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  • The most popular baby names: we call shenanigans

UPDATE: Those AREN’T the most popular baby names after all!

baby names are confusingI’m so confused, you guys – last week, Babycenter announced the most popular names of 2015, and now Nameberry has released not one, but TWO completely different lists. Just what in the heck is going on here?

To review: last Wednesday, we reported on the top names from Babycenter, which all seemed pretty on the mark:


  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Zoe
  8. Lily
  9. Emily
  10. Madison


  1. Jackson
  2. Aiden
  3. Liam
  4. Lucas
  5. Noah
  6. Mason
  7. Ethan
  8. Caden
  9. Logan
  10. Jacob

(Speaking of the name “Jacob,” a close friend of mine just welcomed a beautiful little guy named Jacob into the family, and I absolutely plan on working my unfair advantage to “favorite auntie” status: working at a toy store is going to go a long way!)

How does Babycenter get their numbers? Babycenter is a vast clearinghouse of baby info, and they use information submitted by readers to create their lists: their data came from over 340,000 parents who submitted baby names. Their team also combines names that sound similar, which is why combining the stats on “Jackson” and “Jaxon” added up to the decision that “Jackson” was the most popular boys’ name of the year.

However, Nameberry’s two lists are completely different, divvied into “hottest names” and “most popular baby names.” Their “hottest names” list is based on what their stats determine are the fastest growing baby names of the year, as reported in this rather rudely named article on According to ABC News, Nameberry “works with Google Analytics” to get their numbers, and the trending names are:


  1. Esme
  2. Evelyn
  3. Mia
  4. Abigail
  5. Luna
  6. Chloe
  7. Emily
  8. Arabella
  9. Ava
  10. Anna


  1. Kai
  2. Austin
  3. Lachlan
  4. Graham
  5. Everett
  6. Theo
  7. Elliot
  8. Matthew
  9. Lincoln
  10. Axel

But there’s even more! The most popular baby names from Nameberry are entirely different from the “hottest” names, although they seem to also come from Google Analytics searches. And they’re still different from the Babycenter list, too:


  1. Charlotte
  2. Amelia
  3. Ava
  4. Olivia
  5. Cora
  6. Eleanor
  7. Isla
  8. Lucy
  9. Evelyn
  10. Penelope


  1. Ezra
  2. Asher
  3. Atticus
  4. Declan
  5. Oliver
  6. Silas
  7. Milo
  8. Jude
  9. Henry
  10. Jasper

Are you confused yet? I’m about to make it even worse: it turns out that the government-verified most popular baby names of 2015 haven’t even been released yet.  The REAL authorities on the matter are the Social Security Administration (SSA), given that most new parents immediately submit their baby’s information to the SSA in order to get their child’s Social Security card. And from what I can tell, the SSA doesn’t submit their yearly baby name data before the year is over – in fact, their 2014 numbers weren’t released to the press until May 2015!

So ultimately, we don’t actually know what the genuinely most popular baby names of the year are, and we won’t know for quite some time. We can make some pretty good guesses, though: I sorted through the names on four different lists (Babycenter, Nameberry Hottest, Nameberry Most Popular, and the Social Security Administration’s most popular 2014 names), and discovered the following:

  • Ava is the only name to appear on all four lists. So, in my unscientific opinion, it’s ACTUALLY the hottest name of 2015. Charlotte, which you would expect to be a clear victor, is only on two lists. I’m guessing it’ll be a blockbuster for 2016, though.
  • Emily, Mia, and Olivia appear on three out of four lists.
  • Sophia and Jackson almost certainly got shortchanged by the fact that only Babycenter combines names that sound the same – Sophia is on two lists, and Jackson is on one. I’m not sure which approach to sound-alikes is the correct one, especially given that everyone’s getting creative with spelling these days.
  • Other names that scored two mentions: Abigail, Charlotte, Emma, Evelyn, Isabella, and Madison for girls; Ethan, Jacob, Liam, Mason, and Noah for boys.

I’m starting to realize, though, the reason why these lists come out before anyone has any reasonable way to predict the genuine most popular names of the year: exploring baby names and trying to figure out which ones are trendiest is really fun!

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