What’s in a name? More than you’d expect. Research indicates that we have strong perceptions about names that are associated with success, luck, even good looks. And names can create powerful first impressions (Oprah, anyone?). While the old stand-bys never go out of fashion (John, Mary, James, Susan), lately parents have been scrambling to outdo each other in the “unique” name category (Claudia Schiffer’s daughter Cosima Violet and Amy Adams’ daughter Aviana Olea spring to mind). Of course, choosing a baby’s name is an emotional process, and we’re influenced by everything from nature and religion to politics and pop culture.
What’s on our radar for 2011? Read on to find out.
Last names as first names
It started with Madison (for girls) and Jackson (for boys), but the surname trend is continuing to grow and will be huge for 2011 (think Miller, Connor, Grayson, Carter). Most surprising is the rise of Cohen, a common Jewish last name being embraced mainly by non-Jewish people. “People like it because it fits in with another trend that has been on the rise: surnames that have two syllables ending in -en, such as Cullen, Aiden, Hayden,” says baby-naming expert and author Pamela Redmond Satran of nameberry.com. “Cohen is a variation of that theme.”
Location, location, location
Okay, so we’re not seeing any little Torontos or Vancouvers running around quite yet, but names of cities and countries are becoming more popular than ever. In 2008, Ashlee Simpson and rocker Pete Wentz named their little guy Bronx, and we’ve been witnessing a rise in “place names” ever since. The latest ones? India (daughter of fashion designer Georgina Chapman and movie-mogul husband Harvey Weinstein) and Egypt (songstress Alicia Keys’ and Swizz Beatz’s pick).
Give me an ‘L‘
In 2011, expect to see a continual rise in boy names beginning with the letter l, including Liam, Levi, Landon, Logan and Lucas, says babynames.com founder Jennifer Moss. When it comes to girls, classical names ending in –a are back in vogue, such as Sophia, Isabella and Ava (talk about grandma chic).
Popular biblical boy names such as Benjamin and Zachary have paved the way for a new batch of holy options including Moses, Abraham and Solomon (celebs are onto the trend, including How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris, who named his recent bundle in blue Gideon). Also rising in rank is Elijah, Isaac, Jonah and Judah (the latter inspired in part by the name of Mary Louise Parker’s dead husband in Weeds). For girls, we’ll be seeing more little ones with names like Elizabeth and Leah, replacing the likes of Hannah and Rebekah in popularity.
Back to nature
According to nameberry.com’s Redmond Satran, nature names as a group are becoming more popular, including Oak, Pine, Bay, Lake, Fox, Wren and Sparrow (à la Nicole Richie and Joel Madden). Flower names, too, will flourish in 2011, such as Azalea and Dahlia (the new Lily). And month names (July, January), along with seasonal names (Summer, Winter), are strong up-and-comers.
Most influential players
Names that connect to a person’s favourite book, actor, musician or even political figure will be all the rage in 2011. In other words, we’re looking for something that has a personal meaning. We’ll see more Baracks in the new year and, along the same lines, more old-school presidential names like Reagan and Kennedy. Literary names, such as Scarlett and Charlotte, are also making a comeback. And Bentley is popping up as a hot new name, which, says Moss of babynames.com, “follows the trend of affluent brand names like Tiffany and Mercedes.”