically enough to reach the Top 1000 this year. You’ll notice that the total births for 2016 almost always reflect a number within striking distance of 200.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Abner
Total births in 2016: 198
Abner has stayed frozen in time for years, a comic strip name seldom heard in the wild. But Abner carries the same homespun quality as Arlo or Emmett. It’s a modest name with style to spare. Friendly nickname Abe makes it more versatile, and the -r ending puts it in the company of fast-rising powerhouse picks like Asher, as well as so many stylish surname names. One more bonus? This Biblical appellation means “My father is light” in Hebrew.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Aries
Total births in 2016: 175
Leo makes the current Top 100, so how ’bout Aries? It’s also an astrological sign, associated with spring births (March 20th to April 19th) and symbolized by a ram. Ptolemy described the constellation back in the second century, so that puts Aries in the company of another quickly-rising boys’ name: Orion. It’s a powerful name, but also a soft one. With names like Adonis, Apollo, and Atlas gaining fast, Aries fits in better than you might think.
I’ve yet to write about Aries. Check back and I’ll udpate when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Bear
Total births in 2016: 186
Celebrities aren’t always influential – for every Knox, there’s a Pilot. But last year’s newcomers to the Top 1000 included Fox. Parents are warming to straight-up animal names, as part of our never-ending search for nature names that convey positive qualities. Combined with a handful of high-profile baby Bears, including Kate Winslet’s son, born in 2014, that might be enough to push this one into the rankings. It could also be a nickname for many bear-related names … but I think we’ll hear this one on its own more and more often.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Benedict
Total births in 2016: 151
I had this name on last year’s list, too. It fits with longer, vaguely vintage boy names like Sebastian and Theodore. Benedict shares the friendly Ben nickname with Benjamin. And then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch. The leading man rose to international stardom as the twenty-first century version of Sherlock Holmes, became a serious, Academy Award-nominated actor, and joined the Marvel Universe as Doctor Stephen Strange. Catholic parents have embraced Benedict thanks to the Pope Emeritus, but I can imagine this name appealing to parents for a great many reasons.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Boden
Total births in 2016: 179
Sometimes a popular name is all about sound. That’s almost the case with Boden, sometimes heard as a surname with several possibly origins. But consider the Bo- names parents have embraced: Bowen ranks in the current Top 500. Meaning-rich Bodhi is gaining fast, with Bode and Bodie not far behind. Beau appears in the current Top 200. So that’s a lot of Bo. Factor in the popularity of British clothing retailer Boden, especially the stylish Mini Boden line for kids, and it’s easy to imagine parents drawn to this modern moniker. In fact, Boden just managed to sneak onto the lists in 2014 and 2015, so I suspect it’s time for this name to return – and perhaps finally catch on.
I’ve yet to write about Boden. Check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Caius
Total births in 2016: 150 (plus 114 boys named Kaius)
Total the spellings Caius and Kaius, and this ancient name could already be in! This ancient name carries a joyful meaning – we associate it with the Latin gaudere, rejoice. It was originally spelled Gaius – as in Gaius Julius Caesar – so that makes it a powerful choice, too. It shares sounds with mini name Kai; maybe that’s why the K spelling has gained in use, too. Fashionista and reality star Rachel Zoe named her second son Kaius in 2013. With ancient names and -s ending boy names continuing to trend, Caius could be big.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Caspian
Total births in 2016: 158
We all know there’s a fictional prince by the name, in CS Lewis’ Narnia ‘verse. And it sounds like so many traditional boy names, like Julian and Adrian. It would be easy to imagine that Caspian was some accidentally overlooked. But that’s not so; Prince Caspian was published in 1951, but there are almost no boys with the name prior to the 1990s. In 2000, just eight boys were given the name. But it’s gained steadily in recent years. With place names so much in favor, the Caspian Sea boosts this one, too – perhaps even enough to put it on the charts.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Dashiell
Total births in 2016: 145
I’ve been watching Dashiell for a while now; it made last year’s list, too. Here’s the thing about trendwatch predictions 2018 – so much has to do with what’s out there in the ether. And one of the things we talked about a lot was the return of The Incredibles. The Disney-Pixar sequel doesn’t drop until June 2018, but we’ve been talking about it for ages. And Dashiell “Dash” Parr is the name of the middle Incredikid, the one with super-speed as his super-power. The original 2004 movie put Dash on our radar, and eventually pushed it into the Top 1000. Could it finally be time for literary, romantic Dashiell to make the charts, too?
