Some baby names always seem to be around: Sarah, Elizabeth, John and Muhammad show up in every era. Others fall in and out of favour, even after being seemingly everywhere for years at a time. Amanda was one of the top five names in the 1980s and 1990s and is now well out of the top 100. Robert was in the top 10 for decades and is now way down the list.
But some names make an unexpected comeback. They may be obscure, considered old-fashioned or overused, or simply go from relatively common to red-hot for many different reasons, from broader baby name trends to a change in generations.
Names for girls tend to see more choices that fall on and off the top 100 lists, but both boys and girls have seen names pop back into the top 100 recently, including Ivy, Ezra, Faye and Jasper. Based on last year’s movers and shakers and emerging name trends, here are some of the names to watch for in 2020 nurseries.
The name: Archie
The trend: Cute names for boys
The name Archie popped back into the top 1,000 for the first time this millennium in 2018. This name fits the emerging trend for cute names, first for girls and now for boys, says Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert and author of The Baby Name Wizard. It’s also, of course, the name given to the son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2019, which doesn’t guarantee a name’s popularity but doesn’t hurt it either if it resonates for other reasons.
The name: Roselyn
The trend: Girl names ending in “lyn”
Baby name trends to watch in 2020Names ending in “lyn” have become popular for girls in recent years, led by Evelyn and Brooklyn, and other choices with the suffix should start emerging, says Wattenberg. She predicts a comeback for Roselyn, which is both recognizable and uncommon.
The name: Greta
The trend: Girl names ending in “a”
The name Greta has been holding relatively steady in the top 1,000 names for girls in the United States for a few years now, but global admiration for teen activist Greta Thunberg could inspire some parents-to-be in 2020. The name fits the overall trend for girls’ names ending in “a,” including Ava, Olivia and Emma. (In fact, eight out of the 10 top girls names on BabyCenter’s 2019 list end in “a.”)
The name: Eli
The trend: Short names for boys
This short name is popping up in Canada for both boys and girls, following the popularity of other short choices such as Max and Leo. Eli is becoming increasingly popular for girls as well, as part of the larger trend for short names for girls.
The name: Scarlett
The trend: Old-lady names for girls
Names that were associated with older generations for decades have become popular in recent years, and Scarlett appears to be the latest one—a twist on the trend that favours a fancier old-fashioned name that is also associated with the main character in Gone With the Wind. It was the 16th most popular name for girls in Ontario last year and was given to 127 babies in Alberta in 2018.
The name: Muhammad
The trend: Increasing diversity
It’s a bit unfair to call the name Muhammad and its variants a comeback, as its current popularity in Canada is a first. On the other hand, it has been a leading choice for Muslim parents for centuries and is certainly a name with a long history. Muhammad’s move up the naming lists—it was the top name given to baby boys in the Peel region last year—reflects our country’s increasing diversity.
The name: Billie
The trend: Unisex girl names
The name Billie was popular before thanks to a famous singer: It was given to a lot of baby girls during Billie Holiday’s heyday. The name could be making a comeback now thanks to singer Billie Eilish, with an additional boost from the trend for unisex names for girls, says Wattenberg, which was already seen with the growing popularity of Charlie. Many of the names that are part of this trend are “boy” names with “ie” endings, with parents using traditionally male names for girls.
The name: Myles/Miles
The trend: Boy names ending in “s”
Last year, Myles was one of the fastest climbers on BabyCenter’s top baby boys’ names list and it makes sense. The name fits a trend identified by Wattenberg: names ending in “s” that have an “s” sound, not a “z” sound. The name has never been one of the most popular names, but it has always been around, so it isn’t unfamiliar.
The name: Luna
The trend: Cosmos-inspired names
Names influenced by the cosmos have been popping up lately—think Stella, Aurora and particularly Luna, which hit the top 100 last year. The name fits with the trend for both girls’ names ending in “a” and short girls’ names. It’s also different without being too out there.
The name: Isla
The trend: Short names for girls
As with Luna, Isla is another name that’s becoming popular, as the trend for short names and girls’ names ending in “a” continues and people look for options beyond Emma and Ava. This was the 14th most popular name in Ontario last year, and its use has doubled in British Columbia over the past decade.