When it comes to finding a unique baby name, you can go the leave-no-stone-unturned route, plumbing the depths of baby name lists of the past until you unearth the rare gem that suits your little one. Or you could look into the future! (After all, what better way to prime your kiddo for being on the cutting-edge of life?)
Now, we don’t have a crystal ball (if only!), but we have been paying close attention to emerging baby name trends, and we think that these five naming trends are on the verge of exploding. So, if you’re on the hunt for a baby name that feels fresh, take a peek at these up-and-coming monikers. We hope our list gives you some ideas to add to your own.
Baby Name Trend #1: Old-Fashioned Baby Names
Sometimes to look forward you have to look…backward! A big trend right now is to take a peek back at the Census from a hundred or more years ago to draw inspiration from old-fashioned names for the modern baby. Long-forgotten or extremely aristocratic/non-American picks are on the rise, as are classics like Henry, Oliver, and Alice.
Perhaps these older baby names harken back to a time more innocent and less rushed and maybe they feel like characters of an old book. Or it could just be that modern invented names are sounding more and more run-of-the-mill after a several-years stretch of Jaydens, Haydens, and Kaydens. But once you scratch the surface of the 100+-year-old gems, you might just find you’re headed down the right path for your little one’s name-to-be. Here are some of our favorites…
Adelaide: This baby girl name was super popular in 19th Century England, and is now skyrocketing on our side of the pond. Adelaide, which means “noble,” is currently in the top 30 baby names in the US. Addie is a sweet nickname.
Cordelia: A beautiful girls’ name with infinite nickname possibilities (Cora, Delia, Lia, Del…), Cordelia is a Shakespearean name that’s made an appearance recently in the US top 1,000 after being unseen for over sixty years. It means “heart; daughter of the sea.”
Clarence: It was a big name for boys in 1900 and is still relevant today, waffling in and out of the top 1,000. Clarence means “bright” from the Latin.
Eleanor: Such a sweet old-fashioned name for girls, Eleanor is super trendy with modern hipster parents and for good reason. Its charming vintage sound and popular nickname Ellie have kept it in the US top 30 in recent years with no signs of slowing down; it means “the other one” in Latin and “the compassionate one” in Greek.
Leopold: Refined, classic, and oh-so-retro, the German aristocratic name is one to watch: meaning “brave people,” it’s a sweet vintage name for boys that was last heard with any frequency in the States between the 1800’s and 1920’s. It fits the old-fashioned name trend perfectly while offering up the more popular nickname Leo as an option.
Silas: A retro name with English/Latin roots meaning “wood” or “forest,” it teeters on the brink of the top 100 for boys, despite being an old-fashioned pick.
Thaddeus: It means “gift of God,” and is technically gender neutral but more frequently used for boys. Around 1900, this handsome gem and its nickname, Thad, were both in the top 1,000 names so still somewhat rare. It’s now about 300 ranks higher than it was then, and certainly due to its cool vintage appeal.
Winifred: The Welsh name meaning “blessed peacemaking” and its nickname Winnie were extremely popular in the 19th century and had a steep fall over the course of the 1900’s. She’s one to watch for 2021 though, with her old-fashioned charm and still-rare quality.
See more old-fashioned baby names.
Baby Name Trend #2: Gender-Neutral Baby Names
Gender-neutral names are a big trend for babes, as society moves further away from a gender binary and we collectively expand our notions of what it means to be “girly” or “boyish”. Major retailers’ shelves are no longer so quick to group toys by sex, and modern parents are loving the transition from strictly gendered to flexible.
Baby names are following suit, with traditional “boy names” being used more and more for little girls, and children of both genders being given names that fall somewhere in the middle. We love these ideas as a jumping-off point for your babe if you’re going with the gender neutral trend.
Ashley: An intricate meaning—“dweller near the ash tree meadow”—gives this sweet gender-neutral baby name something special. While historically it’s been used for babies of both genders, the past several decades saw greater relevance for Ashley with little girls. Brace yourself for a comeback kid when boys reclaim the name in equal measure soon.
