These Names are Gems

These names are gems – literally!  Gem-names enjoy mostly feminine usage, but they’re increasingly unisex or even masculine.  Let’s take a look at how popular these baby names were in 2016, according to Social Security Administration data!


  • Amber – Current rank: #374 and falling.  Amber‘s current stint in the top 1000 started after the publication of Forever Amber.  From what I understand, that book is the World War II generation’s 50 Shades of Gray.
  • Amethyst – 159 girls in 2016, up from 125 in 2015. 
  • Coral – 199 girls, down from 201.
  • Diamond – 226 girls, down from 262; 33 boys, down from 35.
  • Emerald – 219 girls, up from 194; 13 boys, up from 6.  A couple weeks ago, I watched the original Twin Peaks and got a kick out of the names from the fictional soap opera within.  “Invitation to Love” has twin characters named Emerald and Jade.
  • Garnet – 15 girls, up from 7; 6 boys (reentry).  A couple years ago I was reading something in the paper about a local family, and one of their young sons was named GarnetGarnet was a mildly popular girls’ name in the early 20th century, though it’s almost always enjoyed use amidst both genders.
  • Heliodor / Heliodore – Golden beryl.  Although Heliodore is unrecorded in the SSA data, Heliodoro is.
  • Jacinth – Not currently in use, but there are male and female Jacinths.
  • Jade – #117, up from #126.  Even though Madison and Ashley were supposedly way more popular than Jade when I was growing up, I feel like Jade was more popular locally.  I knew several. 
  • Jasper – #209 and still rising.  Jasper‘s never been out of the top 1000, though the Twilight series gave him a boost. 
  • Obsidian – As far as I can tell, Obsidian has only charted once in the SSA stats (5 boys were given the name in 2013).  I’m really surprised it isn’t a more popular baby name…it sounds so cool!
  • Onyx – Increasingly popular unisex gem name!  Onyx was given to 172 boys and 56 girls in 2016, up from 118 boys and 38 girls in 2015.  I personally wonder if we’re going to see this in the top 1000 in 2017 or 2018; for a boys’ name to rank, it currently needs at least 202 boys to rank.  Onyx isn’t far off that mark!
  • Opal – 256 girls, up from 231.  Do you think this will return to the top 1000 in 2017?  The current usage threshold for girls’ names is in the 260-270 range.
  • Pearl – #567, up from #627.  Pearl was relatively popular for both genders at the advent of the 20th century, but especially for girls.  There was a male writer called Zane Grey (1872-1939) whose first name was Pearl.
  • Ruby – #71, and the most popular gem name.  Ruby hasn’t been this popular since World War II!
  • Sapphire – 165, up from 147.

    Logan Sapphire

    The name Sapphire is more popular in 2016 than 2015, but still rare.

  • Topaz – 6 girls (reentry).  Topaz is the name of the stepmom in I Capture the Castle, so there’s some literary prestige here!
  • Turquoise – Not currently in use; most of the women named Turquoise were born in the late 70s or in the 80s.  

Names with gem meanings or associations:

  • Beryl – 9 girls (stable).  Beryl is a mineral: emeralds, aquamarine, and heliodor are all considered beryls.  As far as namesakes go, I think of the early aviatrix Beryl Markham, who wrote West with the Night
  • Crystal – #572, down from #554.  Crystal hit the U.S. top 10 in 1982, but it’s been downwards ever since.
  • Esmeralda – #377, down from #370; Spanish for “emerald.”  Esmeralda spiked in the two years after Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame came out.
  • Gem – 14 girls, up from 8.
  • Giada – 178 girls, down from 203.  Italian for “Jade”
  • Gemma – #247 and rising.  Italian name meaning “gem.”  Growing up, I actually knew a Gemma.  She was born a good while before her name ever cracked the top 1000.
  • Jewel – #924, down from #886.
  • Margaret – #139 and rising.  A classic English name deriving from a Greek name that means “pearl.”  I can’t tell you how happy I am that Margaret is making a comeback!
  • Sapphira – 50 girls, up from 45.  Greek name, Biblical character.

Gems that aren’t already names but probably should be:


Not your stereotypical gems, except for Ruby and Amethyst

  • Agate – I could see this as a nickname for Agatha.
  • AquamarineAqua is a spunky nickname, though it may lead to spontaneous a capella renditions of “Barbie Girl.”  For more subdued nicknames, try Marie or Marina.
  • Chrysocolla – might be a little unwieldy without a nickname.  “Chris?”
  • Lapis – from Lapis Lazuli
  • PeridotPerry or Dot for short?  Dottie?
  • Quartz – I’m surprised that I can’t find this in the SSA stats.  Quartz would work especially well as a boys’ name. 
  • Tourmaline
  • Zircon / Zirconia – I’m not sure how I’d feel if I were named after a synthetic gem stone, but Zirconia sounds kind of pretty and Zircon sounds cool. 

One last note – If you like the idea of a timely, seasonal name, look to the birthstones!  Most of these work better for girls, but there are plenty of gem-names that can go either way. 

  1. JanuaryGarnet
  2. February – Amethyst
  3. March – Aquamarine / Bloodstone.  Jasper also used to be a March stone.
  4. AprilDiamond
  5. MayEmerald
  6. JunePearl / Moonstone / Alexandrite
  7. JulyRuby
  8. August – Peridot / Spinel
  9. SeptemberSapphire
  10. OctoberOpal / Tourmaline
  11. NovemberTopaz / Citrine
  12. DecemberTurquoise / Zircon / Tanzanite

What is your favorite gem name?

Royalty-Inspired Baby Names

What is up with all the royalty-inspired baby names that are suddenly popular?  For a country without a royal family or inherited aristocracy, you’d think Americans are suddenly obsessed!  Royalty and Reign both debuted in the top 1000 in 2016, and other names like Royal, Prince, and Princess also rose in the charts.

Here is a list of not-so-traditional royal baby names American parents chose in 2016!  Rare names are listed by number of uses, while popular names are listed by rank.

