Updated for 2013: Top 22 in 2022

Updated for 2013: Top 22 in 2022Predictions are based on assumptions, the big assumption being that trends from the past will continue today.

Someone from the ‘80s making predictions about the top boys’ names for 2014, might assume that boy trends wouldn’t turn over that often because historically up until that point, they hadn’t.

Take a look at the table below and see how long each top boy name since 1880 had held on to the top spot in the past.

In 2012 I wrote the Top 22 in 2022, a list of the 22 boy and girl names I predicted would be among the top 22 U.S. baby names 10 years from the time I made my predictions.

Top U.S. Boy Names from 1880 - 2012

In the Top 22 in 2022: Revised for 2013, I share some updates on which predictions I feel were spot-on and which ones I feel totally missed the mark–as of 2013 that is…

And with eight years being a long time into the future, at least as far as name trends go, I wouldn’t be surprised if predictions that I doubt now based on 2013 numbers start to look good again based on 2021 numbers. The opposite could also be true. Predictions that look good based on 2013 numbers could look bad in 2021.

If you already signed up for the original Top 22 in 2022, you should have already gotten the 2013 version in your email. If you haven’t signed up yet, enter your email below.

In addition to The Top 22 in 2022: Revised for 2013, you will get email updates for UBN and occasionally stuff I don’t share on the blog. Emails are sent every couple of weeks and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Reader Q&A: How To Cope With Unusual Name Regret

How To Cope With Unusual Name Regret

Conflicting expectations.


The conventional wisdom is that parents are more likely to regret picking a name that is too common. At least that is the conclusion made in an ABC news segment from 2011.

ABC’s claim is that only a few parents regret giving their kid an unusual name, but that has not always been my experience when talking to parents about baby names. ABC’s claim may be true, but I have also heard stories of regret from parents who discarded a beloved name in favor of a less common one.

One of these parents happens to be a UBN reader who agreed to share her story behind why she regrets not naming her daughter Mia (a top 10 name in the US) five years ago.

The chosen name, Cheyla, comes across as contrived according to reader, Maddie. But that’s not Maddie’s only concern. The family has started using both names (Cheyla and Mia) for the girl and she answers to both. Maddie is afraid of creating an identity crisis for her daughter.

This story also illustrates other top concerns among UBN readers besides avoiding a popular name and regretting it. And that is why I asked Maddie if she would share her story.

Hear more about her story in the latest Reader Q&A video:

FYI: The video is about 15 minutes and I really hope you take a look at it, but if you are pressed for time, you can download a PDF of the presentation here.

Thank you so much Maddie for sharing your story.

Readers: Have you ever regretting discarding a name for being too common? How would you address Maddie’s dilemma?

If you enjoyed this article, and would like to share your biggest baby name challenges, enter your name and email address to get free updates including stuff I don’t share on the blog:


Reader Q&A Poll: Is Lennon Masculine or Feminine?


A few months ago I decided to reach out to the UBN email community and ask what they felt was the most difficult aspect of naming a baby. Their answers to that question were eye-opening.

I decided this question would be a great followup email to new members once they join the community. I set the email to automatically go out to new members, and have been pleased with the feedback so far.

One reader mentioned some concerns she has with the boy and girl name she picked for her expectant baby–gender unknown.

She likes names that start with L, and had picked Lachlan for a boy and Lennon for a girl. She mentioned the following concerns:

  • Does Lachlan seem feminine?
  • Is Lach (pronounced LOCK) a good nickname for Lachlan?
  • Could Lennon be mistaken for “lemon” or is it “too out there”?

Since I’m aware of Lachlan’s popularity on boys in Australia, I believe Lachlan is all-boy, and I feel confident that I stand with the majority on this.

But the name that stood out as causing gender confusion to me is Lennon. As I read her question, my thought *wasn’t* “Is Lachlan too feminine?” my thought *was* “Is Lennon too masculine?”

