When we talk about the fastest rising girl names, we’re almost always talking about rank. Which name rocketed from #846 to #603? (That would be Lyanna, by the way.) But it’s equally interesting to look at which Top 1000 names rose the most in terms of actual births.
After all, rank is relative. A (slightly) higher percentage of girls were named Charlotte in 2019, but the name remained #6. And a (slightly) smaller percentage of girls were named Layla … but it still climbed from #27 to #23.
A big jump in births can signal a leap in popularity – sometimes a year or two before it happens. Luna topped the list of fastest rising girl names two years ago, and it cracked the Top 20 this year, nearly doubling in rank along the way. Equally stylish names without a big jump in use often plateaued.
When it comes to trends in baby names, momentum matters.
FASTEST RISING GIRL NAMES
25. BLAKELY, +299 (unranked on last year’s list)
Blake Lively helped boost her surname name for girls, but lately it’s Blakely rising fastest up the girls’ popularity charts. As of 2019, Blakely ranks #182 for girls, skipping ahead of Blake, at #222. It’s a legit surname, too, of course – it means “dark woodland.”
24. MELODY, + 301 (unranked on last year’s list)
Musical names rise and fall, with names like Aria, Cadence, and Harmony all familiar in recent decades. But Melody actually debuted in the US Top 1000 way back in 1942, well before the Golden Age of word names, and had a good run in the 1960s. But now it’s risen higher than ever, reaching #118 as of 2019.
23. ALAYAH, +309 (unranked on last year’s list)
Alayah is likely a phonetic respelling of Aaliyah – an Arabic name meaning sublime. Versions of this name have been wildly popular ever since singer Aaliyah released her mega-hit debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, in 1994. Her tragic death in 2001 sent her name into the Top 100. Similar names, like Alaya and Aliyah, might also contribute to its popularity. Alayah came in at #351 in 2019, one of several similar-sounding names to chart. And then, of course, there’s Alaia – coming up farther on this list.
22. CAMILA, +309 (#6 on last year’s list)
Singer Camila Cabello’s given name already ranked in the US Top 100 when she started scoring hit after hit. It’s a logical Spanish-English crossover name, every bit as appealing as Isabella or Sofia, and just a little bit different, too. Virgil’s Aenid tells the story of a legendary warrior named Camilla, lending this pretty name a certain fierce quality, too. It now stands at #15.
21. MAEVE, +319 (unranked on last year’s list)
We long a great long ‘a’ name – just ask Ava and Grace. We’re even more wild about ‘v’. Factor in Irish roots, ties to a legendary warrior queen, and the meaning – intoxicating – and it’s no surprise this name is climbing. What really pushed Maeve up the charts? Thandie Newton’s character in HBO series Westworld. As of 2019, the name has reached a new high in the US – #244.
20. JUNIPER, +347 (unranked on last year’s list)
It feels like a June-Jennifer mash-up, but Juniper, of course, is a nature name. It’s one that’s quietly gone mainstream, entering the US Top 1000 in 2011 and climbing to #195 as of this year. Along the way, it’s transformed from hipster rarity to a perfectly reasonable choice for a daughter – but still one with plenty of spirit and verve.
19. AMORA, +349 (unranked on last year’s list)
Even if you don’t know your Spanish – or Latin – odds are you’ll recognize amor as the word for love. It helps that Amora sounds like so many three-syllable, ends-with-a names for girls, too. Likewise, Amoura rocketed up the popularity charts this year to debut in the Top 1000. Amora now sits at #353, with Amoura at #979.
18. VALENTINA, +350 (#14 on last year’s list)
Dramatic and romantic, Valentina follows names like Alexandra and Isabella into the Top 100. From a Latin word meaning strong and vigorous, Valentina is heard across Europe, but was relatively rare in English until the 1990s. Not so long ago, it might’ve been the obvious substitute for classic Victoria. But now Valentina stands at a quite popular #65 – still powerful and oh-so-wearable, but no longer rare.
17. ELLIANA, +359 (unranked on last year’s list)
Elliana feels like an inevitable chart-topper in our age of Elena and Alaina, Ellie and Lyanna, Annabelle and Ella. But it’s no invention; instead, Elliana comes from either Aelius, a Roman family name meaning sun, or a Hebrew name meaning “God has answered.” Both meanings add considerable appeal to this stylish, flowing name. It reached #146 as of 2019, but an even more popular version appears higher up on this list.
16. IVY, +391 (#10 on last year’s list)
A mini name with the middle v, and a nature name, too? Ivy seems destined for success, based on current trends. It’s been rising quickly, buoyed by parents seeking an alternative to Ava and Lily alike. Ivy also has a little bit of an edge – it’s more super-villain than girl next door, but only a little. And it’s a perfect winter holiday name for a daughter, less expected than Holly but just as appropriate. As of 2019, Ivy charts at #68.
15. KEHLANI, +392 (#20 on last year’s list)
Hawaiian names have been trending, in a quiet way, for a while. Whether it’s nature name Kai or First Daughter Malia, several have gone mainstream. Kehlani is the name of a popular singer – though the California native isn’t Hawaiian. The original spelling is Kailani – ocean plus heaven. Both versions of the name are rocketing up the popularity charts, with Kehlani reaching #242.
14. AMARA, +405 (unranked on last year’s list)
A nicely international name, Amara could mean immortal. It might mean grace, or refer to a mountain, or possibly be yet another spin on amor, love. But this name’s biggest boost came from The Vampire Diaries, where the name was part of the series’ mythology. It more than doubled in use during the early years of the show, which now includes a series of spin-offs. As of 2019, Amara ranks #140, suggesting that even if the sci fi teen series launched the name, it now appeals to parents well beyond the show’s fan base.
