New Names Showdown 2016 girls opening roundReady for summer fun, baby names style? Welcome to the first ever New Names Showdown 2016 girls opening round!

Our goal: to choose the name most likely to climb dramatically when the new numbers come out in 2017. This is the girls’ contest; the boys’ opening round will post tomorrow.

Where did the names come from, you ask?

I went through the list of all the names new to the US Top 1000 this year, and picked eight. Eight names that weren’t clearly spelling variations of existing names. (Sorry, Adaline and Adilynn!) Obvious pop culture phenoms also were passed by – even though newcomer Dalary could follow sister name Daleyza right up the charts.

It’s very possible that I omitted a future Top 100 name.

And yet, I couldn’t think of any practical way to put 47 names in the mix for!

So here are eight names that debuted in – or returned to – the US Top 1000, based on the May 2016 data. Over the next few weeks, we’ll narrow down our favorites, until we have the Appellation Mountain community’s top pick. And then, next May 2017, we’ll see how well our favorite name fares in the names data.

Make sense? Ready, set, vote!

New Names Showdown 2016 Girls Opening Round: Zelda v. Frankie

Vintage, jazz age Zelda and short, sassy Frankie could be sister names – which makes this match up especially difficult!

New Names Showdown 2016 Girls Opening Round: Alaia v. Lyra

At first glance, I thought Alaia might another in the endless twists on Aaliyah. But it’s a separate name, meaning joyful in Basque. Lyra, of course, is a musical, celestial name with ties to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Both names remind me of smash hit Aria – which is to say, they could be huge.

New Names Showdown 2016 Girls Opening Round: Briar v. Ophelia

Briar is a Disney princess, the name used by Sleeping Beauty while she was in hiding. Ophelia is Shakespeare’s doomed maiden, Hamlet’s might-have-been bride. A glance at the current Top 100 demonstrates that both sources can produce hits – Disney’s Jasmine and the Bard’s Olivia are proof plenty.

New Names Showdown 2016 Girls Opening Round: Arden v. Kensington

There have always been tailored names for girls, like Margaret and Eleanor. Parents love this style – just look at Harper and Madison and Riley. So it’s always worth keeping an eye on tailored names on the rise. Kensington, of course, has a royal pedigree – it’s a London palace, and the current home of Will and Kate. Arden, too, has a story to tell. It’s a forest in England – and the second name with a tie to Shakespeare. Could either of these be the next Brooklyn/Piper/Skylar?

Thanks for voting! Check back next Friday to see which of your favorite names won the New Names Showdown 2016 Opening Round!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Most of these are guilty pleasure names for me. If I were to rename my five kids with gp names, they would be Wilder, Lyra, Zelda, Caspian, and Ophelia.

  2. Love the new game! Can’t wait to see how we do when the numbers come out in May. 🙂

  3. I’ve read all your “name help” posts and see there are different naming style terms. What exactly is meant by “tailored name”?

    1. Excellent question, Serena – this might require a post! I don’t have a rock solid definition, but when I use it for girls, here’s what I mean. The name ends in a consonant, as opposed to a vowel. (Usually!) It can be short and modern (Sloane) or long and traditional (Caroline), or somewhere in between (Karen). Or a mix of the above – I’d call Bess and Kensington tailored, too. My definition won’t match everyone else’s, either – I tend to think of Harriet at tailored, but others have pointed out that -iet (and -iette more so) feels very feminine and frilly. Hmmm … definitely something that needs more attention. Because I *do* say it a lot, don’t I?

      1. In my head tailored means not frilly. Stylish and minimal. Emma = tailored, Emily not. Noa tailored, Naomi not. Sarah tailored, Seraphine not. Etc. The ‘nots’ aren’t worse names just different categories I think.

        And I know these aren’t pairs of etymologically linked names, I was going for sound similarities.