Tapisserie de Bayeux - Scène 1 : le roi Édouard le Confesseur

In 2016, King (#152) was a more popular name for baby boys than Edward (#163), a traditional royalty-inspired name.


  • Emperor – 5 boys in 2016, down from 10.
  • Empress – 95 girls, up from 66. 
  • King – #152, up from #163.  This is a common surname and fairly old-fashioned baby name.  Before King‘s 2006 return to the top 1000, the name hadn’t appeared since 1964. 
  • Queen – 197 girls, up from 148.
  • Prince – #343, up from #388.  This name has been rising for several years, but received a large boost from the mononymous singer’s death last year. 
  • Princess – #767, up from #999.  Prince’s death might have caused the boost to Princess too.  I’d also wager that a very few Princesses were named after Leia
  • Duke – #556, up from #602.  Already rising, this is a name that makes people think of college sports, jazz, and John Wayne.
  • Duchess – 14 girls, up from 10 in 2015.
  • Marquis – #943, down from #927.
  • Earl – 109 boys, down from 128.
  • Baron – 134 boys, up from 133.  Another spelling, Barron, rose because of Barron Trump. 

If you lived elsewhere in the English-speaking world, there’s a decent chance that most of these title names would be banned.  Just look at New Zealand.  Strangely, I don’t think the United Kingdom has titled name restrictions; in 2007, the BBC reported that the U.K. only prohibits offensive names.  What’s more, the latest England/Wales data indicates that were 72 girls named Princess, 28 boys named Duke, and 20 boys named King.

Titles in other languages:

  • Kaiser – 202 boys, up from 140.  German word for “emperor,” English word for a royally delicious sandwich roll.  5 girls also received this name in 2016, so I’d like to point out that the German word for “Empress” is “Kaiserin.”  Kaiserin could be a very pretty name, actually.  Would you call her Kai, Erin, or by her full name?  Anyway, Kaiser should have been in the top 1000 but four other boys’ names were used 202 times and three of them preceded Kaiser in alphabetical order.  We usually don’t rank names below the top 1000, but Kaiser currently ranks #1001.
  • Reina – #853, up from #954.  Reina is Spanish for “queen.”  Other variants are Reyna (#666, up from #711), Rayna (#675, up from #722), and Raina (#835, up from #926.  I think Star Wars is at least partly responsible for the gains, since these names look and sound so close to “Rey.”  However, Reyna, Rayna, and Raina also gained between 2014 and 2015 (but not Reina)…
  • Reine – 12 girls (up from 8 in 2015).  French for “queen.”  Other spellings Raine (97 girls and 10 boys) and Rayne (#941, +42 boys), along with the first reappearance of Lareine (6 girls – literally “the queen”) in the birth data since the early 1930s.  Rayne reentered the top 1000 in 2015!  This time, I think both Star Wars and the popularity of the name Reign (see below) are responsible.
  • Rex – #632, up from #681.  Latin word for “king.”
  • Regina – #437, up from #517.  Latin and Italian word for “queen.”  This name is a classic and has never been out of the top 1000, though she’s rebounded in the last few years.  I initially assumed ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” was the reason for the revival, but apparently the name started returning the year before the show started.
  • Rey – #868 (up from #904), 63 girls.  Spanish word for “king.”  Thanks to the popularity of the character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2016 is the first year on record that Rey has been used as a girls’ name.  It also rose as a boys’ name.
  • Raja – 13 boys, down from 15 boys and 9 girls.  Sanskrit for “king.”
  • Contessa – 16 girls, down from 17.  Italian for “countess.”
  • Sultan – 97 boys, up from 69.  Arabic for “king.”
  • Marquise – 110 boys, down from 136.  Although Marquise is a feminine word in French, the name is strictly masculine.


  • Crown – 6 boys.  Data debut!
  • Tiara – 108 girls, down from 112.
  • Taj – 163 boys and 11 girls, down from 200 and 18.  Taj means “crown” in Arabic.

Palaces or Castles:

  • Kensington – 261 girls and 12 boys.  Kensington ranked #962 in 2015, but surprisingly fell out of the top 1000 in 2016.
  • Windsor – 35 girls and 14 boys, up from 32 girls and 11 boys in 2015.   
  • Versailles – 5 uses; data debut!  As far as we know, this name was never used (i.e., wasn’t a name) before 2016.  The show Versailles might be the influencing factor.


  • Royalty – #532, 39 boys.  Celebrity baby name!  Chris Brown has a daughter Royalty, who was born in 2015.  Later that same year, he named an album after her. 
  • Royal – #460 for boys, #628 for girls.  Royal is a top 100 girls’ name in Washington D.C.   
  • Reign – #829, 158 boys.  Top 1000 debut!  From what I can tell, most of the namesakes coming from celebrity babies are boys!  This includes a Kardashian kid born in late 2014.  When I’ve seen Reign for girls, it always seems to be a middle name.  There’s also a TV show called “Reign” about Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Sovereign – 9 boys (up from 7), 7 girls (reentry).  Sovereign is rightly unisex, since both kings and queens can rule in their own right. 
  • Noble – 140 boys, 15 girls.  Noble was a top 1000 boys’ name until 1954.
  • Jubilee – 223 girls.  A jubilee is a kind of anniversary celebration that usually refers to royalty.  2017 is the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s sapphire jubilee (65 years on the throne). 
  • Castle – 15 boys, down from 27.  Are they named after the TV show?
  • Kingdom – 28 boys, up from 16 in 2015. 
  • Majesty – 136 girls (up from 91) and 44 (up from 33).
  • Yamajesty – 5 boys (in 2016 and 2015).  Not “Your majesty,” but his sarcastic brother.
  • Sirking – 6 boys in 2016. (doesn’t appear in 2015 data).  Between Yamajesty and Sirking, I can tell you this is definitely *not* how you address a royal.

Of course, you can always go with the traditional method of naming after royalty – using their names!  Which style do you prefer?

