Dec. 27, 2013 at 8:10 AM ET
The most notable names of 2013 — a few of which were awaited with great anticipation — are borne by prominent personages in the realms of religion, royalty, politics, the tech world, and of course, entertainment. Here are our picks for the 12 names most emblematic of 2013 — along with a few others that slipstreamed in their wake.
In the months leading up to the royal birth, British betting parlors were beehives of activity, as odds changed daily on what the baby’s name would be. Would he have two or three middle names? Could Diana be used for a girl without stepping on some other royal toes? When George (the favorite throughout) Alexander Louis was announced, it didn’t take the baby naming world by storm — but some of the other proposed possibilities — Albert, Arthur, Frederick — did attract new attention.
Also a subject of great discussion and anticipation was what name Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would adapt as his papal appellation. His choice was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi and his work with the poor. As a result, all Fran-related names have been increasing in popularity — Frances, Francesca, Frank, Frankie, Francine. But Francis itself? Not so much.
Not since Bennifer and TomKat have we heard a celebrity smoosh name as often as this Kim Kardashian-Kanye West combo. As for daughter North West’s name, it was pretty quickly suppressed in favor of nickname Nori. No danger of North taking off for other babies as dramatically as her cousins Mason and Penelope did.
This is the clan name used as a sign of respect and affection for Nelson (the English name a teacher gave him) Mandela, the heroic anti-apartheid African leader the world is now mourning. Related names: that of one-time wife Winnie (also the name Jimmy Fallon chose for his daughter) and Idris, the Welsh name introduced to Americans by actor Idris Elba, who portrays Mandela in the current biopic.
The first name of "Downton Abbey’s" Duchess of Grantham has taken the lead over those of her daughters, though Edith, Sibyl and — surprisingly — Mary are also coming back into style. Another winner in this category is Charlotte, the shy girl most likely to succeed — a huge Nameberry fave. And let’s not forget Alice, in tribute to Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro.
By far the most talked-about character name of the year has been Walter White, the complex lead character in the hit show "Breaking Bad."Walter is a Comeback Kid among boys’ names; it’s now at Number 376, as it continues to shed its avuncular image. Another somewhat surprising TV character name on the radar is the biblical Ezekiel from "Supernatural."
Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer are two women who made business news this year — Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, who started a whole movement with her book "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead," and new mom Mayer for insisting workers lean in not from home but from the offices of Yahoo, where she's president and CEO. Sure, both women are brilliant and powerful, but could alliteration have helped to make their names more memorable and famous?
For reasons beyond our comprehension, the reality show "Duck Dynasty,"featuring the bushy-bearded Robertson men and their womenfolk, is a smash hit. Family names/nickname include Jep, Korie, Jase and Si for Silas, a name which is a rising star. So is cousin Cyrus, which was chosen by Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy for their son.
This 17-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter is one of the big musical success stories of the year. Born Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, she has said she took on her stage name (pronounced ‘lord’) due to her fascination with "royals and aristocracy," but felt the name Lord was too masculine and so added an 'e' to make it more feminine.
Actor Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is everywhere. He’s Frankenstein! He’s Sherlock! He’s Stephen Hawking! He’s Smaug the dragon! And his Shakespearean Ben-name is sure to rise in the ranks, joining the biblical Benjamin and the also-climbing Bennett.
The nickname name most likely to succeed. Young actress Mila, born Milena, Kunis has been a key factor in its ascent — in the past two years Mila has jumped 250 places to Number 115. President George W. Bush’s first grandchild was christened Margaret Laura after her two grandmas, but it was immediately announced that she would be called Mila.
Comedic actress Rebel Wilson is one person who lives up to her (real) name. After her breakthrough scene-stealing role in "Bridesmaids,"this fearless Australian actress got her own TV sitcom, proving that girls can be outrageous rebels, too.