We know, we know— who are we to tell parents what to name their little ones? After all, a name is a special thing, and we know most, if not all, parents think long and hard about what their little girls and boys will be called for the rest of their lives.
And yet. We also know that, like anything, names are subject to trends. Every generation has its “Jennifer” or its “Joshua”, its “Lisa” or “Larry,” names that were seemingly everywhere before nearly disappearing the next decade. Then there are the names that have lasted for centuries, your “David” or “Thomas”, “Mary” or “Elizabeth”, ones that every classically-inclined parent has considered for at least a few minutes.
Really, we love them all. But anybody’s who ever had to go by his last name, or been called “Ashley I.” to prevent being confused with Ashley A., Ashley B., Ashley Q. and Ashley T., knows the wish that parents would just. Stop. Using. The Same. Names. And then there are the teachers who face class after class of kids with the same exact names, distinguishable by only a letter or two, if that.
Friends, think of the teachers. Think of the teachers.
So, with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks, we present the 21 names parents today should really think twice about giving their children— the trendy, the overused, and the just-plain-played-out.
Yes, Emma is a beautiful name— and it’s been a beautiful since long before Rachel “stole” it from Monica on Friends back in 2002. It’s been 15 years; it’s time we all moved on to new names and new pop culture references, don’t you think?
Besides, it’s been a popular moniker for baby girls for way longer than that particular moment in the television zeitgeist. “Emma” – which means “universal,” appropriately enough! – has been in the top 100 names for babies in the U.S. since 1993, the top 20 since 1999, and the top 10 since – yup – 2002. More than that, it’s been the number 1 name since 2014. Let’s break the trend, shall we?
If there’s a (traditionally) boy’s name that matches the popularity of “Emma,” it’s probably this Biblical name, which has been the number one name for boys in the U.S. since 2013, and in the top 10 since 2009.
Not only has “Noah” been gaining in American popularity since the 1960’s – with only a slight dip in the 80’s – it’s also a popular name worldwide, reaching the top 10 and higher from Canada to Australia, New Zealand to Norway. So let’s take a cue from its meaning and give this name a “rest.”
I remember the first time I heard the name “MacKenzie,” back in childhood when a neighbor announced that was what she planned to call her daughter. Everybody “oohed” and “aahed” over how lovely and original it was, and the little girl was born knowing she was one-of-a-kind.
Flash forward twenty years or so. While MacKenzie remains beautiful, “original” it can hardly claim to be. While the official numbers suggest there’s still a way to climb before the Scottish moniker reaches true cultural saturation, we’re sure we all know two or three or ten little Macs running around the playgrounds and kindergartens. Whether you spell it with a lowercase K, no A, two E’s or no E’s at all, if you’re looking for a truly original name, this one should NOT be on your list.
Here’s another name parents choose when they want to be “unique” that’s really anything but. After languishing in obscurity for most of its existence, it shot up to number 9 on baby name lists in 2010 and has stayed in the top 20 ever since.
Sure, there are alternative spellings – Aidan, Ayden, Aden, Aayden, etc. – but subbing in Y for I or adding extra A’s isn’t going to help your little guy when the teacher calls the roll. A quick scroll through your Facebook feed should tell you that this name is one to let go for the next decade or so.
This name is a timeless classic for a reason— which is probably why it’s the sobriquet for none other than the toddling Princess of Cambridge herself. That royal association is probably why “Charlotte” has shot up to the top 10 of American baby names in the past two years and is on track to be number 1 or number 2 in 2017. Take a cue from its meaning and let your baby girl be “free” from any royal competition.
And while we’re on the subject of royalty . . .
This name’s so ancient that its popularity definitely can’t be attributed to the current second-in-line to the English throne, but it can be attributed to a long tradition of people liking the classic and, dare we say, kingly sound of the name, which means “strong-willed warrior.”
But guys? The name has literally never been out of the top 20 in the U.S. – since the Social Security Administration began tracking name data, its lowest position was 20, in 1992 and 1995 – and we know it’s popular all over the world. We all know a Will, a Billy or a Bill. Don’t make your baby boy just another one.
And no, going with the sobriquet “Liam” doesn’t help. That derivation has been in the top 10 since 2012, and second only to “Noah” for the past three years running.
Here’s a classic, queenly name that, at first, we were pleased to see regaining popularity after it hit an all-time low in 1979. Then it became juuuuust a little too ubiquitous – in the top 10 since 2004, top 5 since 2010 – and THEN we learned experts attributed it to the main character in the blockbuster Twilight series.
Some real talk, guys? We love ourselves a good, indulgent vampire-and-werewolves escapist tale, but “Bella” is NOT the kind of character we’d want our young ladies imitating. Let’s give our girls more unique names and better role models, huh? And while we’re on that subject . . .
. . . let’s give our boys better literary role models than characters who – *SPOILER ALERT* – angry-kiss their best friends and “imprint” on newborns. And even if the name doesn’t immediately make you think of werewolves in Y.A. fiction, consider the fact that it’s been in the top 10 since 1993, top 50 since 1978, and top 100 since 1974.
This one breaks our hearts a little, but the numbers don’t lie: this lovely name’s been in the top 10 since 2006, top 5 since 2009, and number 1 from 2011 to 2013. In 2016 alone, about 16,000 baby girls in the U.S. got “Sophia” or “Sofia” on their birth certificates. The “wise” decision is to back away from this one.
Here’s a boy name trend we’re going to try to get out in front of. While you may not be familiar – YET – with the Irish moniker, which means “full of goodness”, you’re about to be. It’s been steadily gaining traction over the past decade and is absolutely exploding in popularity this year; Babynames.com has it on track to be at least number 3 in 2017. And looking at our Facebook feeds, that prediction seems accurate. So unless you want your baby boy to go by his last name in four or five years, avoid this one.
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