Ultimately, I don’t think Americans are suddenly royalty-crazy…at least, not anymore than we already are.  I think this “trend” is serendipity; several factors converged in 2015 to give these names some serious appeal for 2016.  The question is: will these names continue to rise in 2017 or is this a curious blip?   What do you think?

#1 Names by State

The national baby name data came out last Friday, but the state data was only released today!  The #1 most popular names nationally are Noah and Emma, but they aren’t the #1 names in all 50 states + DC.  Let’s take a look. 

  1. Alabama: William and Ava (no change)
  2. Alaska: Liam and EmmaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  3. Arizona: Liam and Emma.  2015: Noah and Sophia
  4. Arkansas: Elijah and Ava.  2015: William and Emma
  5. California: Noah and MiaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  6. Colorado: Liam and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  7. Connecticut: Noah and OliviaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  8. Delaware: Liam and AvaMason was #1 in 2015.
  9. District of Columbia: William and AvaGenesis was the #1 girls’ name in 2015.
  10. Florida: Liam and Isabella.  No change.
  11. Georgia: William and Ava.  No change.
  12. Hawaii: Noah and OliviaMia was #1 in 2015.
  13. Idaho: Oliver and EmmaLiam and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  14. Illinois: Noah and Olivia.  No change.
  15. Indiana: Oliver and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.
  16. Iowa: Oliver and Olivia.  Owen is #2.  Liam and Emma were #1 in 2015. 
  17. Kansas: Benjamin and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.
  18. Kentucky: William and Emma.  No change.
  19. Louisiana: Liam and AvaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  20. Maine: Liam and Emma.  No change.
  21. Maryland: Noah and AvaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  22. Massachusetts: Benjamin and Olivia.  No change.
  23. Michigan: Noah and AvaOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  24. Minnesota: Henry and EvelynOlivia was #1 in 2015.
  25. Mississippi: William and Ava.  No change.
  26. Missouri: William and OliviaLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  27. Montana: James and HarperWilliam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  28. Nebraska: Liam and EmmaHenry and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  29. Nevada: Liam and MiaSophia was #1 in 2015.
  30. New Hampshire: Noah and CharlotteJackson and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  31. New Jersey: Liam and MiaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  32. New Mexico: Elijah and MiaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  33. New York: Liam and Olivia.  No change.
  34. North Carolina: William and Ava.  No change.
  35. North Dakota: Oliver and HarperLiam and Ava were #1 in 2015.
  36. Ohio: Liam and Emma.  No change. 
  37. Oklahoma: Liam and EmmaElijah was #1 in 2015.
  38. Oregon: Oliver and OliviaLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  39. Pennsylvania: Noah and EmmaMason and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  40. Rhode Island: Liam and OliviaNoah was #1 in 2015.
  41. South Carolina: William and Ava.  No change
  42. South Dakota: Oliver and EmmaHarper was #1 in 2015.
  43. Tennessee: William and Emma.  No change.
  44. Texas: Noah and Emma.  No change.
  45. Utah: Oliver and OliviaWilliam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  46. Vermont: Owen and HarperLiam and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  47. Virginia: William and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  48. Washington: Liam and Emma.  Oliver and Olivia were #1 in 2015.
  49. West Virginia: Mason and HarperNoah and Emma were #1 in 2015.
  50. Wisconsin: Oliver and OliviaEmma was #1 in 2015.
  51. Wyoming: Wyatt and EmmaLiam was #1 in 2015.  

The #1 boys’ names of 2016 by frequency:

  • Liam (15x)
  • William (10x)
  • Noah (9x)
  • Oliver (8x)
  • Benjamin (2x)
  • Elijah (2x)
  • Henry
  • James
  • Mason
  • Owen
  • Wyatt

Compared to 2015, when they were:

  • Liam (16x)
  • Noah (13x)
  • William (12x)
  • Oliver (3x)
  • Henry (2x)
  • Mason (2x)
  • Benjamin
  • Jackson
  • Elijah

The #1 girls’ names by frequency:

  • Emma (16x)
  • Olivia (13x)
  • Ava (11x)
  • Harper (4x)
  • Mia (4x)
  • Charlotte
  • Evelyn
  • Isabella

Compared to 2015, when they were:

  • Emma (22x)
  • Olivia (12x)
  • Ava (8x)
  • Sophia (4x)
  • Mia (2x)
  • Genesis
  • Harper
  • Isabella

How is it possible for Noah to be the #1 name nationally without being the most frequent name among the states?  Answer: Noah is #1 where it matters most – California and Texas. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 1.10.42 PM

Visualization of #1 name frequency

Thoughts?  Are you surprised by anything?  Let me know in the comments!  

Bonus points!  The #1 names in Puerto Rico are Sebastian and ValentinaVictoria was #1 in 2015.

Top 1000 Entries and Exits in 2016

Here are all the names that entered and left the U.S. top 1000 in 2016!  There are 45 new girls’ names and 42 new boys’ names.  Remember, the top 1000 is America’s threshold for popularity.  Baby names below the top 1000 are considered rare.  


  • Aadhya, Ailani, Alessia, Alianna, Alyvia, Amayah, Anniston, Antonella, Antonia, Ari, Aubri, Ayana, Belle, Bexley, Blaire, Calliope, Chandler, Davina, Ellianna, Emmie, Harleigh, Itzayana, Jana, Joelle, Kaylani, Kehlani, Louise, Maren, Mavis, Maxine, Maylee, Mercy, Nalani, Novalee, Poppy, Ramona, Rayne, Reign, Riya, Rosalyn, Royalty, Saoirse, Sylvie, Tinsley, Vada
  • Ahmir, Alistair, Benicio, Brayson, Bridger, Brysen, Eason, Eliezer, Creed, Foster, Fox, Greysen, Gus, Hakeem, Harris, Howard, Ira, Jad, Jair, Jamar, Jeremias, Jericho, Karim, Keanu, Khalid, Koda, Konner, Krish, Kylo, Leif, Lyle, Maddux, Merrick, Mikael, Ramiro, Ralph, Shepherd, Tadeo, Tristian, Wesson, Westley, Zyaire

Through data adjustment, Yisroel is new for both 2016 and 2015.