Lennon reminds me of two things:

  1. John Lennon
  2. The nicknames Len and Lenny–both masculine names to me.

For girl names, Lainey, Laney or Lane seem like good fits for this reader’s preferences (modern L-names).

But perhaps this is just me? I have seen Fallon on a girl and that name has a similar style to Lennon. Perhaps Lennon would make a good unisex name? I’m not sure what the consensus is.

And that is why I decided to ask readers: Do you think Lennon is more feminine, masculine or unisex? And if you have any suggestions for this reader, feel free to leave them in the comments. 


Photo Credit: MrJamesAckerley via Compfight cc

Reader Q & A: What Are Some Good “Smoosh” Names For Boys?

mismatched-shoes“Smoosh” names or double first names have gone through fashion cycles in the U.S. They have come and gone, but each time they come back, the names change.

For example:

  • The Victorian age had Lou-Ella (or Louella).
  • The 20’s & 30’s had Betty-Jane and Mary-Jane.
  • The mid-century or “Mad Men” era had: Ann-Marie, Mary-Ann, and Mary-Beth

These names are now fashionable again in the U.K., and I think they are finding their way back to the U.S. Double first names such as Emma-Lynn (or Emmalyn) and Grace-Lynn (or Gracelyn) have recently hit the U.S. top 1000 and are gradually going up in popularity.


These names have never been huge (at least in the U.S.) on boys.

I feel they have potential on boys, though, which is why I was psyched when a reader asked about boy combo names in the comments of one of UBN’s pioneer posts, Compound (or Double) First Names.

cycy writes:

I am really torn apart now, I am 6 months pregnant and having a boy. I wanted to give him a compound name that is rather cute but not too common. I wanted the name to be “Kevin-Gio” but my husband thinks it’s kinda weird as a name can I get some feedbacks about that name.

Thank you all

My response:

Combo names can be cute, but finding two names that mesh well together can be a challenge. I consider myself a name person and still struggle sometimes to create my own combinations.

Kevin and Gio are both great names on their own, but in my opinion, don’t quite complement each other. (I’m pronouncing Gio as GEE-oh.)

It could be the rhythm that isn’t right or the fact that both names have very contrasting styles. Kevin is a traditional mid-to-late 20th century name and Gio is a rare-exotic name, a short form of the Italian Giovanni. With similar short names like Kai (#195 on boys and #919 on girls) becoming more popular, Gio has modern appeal.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, a combo like Kevin-Gio comes across like a combo such as Brian-Kai.

Both combos (Kevin-Gio & Brian-Kai) have names that might be fine when used as first and middle names but, when always said and written together, they seem to compete.

I just thought of another similar combo, Eric-Kai which might work with the K sound tying the names together. I might try the Erikai spelling, but that could come across as feminine in Western cultures. Darn this is a challenge!

I suggest deciding between Kevin and Gio and finding a different partner.

I tried switching the name too: Gio-Kevin. I didn’t see (or hear) an improvement.

For Kevin, my first thought was Kevin-Lee. However, if you want something more original, I looked up Gio on Nameberry, and Nameberry readers who liked Gio also liked Levi. Levi is a more current name than Lee, and (in my opinion) also goes well with Kevin.

So for Kevin:


For Gio, as I mentioned, I had some great luck on Nameberry where I found some interesting names under the “people who liked Gio also liked…” heading. The two biggest names (at time of writing) were Quint and Rishi. Both would work with Gio, but I feel Gio (at least they way I am saying it) flows better as the first name.

So for Gio:


I keep using what I call my “playground call-out” test. And the names I feel most comfortable calling on the playground are the Kevin combos: Kevin-Lee and Kevin-Levi. I think.

I can get used to saying Gio-Rishi. I did some research on Rishi. It is an Indian name, and I am using the pronunciation that can be heard here on Pronounce Names.

Gio-Quint looks good to me on paper, but when I try to call that name, I’m not sure I feel comfortable, but that could just be me. I would love to hear from other readers on this.

