by Pamela Redmond, with research by Joe Satran
If you want to give your baby a name that transcends this decade, make sure it doesn’t start with Ad-, end with –ley, contain the letter x, or honor a star who suffered a tragic death.
That’s what we found when we analyzed the Social Security baby names data of 2016 versus 2006 and identified which names have exploded in use over the past ten years and how those combine to create the major baby name trends of the decade.
Juniper and Jayceon, according to our research, may well prove as emblematic of these times as Jennifer and Jason were of the 1970s. The 40 names that have increased the most in usage over the past ten years – which also include Adalynn and Brantley, Monroe and Hendrix – may sound fresh and stylish now, but are likely to become the Brittany and Brian of the future.
Here, our statistical analysis of the dominant baby name trends of the decade and the hot baby names that influenced them.
AD NAMES FOR GIRLS
Adalynn is 31 times as popular now as it was in 2006, followed by Adaline which is 26 times as popular, Addilyn at 21 times, and Adley at 19 times. Add (hmmmm) to this the status of Adeline and sisters as the sixth most popular girls’ name of 2016 when all spellings are combined and you have the major baby name trend for girls of the decade.
And this trend will undoubtedly burn brighter before it wanes, given that it’s largely invisible. The most popular form of the name, Adeline, is all the way down at Number 63 on the new list of Top 1000 Baby Names, which means that many parents have no idea how widespread the name is. Parents may believe that by varying the spelling or the form to Adley, they’re choosing a relatively rare name, but the truth is exactly the opposite.
Ironically, Caitlin in all her variations – from Katelynn to Kaitlyn to Caitlyn – held the same dominant position a decade ago. Once parents realized how cumulatively popular the name had become, they largely abandoned it so that now many spellings have fallen from the Top 1000.
LEE NAMES FOR BOTH GENDERS
Names that end in the lee sound are booming for both girls and boys. Paislee is the second hottest girls’ name, 31 times as popular now as it was a decade ago, while Brantley is the second hottest name for boys, 27 times more popular than it was in 2006.
For girls, Ashley’s granddaughter Adley fits in the group too, along with Blakely, 19 times more popular; Henley, 16 times; and Paisley, 15 times.
More surprising is the companion boom in boys’ names that end with the formerly-feminine lee sound: Bentley, now 24 times more popular than in 2006; Finnley, 17 times; and Kingsley, 12 times.
SHOOTING STAR NAMES
Hot young celebrities who manage to stay in the spotlight for more than a reality TV season or two can propel their names into major trends, the way Shirley Temple did in the 1930s or Debbie Reynolds did in the 1950s.
The hottest celebrity baby names of this decade are Isla, as in Fisher, with a 27 times increase in popularity; Leighton, as in Gossip Girl star Meester, up 20 times; Bristol, as in Palin, up 19 times; and Mila, as in Kunis, up 13 times.
On the boys’ side, the very hottest name Jayceon, with 31 times as many babies named it in 2016 as in 2016, is inspired by rapper The Game, who pronounces his name jay-cee-on, though others pronounce the name as jay-son or jay-shawn, making it the perfect heir to former hottie Jason.
Soccer stars Iker Casillas and Thiago Silva have propelled their once-unusual names up by 23 and 20 times this decade. And singer Zayn Malik’s first name is up 19 times.
And in a slightly different vein, Nova, the name of a star that suddenly increases in brightness, is now 22 times more popular for girls than it was in 2006.
SUPERIOR NAMES FOR BOYS
Baby, your name is Legend….literally. Names that tell the world how extraordinary your child is rule today. The name Legend is 18 times more popular for boys now than it was a decade ago, while Major and King are each up 12 times, with Kingston and Kingsley on the hottest list too. And Princeton, the name of an Ivy League college that not-so-coincidentally includes the royal name Prince, is 14 times more popular than it was in 2006.
The girls are not completely left out of this group: Reign is up 13 times and Royalty was the hottest girls’ name of 2016.
VINTAGE CELEBRITY SURNAMES
The names of hallowed stars of the past are enjoying a new turn in the limelight as their tragic ends fade from memory.
Two celebrity surnames, Lennon and Monroe, are among the decade’s hottest names for girls, up 19 times and 13 times. Another name with a similar feel that’s also booming is Harper, though it was the first name of To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee. Harper is 18 times more popular for girls now than it was in 2006 and has entered the Top 10.
The boys’ name that fits this category is Hendrix, as in rocker Jimi, 18 times more popular now than it was in 2006. It’s also worth noting that a handful of other names that feature the letter x are also up for boys, with Knox up 25 times and Jaxton and Lennox each 12 times more popular.
Character names Aria (Pretty Little Liars; there’s also an Arya on Game of Thrones), Arlo (Justified) and Archer (Archer) are also among our hottest names of the decade. Nature name Juniper, used 13 times more often than it was ten years ago, is the prime candidate to be the Jennifer of the future.
We also looked at which names fell the furthest over the past decade. These include celebrity names Shakira, Rihanna, and Omarion; n-ending names for boys Braedon, Jaylan, and Haden; and goddess-turned-terrorist group name Isis.
Here is the full list of the hottest names of the decade with the number of times more popular they are now versus 2006.
Hottest Girls’ Names of the Decade
Hottest Boys’ Names of the Decade
— Adorable paisley dress available at Baby Beau and Belle