What are the future Top 1000 baby names?
Every year, I like to hazard a guess. (Though I skipped last year!)
Here’s the thing:
Names that rank in the US Top 1000 attract more attention than those that are just outside of the list.
That’s because the list of the 1000 most popular names in the US is everywhere. It’s on the Social Security Administration website, of course. But it’s the list that drives most of what we talk about when we talk about names. The new Top Ten, the fastest rising, antiques that are back again, names from pop culture that are suddenly turning up in nurseries.
If a name appears in the US Top 1000, odds are good that it will get some attention.
While names that rank 1127 or even 1014? They’re much less visible.
And that means parents are less likely to use them for their children.
Except names are always changing, and some names do enter – and leave – the Top 1000 – every year.
And so it’s worth noting the new names. And it’s fun to try to guess them, too!
GIRL NAMES THAT I’VE GUESSED WOULD ENTER THE US TOP 1000
Starting way back in 2015, I’ve bet on fifteen names (nearly) every year. Many of them repeat. And, of course, once they enter the rankings, they’re retired from the list.
Here are the 54 girls’ names I’ve considered Future Top 1000 baby names candidates:
- ANTONELLA (ranks #558 as of the 2020 data)
- BELLAMY (ranks #795 as of the 2020 data)
- BRIAR (ranks #563 as of the 2020 data)
- CLEMENTINE (ranks #610 as of the 2020 data)
- CLEO (ranks #885 as of the 2020 data)
- ELODIE (ranks #701 as of the 2020 data)
- FLORA (ranks #932 as of the 2020 data)
- FLORENCE (ranks #762 as of the 2020 data)
- FRANKIE (ranks #591 as of the 2020 data)
- INDIE (ranks #795 as of the 2020 data)
- JOVIE (ranks #922 as of the 2020 data)
- LANDRY (ranks #879 as of the 2020 data)
- LOUISE (ranks #690 as of the 2020 data)
- LUELLA (ranks #987 as of the 2020 data)
- MARLOWE (ranks #921 as of the 2020 data)
- MAVIS (ranks #841 as of the 2020 data)
- MAXINE (ranks #737 as of the 2020 data)
- NOA (ranks #466 as of the 2020 data)
- OCTAVIA (ranks #335 as of the 2020 data)
- OPAL (ranks #659 as of the 2020 data)
- OPHELIA (ranks #391 as of the 2020 data)
- PALMER (ranks #347 as of the 2020 data)
- PERSEPHONE (ranks #820 as of the 2020 data)
- POPPY (ranks #462 as of the 2020 data)
- PROMISE (ranks #855 as of the 2020 data)
- RAMONA (ranks #816 as of the 2020 data)
- SALEM (ranks #607 as of the 2020 data)
- SCOUT (ranks #874 as of the 2020 data)
- SYLVIE (ranks #776 as of the 2020 data)
- ZELDA (ranks #559 as of the 2020 data)
- ZORA (ranks #877 as of the 2020 data)
BOY NAMES THAT I’VE GUESSED WOULD ENTER THE US TOP 1000
Again, there’s a long list of boy names – 60 in total! – that I’ve considered potential future Top 1000 baby names over the last seven years.
- ARCHIE (ranks #466 as of the 2020 data)
- BAKER (ranks #524 as of the 2020 data)
- BANKS (ranks #751 as of the 2020 data)
- BEAR (ranks #897 as of the 2020 data)
- BODEN (ranks #825 as of the 2020 data)
- BOONE (ranks #577 as of the 2020 data)
- CAIRO (ranks #346 as of the 2020 data)
- CALLAHAN (ranks #798 as of the 2020 data)
- CASPIAN (ranks #764 as of the 2020 data)
- CREED (ranks #796 as of the 2020 data)
- DENVER (ranks #527 as of the 2020 data)
- EVEREST (ranks #982 as of the 2020 data)
- FORD (ranks #459 as of the 2020 data)
- GATLIN (ranks #777 as of the 2020 data)
- HARLEM (ranks #911 as of the 2020 data)
- HARRIS (ranks #988 as of the 2020 data)
- JONES (ranks #946 as of the 2020 data)
- KAISER (ranks #869 as of the 2020 data)
- KOA (ranks #587 as of the 2020 data)
- LEDGER (ranks #626 as of the 2020 data)
- LEGACY (ranks #767 as of the 2020 data)
- LEIF (ranks #917 as of the 2020 data)
- LIAN (ranks #795 as of the 2020 data)
- OSIRIS (ranks #910 as of the 2020 data)
- OTIS (ranks #649 as of the 2020 data)
- REIGN (ranks #643 as of the 2020 data)
- RIGGS (ranks #945 as of the 2020 data)
- SHEPHERD (ranks #605 as of the 2020 data)
- WILDER (ranks #431 as of the 2020 data)
PREDICTIONS FOR FUTURE TOP 1000 NAMES: GIRLS
This year’s list feels every bit as eclectic as the ones that came before.