Yes, Kylo (like Kylo Ren) is a popular baby name now!  My mom didn’t react very well when I told her.

Royalty (581 girls) was the highest debut in the girls’ list, followed by Reign (344).  Fox (323) was the most popular entry to the boys’ list. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 6.29.07 PM

Royalty was the most popular debut, followed by Reign.


  • Aimee, Alissa, Alisson, America, Aminah, Angeline, Avalyn, Asia, Aubrianna, Bryanna, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Charlize, Cordelia, Denise, Dixie, Emmalee, Giavanna, Ireland, Jaida, Janiya, Jaylin, Jenny, Jocelynn, Jordynn, Kaelynn, Katelynn, Kaitlynn, Kayden, Kensington, Kiley, Kimora, Kristen, Kyndall, Libby, Lindsay, Mollie, Natalee, Neriah, Sarahi, Saniyah, Sidney, Tara, Taya, Yaritza
  • Aaden, Aarush, Ayan, Aydan, Bishop, Boden, Brice, Camren, Chace, Chevy, Cristopher, Davin, Deangelo, Deshawn, Dilan, Ean, Frankie, Freddy, Haiden, Jadon, Jayvion, Jonael, Jordyn, Jovani, Juelz, Kaeden, Kamren, Kamron, Kylen, Malaki, Osvaldo, Quintin, Rashad, Reagan, Robin, Rodolfo, Todd, Triston, Truman, Tyrone, Yaakov, Yadiel

Due to data adjustment, Antoine is out of the top 1000 for both 2016 and 2015.

Reagan was used often enough to be in the top 1000, but was forced out by #1000 Jonathon.  When names are used equally, alphabetical order determines rank preference. 

Notice how all those spellings of Caitlin are suddenly rare?  The prevailing theory is that Caitlyn Jenner killed any popularity the name still had (which wasn’t a lot, admittedly).  I agree that this is why, but I wonder if last year’s “Kaitlyn spelled with Roman numerals” scare also turned some parents off the name. 

Thoughts?  What are your favorite entering names?  Are you disappointed that any left?  Finally, do you know any people with these names?


  1. I’m impressed that my fellow Americans are using so heavily Irish a name as Saoirse and spelling it correctly! 
  2. Very happy that Calliope, Poppy, and Alistair are popular names now!  Davina is also a lovely surprise.  Sad to see Cordelia gone (again).   
  3. Over the years, I’ve met people named Antonella, Chandler (both genders), Gus, Lyle, Maren, and maybe Karim & Ramiro.  There was also supposed to be a Mercy in my 2nd grade class, but she never appeared. 😦  I did encounter a baby Saoirse last year, though!
  4. From the exiting names, I’ve known people called Aimee, Brice (female), Denise, Frankie (male), Lindsay, Natalee, and Todd.  I’ve also met too many Caitlin‘s (or Kaitlynn‘s, Kaitlin‘s, etc.) to count.

P.S. – You can check this list of entries and exits against my predictions


Edit 5/15/17: Fox was actually the top boys’ name debut.

Overview of the Top 100 Baby Names, 2016 Edition

Now that I’m finally getting a chance to examine the new data more thoroughly, here is an overview of the Top 100 baby names, 2016 edition!  I’m so happy they’re here. 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 8.38.49 AM.png

Visualization of the 2016 Top 100.  The bigger the name, the more popular it is!

New to the top 100:

  • Adeline, Luna, Kinsley, Elena, Eliana, Willow
  • Bryson, Leonardo, Greyson, Roman

Left the top 100:

  • Ashley, Isabelle, Annabelle, Alexandra, Alyssa, Alexis
  • Nathaniel, Kayden, Ryder, Blake

Apparently due to data adjustment, Khloe is not only out of the 2016 top 100 but for 2015 too.  I predicted she’d leave, but not like this!

Also, that’s a lot of ‘A’ names that just left.  Every generation seems to have its trendy letters; did we just witness the start of another ‘A’ decline?   

Positive rank changes give us good sense of a name’s popularity, which is a comparative measure.  Here are the names that rose in the charts via rank:

  • Bryson (+40; new), Mateo (+26), Leo (+17), Lincoln (+16), Theodore (+16), Greyson (+15; new), Owen (+13), Easton (+12), Asher (+11) Sebastian (+11), Grayson (+10), Carson (+8), Leonardo (+ 8; new), Elias (+7), Ezra (+7), Henry (+7), Oliver (+7), Julian (+6), Nolan (+6), Benjamin (+4), Hudson (+4), Roman (+4; new), Aaron (+3), Jaxon (+3), Jose (+3), Thomas (+3), Elijah (+2), Isaiah (+2), Jack (+2), James (+2), Jason (+2), Jaxson (+2), Josiah (+2), Lucas (+2), Samuel (+2) William (+2), Xavier (+2), Connor (+1), Eli (+1), Joseph (+1), Michael (+1), Robert (+1), Wyatt (+1)
  • Adeline (+72; new), Luna (+33; new), Kinsley (+27; new), Eleanor (+19), Quinn (+18), Willow (+16; new), Riley (+13), Ruby (+12), Elena (+12; new), Hazel (+11), Camila (+10), Alice (+10), Claire (+9), Eliana (+9; new), Penelope (+7), Genesis (+7), Aria (+6), Stella (+6), Caroline (+6), Nora (+5), Mila (+5), Scarlett (+4), Ellie (+4), Maya (+4), Autumn (+4), Gianna (+4), Evelyn (+3), Violet (+3), Charlotte (+2), Eva (+2), Naomi (+2), Reagan (+2), Ava (+1), Amelia (+1), Ella (+1), Lily (+1), Skylar (+1), Sarah (+1), Cora (+1), Julia (+1)

Here are the negative rank changes, or the names that became less popular in 2016:

