Nov. 16, 2012 at 8:09 AM ET
Baby names are changing faster than ever, influenced by celebrities and pop culture, ancient cultures and modern catastrophes. The major trends for 2013 draw from the names of Roman gods and the wilder side of nature, tap new international name sources and include a surprising taste for secrecy.
Nameberry’s predictions for baby names 2013:
Biggest big picture trend: Ancient Names
Russell Crowe’s Gladiator and HBO’s Rome may have kindled the trend for Ancient Roman names, but then the megahit The Hunger Games drove it into the big-time. With another film of the series set for November 2013, we predict that names of old world gods and goddesses, mythological heroes and leaders will dominate birth announcements. Choices we’ll be hearing more of include Augustus and Atticus, Persephone and Athena, Juno and Julius, Thor and Maeve. The appeal transcends the pop culture influence: These names are as powerful as they are deep, arming a child to triumph over earthly challenges (the parents hope).
Most surprising name inspiration: Superstorm Sandy
The devastating superstorm is not likely to inspire a wave of baby Sandys or even Sandras, but the endless repetition of the name is statistically likely to increase the use of S names — as was the case for K names after Katrina. Along with a wave of babies born nine months after the storm, we predict the rise of names with a Sandy-like sound, such as Alessandra or Cassandra or Sander. From there you can stretch to the word names Sand, Dune, Beach, or even Storm.
Trend most likely to cross the ocean: Leonine Names
Leo has been climbing the charts since the emergence of Leonardo DeCaprio, but other leonine names popular in Europe are set to invade our shores. Leon has been a top name in Germany and high in Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and even Ireland for a decade — and that could happen here. Other leonine names stylish overseas with potential in the U.S. include Leonie, Lionel and Lev, along with Leopold and Leonora, which don’t mean lion but feel as if they should. One celebrity cut right to the chase, when Alex O’Loughlin recently named his son Lion.
Coolest middle-name trend: Non-name Names
Using a word, any word with personal significance, as a middle name takes the trend toward using an adventurous and meaningful name in the middle to new heights of quirkiness and creativity. Celebrities have led the way, using everything from Ballerina to Bear, Sweetheart to Seven to Song to Star to Saint in middle place following more conventional firsts.
Hottest celebrity-inspired trend: : Meaningful Place Names
When Reese Witherspoon named her baby son Tennessee, it wasn’t in honor of playwright Williams. Rather, it has deep personal resonance, Reese having been raised in Tennessee, her mother’s native state. Other celebs have chosen names of places that also have emotional significance, while another contingent have gone for the more exotic — Chris Hemsworth’s daughter India – or the down-to-earth, as with Nick Lachey’s Camden.
Newest retro trend: Midcentury Nicknames
The last wave of grandma and grandpa nickname names – Annie and Molly, Ben and Max – are now borne by new parents, who we predict will turn to vintage nicknames from the Mad Men era for their own children, with the most fashionable choices for boys. While Don and Dick have not yet reemerged, we see a new generation of kids with names like Hank and Hal, Ray and Fay, Millie and Monty, and Lous of both genders.
Ethnic name group most likely to rise: Scandinavian
Sure, Latin names are sexier and French names have more chic, but baby namers are beginning to appreciate the distinctive charms of the Scandinavian, inspired by a combination of Siri and Stieg Larsson. Some names have been introduced by celebrities, like Stellan and Viggo and Liv, others by starbabies such as Kai, Magnus (Elizabeth Banks' new son), and Axel, but there are other appealing choices as well, including Freya, Linnea, Signy, Astrid, Soren, Leif, and Lars. In the Christmas 2013 Hobbit movie, one of the major characters is named Thorin.
Name trend that’s jumped the shark: : Double L Names
At first they seemed irresistibly lilting—all those lovely girls’ names that doubled up on the L sounds: Lily, Lila, Lola, Leila, Layla, Lillian. But we suspect that tongues are getting tired of reaching up for all those L’s and that the trend has passed its tipping point.
Freshest botanical names: Wildflowers
Baby namers have started to turn from cultivated gardens and look to the fields where flowers grow wild. Hottest of these at the moment are Clover and Poppy, along with uncultivated tree names Juniper and Maple. For the adventurous, there are choices like Thistle, Dandelion, and Buttercup. The herbal names from The Hunger Games are also influential, but more Rue and Primrose and less Katniss.
Coolest direction in naming: North
Seasonal names have taken on a wintery chill. Winter (used by Gretchen Mol) itself is sounding fresher than Summer or Autumn, and March and January are moving in on May and June. We’ve also been seeing Snow and Frost and North itself, especially as middle names, and we predict there’ll be more crisp and nippy names ahead.
Consonant of the moment: W
William, of course, has been a stalwart in the baby name world for centuries, but other names sharing that initial have lagged behind. Now suddenly there is a flurry of long-neglected W-names resurfacing. For boys, there are West, Weston, Wesley, Warren, Walker, Walter, Winston, Wilson, Wilder, Wylie and Wyatt, and for girls, Willa, Willow, Winter, Winnie, Waverly, and even clunky Wilhelmina is back on board after being chosen recently by Natalie and Taylor Hanson.
Most surprising comeback name: Etta
Surprising and yet logical. We have seen the progression of top girls’names shift from Emily to Emma to Ella, so Etta makes sense as a successor. She was a Top 100 name at the end of the nineteeth century, falling off the list in 1966, but the recent death of the great blues singer Etta James brought her name back into the spotlight, inspiring at least one celeb — Carson Daly — to use it for his daughter.
Hottest new celebrity trend: Keeping names secret
There are still many celebs who can’t wait to get that shot of their five-minute-old baby onto the cover of People, but there is now a growing trend for keeping the name (and sometimes even gender) of famous offspring private for a long period of time — if not permanently. We still don’t know, for example, the names (or sex) of Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyers’s twins or that of Sarah Michelle Geller and Freddie Prinze Jr’s son. Uma Thurman waited three months to leak the names of her daughter Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson — though maybe it took her that long to configure them.
Trendiest name length: The long and the short of it
Goodbye Jayden, Ashton, Ava and Emma: the cutting-edge parent today is much more interested in a single-syllable name or one that has three or even four syllables. On the rise: the short and sleek Cole, Zane, Eve and May; and at the other end of the spectrum: Macallister (choice of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer), Penelope (new non-K Kardashian name), Arabella and Theodora.
Satran and Rosenkrantz, the authors of ten bestselling books on names, including Cool Names for Babies and The Baby Name Bible, have been forecasting baby name trends for 25 years and now draw on data from nearly 100 million annual page views on their website, Nameberry.com.
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