Baby names 2011 signal a new lighter feel in the air and more optimistic outlook for our offspring. With the economy improving and no Presidential election looming, we predict a respite from the heavier names of recent years.
Here, our outlook for the Top 15 trends for baby names 2011:
BIGGEST BIG PICTURE TREND: Two-for-one names
For baby names 2011, we predict the merging of two major recent trends: very proper proper names -- think Louise and Arthur, Beatrix and Abraham -- with lighter-than-air, even silly nicknames: Lulu, Bee, Bunny, and Bram.
From the parents' perspective, they get two very different names for the price of one, which can be an advantage to children as they grow up too: You can be Lulu at the club, Louisa on the Harvard app.
We see parents reaching further to come up with two names that are linked in highly creative and not-always-obvious ways. A few examples of nicknames and their formal name origins: Cub from Caleb, Ace from Alistair, Fanny from Stephanie, and Plum from Victoria (which is a type of English plum).
NEWEST NICKNAME TREND
Related to the Two-for-One trend is a taste for choosing a nickname first, then finding a formal name for the birth certificate. We see parents starting with Josie or Zee -- the name the child will be known as among friends and family -- and searching from there for the formal name, be it Josephine, Zachary, or Zebedee.
MOST ALARMING GENRE SWITCH
Is it because more and more people see their pets as equivalent to children? We're seeing more dog names for babies (Buster, Buddy) and baby names (Chloe, Zoe) for dogs. Though Marley, which jumped as a baby name inspired by the eponymous dog in Marley & Me, seems to be trailing off.
MOST SURPRISING CELEBRITY NAME INSPIRATION
Khloe. This uniquely Kardashian spelling zoomed into the Top 100 last year, with well over 3000 parents choosing it for their daughters.
LIGHTEST NEW BEGINNING
Ha, as in ha ha ha, for both girls and boys: Hayden, Harry, Hazel, Harrison, Harper, Hadley, Hank, Haven, Hal, Hart, Harriet, Hattie, Hale, Harley, Hartley, Harlow. No Harlots reported as yet.
HEAVIEST NEW ENDING
The Latin us for boys, replacing en and er. Atticus (with its modern literary cred as well) is a current fave; other cutting-edge countrymen: Aurelius, Augustus, Cassius, Maximus, Amadeus. Not to mention other stylish s-ending boys' names such as Rufus, Amos, Miles.
A new spin on ancient African day names, with everything from month names like January and May to holiday and seasonal names such as Winter and Easter to day and even time-of-day names such as Sunday and Midnight getting on the calendar.
MOST UNLIKELY COMEBACK
Stanley, a new entry to the British Top 100. Other geezer names up for reconsideration: Ernest, Harvey, Arthur, Walter, Warren.
NEWEST GENDER-BENDING TREND
Names that are truly androgynous, used even-handedly for both sexes: Paxton, Peyton, Sawyer, Sasha. What's most notable is that parents are no longer backing off from using a name for boys once it becomes popular for girls.
FRESHEST FLOWER NAME
As Lily, Rose and Daisy start to lose their bloom, more exotic blossom names -- Dahlia, Poppy, Lotus, Lilac, Acacia, Marigold, Camellia -- will take their place.
CONSONANT OF THE FUTURE
R, not as in old-school Robert, Richard, and Rhoda, but as in such rich and robust newcomers as Rufus (there it is again), Rupert, Ray, Rosamund, Raphael, Roman, Romy, Romilly, Remy, Rory, Reed, Rhys, Rowan, Ronan, Reeve, Ripley, Roscoe, Reuben, and Ruby.
We've been O lovers for decades now, but the vowel has really come into its own with the ascendence of twin names Oliver and Olivia to the top of the British popularity list. O is supremely stylish as both a name beginning and ending, including such choices as Oscar, Owen, Orson, Otto, Orlando, and Milo for boys; Olive, Olympia, Octavia, and Ophelia (yes, really) for girls.
Names inspired by the objects and creatures of the heavens. These include planet names like Mars and Jupiter; star names such as Orion; angel names from Seraphina to Gabriel; and names that reference the heavenly realm such as Stella and Luna. Nevaeh, heaven spelled backwards, may have inspired the trend but we see it trailing off.
MOST IMPROBABLE TV CHARACTER INSPIRATION
NAME TREND THAT'S JUMPED THE SHARK
Twilight names. Names from this franchise have been red hot since the Stephanie Meyer books and movies appeared, but parents are beginning to say "Hey, I don't want people to think I named my kid after a vampire." So Bella, Edward, Cullen, Emmett, Jasper, Esmé and Felix, hot over the past few years, may be approaching a downturn.
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