An Arabic name meaning hope, Amal made headlines after the incredibly accomplished human rights attorney Amal Alamuddin married Hollywood A-lister George Clooney in 2014. It’s tailored, cosmopolitan, and comes with a great meaning. It’s also rising rapidly in the UK.
Boyish Andie fits right in with so many sparky, boyish nickname names we love for our daughters, from Charlie to Indie. It updates Andrea and honors Andrew. Pop culture references range from Pretty in Pink in the 80s to The Devil Wears Prada in the early 2000s. Drop the ‘e’ and there’s Disney Channel’s Andi Mack. It’s one of those names that’s just always been in the air, but hasn’t appeared in the US Top 1000 – yet.
Update: Billie entered the US Top 1000 at #941.
Billie shares all of Andie’s appeal plus one more factor. Singer Billie Eilish is just twenty years old, but she’s already a major figure in music today. She’s already scored seven Grammy Awards and an Oscar for Best Original Song, and that’s only a taste of her accomplishments. While Eilish raises the name’s profile, it’s worth noting that she’s not the first Billie. From tennis great Billie Jean King to legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, this name offers history galore.
Update: Birdie entered the US Top 1000 at #897.
Vintage nicknames meets nature names with Birdie. It’s all the best of Sadie and Wren. And while Birdie might be short for a more traditional name – Elizabeth, perhaps, or Bernadette – it appeared in the US Top 1000 as an independent given name well into the 1940s in the US. Birdie isn’t a brand new innovation; it’s the revival of an overlooked vintage gem.
Update: Clover entered the US Top 1000 at #866.
Clover, on the other hand, is all new. It’s a nature name, of course. But it’s also virtue-adjacent. Four-leaf clovers signify luck and good fortune. It might be a heritage choice, too, a name for a child of Irish descent that’s every bit as obvious as Erin or Maeve, but still a little unexpected. Clover also benefits from our love of -r ending girl names, like Harper and Piper.
Update: Billie entered the US Top 1000 at #883.
A major theme for this year’s list of future Top 1000 baby names? All of these vintage nicknames for girls. Goldie glitters. Not only is the precious metal a factor, but it brings to mind Hollywood’s Goldie Hawn. And yes, it’s Hawn’s given name. When she was born in 1945, Goldie ranked solidly in the US Top 1000 and had since 1880. Along with Golda, it has a history of use in Yiddish, where golda means gold. But it’s also a straight-up color name. If Ruby can rank in the Top 100, Goldie might not be far behind.
We love surname names for girls, and our favorites are often those that shorten to familiar, feminine nicknames. With Emery ranked in the US girls’ Top 100, looking at Ellery as a member of the future Top 1000 baby names seems logical. After all, we love a good three-syllable, ends with-y or -ie choice. Just ask the parents of all those girls named Avery, Everly, and Kennedy.
Traditional names trend in and out of favor. That sounds contradictory at first – doesn’t traditional mean they’re always in use? Well, yes … but some years more than others. By the 1970s, Harriet was Nellie Olsen’s snobbish mother on Little House on the Prairie – just as mean, but without the golden ringlets. All these years later, though, Harriet is just straight-up antique, a vintage name that’s seen nickname Hattie already return to the Top 1000. Juliet and Juliette are popular choices. It’s not a leap to imagine Harriet rising in use.
It would be easy to dismiss Inaya as an invention. But it’s actually an import, from an Arabic word meaning care. It’s gaining in popularity across Europe, and it only seems logical that American parents will be next. As parents seek out increasingly global names, Inaya feels like a a stands-out/fits-in choice, one with an attractive sound and a lovely meaning, too.
Downton Abbey introduced the world to a child named Marigold in 2014, daughter of middle Crawley sister Edith. It’s an unconventional name, but nearly any pleasant-sounding flower seems possible. A small number of children have been named Marigold over the years. But it shot straight up ever since Downton used it. It’s a little bit of a double dip, too – Marigold comes with built-in nickname Goldie, also featured on the list of future Top 1000 baby names.
La Casa de Papel started out on Spanish television as a crime drama. Netflix bought the rights to stream it and then added additional seasons. Chances are you know the show as Money Heist. Alba Flores plays Agata Jimenez, better known as Nairobi. All of the bank robbers on the team are known by their aliases. Some, like Stockholm, make unlikely given names. Others, like Rio and Denver, already are. File Nairobi on the list of potential up-and-comers, similar to Naomi but completely different, too. It’s grown in use dramatically since the series’ debut, and seems tailored-made for the future Top 1000 baby names.
