Over the past few years, we’ve seen baby names like Aurora, Aidan and Raya rise in popularity. But which names can we expect more parents to choose for their babies in the future?
As we approach a new year, we asked baby name experts to share the names they believe will become more popular in 2023. Although these experts are mostly based in the US, we tend to see trends translate to the UK – and beyond! Read on for their predictions and explanations for the appeal.
“Musician Billie Eilish propelled her name back into fashion, giving it a young, upbeat feeling that dispelled the tragic image of Billie Holiday,” said Pamela Redmond, co-founder of the popular baby names website Nameberry. “Billie inched back onto the Top 1000 in 2021 after a 25-year absence, but it’s got a long way up to go from its present standing at 941.”
She explained that Billie was on the list of 100 most popular names for girls from 1928 to 1934. Thus, it’s ripe for a comeback, per the “Hundred Year Rule” theory, that it takes about a century for names to come back into fashion.
“Vintage gender-neutral nicknames like Stevie and Billie and gender-neutral surnames like Murphy and Baylor are having a moment for girls ― thanks, Billie Eilish!” echoed name consultant Carly Zuno aka Moniker Maven. “I can see this trend sticking around for quite some time. Some under-the-radar names to watch: Quincy and Scottie.”
“For girls, the name Wren hit No. 20 on our charts for 2022,” said Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com.
The name Wren combines the trend of nature names and “dictionary” or word names for baby girls.
“The name Birdie was spotted among some faves due to several celebrity babies being named Birdie, however, I feel that’s too diminutive to give a child, especially a girl,” Moss added. “Remember, you’re not just naming a baby, you’re also naming an adult. So Wren is a beautiful alternative.”
“We often see naming trends reach across the ocean from the UK to the US,” said name consultant Lilia E. Corrigan of Heartbabynames. “Felicity currently ranks at spot 123 in the U.K. 2022 name charts and is appealing for a number of reasons. Firstly, after an unsettling few years, parents are gravitating towards bright and happy-feeling names for their children. Felicity not only feels sunny but holds the meaning of ‘happiness’ and ‘good fortune’ ― holding positivity and optimism for their future.”
She also believes it fits the bill for the now-trendy “maximalist names,” which have grand, extravagant feel to them.
“Lastly, she also has great, fun nickname options, such as Lissy, Filly and Fliss,” Corrigan added.
“It’s amazing how thoroughly the ‘Peanuts’ character knocked the classic Linus out of usage for decades ― it fell off the Top 1000 in 1940, and it’s still not back on,” Redmond said. “But Linus has some seriously impressive antecedents, like the mythical Greek poet who invented melody and rhythm, the second pope, and the Nobel-winning chemist Linus Pauling.”
With the rise of mythical names in recent years and the popularity of Linus in several European cultures, she believes it’s due for a boost in the coming year.
“For boys, Atlas is rising fast, and I believe it will make the top 10 in the next couple of years,” Moss said. “A name is growing in popularity, and I believe Atlas is similar enough to the now overused Atticus that people are using it as a replacement.”
She remarked that the name Atlas is in line with the recent trend of “celestial” or “space names” like Luna, Apollo, Orion, Cosmo, Aster, Nova and Skye.
“Pop culture has a lot more influence on what people name their babies than one might think,” said Gloria Kirk, the name consultant behind Naming Meadow. “The first time we ever really saw Wednesday being used as a first name in the US was in 1965, a year after the first ‘The Addams Family’ show aired on ABC.”
In the ensuing decades, however, the name was only given to fewer than 20 baby girls each year. Still, the last 15 years have seen a steady rise.
“While still a rare name, Wednesday was given to 112 girls last year [in the US], making 2021 its most popular year yet,” Kirk said. “With the new popular Netflix series ‘Wednesday,’ I predict that this name is going to keep rising. It’s got a vintage feel, yet it also falls in line with the word name trend. Nickname options such as Winnie, Wendy, or even Daisy make this name even more approachable. And now we’re seeing it being worn by a modern, quirky yet lovable character which only helps this name gain wearability.”
“Evander is one of my personal favourites as mythology-related baby names have been a big hit this year,” said Heidi Prunkl, a name consultant and founder of Baby Name Sunday. “Evander is a powerful name, and the meaning says it all ― ‘bow warrior and strong man.’”