  • Brandon (-16), Parker (-15), Chase (-12), Gavin (-10), Kevin (-10), Tyler – 10, Colton – 9, Jonathan (-8), Jayden (-7), Caleb (-7), Landon (-7), Jordan (-7), Bentley (-7), Angel (-6), Anthony (-5), Dylan (-5), Nathan (-5), Ayden (-5), Ethan (-4), Logan (-4), Andrew (-4), Christopher (-4), Hunter (-4), Jeremiah (-4), Dominic (-4), Austin (-4), Jacob (-3), Aiden (-3), Alexander (-3), Gabriel (-3), Christian (-3), Brayden (-3), Sawyer (-3), Carter (-2), John (-2), Joshua (-2), Adrian (-2), Evan (-2), Adam (-2), Ian (-2), Cooper (-2), Zachary (-2), Mason (-1), Daniel (-1), David (-1), Luke (-1), Ryan (-1), Charles (-1), Cameron (-1), Nicholas (-1), Jace (-1)
  • Alexa (-18), Kylie (-17), Brianna (-16), Arianna (-13), Mackenzie (-12), Taylor (-12), Allison (-10), Faith (-9), Kaylee (-9), Peyton (-9), Ariana (-8), Sadie (-8), Anna (-7), Gabriella (-7), Katherine (-6), Aaliyah (-5), Addison (-5), Aubree (-5), Hannah (-5), Nevaeh (-5), Aubrey (-4), Bella (-4), Hailey (-4), Madison (-4), Natalie (-4), Samantha (-4), Brooklyn (-3), Chloe (-3), Madelyn (-3), Zoey (-3), Audrey (-2), Kennedy (-2), Lillian (-2), Zoe (-2), Abigail (-1), Clara (-1), Emily (-1), Leah (-1), Madeline (-1), Melanie (-1), Paisley (-1), Serenity (-1), Sophia (-1), Victoria (-1)

No rank change.  Consider these names steady (or a safe choice) for now:

  • Noah, Liam, Matthew, Jackson, Isaac, Levi
  • Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Mia, Harper, Elizabeth, Sofia, Avery, Grace, Layla, Savannah, Lucy, Piper, Lydia, Vivian

Next, I’ve looked at the raw usage for names.  Increasingly, I view raw usage as one way to measure how trendy names are.  It may also reflect a declining birth rate or diversifying pool of names.  To sort out attrition and distinguish the names that are indeed very trendy or not at all, I’m listing the names that went up or down at least 500 uses.

Biggest gains (+500 or more) in decreasing order:

  • Adeline*, Charlotte, Riley, Ava, Amelia, Luna*, Camila, Evelyn, Eleanor, Scarlett, Kinsley*, Quinn, Aria
  • Mateo, Oliver, Bryson*, Lincoln, Benjamin, Grayson, Theodore, Greyson, Leo, Owen, Sebastian, Lucas, Ezra

The asterisk (*) indicates that a name is new to the top 100.

Biggest losses (500 or more) in decreasing order:

  • Sophia, Alexa, Madison, Emma, Aubrey, Isabella, Emily, Kylie, Ashley (left top 100), Abigail, Arianna, Avery, Allison, Alyssa (left top 100), Kaylee, Sofia, Zoey, Mia
  • Logan, Jacob, Jayden, Mason, Ethan, Aiden, Alexander, Brandon, Blake (left top 100), Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Hunter, Gabriel, Jonathan, Kevin, Tyler, Jordan, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Jackson, Christian, Noah, Brayden, Angel, Chase, Nicholas

Comments on the falling names:

  • The huge fall of the names Alexa, Alexis, and Alexander probably relates to the confusion surrounding the Alexa device.
  • When names like Emma or Sophia lose a lot of usage, it doesn’t always mean much rank-wise.  This year a lot of names grew more popular only because all the names around them experienced comparatively greater usage loss.
  • A huge usage drop is more significant for Brandon at the bottom of the top 100 than the #1 name Noah

Questions?  Favorite names?  Are you surprised by anything?  Let me know in the comments! 

They’re Here! The Top 10 Baby Names of 2016

Top 10 Baby Names of 2016.png

The Top 10 Baby Names of 2016

At around 9:15 AM, the Social Security Administration updated their website and released the data for the most popular baby names of 2016!  Believe me when I say that waiting for their arrival was more intense than being a kid and waking up on Christmas to see what Santa brought.  I’m so glad they’re here!!!

I’m also pleased to find out how on or off the mark my predictions were.  You can read and compare those here.

The 10 most popular baby girls’ names of 2016:

  1. Emma (0 rank change; usage fell)
  2. Olivia (0 change; usage fell)
  3. Ava (+1 rank change; usage fell)
  4. Sophia (-1 rank change; usage fell)
  5. Isabella (0 change; usage fell)
  6. Mia (0 change; usage fell)
  7. Charlotte (+2 change; usage rose)
  8. Abigail (-1 change; usage fell)
  9. Emily (-1 change; usage fell)
  10. Harper (0 change; usage rose)

The top 10 most popular baby boys’ names of 2016:

  1. Noah (0 rank change; usage fell)
  2. Liam (0 rank change; usage fell)
  3. William (+2 rank change; usage fell)
  4. Mason (-1 rank change; usage fell)
  5. James (+2 rank change; usage rose very slightly)
  6. Benjamin (+4 rank change; usage rose)
  7. Jacob (-3 rank change; usage fell)
  8. Michael (+1 rank change; usage fell)
  9. Elijah (new, +2 rank change; usage rose)
  10. Ethan (-4 rank change; usage fell)

The only name that left the top 10 for either gender was Alexander…wow.  I honestly thought it would be Michael!  Perhaps more surprising is that nothing entered or left the girls’ list.  That, and the boys’ top 10 is unusually volatile this year. 

The only names that rose usage-wise were Charlotte, Harper, Benjamin, Elijah, and James!  Everyone else fell, even if their ranks rose.

What are your favorite names in the top 10?  Let me know in the comments!  In the meantime, check back later for info on the top 100, top 1000, and beyond!