Update: Ocean entered the girls’ US Top 1000 at #877.
A handful of word names have debuted for boys one year, and girls the next. Or vice versa. Since Ocean debuted on the boys’ list last year, it seems almost inevitable to list it with the girls’ future Top 1000 baby names for this round. We love nature names, particularly ones associated with water. And there’s nothing gender-specific about this name. In fact, Océane – pronounced oh seh AHN – has seen use in the French-speaking world for girls already.
When Star Wars introduced next generation hero Rey, it seemed possible that parents might embrace it for their daughters. That didn’t quite happen. But Rae might owe its burgeoning success to the lightsaber-wielding Jedi. Or maybe it’s our ongoing love for mini names, like Ava and Mia. The spelling Rae also feels more squarely feminine, both because it resembles our preferred spelling for Mae and because it features in lots of established compound names, like Raelynn.
We love names inspired by the color blue. Just ask Navy and Skye. And gemstones always have a place on popular name lists. But Sapphire also makes the future Top 1000 baby names list because it resembles Sophia and Josephine with that soft PH sound. The “fire” sound at the end of Sapphire feels compelling, too, a bold possibility that could be a sister for Blaze.
Quirky, unexpected Tallulah is the kind of choice that name fans adore, but parents seldom consider. At least not until now. It’s climbed in use in England, and has gained dramatically in the US throughout the 21st century, too. It fits with longer names for girls, like Isabella, and also shares the L- heavy sound that we love in Delilah and Eliana. Plus, Lou names like Luna and Lucy are having a moment.
PREDICTIONS FOR FUTURE TOP 1000 BOY NAMES
Nature names, brief and brisk choices, and little gentlemen all mix on this list of possible future Top 1000 names for our sons.
A gentle nature name, Ash brings to mind current favorites like Rowan. But it also feels like a fresh update to Ashley and Ashton, and shares the appeal of fast-rising Biblical name Asher, too. In age when Kai is a Top 100 darling, Ash seems like an obvious choice for a son. Plus, this generation of parents grew up on Pokemon, where Ash Ketchum is the young trainer of the electrifying Pikachu.
Like Ash, Beck borrows part of an already popular name. But while Beckett is polished and smart, Beck feels a little edgier. Maybe that’s because of musician Beck – birth name Bek Campbell – or maybe it’s just the sound. It’s a nature name, too; Beck is derived from the Middle English word bekke or bec, meaning stream. (Sometimes it’s also the root of Beckett.) With so many boys answering to Jack, and alternatives like Hank attracting more attention, Beck makes sense.
Update: Benedict entered the US Top 1000 at #991.
At the same moment many parents are opting for brisk, bold names for their boys, another trend emerges. It’s the next generation of Little Gentleman names, the successors to Sebastian and Oliver. Benedict benefits from all those sounds and syllables, paired with an easily accessible nickname, Ben. Plus Benedict Cumberbatch makes the name broadly familiar. He’s both a celebrated thespian, known for serious roles that lead to Oscar nominations, and a member of the Marvel Universe, known as Doctor Strange.
Update: Bowie entered the US Top 1000 at #950.
The late David Bowie’s surname checks a lot of boxes. It honors a world-changing musician, just like Hendrix and Lennon. But it also shares a sound that parents love for our boys right now: Bo. Beau is poised just outside of the current US Top 100; Bodhi (choose your spelling), Bowen, and Boden are rising, too. The name’s association with the bowie knife doesn’t detract, at least not in our Remington moment. (Also: David took his stage name from James Bowie, the nineteenth century American frontiersman for whom the knife is named.) Following the musician’s death in 2016, the name briefly charted in the US Top 1000, but it seems poised for a more lasting return.
Update: Cassian entered the US Top 1000 at #969.
The Star Wars universe is vast. Major characters – Kylo, maybe, or Leia – feel wedded to the franchise. But you have to more of a devoted fan to immediately connect Cassian to the franchise. After all, it’s a Roman family name from the ancient world, and several saints answer to Cassian. But Cassian Andor was also Diego Luna’s character in Rogue One. While the movie was meant as a stand-alone, the events are significant. And now Luna is set to reprise the role in a Disney+ original series titled Andor, about events prior to Rogue One. The series is expected to debut later in 2022, but buzz about the show might already be boosting Cassian.
Deckard Shaw is part of The Fast and the Furious franchise. He’s an enemy-turned-ally, played by Jason Statham. Ever since the character was introduced in 2013, it seemed like Deckard had potential. It’s rough and tumble, but with a little bit of polish, too – just like the popular character. Deckard did rise post-2013, except the simplified Decker rose even faster. And why not? We love an -r ending boys’ name, a preppy hellraiser in the key of Wilder. Decker fits right in.
