We have officially begun the new year! But when it comes to names, one might say the new year doesn’t begin until May. This is when the U.S. Social Security Administration releases the top 1000 baby names from the previous year. So while it is officially 2013, we won’t know 2012’s top 1000 baby names until May. It’s a difficult wait—I know.
In the meantime let’s discuss some names that have a good shot at reaching the girls’ top 1000 for 2012. I created the list of eight names based on gut-feelings, and then evaluated my theories against each name’s online presence. To estimate each name’s online presence, I looked at Google keyword search results, 2012 BabyCenter rankings, and nameberry search results.
I have used this system before. If you are familiar with it and wish to skip to the name list, feel free. For those of you who are not familiar with the system and/or love geeky stuff, here are the details.
To give some context for the Google search results, here are the average Google keyword searches* for 2011’s #1 girl name, Sophia with the term “baby name”.
- Average Monthly Google Searches for “Sophia baby name”: 880 everywhere, 480 for the U.S.
*These numbers are monthly averages for the past 12 months.
BabyCenter is a large pregnancy and parenting site with their own ranking system. Their list is created from parents who shared their baby’s name with them. Unlike the U.S. Social Security Administration, BabyCenter does combine alternative spellings. For example, the number of girls named Sofia are added to the number of girls named Sophia to get a rank for Sophia.
BabyCenter also has rankings for 2012 already. They seem to keep ongoing ranks for the current year. In fact, I double-checked the BabyCenter rankings because two names were tied and I assumed I had made a mistake. I decided to double-check every name’s ranking. The ranking of every name had changed. This means the BabyCenter rankings are constantly changing.
Nameberry is an online community of name enthusiasts who are ahead of baby name trends. The nameberry search results are the number of times a name is found in their blog, user forums, and user lists. A good sign is when a name’s nameberry search results are in the four digits (over 1,000). Nameberry search results could increase from the time of writing.
Putting Everything Together
The order of these online sources isn’t arbitrary. Google is mentioned first because its audience is the largest and broadest. Google represents the overall population. BabyCenter narrows down the audience to parents and expectant parents, and nameberry narrows down the audience to name-lovers who follow name trends more closely than the general population.
If you have read Upswing Baby Names Top 22 in 2022, you may recognize this system. It has a geeky name, the “Online Performance Trifecta”. (If you haven’t read this book, you can download it for free here.) This system is based on some assumptions, but since all predictions involve some guess-work, it is good enough to back up my guesses.
The “Online Performance Trifecta” is interpreted a little differently this time, however. The Top 22 in 2022 focuses on names on the cusp of becoming mainstream. Therefore, the BabyCenter rankings carry the most weight based on the assumption that BabyCenter best represents mainstream parents.
This time, since we are dealing with names a little farther ahead of the fashion curve, the nameberry search results carry the most weight. These eight rising stars are on the cusp of becoming new discoveries to the mainstream, and the nameberry audience is usually the most ahead of the mainstream.
- Number of 2011 births: 103
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Cecily baby name”: 46 everywhere, 28 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #1698 and seems to have hit a plateau
- nameberry search results: 4,731
- Number of 2011 births: 39
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Lavinia baby name”: 58 everywhere, 28 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #1932 and trending upwards
- nameberry search results: 1,419
- Number of 2011 births: 194
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Louisa baby name”: 140 everywhere, 73 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #943 and at a plateau
- nameberry search results: 6,464
- Number of 2011 births: 194
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Mabel baby name”: 110 everywhere, 73 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #739 and trending upwards
- nameberry search results: 3,536
- Number of 2011 births: 107
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Ophelia baby name”: 91 everywhere, 46 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #1216 and either slightly trending upwards or at a plateau
- nameberry search results: 4,131
- Number of 2011 births: 134
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Persephone baby name”: 73 everywhere, 46 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #1370 and either slightly trending upwards or at a plateau
- nameberry search results: 2,498
- Number of 2011 births: 156
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Sylvie baby name”: 91 everywhere, 46 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #764 and trending upwards
- nameberry search results: 2,954
- Number of 2011 births: 134
- Avg. Google keyword searches for “Viola baby name”: 73 everywhere, 46 for the U.S.
- 2012 BabyCenter rankings: #980 and trending upwards
- nameberry search results: 3,348
Notice how Louisa, Mabel, Sylvie, and Viola are already in BabyCenter’s top 1000. Once the Social Security name list for 2012 is released in May, we’ll revisit this list and see how many joined those ranks.
Here’s how the names rank based on nameberry search results:
Louisa’s high ranking doesn’t surprise me at all. What does surprise me is that Louisa isn’t in the TOP 100. A good case for Louisa was made this past year on The Baby Name Wizard blog. I would seriously bet money on Louisa hitting the top 1000.
Sylvie may place near the bottom-middle of the above list, but its star may soon rise. I can picture Sylvie catching up to Louisa. First of all, Sylvie is the second highest ranked of these names on BabyCenter (at the time of writing). And then when I visited nameberry while writing this article, it was right there as a title name for Nameberry 9 Roundup: The Year’s Best from Scout to Sylvie to Sutton.
Sylvie has been one of my favorites for years. Every year I check the top 1000 and am surprised it’s not there. I believe this will be the year I see Sylvie there.
Ophelia and Persephone fall into what I call the “Greek Mythology-ph names” category. I expect more of these names to appear in the top 1000 within the next few years.
Lavinia is clearly the dark horse. Based on these numbers, Lavinia won’t likely have a chance at the top 1000 until somewhere between 2013-2016. But I can see it getting there eventually.
Lavinia is one of those names that causes me to ask, “Why don’t I think of this name more often?” It’s got the goods: the fashionable letter V, the feminine four syllable rhythm, and the vintage charm. Not to mention it is also an obvious alternative to 2011’s #4 name, Olivia. Lavinia has officially made my personal top 5.
Readers: Are any of these names in your personal top 5? Which name is your favorite?