In 2021, baby names will counter the hardships of last year. This year, we want baby names with charm and armor, those that activate our imaginations and transcend our dark reality. Anything that remotely reminds us of coronavirus is out — probably for good.
Here are Nameberry’s top 10 trends for baby names in 2021.
Biggest big-picture trend: Magic names
The defining names of 2021 have an element of magic to them. They’re the names of superheroes (and super-antiheroes), names that carry an incantatory power to protect and strengthen our children in these difficult times.
Perhaps the most startling names in this group are those of mythic and outsized figures, both good and evil. For every Adonis, there’s a Kali. For every Titan, there’s a Persephone. For every Messiah, there’s a Lucifer. The mythological and biblical names that have been the dominant trend in recent years now include names whose power may have been considered too dark for a baby before this year when the world was fighting for its life.
Magic word names cast a different sort of spell, inspiring bearers to live up to the meanings of their names. These word names might summon a shining future, as names such as Brave, Noble, Legendary and Legacy do. Powerful itself is a name to watch this year. Nick Cannon used it for his December-born daughter, whose full name is Powerful Queen — quite a prophecy indeed.
But there's an underworld to these word names too, with tough and even frightening names like Blaze, Rowdy and Wild becoming more popular in 2021.
The subtlest way to invest a child’s name with magic is through a positive but more covert meaning such as “strength” or “sunlight.” In 2021, parents will choose names such as Cyrus, Oz and Savita, which reflect the fortitude and hope our children will carry into the future.
Trendiest trend-related trend: Cottagecore names
The cottagecore aesthetic continues its grip on Gen Z and Millennials, who dream of escaping quarantine in their urban apartments to the bucolic lifestyle of the countryside or quiet of the forest. In 2021, these fantasies play out in cottagecore baby names. Vintage and ethereal names rule for girls, while woodsy names are hot for boys. Bonus points all around if there’s a connection to nature in there somewhere.
Newest gender bend: -ari names
The latest craze in unisex names is those that end in -ari. They are largely gender-neutral, used among baby girls and boys in relatively equal proportion. Adding to the appeal is that these modern, genderless names are infinitely customizable. While some -ari names have authentic roots in Japanese or Swahili, many are the creation of inventive parents in search of an on-trend but unusual name. You can mix and match to make your perfect -ari name in 2021, but here are some of the top choices for both girls and boys.
Biggest pop culture influence: Billie Eilish
Like everything else about her, the teenage pop sensation Billie Eilish has piqued interest in her names. All of them — she was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell. Also attracting attention is her older brother’s name, Finneas, as well as other boyish nicknames for girls such as Stevie and Teddy. We predict Billie will reenter the Top 1000 this year for the first time since the last century.
Name origin most likely to rise: Japanese names
Parents are expanding their horizons and looking beyond Europe for the source of the next great undiscovered baby name. Welcome to Japan! With attractive rhythms and straightforward pronunciations, Japanese names are overdue for American exposure. Particularly notable are those that end in I, such as Kaori, which was chosen by Kevin Hart for his daughter in September of 2020.
Name trend that’s jumped the shark: Cora and Cove
We would all be happy to never hear the words “coronavirus” or “COVID” spoken again, so naturally, names with similar sounds have been stricken from parents’ lists. At the beginning of 2020, we were excited about Cora and Cove — Cora was headed for the Top 50, and Cove, though rare, was bounding up the charts. What a difference a year makes. Expect Cora, Cove, and all related names to take a steep fall in 2021.
Hottest direction in baby naming: Everywhere
North, Westley, Easton, Southern — why choose one direction when you can have them all? In 2021, Ever- names are going to be, well, everywhere. Everly and co. will continue to dominate for girls, while Ever itself will replace Everett as the coolest choice for boys.
Now vowel: Long A for girls
Long A is on every parent’s lips when talking about girl names. It features prominently in many Nameberry favorites, including Maeve and Hazel, and is emulated by Es in such rising names as Esme and Vega. The long A girl names we’ll hear more of in 2021 include the following.
Celebrity trend most likely to catch on: Avian middle names
Celebrities have heartily endorsed animal middle names for years, but recently they’ve gotten more specific. In 2021, middle names are for the birds. A flock of celebrity babies with bird-related middles landed in 2020, including Daisy Dove, Ripley Nightingale, and Osian Lark. Mainstream parents will follow suit with these trendy avian middle names.
The runner-up celebrity-inspired trend is day names, as influenced by Rupert Grint’s daughter, Wednesday. Wednesday, of course, will be the hottest among them, but Sunday and Tuesday will see a rise as well.
French fashion that won’t make it here: Hortense
The French are at the forefront of style with just about everything, including baby names. The hottest names in France today could very well become hits in America tomorrow (keep an eye on Naya, Tao and Alba). One name we’re certain is not going to cross over is Hortense, which has almost become cultural shorthand for an unfashionable name in the United States. Hortense is currently ranked at Number 229 among French baby girls and continues to rise. Consider it lost in translation — in France, the name is pronounced or-TAHNS, significantly chicer than the American HOOR-tence.