Predictions: The Top 1000 Baby Names of 2016

In less than 12 hours, we’ll find out the most popular American baby names of 2016!  Here are my predictions for the names entering and leaving the top 1000, mostly based on what names are rising and falling near the threshold.  You can also read my top 10 and top 100 predictions.  Tomorrow, we’ll see how many of these actually appear or disappear!  

Here are the names I think will enter the top 1000:

  • Boys: Wesson, Alistair, Alaric, Harris, Taj, Keanu, Ira, Danilo, Fox, Koda, Zamir, Gatlin, Dashiell, Kabir
  • Girls: Octavia, Theresa, Tinsley, Mavis, Antonella, Raylee, Akira, Robin, Diya, Charleston, Amora, Aadhya, Harleigh, Kaylani, Maddie, Evalynn, Etta, Winnie, Sailor, Reign, Royalty

The following names compose my “maybe” list:

  • Boys: Harlem, Brysen, Kooper, Rayyan, Yaakov, Isai, Westley, Shmuel, Zyaire, Mccoy, Tadeo, Ahmir, Zayd, Aston, Greysen, Hollis, Reynaldo, Colson, Jad, Lian, Finnian, Koa, Ansel, Thorin, Benedict, Simeon, KaiserKylo
  • Girls: Winnie, India, Regan, Poppy, Ellery, Amayah, Robyn, Chandler, Elina, Araceli (?), Ramona, Spencer, Ailyn, Marian, Scout, Opal, Maisy, Jubilee, Addalynn (?), Loretta, Baylor, Novalee, Ailani, Bexley, Denver, Vada, Louise

Here are the names I think will exit:

  • Boys: Deshawn, Jaydon, Gilbert, Marquis, Keenan, Jayvion, Chevy, Kaeden, Jordyn, Jamarion, Aydan, Anton, Triston, Gibson, Alfred, Jessie, Ishaan, Ulises, Brenden, Neymar
  • Girls: Kaitlynn, Libby, Janiya, Denise, Mariyah, Sharon, Lilyanna, Emmalee, Heather, Cherish, Dixie, Wendy, Aranza, Elin, Halle, Nataly, Kiley, Kenya, Jasmin, Sariah, Kayden, Anabella, Caylee, Montserrat, Anabelle, Aryanna, Annabel, Jenny, Natalee, Sidney

Might also leave:

  • Boys: Truman, Jovani, Ernest, Davin, Rolando, Seamus, Rashad, Agustin, Steve, Darrell, Markus, Javon, Zackary
  • Girls: Tegan, Stevie, Aubriella, Aubrianna, Jocelynn, America, Kimora, Hadleigh, Ellison, Alissa, Saniyah, Susan, Aliya, Briley, Aimee, Asia, Kristen, Giana, Ally, Rylan, Emilie, Lindsay, Maleah, Kathleen, Lexie, Danica, Kailyn, Elsa

Remember, these are just predictions!  Tomorrow I could find out that I’m nowhere close.  That’s okay!  There are always wildcards, and I really just write my predictions for fun.


Predictions: The Top 100 Baby Names of 2016

The new U.S. data set comes out Friday!  Here are my predictions for the top 100.  You can read my top 10 predictions here.

11 names entered the top 100 in 2015 Hazel, Cora, Aurora, Quinn, Reagan, and Clara replaced Jasmine, Hadley, Alexandra, London, Lauren, and Sophie on the girls’ side; Ezra, Theodore, Elias, Mateo, and Sawyer replaced Justin, Camden, Luis, Juan, and Brody on the boys’ side.

Top 100 Names of 2015 (Both Genders, Fixed)

The Top 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2015, Visualized

Judging by the fastest-rising names that are just outside the top 100, here are the ones I predict for entry:

  • Boys: Roman, Leonardo*, Greyson
  • Girls: Eliana, Elena, Luna, Willow, Kinsley

*Leonardo (current rank #103) ranked up 11 points (+356 uses) between 2014 and 2015, so the name is already doing well and could reach the top 100 without extra help.  However, Leonardo DiCaprio won the Academy Award for Best Actor in early 2016!  I anticipate a larger leap from 2015 to 2016.

Luna (#110; rank +33; +476 uses) belongs to a consortium of trendy classical names that also includes Athena and Valeria

These names I put as “maybes” for entry:

  • Boys: Declan, Abel, Harrison, Silas
  • Girls: Adalynn, Everly, Hadley, Delilah, Adeline

Even though Hadley dropped a couple ranks last year, I still hear a *lot* about this name.  Adeline made huge gains in 2015 because of the movie Age of Adaline, and Adalynn benefited.  The question is: will the names continue to rise so fast even if the movie boost is a one-time thing?

Harrison is possible (likely, even) because of Harrison Ford and Force Awakens, which was released at the end of 2015. Star Wars names!

Due to significant drops in popularity, these are the names I think will leave the top 100 in the 2016 list:  

  • Boys: Blake, Kayden, Ayden, Jace
  • Girls: Annabelle, Khloe, Alyssa, Alexis

Aiden ranked up in 2015, Kayden (#95; -5 rank; -476 uses) and other names ending in -Ayden did poorly in 2015.

Parents shied away from Annabelle (#92; -35 rank; -1074 uses) in 2015 after the name became associated with a horror movie.  My question: will the scary stick? 

These are the names I pegged as “maybe” leaving:

  • Boys: Bentley, Brandon, Kevin; maybe Jason and Zachary too
  • Girls: Aubree, Faith, Katherine

Regarding Brandon, Kevin, Jason, and Zachary: 80s and 90s baby names aren’t fashionable anymore, so don’t expect them to stick around much longer.  If 2016 isn’t the year these fall out of the top 100, 2017 will be. 

2015 was not a good year for Puritan-style virtue names (Temperance, Mercy, and Patience all left the top 1000).  Faith dropped 10 points between 2014 and 2015, and may leave the top 100 in the 2016 set. 

