Author: Ron Meyer
The Social Security Administration just released its annual list of the most popular baby names in America. To the optimists, it’s a fascinating dive into how pop culture shapes our world view. Pessimists, on the other hand, will take it as a sign that Millennials shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce.
Emma and Olivia are still the top names for baby girls, while Noah and Liam take the top spots for baby boys. What might surprise you are the names that have either skyrocketed or plummeted in popularity.
Big Winners: Music and Movies
The biggest jump in popularity for boys belongs to Kylo. Yep, like Kylo Ren. Anakin also jumped over 100 spots in the rankings (though that’s nowhere near Kylo’s jump of 2,368 spots). In a few years, thousands of little kids are going to realize that their parents named them after a Star Wars character. May the force be with them.
Creed made the second-largest leap, with Apollo and Adonis also making the hot list. Lots of new parents watched the hit movie “Creed” – and though no one knows how many Creeds, Apollos, and Adonises kicked their moms a lot during pregnancy, I’d bet a non-zero percentage of those names are equal parts “parental revenge” and “cute story the kid can tell forever.”
For girls, Kehlani jumped the most, leading music fans to suspect parents are borrowing from Grammy-nominated artist Kehlani Parrish. Bolstering this theory is the fact that Alessia moved up in the rankings, too, perhaps due to the rise of pop star Alessia Cara. The second largest jump belongs to Royalty (don’t do this to your child) and third, to Saoirse (yes, I approve).
Call Me Caitlyn? Not So Fast
One year after Caitlyn Jenner announced her transition, the name is falling in popularity faster than any other (the SSA’s new data comes form 2016). The top girl names losing steam are, in order, Caitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, and Kaitlynn. For boys, Jonael and Aaden dropped most.
Political Names Losing Favor
On a larger scale, names with political connotations are on the down and out. Donald has declined slightly every year since 2000, but this year’s drop was significantly sharper than seen in years past. (The same pattern holds for Chelsea). Hillary reached peak popularity in 2008, but has not cracked the top 1000 girl names in any year since.
Melania and Ivanka have not made it into the top 1000 names for girls at any point since 2000, so the SSA does not share data on them. Clinton, however, used to be a moderately popular choice for boys. It hovered in the higher end of the top 1000 from 2000-2014, before falling out of that bracket altogether in 2015 – just as the primaries heated up.
Millennial moms and dads have an interesting philosophy in naming their little bundles of joy: Dodge politics, go for pop culture.