Readers: What combo names would you suggest for reader cycy’s son?

Photo credit

Name To Watch: Katniss


Jennifer Lawrence who portrays Katniss Everdeen in ‘The Hunger Games’

Recently I celebrated my last birthday in my 30s. And I was reminded of somethings I read in an article about 40 Effed Up Things About Turning 40. In my case these two things are sadly true*:

20. Other than the Kardashians, I don’t recognize anyone in the tabloids. Who are these people and why are they famous?


36. I say things like, “What’s the name of that actor, you know, he was in that thing?”

And that’s what I was thinking when I suddenly started hearing about this actress who is supposedly this wonderful role model, Jennifer Lawrence.

First I heard about her on a local radio station, and then I heard about her in this Babble article.

And I asked myself, “Who’s she? Why is she famous?”

And then I remembered, she played Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Katniss stood out as #13 on Nameberry’s Most Popular Girl’s Names of 2013 list.

This top 100 list is very different from the official top 100 baby names from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Nameberry is a popular baby name blog known for their extensive database of about 50,000 baby names. Their readers are way ahead of the baby name fashion curve. Nameberry readers appreciate names a couple of years before the mainstream. Nameberry’s list is made of the top 100 most viewed names on their site.

Katniss is in the top 15 on Nameberry (or at least as of October 2013), but doesn’t even make the top 1000 on the Social Security list.

Considering that Katniss is a unique name from pop culture, that was previously unknown, don’t be surprised to see it make the top 1000 on the Social Security list within the next year or two.
This places Katniss with Blythe and Clover, other names on the UBN Watch List report. All three names are outside the top 1000, but due to pop culture could easily rise in ranks to make the top 1000 for 2013.

However, Katniss’ birth numbers don’t look all that promising yet. In the table below are the number of babies named Katniss in the U.S. each year. Please note, for privacy reasons, the Social Security Administration doesn’t count a name in its database if it is given to fewer than five babies in any given year.

Year # Newborn Girls
2002 fewer than 5 if any
2003 fewer than 5 if any
2004 fewer than 5 if any
2005 fewer than 5 if any
2006 fewer than 5 if any
2007 fewer than 5 if any
2008 fewer than 5 if any
2009 fewer than 5 if any
2010 fewer than 5 if any
2011 fewer than 5 if any
2012 12


I wasn’t surprised that there were fewer than 5 Katniss’ born in the entire U.S. before 2008, the year The Hunger Games novel was published. But I expected to see the name creep into the data in 2008 or 2009.

Katniss did make it’s first appearance in the data in 2012, however, and might just start to climb quickly.

To get some more insight, I checked out how Katniss ranks on BabyCenter, a popular parenting website that has their own ranking system for baby names. I have found that often a name’s popularity on BabyCenter  is different from its popularity on the U.S. Social Security list.

BabyCenter doesn’t show a ranking for Katniss, but shows that Katniss has gone up sharply between 2012 and 2013.

The name has also been mentioned by other baby name experts dating back to 2010:

That settles it! Katniss is going on our next Watch List Report, a list of names that I am watching. I add to the list every year and continually track each names’ birth numbers every year.
To get the latest copy of the Watch List Report, and other email updates from UBN, enter your email address below.

Katniss is not on the latest Watch List Report, but will be on the next Watch List Report which will come out after the newest U.S. Social Security list is released to the public sometime in May.
If you sign up for the current Watch List Report, you will automatically get the next Watch List Report, as long as you don’t unsubscribe before May.

Katniss might be a long shot for 2013, but is still going on the list as a long-term prospect, just like Wallis from the 2011-2012 Watch List report.

Readers: Do you feel Katniss has mainstream potential?

Photo credit 

* The other things mentioned in the article about turning 40, like Bengay on the nightstand and an aching back, are definitely not true for me. I swear the author talks like she is turning 60, not 40.
Call me in denial, but I don’t feel that much differently than I did at 29.