THE BLOG

Baby Name Buzz Report: 2013

04/24/2013 01:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2013
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I'm proud to present the 2013 Baby Name Buzz Report, forecasting the hottest up-and-coming baby names in America. The choices are determined by experts with the top record of successful name trend prediction: my readers.

I won't keep you in suspense. The "buzziest" names in America, the names rising to the top of expectant moms' lists, are...

Girls: Penelope and Harper
Boys: Camden and Archer

Runners-up: Charlotte, Aria, Evelyn and Violet for girls, and Henry for boys.

And now for a little more background on where those choices came from.

Predicting the baby name future is a notoriously tricky business. Some look to celebrity babies as trendmakers, but parents are picky about which Hollywood examples they'll follow. Others have tried tallying the most-searched names online, but that turns out to pick up something quite different: the names in the news that make us go "Huh? What IS that, anyway?" (Past "Huh?" names have included Katniss, Sookie, and even Voldemort.)

So what measure really takes the pulse of the baby name scene? I've tried plenty of approaches, but I put my faith in the collective wisdom of hundreds of avid name-trend watchers across the country.

Each year, hundreds of name-savvy readers enter my Baby Name Pool, trying to guess the hottest rising names of the past year. While the pool is theoretically a look backward, the entries as a group are an incredible snapshot of the name zeitgeist.

Last year, a small group of names stood out as the most common choices in the pool. Take a look at what happened to those names. This graph shows their 50-year popularity history, in occurences per million births, with the most recent usage -- stats that came out AFTER the pool -- on the far right:

Baby-Name-Buzz-2012

[Multiname graph created with the Expert Edition of BabyNameWizard.com's NameVoyager]

If you look closely, you'll see that the jump in the most recent year was so sharp that the graph's gridlines can't even contain it. I dare any would-be trendspotter to top that.

Let's take another look at this year's top Baby Name Pool selections:

Penelope, Harper, Camden and Archer; Charlotte, Aria, Evelyn, Violet and Henry.

You might notice two broad fashion trends in the group. Names like Harper and Archer are compact surnames, while Penelope, Henry and friends are sweet old-fashioned classics that weren't heard much in our parents' generations. Some of the names have celebrity standard-bearers, but others are pure style. The main stylistic outlier is Aria, a name from the tv series Pretty Little Liars that's part of the trend I've described as "liquid names." The variant Arya, as seen in Game of Thrones, just missed the cut.

Read the names over, ladies and gentlemen. They're the sound of the times, and you can expect to meet many more of them in the years to come.