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Decker
Total births in 2016: 197
Decker strikes the same note as other tough-guy names like Ryder. Because names like this do occur as surnames, they feel perfectly wearable for real boys. And yet they’re in a very different category from the liquid sounds of Noah and Sebastian. Names like Ryder and Decker are just a little bit brash, and that appeals to many parents. Decker specifically makes my maybe-list thanks to Deckard Shaw of The Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close. As an occupational surname, Decker belonged to a roofer; but in American parlance, “to deck” has meant to knock someone out since the 1950s. It’s a preppy hellraiser name, a brother for Wilder or Brooks.
I’ve yet to write about Decker, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Finnian
Total births in 2016: 186
Take Finn, add the -ian ending and ta-da, instant on trend name. Finnian is no modern invention, though; instead, it’s a staple for Irish saints over the years. While it’s never been popular in the US, parents have embraced many a longer Finn- name: Finley and Finnegan also make the current US Top 500. Upbeat, Irish, and friendly, Finnian could easily join names like Aiden and Rowan on the playgrounds of today. The Japanese manga and anime series Black Butler uses the name for a character, which might make it familiar to a generation of future parents.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Kaiser
Total births in 2016: 202
Is this cheating? Kaiser almost made the Top 1000 list last year. If I’m counting correctly, it came it at #1001. I say it still works, because there’s such a significant difference between being on the list versus not ranking. Kaiser is the German form of Caesar, making it a title rather than a given name. Except we’ve embraced King and Messiah for boys in recent years. Teen Mom star Jenelle Evans named her son Kaiser in 2014. The name doubled in use by 2015, and climbed even higher by 2016. I suspect we’ll see just enough momentum to put this name on the charts soon.
I’ve yet to write about Kaiser; check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Lian
Total births in 2016: 195
At first glance, I thought Lian must be feminine, a simplified spelling of Lee Anne. (Which has more spellings that I can count!) But it’s not. Instead, it seems to have evolved as a short form of Julian and Elian and other -lian ending names. Though it may also trace its roots to Asia, with possible origins in Chinese and Vietnamese. With Liam at the heights of popularity, it’s easy to imagine Lian appealing, too.
I’ve yet to write about Lian, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Murphy
Total births in 2016: 162
Murphy, at first, seems more like the name of a pub or a tavern. It’s friendly and casual, but is it a given name? Fictional journalist Murphy Brown argues that it is; so do a small, but steady, number of men (and a few women) who have received the name over the years. It carries a great meaning – sea warrior – and fits right in with Riley and Brady. If it does make the rankings, it won’t be the first time. Murphy appeared on the charts in the nineteenth century, and as recently as the 1950s.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Boys: Ramsey
Total births in 2016: 150
Surname name Ramsey has a tough-guy image: there’s demanding celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, straight-talking financial guru Dave Ramsey, plus that first syllable: ram. It tracks with rising choices like Remy, too. Interestingly, it’s rising for boys and girls alike. But the numbers give this one to Team Blue, at least for now, and I think it fits well here. The Ramsay spelling makes it a Game of Thrones baby name, too. It’s also a Scottish clan name, complete with a signature tartan and a castle or two.
Read more about Ramsey here.
