What's Hot (and What's Not) in Baby Names This Year

What baby names are falling out of favor, and which ones seem poised to be all over the playground in a few years? Get a look at what's trending—and what's not!

Baby Name trends Africa Studio/Shutterstock
The top 20 baby names for the U.S. haven't changed much since last year's list from the Social Security Administration (which tracks all the names people pick for their babies, from the most offbeat to the most popular). But there's plenty of action beyond the top 20, where some names see big upticks in use, and others fall by the wayside. The two red-hottest names in the U.S. last year both began with K: Kylo (as in Kylo Ren, the newest Star Wars big bad), which jumped a massive 2368 spots to fall squarely in the top 1000 this year, and Kehlani, a Polynesian-inspired name made famous by the R&B star, which leaped 2487 spots to land in the top 900. 

Here's a peek at what's trending—and what's tired.

Pop-culture baby names are still in vogue.

Kylo's just the tip of the iceberg, as many of the other names that leaped ahead in popularity were clearly inspired by pop culture phenomena. Star Wars inspired many of the other movers and shakers. Anakin, Bridger, Rey, Finn, Leia and Canaan/Kanan all have ties to the Star Wars universe—and all are on the rise this year. People clearly liked the latest Rocky installment, Creed, as the names Creed, Adonis (after the lead character, played by Michael B. Jordan), and Apollo were all in the top 15 movers and shakers, and all moved hundreds of places up in popularity. The reboot of '90s sci-fi favorite The X-Files probably led to the name Fox reentering the top 1000 after moving up nearly 300 places. And for the ladies, Khaleesi continues its somewhat slow climb toward the top, thanks to Game of Thrones.

Unusual spellings of common names may be on the way out.

Unusual spellings used to be a big deal, but this year, the biggest droppers were unique spellings of common baby names: Aaden, Triston, Chace, Alexzander, and Brantlee for boys, Bryanna, Jordynn, and Adilynn for girls. In particular, three names and their various spellings faced sharp declines: Brayden, Caitlin, and Kaylen. (In fact, the top four biggest droppers on the girls' side were Caitlin, Caitlyn, Katelynn, or Kaitlynn.) Combine that with a greater emphasis on traditional names, as trendy picks like Jayden dropped out of the top 20, and we're looking at a slightly more conservative baby naming trend.  

Fresh nature names are fashionable for girls.

While there's always a place for classics like Rose, Violet, and Ruby, people have moved beyond them to some more offbeat choices. Among the movers and shakers: florals like Magnolia and Poppy, plus Wren, Juniper, Rosemary, Briar and Winter.  

Some famous folks added star power to their names—and others didn't. 

We saw an uptick in children named Prince, in homage to the late legendary rock star, and a huge increase in those named Huxley, after the author of the recently red-hot 1984. Rock star names in particularHendrix, Lennon, Jagger, and Stevie—were all on the rise. But a few famous ladies didn't lend their star power to their names, as Zendaya, Ciara, Whitney, Lindsay, and Charlize headed down the charts.

Hawaiian names are hot.

Polynesian-inspired names are super popular for girls. Kehlani was the top riser, moving more than 2000 spots, but also among those on the rise were the actual spelling of the name, Kalani, which means heavenly; Nalani, which means calm skies; and Ailani, which means chief. 

A new wave of "en" names is sweeping in for boys.

With Aiden, Brayden, and Jayden on the decline, a new set of "en" type names are on their way up, many of them with a little Irish or Scottish flair: Alden, Graysen, Killian, Keenan, and Lachlan