She added that the name derives from both Scottish and Greek roots and offers a modern alternative to two popular classics ― Evan and Alexander.
“I am surprised that Evander is not more popular,” echoed Sherri Suzanne, a baby name consultant and the founder of My Name for Life. “‘Van’ is the stressed syllable and makes a logical and attractive nickname. The generally accepted meaning of Evander is quite wonderful: It comes from ancient Greek and means ‘good man.’”
Moss believes the name Ezra is set to increase in usage in the coming year, both for boys and girls.
“Ezra is becoming popular to use for any gender,” she said. “Traditionally Ezra is a Hebrew male name meaning ‘help, protect’ but is also used as a Persian female name.”
“Zion is poised to enter the boys’ Top 100 in the US and could easily catch on for girls in the coming years,” said Abby Sandel, creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain. “It’s a purpose name. Not only is Zion spiritually significant as a synonym for Jerusalem, but it suggests individual potential, too.”
Combining a deeper meaning and similar-sounding favourites like Ryan gives the name extra appeal.
“Young NBA star Zion Williamson keeps the name in the spotlight, too,” Sandel added.
“One word, ‘Encanto,‘” Zuno said. “Disney can do wonders for a name (Raya was the fastest rising female name in 2021), and with the popularity of ‘Encanto,’ I can definitely see Mirabel getting her moment.”
She added that the -bel ending gives Mirabel a familiar feeling and brings a few nice nickname options as well.
“We saw a huge boom in spiritual names as the well-being trend for yoga, crystals, and moon cycles continue to become a passion for men and women,” said Sarah-Jayne Ljungstrom, a name consultant and host of the “Baby Name Envy” podcast. “So names like Bodhi (‘enlightenment’) are on many lists as parents-to-be want a name with ‘meaning’ ― not just pretty on paper.”
She noted that Bodhi could also fall into the category of gender-neutral names, adding to its appeal to modern parents.
From Rose and Lily to Marigold and Daisy, flowers have long inspired parents when choosing a name for their daughters. Flora might be the latest trendy iteration of that tradition.
“A short and sweet nature name with vintage charm, there’s no wonder Flora was the sixth fastest-rising girls name in 2021,” Kirk said. “Flora jumped from nearly the bottom of the charts at No. 925 to No. 647 in just one year, and I see it continuing to rise in the coming years.”
“It’s a truism in the baby name predicting business that one hot name can propel a lot of similar names into prominence,” Redmond said. “The once highly-rare Romy is an example. Roman may already be in the Top 100, but Romy has not yet hit the Top 1000.”
She noted that the name resembles Roman and other trending names in the U.S., like Remy, Remi and Rory.
“Plus, it’s very chic in France and other European countries,” she added.
“Classic Daniel meets current Sutton in this surname name,” Sandel remarked.
She pointed to the success of Paramount’s “Yellowstone,” which debuted in 2018 and stars Kevin Costner as sixth-generation Montana rancher John Dutton III.
“We’re now enjoying Season 5 of Dutton family drama and intrigue, with multiple spin-off series in the works,” Sandel said. “The character lends the name plenty of rugged appeal and plenty of swagger. But Dutton fits in current favourites, too, from Dylan to Weston. Eighty-five boys received the name last year ― an all-time high.”
“Tallulah is a stunning girls’ name that’s both whimsical and playful,” Prunkl declared. “It’s a Choctaw and Irish rooted name meaning ‘leaping waters and lady of abundance.’ It gives off the nature aesthetic everyone is looking for, and it has a little vintage charm to it.”
Sometimes spelled Tallula or Talula, the name has also gotten celebrity endorsements from Patrick Dempsey, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Damian Dash and Rachel Roy.
“Wilder is a cowboy chic name that only popped up in the charts seven years ago,” Kirk said. “The name rose 58 spots last year and now sits at No. 368 in 2021. Wilder follows the word name trend, is nature-adjacent, and is still unique while not being too out there.”
Although traditionally a name for boys, 87 girls were also named Wilder in 2021, giving it some gender-neutral potential.
“Renley has to be my up-and-coming name of the year for boys,” Corrigan said. “Although last year in the U.S., it was actually chosen more times for girls, I predict this to change in 2023. Softer boy names are in demand, particularly boy names with low-key ties to nature.”
