13 Offbeat, New Baby Names That Are About to Be Everywhere
Why stick with Emma and Noah when you can have Paisley and Ace instead?
Lean, athletic and, well, sharp, it’s no wonder that Archer has shot from the 600s of popular U.S. names to the 200s in the past few years, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration’s (SSA) database of popular names for 2015. Archer also falls into the hot “occupational” or used-to-be last name category, but feels more original than Cooper or Carter. It’s a fresh “sound alike” for Alexander and Asher, and even has a literary pedigree: Newland Archer, hero of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.
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If you wish Ethan and Logan were less common, try Roman instead. The name hits the sweet spot between unusual and unheard of; the SSA reports Roman rose to #102 last year. That might be because Cate Blanchett, Debra Messing, Molly Ringwald and Francis Ford Coppola all have sons named Roman. But we just love its connotations of classical civilization and modern Italian style.
A little like Joshua, a little like Joseph, but more interesting than either, Josiah is now the 57th most popular U.S. boy’s name in the U.S. last year, ahead of Robert, Adam, or Ian. Josiah packs a triple whammy: it has the solidity and heritage of a Biblical name (a king of Judea), starts with the ever-popular J, and ends with an A sound like Noah (now number one for four or five years in a row).
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Singer and fashion designer Jessica Simpson picked a winner when she gave this charming vintage name to her son, joining athlete Jennie Finch and No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. Ace sounds like the popular Mason, Grayson, Jace, and Chase, but it’s refreshingly simple and plain. Yes, there’s the accident-prone movie detective Ace Ventura, but the name itself evokes a World War II pilot, a trump card, and a sharpshooter who hits his mark.
Dashiell is so, well, dashing. Most closely associated with Dashiell Hammett, author of the great hard boiled detective novels The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and Miller’s Crossing, the name is literary without being at all stuffy. It also has a great nickname: Dash, the small speedy superhero in The Incredibles. Though the name hasn’t cracked the nation’s top 1,000 popular baby names, it’s got a Hollywood following: once again trendsetter Cate Blanchett, Bridget Jones Diary writer Helen Fielding, and producer Harvey Weinstein. But is the name too charming to keep just for boys? Milla Jovovich has named her baby daughter Dashiel a couple of years ago, so stay tuned.
Nobody saw this one coming: Paisley entered the SSA’s list of popular baby names at #831 in 2006 and skyrocketed to #45 less than a decade later. There was no obvious impetus like a character in a movie or an influential celebrity baby. Maybe it’s the pretty, feminine sound of the name, which starts out like trendy Page and Peyton and ends like longtime front runners Ashley, Kimberly, and Lily. We love its connection with the Scottish village where paisley shawls have been made for centuries and also the complex Indian pattern found on those shawls—as well as bell-bottoms, and dorm room wall hangings. Somehow we think a girl named Paisley would always have a lot of fun.
A poetic name for the moon with Latin roots, Luna took off after J.K. Rowling gave it to a dreamy but courageous character in the Harry Potter franchise. Now it’s #110 in girl names, ahead of Mary, Lauren, and Nicole. It works equally well in English and Spanish. If you like the red-hot Lila, Leah and Lydia, consider Luna instead.
We’re betting that the long-running revival of multi syllabic, old-fashioned girls names will keep going strong for a while yet. With Olivia, Isabella, Abigail, and Elizabeth all in the top ten U.S. girls’ names, it’s not surprising that Evangeline has leaped from #599 to #261 over the past decade. It starts out like the popular Eva, Ava, and Evelyn, but ends like Caroline and Madeline. Some may love Evangeline’s religious flavour—it means “bearer of good news” and is closely related to the word “evangelical”—while others may enjoy its fictional associations: there’s the heroine of Tennyson’s long epic poem of the same name, as well as more recent characters in the movies Nanny McPhee and The Princess and the Frog.
We’re not surprised that moody rocker Alanis Morissette recently named her baby girl after this dark precious mineral used in Victorian mourning jewelry. We love common noun names, especially jewels (think Ruby, Amber, and Pearl) and intriguing O names like Olivia, Oliver, and Owen, and Onyx is also hip in that it’s equally usable for a boy or a girl. As far as spelling goes, the name could only be cooler if it had a Z to match its X and Y. And it’s currently down at the 2000s of popular names, so if you want a truly original name, look no further.
There are so many things to like about Cheyenne: it honours a courageous native American tribe of the same name, it’s a the capital of Wyoming but is less used than names like Dakota or Brooklyn, and it has a soft flow that ends in the classic “en/an” sound like Lillian, Katherine and Megan. It’s in the 300s, meaning your daughter probably won’t need a last initial in kindergarten but no one will do a double take when she tells them her name either.
If you still mourn the late, legendary rocker David Bowie, this brand-new baby name will work for either girl or boy, as Zoe Saldana and designer Rebecca Minkoff have proved. Bowie is intriguingly dimensional: in addition to the musical connection, it has the cuteness of a bow tucked into the beginning, but then there’s the Bowie knife, which itself was named for a tough American frontiersman and war hero. It also rhymes with the hugely popular Chloe and Zoe (as Saldana herself may have noticed).
Singer Pink may have called her son for the Irish whiskey of the same name, which seems a little…hard-partying. But show biz couple Chynna Phillips and Billy Baldwin have long made Jameson work for their daughter, who is now in high school. We like the popular “son” ending for both genders, and this is a great alternative to the super-hot Jackson for boys, or the done-to-death Madison-Addison-Allison triad for girls, with Jamie as a cute nickname for either.
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This nature name is no longer just for tree-huggers. Originally almost exclusively male, River is catching up fast with American girls, rushing up the list in 10 years from #958 to #350 (and it’s only #250 for boys). The “er” ending works well for both genders, from Christopher and Hunter to Harper and Piper. Young actor River Phoenix’s tragic, untimely end doesn’t seem to have discouraged celebrities from using his name: count in singer Kelly Clarkson (girl), Keri Russell, (boy) and TV chef Jamie Oliver who paired it with Rocket as a middle name.
Originally published as 13 Offbeat, New Baby Names That Are About to Be Everywhere on ReadersDigest.com.