13. ELEANOR, +447 (unranked on last year’s list)
It’s tough to think of capable, classic Eleanor as trendy. After all, it’s been the name of saints and queens for centuries, and belongs to the widely admired Eleanor Roosevelt – to name just one historical figure. But make no mistake, Eleanor has become a fast-rising classic, an alternative to Charlotte, a sister for Abigail. As of 2019, the name ranks a lofty #27 – the name’s highest spot since the 1920s.
12. OLIVIA, +458 (unranked on last year’s list)
It’s hard to imagine a name as popular as Olivia making the list of fastest rising girl names. After all, it’s been in the Top Ten since 2001, and it has held the #2 spot since 2014. But this year, Olivia moved up from #2 to the coveted top spot in the US. Sometimes that happens because the most popular name falls, and Emma did decline in use. But Olivia also posted a big enough gain to advance. This marks the first time ever that Olivia has held the #1 spot.
11. ELIANA, +478 (unranked on last year’s list)
Everything that’s true for Elliana also applies for the single-L Eliana – the great sound, the appealing meanings, and the fast rise up the popularity charts. But Eliana is even more of a chart-topper, reaching #62 as of 2019.
10. ARYA, +492 (#13 on last year’s list)
Take Pretty Little Liars’ musical Aria, send it to Westeros, and you’ll have Arya. At #92, it’s one of three Ar- names in the girls’ Top 100.
9. HAZEL, +493 (unranked on last year’s list)
Violet, Ivy, Hazel. Ecovintage is a major trend, mixing parents’ interest in nature names with the assurance of a long history of use. Julia Roberts used the name for a daughter years ago; Emily Blunt and Jon Krasinski gave the name to a daughter in 2014. That’s the same year the John Green bestseller The Fault in Our Stars became a big screen hit, featuring the romance of Augustus and Hazel. All of this contributed to a rapid climb for Hazel, one that hasn’t slowed. Now Hazel is among the fastest rising girl names of the year, reaching #33.
8. AMELIA, +508 (#11 on last year’s list, and #3 the year before)
When it comes to fastest rising girl names, Amelia counts as one of the hottest of the bunch. It’s been on this list for three years running. The name feels gently vintage, and yet it brings to mind world-changing aviator Amelia Earhart. As of 2019, the name reached #7. That’s the name’s most popular showing – ever.
7. VIOLET, +570 (unranked on last year’s list)
If the century rule applies, then Violet is a perfect example. It was quite popular in the early twentieth century, ranking in the US Top 100 from 1901 through 1926. Then it faded, falling out of the Top 1000 entirely by the 1970s. But then came The Incredibles and Downton Abbey, and by 2012, the name had returned to the US Top 100. After a few years of quiet advances, Violet jumped by 570 births, to reach #36 in 2019.
6. ISLA, +615 (#18 on last year’s list)
Could Isla be a future Top Ten name? It only debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2008, which feels like yesterday. Australian actor Isla Fischer put it on parents’ radar. It’s a liquid name, brief and complete. With Mia in the Top Ten, it’s easy to imagine Isla as her sister – or a substitute. It now ranks #57.
5: WILLOW, +653 (#19 on last year’s list, and #15 the year before)
We’re living in a Golden Age of nature names, from ecovintage favorites like Lily to relative newcomers. Willow belongs in that second class, seldom heard as a given name until Joss Whedon introduced the world to a whipsmart witch and ally of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With the ‘o’ ending and the similarity to traditional names like William, Willow bridged the daring and the familiar. And now, long after the series has left the air, Willow has reached #46.
4. EMILIA, +716 (#12 on last year’s list, and #12 the year before)
Amelia has been a vintage sensation, replacing other traditional favorites like Emily and Abigail in the US Top Ten. Strictly speaking, Emilia isn’t related. But it’s hard not to see them as cousins. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke gets credit for boosting her name. Our love of Em names for girls helped, too. After all, Emilia keeps most of Amelia’s irresistible nickname options, and adds in Emmy. No surprise that Emilia continues to gain on Top Ten Amelia. It now stands at #42.
3. LUNA, +838 (#2 on last year’s list)
Not so long ago, we might’ve expected Harry Potter heroine Hermione’s name to catch on. After all, she appears at the heart of the action in every book. Instead, it’s a less central character who has given us the ultimate Hogwarts alumni name choice: Luna. It helps that Luna shares the stylish Lou sounds of traditional favorites like Lucy, and we’ve been wild about night sky names for a while. But Luna just won’t quit, and it’s now reached #16.
2. EVERLEIGH +1,054 (#5 on last year’s list)
Surname name Everly continues to be one of the hottest names of our moment, picking up on the sounds we love in Evelyn and Avery, Ava and Emily. The more elaborate Everleigh has been close behind, and now it has eclipsed the original, at least in terms of births. Though at #43 in the US rankings, Everly still outranks #108 Everleigh.
1. ALAIA +1,072 (unranked on last year’s list)
A Basque name meaning joyful, Alaia debuted in 2015. It climbed for a few years, and then caught fire in 2019, breaking into the Top 200. It’s the ultimate liquid name, a flowing three syllables that fits right in with Elena and Layla and so many Top 100 favorites. It works beautifully in English and Spanish – in fact, the name’s 2015 debut was thanks to the 2015 birth of Alaia, daughter of Puerto Rican actor and talk show host Adamari Lopez. The name now ranks #183.
What an exciting time for names
Delphina Moon says
I find it surprising that Melody rose this year. Lovely article