What’s in a name? You’ve been telling us what you love in baby naming all year, and now we’re giving you the most-searched baby boy and girl names on Parenting.com. Read on to find out which names topped the charts, which names lost rank, and what’s in store for baby naming in 2012. For girls, Isabella (Italian, God's oath) and Sookie (American, unknown) took the top spots in 2011, while parents favored Jacob (Hebrew, supplanter) and Max (Latin, short for Maximillian, Maxwell) for boys. This could be a carry-over of the vampire mania we’ve seen for the past two years thanks to pop culture hits Twilight and True Blood. Isabella and Jacob were also the top two names in the Social Security Administration in 2011, making these all-around popular choices.
What the Celebs Chose
Celebrities are known for their crazy name choices, but this year they kept to the straight and narrow. For girls, Tori Spelling named her new daughter Hattie (variation of Harriet, Henrietta); Ivanka Trump went with the feminine Arabella (Latin, beautiful altar) for her firstborn; and Victoria Beckham chose Harper (English, harpist), which last year we predicted would be a top girl’s name. In the boy zone, Maya Rudolph picked the tried-and-true Jack (American, nickname for John or Jacob) for her son, while Alyssa Milano went with the slightly-offbeat but still classic Milo (German, variation of Miles, soldier). A few celebs didn’t let us down in the quirky category, though. Kate Hudson, who named her first son Ryder (English, horseman), veered away from the norm and named her new son Bing (German, pot-shaped hollow). Jessica Alba, who favoured a non traditional name in calling her firstborn daughter Honour (Latin, honour), picked the unusual but lovely Haven (English, place of safety) for her second.
2012 Trend: New Girls in Town
While super-feminine names topped the charts in 2011, there’s a slight wrinkle to that trend with these elegantly old-school names for girls. Ann was the fourth most-searched name for girls, joined by Betty (English, short for Elizabeth), Haddie (English, short for Hadden, heather-filled valley) and Blythe (English, happy, free spirit) all in the top 50. We love that parents are giving modern popularity to these vintage names. This also illuminates another emerging 2012 Trend: one-syllable names. Our list of short and sweet names was the second most-searched baby name list in 2011.
Who didn’t see this trend coming? Although the Royal Wedding bonanza is long gone, the new Duchess’ nickname Kate (English, short for Katherine, pure) has skyrocketed in popularity. It ranked 14th this year, up from spot 33 last year. While her formal name Catherine (Greek, pure) wasn’t in the top 50, readers have also expressed interest in Kate’s sister Pippa’s (English, short for Philippa) name, which claimed the 21st spot this year. William (English, German, protector) has also risen in popularity, ranking 31st for boys up from 91 last year. Liam (Irish, short for William), a shortened version of William, is still flying high at number 5. English classics like James (English, derived from Jacob, supplanter), John (Hebrew, God is gracious) and Henry (German, ruler of the household) are all ranking in the top 50 for boys as well, while the regal Elizabeth (Hebrew, God's oath) took the 11th spot for girls.
2012 Trend: Feminine Names
Although readers are beginning to favour short and sweet names for girls, the widespread appeal of ethereal, ultra-fem names has kept them in vogue. Favorites like Emma (German, universal), Charlotte (English, strong), Grace (Latin, graceful), Olivia (Latin, olive tree) and Amelia (Latin, variation of Emily) will all stick around for 2012 and beyond.
2012 Trend: New Boys on the Block
Last year gender benders like Riley (Irish, valiant), Rory (Irish, famous brilliance) and Aiden (Irish, fiery) were all the rage. This is a trend on its way out; while Aiden held on to spot four, Rory and Riley didn’t rank in the top 50 for boys this year.
So what’s new for boys’ names?
Readers still like a slightly offbeat slant mixed with some classic appeal, which is why boy names including Alexander (Greek, defender of mankind), Owen (Irish, young warrior), Connor (Scottish, wise), Benjamin (Hebrew, son of my right hand), Gavin (Welsh, white hawk) and Nicholas (Greek, victorious people) all peppered the top 50 list. They’re a bit quirkier than straight-up classics, but still have a strong, solid resonance.