Drew: This sophisticated baby name works for a boy or girl, though it means “strong and manly.” Barrymore might have put it on the map for women, but it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And there’s no need to go for Andrew for a boy if you prefer this equally refined, shortened version.
Dylan: It’s a cute and quirky gender-neutral baby name that earned hip status after Bob Dylan and is used for babes of both genders though perhaps bound to be trendier for girls in the year(s) to come. Dylan means “son of the sea” from the Welsh.
Emery: The German baby name meaning “industrious” is a smooth and charming choice on the rise for little boys and girls alike.
Lane: A strong androgynous word name that’s poised for popularity. It means, naturally, a “small roadway or path.”
Reagan: The regal name translating to “little king” had a spurt of popularity in the 1980’s as a nod to the US president by that surname; today it’s a gender-neutral baby name to consider due to its familiar quality and solid sound.
Skyler: It’s an ethereal gender-neutral baby name you might love for a child of either gender. Though more traditionally used for girls, we’re predicting a rise for boys in the coming year.
Spencer: The name means “keeper of provisions” and has been relevant for boys for decades, not least all for its royal ties as the maiden name of Princess Diana. Though it didn’t hit the top 1,000 for girls in the US until 2017, it’s steadily growing in popularity.
Baby Name Trend #3: Fairytale-Like Baby Names
Artful, lyrical baby names that belong in a storybook are certainly big and growing, especially for little girls. If you’re meeting more and more parents who have a little Isla or Luna perched on their hip, you are certainly not alone. While wading through the trendiest choices to pick one that suits your little love is a process, don’t discount these pretty picks.Your mini-me is sure to love their whimsical name when they grow up and into it.
Calliope: This lovely girl name is actually from Greek mythology and stands for a “beautiful voice;” it belonged to the muse of epic poetry. (See more Greek baby names!)
Caspian: A place name (for the Caspian sea) that’s picking up speed with little boys, it sounds out of another time and place, and we love it.
Elodie: The French baby name for girls meaning “foreign riches” has a fairytale-esque quality and since it rhymes with melody, it also feels musical by sheer association.
Gwendolyn: Another one plucked right out of a magical world! This one meaning “white ring” (with its nickname Gwen) from the Welsh is on the rise for baby girls.
Hero: Whether you spell it thusly like the English word, or use the Japanese spelling Hiro (translation: broad, widespread), it’s an epic baby name for your little guy to grow into.
Imogen: It doesn’t hurt how similar this baby girl name sounds to the word “imagine;” it’s a Celtic name meaning “maiden” that has a storybook-like quality to it.
Peregrine: Bet you hadn’t considered this absolute stunner of a baby name for your little one yet! It’s a gender-neutral name from the Latin meaning “pilgrim, traveler” and it just sounds gorgeous.
Stellan: A baby boy name with star quality, it is believed to mean “calm” and has a trendy ending that sounds similar to other top picks like Kellan, yet a more “out-there” feeling that could just bring it to the forefront in the coming year.
Baby Name Trend #4: Unusual Biblical Names
Biblical baby names never truly go out of fashion. However, new parents looking for a creative way to name their kiddos will be looking past Noah and Jacob to more “out there” biblical baby names that satisfy two needs—something with religious importance and something unique. We love these twists on traditional biblical names.
Adah: It’s breathy, brief, and oh so beautiful… This Hebrew baby name meaning “ornament” is definitely a unique choice. In the Bible, Adah appeared twice; as the mother of Jabal and Jubal, and as the wife of Esau (Isaac’s son). It is considered the first given name for a female in the Bible after Eve.
Ezra: He’s having a moment; hop on board! This once-ignored biblical baby name for boys is cropping up all over with no signs of slowing down in the future. It means “help” and belonged to a biblical figure who led 1,500 Israelites out of slavery. To cross over onto our gender-neutral naming trend, it bears mentioning that Ezra is now relevant for girls as well.