She noted that the potential for the nickname Ren also makes the name Renley more appealing.
“I have had several clients of mine this year use this name for their baby boys, each of them looking for a longer name option to get that handsome Ren nickname,” Corrigan said. “Alternative spellings include Renly, Wrenley, Wrenly.”
“Nature names aren’t going anywhere, and Ocean has been embraced by parents of both genders,” Zuno said. “It entered the SSA Top 1000 for the first time in 2020 for males and in 2021 for females, so it feels fresher than an ocean breeze.”
Indeed, Ocean was one of the fastest-rising names for baby girls last year, rising 253 spots in the popularity rankings.
“Nature names are more popular than ever, with the number of nature names in the top 200 names alone more than doubling in the last 10 years,” Kirk said, noting that Clover and Onyx are also on the rise.
“For quite a while, I’ve offered Della as a nickname for Delaney, Delilah and all the Adel- names, including Adele, Adela and Adeline,” Suzanne said. “I think Della has the charm to stand on its own, plus it is easy to say and spell.”
Although it’s relatively new to the Top 1000 names list, she believes it’s a “comfortable” choice, thanks to similar-sounding popular names Bella and Ella.
“Vintage nicknames as first names continue to be a huge popular trend bridging traditional naming with a more informal world our kids are being born into,” Ljungstrom said.
Although Albie is a popular choice, she believes the “breakout star” along this theme is the name Winnie. As noted previously, it makes a nice nickname for Wednesday, but it can also stem from other names like Winifred.
“Winnie is the perfect blend of whimsical, vintage and is playful but strong, so a great choice,” Ljungstrom explained.
“Koa/Koah has been seen rising for parents big time for both boys and girls,” Prunkl said. “I feel a ton of parents have been looking for ‘Kai’ alternatives, and Koa/Koah fits the criteria perfectly. It’s soft, like Kai, but remains unique and on-trend. It’s Hawaiian, meaning ‘warrior’ or ‘little warrior.’”
Koa is also a type of tree that fits into the oft-referenced “nature names” trend of recent years.
“The flower power name ‘Downton Abbey’ brings to mind is Violet, but that’s a long-time Top 100 staple in the U.S.,” Sandel said. “Marigold is the next generation ― in the fictional Crawley family, and for real girls, too.”
She touted the nature name’s accessibility and nickname potential ― from the classic Maggie to the trendy Goldie.
“I’d call Marigold ‘eco-vintage,’” Sandel said. “Just like Ivy or Rose, it feels like a Victorian-era antique that fits with our 21st-century love of names inspired by nature ― the best of two trends combined.”
“Another brand new entry to the charts for 2021, Ozzy has that great lived-in feel but with a rockstar edge,” Zuno said.
The name was given to 364 boys and 53 girls last year and had the alternate spelling Ozzie.
“Mandy Moore chose Oscar ‘Ozzie’ for her son, born in October 2022,” Zuno added. “With Oliver being one of the hottest boy names, I can see parents searching for other zippy O-alternatives.”
“The romantic feeling vintage name gem Evangeline is due for a revival, ranking at the 237th spot in 2021 for girls,” Corrigan said. “Feminine names that scream old luxury or ‘old money’ vibes have been spotted in the top 100 charts for the past several years.”
She listed Josephine, Elizabeth, Adelaide and Evelyn as similar options for parents seeking that sort of upscale feel.
“Evangeline could be a great option for parents looking for a name which holds these vibes but isn’t quite as popular in the classroom,” Corrigan added.
As parents opt for less traditionally gendered picks, Ljungstrom predicts a rise in the name Lenny, or alternate spelling Leni (which Heidi Klum famously chose for her daughter in 2004).
“Gender-neutral picks like Noa/Noah and Lenny/Leni are high on lots of lists with modern parents caring less about gender reveal parties and more about raising little individuals to be who they are,” she noted.
“Graham is a name that parents are asking about more and more,” Suzanne said. “When I offer it to parents searching for a distinctive yet familiar-sounding name, it generally ends up an easy favourite.”
Already in the Top 200 names for boys in the US, Graham feels classic without being too widespread.
“Though no nickname is required, some parents appreciate that Graham can yield the popular nickname Gray,” Suzanne added. “I predict the Scottish spelling Graeme will appear in the US soon.”