It’s a fact: Celebrity baby names can affect the popularity charts for years to come.
More than nine years before Emily Blunt named her first baby Hazel, Julia Roberts gave the name to her daughter and pushed it up an astonishing 600 places on the U.S. popularity chart.
Heather Locklear and Reese Witherspoon revived an old Hollywood glamour name and made it a star again when they named their daughters Ava.
Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford had sons named Liam more than a decade before the name reached the Top Ten in the U.S.
So which star choices of the past year are most likely to inspire the baby names we’ll be giving our children in the years to come?
First, the influential celebrity baby girl names:
Arrow — Actors Jensen and Danneel Ackles blur the line between babies and superheroes. This year, daughter Arrow Rhodes and twin brother Zeppelin Bram joined their older sister, Justice Jay, to make The Ackleses a family of five. Arrow fits with meaningful names like Journey and proves that dramatic word names aren’t only for sons. After all, arrows find their targets, making this a modern virtue name of sorts. It’s still rare, but Arrow should attract even more attention in 2017, along with an already popular boy’s name, Archer.
James — Speaking of bold choices, James has gone from a jaw-dropping surprise to a celebrity middle name like Grace or Rose. MTV’s Nev Schulman welcomed daughter Cleo James; actress Audra McDonald went with Sally James; and actor Kellie Martin opted for Olivia James. It’s increasingly appearing in birth announcements outside of Hollywood, too. Celebrity parents definitely get credit for making James a possibility for our daughters.
Daisy — Actors Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis found a pitch-perfect name for their daughter, Daisy Josephine, who with big brother Otis Alexander makes this a family of four. Both children’s names combine a vintage, nickname-proof, friendly first name with a longer, more buttoned-down middle name. While Daisy is more popular than Otis — it’s been in the U.S. Top 200 since the 1990s — they’re very well matched. Otis re-entered the U.S. Top 1,000 after Wilde and Sudeikis chose the name. Now let’s watch for an uptick in baby Daisys, too!
Dusty — Color names have gone mainstream. Just ask Scarlett, Violet or Grayson. Singer Adam Levine and model Behati Prinsloo brought back a favorite shade from the 1980s for daughter Dusty Rose, whose name brings to mind the iconic 1960s singer Dusty Springfield. Though Levine and Prinsloo aren’t saying if Springfield was their inspiration, we do know who suggested the name: Ellen DeGeneres. We’ll be looking for more baby Dustys — and maybe some Jonis, Arethas and Mavises too.
Iris — Actor Eddie Redmayne had a banner year. The Oscar-winning actor was nominated for another Academy Award for “The Danish Girl,” he starred in the blockbuster “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and he and his wife, publicist Hannah Bagshawe, welcomed daughter Iris Mary to our world. Iris fits in with florals like Daisy and Lily, but with a slightly more serious vibe, thanks to writer Iris Murdoch. Now Iris is poised to become one of the most popular vintage baby names for girls.
Luna — Model Chrissy Teigen and singer John Legend named their adorable firstborn Luna Simone. Her first name belongs with other celestial favorites like Stella and Skye, and her middle name appears to be an honor name that pays homage to the legendary singer Nina Simone. After all, Legend has appeared at a tribute to Simone, and he referenced her in his Oscar acceptance speech. Luna Simone hits exactly the right notes — on-trend but not too popular, meaningful but still stylish. Expect both names to climb next year.
Mabel — Another vintage choice on the rise is Mabel. Though long-neglected, this former Top-20 choice has been boosted by two celebrity dads — Bruce Willis, who welcomed a Mabel in 2012, and now Russell Brand. The name is catching on in the U.S., and a few high-profile birth announcements can only help. Mabel reminds me of Hazel, a similar-sounding name that was out of favor until celebrity baby names changed our minds. If the pattern repeats, Mabel might make the U.S. Top 100 in the 2030s.
And now, the influential boys' names:
Boomer — We probably won’t meet many baby Boomers, but the name all-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps and his wife, former Miss California USA Nicole Johnson, gave their son may encourage more parents to choose boldly. Phelps called Boomer a “cool kid” name, and with choices like Maverick, Kai and Kingston in the boys’ Top 200, they’re becoming more and more common. It's easy to imagine parents-to-be cautiously considering a name like Ledger or Bridger and thinking, "Well, it's not as extreme as Boomer." Sometimes it's the name that catches on, and sometimes it's the style.
Charles Max — Savannah Guthrie and Mike Feldman reminded us that family names make a powerful style statement, even when they’re as traditional as they come. Charles “Charley” Max joined big sister Vale just this month. Charles comes from Savannah’s late father, while Max is a family name from his dad’s side. Charley and Charlie continue to be fast-rising favorites for sons and daughters, as nicknames or standalones — classic, casual, upbeat and found on many family trees.
Freddie — Now that the boy band One Direction is all grown up and starting families, many future parents are paying close attention. Louis Tomlinson became the first of the band to become a dad when he and Briana Jungwirth welcomed their son, Freddie Reign. “Nickname names” like Freddie are common in the U.K., and maybe little Freddie will prod American parents to embrace the trend. If so, expect to see more Archies, Alfies and Freddies on American playgrounds soon.
Hugo — Actors Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas picked a name that hits the fits-in/stands-out sweet spot when Hugo Wilson joined big brother Oliver Finlay this year. Hugo boasts plenty of history, and that great “o” ending puts the name in the company of popular picks like Leo and Milo. Expect to see more Hugos in 2017.
Journey — Many 21st century parents are looking for names that are rich with spiritual meaning. Think of Destiny, or Zion, or Journey River, the name actors Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green chose for their third son together. Their family also includes Bodhi Ransom, Noah Shannon and Brian’s son Kassius. Equally intriguing: Journey is used in much larger numbers for girls. It’s refreshing to see more families considering names for boys that might be perceived as feminine. Journey could prove to be one of the most influential baby names of the year.
Remington — Kelly Clarkson named her daughter River in 2014, and the name rose dramatically for girls the year after. While the name was already on the rise, Clarkson’s daughter — and the children’s books bearing her name — helped. Now Clarkson and husband Brandon Blackstock have added a son, Remington Alexander. Could the pattern repeat? Remington is another new favorite that many parents have on their shortlists, so a celebrity boost should take the name even higher.