Update: Elio entered the US Top 1000 at #842.
We love boy names ending with vowels like O, and romance language choices are hotter than ever. If we’re wild for Leo and Luca, Elijah and Eli, then Elio seems like an obvious choice. Another plus? Elio has a great meaning. It’s Italian by way of Greek, and comes from Helios, the sun god. It’s rising in use in Europe, so why not in the US, too? 2017 coming of age movie Call Me By Your Name helped boost Elio, too, especially after young actor Timothée Chalamet was nominated for an Oscar for the role.
Update: Evander entered the US Top 1000 at #767.
This looks like an Evan-Alexander mash-up, but if you know your Trojan war, you’ll recognize Evander as one of the heroes. It’s said he helped found the settlement that would eventually become Rome. His name literally means “good man.” Those are all strong reasons to imagine parents embracing the name, right along with Atlas and Orion and other mythological monikers. Other figures make the name familiar, including athletes. Retired boxer Evander Holyfield is the best known, but a younger generation might think of the NHL’s Evander Kane.
Update: Granger entered the US Top 1000 at #953.
So many popular names start out as slight twists on a current favorite. Granger owes quite a bit to Grayson, and just as much to boy names ending with -r. Famous Grangers including Harry Potter hero Hermione, but there are dozens more. It’s a popular place name, too. It’s sometimes used as an equivalent of farmer, though a Granger was originally more of an official on a large estate. In the US, The Grange is an advocacy group for farmers and a staple of life in rural America, dating to the 1860s. It’s a down-to-earth name with plenty of strength and resilience.
Holly is long-established as a girls’ given name, predating current favorites like Willow by decades. Surname Hollis comes straight from Holly, and it’s not really new. It ranked in the boys’ Top 1000 in the US into the 1970s, and occasionally charted for girls, too. But that’s just enough time for Hollis to feel like an undiscovered gem once more. It fits with -s ending boy names like Miles and Ellis, but also with nature-adjacent choices. And while many borrowings from the natural world read rugged – Ridge, maybe, or Canyon – Hollis sounds a little more like a gentlemanly choice, a brother for Benedict.
Update: Loyal entered the US Top 1000 at #753.
We like to think that twenty-first century parents invented word names, but they’ve been around for ages. Royal is climbing in the US Top 1000 today, but also regularly charted from the 1880s into the 1960s. And so why not Loyal? Same sound, but a different vibe. Royal is bold, while Loyal makes for an understated virtue name. It’s a universal virtue, too – like True, something that is broadly acknowledged as good. Likewise, Loyal regularly appeared in the US Top 1000 from the 1890s into the 1940s. It’s a name that’s just waiting for a comeback.
We’ve fallen hard for names from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Audrey. Ava. But the leading men have been less popular – at least thus far. Montgomery, as in Clift, might change that. It’s a surname name like Mason or Carter, but more complicated and old world – a whole other vibe. Monty is both a sweet nickname and an unexpected one. Still, it feels a little more high energy than Percival or Kenelm. A wearable name that takes an existing trend in a fresh direction, Montgomery could be ready to return to the US Top 1000 for the first time since the 1960s.
Update: Ozzy entered the US Top 1000 at #712.
When it comes to future Top 1000 names, some of them seem like only-in-the-2020s names. (It’s hard to imagine Ryatt circa 1946.) But many more might be revivals. After all, wholesome sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet graduated from radio to television, running on ABC from 1952 to 1966. But Ozzie Nelson was really Oswald. As for that heavy metal Ozzy? He’s John Michael Osbourne, a thoroughly respectable name. But just like Birdie and Goldie feel like fresh options for our daughters, the midcentury-meets-rock-star Ozzy could be the masculine equivalent.
Yes, it’s a gussied-up respelling of Riot. Which is a polarizing kind of name, one that makes a teacher or prospective employer pause. Ryatt, though, seems just a little different. It mixes the sounds of respectable chart-toppers like Ryan and Wyatt, picks up on a midcentury comic strip called The Ryatts, and a minor anime character from a 2019 YouTube series. More importantly, it makes this list of future Top 1000 names because of a steady gain in numbers. Just like Maverick once seemed like a lot of name to live up to, Ryatt might one day feel perfectly mainstream.
Journalist Stone Phillips – yes, that’s on his birth certificate – became a household name in the 1990s. That was solidly before parents embraced nature names in a big way. And so Stone never quite caught on back then, though it routinely ranked in the US Top 1000 around the time Phillips appeared on nightly television. Today, though, it’s right on point.