Make no mistake – the Top Ten isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when every little girl was named Mary … or Jennifer.
And yet, popularity still matters.
Looking at the current Top Ten most popular baby girl names, they do feel familiar. And realizing that a favorite name is now everybody else’s top choice, too? That’s pushed more than one parent to seek fresh inspiration.
While there’s always an element of chance to any list, the most popular baby names don’t come out of nowhere.
Examining current trends and popularity data from the fifty states, it’s often possible to guess what might be the next big thing. That informs this list of future Top Ten girl names … along with some crystal-ball gazing.
So if this list feels predictable? Maybe it is – at least a little.
Let’s look the current Top Ten first.
TOP TEN BABY GIRL NAMES IN THE US as of MAY 2022
NAMES TO WATCH for 2023
CAMILA (#12 as of 2021)
Camila has been on the watch list for a while, starting way back when it came it at #43. It’s the Spanish form of an ancient Roman name, one that belonged to a legendary warrior, her story told in the Aeneid. That sets it up to succeed the equally regal Isabella as the next big English-Spanish crossover name. In late 2015, Fifth Harmony member singer Camila Cabello launched a wildly successful solo career, putting this name on even more parents’ radar – and pushing it ever-closer to the US Top Ten. Factor in nickname potential – either zippy retro Millie or boyish Cam, borrowed from favorite Cameron – and it’s easy to imagine Camila tipping into the future Top Ten girl names.
ELEANOR (#15 as of 2021)
Some classic names always rank in the US Top Ten. Elizabeth is a favorite. Abigail ranked just a few short years ago. And right now, Charlotte occupies the #3 seat. So why not Eleanor? With the world-changing imagine of Eleanor Roosevelt, plenty of nickname options, and that feels accomplished and yet romantic, too, it’s a home run.
ELENA (#53 as of 2021)
We love El- names. Elijah ranks in the US Top Ten for boys. And plenty of El- names dot the girls’ list, from Ella to Eloise to Elena. This name is the Spanish equivalent of Helen, so, like Camila, it’s a crossover name worth watching – even if it’s currently quite far from the top.
LUNA (#11 as of 2021)
Like Camila, Luna benefits from Spanish-English crossover appeal – it’s literally the word for moon in Spanish. (And Latin, too.) Even more: a generation grew up with Luna as a Harry Potter heroine. While some might dismiss it as a modern innovation, Luna qualifies as vintage. It ranked in the Top 1000 most years from the 1880s into the 1910s. Today, everybody and their cat is called Luna. Still, it feels fresher than Lucy, and fits right in with other night sky favorites, like Stella.
HAZEL (#28 as of 2021)
A few years ago, Hazel felt unstoppable. Adorable power couple Jon Krasinski and Emily Blunt named their daughter Hazel. The Fault in Our Stars was the young adult novel that had everyone talking, featuring a modern medical take on Romeo and Juliet. Only this time they were named Gus and Hazel … sometimes Hazelgrace. While Hazel’s climb has slowed a bit in recent years, it is undeniably continuing to climb – a nature name, a color name, and a middle Z choice, too. In a forest filled with tree names like Juniper and Willow, it’s easy to imagine Hazel standing tall.
ISLA (#33 as of 2021)
Prior to the twenty-first century, no American parents were naming their daughters Isla. It had never appeared in 1000 most popular names in the US previously. Then Isla Fisher – an Australian actress of Scottish descent – became a star, and the name started to rise. It’s brief, complete, and vowel-forward, a liquid name that fits in with current trends. While the pronunciation is different, it helps that isla is the Spanish word for island, lending this name even more breezy, easy-going appeal.
IVY (#49 as of 2021)
Mini names Ava and Mia occupy the current US Top Ten. Other possibilities, like Hebrew name Noa and month-name Mae, are quietly catching on. But it’s nature name Ivy that feels most likely to crack the US Top Ten. It’s got just a little bit of an edge; that great letter V; and a mix of so many popular sounds, a mash-up of Isla and Olivia and Ava and Avery, too.
KINSLEY (#57 as of 2021)
In recent years, there’s nearly always been a surname name in the mix. Well, farther back than recent – Shirley in the 1930s and 40s; Kimberly in the 1970s; Ashley by the 1990s. But it’s easy to forget those names started out in the last name spot. More recent favorites, like Taylor, Madison, and Harper point towards the future – possible – success of Kinsley. A mix of Kelly, Kelsey, and similar sounds, Kinsley could be the next big thing. Will it make one of the future Top Ten girl names? Maybe …
NORA (#27 as of 2021)
Nora straddles an interesting divide. It can feel serious – an accomplished attorney. You’d want your heart surgeon or accountant to be named Nora. But it’s also a bouncing, light name. It works for a girl. And it works for a woman, too – an artist, a musician, a poet. The similar Cora had a good run, but Nora has appeared on several editions of this list. Why? Precisely because it appeals to parents looking for an upbeat, Irish import, or a serious, valedictorian kind of name.
NOVA (#32 as of 2021)
From the Latin word for new, Nova – like Luna and Stella – makes us think of the night sky. (A nova appears to be a new star, though it’s actually more complicated.) Since the 1970s, PBS has run Nova, an award-winning television series focused on science. It all makes Nova as smart as Athena, as strong as Freya, as celestial as Lyra – but far more popular than any of those rising choices. It also shares sounds with vintage gems like Vera and Nora. Add it all up, and Nova is the modern name with serious style that feels like one to watch.
