What are the most popular word names 2016?
It sounds like an easy question, but when I started to count ’em up, I stumbled.
My first take of this list stretched long, long, long. Some of the possibilities were vaguely archaic. Yes, I know that, once upon a time, mason was a job. But if I’m using Mason in a sentence in 2016, betcha it’s a given name.
The opposite problem came up, too. Christian is a word, no doubt, and I can certainly use it as a noun or an adjective. But it has also been a given name for ages.
In the end, I bid adieu to both Mason and Christian.
Choosing the most popular word names 2016 went far more smoothly when I turned to the girls’ side. Virtue names and nature names abound, so I had my top six before I’d finishing reviewing the Top 100. Not too shabby!
In the end, these rules (mostly) determined which names made the cut:
- Must be a found in a skinny li’l paperback dictionary.
- Must be spelled as it would appear in said dictionary. (Sorry, Scarlett and Jett!)
- Cannot be familiar as a surname. (Arrivederci, Hunter!)
- Cannot be long-established as a given name. (Or, how Christian got the boot, and Mark, too.)
- Cannot be a place name. (Au revoir, London. And Camden and Paris and Savannah and … it’s a long list.)
That left these thirty popular word names 2016, half for boys and half for girls.
Popular Word Names 2016: Boys
Chase (#74) – An action verb name that feels energetic and at home on a prep school campus.
Roman (#102) – Rome would be disqualified, but adjective Roman – as in Roman villa and Roman nose – just squeaks by.
Miles (#107) – Am I cheating here? I almost booted Miles along with Christian, but we can – and do – travel miles and run miles and measure MPH.
King (#163) – King rules! What more is there to say?
Grant (#177) – Another name that nearly fails the tests, I’ll grant you – except that I can easily use it as a verb.
Maverick (#184) – No question here, Maverick is mostly a word. Okay, and a call sign for Tom Cruise. And ask me in 2066, and I’ll probably say Maverick is an underused early twenty-first century gem ready for revival. Ahem.
Jasper (#215) – Finally, we reach the first straight-up nature name on this list! It’s not new – after all, we call one of the three wise men Jasper. (Or Caspar or Gaspard …) But Jasper feels very twenty-first century.
Rowan (#219) – Rowan continues to rise, a unisex nature name almost so familiar it joins Christian and Mark on the names-before-words list. For now, it remains a tree name. (And an Irish surname name, but that’s a different list.)
River (#244) – A stylish sound, a modern vibe, ties to the late River Phoenix … this word name succeeds for so many reasons.
Chance (#250) – Less cumbersome than Bonaventure, more name-like than Lucky, Chance is a modern virtue word name that’s very wearable.
Cash (#267) – Cash is king – um, except that King actually ranks higher on this list! Let’s say that Cash is cool, bringing to mind the man in black, influential music legend Johnny Cash.
Lane (#296) – Once a surname for someone living near a path, Lane now feels like a brisk, bright name for a child.
Colt (#337) – A gun, a beer, a young horse. Colt succeeds as a baby name, too, possibly thanks to surname name Colton ranking in the US Top 100.
Legend (#392) – It’s a lot to live up to, but Legend seems unstoppable. Unheard before the 1990s, Legend has soared into the mainstream.
Ace (#418) – Ace brings to mind fighter pilots, winning hands of cards, and tennis serves. Oh, and also the most popular word names 2016.
Popular Word Names 2016: Girls
Grace (#19) – Grace marries classic elegance with modern popular word names 2016.
Aria (#29) – Operatic Aria owes its success to Pretty Little Liars, Game of Thrones, and our never-ending affection for A names and ends-in-ia picks. How could Aria fail to rise?
Violet (#50) – Shrinking no more, Violet is vintage and powerfully popular today.
Hazel (#63) – Another word name with history, this nineteenth century favorite is on the upswing.
Serenity (#71) – We’ve reached the first truly modern word name on the list, unheard of before the 1990s and now perfectly mainstream.
Ruby (#83) – Red Ruby leads the gemstone names for girls, and also represents the most popular source of color name inspiration for girls: red.
Faith (#91) – Popular with the Puritans, Faith ranks as the most obviously spiritual of the popular word names 2016.
Willow (#111) – Take a popular Joss Whedon character, factor in Will Smith’s famous daughter, and no surprise that gentle nature name Willow ranks among the most popular word names 2016.
Jasmine (#112) – Jasmine was already a hit before this name soared on Aladdin’s magic carpet. Today it feels like a culture-crossing botanical that still has some style, even if it’s no longer surprising and new.
Jade (#129) – Jade tops the list of the literally green names for girls, more modern than Olive, but not as out-there as Emerald.
Ivy (#129) – It’s not just for Christmas anymore! Ivy has followed Ava up the charts as parents embrace mini names, and word names, too.
Melody (#148) – Melody started to rise in the 1940s, had a good run in the 1960s, and now ranks a record-high #148. It’s fresher than Melanie, and still less common than Aria.
Rose (#166) – Classic, elegant, restrained Rose is at the head of several Rose- names, all gaining in use.
Daisy (#183) – Another floral name, this one friendly and accessible.
Harmony (#184) – The third musical choice among the most popular word names 2016 for girls, Harmony doubles as a virtue name.
Now it’s your turn: would you use a word name? Any of these, or something more obscure?