The Most Intriguing Baby Names This Year

What names will be real standouts—up-and-coming classics, cool trendy monikers? These are the baby names to watch. 

Hot Baby Names for Boys & Girls By Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock
While the top 20 names of 2016 draw all the fanfare, there's more to the list than just what's at the top. The most interesting part is looking at what lies beneath—those names that are on the rise due to a pop culture zeitgeist (hello, Arya/Aria and Khaleesi), the formerly fusty names that have a new lease on life, and the names that are clearly becoming a little too tired and outwearing their welcome. 

Want to know what names are really intriguing from the top 1000 names the Social Security Administration sussed out? Here are the ones to watch. 

1. Avianna/Aviana first drew attention when Amy Adams chose Aviana for her daughter, after the town in Italy where Amy was born. Both spellings rose hundreds of places this year, and are in the top 500 names for girls, meaning the name itself is much more popular than a glance at either spelling would suggest. It's similar to so many of the reigning baby names—Ava, Olivia, Evelyn—and that makes it a tempting choice for people who want something unique, but not too out there. Expect to see a lot of Avis in the upcoming classes. 

2. Kylo drew a lot of headlines as the top up-and-comer this year, thanks to its use in the new Star Wars movies as the dark and brooding bad-boy son of Han Solo and Princess Leia. While Anakin also moved up the charts, I believe Kylo will ultimately be a more wearable baby name choice from the Star Wars universe, with its similiarity to the classic Kyle and its trendy "o" ending. (Though those more conservative namers can still always go for Luke in homage to the Jedi hero.)

3. Ophelia was the fourth biggest riser on the girls' side of the aisle, moving nearly 400 places to land squarely in the top 600 names. Its claim to fame is the tragic heroine of Shakespeare's classic Hamlet, but it recently drew more attention after rocker Dave Grohl picked it for his daughter. Like Aviana, Ophelia is a "unique, yet classic" name, with strong sound ties to top 10 favorites Sophia and Olivia.

4 Wilder seems like a name that's ripe for increased popularity—it's no wonder it's among the top 10 movers and shakers on the boys' side of things. It works as a word name, a surname name, and has some cool associations—playwright Thornton Wilder, actor Gene Wilder, and beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder. A number of celebs have picked it for their kids recently, which may be how so many new parents discovered it. 

5. Blake, a recently beloved boys' name is becoming a red-hot name for girls. It just moved up 126 spots on the girls' list to land in the top 300, while after more than 15 years in the top 100 for boys, it dropped more than 30 spots to #127. Blake's a fun and fresh name for girls, and it's likely that actress Blake Lively is giving her name that bump in popularity.

6. Cairo follows the place name trend and the "o" name trend for boys, and it's jumped more than 100 points on the boys' side—but it's a name that would work beautifully for a girl as well. 

7. Louise/Louisa is one of those old-school names that seems to be making a comeback after years of disuse—thanks in part to everyone's passion for names like Luna and Elsa. 

8. Alistair is the Louisa equivalent on the boys' side of the aisle—and old-fashioned name that's just re-entered the top 1000. (And it's the British answer to top 20 classic Alexander, making it a nice way to honor an Alex without getting into the uberpopular realm.)

9. I've been trying to make Poppy happen for a while—it's a bright, cheerful floral name, and it looks like it's finally on its way—it jumped nearly 300 points to land in the top 800. (Though most likely it's the fact that Jenna Bush Hager picked it for her daughter in honor of her "Poppy" George H.W. Bush that it rose so high recently.)

10. Legend has been on a super-huge roll lately—it first broke the top 1000 back in 2010, and it's now at #311 for boys. It seems like a big name for a baby boy to live up to—but maybe one of these Legends will become legendary someday. 

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