When it comes to baby name data, there are two ways to think about it: rank and count.
The fastest rising girl names by rank are those that leap from #959 to #634. (That’s Arleth, by the way.)
But those numbers obscure something very interesting. Something that’s revealed if we look at fastest rising girl names by count instead.
How many more girls received the name Nova in the most recent calendar year?
336 – a pretty respectable number!
But Nova’s change in rank?
Zero. It’s still #32 in the US.
Because even with a big increase, Nova was still given to just 5,885 girls, fewer than names like Avery, Ellie, and Abigail – even though all three of those names are falling in terms of count.
Rank tells us something about this year. Count signals the future.
And so let’s take a look at the fastest rising girl names as reported in the May 2023 update.
25. ATHENA (+300; unranked on last year’s list)
A goddess name, Athena begins with the all-popular initial A and includes the TH sound shared with powerhouse name family Theodore/Theodora/Theo/Thea.
24. FREYA (+301; unranked on last year’s list)
A different kind of goddess name, this one from Norse mythology, Freya is a fast favorite in the UK. Now it’s racing up the charts elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
23. OAKLEY (+302; #13 on last year’s list and #25 the year before)
Surname name Oakley blends so many things: the bravado of Annie Oakley, ties to the natural world, and a surname style that’s very current. It’s also inspired many an Oak- name offshoot – including another entry on the fastest rising girl names 2023 list.
22. SAGE (+328; #24 on last year’s list)
As brief as Jane, as modern as Willow, Sage is the kind of name that everyone agrees on.
21. ELIANA (+366; #20 on last year’s list)
Eliana remains a relative newcomer to the US Top 1000, debuting back in 1986. It combines lots of stylish sounds into one perfectly pan-European name.
20. NOVA (+336; #10 on last year’s list and #3 the year before)
The Latin word for new, Nova has gone from nineteenth century vintage rarity to this decade’s hottest – and increasingly unisex – find.
19. IRIS (+344; #14 on last year’s list)
Stunning vintage floral find, now following Violet into wider use.
18. ELOISE (+345;#7 on last year’s list)
A 1910s and 20s favorite, Eloise is now more popular than ever, a century later. It recently entered the US Top 100 for the very first time.
17. LILY (+351; #18 on last year’s list)
After so many years of Lily (and Lily names) near the top of the popularity charts, this name felt like it was running out of steam. But no – the opposite is true. Lily has now spent two decades in the US Top 100 and shows no signs of leaving.
16. LEILANI (+358; #6 on last year’s list)
First came Kai. Then Koa. And all of the -lani names. The Hawaiian -lani means sky or heaven, or possibly royal. Lei means flower, and Leilani is a construction used in Hawaii for generations. (It ranked in the Hawaiian Top 100 way back in 1961, shortly after Hawaii became a state, and has stayed there ever since.) Other -lani names might be novel constructions, but Leilani is the real deal.
15. WREN (+371; #16 on last year’s list)
Understated nature name Wren follows bird names like Raven and Robin into wider use. Now it’s the undisputed #1 bird name for girls in the US.
14. OAKLYNN (+381; #12 on last year’s list and #6 the year before)
Oak-plus-lynn is a total newcomer of a name, debuting in the US data in the year 2011. Though maybe it looks a little like place name Oakland, and, of course, quite a bit like recent favorite Brooklyn and quickly rising Oakley.
13. IVY (+386; #8 on last year’s list)
A mini name with an eco-vintage vibe, Ivy belongs in the same world as Ava, but also Rose.
12. ISABELLA (+400; unranked on last year’s list)
Regal, elegant Isabella succeeds for so many reasons. After years near the top of the charts, it seemed like this English-Spanish crossover might finally be slowing down. But the opposite happened, and Top Ten Isabella got just a little more popular.
11. MAEVE (+406; #5 on last year’s list and #9 the year before)
An Irish heritage pick, Maeve is this generation’s Erin. But it’s also a V name, just like Evelyn and Ava.
10. VALENTINA (+417; unranked on last year’s list)
A pan-European name, Valentina means strength. But the ties to Saint Valentine’s Day make it even more appealing.
9. AURORA (+451; unranked on last year’s list)
The Roman goddess of the dawn, and a natural phenomenon, too, Aurora is a night sky name like Stella and Luna. The -ora ending puts it in the company of Top 100 favorites like Nora and Cora, too.
8. LAINEY (+465; #15 on last year’s list)
Lainey updates midcentury favorite Elaine, and serves as a feminine form of surname Lane. It’s been quietly since the 1990s, but this could be Lainey’s decade.
7. JUNIPER (+476; unranked on last year’s list)
At first glance, Juniper is a modern nature name. Except there’s a (male) thirteenth century saint by the name, as well as names like the Italian Ginevra, than mean juniper. It’s a worthy follow-up to 1970s blockbuster Jennifer, one that blends the sweet summery appeal of June with a high-energy sound.
6. WRENLEY (+486; unranked on last year’s list)
Synthetic surnames are very much a twenty-first phenomenon. Wrenley fits right in with Oakley, Westyn, and Ryatt – all names that kinda-sorta-maybe could be real last names, but appeal for other reasons.
5. MILLIE (+490; unranked on last year’s list)
A sweet nickname name in the key of Ellie and Maisie, Millie was a smash hit in the UK at the turn of the twenty-first century. American parents are catching up.
4. ALORA (+505; unranked on last year’s list)
Elora is a name with more history than one might imagine. Alora appears to be a re-spelling of that fast-rising name.
3. SCARLETT (+606; unranked on last year’s list)
An earlier generation heard Scarlett and thought “O’Hara.” Now it’s a name threaded through the MCU, whether that’s actress Scarlett Johansson or character Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. It’s colorful, strong, and current.
2. LUNA (+706; #21 on last year’s list)
We love a night sky name, and so it’s no surprise that Luna – the Latin and Spanish word for moon – has caught on. It also helps that Luna is a flawless crossover, embraced by Spanish- and English-speaking families alike.
1. VIOLET (+926; #17 on last year’s list)
Another colorful name, shrinking Violet’s imagine was rehabbed by the iron-willed Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey. As vintage as Hazel, tailored Violet blends the romance of a flower name with the backbone of the unforgettable character.
FUTURE TOP TEN NAMES
LAST YEAR’S PREDICTIONS
- ISLA (#36)
- LUNA (#10)
- NOVA (#32)
- WILLOW (#37)
- MAEVE (#104)
- IVY (#42)
- ELEANOR (#16)
- HAZEL (#27)
THIS YEAR’S PREDICTIONS
- AURORA (#31) – Aurora still has some climbing to do, but if Amanda and Amelia can make it, why not Aurora?
- CAMILA (#12) – While not among the fastest-rising girl names 2023, Camila is no stranger to the list. appearing in the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 datasets. The name continues to gain in use – just a little more slowly than we might guess.
- IVY (#42) – Because it just feels like the logical name to follow Ava into the Top Ten.
- LEILANI (#59) – Authentically Hawaiian, and setting the style bar for a new generation of names.
- MAEVE (#104) – It seems crazy to bet against a name that just keeps gaining.
- NOVA (#32) – Nova might appeal to parents who love new, exciting names – as well as those after something vintage and meaningful.
- SCARLETT (#14) – Has this name run out of steam, or is it finally ready to hit the big time?
- WILLOW (#37) – Willow’s pace of increase has slowed, but it still has the makings of a future chart-topper.
Leave a Reply