The “Out with the old, in with the new!” rally cry, proclaimed as the calendar runs out, didn’t hold true for baby names this year.
For the sixth year in a row, Sophia topped the girls’ list of BabyCenter’s just-released Top 100 Baby Names of 2015, and Jackson remained the No. 1 for boys for the third year running. In fact, the most popular girls’ names — Sophia, Emma, and Olivia — have all been in the top three for four years now.
“We do see names stick around for a while,” BabyCenter global editor in chief Linda Murray tells Yahoo Parenting, citing a three-to-five-year cycle of stability, then change, in the popularity of monikers that its 340,000 registered members report giving their children. (The participants’ responses — streamlined to list variations in spellings as one name — serve as the basis of its report, which has been compiled every year since 1997.) “It takes a little time,” Murray says, “to wake up to the idea that there may be too many Sophias in every class.”
BabyCenter’s Top 10 Baby Names of 2015
But there are many solid reasons why Sophia is such a winner. “It’s holding strong,” explains Murray, “because it’s a name that works in many languages and has a version in many parts of the world.” The boys’ champ, Jackson, however, may not endure, the expert predicts. “Aiden has been up there on the list for the past seven years, and we’re seeing the number of Aidens growing,” she says. “The gap between it and Jackson is closing.”
Another change that the names guru expects in coming years is a transition from today’s leaders — the girly a-ending monikers Emma, Olivia, Ava, and the like — to less feminine-sounding women’s names. “We saw a growing interest in gender-neutral names this year, reflecting what’s going on with toy manufacturers, clothing companies, and parents moving away from gender stereotypes,” Murray says. Wyatt, for example, is up 84 percent from 2014 for girls and 11 percent for boys. Lincoln is a similar story, having risen 47 percent for girls and 18 percent for boys. “It used to be that a kid had a given name and then a cool, gender-neutral nickname,” says Murray. “Charlotte could be Charlie; Francesca would be called Frankie; Alexandra, Alex; and so on. But if a traditional boys’ name moved into girls’ territory, it was done. And that’s not happening any more. Piper, for example, is a girls’ name that’s rising on the boys’ list this year. Carter went up on both the boys’ and girls’ list.”
The fastest moving names, however, aren’t in the Top 10. The name getting the greatest rise for girls is currently No. 64: Paisley, which rocketed up 32 spots this year. Muhammad takes the title for boys, with its 19-spot jump to No. 39 this year — while it remains No. 1 for the second year in a row in the United Kingdom. (Olivia is also No. 1 for girls in the U.K.) Also on the move for boys are Ian, Carson, Grayson, Josiah, Jeremiah, Leo, and Chase, with Mateo, Ezra, and Damian cracking the Top 100 for the first time in 2015. Girls gathering steam include Jocelyn, Eleanor, Julianna, Kinsley, Isla, Jordyn, Emery, Taylor, and Hazel, all new to the Top 100 this year.
Hazel, a character in the popular The Fault in Our Stars book and 2014 film, is a great example of the influence of pop culture on baby naming, Murray continues. “There’s usually a TV show that breaks through each year in terms of parents pulling character names from the series,” she explains. Breaking Bad character names were popular in the past, and Orange Is the New Black’s names were big last year. In 2015, the honor goes to Empire, thanks to the popularity of Dre (up 77 percent), Lyon (up 61 percent), and Hakeem (up 55 percent).
Aristocratic names were another trend that ruled this year: The moniker King ranked highest for boys, at 181, with Princess coming in at 285 for girls, while others ascended at an impressive rate. Royalty gained nearly 90 percent in popularity: Duchess 75 percent, Reign 54 percent, Sultan 26 percent, and Tiara 20 percent.
Starry names did equally well in 2015. Venus rose 68 percent in popularity, with Jupiter close behind at 50 percent and Sunny on the rise for both boys, 43 percent, and girls, 18 percent.
The wackiest influence on naming, however, may be Instagram filters. BabyCenter’s findings show that filter names are now found on birth certificates as well. Lux is up 75 percent; Ludwig is up 42 percent; Juno is up 30 percent; and Amaro and Valencia are both up 26 percent.
“People find inspiration for baby names everywhere,” says Murray. “It used to be that family, the Bible, and heroes like athletes and politicians influenced naming trends. Then it became pop culture, and now it’s everything goes. Anything in your consciousness can inspire a baby name.” In BabyCenter’s database, there are currently 50,000 individual monikers that members report having given to their children. “The pool of acceptable baby names,” she concludes, “is really limitless for parents today.”
(Top photo: Corbis Images)