General trends I haven’t previously mentioned:

Old-fashioned names are very popular for girls.  The vintage-chic names of 2015 were ones like Hazel, Alice, and Cora; expect these to continue rising.  That isn’t to say modern names aren’t popping up more.  Southern names like Harper, Scarlett, and Paisley make for a very trendy subcategory of modern names.  Special recognition also goes to the “eye” names (Piper, Skylar, and Kylie) and the unisex Irish surnames (Quinn, Reagan, and Riley).

I have a harder time pegging the boys’ names.  The most popular boys’ names are decreasingly popular, evidenced by this SSA tidbit. There’s definitely some modernizing going on, yet some of today’s trendiest baby boy names sound like they belong in another century (looking right at you, Theodore and Ezra)!  Plenty of surnames (Hudson, Lincoln, Grayson) are doing well, except for a couple that are 90s leftovers.  Another trendy category I see?  Western-inspired names like Wyatt and Levi.   

Check back in a few days for the official list from the Social Security Administration.  Aaaaahhhh, I’m so excited! 😀

Top 10 Baby Name Predictions

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.25.08 AM

The Top 10 baby names of 2015.  What will they be in 2016? 

With the Social Security Administration releasing the 2016 data set so soon (Friday, May 12th), I’d like to cast my baby name predictions into the cauldron!  Let’s start with the top 10, since those are the most popular and the ones you’re most likely to encounter.  I will post my top 100 and top 1000 predictions later.

The top 10 girls’ names of 2015 were:

  1. Emma (0 rank change; -444 uses; 20355 total uses)
  2. Olivia (0; -121 uses; 19533 total)
  3. Sophia (0; -1163 uses; 17327 total)
  4. Ava (+1 rank; +700 uses; 16286 total)
  5. Isabella (-1 rank; -1446 uses; 15504 total)
  6. Mia (0; +1378 uses; 14820 total)
  7. Abigail (+1; +326 uses; 12311 total)
  8. Emily (-1; -835 uses; 11727 total)
  9. Charlotte (+1; +1284 uses; 11332 total)
  10. Harper (new, +1; +677 uses; 10241 total))

And the top 10 boys’ names in 2015 were:

  1. Noah (0 rank change; +367 uses; 19511 total uses)
  2. Liam (0; -61 uses; 18281 total)
  3. Mason (0; -557 uses; 16535 total)
  4. Jacob (0; -896 uses; 15816 total)
  5. William (0; -878 uses; 15809 total)
  6. Ethan (0; -628 uses; 14991 total)
  7. James (+2; +404 uses; 14705 total)
  8. Alexander (0; -883 uses; 14460 total)
  9. Michael (-2; -1002 uses; 14321 total)
  10. Benjamin (new, +2; -79 uses; 13608 total)

You might have noticed that many names that became less common experienced no rank change, and that some names either ranked up despite a drop in the total or stayed put despite a major usage increase.  The top of the charts are are staid and insensitive.  Rank changes in this range often occur because one name falls faster than another. 

Because a large rise or drop in the top 10 means little for rank change, it’s helpful to employ context clues in predictions.  You simply can’t look at the stats for one name, because if one takes off then similar names grow alongside it.  The inverse is probably true too – if a very popular name falls then its relatives will also.

Emma might stay #1, but I’m starting to think Olivia will be 2016’s Queen of the Baby Names.  Emma offshoots like Emmalee and Emmaline are falling in popularity – if a very popular name falls then its relatives will alsoEmmalynn is rising, but that is likely helped by the extreme trendiness and growing popularity of other -Lynn names.  Furthermore, the raw usage numbers tell us that Emma fell a little faster than Olivia did between 2014 and 2015.  Other reasons I think Olivia will be #1 are 1) the meteoric rise of Oliver and 2) the rise of Olive.  On the other hand…Olivia‘s alternative spellings (Olyvia, Alivia…) are becoming less popular

Noah will likely continue his reign as King of the Baby Names in 2016.  Noah was one of only two boys’ names in the 2015 top 10 to make usage gains (the other was James).  Liam receives all the hype, but I’d like to point out something I think is seriously overlooked – in the state of California, Liam ranks nowhere near #1.  Last year I researched naming at the state level and discovered that if a name is in California’s top 100, it’s automatically in the national top 1000.  Liam certainly is popular in Cali (apparently he’s even #2 in San Diego, where 2016 stats are already available), but not quite enough to unseat Noah.  Of course, we’ll find out for sure on Friday!

After predicting the #1 names, the next important question asks which names will leave the top 10.  In 2015, Harper and Benjamin replaced Madison and DanielMichael will probably leave the top 10 this time around, and Emily is his likely female counterpart.  Alexander also looks like a possibility.  The next question: what will replace them?

Amelia (current rank #12) is Emily‘s probable replacement.  She’s a fast riser and the #1 name in England and Wales, plus similar-sounding Emilia also rises.  In the unlikely case that another spot opens up in the girls’ top 10, I nominate Elizabeth (perennially popular, rising, + Netflix’s “The Crown”) and Evelyn (trendy, rising) as back-up dancers.   I have a harder time figuring out the supplanter among the boys (unless you want to talk about James or Jacob, which actually mean “supplanter!”).  I’ve had Elijah on my shortlist for a while, but he may simply stay #11 or #12; he’s my conservative guess.  Oliver jumped very high between 2014 and 2015 (gained +13 rank, +2227 usage for a total of 11592), but he won’t necessarily enjoy that same level of momentum between the 2015 and 2016 sets.  Aiden rose a little in 2015, but rhyming names like Jayden, Brayden, and Kayden fell.  I nominate Lucas (current rank #16) as a wildcard because of new Star Wars movies and “Stranger Things.”