Micah: More unique than Michael and just as masculine and sweet, this gender-neutral choice means “one who is like the Lord” and belonged to a prophet who stood up to oppressive rule by the upper classes in the Bible.
Prisca: A rare baby name for girls meaning “ancient” from the Latin, she was a real-life Priscilla who went by the diminutive Prisca. She is believed to be one of the earliest Roman Jewish converts to Christianity, and is also the first known female preacher.
Rosh: It’s got cool-kid vibes as one-syllable names are hot right now; this baby boy name translating to “chief” in Hebrew belonged to a son of Benjamin. It’s also an especially precious choice for a Jewish baby boy or a nod to Jewish heritage due to the name of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah.
Salome: A derivative of the word shalom meaning “peace” in Hebrew, it’s a charming and rarely heard baby girl name. Salome in the New Testament was a witness to the resurrection of Christ. The name has never ranked high in the US (yet!) but hasn’t fallen out of France’s top 400 since 1986. Maybe this will be the year we catch on to its charm stateside.
Tiras: The Hebrew name meaning “uncertain” belonged to a grandson of Noah in the Old Testament, and might be the perfect rare biblical name choice for your little boy.
Zilla: A far cry from the Rachels and Sarahs that were in high favor in the 1980’s and 90’s, today’s biblical baby girl names pack a punch. This Old Testament choice meaning “shadow” has the alternate spelling of an added “h” which might help you remove any unintended Godzilla associations.
See more biblical baby names.
Baby Name Trend #5: Pop Culture Inspired Baby Names
Drawing inspiration from movies, books, and celebrities is a definite baby name trend for the coming year. Pop culture baby names bring a sense of timely relevance to your child’s name; you might not want to go too trendy with a name that will tarnish in 10 years, but choosing something with cultural and personal significance to you and your partner is a fun and creative way to pick a unique baby name for your little one. These are some of the hottest pop-related baby names on the rise.
Alistair: This cool Gaelic name meaning “defender of men” has heaps of pop culture associations including slant variations from Harry Potter (Alastor), Game of Thrones (Alliser), and our version, seen in BioWare’s Dragon Age. It tiptoed into the US charts in 2016 after experiencing popularity in Britain and Scotland for decades prior to that, and shows no signs of disappearing soon. Alastair and Alasdair are other spelling options.
Bowie: After David, the beloved British singer-songwriter who died in 2016 after inspiring generations of kids and young adults to be their authentic, creative selves. It’s also a gender-neutral given name in its own right, meaning “blond” from the Scottish. (See more music-inspired baby names.)
Cullen: Twilight fans continue to turn out in full force for this cool baby boy name with Irish roots meaning “holly tree” that was the surname of one of the protagonist’s magical love interests in the popular book series.
Hendrix: The last name of the famed American musician is definitely on the rise. It means “estate ruler” and has undeniable rockstar charm.
Hermione: Harry Potter’s female cohort earns high marks on the baby naming scene for its unique sound and familiar association. It’s the feminine take on the Greek name Hermes meaning “earthly, messenger.” (See more literary-inspired baby names.)
Khaleesi: Another Game of Thrones nod that’ll be big in the coming year, it’s considered a modern invented name because it was created for the character who carries it in the cult TV show, and it along with Arya from that same show, is one of the fastest growing names in the US for baby girls.
Lana: It’s a timelessly beautiful, two-syllable stunner for girls that means “rock” and belongs to the ethereal and haunting American singer Del Rey, for an unexpected yet recognizable and beautiful pop culture pick for a daughter.
Primrose: The kid sister of protagonist Katniss from The Hunger Games has a slightly out-there yet totally lovable flower name that is popular and growing. Primrose means “first flower” and is a beautiful pick for a first-born daughter.
More Baby Name Inspiration:
Of course upcoming baby name trends aren’t the only place to look for inspiration! Take a look at our other favorites. Then, once you pick out the perfect name, it’s time to pick out a bassinet! Learn more about how SNOO Smart Sleeper adds sleep and peace of mind.
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