Last week the Social Security Administration released all its baby name data for 2011. We've already shared the most popular baby names of 2011 based on that data, but now we've dug a little deeper! Comparing the popularity of the top 500 baby names in 2011 and 2010, we've unearthed some intriguing trends.
New Boys Names in the Top 100
Continuing their ascent (noted in 2010), Bentley and Grayson became even more popular in 2011. Both jumped 25 spots to #75 and #97, respectively. Also new to that top 100 baby boy names list is Bryson, which leapt 22 spots to #98.
New Girls Names in the Top 100
New to the top 100 list of girls names are Aubree (soaring to #99 from a #223 rank in 2010), Harper, Scarlett, London, Lydia, Ellie and Kennedy. Note: for more on the name Kennedy, see The Politics of Baby Naming.
Parents are really liking the look and sound of "ee" for girls' names lately. Nearly all the girl names with "ee" in the top 500 list — including Brynlee, Aubree, Charlee, Caylee, Jayleen, Brylee, Haylee, Reese, Aileen, and Kaylee — became more popular in 2011.
The X Factor
Of the 21 boy names in the top 500 list that contain the letter X, 16 increased in popularity or maintained their ranking from 2011. They are: Dexter, Axel, Xander, Jaxson, Jax, Knox, Paxton, Felix, Braxton, Jaxon, Maddox, Max, Maxwell, Maximus, Maximiliano and Maximilian.
The only X names for boys to fall in rank were Phoenix, Alexander, Alex, Alexis and Xavier. Interestingly, girl names related to Alexander (Alexandra, Alexia, Alexis, Alexa, Lexi, Lexie) also fell in popularity in 2011.
While Biblical boy names are enjoying higher popularity than they may have several years ago, the story between 2010 and 2011 is less clear-cut than you may have heard. While several names achieved a higher rank in 2011 (Abraham, Noah, Luke, Mark, Isaac, Levi, Micah, Eli, Emmanuel, Issac, Judah, Izaiah, Abel, Solomon, Ezekiel, Emanuel, Noel) others dropped in rank (Zachariah, Zion, Ismael, Nehemiah, Angel, Simon, Peter, David, Gabriel, Joshua, Josiah, Mekhi, Daniel, Malachi, Christian).
Parents also turned to literature for baby name inspiration in 2011. Among the ten boy names with the highest change in popularity this year was Atticus, which you may remember from To Kill a Mockingbird. That famous novel, written by Harper Lee, may also explain some of the popularity of Harper, now #54 for girls (although Harper is also the name chosen by Neil Patrick Harris for one of his twins, born in late 2010, and by the Beckhams for their fourth child, born in July 2011). Other names with literary leanings that saw an increase in popularity in 2011 include Emerson, Juliet, Scarlett, Dante, Holden, and Sawyer.
Oh, the Places Names Go!
Last year we pointed out the growing popularity of place names, and this year the trend is still going strong. Brooklyn, Brooklynn, London, Londyn, Savanna, Savannah and Georgia are all climbing the charts. The only place names that are bucking the trend (with decreases in popularity) are Sydney and Paris.
Classical Boy Names
Looks like some parents have been turning to their history books for inspiration! Boy names with classical connections — Roman, Troy, Maximus, Titus, and Julian rose in popularity this year.
Nature-Inspired Girl Names
The natural naming trend we highlighted in our previous baby names summary has continued, with girls' names such as Olive, Willow, Luna, Rose, Violet, Iris, Lilly/Lily, Jade, Sage, Ruby, Ivy, Aurora, Skye/Skyler/Skylar, and Savannah/Savanna all rising in 2011. The only sinkers in the natural realm are Daisy, Amber and Jasmine.
Months and Seasons
Do parents prefer fall babies to spring babies? Autumn is trending up while April is trending down. We can't make any sense of the months between, however… Summer fell in popularity, but June and August rose.
How did you choose your baby's name?