We know, we know— who are we to tell parents what to name their little ones? After all, a name is a special thing, and we know most, if not all, parents think long and hard about what their little girls and boys will be called for the rest of their lives.
And yet. We also know that, like anything, names are subject to trends. Every generation has its “Jennifer” or its “Joshua”, its “Lisa” or “Larry,” names that were seemingly everywhere before nearly disappearing the next decade. Then there are the names that have lasted for centuries, your “David” or “Thomas”, “Mary” or “Elizabeth”, ones that every classically-inclined parent has considered for at least a few minutes.
Really, we love them all. But anybody’s who ever had to go by his last name, or been called “Ashley I.” to prevent being confused with Ashley A., Ashley B., Ashley Q. and Ashley T., knows the wish that parents would just. Stop. Using. The Same. Names. And then there are the teachers who face class after class of kids with the same exact names, distinguishable by only a letter or two, if that.
Friends, think of the teachers. Think of the teachers.
So, with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks, we present the 21 names parents today should really think twice about giving their children— the trendy, the overused, and the just-plain-played-out.
Yes, Emma is a beautiful name— and it’s been a beautiful since long before Rachel “stole” it from Monica on Friends back in 2002. It’s been 15 years; it’s time we all moved on to new names and new pop culture references, don’t you think?
Besides, it’s been a popular moniker for baby girls for way longer than that particular moment in the television zeitgeist. “Emma” – which means “universal,” appropriately enough! – has been in the top 100 names for babies in the U.S. since 1993, the top 20 since 1999, and the top 10 since – yup – 2002. More than that, it’s been the number 1 name since 2014. Let’s break the trend, shall we?
If there’s a (traditionally) boy’s name that matches the popularity of “Emma,” it’s probably this Biblical name, which has been the number one name for boys in the U.S. since 2013, and in the top 10 since 2009.
Not only has “Noah” been gaining in American popularity since the 1960’s – with only a slight dip in the 80’s – it’s also a popular name worldwide, reaching the top 10 and higher from Canada to Australia, New Zealand to Norway. So let’s take a cue from its meaning and give this name a “rest.”
I remember the first time I heard the name “MacKenzie,” back in childhood when a neighbor announced that was what she planned to call her daughter. Everybody “oohed” and “aahed” over how lovely and original it was, and the little girl was born knowing she was one-of-a-kind.
Flash forward twenty years or so. While MacKenzie remains beautiful, “original” it can hardly claim to be. While the official numbers suggest there’s still a way to climb before the Scottish moniker reaches true cultural saturation, we’re sure we all know two or three or ten little Macs running around the playgrounds and kindergartens. Whether you spell it with a lowercase K, no A, two E’s or no E’s at all, if you’re looking for a truly original name, this one should NOT be on your list.
Here’s another name parents choose when they want to be “unique” that’s really anything but. After languishing in obscurity for most of its existence, it shot up to number 9 on baby name lists in 2010 and has stayed in the top 20 ever since.
Sure, there are alternative spellings – Aidan, Ayden, Aden, Aayden, etc. – but subbing in Y for I or adding extra A’s isn’t going to help your little guy when the teacher calls the roll. A quick scroll through your Facebook feed should tell you that this name is one to let go for the next decade or so.
This name is a timeless classic for a reason— which is probably why it’s the sobriquet for none other than the toddling Princess of Cambridge herself. That royal association is probably why “Charlotte” has shot up to the top 10 of American baby names in the past two years and is on track to be number 1 or number 2 in 2017. Take a cue from its meaning and let your baby girl be “free” from any royal competition.
And while we’re on the subject of royalty . . .
This name’s so ancient that its popularity definitely can’t be attributed to the current second-in-line to the English throne, but it can be attributed to a long tradition of people liking the classic and, dare we say, kingly sound of the name, which means “strong-willed warrior.”
But guys? The name has literally never been out of the top 20 in the U.S. – since the Social Security Administration began tracking name data, its lowest position was 20, in 1992 and 1995 – and we know it’s popular all over the world. We all know a Will, a Billy or a Bill. Don’t make your baby boy just another one.
And no, going with the sobriquet “Liam” doesn’t help. That derivation has been in the top 10 since 2012, and second only to “Noah” for the past three years running.
Here’s a classic, queenly name that, at first, we were pleased to see regaining popularity after it hit an all-time low in 1979. Then it became juuuuust a little too ubiquitous – in the top 10 since 2004, top 5 since 2010 – and THEN we learned experts attributed it to the main character in the blockbuster Twilight series.