Trendwatch Predictions 2018 Boys: Reign
Total births in 2016: 158
Reign made it into the girls’ Top 1000 last year. Will the boys follow? After all, Kourtney Kardashian named her youngest son Reign Aston in 2015. It fits with all of those regal choices, like Kingsley and Royal, that we hear, especially for boys. Lest you dismiss it as too grand, I wonder if some parents see this as a spiritual name, as in “Jesus reigns,” or perhaps a secular, but equally meaningful one, since freedom reigns, too. I think we’ll see this one in the middle spot an awful lot in the coming years, and maybe in the first spot, too, for boys and girls alike.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions: Girls Overview
In 2016, it took 264 births for a girl name to make the US Top 1000. A handful of names given to 263 girls also made the list, but it goes in alphabetical order, and cuts off after the list reaches 1000. The same disclaimers apply to the girls’ list as the boys: a name given to only a handful of girls last year can rise dramatically, but rarely will it skyrocket into the Top 1000 in a single year. However, the girls’ list does tend to be slightly more volatile. Still, you’ll notice that all of the names on this reported births in 2016 somewhere in the 200 range or higher.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Agnes
Total births in 2016: 229
When Jennifer Connolly and Paul Bettany named their daughter Agnes Lark in 2011, I expected this name to experience a revival. It’s an impeccable classic, with centuries of use. And it was a Top 100 staple from the late nineteenth century into the 1920s. So far, though, Agnes remains just outside of the rankings, even while Abigail, Alice, and Amelia soar. Nickname Aggie is every bit as wearable as Maggie, Maddie, Addie, and Abby, too. The numbers show a small, gradual increase in use, though so maybe this is about to change.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Bellamy
Total births in 2016: 231
I feel like I’ve been talking about Bellamy for ages, at least since I heard it on one of the Novogratz design family kids. (Her twin sister is Tallulah!) It has it all – the surname style of Harper and Hadley, the Bell- of Isabella and company, the three-syllable, ends-in-y rhythm of girls’ names from Emily to Dorothy to Avery. Bonus? It means, roughly, beautiful friend, from the French phrase bel ami. And yet, it’s only slowly started to catch on. But now that Everly is everybody’s favorite, I keep thinking Bellamy must be right behind.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Della
Total births in 2016: 247
Ella and Stella and Bella and so many similar-sounding names have ruled the charts for ages. Why Della, and why now? It feels similar but different, a little bit vintage and unexpected. Singer Billy Joel welcomed daughter Della Rose in 2015, putting it back on parents’ radar. And it has a handful of other positives ties: Della is the young wife in O. Henry’s 1906 tale The Gift of the Magi. A Top 100 choice in the late nineteenth century, Della feels sassy and retro, but undeniably on trend.
I’ve yet to write about Della. Check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Egypt
Total births in 2016: 254
Parents love place names, from Brooklyn to Savannah and beyond. Cairo features in the current boys’ Top 1000, but it might be Egypt that catches on for girls. 254 girls were named Egypt last year, nearly enough to make the rankings. HGTV host Egypt Sherrod might influence some parents. But it’s not entirely novel. Way back in 1798, Lucien Bonaparte named his daughter Christine-Egypte. In the late 1980s, soap opera Loving introduced a character by the name, too. Alicia Keys gave the name to a son.
I’ve yet to write about Egypt. Check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Elodie
Total births in 2016: 243
Has any name been more favored by the baby naming community, while still so ignored by the naming public at large? Elodie might win the crown in that category. A long-time darling of baby naming forums, Elodie made the Top 1000 just a handful of times in the 1880s before heading towards obscurity. A French name borrowed from a Spanish martyr, Elodie fits right in with names like Eloise and Eliza, but remains nicely underused – for now.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions 2018: Flora
Total births in 2016: 192
Nora makes the Top 100. So do Cora and Aurora. So why not Flora? It shares the sound and the botanical tie-in, a goddess name from ancient Rome with a lush, vintage sound. If girls can be Lily and Violet, why not the whole garden? It’s the kind of ecovintage pick that’s just slightly different, and likely to appeal to parents after something just slightly novel.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions 2018: Florence
Total births in 2016: 246
Speaking of gorgeous, ecovintage girls’ picks that run the whole garden, how about Florence? If Flora feels pretty, Florence sounds sensible – and edgy. That’s thanks to a combination of two factors: nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, and indie rockers Florence and the Machine. Nightingale was named after the Italian city at the heart of the Renaissance, which makes for another reason to choose this name. The British love Florence, but we Americans have yet to re-discover this traditional choice.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Jovie
Total births in 2016: 210
Jovie just plain didn’t exist as a given name until 2003. That’s when we met Zooey Deschanel’s character in Elf. The tale went from quirky seasonal success to holiday season staple, and Jovie rose right along with it. It must come from jovial, which means joyful and comes from the Latin Jove, as in Jupiter. It could also tie to names like Jovana, a feminine form of John. Together, they lend this modern invention a feeling of roots. And for a daughter born during the holiday season, it’s still less expected than Holly.
