New Names Showdown 2023: The WinnersJuly has flown by! Your votes have chosen another pair of winners for the New Names Showdown Hall of Champions.

What, exactly, is this about?

Every year, when the US Social Security Administration updates their popularity data, there are risers and fallers. Some names debut in the US Top 1000 for the very first time. Others return after an absence – sometimes decades and decades long!

Those new and returning names attract a lot of attention.

Many will eventually rise far higher on the popularity charts, becoming favorites. After all, names don’t become #1 – or even #27 or #113 – overnight. It takes time to catch on.

And Appellation Mountain readers are pretty good about trend spotting.

So every year, after the Social Security Administration releases the new popularity data, I choose eight boys’ names and eight girls’ names. Then you vote your way through ’em, bracket-style, until just two names are left standing.

In 2023, we started with:


  1. CIELO (#998)
  2. EMILIANA (#995)
  3. GEORGINA (#878)
  4. LOVE (#754)
  5. MARIGOLD (#833)
  6. NORI (#934)
  7. MEILANI (#952)
  8. XYLA (#979)


  1. AURELIO (#986)
  2. CHOSEN (#898)
  3. DUTTON (#835)
  4. LUX (#981)
  5. MURPHY (#885)
  6. RHODES (#922)
  7. TEO (#945)
  8. ZEN (#911)

As of last week, we had reached the finals! Here’s how they turned out:

In the final girls’ match, Marigold trounced Nori, with a commanding 78% of the vote. There are lots of reasons to imagine Marigold might be a future style star. We love flower names. It sounds vintage – and, just like current favorite Violet, there’s a Downton Abbey connection to make Marigold feel familiar. It doesn’t need a nickname, but Mari, Goldie, and Maggie all work. My guess is that Marigold is going places.

On the boys’ side, Rhodes garnered almost 58% of the vote against Murphy. That’s a much closer match, but again, I think AM readers are on to something. Rhodes is a place name with a low key Marvel Cinematic Universe tie. And we love a good s-ending name for a boy. Plus, Rhodes is a little bit smart and rugged at the same time.

So let’s add those two names to the list of past champions!


  • Marigold (2023)
  • Guinevere (2022)
  • Etta (2021)
  • Elodie (2020)
  • Zora (2019)
  • Marlowe (2018)
  • Sylvie (2017)
  • Arden (2016)


  • Rhodes (2023)
  • Benedict (2022)
  • Leif (2021)
  • Callahan (2020)
  • Archie (2019)
  • Wells (2018)
  • Shepherd (2017)
  • Wilder (2016)

Thank you for voting – this year and every year!

Do you have any favorites from the New Names Showdown past winners?

NNS Boy Winners 2023 update NNS Girl Name Winners 2023 update

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.

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