Some real talk, guys? We love ourselves a good, indulgent vampire-and-werewolves escapist tale, but “Bella” is NOT the kind of character we’d want our young ladies imitating. Let’s give our girls more unique names and better role models, huh? And while we’re on that subject . . .
. . . let’s give our boys better literary role models than characters who – *SPOILER ALERT* – angry-kiss their best friends and “imprint” on newborns. And even if the name doesn’t immediately make you think of werewolves in Y.A. fiction, consider the fact that it’s been in the top 10 since 1993, top 50 since 1978, and top 100 since 1974.
This one breaks our hearts a little, but the numbers don’t lie: this lovely name’s been in the top 10 since 2006, top 5 since 2009, and number 1 from 2011 to 2013. In 2016 alone, about 16,000 baby girls in the U.S. got “Sophia” or “Sofia” on their birth certificates. The “wise” decision is to back away from this one.
Here’s a boy name trend we’re going to try to get out in front of. While you may not be familiar – YET – with the Irish moniker, which means “full of goodness”, you’re about to be. It’s been steadily gaining traction over the past decade and is absolutely exploding in popularity this year; Babynames.com has it on track to be at least number 3 in 2017. And looking at our Facebook feeds, that prediction seems accurate. So unless you want your baby boy to go by his last name in four or five years, avoid this one.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know at least two or three people named Emily, and unless you’re a time traveler from before the Civil War, chances are you’re in the same boat. And you’d have to go back into history much farther than that to find a time when Emily wasn’t common. It’s a beautiful name; it’s also pretty played out.
This ancient and Biblical name is another one that’s been popular since, oh, forever, and that any time traveler would recognize. It’s never been out of the top 100. It’s been in the top 10 since 1943. It was number 1 for nearly 34 years, from 1954 to 1998, with only one slight dip to number 2 in 1960. (Thanks “David”.) Its popularity graph is basically a straight line. It needs a break.
It’s possible we’re calling this one too soon, but after jumping into the top 10 in 2001, this one’s only been getting more and more popular. It’s officially “trendy,” which means it’s officially time for parents to find another “so-old-it’s-new-again” name for their girls . . .
. . . and for their boys. Babynames.com has this one trending for the number 1 spot in 2017, a HUGE jump from its number 52 position only four years ago. Resist the urge to join the trend, especially since it and “Olivia” both just mean “descendant of the ancestors” which seems . . . pretty redundant, no? Finding a more unique name with a much more unique meaning can’t be that difficult.
Just last year, this name was sitting on number 47 on SSA lists and one we would have gladly endorsed. This year? It’s made an astonishing leap to the number 3 spot and joining the list of flowery names we need to retire to the garden they came from, along with . . .
. . . this one, whose rise in popularity experts attribute to J.K. Rowling, who gave it to Harry Potter’s mother. (In good news, it’s probably safe to bring back “Rose,” if you want a flower-inspired name.)
We all know at least one Ben, right? This name’s been in the top 50 since 1974 and hasn’t been out of the top 20 since 2010. It’s been around since Biblical times, and yet just in 2015 it leapt into the top 10 and hasn’t left. It’s on track to be at least number 9 this year. Let’s break that trend, shall we?
Here’s another name that’s never been out of the top 20 and, after a brief break in the 90’s and early 2000’s, has spent most of its tracked-in-the-U.S. life in the top 10. Just last year it climbed back to number 5, and we’ve started to hear it’s gaining popularity as a GIRL’S name, too.
We can’t ALL be named James, guys. Let’s move on.
I love the name Abigail, especially when I think of one of its most famous holders, First Lady Abigail Adams. You know who else loves the name? Pretty much the whole world. It’s been a fixture in the top 10 for the entirety of this century and dates back centuries more. No matter how “creative” one might get with the spelling – “Abaigeal”, really? – there’s no denying it’s time for something different.
You don’t need to be a prophet to see that this beautiful, ancient and wildly popular name has been steadily gaining in popularity over the years, with nary a downward tick. It broke through to the top 10 last year and isn’t showing any signs of slowing. We love it, but like the others on this list, it’s a little too common to not merit a second thought.
Anna and/or Elsa
Y’all. Do you really want your baby girl to grow up with people telling her to “let it go” or asking her to build snowmen all her life? Even if she lives in the desert and is the least stressed woman in the world? Don’t do that to her. Give it 20 years or 20 more animated Disney hits, whichever comes first.
OK guys, let us hear it. What do you think of this list? Do you adamantly disagree with any of the ones we think are overused? Are there any you’re tired of hearing you would add to this list? Do you prefer to use classic and/or popular names, or are you on the hunt for more unique monikers?