I’ve yet to write about Jovie, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Marlowe
Total births in 2016: 256
Remember Caius + Kaius? Marlowe suffers from the same affliction. Factor in 92 Marlos and 91 Marlows, and this name should already appear in the Top 1000. Instead, Marlowe – the most popular spelling – sits just within striking distance of the charts as of last year. Parents love surname names for girls, from Madison to Harper to Harlow, so I suspect that we’ll see Marlowe join them very soon. And then, just like Everly, I think this name will be unstoppable.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Octavia
Total births in 2016: 255
Olivia first appeared in the Top Ten way back in 2001, and shows no signs of slowing down. No surprise, then, that parents are considering other names, similar in sound. Ophelia re-appeared in the US Top 1000 two years, and I suspect Octavia could soon join them both. Besides sound, Octavia has a fun meaning – eight, which ties it to August as well as the musical term octave. Plus, it’s ancient and literary – and has been in the Top 1000 plenty of times before.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Opal
Total births in 2016: 256
Back in the 1910s, Opal ranked in the US Top 100. Yup, Top 100. A century later, we’ve overlooked this gemstone name entirely. But we’re all about O names, Ruby is wildly popular, and ecovintage rules. So shouldn’t Opal fit right in? It’s October’s birthstone, and ultimately comes from the Sanskrit word meaning simply jewel. Children’s novel turned movie Because of Winn-Dixie is yet another opportunity to rediscover the name.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Palmer
Total births in 2016: 241
Some surname names, like Harper and Madison, are owned by the girls. Others, like Mason and Carter, belong almost exclusively to boys. It’s just plain use that determines how we view a name. Palmer, so far, is used for almost twice as many girls as boys. What explains that? I thought maybe it was Laura Palmer, the doomed character at the heart of Twin Peaks. But instead I think this comes down to Brooklyn Decker’s turn as Palmer in the 2011 rom-com Just Go With It. It also picks up on the sounds of fast-rising favorite Piper.
I’ve yet to write about Palmer. Check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Seraphina
Total births in 2016: 209
When Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner named their second daughter Seraphina in 2009, I was sure the name would catch on – fast! And it did, rising from 50 births in 2008 to 150 by 2012. But my cautions apply here: very rarely does a game go from unused to everything. Slow and steady tends to win the day, and that’s the story of Seraphina. It sounds like an elaboration of traditional Sarah, but carries a great meaning – fiery! With long, romantic names like Isabella so established for girls, Seraphina fits right in – and seems likely to continue to rise.
Trendwatch 2018 PredictionsGirls: Scout
Total births in 2016: 230
Harper ranks in the girls’ Top Ten. Atticus continues to be used in big numbers for boys, even after Harper Lee’s second published novel revealed he wasn’t always the hero. So how ’bout Scout? Jean Louise Finch is better known by this nickname in the enduring To Kill a Mockingbird. That puts Scout squarely in girls’ territory – though it could easily be used for a son, too. She’s a thoroughly admirable character, spunky and principled, and in Go Set a Watchman, none of those qualities have faded, even though she’s now an adult. It’s the kind of name many parents crave for girls today – modern, spare, and rich with meaning.
I’ve yet to write about Scout. Check back and I’ll update when I do.
Trendwatch 2018 Predictions Girls: Winnie
Total births in 2016: 233
I’ve been watching Winnie, expecting it to make a Sadie-like jump, just like so many casual nickname-names that outrank their formal versions. (Hattie, Millie, and Tessa all fit this pattern, too.) So far, the name keeps on climbing – but hasn’t quite gone mainstream. Today’s parents almost certainly remember The Wonder Years’ Winnie, and late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon keeps the name in the spotlight, as it’s his older daughter’s name. It’s more than doubled in use over the last five years, though, so I think this could be Winnie’s year.
I’ve yet to write about Winnie, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
That’s all for this edition of Trendwatch 2018 Predictions! Do you agree with these names? What have I missed?