2012 Spotlight Name Review – Part 2

room-spotlightThis is part 2 of the year-end Spotlight Name review. If you missed part 1, you can see it here.

The first part focused on general Spotlight Names, and this second part focuses on Spotlight Name series. These series spotlight names around certain themes. Below are lists of these names under each theme and a brief description of the theme. You will get a chance to vote on your favorites.

Boys are coded blue, girls are coded pink and unisex is coded green. ***Note: Each name links to the original post, but you may not be able to see the link because of the color coding. The links should still work.

Failure to Launch Names: Names that could have become popular for a certain decade but didn’t  (The decade the name failed to launch is in parentheses.)

Bettina (1960s)
Hillary (1990s)
Juniper (1970s)
Lara (1970s)
Mack (2000s)
Wallis (1930s)

Founding Father’s Names: Our Fourth of July special feature.


Great Grandparent Names: Names of real people’s great-grandparents and the stories behind them. If you want to submit the story of your great-grandparent’s name for consideration, feel free to contact us.


* Great Grandparent Update: The first great-grandparent for this series was my great-grandmother Lottie. From her only child, she had 8 great-great grandchildren when the post was originally launched. I just learned her first triple-great-grandchild was born. Yes, that’s three greats, and two greats for my 94-year-old grandmother.

There are now five living generations in my family. While this is amazing, the fact my cousin is now a grandmother depresses my 26-year-old psyche. I’m slightly consoled by the fact that she is nearly a decade older than me and had her daughter young.

Stealthily Climbing Names: Names that have stealthily hit the top 100 with little fanfare. This is our newest Spotlight Name series.


Unexpectedly Familiar Names: Names that everyone knows, but few are bold enough to use. 


Unfairly Dated Names: Names from the past that have something in common with today’s popular names. 


All of these are names I would love to see on someone else’s baby. As for which ones I would use on a baby of my own, I like Camila, Gregory, Mack, Lara, and Peter. Juniper is a name I never thought I would like, but has grown on me to the point that I might consider using it. I love April as a middle name with one of my favorites, Cecily. But I can’t take credit for that lovely combo—it was the name of late TV casting director, Cecily April Adams.

Readers: Which Spotlight Name Series are your favorites? Would you use any of these names on a child of your own? Which of these names are your favorites? (Multiple votes are allowed.)


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Stealthily Climbing Name: Camila

Camila is remarkable. This name has dramatically ascended the U.S. charts with very little fanfare. Last year, Camila entered the top 50 at #48. Only four years ago, Camila entered the top 100 at #83 in 2008. Camila first entered the top 1000 in 1997 at #879.

Yet this name doesn’t get a lot of internet buzz.

Searching nameberry for “Camila” yields only 269 results.* This number may seem high, but when put into context, the search results are low. For example, Calla is not even in the top 1000 yet there are 2,297 results for “Calla” on nameberry. I wanted to include Calla as one of our surprising garden variety names, but decided the name got too much attention despite its low numbers and nixed it. OK, so Calla is just one example. Are there other examples outside the top 1000 that get many search results on nameberry? You bet.

Looking at these numbers, you can see why I was surprised these four names had not yet reached the top 1000 in 2011.

So maybe nameberry readers (or “nameberries” or “berries” as they call themselves) are a unique segment of people and give a limited impression of names by themselves.

If you want further support that Camila seems less popular than it is, check out Camila’s ranking on BabyCenter compared to the U.S. Social Security ranking in 2011:

  • #48 in the U.S.
  • #146 on Baby Center.

Note that Camila is trending up both among the U.S. population and BabyCenter readers. BabyCenter already has rankings for 2012 which place Camila at #135 at the time of writing. But the difference in popularity between BabyCenter readers and the U.S. population is staggering.

So what? You may ask.

Camila is another example of how U.S. Social Security rankings are only part of a name’s story.

Camila’s popularity is not really that surprising. Southern European inspired names like Gianna (#63) are fashionable and the Spanish/Portuguese Camila fits that style. The diminutive Mila was also the fourth fastest rising name last year, climbing 190 places from #364 in 2010 to #174 in 2011. What is surprising is that Camila isn’t discussed on online baby name forums and blogs more often.

There are names like Mason that get much publicity after being used on a celebrity baby (Kourtney Kardasian’s son) and this publicity helps the name’s U.S. Social Security rankings. Then there are names like Philippa that also get much publicity due to a celebrity (Philippa Middleton), yet this publicity fails to elicit huge increases in the name’s rankings. Philippa, one of our Watch List names, has gone up in popularity a bit, but the name is still outside the top 1000.

And then there are names like Camila that sneak out in the middle of the night to scale that mountain when no one is looking and suddenly people ask, “Whoa! How did this name reach that summit?” Or, “Whoa! Who is Camila Alves and how did she snag the handsome Matthew McConaughey?”

Camila has celebrity clout just like Mason and Philippa, yet more attention seems to go to Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves’ childrens’ names, Levi and Vida. I’m left asking, why aren’t more people talking about Brazilian model’s name?

These kinds of names I may feature in a new Spotlight Name series on “stealthily climbing” names. These are names in the top 100 that have trended upwards dramatically the past decade that don’t seem to get a lot of attention. I haven’t committed to doing this series yet because I do not know if there are enough names that fit this category. Serenity (#66) is the other name being considered for this series. Before embarking on this series, I would like to hear from readers: Are there any other names you consider “stealthily climbing”?

Readers: What do you think of Camila?

* These nameberry search result numbers are as of September 16, 2012 and could change at any time.

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