From those lists, I’ll choose eight boys’ names and eight girls’ names as the best of the best.
What does that mean?
It’s hard to explain, but they’re the names that seem bigger than just their letters and sounds. They’re interesting. The ones that seem like they’ll influence trends into the future. Names I expect to see rising, into the Top 500 and beyond.
Of course, I’m not always right. But that’s the fun!
These sixteen names are the basis for every July’s New Name Showdown. More on that later this summer. For now – the names!
BEST NEW BOY NAMES
A vibrant o-ending name, Aurelio follows sister Aurelia onto the charts.
Purpose name Chosen suggests an abiding faith. But it’s also a bold word name, too, midway between Maverick and Christian.
Daniel meets Sutton in this surname name, made famous by the rugged ranching family of Yellowstone.
Lucas is a Top Ten favorite, with Luke and Luca not far behind. Despite traditionally feminine roots, Lux is a logical new entry to this list, another name in the key of Jax.
An earlier generation had Riley. Now Murphy is the friendly, Irish surname name of choice.
Rhodes connotes both strength and wisdom, but it’s the stylish -s ending that puts it on the list of Best New Baby Names 2023.
Leo is a perennial favorite for this generation, and Theodore recently powered into the Top Ten. Now Teo – the Spanish and Italian equivalent of Theo – has taken its place on the charts, too.
A mini name, Zen is rich with meaning, suggesting enduring peace and contemplation. Not bad for three letters. It’s a virtue name with a global vibe.
BEST NEW GIRL NAMES
Cielo combines multiple trends, making it an obvious entry for the Best New Baby Names 2023. It’s a Spanish word name, like Luna. It means sky – but also heaven, which puts it in the company of modern spiritual choices. And that o ending is a bonus.
Elaborate Emiliana follows fast-rising favorites Amelia and Emilia into wider use. The extra syllable puts in the company of Isabella.
After years of Georgia quietly rising as a sparky-meets-traditional favorite, it’s no surprise that the elaboration Georgina has joined the list. If Georgia feels at home in cowboy boots, Georgina leans a little more refined, possibly even British.
A straight-up word name, Love is cousin to Esme and Mabel. But it’s also a brief, strong sound, a little bit like Eve or Maeve.
Many a flower name has entered the charts. But Marigold makes the Best New Baby Names 2023 list for two reasons. First, it was quietly lifted by a pop culture sensation, Downton Abbey, but debuted after the series came to an end. The name’s rise might reflect our love of retro nickname name Goldie – the logical short form for Marigold. Or, perhaps, it’s thanks to a character from a streaming series. More on that below!
The Tolkien-inspired series Rings of Power puts Nori on this list. In the new adventure, based on The Lord of the Rings appendices, we meet characters from thousands of years before the more familiar stories. Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot is at the heart of a mystery and adventure in the series. Her stepmother’s name? Marigold, which means that perhaps Nori is actually the second name on this list from the series.
It’s the age of -lani names. From the authentically Hawaiian Leilani to singer-inspired Kehlani, the ending is everywhere. Meilani is notable, though, because it’s novel – even though it looks like it should be traditional. Meilani might be a Hawaiian-esque spin on Melanie, or simply a variation on the many -lani names rising in use.
Xyla looks like an invention, inspired by all the most eye-catching letters. Except xylon is the Greek word for wood, used to describe Christ’s cross in the New Testament. So it’s possible that Xyla carries a rich meaning for the families who choose it – and the cool spelling is just a bonus.