PENELOPE (#23 as of 2021)
For years, Penelope ranked as a quirky classic. More Ophelia or Veronica than Sophia or Emily. Except that everything changes, and Penelope has quietly shifted from sometimes-heard ancient Greek literary name to fast favorite, chosen by women as different as Kourtney Kardashian and Tina Fey. Now Penelope is following Chloe and Zoe, while blazing a path for Daphne and Phoebe. But will that path take it all the way to the future Top Ten girl names? Possibly …
WILLOW (#39 as of 2021)
Willow became a nature name option back in the 1990s, thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s bewitching sidekick and then Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter, born in the year 2000. It mixes a gentle image with plenty of meaning and strength. Plus, girls’ names ending with O have become mainstream favorites in recent years, meaning that Willow sounds perfectly reasonable as a daughter’s name. At first glance, Willow doesn’t have much in common with previous chart-toppers, but there’s no reason to imagine that the future Top Ten girl names will merely repeat the past.
PAST PREDICTIONS: HITS & MISSES
*Indicates that the name ranked in the US Top Ten after appearing on the list of predictions
Amelia officially entered the US Top Ten in 2017. The image of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart tempers the name’s demure image. Earhart never really leaves the public imagination, and a 2009 movie starring Hilary Swank as the celebrated pilot came at just the right moment to give this high-flying vintage name some extra lift.
Musical Aria rocketed up the US Top 1000. It entered the charts in the year 2000, cracked the Top 100 in 2012, boosted by characters from Pretty Little Liars and Game of Thrones. (Though Arya Stark spelled her name with a Y.) It hasn’t been enough to take Aria to the Top Ten, though. Then again, the popularity of longer names, like Ariana and Arianna, might have obscured how very stylish this sound had become.
Claire has bounced around Top 100 since 1998. It’s gently French, and brief, but complete – a mix of Josephine and Grace. Interestingly, only two single-syllable girls’ names – Ruth and Joan – have ever made the US Top Five.
Two-syllable choices with a strong-L sound are quite popular – and several feature on this list. And Ella just won’t quit, a brief and complete name that continues to enjoy plenty of use. The sound is even more familiar – think Bella, Stella, Isabella, and more. It seemed poised to succeed Emma, for a while. Instead, Ella has become a perpetual Top 20 favorite – but no higher.
Evelyn is the second name on this list that did, indeed, make the Top Ten, entering in 2017. It has a tailored style, vintage status, and that stylish middle V parents-to-be love. It’s also, strictly speaking, unisex, though in the US, it’s used almost exclusively for girls.
Adding an L sound to Mia might’ve made Mila the equivalent of turning it up to eleven. Factor in a great meaning – gracious – and Mila might’ve have been the next big thing. Lately, though, Mila is decreasing in use. Still a very popular pick, Mila seems likely to avoid the Top Ten – at least for now.
Paisley is a high energy surname name, a vibrant pattern and a last name in the first spot. Harper followed Madison followed Taylor. Plus, plenty of other P names – Piper, Penelope, Payton – have been favorites in recent years. Paisley seemed like it could easily be next. Then again, no girl name starting with P has made the US Top Five since mid-century favorite Patricia. And, apparently, predicting the next big surname name is harder than it looks, because Paisley lanugishes in the 50s right now – very popular, but not a chart-topper.
As with Paisley, the argument for Riley’s ascent seems straightforward. It has all that upbeat Irish energy that’s taken names like Liam to the top. And the young girl at the center of Disney-Pixar movie Inside Out helped boost this name from 2015 to 2016. But it looks like even a healthy dose of pixie dust couldn’t take Riley to the top. One factor: spellings like Rylee, Ryleigh, and Rylie diluted the numbers and made it tough to gauge exactly how popular Riley had become.
Colorful Scarlett started out as the heroine of Gone With the Wind. (It’s an English surname, originally; the character’s name in the book is Katie Scarlett.) Then came Scarlett Johansson, who graduated from ingenue in 2003’s Lost in Translation to serious Hollywood A-lister as a mainstay of the Avengers and a serious actor, earning not one – but two – Academy Award nominations in recent years. Along the way, Scarlett became a mainstream staple, exuberant and a little bit edgy.
Victoria has two advantages: first, it sounds great in Spanish. But secondly, it’s so very regal. The luminous Jenna Coleman played a young Queen Victoria on the British import series, putting this name on even more parents’ lists for a few seasons. While it remains a strong traditional choice, with nickname options galore, Victoria hasn’t quite cracked the most popular choices in the US.
FARTHER (and VERY FAR) INTO THE FUTURE
What girl names will be popular in 2030?
If predicting next year’s most popular girl names is difficult, looking forward just a few more years is truly daunting. The future Top Ten girl names of 2030 are even more difficult to imagine.
But names like Maeve, Eloise, River, Juniper, and Lucia all have a lot of momentum as of the 2021 rankings. If you’re looking at girl names that will be popular in the future, the fast-risers of today could be a logical place to start.
What girl names will be popular in 2050?
Jump another generation or so forward, and what names might be topping the charts?
If the 100 year rule continues to apply, then some of the most popular picks of the 1950s could be favorites for our daughters in the middle of this new century. That means asking ourselves which old names are coming back now … and which ones could return as future Top Ten girl names.
Are we ready for newborns known as Deborah, Patricia, Nancy, and Carol? It sounds outlandish today, but those could be the white hot vintage revivals of a future generation.
Ultimately, though, it’s very difficult to hazard guesses about the most popular names in twenty years – or even five. After all, names like Luna and Willow didn’t even appear in the US Top 1000 in 1970, so guessing what names will be popular in the future? That’s always a gamble.
Do you agree with these future Top Ten girl names? Agree/disagree with any of them?
Originally published on April 27, 2020, this post was revised and updated on April 20, 2023.