What’s in a name? Apparently a lot. Parenting website BabyCenter recently announced its Top 100 Names of 2017. Sophia reigned supreme as the top girls’ name for the eighth year running and Jackson led the boys for the fifth year in a row.
The online parenting and pregnancy destination compiled some 500,000 names of babies born in 2017 and combined those that sound the same but have different spellings (such as Sophia and Sofia) to create a true measure of popularity.
“Sophia is shaping up to be the girls’ name of the decade. It has a lot going for it: It’s feminine, lyrical, popular in many languages, and available in multiple spellings,” said Linda Murray, BabyCenter global editor in chief, in a recent press release. “Jackson is having a great run on the boys’ list. It’s strong, masculine and modern.”
Reflecting the varied interests and values of millennial and Gen Z moms and dads, famous pop-culture figures from rap stars to Disney heroines emerged as name influencers, along with basketball champs and, interestingly, colors.
Chance (as in Chance the Rapper) jumped 21 percent in popularity on the boys’ list. The artist has won accolades for his music and his work to improve public schools and fight gun violence. Kendrick Lamar was labeled “the greatest rapper alive” by Rolling Stone and has spoken out against gun violence; Kendrick climbed 9 percent.
Queen — as in longtime star Queen Latifah, a supporter of LGBT rights, girls’ education and veterans — ascended 41 percent on the girls’ list. Dre (as in Dr. Dre, a force in rap for decades and a major donor for an interdisciplinary arts and technology program) is up 40 percent.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z fueled a color trend when they named their daughter Blue Ivy in 2012, and it’s still going strong. This year the name Blue sailed up the popularity lists by 14 percent for boys and 9 percent for girls, Lavender lifted 27 percent for girls, and Red rose 16 percent for boys.
New parents are thinking beyond the rainbow, too, choosing less common colors such as Hazel (up 88 percent for boys and 25 percent for girls), Ivory (up 71 percent for boys and 42 percent for girls), and Ebony (up 35 percent for girls).
Plenty of moms- and dads-to-be were inspired when big rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors faced off in the NBA Finals for the third time. For boys, the name LeBron (as in James, of the Cavaliers) soared 64 percent this year. Kyrie (Irving, formerly of the Cavs) leaped by 39 percent, and Kevin (Love, of the Cavs, and Durant, of the Warriors) floated up 9 percent. For girls, Zhuri — the name of LeBron James’s young daughter — scored an impressive 81 percent lift in popularity.
It’s no surprise that beloved Disney characters inspire parents’ name picks. This year, girl names ruled. Newcomer and spunky heroine Moana made a splash: The name surged up 64 percent for baby girls. Brainy, independent Belle (from “Beauty and the Beast,” released this year in a live-action version) rose 23 percent. And tenacious dreamer Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess, ticked up 2 percent. Names from old Disney favorites are doing well, too. Ariel (“The Little Mermaid”) bobbed up 22 percent for girls, Nala (“The Lion King”) jumped 8 percent for girls, and Jasmine (“Aladdin”) crept up 1 percent and is poised to break into the girls’ top 100 list soon.
The Earth and its weather inspired names, too. “Young parents have deep respect and concern for the environment. Storms, climate change, and the sheer beauty found in nature are driving a whole new category of popular baby names,” said Murray.
Earthy names on the rise include River, Forest and Willow. Some parents are picking weather-related monikers such as Storm (up 44 percent for girls), Sky (up 20 percent for girls) and Cloud (up 23 percent for boys). Ember raced up the charts for both boys (up 47 percent) and girls (up 28 percent), while Blaze heated up 19 percent for boys.
The following were the top 20 girl and boy names for 2017:
For a complete list, please visit www.babycenter.com.