Have a baby on the way and still mulling over a name? We spoke with Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert and author of The Baby Name Wizard, to find out the top trends for baby names in 2018. Let’s just say that things are looking pretty magical for you and your babe!
1. A name of mythic proportions “Parents are more willing to look in places they’ve never looked before,” says Wattenberg of this year’s trends. “Everyone is really eager to make an impact.” And nothing makes more of an impact than naming your child after a Greek hero or Norse god. Expect to meet lots of little ones named Apollo, Athena, Atlas, Freya, Loki, Odin and Thor.
2. Fantastic names and the babies who have them Pop culture is always a source of inspiration for baby names. This year, superhero and fantasy names like Khaleesi, Daenerys’s queen moniker on Game of Thrones, and Castiel, from Supernatural, will be all the rage among the newborn set.
Wattenberg finds that parents are drawn to characters with magical powers as inspiration for their baby names. “Whenever there’s magic involved, that always boosts a name,” she says, noting that this trend can be traced back to the name Samantha, which spiked in popularity in the late 1960s thanks to the enchanting Samantha Stevens in Bewitched.
The second most popular boys’ name in England in 2017 was Harry. And while being the name of a prince may help a name climb to the top of the charts, we’re pretty sure that there were some magical reasons (ahem, “the boy who lived”) for its popularity, too.
3. Doubling up Know anyone named Beckett? How about Truett? You will in 2018. Just like last year, there’s a growing trend to add double consonants to the ends of names, specifically Ns and Ts. You will probably meet an Abbott, Emmett, Quinn or Scarlett in your baby-and-me play group this year.
4. Villains, not heroes Move over, Avengers, this isn’t an age of heroes anymore. According to Wattenberg, there has been a weird subtrend for babies with villain names. Now this isn’t because parents like the characters but simply because they like the names.
Last year, the fastest rising name was Kylo, after Kylo Ren, the baddie in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And, apparently, there’s a hot trend to name your baby after the spawn of Satan, with names like Damien, Esther and Sage.
5. The royal treatment Sorry, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but you aren’t exactly influencing baby names. Instead, parents are looking to give regal titles or royal-sounding names, such as Kaiser, King, Pharaoh and Prince, to their babies. Even names that sound regal but are more abstract are gaining traction. Wattenberg says we should watch out for names like Royalty, Majesty and Loyalty to appear in 2018.
6. Xs and Os (and Vs) Every year, there’s a hot letter or two that seems to pop up in everyone’s baby name lists. For 2018, we’ll see plenty of Os, Vs and Xs. Wattenberg attributes this to the “Scrabble value” of these letters. But that doesn’t mean names like Violet and Maxwell will suddenly be really popular—parents are thinking a little more outside the box.
Know anyone named Xzavier? Wattenberg has seen parents throw that Z in to “double up the Scrabble value” of their baby’s name. As we start to run out of names that start with X and V, she is seeing parents get creative with the placement of these letters within the name.
Girls seem to have a funny subtrend on the rise, with names that end with the O sound but not necessarily the letter itself gaining in popularity (think Siloh, Willow and Margot). For boys, the letter O is at the end of the name, but parents are now opting for quirkier names, like Bruno, Cosmo, Milo and Otto, rather than more romantic names, like Alessandro, Leonardo and Lorenzo. She has also noticed that brothers often have O and X combos, like Leo and Rex.
7. Can I buy a vowel? It’s all about the sounds in 2018. Parents are steering clear of hard-consonant sounds in favour of smoother-sounding vowels. “This is an age full of vowels,” says Wattenberg. “Names have more vowels than ever before.” When people go for a more traditional-sounding name, they’re more likely to go with Emilia or Olivia rather than Gertrude or Mildred. But she expects that this will eventually change as parents look for more unique names. “At some point, the pendulum will swing back,” she says.
Baby-naming pro tip “There’s this incredible fear of choosing the ordinary,” says Wattenberg. “Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be distinctive.” She advises parents who are still picking baby names to remember that popular just means “well liked.” “Generations of adults have survived having the same names,” she says. No matter what name you choose, the most important thing is that you love it.