2012 Baby Names: Girl Top 1000 Newcomers

baby-girl-foot-in-mouthLast week, the Social Security Administration released the top baby names for 2012. Today I will share some names that are either completely new to the top 1000 (since 1880, the earliest year data is available) or are returning after being absent for decades.

Not every top 1000 newcomer was included in the list, only names that seem promising. Alternative spellings of more popular names are not included. Promising newcomers are similar to fashionable names, excluding names that are too similar (such as Aubriana, which is grouped into the Aubrey family).

Before we list the 2012 newcomers, here is how the 2011 newcomers did:

2011 # 2012 # Trend
Amalia #988 Unranked Down
Avianna / Aviana #832 / #764 #933 / #856 Down
Elliot (on a girl) #872 #861 Slightly Up / Plateau
Geraldine #961 #989 Slightly Down / Plateau
Hattie #993 #709 Up
Juniper #951 #883 Up
Liv #950 Unranked Down
Nova #883 #624 Up
Temperance #937 #841 Up


Overall, 2011’s top newcomers are doing pretty well. The big success stories are Hattie and Nova. Juniper and Temperance are doing respectably well. On last year’s poll (which is still open) Hattie and Juniper are the clear winners (at time of writing).

Now on to the 2012 newcomers:

Adley – Debuted at #731. First time charter. With a debut this high, I suspected there must be a pop culture connection, and I was right. Adley was the name of a female contestant on The Voice last year. With the high debut accompanying a pop culture reference, Adley exhibits a big sign of a fad name.

Nameberry lists Adley in their database as masculine, but considering its similarity to Hadley (#130 and rapidly rising), and loose similarity to Adele (#536 and rapidly rising) Adley makes sense as a feminine name.

Annalee – Debuted at #920. First time charter. This combo of Anna + Lee represents compound names which are beginning to get some attention. For this reason, this name seemed significant despite being similar to the conventional hit, Anna (#35).

The sound is very modern and lively. Annalee is perfect for expectant parents with clashing tastes since it could be a compromise between modern and traditional. But I’m not completely convinced Annalee has long-term potential only because Avianna / Aviana from last year’s list, another “anna-name”, wasn’t one of the top performers.

Coraline – Debuted at #823. First time charter. This is one I could have easily imagined on last year’s newcomer list. Just like Juniper from last year’s list, Coraline got some love on name blogs over the past couple of years. Coraline is familiar to many Americans from the 2009 animated horror/fantasy film based on the 2002 book. There are also names very similar to Coraline that are popular.

The similar Cora has soared in recent years, ranking at #155 in 2012, a 169 place increase from its 2008 rank, #324. The similar Caroline is about 10 years past-peak, but still ranked in the top 100 at #79 in 2012.

Emmalynn – Debuted at #910. First time charter. “Wait –” some of you might be thinking, “isn’t this just another variation of Emmeline or Emmaline* which are very similar to Emma?”

That is a possibility, but more likely Emmalynn is a combination of Emma + Lynn, which further supports the emergent compound name trend. BTW — Emmeline is still outside the top 1000 and Emmaline just re-entered the chart at #890 after being absent since 1915 when it ranked at #990.

*Emmaline – was almost left off because it is very similar to Emmalynn and is yet another “emma-name”. (Emma rose slightly to #2 in 2012). However, Emmaline deserves some mention because it is another example of how some trends (in this case emma-names) endure.

Emory – Debuted at #881. This is a first time charter for girls, but was in the boy’s top 1000 as recently as 1974. This name re-entered the top 1000 for boys as well. I wondered why this name charted in 2012 on both genders. My research didn’t turn up any cultural significance for Emory in 2012. The reason Emory hit the top 1000 is a mystery to me, perhaps the sound is en vogue or Emory has personal significance for people. Emory is a place-name, being the name of several towns, geographical landmarks, and a university in Georgia.

Estella / Estelle – Debuted at #882 (hit #1000 in 2010) and #950. Last charted in the 1960s (Estelle) and 1970s (Estella). These names are in the same family as vintage hit Stella (#62), which means “star”. For this reason, Estella / Estelle almost didn’t make the cut, because names that are in the same family as already popular names didn’t always make the cut.

But the vowel beginning seems to distinguish Estella / Estelle enough. And I feel Estelle, which is more removed from Stella, is the real one to watch. Estella ranks higher and seems to have more short-term potential, but I wouldn’t discount Estelle. While super popular ella-ending names may still have a few years at the top, when people finally tire of these names, the more sparse elle-ending names may see new life.

Everly – Debuted #906. First time charter. This modern take on Beverly is another path to fashionable Eva (#86) or Eve (#558) and has an energetic feel.

Jessa – Debuted at #998. This is one of those surprises. The surprise is not that Jessa is in the top 1000, the question is, what took Jessa so long?

If the huge popularity of Jessica didn’t inspire Jessa’s arrival 15-20 years ago, one would think the moderate popularity of Tessa (which has been in the bottom top 250 for about 20 years) would have spawned enough Jessa’s to push the name into the chart  5-10 years ago, but that never happened. The future for Jessa is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: Jessa has conventional style.

Milena – Debuted at #962. This is new to the U.S. charts but has seen some success in other countries, most recently Poland where it ranked at #20 in 2012 and has been gradually climbing their chart. The lovely smooth sound is popular among U.S. parents.

Winter – Debuted at #769. This spent some brief time in the top 1000 between 1978 and 1979 and then disappeared from the ranks until last year. Now that seasonal / calendar inspired names such as Autumn #68 and June #435 have become stylish again, parents are seeking less conventional representations of this genre, such as January and September. Winter has a good chance of sticking around a little longer this time.

Zahra – Debuted at #952. This is an Arabic name with the trendy Z that has seen some moderate success in France where it ranked #372 in 2010.

This list represents a good mix of modern and old-fashioned. At least three of the names have styles that seem to tie the past to the present: Annalee, Everly, and Jessa. And the two compound names suggest an emerging trend. The big letter seems to be E, a vowel that has always been prominent in many names, but could be getting more popular as a starting letter.

Within a week, the boy’s top 1000 newcomers will be unveiled.

Readers: Which new top 1000 girl name do you like best?

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  1. erm… we want to name our future daughter Zara Winter. That’s like, 2 of these names. What in the world! Will find out in a few weeks if we’re having a boy or a girl. 🙂

  2. I think of Emory as an updated version of Emerson, which has skyrocketed the past few years. And it gives an “Emer-” option without using the -son at the end, which some people dislike on girls. At any rate, I like the name and think it fits well with today’s sounds and the beginning letter E. In my head, I group Emory, Emerson, Everly, Estelle/a, Elsa, etc all together as a “type”, and think it is quite popular.
    I went to Emory University too!


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  2. […] seasonal and calendar inspired names coming back in style (Winter entered the top 1000 for the first time in almost 30 years in 2012, and Mae, June, and August are all trending upwards), […]

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