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2016's Biggest Winners

Blog > 2016's Big Risers
Posted on: May 30th, 2017by Ruth Fitzpatrick

If you haven't already guessed it by now: we are still totally obsessed with the SSA's baby name archives. Goodbye, productivity!

Today we thought we'd look at the big winners of the year: the names which rose the most through the rankings. Some of those listed below started from very humble beginnings, so we can't necessarily make any major assumptions about current trends and whether we're going to see any big shifts in the future. It's an interesting glimpse into flash changes in baby naming customs, but we don't expect seeing Kehlani knock Emma from its top spot any time soon!

The girls …

Kehlani 320 baby girls were given this name in 2016, which mightn't sound too impressive, except when you discover it's a nearly 700% increase on 2015 figures. Its sudden appearance in America's top 1000 is most likely thanks to R & B singer Kehlani's success, but we're not expecting it to stick in the long term.

Royalty Not exactly subtle, Royalty nonetheless jumped into the top 1000 for the first time last year at a very respectable 532nd place, sandwiched between the more conventional Meredith and Sasha.

Saoirse Pronounced 'SEER-sha', this nationalist Irish name means 'freedom', but given the number of vowels it contains, it certainly won't be free from confusion for most Americans.

Ophelia Could be a genuine one to look out for. First coined by William Shakespeare himself, the name is inevitably associated with the tragic heroine of Hamlet. Still, it has an ethereal sound to it that could become extremely fashionable.

Aitana The second year in a row this name's appeared on SSA's lists, it comes from the name of a Spanish mountain and was first recorded as used by author Rafael Alberti. We'll need a couple more years of data before we can say for certain if Aitana's here to stay!

Itzayana A variant of the name Itzel, this Mayan name seems almost a little too exotic, and we definitely prefer its shorter form (as do most parents still, in the US). Both short and long forms of the name mean 'rainbow lady'.

Alessia The Italian form of the vastly more popular Alexis, this entered the top 1000 this year, debuting at #827.

Kaylani Although this one looks and sounds much like Kahlani, it actually has a different origin. A spelling variant of Kailani, this is a Hawaiian name meaning 'sea and sky'.

Avianna A possibly alternative to the uber-popular Ava and Anna, this and its more popular sister, Aviana, could be one to watch. Possibly sounds a little too similar to the French bottled water, Evian, though.

Nalani Another name of Hawaiian origin to make it into the top 1000 for its first time. It means 'calm skies'.

… and the boys

Kylo Brooding Star Wars villain, Kylo Ren, obviously made his mark on American cinema goers. Even though the film was only released in December 2015, 238 parents saw fit to call their sons Kylo in 2016. We can't wait to see what happens in 2017!

Creed Virtue names could make a comeback as parents search for hip with a historical twist, but we don't think Creed will be leading the charge.

Benicio This Spanish name could be used as an alternative to the always popular Ben and Benjamin, but we're not sure if it will have the cross-cultural attraction needed to make it big.

Adonis More popular now than it has ever been, it does look like Adonis might be here for the long run. However, as it's synonymous with male bodily perfection, this might be an overly ambitious with a huge amount of expectation to give your son.

Fox A masculine, carnivorous name with a smidge of geek street cred, we can see why Fox has made gains this year. Bear and Wolf both outperform it still, though.

Hakeem An Arabic name meaning 'judicious', Hakeem has very little cross-cultural appeal and is unlikely to spark any new naming trend among the majority of US parents.

Shepherd This name reappeared on our ' and the SSA's ' radar for the first time last year after a nearly 130 year absence. We actually like it a lot. It has an archaic ring to it while still being completely new.

Wilder America is hearing the call of the Wilder! It sounds strong, fun, modern, and active. A winner in the making!

Zayn The British heartthrob and megastar, Zayn Malik, probably helped give this name a boost over the last couple of years. An Arabic name meaning 'beauty, grace', it gives a bit of a modern twist to the still more familiar Zane.

Mikael Michael has been firmly in the top 10 since 1943, and we don't think it needs to be worried by any variants threatening its dominance!

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