By Pamela Redmond Satran for Nameberry
There are new no. 1 baby names for both girls and boys on Nameberry for 2012. Movie queen Katniss, heroine of "The Hunger Games," takes the top spot among our most-viewed names for girls, while Irish mythological name Finn leapfrogs over our former top boy names Asher and Henry to claim the most popular crown.
Our official 2012 popularity lists, based on nearly 13 million views of our name pages, reflect current interest and future trends in baby names. What’s hot: quirky, traditional names for girls, new Old Testament choices for boys, along with Scandinavian and ancient Roman names.
Names moving fastest up the ladder for girls include the Kardashian choice Penelope, Chloe, Evelyn, and Wren. Boys’ names leapfrogging in popularity include the biblical Simon, Zachary, and Samuel, along with imports Kieran and Soren.
Unisex names continue to be popular, with Harper, Quinn, and Rowan the Top 3. Of these, Harper and Quinn are moving further toward the girls’ side, while Rowan remains more evenly divided between the genders.
Here, Nameberry’s full official Top 100 lists for both girls and boys, along with the Top 10 unisex names.
Plus, here are Nameberry’s predictions for baby names in 2013.
Russell Crowe’s "Gladiator" and HBO’s "Rome" may have kindled the trend for Ancient Roman names, but then the megahit "The Hunger Games" drove it into the big-time. With another film of the series set for November 2013, we predict that names of old world gods and goddesses, mythological heroes and leaders will dominate birth announcements. Choices we’ll be hearing more of include Augustus and Atticus, Persephone and Athena, Juno and Julius, Thor and Maeve. The appeal transcends the pop culture influence: These names are as powerful as they are deep, arming a child to triumph over earthly challenges. Pictured: LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 24: A general view of the after party for HBO's new drama series 'Rome' at the Wadsworth Theater on August 24, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
The devastating superstorm is not likely to inspire a wave of baby Sandys or even Sandras, but the endless repetition of the name is statistically likely to increase the use of S names -- as was the case of K names after Katrina. Along with a wave of babies born nine months after the storm, we predict the rise of names with a Sandy-like sound, such as Alessandra or Cassandra or Sander. From there you can stretch to the word names Sand, Dune, Beach, or even Storm.
Leo has been climbing the charts since the emergence of Leonardo DeCaprio, but other leonine names popular in Europe are set to invade our shores. Leon has been a top name in Germany and high in Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and even Ireland for a decade—and that could happen here. Other leonine names stylish overseas with potential in the U.S. include Leonie, Lionel and Lev, along with Leopold and Leonora which don’t mean lion but feel as if they should. One celebrity cut right to the chase, when Alex O’Loughlin recently named his son Lion.
Using a word, any word with personal significance, as a middle name takes the trend toward using an adventurous and meaningful name in the middle to new heights of quirkiness and creativity. Celebrities have led the way, using everything from Ballerina to Bear, Sweetheart to Seven to Song to Star to Saint in middle place following more conventional firsts.
When Reese Witherspoon named her baby son Tennessee, it wasn’t in honor of playwright Williams. Rather, it has deep personal resonance, Reese having been raised in Tennessee, her mother’s native state. Other celebs have chosen names of places that also have emotional significance, while another contingent have gone for the more exotic -- Chris Hemsworth’s daughter India -- or the down-to-earth, as with Nick Lachey’s Camden.
The last wave of grandma and grandpa nickname names -- Annie and Molly, Ben and Max -- are now borne by new parents, who we predict will turn to vintage nicknames from the "Mad Men" era for their own children, with the most fashionable choices for boys. While Don and Dick have not yet reemerged, we see a new generation of kids with names like Hank and Hal, Ray and Fay, Millie and Monty, and Lous of both genders.
Sure, Latin names are sexier and French names have more chic, but baby namers are beginning to appreciate the distinctive charms of the Scandinavian, inspired by a combination of Siri and Stieg Larsson. Some names have been introduced by celebrities, like Stellan and Viggo and Liv, others by starbabies such as Kai, Magnus (there was one born to Elizabeth Banks just this week), and Axel, but there are other appealing choices as well, including Freya, Linnea, Signy, Astrid, Soren, Leif, and Lars. In the Christmas 2013 "Hobbit" movie, one of the major characters is named Thorin.
At first they seemed irresistibly lilting -- all those lovely girls’ names that doubled up on the L sounds: Lily, Lila, Lola, Leila, Layla, Lillian. But we suspect that tongues are getting tired of reaching up for all those L’s and that the trend has passed its tipping point.
Baby namers have started to turn from cultivated gardens and look to the fields where flowers grow wild. Hottest of these at the moment are Clover and Poppy, along with uncultivated tree names Juniper and Maple. For the adventurous, there are choices like Thistle, Dandelion, and Buttercup. The herbal names from "The Hunger Games" are also influential, but more Rue and Primrose and less Katniss.
Seasonal names have taken on a wintery chill. Winter (used by Gretchen Mol) itself is sounding fresher than Summer or Autumn, and March and January are moving in on May and June. We’ve also been seeing Snow and Frost and North itself, especially as middle names, and we predict there’ll be more crisp and nippy names ahead.
William, of course, has been a stalwart in the baby name world for centuries, but other names sharing that initial have lagged behind. Now suddenly there is a flurry of long-neglected W-names resurfacing. For boys, there are West, Weston, Wesley, Warren, Walker, Walter, Winston, Wilson, Wilder, Wylie and Wyatt, and for girls, Willa, Willow, Winter, Winnie, Waverly, and even clunky Wilhelmina is back on board after being chosen recently by Natalie and Taylor Hanson.
Surprising and yet logical. We have seen the progression of top girls’names shift from Emily to Emma to Ella, so Etta makes sense as a successor. She was a Top 100 name at the end of the nineteeth century, falling off the list in 1966, but the recent death of the great blues singer Etta James brought her name back into the spotlight, inspiring at least one celeb -- Carson Daly -- to use it for his daughter.
There are still many celebs who can’t wait to get that money shot of their five-minute-old baby onto the cover of People, but there is now a growing trend for keeping the name (and sometimes even gender) of famous offspring private for a long period of time -- if not permanently. We still don’t know, for example, the names (or sex) of Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyers’s twins or that of Sarah Michelle Geller and Freddie Prinze Jr’s son. Uma Thurman waited three months to leak the names of her daughter Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson -- though maybe it took her that long to configure them.
Goodbye Jayden, Ashton, Ava and Emma: the cutting-edge parent today is much more interested in a single-syllable name or one that has three or even four syllables. On the rise: the short and sleek Cole, Zane, Eve and May; and at the other end of the spectrum: Macallister (choice of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer), Penelope (new non-K Kardashian name), Arabella and Theodora.
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