Thus, my prediction lists:


  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Ava
  4. Sophia or Mia
  5. Mia or Sophia
  6. Isabella
  7. Charlotte
  8. Abigail – Theoretically, Abigail would be pushed downwards by other names even her usage increases.
  9. Harper
  10. Amelia


  1. Noah
  2. Liam
  3. Mason
  4. James
  5. William
  6. Jacob
  7. Ethan
  8. Benjamin
  9. Alexander
  10. Elijah or Oliver

These predictions aren’t an exact science.  We can’t determine exactly what will happen, only what might happen.  There are always those names you are so sure will be the next big thing, and then they simply fall short!  I can already tell you a few of the names on the prediction lists will be out of order, and the #1 names could actually end up being Emma and Liam.  The fun and anticipation are enough for me – it reminds me of trying to predict the plot of an upcoming Harry Potter book!

Thoughts?  Check back in a few days for the official list!  And, you know…to see how strong my predictions are.  


Below the Top 1000, Part 45 (Girls)

We’re finally at the last post of this series.  The way the American data works, you can only see names that were used 5 or more times in a year…and we’re at that minimum.  What’s more, the 2016 data comes out this Friday (yay)!  For fun, I suggest looking back through these posts and guessing which names rise or fall.

For this very last selection of names Below the Top 1000 in 2015, girls’ names used just 5 times!  As always, the Social Security Administration is my source.

  • 5 girls: Adelis, Adesire, Adonai, Adorable, Aelita, Aelyn, Aeowyn, Agathe, Ahsoka, Aia, Ajournee, Aksa, Alaria, Albana, Ale, Aljoharah, Almadelia, Almudena, Aloe, Amabella, Amadea, Amarely, Ameline, Amillion, Amorina, Amyrical, Anandi, Andjela, Aniyahlee, Anjanette, Annaleia, Annaline, Anova, Antheia, Anuoluwapo, Anwyn, Apsara, Aquinnah, Araminta, Arena, Ariday, Arisbel, Aseret, Ashiah, Ashlynd, Aspasia, Atiyah, Attica, Aulii, Australia, Avalise, Aviance, Aviary, Azmariah, Baleria, Beautyful, Belia, Belize, Bellatrix, Berta, Bertie, Bethia, Betselot, Beverley, Biftu, Blessen, Bly, Breck, Brita, Bryasia, Busra, Cabela, Calvary, Calyx, Cameo, Candida, Capella, Carola, Cascia, Cassiana, Celinda, Ceres, Chamille, Choice, Chrysanthemum, Claiborne, Cliona, Clodagh, Clotilde, Concetta, Constantina, Coralina, Corinthia, Czarina, Dagmar, Dakaria, Daleth, Daneen, Darianys, Dejanique, Delancey, Delphina, Dessence, Desta, Diary, Digna, Dilma, Dilpreet, Doria, Dotty, Dwija, Eilonwy, Elanore, Elisiana, Eliska, Elleny, Elna, Elwyn, Elzbieta, Empryss, Emuna, Ernestine, Escarleth, Euna, Evgenia, Evin, Evora, Exie, Exodus, Fairy, Fate, Federica, Fergie, Fermina, Fiamma, Fina, Fira, Fotini, France, Gatsby, Geeta, Gethsemani, Giovannina, Gold, Greenly, Guillermina, Gurseerat, Gwenevieve, Happy, Harleequinn, Harumi, Havanah, Haviland, Helia, Heliana, Hermila, Hibo, Hinako, Ibeth, Ilda, Independence, Indika, Indu, Inge, Ingris, Intisar, Io, Ireri, Ismary, Israelle, Itzamar, Jadeline, Jadis, Jamesa, Jaydaliz, Jazzy, Jedidah, Jennabelle, Jessabel, Jocabed, Joleigha, Joules, Joviana, Judaea, Julicia, Juwairiyah, Kamiko, Kasha, Kehinde, Kekeli, Kenasia, Keshayla, Kessley, Kindred, Kirklyn, Kjerstin, Klowie, Kressida, Lehua, Leonarda, Leonella, Lilas, Lissy, Lizmar, Lochlynn, Lovisa, Ludmila, Ludovica, Lunabelle, Lunden, Luziana, Lynx, Lysette, Madrid, Maekayla, Maleficent, Maranatha, Marcellina, Mariabella, Mariadejesus, Mariadelcarmen, Marigny, Marisabel, Marishka, Marixa, Mercury, Merjem, Mialuna, Michella, Michi, Mieke, Mikhaila, Milca, Minori, Monasia, Monterey, Morenike, Moria, Mosley, Muireann, Nathanaelle, Nation, Natori, Nebraska, Neelah, Neleh, Nelliel, Nerissa, Nevena, Nieves, Nike, Nilufer, Nix, Nneka, Oakland, Ocie, Okalani, Oleta, Olinda, Olivine, Olwyn, Omariana, Pagan, Pahola, Palin, Palyn, Panagiota, Paraskevi, Parvina, Paulita, Paxley, Paylee, Peony, Pfeiffer, Pink, Pistol, Pooja, Portland, Praylee, Prisma, Qiana, Quintessa, Raielle, Rally, Ramsey, Reality, Rebyl, Rehab*, Remedios, Reminisce, Rickelle, Rigel, Righteous, Rim, Rokiatou, Rosaisela, Saily, Sakeenah, Salsabeel, Samuela, Santiana, Sebastiana, Serendipity, Setareh, Sevilla, Shade, Shakhzoda, Sharleez, Sher, Simbo, Skyland, Snezhana, Sojourner, Solimar, Sophonie, Sparkle, Starlight, Stellaluna, Suetta, Susy, Synnove, Tabor, Tamila, Tamriel, Theda, Toula, Treva, Trillium, Trishelle, Troian, Tsering, Tuba, Unica, Valli, Varina, Verbena, Vladislava, Whittley, Worthy, Xiadani, Xochiquetzal, Xyliana, Yarizmar, Yazbeth, Yukiko, Yuzu, Yvelisse, Zabella, Zabelle, Zealand, Zephora, Zinachimdi, Ziza, Zolie, Zophie, Zynique

*I checked.  There were indeed 5 girls named Rehab

What do you think of these names?  Let me know in the comments!  And finally, thank you for reading this series.  The name-spotting is fun, and the conversation even better. 🙂

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